If I have a connecting flight through Dubai and I am interested in going up the Burj Khalifa, how long do I need between arrival and departure to make sure that I can visit it without too much stress? Currently I am eyeing a flight which has a 6:00 hour layover.

I am not too interested in other sights in Dubai but if I have time I will not let it go to waste.

Also I have a German passport so I should not need a Visa (apparently), and I am flying economy without any status so no speedy check in for me.

  • 1
    6 hours is comfortably sufficient
    – Calchas
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 9:51
  • @Calchas Agree - My friend and I spent about 4 hours doing the whole thing starting from our hotel on the south side of town, until we got back, and that included lunch. And that was a pretty leisurely trip. I'd say 2 hours is more than enough for the At The Top experience (the tour itself takes about a half hour, then they just let you wander), so just pack travel time around that and pad it sufficiently for unexpected events, food, shopping, etc.
    – thanby
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 14:55

2 Answers 2


It is possible, but you have to plan well. Here are my tips:

  1. Book your ticket online.

  2. The metro from the airport to Dubai Mall will take anywhere from 30-45 minutes. It starts from 6 in the morning (except on Fridays, when it starts at 2 PM). There are 9 stops before you get to the mall. The metro only runs from Terminal 3 and 1, if you are in Terminal 2, you'll have to catch a bus to the station (or hop in a taxi directly to the mall).

  3. Plan to spend a good 30 minutes walking from the metro station to the entrance of the Burj Khalifa viewing platform. It will take you anything from 10-20 minutes to reach the mall from the metro stop, (since its on the other side of the highway). The metro stop will drop you on the second floor of the mall, near Bloomingdales. From there you'll have a nice walk to get to the Burj Khalifa entrance, which is in the basement on the far end.

  4. It will take you 45 minutes to enjoy the tower more if you can't avoid the many photo sessions for which you will be stopped.

  5. Then its pretty much reverse the route to get to the airport; another 30-45 minutes. Count on this being an hour or more since you'll most likely stop for a drink or a snack since none are allowed in the tower's observation deck.

  6. Then you'll have to check-in at least 2 hours before (more, if you are not on Emirates or Qantas, as the terminals get very busy - especially the immigration and security lines). I've personally waited 20 minutes in immigration alone - nevermind security (there are no priority queues here unfortunately).

To really enjoy your trip, and to not be rushed:

  1. Book your ticket online.

  2. Take a taxi to the Dubai Mall. Taxis are available from every terminal exit. You'll have to stand in a queue; but these are often empty. The taxi service is exceptionally good since they are all highly regulated. The ride to the mall should take less than 30 minutes.

  3. All taxis stop at the lower basement; which will save you a lot of walking in the mall. If you are carrying luggage with you, there is a left luggage service at the mall in the basement in The Village. There is left luggage service at the airport, but its at the metro station.

  4. Take a simple stroll through the basement to the Burj Khalifa view deck entrance. The tour will be an easy 45 minutes.

  5. Once you are done, you can stop by the fountain (which is also in the basement) and get something to eat at the various restaurants in that area; as you'll have plenty of time; since its only been 1:10 since you left the airport.

  6. Now you have some time to relax at the mall or walk around. Make sure you pick up your luggage at the drop off and walk towards the taxi queues (which can fill up quickly). Taxi services are are very well organized. You don't have to stand on the street or hail them yourself. There will be marshals that will guide you towards the cabs. Give yourself 15-20 minutes to make your way towards the taxi stands.

  7. Depending on traffic it may take you 20-30 minutes to get to the airport; as the exit out of the mall goes through the financial district.

  8. Arrive at the airport and check-in.

Your total time: 2-3:30 hours.

  • 2
    Great answer - what would you give as the estimated total? Sounds like about 4 and a half to 5 hours? Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 13:40
  • They actually serve you drinks and light snacks before the tour and when you arrive at the observation deck, though it's far from a full meal.
    – thanby
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 14:56

There is a direct metro connection from Airport to Burj Khalifa (Please check the opening hours of metro, it operates between 06.00 to midnight). It shouldn't take more than half hour from the airport and even less if you take a taxi.

Remember to check the opening hours of Burj Khalifa. It opens at 08.30.

However please note that Dubai airport is usually quite busy, there are usually long passport/security control queues, so you should consider that time as well.

  • 1
    Do you have any approximation of the time it takes to get through these queues? (in both directions)
    – fishlein
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:52
  • 2
    If you are at right terminal, I think one hour should be enough. Make sure to check the terminal number first. Terminal 1 and 3 are connected, 2 is not. You would need to get an airport shuttle to reach there, that would add some extra time.
    – Sam
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 9:00
  • 1
    +1 for the taxi suggestion, especially if you're short on time. They're quite cheap and take credit cards, and there's a taxi stand at the exit right after baggage claim. A return taxi can easily be flagged down on the street (might only take cash though) or you can order one with an app like Careem (the Middle Eastern version of Uber). Just plan on having access to data if you want to use the app. The mall has free wifi if you create an account with them, though it's slow.
    – thanby
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 15:00

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