Travelling to Doha on a business or leisure trip? How exciting! Qatar is slowly becoming a popular place like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. In fact, there are not many differences between these places, because they are equally rich societies, Islamic religion and different cultures from Western or European lifestyle. Qatar’s capital Doha is an interesting city, offering many extraordinary opportunities to enjoy: breathtaking views of the skyline, desert safaris, luxury hotels, green areas and amazing food. Either if you are staying a few days or hours in Doha or maybe you are planning to live, here are 10 the best things to do in Doha.
If you find yourself in Qatar you would be amazed by all the things that this “small-sized” country can offer. Starting from the beautiful architecture, through fascinating landscapes and interesting culture to amazing food. It is one of the richest countries in the world and still rapidly growing. Qatar is much more than bunch oh high buildings and it’s not that expensive as you might think. If Doha is your stopover place for some other destination you can check out my text Qatar Stopover: How to spend to amazing days in Doha!
1. Walk around Souq Waqif
One of the best things to do in Doha is exploring Souq Waqif. Souq Waqif is a place that best reflects authentic Qatar and most popular among tourists and locals. It’s a market where you can shop souvenirs, handicrafts, garments, Arabic sweets. Here you can seat in one of the many restaurants and try a popular “shisha” (smoking flavoured tobacco) or walk through the labyrinth of small streets.
In vintage shops, you can see traditional clothes that locals are wearing daily. Instead of souvenir, you can bring home different spices that you can’t find in the rest of the world. Seat in one of the Lounges and have Turkish coffee or Moroccan tea and try tasty “shawarma”. It’s a must place to visit when you are in Doha!
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” (Jennifer Lee).
2. Go for a walk at Corniche.
Doha Corniche is a waterfront promenade extending seven kilometres along Doha Bay to Souq Waqif. If you like walking, you can start from Sheraton park and walk all the way to Souq Waqif. It’s a favourite place among locals who often enjoy a picknick with their families. You can see sports fans jogging or exercising on machines scattered around the area for health buffs.
Along the promenade, there are many “dhow”- traditional boats that you can rent for a cheap if know how to bargain. Dhow cruising will give you a chance to capture the stunning view of Doha City Center skyscrapers. If you are chasing good photos for your Instagram feed, then my advice is to come to Corniche in the evening. City lights make this area even more beautiful and picturesque!
3. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art.
Nearby Souq Waqif and Dhow Harbor it is located Museum of Islamic Art – architectural masterpiece. It is a collection of Islamic art pieces across three continents (not only Qatar) over 1400 years ago. Entrance here is free of charge. Immerse yourself in the history of different countries and civilizations. Give yourself time to see a collection of artefacts such as carpets, horse-riders, jewellery, paintings of warriors or emperors, wooden artefacts.
The museum collection is spread to more levels. Darkened lighting gives an even more special atmosphere. Inside the Museum there is a small restaurant with great food. Visiting Museum of Islamic art is one of the best things you can do on shorter trips to Doha!
4. Try a Dhow Cruise.
As mention before “dhow” boats
The dhow boats are anchored at Corniche promenade. At night they usually look like floating nightclubs with loud music and LED lights. Dhow Cruising usually starts at Corniche and can include groups of 20-30 people. On each boat there is an upper deck from where you can enjoy in the Skyline view, dance, make barbeque or even jump in the water if you are brave enough!
“To Travel is to Live” (Hans C. Andersen)
5. Spend a day in Katara.
Katara Cultural Village or “Valley of Culture” is a complex of an amphitheatre, art galleries, restaurants, gold mosque, promenades, coffee shops, academic facilities, private beaches. It is a home of well-known sculpture “Force of Nature”. Katara is located between the Industrial area of West Bay and Pearl Island.
From the city centre, it is possible to arrive there in 15 minutes by car. There are often happening concerts, exhibitions, and manifestations that are usually free of charge to visit. It is a place next to the shore, dedicated to people who love culture and art, as well as those who like beautiful landscapes.
In my opinion, strolling around Katara is one of the best things to do in Doha. You need to take time to spend in its peacefulness. You can choose to dine in one of many restaurants when it is not extremely hot or even buy a ticket to enter the private beach. Great combination of amazing architecture and relaxation area. More about activities that are happening you can find on Katara official site. https://www.katara.net/en/home.
6. Level up your adrenaline in dune bashing and camel ride!
One of the best things to do when you are in Doha is to experience dune bashing and camel ride which you can book through tour agencies such as Gulf Adventures or Qatar International Adventures. Desert safari includes both of this as well as a trip to Inland sea, lunch or dinner in a dessert (which is even more interesting). Price is around 500 (100 USD) Qatari rials per person for a 4 hours long trip but it’s cheaper if there are more people in the group.
The best part of desert safari (and a little bit frightening) is a super fast and crazy ride on shimmy sand dunes! Don’t worry, this is done by experienced drivers. Even better feeling gives Arabic music that is playing in the car! Camel ride is very short, basically is just a circuit, but it gives you a chance to make awesome photos with these beautiful animals.
Desert safari is one of the best things to do in Doha…
Safari desert can be an amazing experience even if you are not a fan of adrenaline sports and, trust me, it is even better than roller-coaster! Moreover, you can do other fun things there such as riding ATV bikes and cars, clicking pics with falcons, barbeque at the beach… Best time to go for a desert safari is from November till the end of February. In any other months desert can give you only “melting” feeling, which is not really enjoyable!
7. Go to the Sealine beach.
If you are a beach and Sun lover as myself finding nice and not too expensive beach can be challenging. Most of the beaches are private and part of luxury hotels. Entrance ticket for a full day is around 30$. One of my favourite beaches is Sealine beach, located in the southern part of Qatar and around 40 minutes driving from the centre. If you have a car and a nice company then you don’t need to pay for anything.
If you have time and money and you need a place to relax then you should spend one day in Sealine resort Doha. This is the oasis of tranquillity, but also a place where you can enjoy different sports, swim in a big pool, do a camel ride. Or just enjoy the refreshing sea while taking pictures of beautiful Sunset. Definitely, one of the best things you can do in Doha!
8. Do some sport in Aspire park or shop in the Villaggio mall.
Finally, a place for sports fans – Aspire park. It’s a green oasis and a little bit far from the city centre, but for sure, its worth to visit. It is a superb place for families with kids and sport “spirits”. Perfect place for those who want to escape from Doha bustle or need some “fresh air”.
You can always see here people jogging, playing football or cricket. Aspire Park is the biggest park in Doha, built for Asian games back in 2006. It’s equipped with sports grounds, children’s playgrounds, green areas, trees for shade, gorgeous fountains and you will see even swans in the lake.
Everything here is made to produce feeling as in nature, even chirping sounds of bird played through speakers placed inside the park!
Dinner in a rotating restaurant...
Next to the park is another great site – the Torch tower with a rotating restaurant on the rooftop. Be aware that you need to have a reservation if you wish to dine here.
Shopping lovers can treat themselves in well-known shopping places – Villagio mall or Hyatt Plaza Mall that walking distance from Aspire Park. Villagio mall is constructed as per the model of the City of Venice in Italy. It is really interesting to see the river and the famous gondola boats in the middle of a shopping mall.
9. 5 – star hotels stayovers.
If you are a tourist just staying a couple of days in Doha or a businessman on a business trip most probably you will stay in a hotel. There are plenty of luxury hotels in Doha with outstanding services. Many more hotels are under construction for Football World Cup 2022 to which Qatar will be a host. Most of these hotels have more than fifty floors and restaurants or lounges are located on a high floor. This gives you an opportunity to try amazing Arabic food while enjoying the fascinating skyscrapers landscape of Doha. You don’t have that chance every day, do you?
Many locals families are doing that – booking a great apartment and enjoy hotels facilities over the weekend. There is a genuine guest-friend relation between guests and employees that make you feel special. Spending some extra money to treat yourself can be a very good experience and sure one of the best things to do in Doha!
10. See the Pearl, a man-made island.
The Pearl is an artificial island made in the shape of a pearl, spanning four square kilometres. It’s a residential place of foreigners. Here you can find colourful houses and buildings, restaurants, cafes, beaches and shops with high-end clothes like Versace, Chanel, D&G. If your main goal is when you are in Doha to spend money on luxury goods my advice is to check this fashion epicentre.
Getting around Doha…
If you try to an inquiry about public transportation in Doha, well, I can say it is really confusing and not yet organized. Everyone, there are simply using a regular taxi. My advice is to download applications of “Uber” or “Careem” on your mobile as their services are not expensive, yet its very efficient service. But, don’t worry, most of the main city sites in Doha are close to each other so you can visit them just “on foot”. I wish you to enjoy this amazing city! Let me know which places in Qatar you have enjoyed the most!