If you are flying via Qatar Airways and wondering if having a long layover in Doha is worth it, you are at the right place. So without any worries, follow this guide and spend your time in the city doing some fun-filled things.
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 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. Also, note that the tour operators do provide transport services at an additional cost.
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.
It’s good to get outside your comfort zone and do something different. And for all the fellow excitement junkies, we have the perfect itinerary.
Keep reading to find out what you can do if you love adventure.
Camel racing is a part of Qatari tradition; started as a form of entertainment on weddings. Now it’s a sport enjoyed at a professional level attracting tourists from all over the region; making it a multi-million dollar industry. The racing season starts in October and ends in February; the final race is called H.H. the Emir’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. If you are lucky enough to come during the racing season, you will not only see the actual races but also witness these camels practising beforehand.
Location: Al Shahaniya Camel Race Track
Distance: 50 km, 45 min
Time: seasonal, January till April, check with a tour operator in advance.
Tour duration: 3 to 4 hours
Total Cost: varies, starts from QR 170/USD 46.7 per person approx
More info: Camel Race Track Tour
What’s not to love about jumping from a plane? Hello, adrenaline rush! Skydiving is a bucket list adventure. One that you can tick off here in Doha. For newbies, there is something called tandem jump where you are strapped to an instructor and thrown out of a plane. But if you are a seasonal jumper, you can book solo jumps. All the equipment can be rented from them as well.
Location: Exit 44, Um ul Shukhot
Distance: 70 km, 1 hour
Time: seasonal, October-May
Tour duration: 2 to 3 hours
Phone: +974 4032 9173
Cost: starts from QR 1150/USD 316 for Tandem jump
More info: https://www.skydiveqatar.com/
Kite surfing is an action sport in which the surfer harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water. It combines aspects of other sports like Wakeboarding, Sailing, Surfing, Snowboarding and Parasailing. Even if you have never kite surfed before, you can take a beginner three-hour class here in Doha. Water sports are one of the best ways to cool down in the scorching summer heat and do something fun.
Location: Fuwairat, Zakhira, Sumaisimah, Al Wakrah
Time: Varies depending on weather
Tour duration: 2 hours
Phone: +974 3315 5628
Total Cost: varies, QR 550 for 2 hours
More info: Aqua Sports
Katara is a cultural village home to arts, theatre, music, conventions and exhibitions as well as restaurants, beach and water sports. It is a leader in multicultural activities, bringing people together from all nationalities.
Do try parasailing. You are taken out in the sea on a boat, strapped to a huge balloon with a Mickey Mouse face and thrown into the air. They also offer other activities such as Banana Boat riding, Jet Skiing, Kayaking etc. If you want to unwind after a hectic day around the city, you can avail their free access beach.
Location: Katara Water Sports
Distance from Hamad International Airport: 23 km, 28 min
Time: 9 am-5 pm, Sun-Sat
Tel: +974 4408 1985
Cost: varies, from QR 50-400/USD 14-110
Location: Sukar Pasha
Timing: 8-1am, Sat-Fri
Recommendation: Tahini Corek, Mixed Pide
Cost: QR 100/USD 27.4 pp approx
Location: Khan Farouk
Timing: 9-12am, Sat-Fri
Recommendation: Koushari, Daoud Basha
Cost: QR 100/USD 27.4 pp approx
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 an overlying stratum 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.
Location: Musfur Sink Hole
Distance from city centre: 50 km, 45 min
Tour duration: 2 to 3 hours
Average taxi fare: QR 70/USD 19
Time: 24 hrs
Entry cost: Free
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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