If you're looking for things to do in Qatar, here's a guide to popular places & activities, there's always something for everyone.
6 October 2013| Last updated on 14 June 2017
There is a lot to do here in Qatar, you just have to get out there and find it. From shopping and outdoor activities to beaches and historical sights, Qatar has it all. Whether you're into finding out about the local culture or prefer being more adventurous, we've put together all the information you'll need to enjoy yourself while you're here.
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, a maze of tiny alleyways loaded with shops. They sell an array of goods from spices to shoes to traditional goods. This is also where the Falcon souq is located, a fascinating place housing some birds with price tags of QR 30,000 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.
SEE ALSO: Expat Social Clubs and Groups in Qatar
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 food courts. Malls here are incredibly clean and have free parking. There is no bargaining at the malls; the price you see is the price you pay. There are a good variety of shops here and also many well-known names such as Debenhams, Boots, Next, Marks and Spencer and BHS.
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.
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. If you have children, you can 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.
There are many outdoor activities to enjoy in Qatar, such as dhow trips, horse and camel racing and dune bashing. 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.
Qatar hosts some major sporting events, including the Qatar Open (attracting some of the biggest names in tennis) and the Qatar Masters Golf Tournament. Qatar also plays host to many other sporting events and the charge to watch these events is either free or minimal. Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making it the first Middle Eastern country to host the world cup.
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 pleasant place to stroll or jog and admire the ever developing skyline of Doha!
Beaches and Resorts
The Arabian Gulf extends across Qatar’s coastline with many wonderful beaches but only hotel-owned beaches have facilities. Many of the other beaches are isolated, so pack everything you need to have a good time. Almost all the beaches have shallow waters.
Sealine Resort is by far the most popular resort offering all the amenities and refreshments while boasting a beautiful coastline.
Simaisma Family Beach
A 30-minute drive from Doha, this beach is great for barbeques and family time. You can also enjoy the mangroves around, which play an important role in land preservation.
Al Khor Family Beach
This beach is also family-oriented, with many facilities, such as barbeque grills, bathrooms and showers. It's a 45-minute drive from Doha.
With white sand and turquoise water, this beach is stunning. There aren't many shops around though, so make sure to bring your own food and supplies. Depending on the season, this beach is home to the Hawksbill sea turtle hatching site, so a section of the beach will be fenced off since visitors aren't allowed to interact with the turtles. It is a longer drive however, ranging from one hour and a half to two hours from Doha.
SEE ALSO: Events going on in Qatar
This beach is open to both memers and walk-ins. A great place to bring your children, as there is a variety of games and activities for them to enjoy. Considering ti is a public beach, women should only wear one-piece bathing suits. Entrance fees are QR 50 for adults, with the exception of Thursdays and Fridays when it's only QR 25. Children under 6 get in for free and under those aged 6 to 16 years old get in for QR 25 any day.
Other popular beaches include Al Ghiriya, Al Thakhira, Dukhan, French Beach, Umm Bab and Ras Abrouq (great for camping!).
Forts, Museums and Mosques
Numerous forts and mosques can be found around Qatar, giving you a wonderful insight to the country's culture, history and heritage.
The Barzan Tower was built in the 19th 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 built on either side.
Al Ghuwair Castle
Situated about 85 km from Doha, Al Ghuwair Castle mostly consists of ruins. 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
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 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.
Jabal Al Jassassiya
The Jabal Al Jassassiya area is a mysterious one that has 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, lies the white fort built in 1927. The white North African style fort served to protect the souk and was a military base. Its distinguishing feature is the wall-less and roofless courtyard mosque, enabling the guards of the time to keep an eye on the praying prisoners. Visits can be arranged as the Fort is open by appointment only.
You might also be interested in:
Qatar National Museum
This is Qatar’s largest national museum that portrays Qatar’s local history, effectively giving you a glimpse into Qatar’s rich traditional past. It was built in 1907 as a residence for Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani. In the 1970s, it was restored and used as a museum. 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. You can also find an aquarium inside with Qatar-native marine creatures.
Museum of Islamic Art
This is the largest Islamic Art Museum in the world! It is one of the most monumental and important buildings of its type around the globe today. It has a distinguishable design and a unique location by the water. It's considered as a catalyst for Doha's vision to be a leading cultural and educational hub.
The State Grand Mosque
This mosque is one of the largest in Qatar and it's built with a mix of traditional Arabic and modern architecture. It features many domes, half-moons, a minaret and large outdoor spaces. It has been renamed after the great muslim theologian and pioneer Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab.
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 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.