“What I love most about this crazy life is the adventure of it.” -Juliette Binoche
Qatar offers a lot of exciting activities which add to the adventure in your life. You can tick some of these things off your bucket list on your layover in Doha.
After the Ottomans left this area in 1915, Qatar became a British protectorate, going on to gain independence on 3 September 1971. In 1995, H.H. Hamad bin Khalifa took over and the country progressed rapidly under his guidance, going on to host international events, opening Ivy League universities, winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting rights and attracting thousands of expats to this tiny state. In 2013, H.H. Hamad bin Khalifa stepped down, giving reign to his son, the current Amir, H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad.
This country might be tiny in size but it makes up in the kindness of its people, the tolerant attitude of the society and great opportunities for everyone. So keep reading to find out how you can glimpse that hospitality while doing something exciting.
Disclaimer: This layover plan is based on an arrival time of 9 am (Qatar standard time). If your arrival time is different, you may consider rearranging the order of the places to visit depending on the opening hours of each location.
Some of these activities are seasonal. All the related information is mentioned below. However, it is best to get in touch with tour operators beforehand and confirm everything while planning your trip.
Hamad International Airport (HIA) offers you a wide variety of transport options, including car rental, limousine, taxi, bus and metro services.
Hiring a taxi: All airport taxis are operated by Mowasalat; a Qatari state-owned company. You can board a taxi at the Taxi Pavilion located at the left end of the Arrivals hall. All taxis are metered and the minimum flag down fare at the airport starts at QR 25 (USD 7) and QR 1.20 per kilometre between 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM and QR 1.80 per km between 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Bus service: Doha’s bus network connects Hamad International Airport to various destinations across the city, offering a convenient transport option. You can buy or top-up the Smartcard at ticket vending machines located at Arrivals, Ground Floor, Bus Pavilion at Hamad International Airport. The machine only accepts Cash – Qatari Riyal (QR) 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 currency notes. Since it does not have a refund feature, you are advised to pay using the exact amount. There are three types of Karwa Smartcards to choose from:
- Classic Card: QR 30 (USD 8): rechargeable card for long term / future journeys.
- Limited Card: QR 10 Card (USD 3): two inner-city trips within a 24 hour period
- Unlimited Card: QR 20 Card (USD 5): unlimited trips across Qatar within a 24 hour period
Doha Metro: The Doha Metro is fully functional with all stations now open with HIA being accessible to Qatar residents and visitors through Doha Metro’s Red Line. A single journey costs QR 2 for Standard cardholders (including Family Class), while a day pass costs QR 6. A single journey costs QR 10 for Gold Club members, while a day pass costs QR 30. You can top up you reusable cards with Travel Credit, which can be purchased at ticket vending machines in all Doha Metro stations. There is also a free MetroLink service to different locations from all Doha Metro stations.
Please ensure you are carrying enough Qatari Riyals to pay for your trip as taxis and buses only accept cash payments in local currency. ATMs are located in proximity to the taxi pavilion for your convenience.
So keep reading to find out more about all the fun things that you can do in Qatar.
You don’t expect to arrive in a desert and be greeted with lush greenery. But that's exactly what Doha offers you. The outskirts of Al Khor, a coastal town, is covered with Mangroves.
Purple Island is located in the North of Doha, in Al Khor. Almost 3400 years ago, the island was home to a species of sea snail that produces a rare purple dye; used by select members of the society. And that’s how the island got its name. Kayaking in the cool waters surrounded by trees is something you don’t want to miss.
Location: Purple Island, Al Thakhira
Time: all year round depending on the tour operator
Tel: +974 6696 3494 (Whatsapp for further info)
Tour Duration: 4 to 6 hours
Tour cost: starts from QR 200/USD 54.7 per person approx
Tour operators: Aqua Sports
More info: Aqua Sports
You cannot come to the desert and leave without experiencing the Inland Sea. Golden brown sand stretched as far as your eyes can go with the ocean on one side. There are various tours available, from a half-day one to a full day option as well.
You will be taken to the desert and before the car enters the dunes, they will let out the air of tires. Then the dune bashing will begin; one hour of holding onto the handlebars above your head for dear life, hoping you make it out in one piece. Don't worry, the drivers are experts and they will slow down as per your request. After the dune bashing is over, you can take some time to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Camps are also set up in the desert for you to rest after dune bashing. You can ride camels and take a dip in the sea before heading back.
Location: In Land Sea
Distance: 50 km, 40 min
Tour duration: 6 to 8 hrs
Time: all year round depending on the tour operator
Phone: +974 3339 3323, +974 7745 1196 (Whatsapp for further info)
Tour cost: starts from QR 170/USD 46.6 per person
Tour Operator: Qatar Inbound Tours, Arabian Adventures
Quad biking should be a national sport. Trust me, driving up and down the dune on a four wheeler is amazing. It's a great activity to do if you are traveling with friends or family. Mesaieed has smaller sand dunes for Quad Biking as well as a small racing track for little kids. However be prepared for the sand to get in your socks, pockets and everywhere else. If there is one thing you will take away from Doha, it’s sand. And good memories of course. Try to book a tour around sunset so you can catch the sun going down in the desert; a mesmerising view you will not forget.
Distance from Hamad International Airport: 50 km, 40 min
Tour Duration: 3 to 4 hrs
Time: all year round
Phone: +974 5576 8688
Tour cost: QR 200/USD 54.7 per person approx
Tour operator: Sandline Dunes Qatar
Camel racing is a part of Qatari tradition; started as a form of entertainment at weddings. Now it’s a sport enjoyed at a professional level attracting tourists from all over the region. The racing season starts in October and ends in February; the final race is called H.H. the Amir’s Main Race. Qatar uses Robot jockeys to control the camels after banning kid jockeys in 2004. These camel races use female camels as they are gentle and easier to control. It’s a huge multi-million industry that attracts people from all over the world.
When you arrive at the racing track, you can see the camels walking around, preparing for the race before the action begins.
Location: Al Shahaniya Camel Race Track
Tour duration: 4 to 6 hrs
Time: seasonal, January till April, check with a tour operator in advance
Phone: +974 5576 8688
Tour Cost: QR 250/USD 68.5 per person approx
More info: Camel Race Track Tour
After you are done with one of the above tours. Take a cab to visit Musfur Sink Hole.
Musfur is the largest of accessible sinkhole caves in Qatar. It is relatively easy to reach and explore. People love visiting it, especially in the summer months because the temperature inside is quite cool compared to outside.
Sinkhole caves in central Qatar formed when water caused the dissolution of a layer of gypsum, causing overlying strata of lime-stone to gradually collapse. Musfur sinkhole continues to evolve and will do so in the future. Although it is accessible and safe to visit, take caution as pieces of the roof are known to fall.
If you want to read more about the sinkhole, click here.
Location: Musfur Sinkhole
Distance from city centre: 50 km, 45 min
Average taxi fare: QR 50/ USD 13.7
Time: 24 hrs
Entry cost: Free
Yoga on a helipad! This is why everyone loves Doha. As grand as the city gets, things are available at all price ranges. Yoga increases flexibility, improves respiration and cardio health, tones and strengthens your muscles. It’s a great way to relax after a long haul flight. However, it’s all about that helipad and the incredible view it has to offer. Best photo prop for your Instagram! Don’t forget to tag Qatar so your friends know that this should be their next travel destination.
I hope that you have a wonderful time in Qatar. If you find this article informative, don't forget to comment and share it. You can also tag us in your photos on Instagram @ilqlive or tweet at @ilqlive.
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