WHAT TO DO IN SHARJAH – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Are you planning your Sharjah trip and wondering about the best things to do in Sharjah? Then this post is for you. With this travel guide, you will find the answers about the best places to visit in Sharjah + travel tips.
Sharjah is a beautiful place! When I told people in Dubai this, some looked at me in surprise. People in Dubai do not even know about the main Sharjah attractions, what to do, and where to go. They are unaware of the best places to visit or how to spend one day in Sharjah (or even two).
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IS SHARJAH WORTH VISITING?
In short, yes Sharjah is worth visiting. You have some fun outdoor activities as well as indoor places waiting for you to be discovered.
Why else is Sharjah worth it?
- Great Value for Money: Dubai is expensive. Full stop. Sharjah is way cheaper. Accommodations are cheaper, taxis are cheaper, activities are cheaper, and food is cheaper.
- Less Crowded: Sharjah is lesser-known and less crowded. Of course, other tourists have discovered the place, but you will not have to share the space as you would in Dubai.
- Safe, Clean, and Developed: Like the rest of the UAE, Sharjah feels incredibly safe. As a solo female traveler, I did not have to worry about being robbed or anything (well, once I was followed by a car that actually went along wherever I walked, but after taking out my phone and very obviously taking pictures of the person in the car, he got scared and drove off quickly). Also, it is clean and “developed.” If you are NOT looking for an adventurous trip where you can never be sure what to expect – will public transportation work, will there be air-conditioned places, etc. – then Sharjah is the place to go.
- Kid-Friendly: Sharjah is a great place to spend a vacation with the family, especially with kids because of the many places and activities (most often free). By the way, I also have a detailed post on things to do in Dubai with children.
- Pedestrian-Friendly: Sharjah is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities I have come across, e.g., you can basically stroll along the whole waterfront without many obstacles – walking has never been easier.
- Lush: It seemed like Sharjah was quite lush to me. Not all around and everywhere, but if you walk from the Central Souk towards the Noor Mosque, you will find plenty of green meadows with palms in them Palms are everywhere in Sharjah, which makes this place pretty nice and greatly contrasts with the high buildings and modern paths.
- Location: Sharjah is perfectly located. It takes only 15 minutes to get to Dubai (Old Town) by car (for tips on things to do in Dubai, click here) and the Dubai International Airport is also quite close (a 20-minute drive). You are close to Ras al Khaimah, and you can even do a day trip to Abu Dhabi. So it is the ideal place when you want to get around the UAE.
Downsides of Sharjah
- More conservative: Sharjah is more conservative than Dubai. As I do not drink alcohol, I did not even realize that there is no alcohol allowed in Sharjah! So, it is not a place for those who want to party hard and drink. You do not have to wear a scarf, and you can wear shorts and tops, but you can see some differences from Dubai. With more tourists coming, especially from the UK and Russia, this might change eventually, but you should dress more moderately than in Dubai.
- It is a bit sleepy: While I enjoyed the quietness, especially compared to Dubai, it can get boring if you are looking for action.
- Not authentic: If you are looking for a real, authentic Emirate experience, you will not find it in Sharjah. Though it seems to take pride in being more authentic and traditional, I could not see it. For the most authentic feeling, you probably have to visit Ras al Khaimah, for example.
- A lot of construction work: Sharjah is quite modern, though some areas have not been developed yet. When it comes to construction work, you will see that a lot is going on.
- Many mosques: Also, there are a lot of mosques. They are charming to look at, and if you are Muslim and religious, you will appreciate the muezzin calling for prayers – especially as you will hear that five times a day. No matter where you are in Sharjah – you will always hear the prayer´s call. So, for those who wake up easily and have problems falling asleep again, this might be a bit of an issue.
SHARJAH TRAVEL TIPS
Here is a bit more info for your first Sharjah trip before jumping to what to do in Sharjah or, better, the best landmarks.
How to Get Around
- Sharjah is a perfect place to walk. Of course, you cannot walk around the entire city (it is not that small), but you can get to many attractions just by foot, and you would only have to take a taxi once in a while.
- Another great way to get around is on a city sightseeing bus – the hop-on and hop-off bus will drop you off at the most popular spots, and then you can hop on again, or walk, to the next spot. Click here for the best prices – sightseeing bus tours in Sharjah
Where to Stay in Sharjah
As mentioned, Sharjah is way more affordable than Dubai. Especially when it comes to accommodations. I booked a very nice hotel room in a five-star hotel for very reasonable prices – that rate is impossible in Dubai (booked via Booking.com).
- TIP: You can also book a Sharjah tour from Dubai for a day. Check out the tour here.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SHARJAH
Finally…here are some of the best places to visit.
Admire the Architecture of Central Souk or Blue Souk
- I suggest starting your first day in the Central Souk of Sharjah around 10 am.
Shopping in Sharjah is different than shopping in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. While you have huge malls in these two cities, the most prominent shopping mall, the Blue Souk, is completely different.
It is a cute mall with a gorgeous design. If you look closely at the picture below, you will probably notice it is in the shape of a train.
You can buy gold and silver (prices are almost the same as in Dubai Gold Souk, maybe slightly cheaper), souvenirs, and Arabian-styled clothes (no western brands like you normally see in Dubai). When shopping here, you will learn that the prices for all sorts of goods are lower than in Dubai (except gold).
It was less crowded and much smaller than other malls in the UAE, however, there are still over 600 shops across two levels.
This is also the starting point for both the hop-on and hop-off routes.
Though I had a ticket for the sightseeing bus, on my second day, I made it my mission to walk along the Corniche – and I was not disappointed at all.
Relax at Palm Tree Oasis
Before heading to the next Sharjah attraction – Al Noor Island – take your time and chill at the Palm Tree Oasis (AlNakheel Oasis). There are several hundreds of palms in this park area.
I saw many bringing their own portable chairs or blankets and having picnics here (it is a popular place to visit, especially in the evening). You can easily get there from the Souk – the stroll is lovely and pleasant.
- It is about 1,1 km (0,7 miles) from the Blue Mosque to the Palm Tree Oasis/ AlNakheel Oasis.
Visit Al Noor Island
You can cross the beautiful bridge for an entrance fee of about 12€, and you can spend a few hours on the island.
There is a butterfly garden, some art collections, and playgrounds for kids.
I did not visit, as I am secretly scared of butterflies. Plus, the reviews were mixed, and many visitors thought it was too expensive and not a good value. However, the building itself is amazing, and I fell in love with its curved form. In the evenings, when the lights turn on, it gets even prettier!
- The Al Noor Island is just opposite the end of the AlNakheel Oasis.
See the Noor Mosque
There is no shortage of mosques in Sharjah. Seriously, there are mosques wherever you visit (to date, there have been 600 mosques in Sharjah). Most of them are designed similarly in a beautiful, Turkish Ottoman style – the Noor Mosque is probably one of the prettiest ones.
It was influenced by the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. The interior of the mosque is etched with intricate calligraphy of verses from the Holy Quran.
You can get some Emirati traditional dress for visitors in the entrance area for the duration of your visit. You can also do guided tours to explore the beautiful mosque.
The perfect location, just at the Buhaira Corniche is another reason to visit.
- From Al Noor Island to the Al Noor Mosque, it will just take 5 minutes to get there.
Stroll Al Majaz Waterfront
Oh, what a beautiful waterfront! It is a 12-minute walk from the Al Noor Mosque to the Al Majaz Waterfront.
You can rent go-karts for the younger ones, and there are some playgrounds for the kids, but you can also play mini-golf. Adults will love the restaurants and cafes overlooking the Khaled Lagoon.
And in the evenings, there is a nice fountain show that goes on. I got mixed replies about the timing of the water dance show, and the tourism board has not been much help to answer this question, but to my knowledge, it starts after 7 pm and is several times a day.
It is probably one of the best places to visit in Sharjah at night (by the way, for me, night means after the sun sets) and is probably my second favorite place in Sharjah.
- From Al Noor Mosque it is a 15-minute walk to Al Majaz Waterfront.
Most likely, it is all you can schedule in a day, especially if you walk, but be assured that there are more things to see in Sharjah.
Snap Pictures of Al Majaz Amphitheater
Close to the Al Majaz is the Al Majaz Amphitheater, and if you are lucky, you can see a concert or festival during your stay. Events do not take place daily or weekly. Since there were no activities scheduled during my time there, I just strolled around the area and did not go inside.
You can check out events here – it is definitely a beautiful building and looks quite classy.
Have Fun at Al Montazah
If you visit Sharjah with kids, they will probably want to spend a day at the Al Montazah Waterpark. If you walk along the Corniche, your kids will probably spot the slides from a distance and ask what is there.
So, while the waterpark had some pretty bad reviews a few years ago, it seems to have gotten much better, with more slides and activities now. So if you need a day to enjoy being in the water, then spend it at Al Montazah Park.
Hit the Beach
Sharjah has some nice public (and private) beaches. Due to the weather conditions, you can spend a day at the beach even in winter in the UAE. While it can be windy, it is still warm, and the beaches are pretty empty.
Choose a free beach (e.g., Al Meena Street or Al Montazah Street) or use a beach section that belongs to one of the hotels in the area for a bit more privacy. Taking pictures is officially not allowed, so this is the one right on the street which I could photograph.
While the water is pristine and clear, the view is not always perfect because there is quite some construction work going on.
Visit Sharjah Aquarium
Sharjah also has an aquarium – and it is not only for kids. The hop-on bus stops here, and even if you do not visit the Aquarium, it is worth getting out there. The area around it is lovely, and the kids can play.
If you would like to have some alone time, go behind the Aquarium to be by the coast. There are not much more than a few construction projects going on, and while it does not sound inviting, it is pretty nice to sit there and enjoy some quiet time.
Stroll Al Qasba
Wondering what else to see in Sharjah? Well, here is my top tip: this area, Al Qasba, is charming.
Though it would be too much to label it as an “alternative” area, it is the most stylish part of Sharjah, with a cool and colorful staircase/bridge.
It almost does not feel real, and you have a great view of the Eye of the Emirates Wheel and the man-made canal. You can do boat tours, do some shopping, and have a nice dinner at one of the numerous cafes/restaurants.
There are lots of things to do with children, too. Rent a go-kart, play on the playground, etc.
If you visit after 5 pm, do not miss the Al Qasba Musical Fountain Show. It takes place once an hour between 5 pm and 11:30 pm (exact timing here). It is fun to cool down (if you jump into the fountain) and fun to see.
Go on a Desert Safari
Oh, the desert… No trip to the UAE would be complete without a trip to the desert, and a desert safari is also one of the best things to do in Sharjah.
Going on a 4×4 adventure and having a BBQ in the desert (plus stargazing) is a must-do activity in Sharjah.
If you book your trip, you will probably have the desert safari in Dubai’s desert, but that really does not matter as it is a fantastic way to end your day and collect unique memories.
- There are desert tours in Dubai with a pick-up in Sharjah – find out more here.
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation
The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization opened in 2008 and is home to more than 5,000 artifacts from the Islamic world and it is said to have an impressive interior, so it is more than learning about religion.
Unfortunately, I ran out of time before I could actually visit the museum, but this is a museum I would have loved to visit.
Apparently, Sharjah has more museums than Dubai, and this one is one of the most popular ones. It was also the first one to open in the city (in 1996).
- Location: It is located near the Radisson Blu Hotel on the waterfront (the City Sightseeing bus stops here).
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST SHARJAH ACTIVITIES
I hope you are inspired to visit, and you have now found out about the best places to visit in Sharjah.
It is a unique destination in the UAE – and there are a few great things to do in Sharjah. You´ll see that there is a lot to do, and even if you do not want to spend your whole time there, you should plan for at least two days in Sharjah.