Heading somewhere exotic with a layover in Doha? Add to your holiday memories with a magical stopover in the Qatari capital. While two or three days isn’t nearly enough to explore all the country’s hidden gems, you’ll likely be able to make a dent in seeing some of the highlights. So jump on the Doha Bus or make use of one of the city’s many public transport options to explore more than just the airport.
1. Make Like A Local
Everyone needs caffeine after a long flight and a traditional coffee in Qatar is a unique experience. Qatari coffee is served from a dallah (a special coffee pot) in a small coffee cup known as a finjaan. Instead of the usual milk and sugar, this espresso style drink is usually enjoyed with a date. After getting a little pep in your step, you might enjoy browsing a local souk market like Souk Waqif to shop with the locals for authentic wares. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some souvenirs.
2. Walk the Coastline
Take a taxi or bus to The Corniche and walk the promenade that is home to many restaurants and cafe’s – perfect for a late lunch or dinner. From here you can look out over the sparkling ocean to the city’s magnificent skyscrapers. If you’re travelling with kids, be sure to stop at one of the many play parks in the area so that they can let off some steam.
The Pearl is a must-see when in Doha. This man-made island is home to a Mediterranean-style yacht-lined marina that houses miles of restaurants and shops.
If you have time for more traditional tourist activities, you might want to read our full guide to find the perfect activity to suit your interests. Doha is home to many museums, galleries, opera houses and more. You could even explore a little more of the desert by spending a night in a Bedouin style tent or going on an adventure in the sands.
From local eateries serving traditional Qatari food to restaurants focused on more international cuisine, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out in Doha. Most Qatari dishes feature a blend of spices and slow-cooked meats. While it is all delicious, you definitely have to try their national dish Majboos. It is a slow-cooked chicken or lamb dish traditionally served with rice, a side salad and homemade tomato sauce.
Bayt El Talleh in the Katara Cultural Village serves a authentic Levantine cuisine without any theatrics and is a good first visit for some local flavour.
If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience, you can’t go wrong with any of the top hotels. The W Hotel’s Spice Market serves what is arguably the best Asian in the dessert and you can satisfy your meat cravings at Cut by Wolfgang Puck in the Mondrian. From French to South-American cuisine, there really is a fine dining experience to suit any palate.
5. Shop Until You Drop
Besides the local souk, Doha is also home to some spectacular malls. Al Hazm is modeled after Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Villagio Mall is like a little Venice. You might find the Italian architecture inspiring enough, even if you’re interested in browsing designer wares.
If you want to do more shopping and less browsing, the City Centre Mall is not only conveniently located in the West Bay but also home to brands like Mango, Bath & Body Works, H&M and many more.
One thing is clear, in Doha shopping isn’t just a necessity but a pass time and one that all tourists should experience for themselves.
So weather you just have 24 hours or a little more, it’s definitely worth leaving the airport.