The word Sharjah literally means ‘the rising sun’. This culturally, intellectually and architecturally rich emirate is more than 6,000 years old. Sharjah is also the UAE’s third largest emirate, after Abu Dhabi and Dubai. All the other emirates face the Persian Gulf, but Sharjah is the only one that adjoins the Arabian Gulf. This place is so rich in culture that it was named the Cultural Capital of the Arab World in 1998 by UNESCO. You can explore this emirate’s cultural aspects by visiting its famous museums located at the well-known Sharjah heritage area. Apart from the culture, though, you have many other things you can enjoy, as we’ll show you here.
Guest post by Priya
What’s the best time to visit Sharjah?
- Winter Time – Tourist Season: The coolest period in the UAE falls between October and April. In these pleasant weather conditions, temperatures go as low as 20 degrees Celsius. The fact that it doesn’t rain during this period and that the humidity levels are also low add more reasons to plan your one day in Sharjah during this season.
- Summer Time – Non-tourist Season: The summer in Sharjah begins in May and goes on till September. The weather is hot and dry during this time, with temperatures going up to 40 degrees Celsius easy. Plus, the month-long festival of Ramadan, which occurs sometime between May and June, brings forth many restrictions on eating and drinking.
A few facts about Sharjah
- Sharjah has been ruled by the Al Qasimi dynasty since the beginning of the 17th century.
- Sharjah is the only emirate in the UAE that shares its border with other Emirates.
- Sharjah’s history stretches 6,000 years into the past.
- Did you know that it was at Jebel Fayah in Sharjah that the scientists found the first evidence of human life in the UAE, dating back to 85,000 BC?
- Sharjah is the first emirate to provide education to women – this happened in 1942.
Top events at Sharjah
- Sharjah Light Festival: If you’re in Sharjah in February, be sure to attend the 10-day Sharjah Light Festival. You’ll find yourself marveling at the dazzling installations, site-specific video projections, laser light shows and much more, all produced by gifted global artists.
- Sharjah Biennial: The Sharjah Biennial is an art exposition which brings in renowned curators from around the world to Sharjah. The Sharjah Biennial in 2019 will take place from March 7 to June 10.
- Sharjah International Book Fair: UNESCO has named Sharjah the World Book Capital for 2019. This festival is attended by several million bookworms every year, for 11 days every November.
One Day in Sharjah Itinerary
Morning 9 A.M.: Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization: Time – 1.5 Hours
One of the top things to do in Sharjah is visit the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. This museum houses many thousands of Islamic artefacts and many of these artefacts are unique, with no duplicates anywhere else in the world. At the museum, you can learn about Islamic civilization’s timeless achievements, its culture, and about Islamic art and its beauty.
Morning 10:30 A.M.: Sharjah Art Museum – Time: 1.5 Hours
Before the construction of the Louvre, Abu Dhabi, the Sharjah Art Museum was considered the largest of its kind in the UAE. Feast your eyes on a wide range of valuable Arab artworks spread out among seventy-two galleries. One of the top Sharjah tourist attractions, the Sharjah Art Museum is located at a three minutes’ walk from the Islamic Civilization Museum, via the Buhaira Corniche.
Noon 12:00 P.M.: Sharjah Archaeology Museum – Time: 1.5 Hours
Explore this museum’s remarkable artefacts that date back all the way to the Stone Age. There’s jewellery, ancient relics, pottery and much more to see. Check out the first forms of writing, old tombs, houses and cemeteries that detail the centuries-old civilizations of this region.
Lunch Break: 1:30 P.M – Time: 1 Hour
There are several restaurants and cafes along the Buhaira Corniche that you can try for lunch. The Laffah Cafeteria serves up excellent fast food, both Arabian and continental. Or try Shakespeare and Co. for cakes and pastries along with savoury lunch dishes.
Afternoon 2:30 P.M.: Sharjah’s Central Market – Time: 2 Hours
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Sharjah, the magnificent blue tile work of the Blue Souq, Sharjah’s Central Market will mesmerize you. The six-hundred shops at this market offer a large variety of goods, ranging from electronics, jewellery, clothing and household items. The Central Market is a famous Sharjah landmark and houses an authentic Arabian bazaar.
Late Afternoon 4:30 P.M: Qanat Al Qasba – Time: 1.5 Hours
If you have kids along with you, do head to Al Qasba, which houses the ‘Eye of the Emirates’, a huge Ferris Wheel. Sign up for a ride on the wheel to enjoy a fabulous view of the entire island. There are a number of interactive activities at the Qasba for kids ,as well.
Evening 6 P.M.: Khalid Lagoon, Al Noor Island and Al Noor Mosque– Time: 3 Hours
Khalid Lagoon is located in the middle of Sharjah and is home to the world’s third highest fountain. The mirror-like surface of the Khalid Lagoon reflects the beautiful Al Noor Mosque’s domes and minarets. Al Noor Island is a public park located in Khalid Lagoon. You get to it by crossing a bridge from the central city Corniche Street. You’ll find modern art installations and beautiful gardens here, along with a butterfly house which contains over 500 species of butterflies.
The Al Noor Mosque is designed in classic Ottoman style with several domes and two minarets. The spectacular interior is decorated with Koranic calligraphic inscriptions. There are several beautifully decorated pillars and arches within the mosque. Photography is permitted and you’ll be required to put on Islamic clothing at the mosque when you tour it.
Dinner 9:00 P.M. – Time: 2 Hours
Enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants close to Khalid Lagoon. You can have your pick of several of them, for example, Bangkok Town Restaurant for vegetarian options and Malabar Regency Restaurant. Enjoy a leisurely meal and check out the views from the restaurant. The fountain at Khalid Lagoon is visible from quite a distance.
Best Day Trips from Sharjah
Here are some of the best day trips from Sharjah:
- Fujairah: The emirate of Fujairah and Fujairah City may take about one and a half hours to reach, but the region offers some great snorkeling destinations and a mesmerising combination of beaches and mountains. Yes, you can truly enjoy nature in this part of the country, so if you fancy a day in the sun and on the beach head east until you reach the Gulf of Oman.
- Dubai: Dubai is just a half an hour’s drive away, so a day trip from Sharjah to it should not escape you. You can take a bus or a cab if you don’t have your car and then start exploring. Burj Khalifa, old Dubai, Dubai Museum and many other places will keep you busy. Be sure to visit the IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor theme park in Dubai, along with White Wadi and Aquaventure waterparks.
- Abu Dhabi: Although not as close, Abu Dhabi can still be considered a good destination for your day trip from Sharjah. If you take the car, it’s less than two hours away, whereas the bus takes just over two hours. Visit the Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and other prime attractions.
Where to Stay In Sharjah
Sharjah has its share of good hotels and Airbnbs that you can check out while looking for accommodation. Be sure that your hotel in Sharjah:
- Complies with positive reviews
- Has a female-friendly hotel brand
- Provides complimentary shuttle services
- Has free unlimited Wi-Fi
- Has phones in each room
- Is located in a nice neighbourhood
You can check out the following hotels that have positive reviews:
Golden Sands Hotel (formerly Ramada Hotel & Suite)
Opposite Sahara Center, Al Nahda Street 115, Sharjah
Ramada Hotels and Suites Sharjah – this hotel was recently renovated, so you can expect modern and very comfortable accommodation and everything that goes along with that. A gym, a spa, a pool, luxury rooms… whatever you need, it’s there! A shopping center is also nearby, plus their restaurant is excellent.
Hotel Holiday International
Alongside Khalid Lagoon, Al Majaz, Sharjah
Hotel Holiday International – a beautiful view of Khalid Lagoon is what sets this hotel apart from the competition and the Gold Souq market is very nearby, so you will be able to truly experience Sharjah this way. Of course, the rooms are splendid and there is a pool and a gym for the guests. As for the food, you can choose between three different restaurants. Enjoy!
Sharjah Palace Hotel
Al Tawun St, Sharjah
Sharjah Palace Hotel – this luxury hotel with a rooftop pool brings enjoying your vacation to a whole new level. Its architecture is quite impressive too, and the rooms are spacious, comfortable and very well equipped. Many different cuisines are represented in the hotel’s restaurant, from Chinese to European, and you can even shoot some pool in the Generations Club. A gym and a sauna are also available.
Al Hamra Hotel
Street 14, Al Andalus Square, Al Majarrah
Al Hamra Hotel – very close to the city centre, Al Hamra Hotel is within a walking distance from the main city market and the Museum of Islamic Civilization. It also has a very modern design, an outdoor pool and will even provide you with free transport to the beach. If you can, book a room overlooking the Sharjah bay for a spectacular view.
All these hotels are located in good neighbourhoods, and are considered family-friendly hotels.
Tips to Travel in Sharjah
Here are a few tips to follow while in Sharjah:
- Sharjah does not have any nightclubs or night entertainment venues. So, if you are interested in nightlife, you must make your own arrangements in your hotel room.
- Consuming alcohol is possible only within licensed hotels. It’s best if you bring some alcohol with you and drink it in the privacy of your room.
- Do not wear provocative clothing while in Sharjah. Even men should be careful not to wear shorts that bare their legs.
- You can bargain everywhere in Sharjah. Start by cutting the asking price in half and bargain from there. This helps reduce the price by 30 %.
- Sharjah doesn’t have any public transport, though you can always hire a taxi. You’ll have to negotiate the trip’s cost in advance as the cabs don’t come with meters.
- Children get free entry at most museums and entertainment venues. Check for child discounts for any child under 18 while visiting cultural and recreational venues.
- You’ll be fined if you happen to litter the streets in Sharjah. You must throw garbage only in designated boxes.
- Be careful not to aim your camera at local women in Sharjah. Even if you’re not aiming at them, be careful to put your camera down when women are passing by. Also, before taking pictures of religious and cultural objects, it’s best to obtain permission.
Sharjah, though not as popular as a tourist destination the way Dubai and Abu Dhabi are, is still an excellent place for a family vacation. Kids will find the trip delightful and educational, and grownups will enjoy the incredible food for thought in terms of intellect and culture.
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