Three decades ago, Sharjah was one of the most vibrant spots across the region. Thanks to its Islamic and cultural heritage that has been carefully preserved, the Emirate has maintained a special flavor over the years that is exclusively Sharjonian.

Today, Sharjah is home to some of the most unique alternative hangouts that celebrate the local and regional legacy.

Here are some of the city's best alternative hangout spots:

1. Mleiha

Based on archeological findings, the site of Mleiha and the Faya North East provide evidence that 'anatomically modern humans' were in the area some 130,000 years ago.

The widespread archaeological evidence unearthed throughout the Mleiha area dates back as far as the Palaeolithic period.

The Mleiha Archeological Centre was opened in January 2016 by the Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.

At the site, you will be able to take guided tours in both Arabic and English and indulge in a number of activities such as the tour around Camel Rock, extreme off-road fun at the Fossil Rock, desert cycling, trekking, and paragliding.

2. Ghawa Gahwa in Souq al Shanasiyah

Gahwa Gahwa is one of the alternative hangout spots around Sharjah, located in Al Shanasiyah Souq

The market - the oldest and most vibrant in the region - acquired its name after Shanas, the hometown of the majority of its merchants. 

The setting of the coffee shop is inspired by the GCC culture, offering a variety of snacks, refreshments, and first-rate artisan coffee.

3. Eat Sol on the Buhairah Corniche

In recent years, Eat Sol has made a name for itself as a hub for young social media lovers

Often busy with some of its loyal customers, the funky cafe’s menu includes specials like Dynamite Shawerma Rolls, Kofta Sliders, and Snickers and M&M freakshakes.

4. Majaz Park at the Old Gold Souq

For those who grew up in Sharjah, the 20-year-old Majaz Park played a significant role in their childhood.

The area, which is situated between Jamal Abdul Nasser Street and the Khalid Lagoon Corniche, has leisure and recreational areas in addition to international restaurants and cafes.

Other key features of the park include the musical cybernetic Sharjah Fountain, an iconic mosque, a jogging track, daycare area, and sculpture and art parks.

5. The Heritage Village

Inaugurated just a few months ago, Sharjah’s Heritage Village aims to preserve the legacy left by the city's ancestors to current generations, consolidating the UAE identity.

The village includes a pavilion for handicrafts, productive families, and much more. On display are also items that people have inherited from their parents and grandparents in an effort to preserve them for the younger generations.

6. Flag Island

When Flag Island first opened in 2012, its flagpole was considered to be the 7th tallest in the world, crowned with 15x30 meters.

Each of the seven lights situated at a height of 3 meters around the flagpole represents one of the country’s Emirates.

The island is also home to a variety of recreational facilities, including an open-air amphitheater with the capacity of a 1000 people, the 1971-Design Space, and Jones the Grocer restaurant.

At the beginning of November 2017, Flag Island entered the Guinness World Record after successfully raising the world's largest flag on the UAE's annual occasion of Flag Day. It measured 70 meters in length and 35 meters in width and broke the Guinness World Record for the largest flag hoisted on a fixed flagpole.

7. Al Noor Island

Al Noor Island is one of Sharjah’s new attractions that opened less than a year ago. Shurooq - Sharjah's Investment and Development Authority - developed the 45,470 square meter project last December, promising to be the first island in the Arab world to combine nature, art, and entertainment.

The island is home to a butterfly house that contains 500 exotic butterflies brought from East Asian countries. 

Here, species like the African Monarch, the Autumn Leaf, and the Rose Butterfly can flourish with the perfect combination of natural light, temperature, and humidity, ensuring the longest survival of the insects.

Opposite to the butterfly house is the Literature Pavilion, an attraction for literature lovers. Meanwhile, a fine selection of modern art pieces like sculptures and paintings will definitely win the admiration of art enthusiasts.