The roar of the crowd rose to a crescendo as the bowler started running towards the wicket. The batsman at the last moment moved and nervously took his stance at the edge of the crease. The ball flew. It was a yorker. The batsman was expecting it and willow met leather with perfect timing. The ball soared high up in the air and dropped much beyond the boundary line into the crowds in the Sharjah stadium.
It was a Six! The match was over. The players rushed into the pavilion as screaming crowds poured onto the field in a frenzy.
The batsman was Javed Miandad playing for Pakistan, the bowler was Chetan Sharma playing for India. It was the final of the Austral-Asia Cup and the venue was the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Middle East. This match that took place in 1986 has since been part of the cricketing lore and passed on as a legendary moment from one generation of cricket lovers to another.
This is not a post about cricket, but it is about Sharjah, but for me as well as many others Sharjah City was synonymous with cricket for a long time.
Oh! “This is Sharjah”! “The place where many a cricket legends were shaped”, I thought as I peered out of the car. I had landed in Sharjah Airport an hour back and was on my way to the Ramada Hotel which would be my digs for the next few days as I explored Sharjah City which had emerged in its own right as a complete family destination. Today the city of Sharjah has forged ahead as an attractive and relatively inexpensive destination for the entire family. The Sharjah Tourism authorities have been doing a great job in terms of not only promoting Sharjah travel but also ensuring world class infrastructure and amenities.
Sharjah City holds forward the promise of some incredible experiences in the areas of culture, adventure, arts, architecture, archaeology, and nature. I looked forward to exploring the city of Sharjah which seemed to be an ideal destination for the thinking man or woman. The sheer range of sights and things to do in Sharjah is mind-boggling and if constrained for a time one needs to plan to cover the best of Sharjah by referring to a Sharjah City travel guide. Attractions in Sharjah are innumerable. There are many places to visit in Sharjah. We bring to you here the top things to do in Sharjah and the best places to visit in Sharjah. Read on to check out the Sharjah City Guide – a complete Sharjah tour guide that has travel tips for Sharjah and information about Sharjah.
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates is in many ways the soul of the Islamic World having been recognized by UNESCO in 2014 as the Capital of Islamic Culture.
I) Culture, History, Heritage
1. The Mosques of Sharjah
The Al Noor Mosque
My voyage of discovery fittingly started with a visit to the Al Noor Mosque which in the perfect symmetry of its structure stood in sublime splendor against the backdrop of a clear blue sky meeting the waters of the Khalid Lagoon. The 34 elegant domes of the mosque make for a pleasing visual experience.
In a fascinating tapestry of contradiction, skyscrapers rose to the heavens on the other side of the Al Noor Mosque, but the mosque seemed to mock at these wannabe structures with an air of nonchalance.
The Al Noor Mosque which may give you a sense of deja vu if you have seen the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey is built in the Turkish Ottman architectural style. It is one of the 600 mosques in Sharjah. The good news is that this mosque is open to the public. In fact, it is one of the 3 mosques in Sharjah that is open to the public. An air of serenity prevailed inside the mosques and the sanctity of the place was palpable in its interiors. Glittering chandeliers cast an ethereal light in the central hall graced with stucco walls. We seemed to have entered a different world and an exquisite one at that.
The mosque can accommodate 2200 people and also has a ladies section that can accommodate 400. A pleasant lady shared with us a wealth of information about Islam, its traditions and the culture of the U.A.E as she showed us around. Our experience transcended to an altogether different level when we were served dates and Arabic Coffee by the gracious lady.
We were advised to take a bite of the dates and then sip the coffee, as the exotic liquid touched the palate, strange currents of bliss passed from the tongue to the mind, the coffee tasted like an elixir from the heavens. Visiting the Al Noor mosque is definitely one of the top things to do in Sharjah.
- Dress conservatively and modestly, shorts and skirts are a strict no for women and shorts and 3/4ths are a strict no for men
- Women are provided Niqab/Hijab at the entrance
- Both Men and Women have to remove their footwear before entering the mosque
- Photography is allowed inside the Mosque
Other Mosques in Sharjah
The minarets of 600 mosques pierce the Sharjah City skyline currently of which 3 mosques are open to the public. This includes the Al Noor Mosque which is the most magnificent of them all. The King Faisal Mosque is the largest of the mosques in the city of Sharjah and can accommodate up to 17,000 people for prayers. The third mosque that is open to the public is the Al Maghfirah Mosque that accommodates up to 3,000 people.
2. The Museums of Sharjah
Museums are windows to the culture, history, and heritage of a place. They offer a peep into a fascinating world and take you on a flight of imagination. Sharjah City with 22 museums covering virtually every aspect of life and culture and documenting meticulously the march of time is indeed a bonanza for museum aficionados. For extensive details of the museums do check out the official site of the Sharjah Museums Department.
Sharjah Heritage Museum
The Sharjah Heritage Museum is a tour de force of sorts and takes you on a fascinating journey of the early origins, history, and culture of Sharjah. As one moves through the six galleries that make up the museum one glimpses the way of life of the people.
Rich information about the lifestyles, occupation, and traditions is presented through interesting exhibits organized in a systematic manner.
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is housed in a building which was once a traditional Souq. The building stands out in a glittering style owing to its golden dome. The museum itself is a veritable treasure-house of information about the Islamic civilization with artifacts from across the world. Valuable exhibits including coins, calligraphy, manuscripts, metalwork, etc., trace the origins of Islamic civilization.
Sharjah Maritime Museum
The Sharjah Maritime Museum documents the long and intimate relationship that the people of the city of Sharjah have had with the sea. From simple fishing, the people went on to master the sea and sail to far shores for trade. The exhibits establish the trading relations that the region had with the Indus valley civilization as well as Mesopotamia. The exhibits of traditional dhows provide glimpses of the maritime history of the land. The boats that range from a small miniature exhibit to a full-scale pearling boat tell the fascinating story of how the boats were made, used, and repaired. The sea was in more ways than one very close to the hearts of the people as it was not only a source of food but also a means of trade, communication, as well as a source of tools. One fascinating exhibit that really fascinated us was that of the suckling shells which served as natural feeding bottles babies.
Another very interesting aspect that is highlighted in the Sharjah Maritime Museum is that of pearling. Exhibits of Nose clips made of goat horn used by pearl divers and baskets used for collecting oysters sent our imagination flying to a time when huge dhows filled with fishermen went out to sea in search of the precious oysters. The museum was indeed a great immersive experience into the maritime history of the city of Sharjah. It was very intriguing to learn that the very place on which the Sharjah Maritime Museum stands was once the bustling fishing village of yore.
Mleiha Archaeological Centre
It would be nothing short of blasphemy if one were to visit Sharjah City and fail to visit the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. Our visit to Mleiha was one of the highlights of our Sharjah visit. As you step into the Mleiha Archaeological Centre, you enter a world that existed in the region millions of years ago and much before the modern skyscrapers rose to the sky. The center provides a window to the settlement of early man who moved from Africa and lived in these parts. The center takes you back into history right up to the Paleolithic Age and then brings you back to the late Pre-Islamic period traversing the Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron ages. If the intriguing exhibits of the Mleiha Archaeological Centre fail to impress you, a visit to the numerous archaeological sites around the center is sure to blow you away.
Visiting Mleiha is one of the fascinating things to do in Sharjah. For more details about Mleiha do check out our post, Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah.
3. Heart of Sharjah
A massive and ambitious project of restoration of history is what the Heart of Sharjah is all about. The project which is scheduled to be fully completed in 2025 has already the first phases completed and has been attracting visitors in droves. It replicates life as it was during the 1950’s and earlier.
We had the privilege to meet some elderly Emiratis, who shared with us the Emirate’s history over a cup of brewed karak chai at the Majlis.
The same souqs that were abuzz with merchants have been recreated and the area is marked by traditional buildings.
A walk along the exotic shop-lined alleys is indeed a trip down the history line to a fascinating and vibrant chapter. It is here in the Heart of Sharjah that one can also listen open-eyed to wondrous accounts of those enchanting times straight from the mouth of old-timers who were privy to those times. Strolling in the heart of Sharjah and immersing oneself in the rich heritage of the past was for us one of the best things to do on Sharjah. The lovers of art, culture, and heritage must do a Sharjah art, culture and heritage tour.
II) Entertainment & Adventure
A family travel to Sharjah is incomplete without some entertainment to the entire family including the kids. One can do a Sharjah night tour to explore the endless options of attractions in Buhaira Corniche. There is a lot of adventure in store for the adventure seekers too!
Al Noor Island
A gate next to the Al Noor Mosque leads one to the Al Noor Island. A walk on a wide and neat pedestrian walkway built across the Khalid lagoon takes you to the Al Noor island.
The walkway offers some breathtaking views of the beautiful Al Noor mosque as well as the Sharjah City skyline.
Al Noor island is a serene place and ideal for some calm and stress-free moments with meditative music being played in the background.
There is a play area for kids too apart from a butterfly park. The butterfly park is housed in a building that is interestingly shaped like a butterfly.
Exotic species of different hued butterflies have found sanctuary in the Butterfly Park.
Al Qasba is a car-free entertainment zone with a host of attractions. An ideal place for families to hang out. One of the prime attractions is, of course, the Eye of the Emirates which is a giant Ferris Wheel which rises to a height of 60 meters. We experienced a scintillating ride on the Wheel and were treated to some spectacular views of the Sharjah City skyline as well as the Gulf coast. Apart from the Eye of the Emirates, there is an enchanting musical fountain which attracts visitors, A Kids fun zone attracts kids in droves while one can also hop on to a boat for a Sharjah City tour from here. Eating joints complete the fun experience serving everything from Coffee to Donuts, fish, and ice cream and much more. Al Qasba is a perfect and complete outing destination for the entire family for a fun-filled evening.
Al Majaz Waterfront
Al Majaz Waterfront is another Family entertainment zone replete with restaurants and other fast food joints. The main attraction here is the Sharjah fountain where one can watch spectacular 5-minute shows which incorporates, lasers, water fountains, and music to dish out a spectacular extravaganza. A mini Golf course apart from a playground are also part of the entertainment facilities at the Al Majaz Waterfront.
When you visit the Maritime Museum, the Sharjah Aquarium which is right next door is definitely worth a visit.
The aquarium provides a fascinating peep into the marine world of the region. More than 150 species of marine life can be seen in the aquarium, and these include Seahorses, Clownfish, Moray Eels, Reef Sharks, etc.. The aquarium occupies two floors and covers an area of 6,500 Square metres.
Beaches of Sharjah
Sharjah and the UAE do conjure up images of vast sandy deserts but the region is rife with gorgeous beaches as well, The beaches of Sharjah City include Al Khan beach which is very near the Sharjah Aquarium.
The Al Khan beach has a host of water sports activities including kayaking, surfing, parasailing, and many more. The other beaches of Sharjah City are Khor Fakkan beach and Lou Loua beach.
Desert Safari & Sand Duning
A visit to the city of Sharjah would be incomplete if you did not head out into the wilderness of the desert sands. A thrilling ride in a land rover takes you hurtling through the never-ending sand dunes of the Sharjah desert. This can be combined with visits to the different archaeological sites in Mleiha. Plenty of photo opportunities in the stunning locales of the red desert sands are an added bonus to this exciting adventure.
Other adventure activities include Desert treks, Desert Cycling tours, Dune Buggy offroading, Sandboarding, Paragliding and many more.
- Wear light clothes and comfortable clothes
- Ensure that your footwear can tackle the desert sands
- Wear a hat or a cap during the day
- Keep a light sweater or jacket handy as it can become chill as the day progresses
- Sunglasses are a must to protect yourself from the harsh glare of the sun during the afternoons
- Carry your camera and phone with sufficient batteries and memory so that you can go on a clicking spree in the desert
Sharjah City is a haven for shopping. An incredible array of traditional Souqs, bustling bazaars, and modern malls lure and arouse the shopping instincts of even the most hardened soul. Shopping usually ranks high on visitors’ list of top things to do in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Souq Al Jubail
The Souq Al Jubail is a state of the art, clean and well-organized souq which has stalls selling fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, and dry fruits including a mind-boggling variety of Arabian dates.The Souq Al Jubail is also the venue of fish auctions.
It is a place frequented by locals and visitors alike and is a great place to shop for all your grocery needs.
The Central Souq which is also known as the Blue Souq because of its color was built in 1978 and has been an iconic landmark of Sharjah City. It figures on the Dh5 note and is also an architectural marvel. Its Arabian style architecture has a grandness that is visually very pleasing and has a tranquil effect on the ambiance. The Souq consists of two inter-connected wings and has 600 shops.
The ground floor is dedicated to contemporary clothes, watches, and jewelry while the upper floors sell more traditional and exotic items like carpets, pashmina rugs, traditional coffee pots and traditional gold and silver ornaments apart from home decor artifacts.
The Sahara Centre is one of the popular and leading shopping destinations of Sharjah City. It is a maze of shopping outlets offering the best of local and international brands.The mall makes for an ideal family outing with its array of restaurants, cafes, and entertainment hubs. The shops sell everything from cosmetics to ladies wear, electronics to men’s wear, home decor products to Kid’s wear. Entertainment options include Gaming and the Novo Cinema which screen Hollywood and Bollywood movies.
The Mega Mall which is located in the heart of Sharjah City is the largest mall in the UAE. It’s massive 800,000 Sq.Ft.area houses outlets that have the best of local, regional, and international brands. The mall is spread over four floors and is a much sought-after destination for families with its entertainment options.
Sharjah City Center
This is a huge lifestyle and fashion mall with food court and entertainment for the kids. It is located on the Al Wahda Road. It will soon have the largest cinema complex in the Emirate. Do visit Sharjah City Centre on your trip to Sharjah.
Voyager Tips – What to buy in Sharjah
- Olive Oil
IV) Festivals & Events
Over the years the city of Sharjah has evolved into a venue for some spectacular international events and festivals which are eagerly awaited. We had the good fortune to attend one such event. Here is a list of some of the major events and festivals that Sharjah hosts.
F1H2O World Powerboat Championship
F1, these two characters are enough to send the blood thumping in the heart for most people. We were no exception! We were privileged with a VIP pass to watch the Grand Prix F1H20 Powerboat racing World Championship in Sharjah City. As the graceful and so to say nubile boats lined up at the start of the 45 lap race on the Khalid Lagoon, we moved to the edge of our seats.
The boats were off cutting across the water at dizzying speeds and yet with a feline grace and dexterity. The 45 laps saw some great battles for supremacy of the waters and some of the boats had to call it quits, but one boat and one man raced far ahead of the pack to run away with the championship title, Alex Carera from Team Abu Dhabi. The F1 experience was indeed a revelation of sorts and an experience of a lifetime. The F1H20 World Powerboat Championship is held sometime in the months of November-December every year. A trip to the city of Sharjah around this event is something to look forward to.
Sharjah Light Festival
Every year come February, Sharjah erupts in brilliant colors with the annual Sharjah Light Festival. As the sun sets the skyline of Sharjah is transformed into spectacular colors as technology combines with artistic creativity to engineer a grand spectacle that is at once beautiful and awe-inspiring. The beautiful buildings seem to magically infused with life as the Sharjah Light Festival casts its spell. This is another festival of Sharjah which draws visitors like a lodestone.
Other important festivals of Sharjah
- Sharjah Ramadan Festival
- Sharjah Food Festival
- Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial
- Sharjah Arts Biennial
- Sharjah Heritage Days
- Sharjah Shopping festivals
Where We Ate in Sharjah
When it comes to food, one is definitely spoilt for choice in the city of Sharjah. Options are available to fit every budget and taste. Vegan, Vegetarian, Non-Vegetarian every niche and need is catered to. Sharjah restaurants embrace the best traditions of food from across the world. Continental, Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, and of course the local Emirati cuisine offer tantalizingly tempting fare. One can eat at small eateries or indulge in the luxuries of fine dining at a Michelin Star restaurant in Sharjah.
Here are the places where we ate during our stay in Sharjah.City.
Royal Tulip, The Act Hotel
During our stay in Sharjah, we had occasion to dine at the Royal Tulip, The Act Hotel, Sharjah and had a lovely fine dining experience. The cuisine ranged from local Emirati and Arabic to Asian. The ambiance of the restaurant was soothing to the soul while the food satisfied the baser instinct of the stomach.
The Emirgan Sutis which is located on the All Majaz waterfront offers lip-smacking Turkish fare that caters to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian palates. We enjoyed some amazing food here including the famous hummus and the sinfully sweet Baklava.
Golf & Shooting Club, Sharjah
The Golf & Shooting Club is a luxury recreational club in Sharjah that has a beautiful 9 hole floodlit Golf course. It also has other activities that include Paintball, Tennis, and Basketball apart from a swimming pool. Eating at any of the 3 restaurants here is a gastronomic pleasure. The Sensi Italian Restaurant is a pleasure to the gastronomic senses with its authentic and gourmet Italian Cuisine. The flavors of Asia come alive in a restaurant by the same name while The Terrace facilitates the pleasure of dining out in the open.
During our fascinating visit to Mleiha, we ate at the Bystro Cafe which is situated in the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. One can have snacks and other filling dishes along with coffee over stunning views of the desert wilderness. We opted for some Pasta and Falafel. and thoroughly enjoyed them.
Where to stay in Sharjah
Considering that Sharjah has emerged as a choice tourist destination, its infrastructure too has kept pace and if you are looking for hotels in Sharjah there is no dearth of places to stay in Sharjah. One finds some of the best hotels in Sharjah which are luxurious and world-class. Below are two of the Sharjah hotels that we experienced during our stay.
Royal Tulip, The Act Hotel, Sharjah
Royal Tulip, The Act Hotel, Sharjah is a 5-star luxury hotel with tasteful and artistic interiors and is one of the top Sharjah hotels. The hotel which consists of a total of 180 rooms and suites is centrally located and overlooks the Khalid Lagoon. The rooms offer spectacular views of the lagoon, waterfront, and the Sharjah City skyline. Many of the attractions of Sharjah City as well as shopping hubs are in the vicinity of this hotel. The restaurant serves gourmet cuisine amidst a pleasing ambiance.
Ramada Hotel & Suites, Sharjah
The Ramada Hotel & Suites, Sharjah is a 4-Star hotel which is centrally located in Sharjah. It is conveniently located just 21 kilometers from Sharjah International Airport. The hotel which consists of 343 comfortable rooms and suites is a stone’s throw away from one of the premium shopping malls of Sharjah City, the Sahara Centre. Other cultural and entertainment landmarks of Sharjah are also within easy driving distance.The hotel offers the services of indoor and outdoor pools, massage and fitness centers, Health Club & Sauna, Airport Shuttle, complimentary shuttle to the beach and much more. The hotel’s restaurants Zaafaran and Sunshine Cafe offer dining and quick snacking options respectively.
Day Trips From Sharjah
After you have succumbed to the sensuous charms of Sharjah and still hunger for new experiences, there are plenty of ideal places to head out to for a day trip.
Day Trip From Sharjah to Dubai
You can easily head towards Dubai. We did a day trip to Dubai from Sharjah. Sharjah to Dubai distance is just about 28 kilometers and a little over half an hour drive, the fringes of Sharjah City and Dubai seem to have merged together. Dubai with all its ritzy glitter is a contrast to the understated elegance of Sharjah but an incredible experience in its own right. A day trip will of course just skim the surface of all that is to see in Dubai and will take in the major landmarks like Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Beach, and Dubai Museum. Of course, if you want to indulge in adventure activities in Dubai, you would need to plan a longer trip. One also has the option of doing a day trip to Sharjah from Dubai.
Day Trip From Sharjah to Abu Dhabi
A two-hour drive from Sharjah covering a distance of about 163 Kilometres takes you to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. A day trip to Abu Dhabi from Sharjah is a must. At Abu Dhabi, one can visit the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which can accommodate up to 40,000 people. The main prayer hall can hold up to 7,000 people and has a carpet which is considered to be the largest in the world and weighs 35 tons. Other noteworthy attractions include Ferrari World and Emirates Palace.
Day Trip From Sharjah to Mlehia
If you drive about 61 kilometers from Sharjah City into the desert, you leave the contemporary world behind enter the beautiful world of the desert. We spent a day in Mleiha reveling in the wild beauty of the desert and being enamored by the secrets of the ancient civilization that archaeologists had unraveled. A day trip to Mleiha from Sharjah is a must for the adventure seekers and lovers of history and archeology.
Day Trip From Sharjah to Ajman
Ajman which is situated about 44 Kilometres and is a 90-minute drive away makes for an interesting day trip from Sharjah City. There are many sights and experiences to relish in Ajman and this includes the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Wasit Nature Reserve, and Ajman Family Park among others.
Getting Around the City of Sharjah
One can get around Sharjah using the Public Bus Service or licensed taxis.
Good to Know Facts when visiting Sharjah
- The Emirate of Sharjah is the third largest of the 7 Emirates that form the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- The Emirates that comprise the UAE are Abu Dhabi which is the Capital, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, and Umm al-Quwain
- Spread over an area of 235.5 square kilometers Sharjah population is estimated at around 1.4 million
- The sale or consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the Emirate of Sharjah and alcohol is not served in hotels and restaurants in Sharjah
- Dirham is the currency used in the Emirate of Sharjah and is denoted by AED.
- The weekend in the Emirate of Sharjah is Friday to Saturday when educational institutions and Government offices are closed
- Modest attire is advised while visiting the Emirate of Sharjah
- The winter months from October to April when the Sharjah weather is great is the best time to explore Sharjah
- Citizens from some countries including the US do not need a visa while the others need to get a visa to the UAE which enables them to visit all the 7 Emirates of the UAE, check out the official website for details
- Arabic and English are the common languages of communication, so English should equip you well when you set out to explore Sharjah
- Sharjah time is 4 hours ahead of GMT+4
- Sharjah is one of the safest places in the UAE
- Sharjah city map
How to Get to Sharjah
There are a plethora of airlines having flights to Sharjah from different corners of the world. We found Air Arabia to be a low-cost airline with flights to over 120 destinations which spread across the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. Flying Air Arabia is indeed an economical and comfortable option. Sharjah, UAE is definitely a relatively lesser expensive destination than Dubai and the cost of living in Sharjah much less, hence flying in and out of Sharjah airport and staying in Sharjah makes for a cheaper option than Dubai.
Where to stay
Tours/Activities available in Sharjah
Choose either of the two to book tours and activities in Sharjah.
GetYourGuide collects and categorizes all the world’s things to do so you research less and do more. Africa to Oceania and back again, we make it simple for you to find and book the tour, activity, or attraction that will make your trip – or your day.
Book Sharjah sightseeing tours and attractions
The time spent in Sharjah sped away at supersonic speed and soon it was time to bid adieu to this lovely and grand place. We knew that what we had seen and experienced in Sharjah was only a fraction of what it had to offer. We left Sharjah behind but carried lots of memories with us and also a resolve to come back on another day to explore fully the treasures of Sharjah. Have you been to Sharjah? What did you like the most? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section.
We immensely thank Shada, who was our tour guide during our stay in Sharjah.
We were hosted by Sharjah Tourism. However, the views and opinions expressed here are our own based on our experience. If you are planning a trip to Sharjah then you may contact Outbound Konnections Reps Pvt. Ltd. Email to: [email protected]
Thanks for visiting our site Voyager – imvoyager.com and taking the time to read our post!
We’d love if you’d comment and share this post.