Planning a vacation in the UAE? Looking for somewhere beyond Dubai & Abu Dhabi? Well, we are here with two fabulous tourist destinations in the UAE – Sharjah and Fujairah. Both of these wonderful emirates are loaded with amazing scenic vistas, captivating Emirati heritage and plenty of idyllic vacation spots.
When you are tired of dealing with too much crowd in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, a drive for an hour is enough to take you to a land where tranquillity is a bliss.
Being away from the hustle and bustle of large cities doesn’t essentially mean having a less rewarding vacation. Both places have their own charm to make any vacation outstanding. Thank us later if you prefer to enjoy laid-back holidays paired with pristine beaches, rugged mountains and enchanting heritage.
We explored a face off between two of the best emirates outside of Dubai & Abu Dhabi for a vacation to find out where was better, Sharjah or Fujairah. When we compared Locations, Accessibility, Scenery, Cost, Things to Do and more; we found that Sharjah offers the better vacation of the two.
However, some aspects of a vacation are down to personal preference and both emirates offer something great, so dive in below and make your choice!
Sharjah, the cultural capital of the Arab world, is the third largest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. One thing that makes this emirate stand out above the rest is that it shares land on both the Arabian Gulf Coast and the Gulf of Oman.
As you can see, Sharjah (in green) controls area’s of land near to Fujairah as well as Dubai. For this comparison though, we are mainly concentrating on the land bordering Dubai and the city of Sharjah.
Sharjah sits just beside the Dubai Emirate and it takes 30 minutes maximum to reach Sharjah city from Dubai by road. To be more precise, road distance of Sharjah remains below 30 kilometres from Dubai irrespective of the highway you take.
If Sharjah is the sparkling gem from the cost of the Persian Gulf, then Fujairah is the most enchanting emirate perched on the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman. You can see from the map that these two emirates sit almost diagonally opposite to each other separated by a narrow stretch of land in between.
From Dubai, it takes around an hour and 30 minutes to reach Fujairah by road. The distance of Fujairah is nearly 125 kilometres from Dubai and 250 kilometres from Abu Dhabi.
Verdict – Sharjah
Both Sharjah and Fujairah have international airports and they are well connected with all other major cities in the UAE and other neighbouring countries. Reaching both these destinations via Dubai is much easier though, as Dubai International Airport receives frequent flights from all across the world.
Besides flights, you can travel to Sharjah and Fujairah by intercity bus services from Dubai. For a more comfortable journey, you can also hire a taxi or take a car on rental to reach any of these two destinations.
Undeniably Sharjah sits close to global attractions in Dubai and it is easy and quick to access this place from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, Fujairah is too gorgeous to miss just for the sake of travelling an hour more or so.
Verdict – Sharjah is the winner for its proximity to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Sharjah or Fujairah for Scenery?
If you are willing to dig into what kind of scenery you can expect from Sharjah and Fujairah, surely you will receive more surprises than what you had expected when comparing with the flat landscapes of Dubai.
Let’s start with Sharjah.
Sharjah city and its neighbourhood are located around a spectacular lagoon. This part of the country is known for the Emirati culture and its immaculate hospitality. The central region of Sharjah features expansive deserts and rocky mountains whilst the east coast region boasts unspoilt beaches. Sharjah also encompasses a number of surreal oasis area’s which is hard to find anywhere else in the country.
Fujairah is best known for its brilliant coastal beaches and mountainous backdrop. This place has got everything to lure visitors with a memorable tropical beach vacation. The presence of Wadis and mountains allows travellers to explore the diversified landscapes.
Sharjah offers scenic beaches and a step into true Emirati culture with its history, but so does Fujairah, and if you add the mountainous backdrop to that, there is only one winner.
Verdict – Fujairah.
Where is Cheaper for a Vacation?
From a traveller’s perspective, visiting Fujairah is a little more expensive than Sharjah. This is because of the fact that Fujairah concentrates more into offering exotic and luxury tourism to globetrotters than just regular travel experience that Dubai and Abu Dhabi does. You are more likely to find budget hotels and eateries in Sharjah than in Fujairah.
Meals at restaurants in Fujairah are around 17% more costly than in Sharjah. This is probably because of the high cost of groceries in this region. If you grab a bottle of imported beer, be ready to pay about AED 40 in Fujairah whereas it costs around AED 32 in Sharjah. A regular cappuccino in Sharjah costs twice the price in Fujairah.
Sharjah vs Fujairah Hotel Costs
|Hotel in Fujairah||Trip Advisor Rating||Price Per Night (From)|
|Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort||4.5||AED 1050|
|Radisson Blu Resort||4||AED 770|
|Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort||4.5||AED 925|
|Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort||4.5||AED 1150|
|Sandy Beach Hotel||4||AED 820|
|Hotel in Sharjah||Trip Advisor Rating||Price Per Night (From)|
|Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa||4.0||AED 550|
|Pullman Sharjah Hotel||5.0||AED 680|
|Novotel Sharjah Expo Centre||5.0||AED 380|
|Occidental Sharjah Grand||4.5||AED 400|
|Centro Sharjah||4.5||AED 290|
With these two tables, it’s evident that Sharjah offers more reasonably priced hotel rooms along with high-end star accommodation whereas Fujairah is more suitable for grand and luxury accommodation.
Verdict – Sharjah
Where Has Better Places To Visit?
Places to Visit in Sharjah
Hiding under the shadow of Dubai, Sharjah is truly a place to explore new horizons of travelling experiences in the UAE. This emirate can make you fall head over heels with its outstanding tourist attractions. The best part is, most of them don’t come under the bucket list of most tourists so you can have a surreal look at them without any rush.
1. Al Noor Mosque
One of the most popular mosques in Sharjah featuring an extremely enchanting Ottoman inspired architectural style. This iconic landmark features an interior full of intricate calligraphic verses taken from the Holy Quran.
2. Al Noor Island
Al Noor is a fantastic island oasis known for its butterfly collection, light & sound shows and beguiling art installations. With impeccably manicured landscaped gardens and a massive children’s playground area, this place is the best choice for a family outing.
3. Sharjah Mosque
Sharjah Mosque is an abiding symbol of faith with a structure that is worth your visit and your appreciation for sure. This largest mosque in Sharjah took more than five years and 300 million AED in making to finish its grand structure.
4. Sharjah Heritage Area
This is basically the old part of the Sharjah city with a true representation of Emirati architecture, ancient souk and typical Arabian culture. The area is dotted with a calligraphy museum, heritage museum and a souk whispering the history of Sharjah.
5. Sharjah Science Museum
This museum was built with the purpose of educating people and creating enthusiasm among kids regarding science. They use amazing methodology, intriguing displays and interactive sessions to explore science, space, life and more.
6. Sharjah Art Foundation
This is one of the sought-after platforms in the UAE where contemporary artists all over the world showcase their creations. It’s the best place to understand the global art and literature scene.
7. Khor Fakkan
Located on the eastern coast of UAE, the city of Khor Fakkan is nothing less but a little paradise on the earth. Overlooking the beach, Bay of Khor Fakkan and banks of Gulf of Oman, this fairy-tale like city is surrounded by majestic Hajar Mountains in the west.
8. Al Majaz Waterfront
This beautiful waterfront is certainly one of the most happening places in whole of Sharjah. The area attracts a large chunk of visitors particularly after sunset. A series of restaurants and cafes in the Al Majaz Waterfront allows guests to watch fountain shows. During daytime, there are sufficient fun elements like parks, mini-golf course, children’s playground to enjoy.
Kalba is a quaint town sitting on the coastline of the Gulf of Oman. This charming small settlement encloses Al-Hisn Museum and fully restored house of Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamad Al-Qassimi. The nearby Khor Kalba Conservation Reserve is a flourishing mangrove forest.
Places to Visit In Fujairah
The Emirate of Fujairah is small in size but when it comes to tourist attractions, this land has a lot of amazing places to visit. This Emirate is a fine mix of scenic destinations, historical places, stunning beaches and imposing mountains.
1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This is the most iconic monument in Fujairah. Erected in 2015, Sheikh Zayed Mosque has gained immense appreciation because of its towering presence and awe-inspiring architecture. This single edifice features multiple architectural styles including the Arabic, Ottoman and contemporary.
2. Snoopy Island
Snoopy Island is the best place to relish a perfect beach vacation in Fujairah. This beach and its clear water are the playground of watersports lovers. The island got its name from a rocky marina outcrop that looks almost like the nose of a fictional animated character, named ‘Snoopy’.
3. Fujairah Fort
This fort is the living specimen of Fujairah’s incredibly enriched history and heritage. In spite of being the ‘oldest fort in the country’, this place still bears a unique and infallible defence structure.
4. Fujairah Heritage Village
Adjacent to the Fujairah Fort, there is this wonderful heritage village. A visit to this ancient village is enough to offer you a window to peep into the local lifestyle along with a heavy dose of their culture and tradition.
5. Al Bithnah Fort
This is another piece of architectural excellence sitting at the outskirts of Fujairah City. Built in 1735, this square-shaped fort is all made of stones, mortar and plaster. Al Bithnah Fort is known for its overwhelming views of the Hajjar Mountains through Wadi Ham.
6. Ain Al-Madhab
One of the most precious things to find at Fujairah is the epic hot springs of Ain Al-Madhab. These mineral springs gargle out sulphur-mixed warm water which is perfect for rejuvenating your body and mind.
7. Hajar Mountains
The best visual treat on the land of Fujairah has to be the Hajar Mountains. Its mountainous terrain is dotted with many Wadis. Scenic and rustic slopes of Hajar Mountains are the best place to seek the thrills of adventure sports.
8. Al Aqah Beach
For the best underwater activities in Fujairah, you have to head for Al Aqah Beach. Scuba diving and snorkelling are two most popular activities on this picturesque beach.
Verdict – Sharjah because of its fine blend of nature, heritage, history and urban attractions that allows travellers a variety of unique things to try.
Both Sharjah & Fujairah present a step back into true Emirati culture. If you want to explore more on the history of the UAE check out our guide to the best historical places in Dubai.
Things to Do in Sharjah vs Fujairah
Thanks to its diverse landscapes and culturally enriched heritage, Sharjah gives you the liberty to either bask in the sun on a beach, explore heritage sites and museums or behold the natural beauty of true Arabian deserts. To save you from rigorous brainstorming, here we are furnishing a list of The Best Things to do in Sharjah.
- Head to commercial hub, Al Qasba for a wholesome entertainment package of glitz, fine dining and lots of child-friendly activities.
- A visit to Sharjah Desert Park for a better understanding of flora and fauna of the UAE.
- Taking out time to dive deep into the roots of Islamic culture and heritage with Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.
- Understand the importance and beauty of marine life at Sharjah Aquarium.
- Stroll across the huge area of Sharjah National Park to discover precious blend of contemporary European and traditional Arab architecture styles.
- Keep yourself glued to things happening at Al Majaz Waterfront.
- Explore unique desert landscapes and its history at Mleiha Archaeological Site.
- Get the feel of a typical Arabian style bazaar at Blue Souk.
- Relish the impressive collection of artworks at Sharjah Art Museum.
- Chill out amidst the heavenly settings of Khor Fakkan Beach area.
- Pay a visit to Al Noor Mosque, the most stunning piece of architecture in Sharjah.
- Enjoy a laid back break at Al Noor Island on the Khalid Lagoon near Sharjah city.
- Decode the mystery of life, science and more with interactive sessions in Sharjah Science Museum.
- Stroll through the narrow lanes of Sharjah Heritage Site.
- Take the kids to Al Montazah Island. This is a fabulous touristy spot and hard to miss even if you are not accompanied by any kids during the trip.
Irrespective of its small size, Fujairah is overloaded with plenty of tourist attractions too. This Emirate represents a flourishing neighbourhood, impressive line of history, pristine beaches and mesmeric historical sites. There are too many things to do in Fujairah and we are listing here the best ones that you must try while enjoying your days in this gorgeous emirate.
- Take a tour of the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
- Brush up your history with a visit to Fujairah Fort, the oldest one in the country.
- Relax out the days at the most iconic beach of Fujairah, the Snoopy Island.
- Gear up for an adventure road trip to the Hajar Mountains.
- Rejuvenate your body and soul at the bubbling hot springs of Ain Al-Madhab.
- Dive deep into the water of Jazirat Al Ghubbah for an exciting snorkelling session.
- Shop like a typical Emirati at Fujairah Friday Market and exploring a vast range of local handcrafted items.
- Pick carpets, earthenware items, handicrafts and antiques from the local market of Masafi.
- Go for adventure water sports at the unstirred coastal beaches in Fujairah.
- Visit the Al Bithnah Fort which is made of all mortar, mud and stones but still standing tall.
- Cherish the panoramic views of Hajar Mountains from Al-Hayl Casle.
- Enjoy a lavish stay at any of its luxurious hotels backed by impeccable hospitality standards.
It would be not wrong to say that Fujairah is the winner if you are planning for a more relaxing and somewhat lavish beach vacation. However, Sharjah is capable of offering a more wholesome vacation for you and your family.
Verdict – Sharjah
Sharjah or Fujairah for Shopping?
Whether you are a mega shopping centre or at a traditional souk, the shopping scene in Sharjah is indeed very fascinating and encouraging too. This travel destination will amaze you with its wide range of products, a major part of which is produced locally.
Sharjah has a bunch of souks meant for different types of products or to suit different shopping styles. For jewellery you have Gold Souk, for shopping with entertainment options there is the Mega Mall, for traditional Arabian souvenirs and junk jewellery you got the Sharjah Corniche.
Here is the list of bustling marketplaces in Sharjah where locals as well tourists love to shop their heart out.
- Rolla Gold Market
- Central Souk (also known as Blue Souk)
- Date Souk (yes, they have a souk just for Dates)
- Mega Mall
- Textile Souk
- Sahara Centre
- Souk Al Jubail
- Souk Saqr
- Souk Al Arsah
- Souk Al Shanasiyah
Now, if you take a look at Fujairah’s shopping scene, the options are very limited. In fact, shopping is never the priority to visitors who come here primarily for a luxurious nature holiday. The best two marketplaces from Fujairah are:
- Fujairah Friday Market
- Masafi Local Market
When it’s about shopping options, Sharjah has much to offer than Fujairah. Shopping in Sharjah City is more diverse and therefore you get enough scope to hone your bargain skills. Let’s not also forget, with the close proximity to Dubai, a short trip from Sharjah can have you at Dubai Mall & Mall of the Emirates.
Verdict – Sharjah
Which Emirate Has The Best Beaches?
Both Sharjah and Fujairah are well capable of taking care of your long-cherished dream of having a fabulous beach vacation as both these emirates share their borders with the sea.
There is no dearth of beautiful beaches in the Emirate of Sharjah as it has its fair share of coastline with the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Here are the top favourites:
- Kalba Beach
- Khor Fakkan Beach
- Al Khan Beach
- Al Lulayyah Beach
- Al Fisht Public Beach
However, Fujairah’s beaches are less crowded and more scenic compared to the competitors from Sharjah. Snoopy Island has surely taken Fujairah’s beach vacation to a whole new level with its exciting water activities. Fujairah is also the home to some of the best beach resorts in the UAE. Here is the list of most popular beaches in Fujairah:
- Snoopy Island and Beach
- Fujairah Public Beach
- Umbrella Beach
- Dadna Beach
- Khor Fakkan Beach (although it’s an exclave of Sharjah Emirate, it sits next to Fujairah)
Another major attraction that brings more and more beach lovers to Fujairah is its unspoilt and vibrant coral reefs along with a whole range of amazing marine life. Adventure activities like snorkelling and scuba diving in Fujairah help you to explore this fascinating world hidden under the sea.
Therefore, if it’s about the beaches, Fujairah has been blessed with the more pristine and scenic ones than Sharjah.
Verdict – Fujairah
When you are looking beyond the boundary of typical city-bound trips in the UAE, both Sharjah and Fujairah are incredible options. These two emirates are also home to a number of ancient heritage sites which gives your vacation that something different.