Whatever your main interests, any visit to Qatar should include these must-see sights and must-do activities. Even if you’re only staying for a few days or hours, these are the places you should visit.
The Pearl harks back to Qatar’s early days as a popular destination for pearl divers, but this modern man-made island sits firmly in the future. Here you’ll find luxury hotels and designer shops offering spectacular views overlooking the ocean. Make sure to enjoy a meal or drinks at one of the many restaurants and cafe’s lining the coastline. You can also enjoy some water activities on the nearby beach, including sunbathing, paddle boarding and more extreme water sports.
The Corniche promenade is famous for it’s many restaurants and cafe’s overlooking the sparkling waters. The area is also popular with families as there are many parks dotted around. If you aren’t too rushed, a stop at the Museum of Islamic Art is also recommended. The building alone is worth interest – it was designed by IM Pei whose other notable works include the Louvre in Paris.
Lastly no visit to Qatar would be complete without a desert excursion. The Inland Sea, or Khor Al Adaid as the locals call it, offers a myriad of activities for visitors. These include dune bashing, camel rides, sand boarding and so much more. Visitors can also indulge in some water sports while they are there. The Inland Sea is a good two hours away from Hamad International Airport, so you’ll want to plan around when you want to visit. Luckily you can tick off many must-have experiences in this one location!
Find yourself more inclined to enjoying the cultural things in life? Then Qatar is your oyster!
Your first stop should definitely be the Katara Cultural Village with world-class galleries, an opera house and Greek Amphitheater. Dinner and a show are the obvious activities, but the Masjid of Katara is a stunning Turkish-inspired mosque that will intrigue any architecture lover.
Doha is also home to several museums, celebrating Qatari culture and history. The National Museum of Qatar is filled with historic artifacts from the Gulf region while Mathaf: The Arab Museum of Modern Art holds over 9 000 works of significance to Arab culture. The artworks spans more than a century, displays multiple artistic mediums and also includes works from India, Iran and Turkey.
The Museum of Islamic Art is not only a noteworthy building, but also houses metal work, ceramics, jewelry, wood work, textiles and glass obtained from three continents and dating from the 7th to the 20th century. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have a little more time to explore.
The Middle East has become synonymous with luxury shopping and Qatar is no exception. You’ll find all the luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Dolce & Gabanna, Gucci and Cartier have set up shop in Doha.
Villagio Mall sits within the Aspire Zone and is designed to replicate the canals of Venice. The mall is family friendly with cinemas and restaurants as well as luxury brands.
If you’re seeking more variety, the Mall of Qatar has over 500 retail stores for you to choose from! Make sure you don’t miss the Oasis, a 30 meter high atrium landscaped with plants and trees.
If you’re seeking a more authentic experience, then you have to stop by one of the local souks. Souq Waqif is among the most popular among tourists. Here you’ll find Middle Eastern-inspired jewellery, spices, textiles, perfumes and so much more.
Adventure & Sports
Qatar promises fun for the whole family, with activities on offer ranging from water sports to desert adventures and everything in between.
At the Inland See you can experience the best of both types of activities, with dune bashing, camel rides and a range of water sports on offer.
Many local tour operators and hotels with private beaches offer kite surfing. If you’re keen to try parasailing, wakeboarding, kayaking, diving or sailing – these activities can be arranged with tour operators at one of the many public beaches.
Desert safaris are also popular among tourists and if you’re seeking the ultimate adventure, you might even want to book a Bedouin-style camp site for an evening or two’s accommodation. You can even find some with all the modern luxuries, more akin to glamping.
Lastly no family holiday would be complete without a stop at the Desert Falls Water and Adventure Park. With over 60 rides, slides and attractions this is sure to be a popular stop with children.
If you’re a little more keen on beach lounging than an adventure, then you’ll want to make sure you visit all the best beaches. Qatar has a selection of both private and public beaches for visitors to enjoy.
Al Maroona Beach is one of the most popular public beaches in Qatar. It’s shallow waters and fine sand makes it popular with families and it’s just over an hour from Doha, making it easy to get to as well. Close to Al Maroona you’ll find Fuwairit beach with it’s crystal clear waters and powdery white sand. You might even be so lucky as to see the sea turtles hatch! Keep in mind that you’ll need to adhere to local cultural dress codes when bathing on a public beach.
If you’d like a more relaxed pace, then staying at one of the many beach resorts might be best for you. This is also a popular option for young families who don’t want to spend too much time on the road.
Salwa Beach Resort is located in Doha and offers visitors access to private beaches and loads of activities. This is the perfect family retreat. The Banana Island Resort by Anantara offers a more high-end experience and is only a 25-minute catamaran ride away from Doha. The private island has a surf pool, kids pool, several dining options and a Wellness Center.
In addition to the above, Qatar also often hosts world-class sporting events and can be a very family-friendly holiday destination. With so much to see and do in Qatar, one visit will almost certainly not be enough!