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Dubai or Sharjah for a Vacation? (Answered)

Dubai or Sharjah for a Vacation?

Dubai is not all that the UAE has to offer for holiday makers. There are 6 other Emirates that are all worth visiting.

One of these Emirates happens to be Dubai’s next door neighbour and offers a cheaper alternative when looking for places to stay.

Sharjah has it’s many stand alone advantages but being close to Dubai is one of the major ones. Offering cheaper accommodation but also allowing its visitors to head to Dubai cheap and easily.

Below, we took a deep dive into all the pros and cons between choosing Sharjah or Dubai for a vacation.

Overall, we found Sharjah to offer more historical landmarks to visit, cheaper to eat out and cheaper hotels. However, when it came to things to do, standard of hotels and accessibility, Dubai wins hands down.

We think that Sharjah offers a fantastic alternative to Dubai for those looking for a more cost effective holiday.

However, that’s just our view. Read on below and make your own decision based on your own personal preferences.

Dubai vs Sharjah – Location

Dubai or Sharjah for a Vacation - Dubai vs Sharjah Locations | The Vacation Builder

Among all the seven emirates of the UAE, Dubai is undeniably the one that gets the most attention from tourists and travellers. The iconic Dubai is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf which is somewhat north-west region of the country.

The Emirate of Dubai shares its border with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast and Oman in the southeast. Most visitors believe Dubai to be the capital of the UAE but it is actually Abu Dhabi.

Then comes Sharjah. This is the immediate neighbour of Dubai and the 3rd largest and 3rd most populous city in the UAE. This gorgeous emirate is surrounded by Dubai to the south, Ras Al Khaimah to the east and Ajman and Umm Al Quwain to the north.

Sharjah is also the only emirate that overlooks the beautiful coastline of both the Persian Gulf to the west and the Gulf of Oman (Indian Ocean) to the east. So, the coastal richness of Sharjah always looks promising.

The advantage to Dubai’s location is the close proximity to Abu Dhabi. However, by choosing Sharjah as your base, you will have easy access to Dubai as well as the picturesque and mountainous regions of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in the north.

Verdict: Sharjah


Dubai is the star attraction of the Middle East region and no wonder why.

Dubai International Airport connects this glamorous city with all other major cities in the world. Flying to Dubai is really easy as the city offers plenty of international flights to welcome visitors around the world.

Sharjah also has its own airport which connects the city to all major destinations from the Middle East as well as many international destinations.

Whether you choose to stay in Sharjaj or Dubai, Dubai International Airport has more frequent international flights and is generally cheaper to fly in to. Dubai Airport to the centre of Sharjah is only a 20 minute taxi ride away too.

Verdict: Dubai

Dubai or Sharjah for Cheaper Hotels?

Dubai or Sharjah for a Vacation - Where has cheaper hotels? Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort | The Vacation Builder
Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort

When you are planning for a trip, the cost of accommodation is one of the most important things to consider.

Dubai, being one of the most favourite luxury holiday destinations in the world, has curated a special series of world-class luxury hotels with exceptional service levels and of course, many of them don’t come cheap.

However, you can spot many budget hotels in Dubai if you are ready to venture out beyond those plush and vibrant locations in the city. Finding accommodation in Dubai that fits your pocket is not at all hard when you are not looking for everything to be luxurious and grand.

You can find a high rated, mid-range hotel in Dubai (with all essential amenities) for around 250AED per night.

When it comes to Sharjah, we wouldn’t say the hotels are any cheaper than in Dubai, just that there are a larger range of cheaper hotels.

What’s more all prime locations in Sharjah offer reasonably priced hotels, which means you don’t have to compromise on the location part but still can enjoy the best of everything around you. On the other hand, you would struggle to find a cheap hotel on Palm Jumeirah or Jumeirah Beach in Dubai.

The average cost of a mid-range hotel in Sharjah ranges between AED 150 to AED 250 per night.

If we are just concentrating on price then Sharjah does just edge this one.

Verdict: Sharjah

Where Has a Better Standard of Hotels?

Tourism plays a crucial role in the economy of Dubai. Sharjah is also fighting its way to establishing itself as a worthy competitor of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both Dubai and Sharjah welcome visitors from all around the world.

To accommodate the masses and to maintain a better standard, Dubai hotels have stretched their effort to a whole new level. The hotel industry is not just growing fast here but they are setting new standards for others to follow.

On the other hand, Sharjah is still on its way to getting equal with Dubai. Sharjah’s progress is very impressive and hopefully, it will reach there soon.

We have prepared here a comparative analysis chart for the top 10 hotels from Dubai and Sharjah. You can check out their TripAdvisor rating too.

Hotels In DubaiRatingHotels In SharjahRating
Atlantis The Palm4.5Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa4.0
Taj Dubai5.0Ibis Styles Sharjah4.5
Raffles Dubai5.0Double Tree by Hilton Sharjah Waterfront5.0
Dubai International Hotel4.5Coral Beach Resort Sharjah4.5
Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront4.5Centro Sharjah4.5
Taj Jumeirah Lakes Towers5.0Citymax Sharjah4.0
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel5.0Golden Sand Hotel4.0
Five Jumeirah Village Dubai5.0Copthorne Hotel4.5
Swissotel Al Murooj Dubai4.5Mysk Kingfisher Retreat5.0
Shangri-La Dubai5.0Pullman Sharjah5.0
Average Hotel Rating in Dubai4.8Average Hotel Rating in Sharjah4.5

You can see from this table that Dubai has secured an average hotel rating of 4.8 while Sharjah is at 4.5.

It is no secret that Dubai is famous for some of the best hotels in the world and continues to set the standard. In short, Dubai hotels are more efficient and well equipped with facilities than Sharjah hotels when it comes to delivering exceptional customer satisfaction.

Verdict: Dubai

Where is Cheaper to Eat Out?

A wonderful vacation can’t be made possible without those delicious local cuisines along with the international delicacies.

Both Dubai and Sharjah understand this and have put their best foot forward to cater your taste buds with a wide range of restaurants.

Eating out in Dubai is undeniably a costly affair unless you go for some inexpensive restaurant. The city boasts a fabulous culinary scene with some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world. So, it is quite natural to bear a hefty cost to afford a fine dining experience in Dubai.

Sharjah, on the other hand, is relatively cheaper if you compare the meal prices or dine-out cost with Dubai. The food scene at Sharjah is not as vibrant as in Dubai but it’s more than enough to treat your taste buds with some of the most exotic and lip-smacking Emirati delicacies.

Just like Dubai, Sharjah also has a hoard of eateries and restaurants across the city where one can order international favourites of their choice without shelling out too much money.

Let’s take a look at the dine-out costs and prices of some other essential items both in Dubai and Sharjah.

Meals in Inexpensive RestaurantAED 35.00AED 20.00
Three-course Meal for 2 in Mid-Range RestaurantAED 250.00AED 80.00
Domestic Beer (0.5 litre draught)AED 45.00AED 25.00
Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)AED 48.00AED 32.50
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle)AED 3.98AED 2.47
Regular CappuccinoAED 18.72AED12.55
Packaged Drinking Water (0.33 litre bottle)AED 1.58AED 1.05

The prices mentioned in the above table were derived from Numbeo.com. These numbers can vary a little depending on the season you are visiting Dubai and Sharjah. During peak travel season (i.e. winter months), prices shoot a little for sure.

Verdict: Sharjah

Dubai vs Sharjah – Beaches

Dubai or Sharjah for a Vacation - Where Has The Best Beaches - Sharjah Beach | The Vacation Builder
Sharjah Beach

Talking about beach vacations? Well, both Dubai and Sharjah have a string of fabulous beaches to offer.

Although holiday makers often rush to Dubai to enjoy a typical and tropical beach vacation, Sharjah is a hidden beach paradise with some of the best pristine and secluded coastlines in the UAE.

Dubai beaches are full of activities and you can spot a perfect place to relax and rejuvenate as per your definition of holidaying under the sun. What’s more, you can try a bunch of exciting water activities on Dubai beaches and click some amazing sunset snaps with a fascinating skyline of the city.

The beaches in Sharjah offer a little less in the way of activities, however they’re definitely less spoilt.

One important thing to note here is that the Emirate of Sharjah actually includes the south coast of the UAE in the Khor Fakkan region. Khor Fakkan has one of the best beaches in the UAE. You just need to be mindful that Khor Fakkan is on the other side of the country to the cities of Dubai & Sharjah.

Best Beaches in Dubai

Dubai vs Sharjah Beaches - La Mer Beach Dubai | The Vacation Builder
La Mer Beach, Dubai
  • The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence – A sandy beach with crystal clear water in azure blue shade. The beach overlooks the mesmeric skyline and sky-scrappers of Dubai.
  • Sunset Beach at Umm Suqeim – Sitting close to Burj Al Arab and offers a gorgeous view of the hotel. As the name reveals, you can catch the best sunset moments here and can also click some Insta-worthy photos.
  • Kite Beach at Umm Suqeim 1 – This is the ultimate place in the town to catch some kite surfing action. View from the beach is excellent with rocky shoreline and distant skyline of Dubai.
  • Jumeirah Public Beach at Jumeirah – A wonderful beach with a clean and relaxing ambience. This beach offers the best view of two city giants – the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and the wave-designed Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
  • Mercato Beach at Jumeirah 1 – Sea and sand creates a breathtakingly stunning magic at Mercato Beach. The soft powdery white beach is guarded by the turquoise sea here. You can plan a perfect laid-back beach day right at this beach.
  • La Mer Beach at Jumeirah 1 – This is probably the swankiest beach in Dubai. La Mer is lined by numerous shops and restaurants. From the beach, you can enjoy the uninterrupted view of the iconic Burj Khalifa and the Arabian Gulf.
  • Palm West Beach at the Palm Jumeirah – This beach is the best place to catch the vibrant sunset dues in Dubai. It offers a captivating view of JBR, the Palm and Bluewaters Island along with the expansive Arabian Gulf.
  • Al Sufouh Secret Beach (also known as Black Palace Beach) at Al Sufouh – This hidden gem comes with a long and undisturbed stretch of sandy white beach. From the beach, you can appreciate the iconic glimpse of Burj Al Arab along with other city landmarks.
  • Open Beach at Jumeirah – A comparatively less popular beach but it covers a long and beautiful shoreline. Best place to unwind in utmost tranquillity. Daria Island lies just in front of the beach.
  • Al Mamzar Beach in Deira neighbourhood – Blessed with azure blue sea water and swinging palm trees, Al Mamzar Beach brings the right balance between city views and glistening shoreline.

Best Beaches in Sharjah

Dubai vs Sharjah Beaches - Khor Fakkan Beach Sharjah | The Vacation Builder
Khor Fakkan Beach

The Emirate of Sharjah shares its coastline both with the Persian Gulf in the west and the Gulf of Oman in the east. So, you can expect some of the most scenic and surreal beaches while exploring Sharjah. The best ones from this emirate are:

  • Kalba Beach – Kalba is an exclave of Sharjah lying along the shore of the Gulf of Oman. Lying between a Sharjah nature reserve and the Emirate of Fujairah, this pristine beach offers the very best of eastern coastline.
  • Sharjah Corniche Beach – This is probably the most popular beach in Sharjah marked with the blue flag status. The modern settings, public facilities and white sand make it a wonderful beach-day destination for locals and tourists. Snorkelling is the favourite underwater activity here.
  • Al Khan Beach – This is the first open beach in Sharjah with a fabulous waterfront and an engaging vibe. At Al Khan Beach, you can go for beach activities like kayaking, beach volleyball and boat ride. Sharjah Aquarium and museum sit close to the beach.
  • Khor Fakkan Beach – The unmatched beauty of Khor Fakkan has made it one of the most beautiful as well as popular beaches in Sharjah Emirate. Nestled towards the northern part of Khor Fakkan, this beach features a serene coastline paired with crystal blue water and soft white sand. This beach houses a number of luxurious beach resorts and is well worth the drive if you are staying in the city of Sharjah.
  • Al Fisht Beach – For a thrilling beach holiday, Al Fisht is your best bet. White sands, swinging palm trees and azure blue water here are more than ready to craft a perfect leisure beach day for visitors.
  • Lou Lou’s Beach – This beach is the most celebrated luxury beach honeymoon destination in Sharjah. Relaxed ambience and spectacular shoreline of Lou Lou’s let you enjoy a lazy day in the beach.

Where has the best beaches comes entirely down to personal preference. Dubai has more beaches and more to do at them. Sharjah has less, but they’re more picturesque and unspoilt. The main downside to beaches in Sharjah is that the most beautiful one (Khor Fakkan), is actually located 90 minutes away.

Verdict: Tie

Dubai or Sharjah for Things to Do?

The magnitude of exploring the Emirates of Dubai and Sharjah is quite vast. There are so many amazing places to visit and things to do in both these emirates.

Below we have listed down the best things to do in each location, so that you get a first-hand guide on what to try there.

Best Things To Do in Dubai

  • Aim for reaching the sky at Burj Khalifa
  • Shop till you drop at humongous Dubai Mall
  • Behold the magical dancing waters at Dubai Fountain
  • Walking the flowery lanes of Dubai Miracle Garden
  • Exploring different countries and their fascinating culture at Global Village
  • Ride to the top of the Dubai Frame, the one and only gold-plated and largest photo frame in the world
  • Feel the chill in the air at Ski Dubai even in a hot summer day
  • Get bedazzled at the glitter of the Dubai Gold Souk
  • Meet underwater corals and creatures at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
  • Have lots of fun with water at Aquaventure Waterpark
  • Appreciate the creativity with the quirky Boxpark
  • Watch the grand spectacles at Dubai Garden Glow
  • Go back to childhood days at Legoland Dubai
  • Have a bird’s eye-view of iconic Palm Jumeirah Island during a Sky Diving session
  • Enter the primitive world of Dinosaurs with IMG Worlds of Adventure
  • Understand the balancing act of nature at The Green Planet
  • Know more about history while shopping at Ibn Battuta Mall
  • Understanding Emirati history and culture at Etihad Museum
  • Have a wonderful time with dolphins at Dubai Dolphinarium
  • Going back in time with Al Fahidi Historical District
  • Watching some mind-blogging performance at Dubai Opera
  • Visiting the enticing Jumeirah Mosque
  • Have loads of fun with sun, sea and sea at the splendid beaches in Dubai

Best Things To Do In Sharjah

  • Visit Al Qasba for a wholesome family day-out paired with plenty of shopping, food and fun
  • Explore the regional flora and fauna at Sharjah Desert Park
  • Know more about Islamic culture and heritage at Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
  • Go on a fascinating trip to Sharjah National Park to witness the fine blend of traditional Arabian and contemporary European architecture styles
  • Appreciate the beauty of marine ecosystem at Sharjah Aquarium
  • Have a good time with your family and kiddos at Al Majaz Waterfront
  • Behold an impressive collection of artworks at Sharjah Art Museum
  • Know more about desert landscapes and its fascinating history at Mleiha Archaelogical Site
  • Shop amidst a traditional set-up at Blue Souk
  • Visit the stunning and most iconic landmark of the town, the Al Noor Mosque
  • Chill out at the gorgeous shoreline of Khor Fakkan Beach
  • Have a blissful leisure time at Al Noor Island along the Khalid Lagoon
  • Discover the fascinating world of science at Sharjah Science Museum
  • Unveil the ancient time at Sharjah Heritage Site
  • Take your kids to Al Montazah Island

When it comes to tourist attractions and enticing activities, nowhere can beat Dubai. The city has more than enough to satiate your cravings for an extraordinary holiday time. The best part of a Dubai vacation is that it will surpass your expectation in every possible way. Sharjah does not come close to Dubai if you are looking for a truly engaging vacation with lots to do.

Verdict: Dubai

What About Historical/Natural Places & Parks to Visit?

Sharjah is the land of architectural gem and cultural heritage. This city is known for its various tourist attractions including some historical sites. Sharjah also boasts a series of nature parks that represents its natural richness. Unlike Dubai, this city has its own vibe of being close to nature and tightly bonded with history and heritage.

Historical Sites and Natural Places to Visit in Sharjah

  • Sharjah Al Hisn Museum
  • Al Eslah School Museum
  • Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
  • Mleiha Archaeological Site
  • Al Majaz Park
  • Sharjah National Park
  • Arabian Wildlife Centre
  • Al Darari Park
  • Buhaira Corniche
  • Al Ghafia Park
  • Al Talah Park
  • Al Ittihad Square Park

Dubai, on the other hand, is more frequented by man-made giants like sky-reaching buildings, huge shopping malls and entertaining tourist attractions. Places to explore the nature or history of the region, are very few in Dubai. To this date, the city features a few wonderful places to feel closer to its history and nature.

Historical and Natural Places to Visit in Dubai

  • Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
  • Al Seef
  • Hatta Heritage Village
  • Dubai Museum
  • Souq Ad Hadid Archaeology Museum
  • Jumeirah Archaeological Site
  • Al Safa Park
  • Zabeel Park
  • Dubai Creekside Park
  • Al Mamzar Beach Park

The natural beauty and historical/heritage sites of Sharjah are truly thought-provoking. Dubai certainly lacks in this area.

Verdict: Sharjah

Overall Where Would We Choose?

When you consider all of the aspects above, Sharjah actually comes out on top! We’d personally always choose Dubai as it blows away most other holiday destinations in the world with its hotels and things to do. However, when you break it down and look further into cost, historical & natural places to visit and geographical location, Sharjah wins!

We have presented you with a simple yet useful head-to-head article on Dubai Vs. Sharjah. Now you have to choose which destination you would like to pick for a delightful holiday trip based on your own needs and expectations.

Never ignore what interests you or your family. That’s the key to a great vacation.

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