Doha Qatar bookonboard

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Doha, Qatar

Plenty of low-cost flights to Qatar have connected the country to the rest of the world. It is one of the world’s busiest hubs. But apart from that, there are plenty of things to do in Qatar for tourists as well.

A vessel overflowing with art and culture, the rich Arabian ancestry of Qatar gives you an endless string of things to do and places to visit here. In this article, we will discuss some of them that we think are the best.

BookOnBoard’s Guide to Qatar

Offering true Arabian hospitality and food, Qatar is one of the safest places to travel to. You don’t need to be an authentic tourist to see the best places here. Taking a break from your long flight, or enjoying a little vacation in Qatar is an excellent idea. But where to go and where not to?

In this guide, you will find out everything you need to know about your Qatar visit – best places to visit, cheapest places to stay, most popular places to eat, fun things to do, affordable hotels, low-cost flights, Qatar Holiday Packages, etc.

List of top 10 things to do in Qatar

  1. Go dune bashing in the desert
  2. Get a taste of the iconic Arabian market
  3. Take a lazy walk on the promenades
  4. See islamic art in its full glory
  5. See modern art landmarking in desert
  6. Visit old forts and learn ancient history
  7. Cool off in the mangroves
  8. Spend a day on an artificial island
  9. Drink in large doses of culture 
  10. Ride a real arabian horse

Of course, that’s not all! Doha alone has plenty more to amaze you. Just having a walk along its alleys and streets can consume an entire day for you. The desert holds other interests as well. However, here we will discuss only the top attractions of Qatar.

Deserts Around Qatar

Visiting the middle east and not seeing the desert is like going to a restaurant and not ordering anything. The deserts in Qatar are especially interesting. There you have high and steep dunes. So, you got an excellent opportunity of dune bashing here in an SUV. Not for those who get motion sickness!

sand dunes qatar bookonboard
Image by pixelRaw from Pixabay

But that’s not the end of your desert adventure! You can go quad-biking, paragliding, and sand-skiing as well. Feeling the dry wind rush through your hair while you take on the golden mountains of sand will make you feel like the Prince of Persia himself! You can also ride camels and horses in the desert. A famous spectacle is the camel race at Al Shahaniya. It is more popular than any other sport here and has its own TV channel.

Souq Waqif Market

The famous ancient ‘standing market’ in Souq Waqif has to be near the top of your things to do in Qatar list. Your mind will be boggled by the sheer complexity of goods and crafts peddled in real Arabian style. The aromas coming from spices and fresh veggies and meat mix up to make a perfume no one can duplicate. 

Doha market souvenirs bookonboard

Do take care not to empty your whole wallet here! You have to save something for the knafeh, a famous Turkish dessert. The shops display many intricately crafted merchandise ranging from beads to gold, so you will never run out of things to see in Souq Waqif. You will feel like you are in one of the Arabian nights here.

When you are feeling overwhelmed by the market, you can head out to the edges of the market. Here you can relax in the beautiful park or play with the camels. You shouldn’t miss spotting a falcon, which is a revered bird in Qatar. 80% of the male population in Qatar owns a falcon at some point in their lives. There’s a falcon market, falconry school, falcon hospital…

Doha’s Corniche

Around Doha Bay, the 7-kilometer strip sits in a crescent shape. It starts vaguely at Sheraton Hotel and ends at the art museum. You should absolutely not miss a chance to take a relaxing stroll on this crazy-popular promenade next time you’re in Doha.

Doha corniche bookonboard things to do in doha qatar
Image by Haakon S. Krohn from Wikimedia Commons

Being the number one preferred outing spot for the city-dwellers, everyone of every age visits here. This waterfront walkway features activities like kite flying, shopping, dining, riding a bike and so much more. And everything is accompanied by the beautiful view you see on most calendars! 

When needing a bit of a different experience, you should hop aboard one of the dhows that await here. A sunset cruise on one of these local sailboats can only be complemented by a sunrise walk on the Corniche itself.

Museum of Islamic Art

This great museum may put many western museums to shame. The beautiful facade of the Museum of Islamic Art is located at the end of the Corniche in Doha. As such, even from outside, it is already a gem in the city’s skyline. Which is just the tip of the iceberg.

Masterpieces of Islamic art modern and ancient adorn the insides of the museum. The dazzling and mesmerizing collections of artifacts made out of copper, iron, and other metals, carpeting, silk, tile and whatnot!

You can visit the museum any day between 9 to 7. However, on Friday it is closed till half-past one in the afternoon.

East-West/West-East Artwork

Smack in the middle of the western Qatari desert, there are four great gray monoliths. Stringing onwards to the sea, these four plates of steel were created by Richard Serra and sculpted in Germany. 

Serra does not expect this beautiful and majestic modern art to last forever. In the salty hot air and sandstorms of Qatar, the plates will gradually turn from gray to orange to brown… and at long last, a rich dark amber. 

You can see this artwork from miles away, standing sentry in the desolate, dangerous desert. They inspire a sense of greatness as well as loneliness. 14 meters tall each, they look so out of place, they fit perfectly. You have to go offroading for a while to reach this unique and unusual artwork.

Al Zubarah Fort and Village

Way back in 18th century Arabia, Al Zubarah was a thriving pearl fishing and trading port. Now, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The largest historical site in Qatar, it is the best example of an ancient gulf merchant town. 

Ancient and abandoned, the town is protected by a great wall. Some unearthing and restoration is still going on, which is shedding light on the human legacy of that time. The fort here is the youngest feature in the place. Yet it is old enough to need protection from the harsh desert winds.

Walking around the painstakingly restored remains of the city, you will feel the past weigh down on your consciousness. Your guide will tell you stories of pearl divers, dhow captains, fish traps, wells, and hardworking desert farmers. Nowhere else in Qatar will you feel so closely connected to the sea and desert at once.

Al Thakira Mangroves

Enough of the desert! Time for some greenery, eh? Well, if you are despairing that all of Qatar is a dry furnace, Al Thakira will make you delightfully mistaken. The Mangroves of Al-Thakira is a large sea of greenery and water. It has its own delicate ecosystem, which will interest any ecotourist. 

Known well in the middle-east for a major migration zone for birds of all kinds, you can get your fill of birdwatching here. Herons and flamingos are especially plentiful here. It’s easy to rent a kayak and get lost among the islets.

If you’re coming in January, the water level here gets low enough to wade in. Don’t be shy! Stand still in the clear water among thousands of birds and have your feet cleaned by tiny fish. You will forget it’s a desert country at all.

The Pearl

Nearly four million square meters of land were reclaimed from the sea to build this artificial island in Qatar. It is an upscale place with many commercial, residential, and entertainment blocks. The nightlife here is especially colorful!

Pearl Doha Qatar bookonboard things to do in qatar

The most important spot is the beautiful Qanat Quartier. Inspired by Mediterranean towns, you can see many colorful houses, canals, romantic little bridges, pedestrian squares. Plenty of cafes and restaurants here complement your walking tour in The Pearl.

Unsurprisingly, The Pearl also has a promenade, much smaller but every bit as enjoyable as that of Doha. Rows of yachts moored on the pristine turquoise sway lazily, making a picture-postcard view. You can also go on many water sports activities from here.

Katara Cultural Village

Between the West Bay of Doha and The Pearl, the Katara Cultural Village is a waterfront area where art and recreation meld seamlessly. A rather recent gem in the crown of Qatar, it was opened in 2010. There is an amphitheater here, with museums of art and culture, numerous shops, fine dining, and a beach.

Katara cultural village bookonboard things to do in qatar
Image by km2bp Mapillary.com from Wikimedia Commons

For visitors to Doha, attending one of the frequent cultural events in Katara is a must. Galleries and performance venues dot the area, giving you an unending wealth of art, sculptures, crafts, music, and other performances.

For a break, go visit the well-maintained beach. There are lots of water sports options here. Also, you can get to taste authentic Arabian cuisine at one of the many top-of-the-class restaurants and cafes here. If not doing anything else, at least have a night stroll along the promenade, with the beautiful Doha skyline at one side and the brightly colorful shops on the other.

Al Shaqab Equestrian Center

Surely, you have heard of Arabian horses? To some equestrian gurus, there are no finer rides in the world. And the Arabs love their horses fiercely! You can see when an inexhaustible wealth meets an undying passion in Al Shaqab.

The Center was specifically designed to honor the distinguished classic beauty of the Arabian horses. The versatile skills, amazing speed, and agility of these horses are treasured here above all. The sheer graceful movements of a proud, well-trained Arabian horse prancing around in the high-tech grounds here will surely amaze you. 

The horses are treated better than humans here. There are swimming pools, treadmills, special beds and stalls, and even a jacuzzi for horses here!

Al Shaqab organizes many tours for the public and schools here. You must take a ride, at least, to feel the sheer grace and power of these noble animals. A word to the wise, though. Untamed Arabian steeds are known for their fierce temper.

Frequently Asked Questions About Qatar

1. When is the best time to visit Qatar?

The middle-east is known for the punishing sun and lethal summers. Best you avoid that. Therefore, a good time to visit Qatar would be from November to April. In this interval, you will get weather pleasant enough to enjoy everything outdoors. However, for that same reason, it is the most crowded season here. Still, we don’t recommend the off-season for budget options. Unless, of course, you are from a hot climate already and can take it.

2. Does Qatar have budget friendly accommodation?

As in most places of the world, hostels are the cheapest places to stay in Qatar. There are quite a few of these here, which you can conveniently book from apps on your phone. Other than that, some of the most affordable hotels in Qatar are:

Hotel Name, Location and Description Star Rating Cost
Chairmen Hotel DohaAl Mansoura NajmaWarm rooms & suites in a traditional hotel offering a fitness room & a laid-back restaurant3-star$28
Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by TivoliSouq Waqif, DohaElegant rooms & suites in contemporary lodging offering 10 dining options, a gym & a courtyard pool5-star$31
Sovereign HotelAdd Bin Zaid Street StreetLaid-back hotel featuring streamlined quarters, some with living rooms, plus free Wi-Fi3-star$35
La Villa Palace HotelIbn Abdul Muttalib StreetCasual rooms & suites in a down-to-earth hotel featuring a restaurant, a gym & free breakfast3-star$36
La Villa SuitesIbn Firnas St, DohaGreat location overall for sightseeing, recreation, dining, and getting around2-star$38
Gokulam Park DohaDoha, QatarUpscale hotel featuring 3 bars & a restaurant, plus a rooftop terrace with a pool & a shisha lounge4-star$39
The Town HotelAl Areeq St, DohaModern rooms & suites, some with gulf views, in a stylish hotel offering free breakfast & Wi-Fi3-star$40
Grand Regal HotelRas Abu Abboud St, DohaPosh quarters in an upscale hotel offering dining, a spa, a nightclub & an outdoor pool5-star$42

Please note that the above prices are for the month of July, for one night, two adults. They include no extra services. However, as Qatar is famous for its hospitality, you may get many free services in hotels here like WiFi, breakfast, parking, fitness center, air-conditioning etc. Prices are approximate and are subjected to change.

3. Are there any special restrictions I should know about before visiting Qatar?

Qatar is a Muslim country and therefore they have a pretty strong dress code. It’s stricter than in Dubai. The general rule is that you should wear long, loose garments that reveal neither your skin nor your body shape. At least the shoulders, upper arms, thigh, and knees have to be covered while in Qatar, so, no need to unpack those shorts and vests. The only time when these rules are lifted is when swimming. And to visit a mosque you must cover your head.

Also, alcohol is very much prohibited in the country. You cannot bring or take alcoholic beverages to or from Qatar. You cannot get them in local shops. However, in upscale restaurants, you can get some booze, fairly expensive.

4. What are some cheap air travel options to and from Qatar?

Doha international airport is connected to the whole world via multiple airlines, and it is one of the busiest airports in the world. Of course, you have low-cost flight options to Qatar. Here is a basic overview.

City Cost by airliner company
Qatar Airways Turkish Airlines Royal Jordanian Oman Air
New York $1442 $990 $1000
London $641 $444 $534 $430
Dubai $501 $766 $534
New Delhi $295 $449 $248
Sydney $1234 $1411 ?
Bangkok $744 $645 $765 $757

Please note that the above prices are subject to change anytime. These are calculated for one person one-way trip on the first of July, at any time. 

5. Where are the best eateries in Qatar?

Qatar is famous for its traditional Turkish-Arabian culinary culture. You can get some seriously wild dishes here, including a whole roast camel. Also, since it’s a crossroad of the world, you can find nearly every type of major cuisine from around the world here. 

Some of the most popular places to eat in Qatar are:

  • The Cellar (spanish)
  • Ruby Wu’s (chinese)
  • Latino (south american)
  • Ric’s Country Kitchen (american)
  • Mykonos (greek)
  • L’Wzaar Market (seafood)
  • Layali (local)
  • Spice Market (market, local)
6. Can I get on some Qatar Holiday Packages?

Qatar is a fairly expensive holiday destination. It’s unlikely that you’ll get many cheap tours here. Though the ones you get are going to be top-quality. Here are some fairly popular package tours in Qatar:

  • 3 Nights / 4 Days Doha Tour Package
    • 02 Nights Accommodation with Breakfast.
    • Round Trip Airport Transfer with ESD.
    • Cultural Tour.
    • Half day Desert Safari.
  • 2 Nights / 3 Days Exclusive Full Board Group Tour Package
    • 02 Nights Accommodation on FB basis.
    • Meet & Greet Assistance at the Airport.
    • Round Trip Airport Transfer with ESD.
    • Half day City Tour with ESG.
    • Half day Desert Safari with ESD.
  • 3 Nights / 4 Days Qatar Tour Package (Private Tour)
    • Arrival & Departure Transfer by A/C Vehicle
    • Meet & Greet Assistance
    • 3 Night accommodation on DBL/TWN Sharing with Breakfast
    • Half Day City Tour
    • Dhow Cruise with Corniche walk
    • Half Day Desert Safari
  • 3 Nights / 4 Days Qatar Group Package
    • 03 Nights Accommodation with Breakfast.
    • Round Trip Airport Transfer with ESD.
    • Dhow Cruise with Corniche walk.
    • Shopping Tour or City Tour.

Thanks for reading! Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, please check out some of the great tourist spots in the middle-east we talked about before.

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