When I was planning my last visit to Dubai, a trip to Burj Khalifa was at the top of my to-do list.
The record-breaking building, which towers above you at an eye-watering 828 metres and over 160 storeys has become an emblem of the city, the architectural wonder at the heart of Downtown Dubai that symbolises the emirate’s meteoric rise out of the desert to become one of the biggest travel destinations in the world.
While Burj Khalifa’s exterior is an impressive sight to behold, there’s nothing quite like the views of the city that you can see from inside. If you want to see the best views, do as I did and book tickets for At the Top, Burj Khalifa. This must-visit destination is spread across two levels: the 125th floor of Burj Khalifa is just about taking in the sights from behind the floor-to-ceiling windows, while the 148th floor has views from an even higher vantage point for admiring the city below, as well as a sleek lounge and a selection of complementary nibbles and drinks. From these observation decks, you can see incredible vistas of the city’s most distinctive landmarks, from the waterways of Dubai Canal to Dubai Creek, along with the pristine shoreline of Jumeirah Beach, the turquoise waters of Burj Lake below, and the desert dunes in the distance. I’d recommend booking your tickets online ahead of your visit.
To combine beautiful views with outstanding cuisine, plan a meal at At.mosphere, the fine dining restaurant and lounge on the 122nd floor of Burj Khalifa. Perfect for entertaining guests, impressing a date or celebrating a special occasion, the cuisine at At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa more than matches up to its setting. Early risers will love the breakfast menu, which offers an a la carte option or a decadent six-course meal. The afternoon high tea is another great choice: think simple but exquisite savoury sandwiches, sweet pastries and traditional scones, served alongside delicate teas and brewed coffees. What I enjoy is the fact that both experiences let you to extend the experience of a visit to Burj Khalifa, and linger longer over the beautiful views.
Another Downtown Dubai venue that offers spectacular views inside and out is Dubai Opera. It’s a beautiful addition to the city skyline, with sleek architecture inspired by traditional dhow boats that nods to the UAE’s rich maritime history. The opera house is the centre of performing arts in the city, and the grand buildings interiors reflect this. For a truly spectacular view of the skyline, book a table at Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera. The food is just as exquisite as you’d expect from the celebrity chef, with beautiful views of Burj Khalifa from the alfresco seating area. Plus, the rooftop terrace is the perfect spot for a cocktail at sunset.
And Dubai Opera isn’t the only impressive sight in Downtown Dubai – don’t forget that no visit to the glittering urban area would be complete without a visit toThe Dubai Fountain, and the chance to see its breathtaking show, an inspiring performance of music, water and light. Every evening, you can see the crowds gather beside the waters of Burj Lake, outside The Dubai Mall, to marvel at the show. However, savvy travellers and residents know that the best way to enjoy The Dubai Fountain is by booking a table at a nearby restaurant with an unobstructed view of Burj Lake – that way, you get dinner and a show. Palace Downtown is an excellent choice – the palatial resort has a number of chic restaurants with excellent Downtown Dubai views. I’d recommend Thiptara or Asado for the best views of the fountains. The former serves up delicious high-end Thai cuisine, while the latter is an Argentinian restaurant that any meat lover is sure to enjoy.
If you’re willing to venture slightly further afield, the Dubai Canal is an awe-inspiring new landmark, one that has changed the face of the city significantly. The multibillion dirham project is a 3.2-kilometre waterway that snakes through the heart of the city, linking the historic waters of Dubai Creek to the waterfront of Jumeirah Beach. There are plenty of walkways to stroll along beside the water, along with a 12-kilometre cycling path and 3 kilometre running path, plus pedestrian bridges where you can stand and admire the city skyline towering over the canal. Look out for the mechanical waterfall where the Canal meets the Sheikh Zayed Road bridge – it’s especially impressive at night when it lights up, and the waters part to let the boats go by.
James T. is an avid explorer who is passionate about new travel experiences