Sharjah, otherwise called the cultural capital of the UAE, is a neighboring emirate of Dubai. And also one of the major economic centers in the country. Despite its proximity to Dubai, Sharjah has its distinctive culture and heritage.
With its many museums and opportunities for education and fun trips, Sharjah has a top place on the tourism radar. Here is a list of places to visit in Sharjah.
Al Noor Island Sharjah
Opened in 2015, this oasis island in the Khalid lagoon is a recent attraction in Sharjah.
This park is an amalgamation of many tastes in the middle of the water. A pedestrian bridge connects the Island to the mainland. The Island is decorated with lights that change colors to suit the time of the day. During dusk and dawn, everything becomes more exuberant in this place.
Butterfly house, the biggest attraction on the Island, is home to 500 butterflies of 20 different species. The climate-controlled encasement helps these insects to thrive and is also an architectural marvel. The entry here is not covered in the ticket fee to the Island, though.
Besides all the natural elements, modern sculptures and artworks are spread throughout the Island.
The literature pavilion is for the souls who want to escape from the noisy city and go into the luscious world of words. The whimsical pavilion has soft cushions and the pleasant sound of the fountain for you to curl up and read a book or jot some metered lines.
You might even like to spend the whole day in this place, strolling around and chugging something from the Noor Cafe when hungry. If you are visiting the United Arab Emirates first and wish to explore things to do in Dubai, please visit this blog of 12000 plus words.
Heart of Sharjah
Heart of Sharjah gives a complete picture of the forgotten era decades ago. To date, this is the most important heritage site in Sharjah. The place is a love letter to history and traditions in its first development phase. The development is set to complete by the end of 2025.
Meticulous care has been taken to preserve the details and aura of the mid-90s. The project’s vision is to maintain a cultural legacy for future generations. It is also conveniently located near the leading centers in the city.
Heart of Sharjah will encompass the existing museums and galleries once the project is complete. In 2014, UNESCO added the Heart of Sharjah to its list of World Heritage sites.
Al Bait Hotel in the heart of Sharjah illustrates how to integrate tradition with modernity. The hotel is a modern adaptation of traditional architecture and construction. From the timber ceilings to wall finishing and alcoves, the hotel is an honest representation of the 50s
Khor Fakkan Beach Sharjah
Though surrounded by Fujairah on one side and the sea on the other, Khor Fakkan is technically a part of Sharjah’s emirate. It is a solid one hour and thirty minutes drive from the central city of Sharjah.
Khorfakkan has one of the largest ports in the country. You will probably see entire armadas of cruise and container ships docked in the harbor. Shark Island is a little off the cost, which is the spot for snorkeling and diving. There are countless options for adventure sports and fun on Khorfakkan beach.
Hugged by Hajar mountains and blessed with lush natural landscapes and stunning beaches, this place has every ingredient to steal your heart.
Al Badayer Oasis Sharjah
A palace in the middle of the sands is literally what Al Badayer is. This oasis with coral-colored sand is a center for desert exploration in Sharjah.
Experience the Bedouin lifestyle and cuisine with the adrenaline rush of dune bashing.
But it’s not just a desert camp. This resort is bathed in luxury with swimming pools and business suites.
Sharjah Classic Cars Museum
Located near Sharjah International airport, the Classic cars museum is a part of the Sharjah Classic Car Club. The museum displays cars even from the early 1900s. The oldest car in the lineup — a Dodge — dates back to 1915.
Apart from the classic cars and vintage trucks, an old Mercedes Limousine belongs to Sharjah’s ruler. Depending on the history and stages of development, the museum is divided into different sections.
Motorheads and classic car lovers should never miss this place. This spot is easy to overlook because not many people know about it.
Al Montazah Parks Sharjah
This is another tourist attraction in Khalid Lagoon. The Montazah Park, formerly Al Jazeera Park, recently underwent a massive makeover. The park has two sections: a waterpark called the Pearls Kingdom and the Island of Legends, an open-air adventure park.
The Eye of Emirates giant wheel, originally in Al Qasba, was moved here inside the Island of Legends in 2018. That itself is the most crucial attraction in the park. Many other rides are most suitable for children. But the Volcano Tower is for little more daring lads.
The Pearls Kingdom is the only water-themed park in Sharjah. This is yet another recent addition to Al Montazah park. The park was designed to keep safety first in mind.
Mellieha Archeological Center Sharjah
Proof of human civilization in Sharjah’s deserts dates back tens of thousands of years ago. That’s the apt way to describe Mleiha. It’s interesting to witness the evidence that social life thrived in these desolate deserts because we usually think of the UAE after its oil discovery.
Mellieha is an archeological site located 60 km away from central Sharjah. If you drive, it will take you around 45 minutes. Several objects have been unearthed here at least 120,000 years old, including stone and bronze weapons, pottery, and burial tombs.
It even has enough to satiate thrill-seekers. Dune bashing near the fossil rocks in a 4×4 is something worth trying.
The Mlieha has become the center for sustainable tourism in Sharjah. It has given importance to the area and what lies beneath it. But choose winter when you go because you will spend a lot of time outdoors.
Visit the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation
Located on corniche street is the vault that houses the gems from Islamic history. The structure itself is remarkable. Originally meant as a marketplace near the Central Souq, this significant embodiment of the emirate’s heritage stands high on the bank of Sharjah Creek. The massive dome with intricate detailing is an exemplary Islamic architectural work.
The collection includes religious manuscripts, handwritten copies of the Quran, calligraphy, beautifully painted pottery and glass, and 5000 more artifacts from the 7th century until the 13th century AD. There are also handicrafts made of silver, gold, and brass.
Apart from the Abbasids and Umayyad eras, antique items from Mughal and Ottoman periods are housed here. The collection of astrolabes in Ibn Al-Haytham Gallery of Science and Technology and coinage probes the curious to dig deep into the Islamic golden age.
The museum has six galleries spread over two floors. Walking around and seeing all the relics will take a few hours. This is also an excellent place to get an insight into the fundamentals of the Islamic faith and traditions.
The museum’s other good things are its proximity to Sharjah’s major attractions and the nominal ticket price. It is a place that you can visit on a lazy afternoon with your kids.
Al Mahatta Fort – Sharjah Aviation Museum
In the early ages of air travel, planes were not ready to fly long routes without stopping. They had to stop and refuel before resuming the journey. Often this meant a staycation at the place of stopover. In 1932, The imperial airways airplanes needed an overnight stopover in the Arabian peninsula controlled by various sheikdoms.
All the rulers rejected the request for an airstrip except for the then-ruler of Sharjah — Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi II, who ruled from 1924 to 1951. He built the airstrip in 1932 and a fort for protection against Bedouin raids. In return, the aviation company agreed to pay rent, and the ruler secured the right to reroute the British ships through Sharjah ports, thus improving the economy of Sharjah.
This was the birth of the first airport in the whole region. After unification, the Al Mahatta fort became the first airport in the UAE. It functioned as an airport until 1977 when the Sharjah International airport was built.
◉ The Aviation Museum Sharjah
Today the fort houses the Sharjah aviation museum. The museum curates the history of flying and air travel in the UAE. After decades of disrepair, it was opened in 1998 by Sharjah Sultan Mohammed al Qasimi.
It also has a collection of old airplane models and flight equipment. The first plane to land at Mahatta airstrip, named the Hanno, is displayed in the museum.
The museum is on King Abdul Aziz Street, and it resembles the traditional buildings of the old days and is constructed using the same techniques.
Interestingly, the first movie house in the Arabian Gulf was set up in the Mahatta fort. This cinema, tiny compared to modern-day theaters, is an exciting part of the display. Chairs here are empty kerosene cans half-filled with sand—travelers who stayed in the fort for the stopover watched short movies and documentaries on this screen.
Sharjah Fort – Al Hisn al Sharjah Museum
Sultan al Saqr al Qasimi built the fort. But not the same person who made the Mahatta fort. This one is a century older than the Mahatta fort. The Al Hisn al Sharjah was constructed sometime around 1820.
At the time of its construction, it was the largest and most significant building in Sharjah. In its lifetime as a fort, it served as the residence of the Sharjah ruling family and the government’s headquarters.
Although it was converted into a museum in 1997, it wasn’t until 2015 that the Sharjah government renovated it into its present form as part of the Sharjah project’s heart.
The Sharjah fort looks modern compared to the Al Fahidi fort in Dubai. This is because everything else was demolished except for the tower on the southern side in 1970. The fort was first restored in 1997.
Fort was built using coral stones and was covered with light brown plaster. Coral stones were a popular building material in those times. It is in the middle of Rolla city in Sharjah. Amidst tall concrete structures, the fort looks a bit out of place. But the whole area will take on a similar outlook with the heart of the Sharjah project nearing completion.
The fort served as a defense center to protect the city from the bedouin attack and neighboring sheikdoms. Notable artifacts in the museum include the royal bed, several cannons, and a Quran stand that belonged to the ruler Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi.
The Buried Village
Although not of any historical significance or anything particular about its modernity, this place in Sharjah is notable for its mystery. The buried village is a village lost in the sands of the desert. The town, or it once was, is just outside the village of Madam in Sharjah.
According to the locals, the half-buried houses in the sand belonged to the people of the Kutbi tribe. The mysterious part is nobody knows why they left or what happened to them. Strangely, it lies near a well-populated township in the emirate.
The village consists of two rows of blue and red houses on either side of a street, with a mosque at one end. They were all built in the 70s. The wind has done the job of burying them in the sand. A few houses have sand covering the top of their roofs, while others, including the mosque, have their interiors filled to the knee height in the sand.
There is no public transport to the area. Also, the village is in the middle of the desert. So you will need a four-wheel drive to take you there. There are some lovely dunes near the town, so that you can double the visit with an offroading trip.
Maraya Arts Center Sharjah
Sharjah is known as the cultural capital of the UAE. It has a slew of centers and events that promote arts and culture. Maraya arts center is one such establishment. And a remarkable one indeed.
The arts center was established back in 2006. And since then, it has seen continuous development, improving, and keeping up with the modern trends in the art world. The center provides a stage for budding artists to promote their works.
Art galleries in Maraya speak of the heritage and history of Sharjah using modern art. They also help the artists through workshops and lectures by internationally acknowledged experts in each field.
Maraya arts center has different, including Maraya arts gallery, 1971 Design Space, Maraya Art Park, Maraya Residencies, Jedariya, and Maraya Project Space. The Jedariya project, where several beautiful buildings became canvases for artists like el Seed, was an initiative by the Maraya center.
The center has been a great help for the local artists to polish and develop their skills by learning from well-known artists from different parts of the world.
This is a must-visit spot in Sharjah if you are an art lover. The Maraya arts center is in Qasba, a busy and beautiful neighborhood in Sharjah and a famous tourist location.
Al Qasba – Most Popular Place to Vist Sharjah
Al Qasba is a prominent tourist attraction near al khan corniche street in Sharjah. It is also a waterfront town similar to, but not to the scale of, Dubai Marina. The famous Ferris wheel stood along the waterway before moving to the Montazah water theme park.
Along with the Qasba, the canal is the largest entertainment district in Sharjah. There are various places like art houses, theatres, and kids’ play zones. The channel offers rides on traditional boats. If you want to sail your boat, rent a water cart hourly. There is another track on the bank for Byky karts. Unlike the water kart, which is only allowed for adults, the Byky kart is for everyone.