Doha Travel Guide
More than just a major airline hub, Doha is the capital and biggest city in the nation of Qatar.
Although its modern attractions grab most of the attention, this place has more than its share of culture.
Home to museums, art galleries, and performing arts spaces, the cultural traveller will feel at home here.
Come check out our Doha travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Doha, Qatar.
Begin your time in Doha by exploring the Museum of Islamic Art. This structure is notable for being famed architect I.M. Pei’s last creations. He came out of retirement at the age of 91 to supervise its design in the 2000s.
It opened to the public in December 2008. In its collections, you’ll find a variety of artistic implements from across the Islamic World. Numerous galleries contain jewellery, ceramics, tapestries, and other objects collected from three continents. However, as you walk throughout this complex, you won’t be able to help but be taken by Pei’s architectural genius.
Get the background on the story of Doha and the nation of Qatar at the National Museum of Qatar. This institution is a much more recent addition to Doha’s cultural scene, as it only opened in March 2019. Architect Jean Nouvel built this innovative structure. He drew inspiration from a rock formation called desert rose. Made from clusters from gypsum crystal, you can find it readily in the Qatari desert.
Within, this institution focuses on three major themes – the history, culture, and the future of Qatar.
Through its galleries, you’ll learn about Bedouin culture, tribal conflicts, the discovery of oil, and other topics.
Like most other Arabian countries, Qatar is a Muslim-majority state. In Doha, you’ll find the State Grand Mosque. It has room for up to 30,000 worshippers, easily making it the largest masjid in the country.
It is officially named the Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque, after a Wahhabist preacher from the 18th century. Within, the mosque patterns its carpets after the ones found in typical Qatari homes.
Masjid officials offer tours on most days (Fridays excepted.) Dress conservatively – this edict means no exposed knees, shoulders, or chests. Women must also cover their heads with a hijab. This mosque has a “no cameras” policy – while you may observe locals taking pictures with smartphones, do NOT do the same. Offenders have had their devices confiscated in the past – don’t be one of them!
Sample current Qatari culture by paying a visit to the Katara Cultural Village. This multi-purpose park contains amenities like an opera house, an amphitheatre, an outdoor market, and more. Walking around to the various attractions can be difficult during the day, thanks to the punishing heat. Wait out the 40-50 degree Celsius heat at Katara’s beach, which is one of the best in Doha.
Doha has many markets. However, according to locals, Souq Waqif is one of its oldest and most authentic. This souq has a history that stretches back more than a hundred years. However, it almost came to an end in 2003, when a massive fire ripped through the complex. Thanks to government support, the market was rebuilt entirely by 2006. Today, it is as popular as ever, selling everything from spices to gold to traditional clothing.
After shopping/people-watching, try out some shisha at a nearby cafe or dine at an expensive restaurant. Both options are available in abundance around the grounds of the souq.
As scorching days give way to cooler evenings, The Corniche comes alive. This attraction is a walkway that leads you along the waterfront of Doha. Here, you’ll find families enjoying each other’s company, runners getting in their daily exercise, and photographers capturing the skyline.
All along this six-kilometre promenade, you’ll find cafes. Stop, get a coffee and watch all of Doha pass you by. If you’re up for something a bit more active, hire the services of a boat captain. They will take you out on the bay, where you can enjoy the best views in the city can.
Been in Arabia for a while and miss the sight of green grass? In Doha, head straight to Aspire Park. Here, gardeners keep this leisure area emerald green, despite Qatar’s forbidding climate. The centrepiece of this park is the Torch Hotel. It takes its name from the fact that Asian Games officials used the top of the structure for their 2006 event.
Need to bide your time until it is cool enough to go outside again? Make the most of it by spending it at Doha Festival City Mall. This gleaming shopping centre contains more than 400 stores. Opened in 2019, it the most recent addition to Doha’s retail landscape.
After finishing your shopping, check out this mall’s VOX 4D cinema. It is the first such cinema in Qatar, delivering cutting-edge visual and physical effects to the latest blockbuster releases.