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Doha City Guide

Immerse yourself in Doha's sights, sounds, experiences, and hidden gems.

Welcome to Doha

Picture an impressive skyline with buildings that are so innovative they verge on being works of art, and a waterfront promenade that effortlessly houses the traditional alongside the ultra-modern.

Welcome to Doha, one of the most exciting cities in the Middle East.

Doha has risen out of the desert, fuelled by innovation and an energetic passion. The result is a city that has very quickly transformed from a humble pearl diving and fishing village to one of the most important and dynamic destinations in the Middle East. The Qatari capital is the base for multi-billion-dollar businesses, glamorous malls, and a myriad of attractions. Home to people from all cultural backgrounds, Doha stands out with its booming cultural diversity. 

This guide will give you great tips on where to eat and what to do in Doha, so you can explore Doha like a local, without missing out on any of its main highlights and landmarks. Browse this guide and find a wealth of information on what to do in Doha, how to get around in Doha and much more as you plan your visit to the city.

  • History of Doha

    For centuries, Doha was a fishing village known for its pearl trade. The country’s pearl divers were famed for their skill in finding the largest and most perfectly formed pearls, and the original village (which was known as Al Bidda) was also a busy fishing port for generations.

    With the wealth gained from the oil trade in the 20th century, Doha became one of the key commercial centres for the entire region. Today, it is the economic and metropolitan centre of the State of Qatar and an epicentre for business and finance in the Middle East.

    The meaning of 'Doha'


    The word 'Doha' or ‘Ad-Dawha’ in Arabic literally translates to ‘the magnificent tree’. However, in certain dialects in the region, the term is derived from the word 'Dawh', commonly used to refer to round shapes, including the curved gulf surrounding the city. 

    Interesting landmarks

    1. The inland sea Known as Khor Al Udeid, this seawater within the desert is a favourite destination among locals and tourists alike.
    2. 'The Pearl' A unique man-made mixed-use development with a host of entertainment facilities. Its connection to the ancient pearl diving village that founded Doha is marked by a magnificent water feature of a giant pearl in a clam shell.
    3. Qatar National Library The magnificent dome-shaped building houses thousands of books and features reading spaces, children areas and a range of other facilities.

    4. The Museum of Islamic Art

    Sitting on its own man-made island, the building stands out as an architectural masterpiece, combining classical elements of Islamic architecture and housing a magnificent collection of historic Islamic artefacts.

  • Doha is such a vibrant city with so much to see and do that one visit is never enough. The best way to make the most of every visit is to plan carefully. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy one of the Middle East's most incredible cities to its full potential. 

    When to Visit Doha

    Qatar has a desert climate, therefore almost all buildings in Qatar are climate controlled. January, February and March see comfortable temperatures of between 22-27°C, and November and December are also in the low-20s. Doha can experience rain, particularly from December through to April.

    During the summer months, the temperature can hit 40°C, although the mercury has been known to climb up to nearly 50°C in July and August. If you prefer to visit during milder temperatures,  then the winter months are ideal for a visit.

    Districts in Doha

    Despite the incredible rate of development, Doha is still a relatively compact city, so finding your way around is quite straightforward.

    There are around 60 districts in Doha, many of which are residential areas further away from the city centre. If you are visiting for business then West Bay (the main commercial district) is right in the heart of the city,  and is where you will find the headquarters of some of the country's largest businesses, particularly those in the petroleum, oil, and gas industries.

    • Along the Corniche Road, you will find the city’s major landmarks, such as Souq Waqif, The Pearl, Katara Cultural Village, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Corniche promenade, within close proximity to each other. They can be easily reached by the many cabs available in the city.
    • Doha’s West Bay area is filled with incredible architecture, towering skyscrapers, and cutting-edge concept buildings, and is home to some of the country's leading corporations. 
    • Al Sadd Street in the centre of Doha and the area surrounding it also present a plethora of dining and entertainment options, and is a well-frequented spot for walking or eating out. This major street in Doha spawns into several side streets lined with Arabic and speciality restaurants, as well as shopping centres and shops selling everything from mobile accessories to fabrics and clothes.

    Image of a wheelchair

    Accessibility


    When it comes to travellers with special needs, Doha offers several accessibility features. All the hotels offer accessible rooms, and Kidzania Doha, an interactive play centre for 4-14 year olds, is especially designed to be accessible to wheelchair users and disabled children.

    Other accessible venues include the Museum of Islamic Art, Al Khor Park, the Mall of Qatar, and Katara Cultural Village.

  • Doha is an ever-evolving city, and its glittering skyscrapers are populating the skyline with incredible speed. The city is energetic and full of vibrancy, making it an enticing destination for both leisure and business travellers.

    You can pack in as much (or as little) as you want to for a holiday in the city, so here’s a quick run through of the more interesting (and some of the more unusual) sights and things to do in and around Doha.

    The Museum of Islamic Art

    This stunning building, sitting proudly on its own purpose-built island, houses some of the richest treasures and finest Islamic artworks, and has a dedicated library for Islamic Art. The museum hosts several exhibitions throughout the year, along with shows, musical concerts and open-air cinemas during the cooler months. 

    It is also surrounded by its own park, where you can do boat pedalling, have a picnic (you can purchase a ready-made picnic basket), or take a stroll or go on a bicycle ride (bicycles are available for rent). The park also houses its own cafés and kiosks overlooking the stunning Corniche skyline.

    The Pearl

    A man-made island on the banks of  the Arabian Gulf, The Pearl is full of the finest restaurants, shopping outlets and cinemas, and offers visitors and residents a glamorous location to live, work, and play. The Pearl is named after the city’s original pearl-diving trade that made Qatar famous and its construction has created nearly 32km of new coastline.

    The Pearl houses different precincts, including Medina Centrale (hosting a wide range of culinary options), Porto Arabia (with breath-taking views across the marina), and the colourful Venetian Quarter, known as Qanat Quartier, which is modeled after the famous Italian city. The area’s waterfront Corniche is breath-takingly beautiful and full of dining and shopping outlets.

    Katara

    Culture is incredibly important in Doha, and to that end the Katara Cultural Village was built as a hub for culture and arts in the country. Katara is home to a drama theatre, an opera house, an amphitheatre, and halls and galleries hosting several shows and exhibitions year-round. You can discover more about up-and-coming artists and photographers at the Katara Art Center, or the Qatar Fine Arts Association gallery.

    The development also offers visitors a variety of dining options with both high-end restaurants and side kiosks catering for all tastes and budgets, and is overall regarded as a fantastic venue for walking or going out.

    Souq Waqif

    The city’s souqs are famous for their energy and variety. The biggest has to be the Souq Waqif, which has been a trading spot for centuries. Don’t forget to look up occasionally, and catch a glimpse of the unusual umbrella ceiling.

    Within Souq Waqif lies the Falcon Souq, where you will find exquisite, and often expensive, falcons for sale. With falconry being a well-revered sport and a preserved tradition in Qatar, this market features a variety of stores selling falconry supplies and accessories. Next door is the falcon hospital, dedicated specifically to treating these precious birds. 

    Hidden gems


    Doha is packed with hidden places to discover. If you would like to experience the city like a local, take a trip to the camel feeding pens at the Corniche end of Al Jasra Street, and later walk to the nearby Bird Souq to see colourful birds on display.  

    For a little bit of history, rent a car and head to Al Zubarah city ruins on the northwestern coast of Qatar – which was once a pearl and fishing port, and today is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site  – and home to the impressive Al Zubarah Fort. 

    Doha’s mosques are spectacular and offer everyone a warm welcome. Head for the Education City Mosque, a stand-out architectural building with a breathtaking exterior, or visit the State Grand Mosque, one of the city’s largest places of worship, and a haven of tranquillity and peace in an otherwise buzzing city.

    Inland sea

    Rapidly growing as a tourist spot in Qatar is its magnificent inland sea, known as ‘Khor Al Udeid’. This beautiful natural wonder lies about 100km south of Doha, and is frequently the destination of day trips organised by tour operators.
    Consider joining one of these trips to explore the sea and its sand dunes. Be sure to ride with a professional driver or tour operator as the last stretch of the route is off-road and requires some experience to navigate.

    Beaches

    The best beaches can be found north of Doha; head to Al Khor beach, Simaismah Beach or Fuwarit Beach; all popular destinations for a quick day trip outside Doha.

    Closer to the city is the Katara Beach at Katara Cultural village, a perfect place for a paddle with the kids, while several hotels in West Bay and the Pearl also offer beach access.

    Sports in Doha


    The Sports City complex, also known as the Aspire Zone, is a fantastic sports village that includes an Olympic-size swimming pool, the Khalifa International stadium, and the Aspire dome, the world’s largest indoor multi-purpose sports hall with 13 different playing zones all under one roof. The 2.5sq kilometre complex houses its own park, fully equipped with a walking and running trail, open green spaces and a café at the edge of the lake.

    Al Bidda Park is another frequented spot among athletes. The large and newly renovated park features cycling and running tracks, a tennis court, a skating corner, as well as gymnasiums and outdoor exercise equipment. 

    Doha for families

    The 1.5km Katara Beach, with powder-soft sand and warm blue water, is perfect for paddling. Restaurants and cafés welcome children, with most providing a children's menu. Hotels in Doha also provide babysitting and crèche facilities, while malls house numerous entertainment facilities for kids.

    Open spaces

    Doha also has multiple open spaces, perfect for your littles ones burn off some energy;

    - The Hotel Park along Corniche Road offers plenty of green spaces, fountains and play areas.

    - Dahl Al Hamam Park is also a favourite among families, with multiple playgrounds and dedicated skating facilities.

    - Al Bidda park, too, is not only pet-friendly, but also features a human maze and various playgrounds.

    A brief stopover

    If you’re in Doha for a short stop (perhaps between flights, or just for a short business trip), opt for a pre-bookable city or desert tour.

    Choose from a range of activities to help you experience Qatar during your stopover. These include the popular Doha City Tour, where you can hop on a tour bus that takes a three-hour trip around the city’s key locations, including The Pearl, Katara Cultural Village, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the famous Souq Waqif with its quirky umbrella roof and bustling stalls.

    In addition, try Monster Bus Desert Experience, Private Desert Safari, Stop & Shop and chauffeur services to explore Qatar at your own pace. 

    Qatar Airways passengers who wish to take the advantage of the Discover Qatar Transit Tours can pre-book here or visit the Discover Qatar Transit Tours desk at Hamad International Airport with their valid passports and boarding passes for their onward travel.*

    *Terms and conditions apply.

     

    Learn more
  • Doha is home to some of the world’s finest restaurants offering international cuisines and local Arabic cooking. The city welcomes millions of travellers every year, so there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, cafés and more for you to explore.

    Here is some insider information on where to eat to experience the authentic flavours of Doha, as well as where you can find the best hotels in the city.

    Cuisine


    Qatari cuisine is inspired by the flavours and spices of the region and if you are looking to sample some authentic local food, try ‘Harees’, a much cherished, porridge-like dish in the Gulf area made of cooked wheat mixed with meat. Another flavourful dish and regional staple to sample is Machboos, which is made from  spiced chicken and rice.

    Home to people from all around the world, when it comes to international cuisine choices, Doha is certainly not lacking. With a host of restaurants offering everything from Italian and French cuisine to African and Asian delights, Doha truly is a haven for international gastronomy. 

    Souq Waqif is a particularly famous place with a wide variety of cuisine choices. From quick bites such as Turkish Kumpirs (stuffed baked potatoes) and falafel sandwiches to more elaborate dishes in casual and more upmarket restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice with the variety of flavours on offer.

    Other delicacies


    If you have more of a sweet tooth, then you are in luck when in Doha. Middle Eastern sweets are famous for their variety and often include honey and different types of nuts. You can try regional pastries at most Arabic cuisine restaurants and cafés. Try an assortment of nut-filled or chocolate-coated dates. 

    Ramadan and experiencing Iftar


    During the month of Ramadan Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Ramadan usually lasts for around 30 days, and ends with a huge celebration in Eid Al Fitr, when the new moon appears. You will find that some businesses operate shorter working hours from 9am to 2pm, although most international businesses will continue to operate as normal.

    During Ramadan, most restaurants are closed at lunchtime, with a few exceptions offering take-out or delivery options for people who are not fasting.

    Once the sun goes down, Doha turns into a food lover’s haven. Ramadan is a very sociable and family-oriented month, and you will find lavish buffets and meals on offer after dusk at hotels and restaurants, with ornate Arabian-inspired and themed decorations in ‘Ramadan tents’. This evening meal is known as 'Iftar' and is a wonderful opportunity to sample traditional Arabic cuisine.

    You will normally hear a canon firing to indicate the end of the daily fast. Keep a lookout for nightly football matches, evening shows and celebrations, especially at the end of the month.

    Hotels for business and leisure visitors


    The West Bay area is where you will find the majority of Doha's world-renowned hotels, and this part of the city is also conveniently close to the main highlights such as the The Pearl, Souq Waqif and the Museum of Islamic Art.  

    Many of the hotels in the city offer suites and apartments, so if you are travelling with a larger party or are staying for a longer duration, these would be ideal for business or leisure trips. 

Entry options to Qatar

              

Visa-free arrival


Nationals from a total of 80 countries* can now take advantage of visa-free entry into Qatar, thanks to our new visa waiver upon arrival. 

*Terms and conditions apply

Learn more

Qatar Tourist Visa


Discover Qatar. Where culture meets luxury.

Whether you prefer to enjoy world-class restaurants, shop in ultra-modern malls with the latest luxury brands or take a stroll down the bustling alleys of traditional souqs, Qatar has something to offer everyone.

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