Doha is the capital of Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world. Many visit it taking advantage of a long layover at its popular airport, although even more will do so for the 2022 World Cup. And the truth is that this city in the middle of the desert deserves all the attention. You will not be short of things to do in Qatar beyond football: from being amazed by its luxury to strolling along the beautiful Corniche. In this post we tell you 25 things to see and do in Doha so you can enjoy the capital of Qatar to the fullest.
Things To See And Do In Doha
Browse the Souq Waqif
It is the main souk in Doha. The city stands out for its modernity, but what we liked the most were its narrow streets full of clothing stores and other traditional products. The souk dates from the 19th century, although it was renovated in 2006 maintaining the original structure. Nowadays it is very adapted for both locals and tourists. Without a doubt, an essential visit to do in Doha.
Falcon Souq, one of the most curious places to see in Doha
Inside the Souq Waqif you can see this curious place. In Qatar, camel racing and falconry (bird hunting) are national sports. For this reason, in this part of the souk, breeders come to sell their birds. And the strongest thing is that a good hunting falcon can cost up to 1 million Qatari riyals (€226,000 approx). We can more or less agree with these practices. We believe that the animals should be free, but it is part of the Qatari culture and we believe that it is worth coming to see it.
Visit the Museum of Islamic Art, one of the best things to do in Doha
The Islamic Art Museum building is one of the most spectacular to see in Doha. There it houses pieces of Islamic art from more than 14,000 years of history and from different countries such as India, Egypt, Central Asia, Turkey or Iraq. It is one of the most complete museums of Islamic art in the world, so it is a good place to get closer to Islamic culture.
Stretch your legs at MIA Park
Just outside the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) you will find the MIA Park. A green space with very nice views of the Doha skyline and with several facilities to disconnect for a good time. Do not miss it!
Stroll along the Corniche, one of the best things to do in Doha
You cannot leave Doha without strolling along the Corniche, its promenade. It is seven kilometers long and offers spectacular views of the Bay of Doha. Start at the Museum of Islamic Art and end at the Sheraton, one of the most luxurious hotels in the Qatari capital. Both locals and tourists walk there, play sports or even relax. With those views, you won’t want to miss it either. Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Doha.
Get on one of the traditional boats (dhows) and enjoy the views
Walking along the Corniche you will surely see a lot of dhows. They are traditional wooden boats located in the Bay of Doha. It is estimated that there are about 500! The dhow is part of the culture of Qatar. Especially before the oil age. These boats were mainly used to get pearls, to fish and to transport goods. Currently, most of them are used to offer tourist tours or even some have been converted into restaurants. If you want to take a tour of Doha Bay in a dhow, it will cost you between 20 and 50 Qatari riyals (5 and 11€ approx).
Take a photo at the pearl sculpture and remember your past
On the Doha Corniche you will find a huge sculpture of a pearl. We believe that you cannot leave without photographing it. Before the discovery of oil in the middle of the last century, the main economic activity in Qatar was pearl collecting. So it’s a nice nod to his past!
Enjoy West Bay and its skyscrapers
Doha is a city of contrasts. On one side of the bay we find the traditional part, with the souk and a more authentic atmosphere. And in the other part, in the West Bay, we see a great contrast with huge skyscrapers, headquarters of large companies and a much more modern environment, similar to that of any great economic center. The most famous building is the Burj Qatar, although there are other skyscrapers with more than 200 meters. It is good to know this area, although like any financial center, it lacks atmosphere. Especially if we compare it to the traditional part!
Eat at the revolving restaurant of the Aspire Tower, something highly recommended to do in Doha
Speaking of skyscrapers, you can’t leave without climbing the tallest building in the country. The Aspire Tower is also known as The Torch Doha. It is a skyscraper hotel 300 meters high. At the top there is a revolving restaurant with 360º views, although there are also other bars where you can have a drink and enjoy the views. On their website you will find all the information.
Visit Al Zubarah Fort
This fort is one of the most impressive things to see in Qatar. It is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site by chance. Although it is quite far from the capital, we believe that it is worth making an excursion. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about Qatar’s past. The fort once protected one of the most important cities in the pearl trading business in all of Qatar. Without a doubt, one of the most recommended visits to do in Doha.
Indulge in luxury at The Pearl Qatar
Close to the West Bay area, you can get to know the other facet of Doha, surely the one that most familiar to us: luxury! The Pearl Qatar is an artificial island with condominiums and luxury hotels. It’s all artificial, but we think it’s curious to know. What petrodollars do!
Learn at the National Museum of Qatar
This is one of the most interesting visits to do in Doha. It is a new museum, opened in 2019 that serves to explain the history of the country. It reviews all the periods of Qatar, from its beginnings to its recent development in modern times. Just to see the building is already worth it. It is known as the “Desert Rose” because of its shape and was designed by Jean Nouvel, the same architect of The Burj Qatar.
Spend an afternoon shopping (or sightseeing) in Villaggio
If you want to move to Venice, you have it easy. You do not need to take a Qatar Airways plane, but in just a few minutes by taxi you will be transferred to the city of canals. This mall is inspired by Venice and its canals and is part of the petrodollar extravaganza. If you want to take refuge from the Qatari heat, it is a good way to disconnect, since it has many shops, restaurants and entertainment options. You can even ride a gondola!
Go on an excursion to the Qatar Desert (Inland Sea)
And obviously, during your visit to Doha you cannot miss an excursion to the desert. Doha is literally a city in the middle of the desert. So you have it easy to explore! However, the most famous area of the Qatari desert is the Inland Sea. It is one of only three places in the world where the sea meets the desert sand. Also, just on the other side you can easily see Saudi Arabia. Without a doubt, one of the best excursions to do in Doha.
Photograph the Fanar Mosque, one of the best things to do in Doha
Near the Corniche, in the traditional area of Doha, you will see a mosque with an amazing spiral-shaped minaret. Before 2011, the Fanar Mosque was the largest in the country, although it was surpassed by the great Qatar State Mosque. Today it has become one of the emblems of the capital.
Hallucinate with the Grand Mosque of the State of Qatar
It is the national mosque of the Arab country. It is located a bit far from the center, specifically in the Jubailat district of Doha. It has a total area of 175,164 square kilometers and is by far the largest mosque in the country. It has a total of 93 domes and 20 entrances and can hold up to 30,000 people at a time. Only believers can enter, although if you are not a Muslim, just seeing it from the outside is already impressive. We believe that it is one of the most spectacular buildings to see in Doha.
Visit the Qatar National Library
Doha is full of modern and amazing buildings. And the one at the Qatar National Library is one of them. The building reminds us a lot of the Oslo Opera House ! Inside it has a capacity for 1 million books. It is located in the heart of Ciudad de la Educación and has nearly 45,000 square meters of surface area. Impress!
Enjoy at Katara Cultural Village
This “town” was created in 2010 to host part of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and has been hosting it every year since then. Various shows are held there in its amphitheaters, there are shops, art galleries and other facilities. And all this in a privileged location!
Relax at Katara Beach
Doha has high temperatures throughout the year. So it’s always a good time to cool off! It is a natural beach and is very close to the city center. The only drawback is that you have to pay to enter, but it is very well maintained. Admission costs 25 Qatari riyals (€6 approx).
Enjoy the Katara Mosque
In Katara Cultural Village you will see the famous Katara Mosque, one of the most beautiful to see in Doha. Its color, pattern and patterned tiles represent its uniqueness. Do not miss it!
Get to know the Barzan Towers
These ancient watchtowers are one of the main attractions to see in Doha. They were built in the 19th century to protect the ‘rawdat’, a valley where rainwater collects as it flows down from higher ground. Although they are on the outskirts of the city, they are part of Qatari culture and we recommend you visit them.
Go relax at the Banana Island Resort, one of the best things to do in Doha
If what you are looking for is to disconnect, in Doha you will not lack places to do it. Some more luxurious than others like this resort located on a private island, Banana Island. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you can get there on an organized catamaran excursion. There are six restaurants in the complex and a beautiful golden sand beach. You will not get bored!
Get lost in the shops at the City Center Doha Shopping Mall
In Doha the heat can be stifling, especially during the summer months. So if you are looking for a place to take refuge, you can stroll through this shopping center, one of the oldest in Doha. But you know that in Doha, old is relative… it has everything!
Visit the collection of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani
This is one of the most curious visits to do in Doha. In the museum you can see part of the history of the people of Qata and also the collection of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani himself. It has eclectic pieces from over 4 continents including vehicles, coins and great works of Islamic art. Admission costs 50 Qatari riyals (€11 approx).
Hallucinate with your airport
And finally, to finish this post about the best things to do in Doha, we could not forget to mention its international airport. Few go to Doha to spend a vacation, but they do take advantage of a long layover at its airport to get to know the city. If you do not feel like leaving it, you will have no obligation. The airport has plenty of facilities to keep you entertained. We hope you enjoy Doha!