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Posted On: 12 October 2019 07:00 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 10:18 am

Things to do in Qatar on a 12-hour layover

Khadiza Begum
Khadiza Begum
Content Writer
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If you are a first time or a seasoned traveler interested in experiencing the Arabic culture, Qatar is a must-see destination. The country offers transit visa when you add a short transit or stopover between five and 96 hours in Doha to your itinerary without any additional fare charges. So if you are planning to have a layover in Qatar and wondering what to do, check out our guide filled with all you need to know!

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 visiting order depending on the opening hours of each location.

Transportation in Qatar:

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: 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. For information, click HERE.

Check out the map below:

Budget friendly things to do in Qatar on a 6-hour layover

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.

1. Immerse yourself in Katara Cultural Village

Mosque minaret in Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qata
(Mosque minaret in Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar)

Katara Cultural Village is an innovative interpretation of the region’s architectural heritage, it's a perfect venue for them who love art, theatre, and architecture. It has art exhibitions to stimulate the most cultural mind, top-notch restaurants, an open-air theatre, and cozy restaurants—many of which specialise in amazing seafood. Katara’s private beach spans 1.5km, providing a relaxed beach experience or adrenaline-boosting activities.​ There is also a play area where your kids can enjoy a wide array of activities, games, and rides.


Location: Katara Cultural Village, Doha
Distance from Hamad International Airport: 31 min (24.4 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 40/USD 11
Recommended visiting hours: 11 am-2 pm and 5 pm-11 pm
Phone: +974 4408 0000
[email protected]

Cafe recommendation

Al Jazeera Cafe
Location: Building 4, Katara Cultural Village, Katara, Doha
Opening hours: 8 am – 11 pm
Cuisines: Cafeteria (Recommended foods are Avocado and goats cheese sandwich, tuna sandwich, chicken wings, Croque madame waffles)
Phone: 974 4034 2220

2. The Pearl-Qatar

The Pearl is an artificial island situated off the West Bay coast in Doha. This beautiful island is spread over about 4 million square meters. The residential development in the island has planned to cater to both national and international residents and guests alike. The island features many exciting avenues such as apartments, residential towers, villas, many shopping destinations with many luxury brands, Mediterranean-style yacht-lined marinas, and exotic beaches. It also boasts the best quality dining, with renowned restaurants, cafés, lounges, bakeries, and confectioneries. The Pearl is a delight for tourists, justifying its description as the ‘Arabian Rivera.’


Location: The Pearl Qatar
Distance from Katara Cultural Village: 7 min (3.4 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 12/USD 3.3
Phone: +974 4409 5155

Restaurant/Cafe recommendations

Karak Mqanes
Location: 23 La Croisette, Porto Arabia, Pearl Qatar, Doha
Opening hours: 8 am - 12 am
Cuisines: Cafeteria (Chai Karak)
Phone: 974 3394 9898
Email: [email protected]

Yasmin palace
Location: La Croisette 31, Porto Arabia, Pearl Qatar, Doha
Opening hours: 6 am – 11:30 pm
Phone: +974 4411 1502
Cuisines: Arabian (try out their chicken kibbeh)
Average Cost: QR 290 for two people (approx.)

3. Discover Doha city's gem - the Souq Waqif

Despite the popularity of modern air-conditioned shopping malls, it is notable that a primarily ‘outdoor’ attraction like Souq Waqif still remains one of the most popular tourists' destinations in Doha. The numerous alleyways and small shops offer traditional garments, spices and seasonal delicacies such as fresh dates and nuts, perfumes, ornate jewelry, clothing, handicrafts and a treasure trove of souvenir bargains. Coffee pots and embroidered pashminas are a favorite buy. When shopping for authentic local souvenirs pearls should be on top of your list and for the best deal in town look no further than the "Pahlwan Saad Ismail Al Jassim – The old pearl diver" shop, known just through word of mouth.

Also if you like to experience the authentic tradition of Henna Art, you will spot professional henna artists at Souq Waqif who design beautiful henna art.

The Souq is also home to dozens of restaurants offering different kinds of cuisines from Qatar or Yemen through to Syrian, Iraqi and Indian dishes. Additionally, a group of women sells home-cooked food in an open setting in the Souq to satisfy your craving for homemade Qatari food. Very affordable, their prices range from QR 5 to QR 20, and they offer traditional dishes such as Machboos, Harees, Kousa Mahshi, Mathrooba and many more. One of the favourite dishes is freshly-made, flat crepes. You can choose a variety of toppings to enjoy your crepe.

And close to Souq Waqif, a separate building houses a treasure trove of shops known as the Gold Souq. They all offer the finest 18/22-carat gold jewelry, with rings, necklaces – anything that your heart desires.


Location: Souq Waqif
Distance from the Pearl-Qatar: 22 min (14.0 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 25/USD 6.87
Opening hours: Most shops operate from 10:00 am to noon and re-open from 4 pm till 10 pm. Most restaurants open all day, from 8 am to midnight. Some may even open 24 hours.

Restaurant/cafe recommendation at Souq Waqif

Tea Time
Location: Opposite Qatar Police Station, Souq Waqif
Opening hours: 24 Hours
Cuisines: Cafeteria (recommended drink is Chai Karak, price: QR 1/ USD 0.27 for a small cup)

Aljasra Traditional Qatari Food
Location: Opposite Fanar, Souq Waqif
Opening hours: 8:30 am – 11 pm
Cuisines: Qatari (try out their chicken and lamb machboos)
Average cost: QR 120/USD 33 for two people (approx.)
Phone: +974 5529 8871

Al Shujaa Restaurant
Location: Near the Bird Souq
Opening hours: 4 pm – 12 am
Average cost: QR 35/USD 9.61 for two people (approx.)
Cuisines: Afghani (recommended food is Afghani kebab)

Bandar Aden Restaurant
Location: Near Arumaila Hotel
Opening Hours: 8 am - 11 pm, Friday 12:30 pm - 11 pm
Cuisines: Khaleeji (It's known for authentic Yemeni dishes along with traditional floor seating)
Average Cost: QR 100/USD 27.47 for two people (approx.)
Phone: +974 4437 5503

4. Walk along the Corniche, go on a dhow cruise to enjoy the panoramic view of Doha!

People walking and relaxing on the corniche of Doha.

Enjoy a walk along the famous Corniche, stretching as it does for a whopping 7km - a firm favourite for walkers, health enthusiasts, and tourists alike. Cool, cosmopolitan and constantly changing, the Corniche blends urban uniqueness with seaside charm.

You’ll spot dhows tied up all along the Corniche in Doha – there are more than 500 of them. The Dhow is an integral part of Qatari culture and before the oil era, they were mainly used for pearl diving, fishing and transporting goods. Today, to keep those traditions alive, the ancient craft still serves the people of Qatar, elegantly evoking the essence of our centuries-old maritime heritage.

A traditional sailing dhow, complete with mast, moored in the Museum Lagoon in Doha, Qatar
( A traditional sailing dhow, complete with mast, moored in the Museum Lagoon in Doha, Qatar)

You can get on board of a Dhow in Qatar just by paying QR20. And if you want to reserve the entire dhow for your whole family and friends for a long island tour, you have to pay around QR 1500 to QR 2,500.

If you want to know more about some interesting facts about Dhows in Qatar, Click here HERE!


Location: Corniche
Distance from the Souq Waqif: 500 m
Average taxi fare
: 10 min walking distance
Dhow trip cost:
On average QR20 for per person.

5. Check out the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ)

The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) is one of the best-loved landmarks in the country. A visit to this museum is an all-encompassing journey, carrying you from millions of years ago to the edge of tomorrow.

The National Museum of Qatar has designed and developed a wide variety of exciting and engaging learning resources for school, family and youth audiences. Hands-on interactive gallery spaces, family trails, student activity booklets, art-trolleys, handling collections, gift shops, and outdoor playgrounds —all contribute to creating a dynamic and fun environment for young learners. To know more about this museum, click HERE!


Location: Museum Park Street across from the Corniche in Doha
Distance from the Corniche:
14 min (6.5 km)
Average taxi fare: QR 15/USD 4.12
Opening hours: Sun-Weds: 9 am - 7 pm, Thurs & Sat: 9 am- 9 pm, Fri: 1:30 - 9 pm (Last ticket one hour before closing when Sun-Wed, one and half hours Thurs-Sat)
Gift shop opening hours: The Gift Shop and the Children’s Gift Shop: open Saturday through Thursday from 9 am - 
7 pm and Friday from 1.30 pm -7 pm
Entry fee: QR 50 (for an adult) free for the child (0-16 years of age), no ticket required for 0-3 years
Resident of Qatar:
Free (Upon presentation of valid QID card or Qatari driver’s license)
[email protected]

So, what are you waiting for? What else could be better than spending your stopover in Qatar with your loved ones visiting the many breath-taking places Qatar has to offer, discovering all the stories they have to tell, and the wonderful memories they will leave you with. And if you find the article useful, don't forget to like and share this article - you know it keeps us going!

If you want to find out what is happening in Qatar before it happens, download the Qatar Events App! Available on Android and IOS and the app is completely free!