By Expedia, on November 22, 2019

What to do on a stopover in Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is a fascinating destination that offers endless opportunities for fun and adventure. From thrilling desert excursions to world-class art museums and high-end dining, there’s something for everyone. If you have a stopover at Hamad International Airport in Qatar, you can turn your fun vacation into a two-destination trip by exploring all that the city has to offer. Here’s what to do on a stopover in Doha, Qatar, for a memorable experience.

1. Visit the Pearl—Qatar

The Pearl—Qatar is a one-stop shop for all types of activities and experiences. The artificial island was constructed for luxurious high-rise hotels and rental properties, so there’s plenty of designer shopping destinations and excellent restaurants. You can spend a few hours perusing the offerings at the shops like Hugo Boss, Balenciaga, or Alexander McQueen, or enjoying al fresco dining on the waterfront in any number of international restaurants. There’s also a beach area where you can sunbathe, swim, paddleboard, or try any number of thrilling water sports.

the pearl
Trover Photo by The Visualente, The Pearl

2. Explore the Katara Cultural Village

Designed as a cultural beacon for the nation, the Katara Cultural Village offers something for everyone. It’s home to world-class galleries and halls, an opera house, vibrant gardens, and a classical Greek amphitheater. If you’re going to spend an evening in Doha on your stopover, the cultural village is a great place to enjoy dinner and a show before your late flight. Even if you only have a few hours, there’s still a lot to experience. You could see the Masjid of Katara, a spectacular masjid (mosque) designed with Turkish influences, and the Golden Masjid, an Ottoman-style masjid adorned with tiny golden chips. The planetarium will delight the kids, and you can visit the popular Katara Beach to try waterskiing, boating, parasailing, and other water sports.

katara cultural center
Trover Photo by Point & Shoot Wanderlust, Katara Cultural Center

3. Find thrills with a desert safari

If you have a full day to experience Doha, a desert safari is a memorable experience. You can take a tour of the vast Doha desert with experienced guides for dune bashing, sand boarding, and other exhilarating activities. Many tours also include ATV rides, or a visit to the inland sea. Tours provide delicious lunch options at desert camps and refreshments along the way to complete the trip. Be sure to bring a camera to take a lot of pictures of the surrounds, especially near the inland sea.

4. Shop at Souq Waqif

The Souq Waqif is one of Qatar’s most-visited destinations and a must-see during your stopover. The traditional market has endless passageways of stalls with vendors selling everything from jewelry and costumes to spices, gourmet delicacies, and traditional souvenirs. Within the market, you’ll find an array of themed areas to explore and the Gold Souq, a high-end jewelry market with ornate gemstone and gold bracelets, earrings, rings, and necklaces. Plenty of restaurants are found throughout Souq Waqif for a full meal or snacks, such as international restaurants, juice bars, and ice cream shops.

souq waqif
Trover Photo by Brett Steele, Souq Waqif

5. Stroll along the Corniche

Corniche, the stretch of waterfront on Doha Bay, is a lovely place to spend the afternoon. The walk is stunning all its own, with the sun shining on the water and the silhouette of the city in the background, but it also has many attractions along the way. You’ll find numerous cafés and restaurants to enjoy a quick bite or beverage, and there are beautiful parks to let the kids unwind and play for a while. The Museum of Islamic Art is near the Corniche, which has a vast collection of significant Islamic artwork from 3 continents. The architecture is a marvel in itself, designed by fame Louvre architect I.M. Pei. The museum’s park has Islamic sculpture to see as well.

6. Spend some time in the museums

Doha is a modern and luxurious city, but it celebrates its humble origins and culture with many museums dedicated to Qatari life and history. The National Museum of Qatar is a must-see attraction with rose-like architecture that shields visitors from the heat of the desert and a vast collection of national and regional treasures. Throughout the galleries, you’ll find an array of natural history artifacts from the Gulf area, historic exhibits, chronicles of the development of the Qatari state, displays about the oil boom, Bedouin historic artifacts, and more, so you can truly appreciate the culture.

Another must-see museum is Mathaf: The Arab Museum of Modern Art, which holds over 9,000 works of significance to Arab culture. The collection not only has works from the Arab world, but also contains important pieces from connected cultures, such as Turkey, India, and Iran. The artwork spans more than a century and contains everything from video and paper art to traditional paintings and sculpture.

7. Find unique gifts at City Center Doha or Villaggio Mall

Shopping is a fun pastime in Qatar, and there’s no better place than City Center Doha. The massive retail and leisure destination attracts thousands of visitors each season, especially with its proximity to the airport. It not only offers a diverse selection of local and international brands, but it also has plenty of restaurants and entertainment options. If you’re traveling with the kids, you’ll appreciate the center’s bowling alley, ice skating rink, cinema, and family entertainment center, as well as the various shows and events throughout the year.

The Villaggio Mall is another popular shopping destination for visitors and locals. It boasts an array of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Valentino, as well as local and regional brands and artisan shops. You’ll find restaurants, cafés, ice cream shops, and bakeries in the mall as well, so you can grab some food during your shopping trip. The kids will like Gondolania, a massive theme park with thrill rides, kiddie rides, and entertainment. The highlight of Gondolania is the Venetian-style gondola ride through the mall, which is a great experience for all ages.

Plan your excursion with Expedia

If you have a stopover in Doha and want to explore all the city has to offer, Expedia can help. Take a look at the deals on Doha hotels to prepare for your trip and make the most of your short time in the city! Interested in booking your own Qatar stopover? We’ve got you covered here.