Sharjah, the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a city that prides itself on preserving its heritage while embracing modernity. For those considering things to do in Sharjah, exploring the Heart of Sharjah, a meticulously restored area showcasing traditional Emirati architecture, and visiting the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, which houses thousands of artifacts spanning Islamic history, are top activities.
The city’s Al Noor Mosque, a stunning example of Ottoman-inspired architecture, is open to non-Muslim visitors, offering a unique opportunity to learn about Islamic culture and traditions. Nearby, the Sharjah Aquarium provides a glimpse into the diverse marine life of the region, featuring over 150 species of sea creatures.
Beyond its cultural and educational attractions, Sharjah is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, hosting numerous festivals and events throughout the year. For those seeking the best places to visit in the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah’s blend of history, culture, and family-friendly activities makes it a standout destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
1. Sharjah Art Museum
Sharjah Art Museum is home to one of the largest art exhibits in the Gulf, with both temporary and permanent collections showcasing works by renowned Arab artists, as well as an assortment of international art. The museum is particularly known for its collection of works by landscape painter David Roberts.
Travel Tip: Entrance is often free, and the museum is quieter in the mornings, making it a perfect time for a visit if you prefer a more contemplative atmosphere.
2. Al Noor Mosque
Al Noor Mosque stands out with its Ottoman-inspired architecture, making it a unique sight in Sharjah. It is one of the few mosques in the UAE open to non-Muslim visitors, offering them a chance to appreciate Islamic architecture and learn about the religion in a welcoming environment.
Travel Tip: Take advantage of the free guided tours available on Mondays at 10 AM to gain a deeper understanding of the mosque and Islamic culture.
3. Sharjah Aquarium
The Sharjah Aquarium offers visitors an intimate look into the diverse marine life that inhabits the Persian Gulf. With over 250 species of sea creatures, including reef sharks, sea rays, and moray eels, it provides an educational experience for all ages.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit during feeding times to see the marine life at its most active.
4. Al Qasba
Al Qasba is a cultural landmark and a leisure destination in Sharjah, featuring a waterfront strip lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops. It also includes a large Ferris wheel, the Eye of the Emirates, offering panoramic views of Sharjah and the Gulf.
Travel Tip: In the evenings, the area comes alive with musical performances and cultural events, so check the local listings to catch some live entertainment.
5. Central Market (Blue Souk)
The Central Market, often referred to as the Blue Souk, is an iconic shopping destination in Sharjah, known for its distinctive blue tilework. The market houses over 600 shops selling a variety of products including gold, jewelry, perfumes, clothing, and electronics.
Travel Tip: This is a great place to practice your bargaining skills and shop for authentic souvenirs.
6. Sharjah Desert Park
This eco-tourism project combines a natural history museum, a children’s farm, and a wildlife center. Sharjah Desert Park provides an opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna and is a fun day out for families.
Travel Tip: The park is quite large, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
7. Al Majaz Waterfront
Al Majaz Waterfront is a family-friendly attraction with a range of recreational activities, restaurants, and cafes overlooking Khalid Lagoon. It also features spectacular water fountain shows, a miniature golf course, and a jogging track.
Travel Tip: Try to catch the fountain show after dark when the lights and music make it a truly magical experience.
8. Rain Room
Part of the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Rain Room is an immersive installation that allows you to walk through a room of falling water without getting wet, thanks to motion sensors that pause the rainfall as you walk by.
Travel Tip: Advance booking is highly recommended as the Rain Room often sells out, especially on weekends.
9. Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
This museum is dedicated to displaying the significance and legacy of Islamic culture. With thousands of artifacts spread across seven galleries, it covers Islamic history, art, science, and religion.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the impressive zodiac mosaic in the Astronomy and Science gallery, which originally adorned the bottom of a pool in a 6th-century home in Jordan.
FAQ About Things to Do in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
What are the must-visit cultural spots in Sharjah?
Sharjah is renowned for its commitment to culture and art. Don’t miss the Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, and the heritage area in Heart of Sharjah, which offers insights into traditional Emirati life.
Can I experience wildlife in Sharjah?
Yes, the Arabian Wildlife Center is a great place to learn about the fauna of the Arabian Peninsula, featuring a variety of animals in a safe, indoor environment. The Sharjah Desert Park is also a fantastic spot to see indigenous wildlife.
What family-friendly activities can be found in Sharjah?
Sharjah offers several family-friendly destinations such as Al Montazah Parks, Sharjah Aquarium, and Adventureland – a fun-filled amusement park.
Are there any traditional markets in Sharjah?
Absolutely, the Souk Al Arsah and Souk Al-Markazi (also known as the Blue Souk) are traditional bazaars where you can find a plethora of goods ranging from gold jewelry to authentic Arabian carpets.
What are the best outdoor activities in Sharjah?
Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Kalba Eco-tourism area, go kayaking in the mangroves, or enjoy the scenic beauty of the Al Qasba area and its leisure facilities.
Is there an opportunity to learn about Sharjah’s history?
Yes, the Sharjah Heritage Museum and Al Hisn Fort offer fascinating glimpses into the emirate’s past. The King Faisal Mosque and the restored Sharjah Fort (Al Hisn) are also places where you can learn about the Islamic influence and history of the area.
Where can I find the best local food in Sharjah?
To sample traditional Emirati cuisine, visit the Al Fanar Restaurant or the Arabian Tea House. For a variety of international options, the Al Qasba area has numerous cafes and restaurants with diverse menus.
Are there any nature reserves in Sharjah?
Sharjah is home to several nature reserves such as the Sharjah National Park and the Wasit Wetland Centre, which protect the region’s natural habitats and offer birdwatching opportunities.