Qatar Stopover: How to spend two amazing days in Doha!
U have booked a vacation in far away destination and Doha will be your stopover place? That is great! You should not skip the chance to explore this city! Although not very popular as a touristic place, Doha has many interesting places to see and things to do. Visiting and “feeling” this Oriental country can be an unforgettable experience only if you have the right plan.
Travelling to Qatar can be very exciting but also confusing if you do not know what are the main points of the city. Many people go the easy way and arrange Doha City Tour which includes visiting main places of interest by bus. Spending time at the stops is really short, basically only 15-30 minutes which is not enough, in mine humble opinion. Hey, if you like fast drive and a quick check of some places
This can be a good idea, actually, for those who have several hours to spend on their stopover and want to see all in one shot. However, if you are a person who likes to explore more and to indulge in aromas, beautiful landscapes, see the Arabic traditional architecture and try amazing food then you will need more than two and half hour.
Getting around Doha
Two days in Doha are good enough to visit the best places and “breath in” the authentic spirit of the country. I understand also that you were saving money for your vacation so you don’t want to spend on the way to it! Doha can be quite expensive
All right, so you have landed in Qatar and you are wondering what is the best way to get from Hamad International Airport to your hotel. Public Transportation is not yet developed and kind of confusing thus my advice is to skip it.
Also, if you take a ride with the people who at the airport you might end up spending three times more then the real price to reach your place. My best advice is if you see the blue-green “Karwa” taxi, feel free to take a ride as they are charging by a meter. An even better idea is to download Uber or Careem application on your mobile and enjoy best and affordable rides.
Price of the ride from Hamad to West Bay area is around 35-45
Day 1. Best Doha Itinerary
Ok, u have reached the hotel, get some rest and now you are thinking where to go and what are the main things to do in Doha? Many people here would first recommend Souq Waqif – the old market and the most popular place in Doha. The not bad idea at all, but going there during the day won’t be that great experience. Especially on Fridays when most shops are closed during prayer times.
A better idea is to go to the Katara Cultural Village. In my opinion, Katara is unjustly dropped from the public eye. It is definitely one of the better things to do in Doha than spending hours and hours driving to The Zubarah Fort.
Katara is a relaxing place full of breathtaking landscapes and perfect for great photos production. It is around 15 minutes driving far from the city centre and entrance here is free of charge. It’s the epicentre of cultural gatherings. Most of the musical concerts, art shows, exhibitions and traditional dance are happening here. If you like cultural activities you can check out site Katara web site to see what’s going on.
I love this place because it is a complex of a grand amphitheatre, art galleries, golden mosque, cafes and restaurants with traditional ambience, luxurious mall and beaches where you can chill out all day in the Sun. It’s beautiful both in the evening and day but if you go late in the afternoon and hang around until dusk the wait is worth. Everything comes alive with lighting as darkness falls. My favourite place to eat here is Saffron Lounge simply ‘coz’ i love Indian food, but if you do not like spicy food
See the Pearl
After a chilling day and spending day at the beach, it is time to explore further Doha. My advice is to book Uber and go further to the north where is located The Pearl – a man-made island. It is the residential area of Doha with great beaches and bars next to the sea. Bad things are that most of the beaches are in private property. However, you can stroll around colourful buildings and high-end shops. Just make not there to spend your salary on one Hermes handbag!
Next thing you wanna do on the first day of travelling to Doha is trying amazing Arabic food, of course! Traditional Qatari food is made up largely of traditional Arab and Levantine dishes. Seat in one of the many Arabic restaurants in the West Bay (such us Burj Al Hamam, Al Terrace….) and enjoy wit all your senses in “saloona”, “Kousa Mahshi”, “mutable”, “kus-kus, “luqaimat”, hot and cold mezes and other gastronomic masterpieces.
Arabic food is very delicious and versatile in taste, smell and colour due to different spices used in the preparation of only one meal. Throughout the year, the nightlife is very vivid thanks to different nationalities that are gathered in Doha. Ramadan, Holly month is the only month in the year when most of the restaurants, pubs, food courts are closed.
Day 2: Boost your adrenaline level
After your first day in Qatar and lots of walking it is time to boost up your adrenaline level! It is Dessert Safari time! It is definitely one of “to do” things in Doha. Sightseeing is not bad, don’t get me wrong, but if you are already in this part of the planet you do not wanna miss the opportunity to enjoy dune bashing, sandboarding, camel ride, swimming in the sea and an exciting ride in the dessert! Moreover, you can do other fun things there like riding ATV bikes and cars, clicking pics with falcons, barbeque at the beach…
Desert safari is usually 4 hours long and you can book it for the price of only 60 Usd. In my opinion, this is a great price. 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. Tour Agencies are offering all sorts of the tours and many others such as overnight camping, full day safari, private tours to the north of Qatar…Best time to go for a 4-hour desert safari tour is in the morning while is still not that hot or late in the afternoon. Sunset on the Inland Sea can be very
National Museum of Qatar
All right, so you have finished with Desert Safari and you are under the impression of this crazy ride through the sand. After the exciting morning in the desert, it’s time to have some rest. Go back to your hotel and in the afternoon book a taxi and visit the National Museum of Qatar before it closes at 19:00 pm. It is a recently opened museum and has as an astonishing architecture as most of the buildings in Doha. Designed to be both immersive and experiential, visitors can encounter a rich environment to explore. Organised in three “chapters” — Beginnings, Life in Qatar, and The Modern History of Qatar, each theme is presented across eleven highly individual galleries.
Museum of Islamic Art
In the close distance, there is one more famous and well-known building – Museum of Islamic Art that represents the scope of Islamic art over 1400 years. It is spread to more levels and you might need some time to see everything. Give yourself time to see in a collection of artefacts like carpets, horse-riders, jewellery, paintings of warriors or emperors, wooden artefacts, plates. Darkened lighting gives and more special atmosphere.
Inside the Museum there is an MIA Park cafe and restaurant with great food. However, it is not only a historic place but also a perfect spot to get amazing pictures of Doha breathtaking landscapes. Both museums are just 10-15 minutes drive from the city centre even in pick times of the day.
Finally, Souq Waqif
The great thing about Doha is that many important points are walkable distance. Likewise, only 10 minutes walking from MIA is Souq Waqif – an ideal place to spend your evening. Souq Waqif best reflects authentic Qatar and the most popular place among locals and tourists. 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 full of vendors.
Oriental carpets, lamps such as those of the popular fairy tale of Aladdin, dishes with crafted ornaments, aromatic spices. Whenever you look at, you will be impressed by this magical world in which you are immersed. Here you can find many restaurants with different cuisine such us Lebanese, Persian, Syrian, Turkish, Italian… If you are a fan of a quick bite, do not miss to try “shawarma” which is a chicken wrap enriched in typical spices and flavours. Yummy!
Now it is time to digest all the food and enjoy in fresh air next to the sea along the Corniche promenade. Doha Corniche is a waterfront promenade extending seven kilometres along Doha Bay to Souq Waqif. It’s a favourite place among local people who often come here to enjoy a picknick with their families. You can see sports fans jogging or exercising on machines scattered around the area for health buffs. Great place to relax and take an astonishing picture of Doha’s skyscrapers.
Time to go…
In the end, there are many more sites to see and things to do in Doha no matter if you have only a few hours or a few days. Some of them are mentioned in my post The best places in Doha so you might wanna go through it.
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 bunch oh high buildings and it is not “that” expensive as you might think. Well, it is not called without a reason “jewellery” of the Middle East” and it’s definitely worth seeing. Let me know your experiences!