Beyond Dubai: How to spend a day in Sharjah

Sharjah has a bad reputation.

Its known as the conservative, religious and aloof older brother in the family of the emirates. People in Dubai look at me strangely when I mention that I would like to explore Sharjah (people who live in Dubai believe that no other emirate is worth exploring for some reason) but I like unpopular places. While Sharjah may be more conservative than the other emirates, I don’t believe that it isn’t worth exploring at least for a day. Surely sometimes we need to venture off the beaten path to see what lies beneath the surface of a place? Here is Panda’s Plan for a day trip in Sharjah:

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Journey details: It takes approximately 47-50 minutes to drive from one end of Dubai to the Sharjah border. It may take less depending on your neighbourhood. If you are coming from Abu Dhabi, you will need to drive to and through Dubai in order to reach Sharjah. Make a good playlist and prepare some snacks. I also advise filling your tank before the journey because Sharjah is small and petrol stations can be busy.

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When to go: Sharjah certainly IS the religious brother of the emirates and therefore not much is operational on a Friday before 2pm. Plan you outing for a weekday, public holiday or Saturday.

 

Stop 1: The Rain Room (Sharjah Art Foundation)

 

As you know, we don’t get a lot of rain in the desert. That’s a lie, we hardly EVER get rain in the gulf. So visiting a place like The Rain Room is like going to eat the forbidden fruit! What a sneaky little treat, having a place where I can stop and start a natural phenomenon at my will!

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The Rain Room is a dark room with simulated rain and motion sensor technology, so that the participants  can go through the rain without getting wet. One cannot help but admire the carefully choreographed downpour, while wandering playfully within the interactive environment and marveling at the way in which the dense field of water droplets pauses in the vicinity of your body, as if you have stopped the rain.

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The Rain Room costs 25AED per person and 15AED for teachers! So affordable! Book your tickets here.

Tel: +9716 561 0095

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday: 9am to 9pm
Friday: 4pm to 11pm

Panda rating scale: 5 out of 5 pandas

5-pandas

 

Stop 2: Sharjah Art Museum

This museum has distinctive exhibitions from in and around the region showcasing the best of lesser known artists with interesting art.

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They have a few collections, from sculptures to paintings with an emphasis on unique art that challenges you to think. The place is free and empty so you can have your run of the place as long as you are being respectful. If you aren’t an art lover, its still a place worth seeing and has these beautiful doors which were basically made for Instagram.

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Tel: +9716 568 8222

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday: 8am to 8pm
Friday: 4pm to 8pm

Panda rating scale: 3 out of 5 pandas

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Stop 3: Al Noor Island

Al Noor Island is a totally unexpected haven in the middle of Sharjah. For 35 AED you can take a walk around the island taking in the lush greenery.

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You can follow a map or do as I did as I just wandered around aimlessly stumbling along a path which turned into a trampoline, a pretty sky view, a reading pavilion, sculptures and who knows what else you may find. It’s a cool spot but go when its winter (I tried to go at the end of summer and almost perished) because the whole island is an outdoor activity.

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Tel: +9716 506 7000

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday: 9am to 11pm
Friday: 9am to 12am

Panda rating scale: 4 out of 5 pandas

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You also need to know that some of the best food in the UAE can be found in Sharjah!!

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Here my favourite meal stops for your outing in Sharjah:

 

Paper Fig Desserts

Don’t be fooled by the name of the restaurant, they have PLENTY of food in addition to yummy sweet treats. They have super cool menu that indicates their signature dishes as well as their most Instagram worthy dishes!

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The café itself is a beautiful space and is popular with local families (a sure sign that a place’s food is good). Their poached chicken sandwich is a stand out dish that I highly recommend as well as their signature French toast!

 

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Tel: +971600 560601

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday: 8am to 11pm
Friday: 8am to 12am

Panda rating scale: 4 out of 5 pandas

4-pandas

 

 

Storie Café

This café is definitely one of my favourites in the UAE from the book inspired arty décor to the gorgeously presented dishes, there isn’t anything I don’t like about this gem.

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I love their unique flavour combinations and I think about their Tuna & Mango Poke Bowl way too often! A super instagrammable café perfect for a date or a lazy lunch!

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Tel: +9716 550 2828

Opening times: Everyday: 7:30am to 11pm

Panda rating scale: 5 out of 5 pandas

5-pandas

 

Mail Room Café

This café is a perfect for a girls day out with everything from the décor to the crockery being pink, pretty and cute!

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Their food is flavourful but the presentation really stands out and their ‘mail’ theme makes the place rather unique. Order the breakfast in bed for a cute treat!

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Tel: +9716 545 4947

Opening times: Everyday: 8am to 10pm

Panda rating scale: 3 out of 5 pandas

3-pandas

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Last notes:

– Do dress modestly in Sharjah. A t-shirt and jeans is fine but steer clear of mini dresses/skirts, shorts and strappy tops.

-Sharjah is a dry emirate. Do not go with the intention of buying or consuming alcohol in this emirate because it isn’t happening. And don’t be THAT person who brings beer over the border.

-I have a lot more pictures on my Instagram page @expatpanda under the “Sharjah” highlight on my profile.

Peace out pandas car

5 thoughts on “Beyond Dubai: How to spend a day in Sharjah

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