When it comes to Dubai icons, the "challenge" gets serious: Burj Khalifa vs Burj Al Arab. Here is one of the most frequently asked travel questions about Dubai: "Is it worth climbing the Burj Khalifa or visiting the "The Sail?" Looking at the world from the tallest skyscraper ever built ever or from one of the most luxurious hotels on Earth?
It's really a hard task to choose a winner, but it's worth remembering that they offer two different types of experience. If you have little time and you’re faced with a choice, here is a list of things you should know before organizing your visit. Take 10 minutes, evaluate the pros and cons and then decide which luxurious Dubai jewel among these two, suits best for you.
- Burj Khalifa: The “His Majesty” of Dubai
- The view from Burj Khalifa: an imperious sight!
- Tips for visiting the Burj Khalifa: When to go and skip the line tickets
- "Double" Sunset and dancing fountains show
- Luxury dinner in the world's tallest restaurant
- Armani Hotel Dubai, a "luxurious choice"
- What to do and see around Burj Khalifa?
- Burj Al Arab: The Dubai Hotel with distinctive sail-shaped silhouette
- Staying at Burj Al Arab: A privilege for the few
- Extra-luxury experiences in “the Sail” of the Emirate
- Afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar and sunset cocktails
- Lunch or dinner at Burj Al Arab restaurants
- Guided tours of Burj Al Arab
- Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab: Which one to choose?
- Adrenaline vs Aesthetics
- What is the verdict?
Burj Khalifa: The “His Majesty” of Dubai
The Burj Khalifa: it would be impossible not to notice it! If you don't want to see it only from the outside, we can just agree with you: the very experience is to enter it and climb up "at the top", which is also the name of its observation deck! It only takes 60 seconds to reach the 125th floor with the world's fastest lift - more than 700 metres high!
Saying that the view is breathtaking would be reductive: Dubai, the desert and the Arabian Gulf.... Take your time to relax and admire the skyline. How often does that happen?
The view from Burj Khalifa: an imperious sight!
828 metres high and 163 floors, it's the tallest building in the world. All you need to know is that you are facing with one of the most impressive artworks of all time. Burj Khalifa rises from the desert to the sky: the other buildings all around look like miniature toys compared to it!
But in the next few years the Burj Khalifa is going to lose its world leadership; by 2020 the new Jedda Tower will be built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: with its 1000 meters it will become the tallest skyscraper in the world overthrowing the one in Dubai.
In addition, the Burj Khalifa holds other planetary records. Did you know that its 144th floor houses the highest disco in the world? And what about the Guinness World Record restaurant on 122nd floor? Not to mention the observation deck on 148th floor!
It's clear that there are many reasons for visiting Burj Khalifa on a holiday in Dubai. Make your plans in advance, be smart and follow our advice and tips.
Tips for visiting the Burj Khalifa: When to go and skip the line tickets
First of all, just set your budget.
The Burj Khalifa offers two observation decks; the lower outdoor one, At the top, is located on 124° and 125° floor with great views from over 450 meters.
The highest indoor observation deck, At the top sky, is located on the 148th floor, at about 555 meters. The ticket price to climb Burj Khalifa varies according to the experience you want to book and the time you decide to go.
- There are no seats or benches on the lower observation deck, so put on some sneakers because you're going to keep standing all the time.
Sunset and sunrise are the best times to visit Burj Khalifa, but also the most crowded; be patient, it could take a while before you can take some good pictures! Take into account one hour and a half at least for the entire visit and possible queues at the ticket office and at the elevators.
The better solution to reduce time waiting in line is to book skip the line tickets in advance! It's very simple, what you have to do is just showing the confirmation voucher you received by e-mail, at the ticket office on the spot.
"Double" Sunset and dancing fountains show
Watching the sunset twice in a day? What does it mean? Any alchemy or magic formula.
A very special feature of Burj Khalifa is that it is possible to fully enjoy the sunset from two different spots, first from the lower deck and then from the upper one. Obviously, sunset is always the same, but you'll get the feeling that it’s happening twice.
Please note that every 30 minutes from 6pm to 11pm the show of the dancing fountains of Dubai Mall takes place, very instagrammable from such a perspective.
Luxury dinner in the world's tallest restaurant
After admiring the view from the world's highest building, would you like to complete your experience dining in the world's highest restaurant? It's called Atmosphere and it's located on the 122nd floor of Burj Khalifa. The best way to end your day on a great note!
- For a memorable experience, book a table next to the window. It's more expensive, but the view is absolutely worth the price! Food probably won't be truly heavenly but it can’t be said the same when it comes to the view.
Some travellers do not prefer booking a visit at sunset but rather early in the morning or in the central hours of the day. Anyway, visiting Burj Khalifa will always be a good idea! The restaurant is always open so, depending on the time slot chosen, you will always be able to enjoy your breakfast, lunch or dinner at the "Atmosphere".
Armani Hotel Dubai, a "luxurious choice"
For a luxury lunch, an Afternoon Tea or a sophisticated dinner, you can book a table at the Armani Hotel Dubai restaurant.
Expect exclusive views of Burj Lake, Downtown Dubai Lake, and the dancing fountain show. It’s a bit restricting defining it as an "alternative" to Atmosphere restaurant , isn't it?
What to do and see around Burj Khalifa?
The Burj Khalifa is located in the centre of Dubai so we recommend you to get around and also visit other attractions nearby.
You should certainly get to the Dubai Mall, a shopping mecca but also the ideal place if you're travelling with children: here you can find an Aquarium and Submarine Zoo, a themed park and an ice-skating rink. If you're looking for a more traditional experience, head to the local souks with their gold spices and typical products (try the Dubai dates bateel, they’re delicious!).
In summary: the observation decks but also the highest restaurant in the world, the privileged view of the dancing fountains show and the strategic location in the heart of Dubai are the strong points of Burj Khalifa.
Let's discover what "the Sail" have to offer instead.
Burj Al Arab: The Dubai Hotel with distinctive sail-shaped silhouette
Let's talk about "The Sail", that's to say the Burj al Arab, with its D-silhouette that's so much like an Arab dhow sail - search on Google images and compare!
A bit like kangaroos and Australia, the Red Light District and Amsterdam, cherry trees and Japan, there is no Dubai without Burj Al Arab. When you’ll return back home, everyone will be asking you: "Have you been to that 7-star sail-shaped hotel?" Just show a few selfies and everyone will be amazed!
Staying at Burj Al Arab: A privilege for the few
Take pictures of this extra-luxury hotel from the nearby public beach is a must but if you're lucky enough to get in and stay for one night at least ... we're starting to envy you!
Staying at Burj Al Arab is really an arduous task: prices are unapproachable for an average visitor's budget! But if you can afford it, then why not?
Being a guest is basically the only way to access the building. But there are some other ways to enter the Sail without booking a room? Let's discover together.
Extra-luxury experiences in “the Sail” of the Emirate
If you're not a guest and you're wondering about how to enter the Burj Al Arhab, the only alternative is by booking an exclusive extra-luxury experience: a drink or tea at the Skyview Bar or a starry dinner in one of the hotel's restaurants such as the Arabian Sea on the 27th floor or the restaurant-aquarium "Al Mahara". One Thousand and One Nights experience!
Afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar and sunset cocktails
The first way to access the Dubai Sail (without spending the night) is to book an Afternoon Tea at the Skyview Bar or a sunset cocktail; it is the most chosen option by tourists as it allows to enter the Burj Al Arab without taking into account thousands of euros.
Expect more than an excellent service quality, a stratospheric atmosphere (remember that you're facing a 7-star hotel!), an incredible choice of desserts, cakes and pastries and, above all, a dreamy landscape.
The name Skyview Bar, 200 metres above sea level, perfectly make the idea of the view it offers over Palm Jumeirah and the Persian Gulf. It's like being in the sky, so get your camera always ready!
Please remember that you must be at least 21 years old to enter Burj Al Arab bars.
Lunch or dinner at Burj Al Arab restaurants
Here's the second way to get and live the opulence of the Burj Al Arab: by booking a lunch or dinner at one of its restaurants.
"The Sail" doesn't host one restaurant only (did you have any doubts?) so you can choose the one that best meets your tastes and your budget.
Everyone of them has one thing in common with the others, that’s to say the great atmosphere: luxurious and relaxing. We assure you'll get amazed in front of the sumptuous halls of such a delightfully quiet place.
Here are some advice for your gastronomic experience at Burj al Arab:
- If you want to try the best seafood dishes in Dubai, we recommend you to go to the aquarium-restaurant Al Mahara, renowned for the freshness of its products; tables are surrounded by a huge oval-shaped aquarium and you'll feel like having lunch underwater.
- For a revisitation of French cuisine and a view over the Arabian Sea, the Al Muntaha restaurant, on the 27th floor is a perfect combo and a Dubai gastronomic institution.
- Romanticism and luxury can be found at the Al Iwan restaurant, which holds the record of hosting the world's tallest atrium. Red crystal glasses and gold cutlery, aromas and cuisine are typical of the Arab tradition. The perfect spot for your marriage proposal!
- Junsui restaurant offers an interactive gastronomic experience based on Asian cuisine. In this place, every culinary artwork is created before your eyes. More than just a dinner, it's a culinary journey through Swarovski crystals and great fish dishes.
Guided tours of Burj Al Arab
Have you ever heard of a guided hotel tour? You can take part in a guided tour that takes you around the attractions of Dubai, including a visit to "the Sail", usually combined with a drink-stop at the Skyview bar. A must-to-do experience that explains the exclusivity of Burj Al Arab: to be lived at least once in your life!
Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab: Which one to choose?
Now that you have kept a clear head, let's go back to the original question: which one to choose between Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab? Are you much more a "The Sail" type or are you dreaming of touching clouds from the tallest skyscraper in the world?
Adrenaline vs Aesthetics
As mentioned above, the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab are two completely different experiences to live in Dubai.
The skyscraper is a full-fledged attraction accessible by an entrance ticket, while the Sail is an extra luxury hotel where you can eat or have an aperitif in an opulent and sumptuous environment.
The Burj Khalifa is an incredible building while the Burj Al Arab is a world leader in style and elegance.
The "At the top" platform is a tourist experience unlike the Skyview Bar and the Burj Al Arab restaurants, which are super exclusive and absolutely no-commercial places. No one should leave the Emirate without having visited both, but faced with a choice, which one would come up?
Much depends on what you are looking for: for a dynamic and adrenaline-filled day, with views of the city from the most beautiful panoramic terrace in the world, then we suggest you the Burj Khalifa. If, on the other hand, you want to treat yourself to a nabob evening with an exclusive experience to be enjoyed once in a lifetime, then you should choose the magnificence of the Burj Al Arab.
What is the verdict?
Both of these buildings in Dubai are iconic in their own way. You'll be impressed by the majesty of the Burj Khalifa, but - we assure you - once you've returned home, you'll remember exactly the moment you crossed the entrance of the Burj Al Arab as well.
It's a head-to-head match, the final winner only depends on one thing: which of the two experiences are you going to choose as the cover image for your Facebook album "Travel to Dubai"?
2020 could be the right year to plan a trip: Dubai will host the next World Expo! Why don't you think about it?