For a cultural foray into the heart of Sharjah, we recommend you factor in a visit to the Al Mahatta Museum, the Sharjah Aquarium and Maritime Museum, the Science Museum and the Sharjah Art Museum – plus some additional stop-offs along the way to keep everyone in the car happy!
A perfect day
7.00am Bye-bye Abu Dhabi
Plan to get out and about early – you’ll miss the heavy traffic and it will be a cooler, less stressful start to the day. The good thing about the museums in Sharjah is they generally open up at around 8am and stay open until 8pm (with the exception of Friday, when they are only open from 4pm to 8pm).
For all timings and prices visit www.sharjahmuseums.ae.
9.30am Head to Sharjah Creek
Visit the heart of Sharjah’s cultural district – the Arts and Heritage area. It’s home to a myriad of historical gems, including the Art Museum, the Heritage Museum, the Museum of Islamic Heritage and lots of other, smaller exhibitions, all costing around Dhs10 for adults and Dhs5 for kids – or nothing at all – to visit.
10.30am Go fish!
By now, you’ll be all museumed out, (at least for the time being) so get back in the car and make your way to the Sharjah Aquarium. This involves a slight trek across the city – but if you follow your map, you’ll be there in no time. This place really is a treat for kids – packed full of interesting exhibits (all alive of course). There are over 250 different species of sea wildlife living at this well-run centre. We particularly rate it because it has interactive information boards by every display, telling you all about the inhabitants, what they eat, where they live and if they are endangered or not. Dhs50 for a family ticket.
www.sharjahaquarium.ae (06 528 5288).
By now, everyone’s tummies will be grumbling – and if you’ve managed to escape the aquarium without being caught inside the very tempting gift shop, it’s time for a spot of lunch. Head to the Sammach – the Lebanese seafood restaurant in the aquarium compound – and discover the culinary joys the sea has to offer, as well as the usual hot and cold mezze starters to take the edge off your starvation. For little ones, the fish and chips are delicious – and, naturally, there are no processed fish fingers here!
Dishes range in price from Dhs50-Dhs200.
2.00pm Flying high
Make your way to the Al Mahatta Aviation Museum – and prepare to be surprised. Back in 1932 this fantastic little compound in the heart of Sharjah was the very first airport in the UAE and Gulf region. Amazingly, it’s been kept almost exactly as it was, only now the aircraft hangers are filled with planes that are no longer airborne. Plane-mad dads and kids will love it – and once you’ve explored the rest of the exhibits, including a section on the actual physics behind flight, there’s a fascinating short film by Pathé News (made way back in the 1930s) all about the airport.
Find out more at www.sharjahmuseums.ae.
3.30pm Souk shopping
Head to Sharjah’s famous Blue Souk in the Al Sharq district (drive further along the Corniche road towards the Radisson Blu – then head for Al Qassimi Road) and explore the many little stalls and shops nestled inside. The Blue Souk is a brilliant place for practising your bartering skills – and you’ll find all sorts of Arabian antiques and trinkets (original ones) going for bargain prices in the Open Gallery on the first floor. We rate the carpet traders especially. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping there, why not take the kids for a run about on the grassy knolls surrounding the souk? These areas are popular picnic spots for many Sharjah residents.
6.00pm Dinner! And the big wheel
Finish off the day at the Al Qasba Canal (the other side of the Khalid Lagoon) by treating yourselves to a bite to eat at one of the many waterside cafés followed by a trip on the Eye of the Emirates – the largest observation wheel in the Gulf region and Africa. All the cabins are air conditioned – and what better way to end your day than with a sunset view of the city from 60 metres up in the air? It’s open from 4pm to midnight, Saturday to Wednesday, and 3pm-1am on Thursdays and Fridays. Dhs30 (for adults) and Dhs15 (for kids).
Find out more at www.alqasba.ae/eyeofemirates (06 556 0777).
7.30pm Head for home!
Yawn! What a day!