Does your vacation include a stopover in Qatar? If so, were you aware that a transit visa is available, and that it allows you to stay in our wonderful country for various periods? Also, nationals from a total of 80 countries can now take advantage of visa-free entry into Qatar.
So before jumping straight into the best things to do in Qatar, let us introduce the country. The culture of Qatar is strongly influenced by traditional Bedouin culture, with acute influence deriving from India, East Africa and some parts of the Persian Gulf. The peninsula's harsh climatic conditions compelled its inhabitants to turn to the sea for sustenance. There is, therefore, a distinct emphasis placed on the sea in the local culture. Doha is the capital and most populous city of the State of Qatar. Doha was founded in the 1820s as an offshoot of Al Bidda. It was officially declared as the country's capital in 1971 when Qatar gained independence from being a British Protectorate. Now Doha is in a stage of exciting expansion, and a new experience is always around the corner.
If you would love to discover Qatar - an authentic Arabian treasure in the heart of the Gulf - a land famous for its heritage, innovation, and hospitality, our layover guide will help you to explore the best places to visit, things to do in this beautiful country.
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.
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.
Check out the map below:
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.
Designed by the architect of the Louvre Pyramid, IM Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) offers the largest collection of Islamic art in the entire world. Only 15 – 18 minutes drive from Hamad International Airport, the museum is a must-visit place to experience the culture and history of Qatar.
Collections: There is much more to MIA’s collection than is on display in the museum. The MIA collection includes some of the most famous pieces of Islamic glass, ranging from delicate early pieces to brightly coloured mosque lamps, goblets, and vases from the medieval period. Moreover, it has a collection of over 800 manuscripts from Qur’ans from the 7th century to Ottoman works of the 19th century. The MIA textile collection has some of the finest examples of carpets, costumes and a wide variety of fabrics produced for the elite of the Islamic world.
Gift shop: If you would love to buy some gifts, the Gift Shop located in the heart of MIA offers you to pick up unique items. You can discover a vast array of exclusively-designed products inspired by MIA’s magnificent collection and exhibits. From art books and jewellery to home décor, gifts, and accessories, each object is meant to be an ambassador of the museum.
Library: MIA also contains a library on Level 1 in the Education Centre. The collection of the library consists of specialist books on Islamic art, art reference books, museum collection and exhibition catalogues and monographs, scholarly periodicals on art and related areas including auction house catalogues.
The museum is fully accessible. Visually impaired multi-media guides are available on request. For information about the MIA, click HERE!
Location: Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
Distance from airport: 17 min (13.9 km)
Average transport cost: QR 30/USD 8.24
Entry fee: QR 50 (visitors); Qatar residents: free; children (age 16 and under): free
Timings: Saturday to Thursday: 9 am – 7 pm, Friday: 1:30 pm – 7 pm
Photography: No tripods or flash allowed in the galleries.
Free Guided Tours: Every Thursday and Saturday at 2 pm ( tours take 40 minutes)
Phone: +974 4422 4444
MIA Café: Open every day from 9 am to 7 pm (Except Friday 1:30 pm to 7 pm), phone: +974 4422 4120
Now let's enjoy the fresh air and splendid view of Corniche—one of the most popular destinations in Qatar for walkers, health enthusiasts, and tourists alike. It also attracts a diverse crowd who are looking for spectacular views of the city's skyline and dazzling surroundings. 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 era of discovering oil, 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. You can get on board of a Dhow in Qatar just by paying QR 20. 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. However, you can haggle your way to get the lowest price. And If you want to know more about some interesting facts about Dhows in Qatar, Click here HERE!
Distance from the Museum of Islamic Art: 1.3 km
Average taxi cost: 15 min walking distance
Dhow ride cost: Average QR 20 for per person
Despite the popularity of modern air-conditioned shopping malls – it is notable that a primarily ‘outdoor’ attraction like Souq Waqif remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Doha. The numerous alleyways and small shops offer traditional garments, spices and seasonal delicacies such as fresh dates and nuts, perfumes, ornate jewellery, clothing, handicrafts and a treasure trove of souvenir bargains. Coffee pots and embroidered pashminas are a favourite 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. You can haggle your way to get the best purchase at the lowest price.
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. 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, you will also find, a group of women sell home-cooked food in an open setting in the Souq to satisfy your inquisitiveness for homemade Qatari food. Very affordable, their prices range from QR 5 to QR 20, and they offer traditional dishes such as Majboos, 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 go with your crepes.
And close to Souq Waqif, a separate building houses a treasure trove of shops known as the Gold Souq. They offer the finest 18/22-carat gold jewelry, with rings, necklaces – anything that your heart desires.
Location: Souq Waqif
Distance from Corniche: 500 m
Average taxi fare: 10 min walking distance
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.
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 ( recommended foods are Kabsa, 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
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!
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