Traveling the world is fun. You get to meet different people and experience diverse cultures and traditions. But sometimes, long layovers get in the way. This can be very exasperating, but you can always look at it on the positive side. Turn those hours of layover into a worthwhile experience by exploring the country you are in while in transit.
Qatar is home to many museums, art exhibits and cultural heritage sites that art lovers would want to explore and discover. If you're artsy with 24-hour transit, what are the best places you can visit to satisfy your artistic taste? Let's count the ways.
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 metered and the minimum flag down fare at the airport starts at 25 Qatari Riyal (QR) or 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. You can book Karwa taxi services in advance by calling the call center on +974 800 8294 or via the Karwa App available on Android and iOS. To know about other taxi services, click HERE.
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 – 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: HIA will be soon 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 your reusable cards with Travel Credit, which can be purchased at ticket vending machines in all Doha Metro stations. For information, click HERE.
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.
From its magnificent exteriors, admirable landscape to its glorious interiors, the NMoQ will definitely capture the hearts of art lovers. NMoQ is the country's ultimate source of pride when it comes to its rich cultural heritage and traditions. It was designed by French architect, Jean Nouvel to inspire people living in Qatar. The museum boasts of curved disks, artistic intersections, and cantilevered angles — all inspired by the local desert rose making it a dramatic addition to the Doha landscape. Time Magazine included NMoQ as one of the World's 100 Greatest Places to visit. Isn't that amazing?
Designed to be both immersive and experiential, art lovers are taken into different worlds in three "chapters" of Qatar's rich history when inside the museum. These marvelous stages include the Beginnings, Life in Qatar, and The Modern History of Qatar, each theme is presented across eleven highly individual galleries. For art lovers, a visit to the National Museum is a welcoming experience to marvel at Qatar's diverse culture and splendid history.
Location: Museum Park Street off the Doha Corniche, Qatar
Distance from Hamad International Airport: 12 mins (11.8 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 25 / USD 7
Entry fee: QR 50 (adult visitors); Qatar residents: free; QR 25 for students and free for children under 16
Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday: 9 am -7 pm, Friday: 1:30 pm - 7 pm; last entry one hour before closing.
Phone: +974 4452 5555
Website: National Museum of Qatar
Nearest Metro station: National Museum (Gold Line)
MIA was built in the mid-2000s and was opened to the public in December 2008. Under the patronage of the Chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority’s Board of Trustees, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the museum has flourished and, today is considered one of the most iconic structures here in Qatar. In 2017, it was visited by approximately 411,869 people from all walks of life. The MIA is a must-see attraction by visitors, adults and children alike, especially art lovers who want to enjoy and understand Islamic culture through profound art exhibits. The good thing is that it's less than half a kilometre away from NMoQ and you can walk there.
Location: MIA, Corniche Street, Doha - Qatar
Distance from the National Museum of Qatar: 6 minutes (1.7 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 10 / USD 2.75
Entry fee: QR 50 (visitors); Qatar residents: free; children (age 16 and under)
Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday: 9 am - 7 pm, Friday: 1:30 pm - 7 pm
Phone: +974 4422 4444
Website: Museum of Islamic Art
Aside from the museum itself, art lovers can also visit two famous public art installations located in MIA Park, which is adjacent to the museum itself. Entry to the park is free and it's open to the public 24/7. These are the Liam Gillick installation and Seven by Richard Serra.
Liam Gillick’s "Folded Extracted Personified" is a large-scale interactive work installed throughout MIA Park consisting of multiple unique “head-in-the-hole” panels.
In Islamic culture, the number seven has spiritual significance. Richard Serra pays homage to this in this sculpture – constructed from seven steel plates. The powerful piece faces the sea in MIA Park, embracing the surrounding greenery and delighting spectators as they relax by the coast.
Sometimes art doesn't only come from museums; it can start from unexpected places depending on how it plays in the development of one's culture and tradition. For the next destination, art lovers will surely appreciate this once active fire station that is now one of Qatar's historical and visit places: Doha Fire Station. The original station was built in 1982 and served the community for over 30 years until the last fire engine left the place in December 2012. Qatar Museums was keen to preserve the original façade and many of its key features, thereby keeping much of the original integrity of the building intact. The overall aesthetic of the building is raw, industrial, and minimalist. The design maintains an original honeycomb façade, one which is highly recognisable amongst the local community, and signifies the aim of “Bringing the Past into the Future”.
Whilst the new building preserves many of its original features, the renovated areas include a café, art supply shop, cinema and other facilities for artists. The Fire Station garage, covering approx. 700 (sqm) has been converted into a dedicated exhibition space called “Garage Gallery” for artists to exhibit their works and productions in June every year. It also hosts multiple international exhibitions during the rest of the year.
Location: Mohammed Bin Thani St., Doha - Qatar
Distance from the Museum of Islamic Art: 16 minutes (5.4 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 20 / USD 5
Entry fee: Admission is free
Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday: 9 am - 7 pm, Friday: 1 pm - 7 pm
Phone: +974 4422 4222
Website: The Fire Station
After appreciating and discovering new forms of art, one can relax and rest in a cafe inside the Doha Fire Station, the #999. The restaurant’s culinary offerings focus on international cuisine with a touch of local influence, paying particular attention to healthy ingredients. One of the most exciting aspects of Cafe #999 is the food truck. #999 is the second oldest fire truck and has been converted into a 'one-of-a-kind' food truck with a menu selection that offers a taste for everyone.
Location: Inside the Fire Station. Click here.
Cuisine: Healthy and vegetarian food
Special Diet: Gluten-free and organic
Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday: 8 am - 11 pm, Friday: 1 pm - 11 am
Phone +974 4458 2556
Average cost: QR 30 / USD 8 for two (approx.)
Katara Cultural Village is a perfect place for art lovers. Its a place where people are given the chance to share cultures and nurture each other's understanding and concept of peace. In a world where digital communication is the number one form of communicating, Katara's goal is to provide a platform for people across the world to come together and share the wealth of Qatar's vibrant cultures, embrace differences and to discover similarities that unite people regardless of their origin.
Location: Al Moasses St., Doha - Qatar
Distance from Msheireb Museums: 17 minutes (10.6 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 30 / USD 8
Opening hours: Katara is not restricted to a specific time, visitors are warmly welcomed anytime. But stores, restaurants, museums, art galleries, and shops have different opening hours depending on their regular schedules.
Phone: +974 4408 0000 / Call Center: 182
Website: Katara Cultural Village
Nearest Metro station: Katara (Red Line)
Katara Cultural Village offers a lot of restaurants and dining establishments to all its guests and visitors. If you feel like having a laidback snack while drinking your favourite coffee and eating a scrumptious meal, then Chapati and Karak Cafe is a good choice for you. It has an outside seating area which is a nice relaxing spot. Their bestsellers include sweet chapati and hot Karak chai that will definitely take your breath away.
Location: Inside Katara. Click here.
Cuisine: Cafe and street food
Special Menu: Karak tea, rolls, karak chai, and cheese paratha
Opening hours: 24 hours
Phone: +974 4408 1408
Average cost: QR 20 / USD 5 for two (approx.)
The Katara Mosque, which is located in the vicinity of the Katara Cultural Village, is one of the most recommended structures to see in Katara because of its majestic beauty and elegance. Art lovers will surely appreciate its beautiful architectural design from its exterior to its interior. The colour, design and patterned tiles it possesses represent its indescribable uniqueness. The mosque is modern, clean and has a very positive vibe when you're inside it.
Location: Inside Katara. Click here.
Opening hours: No time restrictions
Entry fee: Admission is free
Katara Art Center is an independently run platform founded in 2012 by Tariq Al Jaidah, dedicated to contemporary art and trans-disciplinary creative endeavors, projects, and practices. It acts as a hub for emerging cultural communities in response to the need for a critical grassroots and multidisciplinary framework in Doha. Artists, designers and the public are encouraged to expand and challenge their understanding of contemporary art and creative disciplines at this centre. It regularly holds art exhibitions that are sure to mesmerise you and leave you enthralled.
The Visual Art Center acts under the umbrella of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. It offers its services to those who are interested in all aspects of visual art. It covers basic drawing techniques, painting, all fields of printmaking, graphic design and illustration, photography, ceramics, basic design, and computer graphics.
Location: Inside Katara Cultural Village
Opening hours: Sunday to Monday: 7 am -1 pm
Phone: +974 4408 1371
Email: [email protected]
After visiting two museums, either the National Musem of Qatar or the Museum of Islamic Art, the best place to go next is Souq Waqif. The bustling alleys of Souq Waqif offer visitors an authentic feel of traditional commerce, architecture, and culture. The Souq has a wide array of small shops of Middle Eastern merchandise from traditional Qatari spices, seasonal delicacies such as nuts and fresh dates to perfumes, household items, ornate jewellery, local clothing, handicrafts, souvenir bargains and so much more.
Visitors will surely enjoy Souq Waqif's traditional feel and its historical vibes by just walking around the market place. If you get lucky, you may see cultural shows that sometimes take place along its streets and showcase various Qatari traditions through music and dancing. Fanar Qatar Islamic Centre, also known as the spiral mosque, is also one attraction that you shouldn't miss here. It has become one of Doha's most-loved landmarks and is located in the Souq area, a stone's throw from the Corniche Street that magnificently enlightens the area at night.
Location: Souq Waqif, Doha - Qatar
Distance from the National Museum of Qatar: 10 minutes (2.3 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 15 / USD 4
Distance from the Museum of Islamic Art: 13 minutes (2.5 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 15 / USD 4
Nearest Metro station: Souq Waqif (Gold Line)
After you've finished appreciating various arts and cultural exhibits in the area, we recommend that you go to this next location, Tea Time, especially if you're looking for the perfect pick-me-up - Karak tea - and something light to eat. They have delicious sandwiches and tasty juices at affordable prices. It's located at the heart of Souq Waqif and has been serving Karak and light meals for many years now. According to the locals, your trip to Qatar just won't be complete if you don't visit this local eatery.
Location: Al Souq St., Doha - Qatar
Cuisine: Karak tea, sandwiches, hamburgers, shakes and juices
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
Average cost: QR 10 - QR 20 / USD 2.75 - USD 5 per person
If you're someone who loves architecture, you'll surely be dazzled when you eat at Parisa Souq Waqif restaurant. The restaurant serves authentic Persian delights which you can enjoy in its mesmerising interior that combines hand-painted Persian artwork of myths and legends with intricate mosaics and amazing ornate chandeliers and thousands of tiny mirrors that were handpicked from Iran and assembled here in Doha. At Parisa Souq Waqif, the authentic Persian dining experience is 100% guaranteed.
Location: Al Souq St., Doha - Qatar
Cuisine: Middle Eastern and Persian
Special Diets: Vegan and gluten-free options
Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday: 12 pm - 12 am; Friday: 12:30 pm - 12 am
Average cost: QR 50 - QR 120 / USD 13 - USD 32 per person
If you want to find out what is happening in Qatar during your stay, download the Qatar Events App! Available on Android and IOS and the app is completely free!
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