Visiting the Burj Khalifa at sunrise

Why you should book a sunrise slot to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Going to the top of the Burj Khalifa is a must-do while in Dubai, but if you want to visit at sunset you’ll pay a lot more and share your experience with a maximum-capacity crowd.

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Looking up the Burj Khalifa
Looking up the Burj Khalifa from the At The Top observation deck on the 124th floor. If you really want to splash the cash you can visit At The Top Sky on the 148th floor.

Luckily, there’s another option. On Friday and Saturday mornings you can book a sunrise slot and see Dubai wake up; it costs around the same as a standard daytime visit but you’ll get an unforgettable view over Dubai at sunrise and even a free cup of coffee and a pastry afterwards.

I was really tempted by the At The Top sunset tickets but in the end the price difference (it’s almost double the price to go up between 3.30pm and 6pm – 200 AED compared to 125 AED) and tales of long queues put me off. I took a deep breath and booked the sunrise tickets.

The Burj Khalifa public viewing deck is called At The Top
The Burj Khalifa public viewing deck is called At The Top

On Saturday my alarm woke me up at 4am, which would be bad enough but we’d arrived from the UK – four hours ahead. To make the early wake-up call even more painful, my brain had done that thing where it wakes you up every hour to remind you that you have to be up before the crack of dawn.

A model of the Burj Khalifa at the entrance to the At The Top observation deck
A model of the Burj Khalifa at the entrance to the At The Top observation deck

The entrance to the Burj Khalifa At The Top viewing deck is inside the Dubai Mall, but since the mall isn’t open at 5.30am, we had to enter via one of the car parks. We wandered around the outside of the mall for a while looking for the entrance until a workman helped us out. He pointed us towards the taxi drop off point and told us that the door would look shut but just to push it and go in. Some reviews on Tripadvisor say to knock on the door at Entrance 7 of the mall but the official way to get in is by the Cinema parking where taxis stop (although of course it’s too early for any taxis to be around!).

We’d visited the mall a couple of days before so it was really strange to see it so dark and quiet – the only people around were shopfitters and the only light away from where they were working came from ATM machines and empty cafes.

The eerily quiet Dubai mall at 5.30am
The eerily quiet Dubai mall at 5.30am

We found the ticket desk and showed our online confirmation and ID to receive our tickets. Then we were straight in – no hassle and zero queues.

Early starts mean zero queues
Early starts mean zero queues

The lift is an experience in itself. It starts slow and then speeds up until you’re whizzing past floors at an amazing rate. The journey to the 124th floor takes less than a minute at 10m per second – definitely ear-popping.

The doors opened and we went through a revolving door out onto the open-air observation deck. It was still before 6am and dark at this point so we got a fantastic view of the Dubai Fountains and the skyscrapers on Sheikh Zayed Road.

No crowds at the top of the Burj Khalifa when you're there before 6am
No crowds at the top of the Burj Khalifa when you’re there before 6am
Looking down onto the Dubai Fountains from the top of the Burj Khalifa
Looking down onto the Dubai Fountains from the top of the Burj Khalifa

It was also extremely windy and pretty cold so I was very glad I’d brought my jacket! Bags have to go through airport-style security on the ground floor. Camera tripods aren’t allowed and although there are slits in the glass which you can just about get your camera through, most tripods wouldn’t be tall enough to reach them anyway. There are a couple of official photographers up there should you want a cheesy picture of yourself balancing on the very top of the Burj Khalifa.

High above the skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road
High above the skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road

The other benefit of visiting the Burj Khalifa at sunrise is that the sun rises on the side of the building which has the outdoor viewing platforms, so you’ve got an unrestricted view as the sun comes up. The entire 124th floor is open to visitors but only part of it is outdoor. If you visited at sunset you’d be viewing it through the glass in the gift shop area.

Book sunrise tickets

Book tickets for the Burj Khalifa at sunrise

Tickets

At around 6.30 the sky started to get lighter and the sun broke through the clouds, reflecting off the waters of the Dubai Creek.

The morning sun starting to peek through the clouds
The morning sun peeking through the clouds

A few minutes later we were treated to beautiful rays of sunshine through the clouds and the city began to come to life.

Watching the sunrise on the outdoor viewing deck
Watching the sunrise on the outdoor viewing deck
The sunrise reflecting off the Dubai Creek
The sunrise reflecting off the Dubai Creek

Even at this point (around 7am) the viewing deck was by no means busy. Everyone was calm watching the sunrise, taking photos and enjoying the view.

Watching the sunrise at the top of the Burj Khalifa
Watching the sunrise at the top of the Burj Khalifa
Looking towards the Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina
Looking towards the Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina

We stayed at the top for nearly two hours. When we went to go down again there still wasn’t a queue. We were going back to our hotel for breakfast so we didn’t take up the offer of coffee and a pastry on the ground floor but it smelt great. Walking back through the mall as shop workers were opening up we were super-tired (we ended up going straight back to bed!) but knew we’d had a very special experience.

Book sunrise tickets

Book tickets for the Burj Khalifa at sunrise

Tickets

Have you made a special trip for a sunrise?

Visiting the Burj Khalifa at sunrise

26 thoughts on “Visiting the Burj Khalifa at sunrise”

    • Thank you! A big part of the reason I wanted to go to Dubai is because I’d been through the airport loads of times but never been outside. It’s definitely a good option for a layover when nothing else is open!

      Reply
  1. Lovely post. My friend wants to go to Dubai and this will be so helpful. I love the idea of going at sunrise. I know it’s early butI hate crowds and its cheaper so itsounds worth it. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Thank you, yes it was awesome 🙂 We were staying at a hotel across the road from the Dubai mall so we walked it. I’ll be doing a hotel review post of where we stayed (Rove Downtown) as it was a real find – a pretty reasonably priced 3 star where everywhere else is either 5* or miles from the sights.

      Reply
    • It was definitely worth it, we paid for it later though! Dubai really surprised me with how much there is to do away from the glitz.

      Reply
  2. Wow… The pictures and views are stunning ! I’ve been through the Dubai airport many times but never gone outside. Waking up early was definitely worth it ! Thank you for sharing ☺

    Reply
    • Same here, I used to be transiting through Dubai every few months but never left the airport. So glad I finally went outside!

      Reply
  3. This is a great tip to visit at sunrise and I am glad you wrote down the details on how to find the entrance at this hour! Too bad I didn’t read your post a year ago, when I visited Burj Khalifa, would have definitely gone at sunrise!

    Reply
  4. This is such a good plan! We didn’t have time to visit the Burj when we whizzed through Dubai recently and I know it’s very high on Karl’s bucket list. We seem going back in September. This would be a fabulous way to spend the last morning before nipping off for the flight home.
    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  5. Hey, Helen just booked 5.30 AM Friday Morning slot this week sunrise time slot for visiting the Burj Khalifa.
    Got excited so much that opened up another tab and booked tickets for me and roomie. Hope we have great time and have an experience more exciting that I am already imagining in my head.

    Reply

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