When the summer holidays are 11 weeks long and for all intents and purposes you’re staying in the UAE for the duration, you start to look for alternatives to soft plays and malls. The attractions in Dubai are amazing and aplenty, but they are also costly and as the kiddies start to get older, they often start to ask for something different. I had heard that there are loads of things to see and do in Sharjah with kids, but we just never seemed to get our collective selves on the same page and across the boundary line. Until now! Here is what we got up to during our first Sharjah Day Trip!
Before you head out:
We do generally prefer to go with the flow and see what there is to see once we get there, however, in this case, I would recommend at least a little research before heading out. This is simply so that a) you do not psych up the kids and arrive at a closed venue and b) you’re dressed appropriately – Sharjah is more conservative than Dubai so you will need to modest and respectful clothing. The trip is about 40 minutes depending on which side of Dubai you’re heading from and we didn’t get any traffic along the way. I did pick up a joke book and Archie comic at a petrol station along the way to keep the kids entertained though!
Stop 1: Sharjah Aquarium:
Our first stop and the main reason for our trip was the Sharjah Aquarium. This was Joshua’s favourite part of the day (admittedly he has decided he wants to be a Marine Biologist when he grows up)! Do not expect a flashy affair but you are able to get up close and (almost) personal with sharks, rays, hermit crabs, star fish and a wide range of sea creatures. You are able to view several of the tanks from the top (and hence get to see the stereotypical shark fin approaching you) and from the side/below which is really fun. Because Sharjah is the only Emirate with 2 separate coast lines, they have chosen to feature the creatures from both habitats in the exhibits and is therefore very informative if like mine your kids are getting older and more receptive to education trips.
- Getting there is simple if you’re using Google Maps (Sharjah Aquarium) and there is plenty of free parking on site.
- The aquarium is open 6 days a week (closed on Sundays) though I would recommend a week day visit as it gets pretty full on weekend (especially Friday).
- Tickets are very reasonable AED25 per adult and AED15 per child (2 – 12 years old) and there is a little coffee shop/restaurant at the exit as well as a souvenir shop with the cutest stuffed rays.
- Contact info: Sharjah Aquarium Website
Stop 2: Sharjah Maritime Museum
Your aquarium ticket gives you access to the Maritime Museum too and though it is not huge, it was incredibly interesting and has a wide range of interactive displays for young and old. The kids learnt about different types of boats, pearl diving, fishing and navigation. All the displays were immaculate and the attention to detail for me was the most impressive part. This is probably better suited to slightly older children (over 4 years old) depending on your ability to tolerate stress as they run amok inside the hall.
There is a gorgeous outdoor play area for kids big and small, unfortunately, we couldn’t make the most of it as it was stiflingly hot and humid but will be amazing during the cooler months or if you go in the evening. Excluding the play area and assuming you don’t stop for a treat (we did, boys could not resist the brownies), plan for about 2 hours for both the aquarium and the museum.
Stop 3: Sharjah Fort (Al Hasin):
Since Liam was about 2 he has been fascinated with castles and forts! Our first family trip to Portugal involved hours of driving around looking for castles and every subsequent family holiday has had to include at least 1 castle/fort. So obviously, a trip to Sharjah would not be complete without exploring Al Hasin. The Fort was built in 1823 and was home to both the Al Qawasim royal family and the Sharjah government. We loved exploring the nooks and crannies of the fort, complete with a prison, windy stair cases and a weapons room – seems if you’re a boy this is a crucial room to investigate.
Roaming the Fort does require you to be outdoors part of the time as you move between galleries but we weren’t too perturbed and the views from the top are amazing and eerie as Al Hasin stands amongst the bustling Heart of Sharjah.
- Like all the Sharjah Museum attractions we’ve now tried, it is well referenced in Google Maps (location) and has parking on site (keep your ticket receipt to validate your parking)
- The Fort is open 7 days a week and again I would recommend a week day visit in order to avoid the crowds.
- Tickets are very reasonable AED10 per adult and AED5 per child (2 – 12 years old) and while there is no restaurant on site, there is a lounge where you can get coffee as well as a souvenir shop.
Stop 4: Al Qasba
No surprise that once we had done the Fort tour Joshua was hungry….again…he ate at the aquarium! Anyway, we headed over to Al Qasba (5-minute drive from the Fort) for lunch. There is a wide range of options and we stuck to our theme and had lunch at Beit Setti (Arabic/Middle Eastern cuisine) which was delicious followed by ice cream! If you’re headed out after 4 pm there is a cute children’s play area, musical fountain, Eye of the Emirates and so much more so you can really make an evening of it.
This was our first foray into Sharjah and most definitely not our last as there are still so many museums and activities to explore! If you know of some gems please do let me know in the comments so that I can add it to our list of Summer Holiday Day Trips!