Why go: Sharjah has the best souk experiences in the UAE and they’re well worth the drive north to explore. The Central Market, also known as the Blue Souq, stands side-by-side with the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and The Dubai Fountain as being one of our favourite landmarks in the country. Inside, there are hundreds of independent traders hawking jewels, rugs, furniture and knick-knacks from Rajasthan, Yemen and everywhere in between. Remember to look in at the fruit and fish souks nearby, too, but any purchases will need to be taken home, unless you want them to start rotting in your car. If you live in New Dubai, the most direct route would be to drive up Sheikh Zayed Road, but it doesn’t fit the road trip philosophy, so take one of the early detour options to bypass the centre of the city and check out the sandier views of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road before pulling back into built-up, busy roads through Sharjah’s industrial area and past the cricket stadium.
Central Market, located at Al Majaz, at the end of Corniche Road, close to Khalid Lagoon. Put it in your GPS: 25.347410, 55.384124
Stay overnight: What is it you really want from a weekend away? Some different sights? A different experience to what you have at home? Tranquillity? Coral Beach Resort offers all of the above. Outside the bustle of the Al Majaz Waterfront and the Sharjah corniche and lagoon, it’s a peaceful low-rise venue with modern facilities and simple, affordable rooms.
Coral Beach Resort, Al Muntazah Street, www.hmhhotelgroup.com (06 522 9999).
Eat here: The tradition and culture that marks Sharjah out as an ideal road trip destination can be found in its dining as well. Visit Emirati restaurant Arjwan in the Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa and you’ll find local cuisine in smart, Arabesque surroundings. You’ll discover Emirati dishes and touches of flavour such as a lamb thareed (slowly braised on the bone) or lamb mansaf (stewed and served with mandi sauce).
Arjwan, Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa, Al Muntazah Street, www.arjwanrestaurant-sharjah.com (06 599 0088).
Pull over here: You shouldn’t drive as far as Sharjah without stopping in at Al Qasba and enjoying the waterside cultural hub. There are often theatrical shows to take in, as well as a giant Ferris wheel, musical fountains, an art centre and a public park.
Al Qasba, www.alqasba.ae (06 525 2444).