“The best things come in small packages.”
A saying that fits perfectly to Qatar, a tiny but mighty country in the Middle East. When the Ottomans left in 1915, Qatar became a British protectorate, gaining independence on 3 September 1971.
In 1995, His Highness Hamad bin Khalifa took over and the country progressed rapidly under his guidance, going on to host international events, opening Ivy League universities, winning 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting rights and attracting thousands of expats to the country. In 2013, H.H. Hamad bin Khalifa stepped down, giving reign to his son, the current Amir, H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
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.
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 metred and the minimum flag down fare at the airport starts at QR 25 (USD 7) and QR 1.20 per kilometre between 5 am to 9 pm and QR 1.80 per km between 9 pm to 5 am.
Bus service: Doha’s bus network connects HIA 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 HIA. 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.
With more than 94 different nationalities living in Doha, you are bound to benefit from this multicultural society. And the food options that come along with it. So if you are a foodie and truly want to experience the delicacies that this city has to offer, keep reading.
Traditional Qatari food is served at this tiny eatery in Souq Waqif. They serve a variety of Baid o Tomate (eggs and tomato), Baid Shakshoka (scrambled eggs), Khobiz Regag (crepe-like bread), and Balaleet (saffron-infused vermicelli). Shams al Qassabi, a Qatari lady runs it herself giving you a taste of authentic Qatari cuisine. She challenged the norms of the society by opening this restaurant in 2014, aiming to do what her heart desired. Shams alternates between cooking the food and serving her customers. The restaurant also has outdoor seating for you to people-watch while you enjoy your food. So sip your Karak, chat with the owner while you eat her delicious food.
Location: Abdullah bin Jassim St, Souq Waqif
Distance from Hamad International Airport: 14 km, 20 min
Average taxi fare: QR 30/USD 8.2
Time: 8 am-1 pm, 6-11pm, Sat-Fri
Phone: +974 5551 5561
Restaurant Cost: QR 60/USD 16.4 for two people approx
Recommendation: Meat Rogag (crepe stuffed with Meat), Eggs and Tomatoes
Instagram: Shay al Shoomos
After eating at Shay al Shomoos, make your way to Tea Time. Doha runs on Karak (a milk-based, frothy strong tea infused with cardamom.) Don’t be surprised if you see people drinking hot Karak in 50’C weather. Tea Time's first branch opened in 2002 and since then it has expanded to 37 branches in Qatar. They also serve a variety of food items like club sandwiches, chicken popcorn, mayo sandwiches, burgers, etc. Despite being one of the busiest cafes in town, their service is impeccable.
Location: Souq Waqif
Distance from Shay Al Shoomos: 400 metres, 5 min
Time: 24 hrs
Phone: +974 4483 7419
Restaurant Cost: QR 5/USD 1.4 for two people, approx
Recommendation: Karak, Club Sandwich
Instagram: Tea Time
A food coma is not complete without dessert. So we have the mother of all things, Al Aker. Kunafa is the stuff of your dreams. If there is one Arabic dessert that can beat the much-loved cheesecake, it’s this baby right here. Thin, crispy noodles like pastry stuffed with cheese, infused with rosewater sugar syrup, makes up this dessert. Despite being very rich, you will not be able to stop yourself from eating the whole plate. And if you are at Al Aker long enough, you might even see how it's made on a huge silver tray.
Location: Opposite Traffic and Immigration Department, Souq Waqif
Distance from Tea Time: 20 metres, 1 min
Average taxi fare:
Time: 9-12 am, Sat-Fri
Phone: +974 7092 7288
Restaurant Cost: QR 15/USD 4 for two people, approx
Instagram: Al Aker Sweets
After all that food, just walk around the Souq till you make room for some delicious Qatari food. In an alley of the Souq, there is a group of women that cook and sell delicious, authentic Arabic cuisine. They serve a variety of dishes such as Machboos, Koushari, Harees, Mathrooba, and Luqaimat. There are also ladies making fresh Regag (a sort of crepe filled with cheese, Oman chips or Nutella, etc.) While you can find all these dishes at restaurants across Doha, the food these ladies sell has no comparison. It is fresh, home-cooked food that they have been making for years.
Location: Open area near Jasmine Thai Restaurant
Distance from Al Aker Sweets:
Time: 7:30am-12:30pm, 3:30-10pm Sat-Thu, 4-10pm Fri
Cost: varies, starts from QR 5
Recommendation: Luqaimat, Harees
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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