Qatar is a huge country with so much to do and see, we have put togther a list of our top picks.
22 July 2013| Last updated on 15 June 2017
There is a lot to do here in Qatar, you just have to get out there and find it!
The Corniche is a focal point in Qatar and runs for seven kilometres alongside the coast from Ras Abu Abboud to the Sheraton Hotel. It's a great place to exercise, take your bike out for a spin or to just go for a jog. many people have leisurely strolls along the corniche and admire the ever developing skyline of Doha! There are many ongoing activities from exercise, to picnics, kids playing and people fishing that make the corniche a wonderful and peaceful place to visit.
Al Bida Park
This breathtaking park is located in Downtown Doha and is a wonderful sight of calm in this busy concrete jungle. The park is a vision of bright green lawns and tall palm trees gently blowing in the breeze. The park has become ever popular with families as it is picnic friendly. There is also a vast amount of space for the children to run around and play to their heart's content. The lake in the park's center is perfect for a stroll and quite calming to just gaze at. The park plays home to many exhibitions which are a must see attraction for residents and tourists alike. Entry into Al Bida is free and it's open 24 hours a day, perfect for a nighttime jog.
Doha Zoo, Al Furousiya St, Hyatt Plaza Mall | Salwa Road South
The zoo was closed to the public last August for expansion and renovation. This closure is said to be indefinite but according to security guards who work there the zoo is only set to reopen in a couple of years time. We will keep you updated as the renovations pregress.
The souqs are a must to visit; you will need time to familiarize yourself with them as there are numerous souqs around Qatar. The most famous are the ‘old souqs’ more commonly known as Souq Waqif, which is a maze of tiny alley ways loaded with shops, whose wares are spilling out onto the pavement. They sell an array of goods from spices to shoes and traditional Arabic goods. This is also where the falcon souq is located, a fascinating place housing some birds with price tags of QR30,000 and more!
The gold souqs are located behind the Alfardan Centre which is just off of Grand Hamad Street. They are a collection of jewellery shops selling an amazing array of gold and jewels. You can also get any piece of your own design made or take along a picture of a well-known piece and one of the skilled craftsmen will copy it. Gold in Qatar is much cheaper than in many other countries and a visit to the souqs will ensure you return home with a unique piece.
There are now a good variety of malls in Doha and strolling through them is a favourite pastime, especially during the summer. Many supermarkets are located within malls and all have restaurants and/or food courts. Malls here are incredibly clean and have free parking where for around QR10 you can get your car cleaned while you shop! There is no bartering at the malls, the price you see is the price you pay and in some of the designer shops goods don’t even have a price tag! A case of if you have to ask you can’t afford it?! There are a good variety of shops here and also many well known names such as Debenhams, Boots, Next, Marks and Spencer and Bhs.
The largest mall is Villaggio which not only has its own ice rink and bowling alley but its own canal where you can ride on a gondola! Malls that have cinemas are City Centre, Landmark, Royal Plaza, The Mall and coming soon to Villaggio. Most malls also have a soft play area or amusement arcade for children which are essential in the hot summer months when you need to get the children out!
Friday brunches are a favourite with expats as the majority of shops don’t open until the afternoon. Most of the top hotels do a wine or champagne inclusive brunch and along with fresh lobster, giant prawns and chocolate fondue fountains they really must be seen to be believed. A Friday brunch is not something to be rushed as there are so many delicious dishes to try, if you have children take them along as many of the hotels have a supervised children’s play area. Some of the more popular hotels are the Four Seasons, InterContinental, Marriott, Movenpick, Sharq Village, Sheraton and The Ritz-Carlton.
Beaches and Resorts
Qatar is home to some of the world’s top named five star hotels and with an ever growing tourist industry many new hotels are currently under construction.
The Arabian Gulf extends across Qatar’s coastline with many wonderful beaches but only Hotel owned beaches have any facilities. Many of the other beaches are isolated so pack everything you need to have a good time. A First Aid kit may come in handy. Almost all the beaches have shallow waters; known beaches are Al Ghiriya Beach, Al Thakhira Beach, Dukhan Beach, French Beach, Fuwairit Beach, Ras Abouq Beach and Umm Bab Beach.
Sealine Resort is by far the most popular resort offering all the amenities and refreshments while boasting a beautiful coastline.
For an exhilarating and dizzying experience, dunebashing in Qatar is the answer. Khor Al Udeid boasts some impressive dunes reaching 50 meters in height. Ascending and descending on these seemingly vertical sand walls is sure to cause even the most brave to whimper. No doubt the best way to experience Dunebashing is with an experienced driver. Read more on dune bashing here>>
Forts and Mosques
Numerous Forts and Mosques can be found around Qatar giving you a wonderful insight to the countries culture, history and heritage.
Borj Barzan Fort
Borj Barzan Fort was built in the 19 Century to protect the water reservoir in the Umm Salaam Mohamed area. To facilitate this protection two distinguishable watch towers jutting about 20 metres high were erected on either side. The fort is located 85km from the capital city.
Al Ghuwair Castle
Situated about 85 km from Doha, Al Ghuwair Castle these days mostly consists of ruins. It is regarded as one of the major icons of the Middle East. The thick 130 cm walls are still visible in some parts giving the visitor an idea of what it looked like in the 19th century. Seemingly, due to its structure the castle was primarily used as a residential building. It is popular for its architectural style which is common throughout the Middle East.
Al Rekiyat Fort
Not much is known about this fort, the structure simply consists of the traditional square with 3 circular towers about 12 m high. It was constructed between the 17th and 19th centuries and restored in 1988. The fort represents historical architecture in Qatar. It is located 110km from Doha and is open to the public.
Umm Salal Mohamed Fort
Built in the 19th Century about 25 km north of Doha stands the Umm Salal Mohamed Fort. The solid structure with large impermeable walls was designed as a residential Fort.
Local fisherman and Pearl divers built this mosque in 1938. The Mosque was built with an unusual design of overlapping raw pieces of coral rock and limestone. The roof was finished with a layer of compressed mud. This mosque served a dual function as it served as a place for prayer, but also a center for education. The original prayer area is situated on the west side of the courtyard and the original educational area is just in front of it. The school area today serves as the home of the ‘Muezzin’, who is responsible for the call to prayer.
Prayers are still conducted in this mosque till today and visitors are advised not take pictures or enter during prayer times.
Al Zubarah Fort and Town
This abandoned town dating back to the 17th century was once a prosperous fishing and pearling town. Many of its early inhabitants migrated from Iraq and Persia. After several invasions in the 18th century the city was finally destroyed. Archaeological digs have begun and already there have been artefacts and ruins discovered. Al Zubara Fort is a famous archaeological site. The fort was built in 1938 during the reign of Sheik Abdullah bin Jassim al Thani. The structure has high impermeable walls forming a square with huge Circular towers located at the corners. The fort served as a military base until recently.
The Jabal Al Jassassiya area is a mysterious one that has abstruse petro glyphs and rare stone carvings. Similar rock carvings have been found in Italy (Val Camonica), Norway (Alta) and Kazakhstan (Tamgaly); however, the collections found at Al Jassassiya are bewildering and are in excellent condition. Do some research on the other petro glyphs as guides are not always available, this will help you have a deeper understanding and make the visit more more enjoyable.
Al Koot Fort
On the Corner of Jasmin bin Mohammed and al Qalaa Street, close to Souk Waqif, Doha, lies the white fort built in 1927. The white North African style fort served to protect the souk and was a military base. It's distinguishing feature is the wall-less and roofless courtyard mosque enabling the guards of the time to keep an eye on the praying prisoners. Al Koot Fort is now a museum featuring Qatari handicrafts, products and photographs of daily life. The Fort is open to the public, however it is closed on Friday mornings. Contact number: 4442 4143
Qatar National Museum
This is Qatar’s largest national museum that portrays Qatar’s local history, effectively giving you glimpse into Qatar’s rich traditional past. It was built in 1907 as a residence for Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al- Thani. In the 1970’s it was restored and used as a museum. Its restoration won the Agha Khan Award for Renovation Excellence. It displays archaeological relics, a military exhibition from the ruling family and a beautiful reconstruction of a traditional Bedouin tent. The Museum is situated on the Corniche close to the perfume bottles round-about. Contact Number: 4444 2191.
Art and Architecture
Qatar offers a very dynamic art scene with some local and international artists exhibiting their work at the galleries. Exhibitions normally occur monthly. Al Markhiya www.almarkhiyagallery.com is a very popular art gallery based in Doha and has an extensive local exhibition. Some hotels have exquisite art displayed in their foyers, like the Four Seasons Hotel.
Museum of Modern Art opens in Qatar. Qatar's victorious bid to host the 2022 football world cup has put the tiny gulf state on the map. And now the international art world has travelled to the capital Doha for the opening of a new museum of modern Arab art. The works on display include those of an Iraqi artist, who has come up with a unique way of chronicling every moment of his life.
The best-known theatrical company in Qatar is Doha Players. Made up of keen amateurs (some of whom are very talented) and volunteers, the group has been staging English-language productions in the capital for over 50 years. As a result of the bombing in March 2005, they no longer have their own theatre, but the company has raised funds to rebuild and is now drawing up plans. In the meantime, Doha Players have been using various venues around Doha including Garveys, Doha Sailing Club and for bigger productions like the annual pantomime and musicals, the College of the North Atlantic. Read more about the Doha Players>>
Al Markhiya Gallery
The gallery was established to showcase Arab art both on a national and an international level. It is located in the Souq Waqif.
The gallery was established in 2008. Its season runs from September through to June. During this period exhibitions are rotated every four to six weeks. During the summer season the gallery exhibits their permanent collection.
See Sporting and Activities for information on how you can participate and play sports.