Sharjah is one of those quiet gems in the UAE that tourists don’t often know about—until they do, and then it usually becomes their favorite, even over the more popular Dubai. From cultural heritage museums to an enormous souq, Sharjah has just about everything you need to fully experience the United Arab Emirates. Here are 10 reasons why you have to visit this colorful city.
Unlike Dubai, Sharjah is usually not overrun with tourists or tour groups, and you’ll be able to enjoy the feel of an authentic UAE city. You might be stuck in crowds of locals during events or at the corniche on the weekends, but at least this way you’ll be able to do some amazing people-watching.
The Buhaira Corniche is perfect for a relaxing walk next to the water, people-watching, and enjoying some of the best cafés in the city. The Al Majaz Fountain, alongside the waterfront, is one of the main attractions of the area; the colorful fountain shoots water 100 meters (328 feet) in the air in rhythm with the music that plays every 30 minutes in the evenings. This spot is where families go to relax, couples go on a date night, and children go and run around; it is a perfect place for a relaxing dinner and night out.
Sharjah really does have the best desserts, and almost every main road has a variety of Arabic sweet shops. Stop in anywhere for the king of all Arabic desserts, the kunafa, which is a layered cake of sweet cheese, crispy breaded pastry, and pistachios, with honey or rose syrup drizzled on top. If you live in or are visiting Dubai, this alone is worth traveling to Sharjah.
A destination that actually connects Sharjah and Dubai, Al Mamzar is both a beach and a park for the residents of Sharjah. Relax on the sandy shores for some sun; have a barbeque, or just people-watch the many families, workers on break, or exercising expats for an entertaining afternoon out. For those who want to unwind among the trees and green grass, Mamzar Park is also a green escape from the city.
The Blue Souq is the most vibrant place in Sharjah to get all of your UAE gifts and souvenirs, and you’ll be tempted by almost everything you see. From exotic Arabian oil perfumes and colorfully painted bowls and plates to camel keychains and lush red carpets, you’ll be in souq heaven! This colorful souq is visible from anywhere in central Sharjah because of its bright blue tiles on the outside, and stepping inside will provide an even more lively experience.
Blue Souq/Central Souq, King Faisal Road, Sharjah, UAE, +971 6 562 3333
Sharjah is relatively small, and if you simply drive 10 minutes out from the city, you’ll be in the Arabian desert. Many people, however, use this fact as an opportunity to enjoy themselves on the weekend by having a barbeque with friends or family on the desert sand. You’ll see many people pulled over on the side of the road, with a large blanket or event tent set up within a five-minute walk into the rolling sand dunes, where they’ll be having a barbeque or picnic. The evenings are the busiest, and some areas of the desert are more popular than others, with people having to arrive early to catch a spot in the sand.
Another way to enjoy the desert of Sharjah is to grab karak, a milky and spiced tea sold in little paper cups for only one dirham, and relax in your car while staring out at the endless desert. During the weekend, many friends will sit in the car and enjoy conversations and karak tea, and many families will do this as a quick break when traveling back from somewhere. This activity is the best way to enjoy Sharjah for its simplicity and raw beauty.