Qatar’s compact size makes it the ideal destination for a flying visit.
Millions of transit passengers pass through Hamad International Airport (HIA) every year and Qatar receives a large number of business travellers. And now, nationals from at least 80 countries can take advantage of visa-free entry into Qatar, thanks to the new visa waiver upon arrival. Exploring Qatar’s culture and attractions has never been easier. Invite your friends and family to discover an authentic Arabian treasure in the heart of the Gulf — a land famous for its heritage, luxury and hospitality.
If you’re prepared to get up early and go to bed late, you can see much of what Qatar has to offer in just 48 hours. We’ve put together some themed itineraries to help you plan your stay — mix them up to create your ideal trip. If you’re a resident, maybe we can inspire you to try something new.
Start your day by taking a stroll down the Doha Corniche! The seven kilometres has the best view of the Doha skyline. A dhow trip is highly recommended during your short stay. See Doha from the sea with National Cruise, offering diverse cruise themes and voyages, which include food, sightseeing and day cruises. Doha’s Corniche is adjacent to the newly reopened and lush green Al Bidda Park. It’s Qatar’s biggest and first pet-friendly park, extending over an area of about two million square metres, boasting expansive landscape and flora, and featuring large gymnasiums, outdoor exercise equipment, open-air playgrounds, open theatre, barbeque stations, tracks for bicycles, horses and camels, and other recreational and service facilities.
Then enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, or even breakfast, at the nearby Fire Station café, Café 999. The station was built in 1982 as a Civil Defence building. It was occupied by the fire brigade until late 2012 when it was handed over to Qatar Museums (QM), to be recycled for contemporary use. The original details of the building and its tower have been preserved. Today, it stands as a creative space that allows emerging talent from within Qatar to further their practice, research, and work as aspiring professional artists.
Dedicate this day to also visiting the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Souq Waqif, Katara and The Pearl-Qatar – all must-see destinations in Qatar.
Located on the Doha Corniche, MIA is the country’s most celebrated museum, inviting people to learn about the full scope of Islamic art, across three continents and over 1400 years. Within the MIA space, you’ll find another gallery and exhibition centre, Al Riwaq, which holds art exhibitions to spark debate; and the MIA Park boasts lovely cafés as well as Richard Serra’s vertical steel sculpture, ‘7’.
Although Souq Waqif comes alive at night, it’s a beautiful place (and fortunately, less busy) during the day. It’s the perfect destination to experience the more historic and cultural side of Qatar with a variety of shops, restaurants and coffee shops as well as art galleries. Next destination, visit Katara for more cultural and artistic indulgence. It’s a great place to dine for lunch or dinner while taking in its exquisite architecture. Last but not least, take a drive around Qatar’s first and only artificial island spanning nearly four million square metres, The Pearl-Qatar. Get a taste of luxury at this extravagant residential district, swamped with high-end shops and restaurants.
Now that you’ve seen the ‘Top Places To See in Doha’, you have room to explore beyond the bustling city. Escape the heat at Mesaieed, an oasis of tranquility located amid the dunes of the Arabian Desert, embraced by the blue waters of the Arabian Gulf! Enjoy playing watersports and desert fun at Sealine Beach, A Murwab Resort then take a quad bike and sand bash in the dunes. If you still have time, Zekreet has something for everyone: fascinating geological features and ruins for the intrepid explorer, fabulous stretches of beach for a picnic or overnight camping, and favourable weather conditions for adrenalin junkies to engage in kite surfing and parasailing.
If you wish to stay in Doha and enjoy the waters within the city, spend the day at luxurious Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, Doha’s paradise island with a botanical garden, 800 metres of pristine private beach and spa menus.
If you’re looking to shop – Qatar’s favourite pastime – visit the country’s newest malls, Tawar Mall, Doha Festival City or Mall of Qatar.
Leaving so soon?
Besides being spoiled for choice, the award-wining Hamad International Airport (HIA) is a destination for art lovers as it is home to some of the most unique art pieces in the world. QM has worked with local, regional and international artists for over six years to commission and acquire artworks for key locations in and around HIA. The art comprises a mix of site-specific creations as well as pieces which have been carefully selected for the airport. The first international installation, ‘Lamp Bear’ by Swiss artist Urs Fischer, was installed in a prominent location in the centre of the airport. Dutch artist Tom Claassen has produced a series of sculptures of the Oryx, an antelope native to the Arabian Peninsula, which appear as a herd in the arrivals hall of the airport. The airport currently also houses ‘Arctic Nurseries of El Dorado’ by British artist Marc Quinn, and ‘Untitled’ by Italian artist Rudolf Stingel. Find out more about HIA and its art installations in Discovering Qatar in the latest issue of Marhaba Information Guide.
Other sights to see:
Museums: Msheireb Museums, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani (FBQ) Museum.
Mosques: State Grand Mosque also known as Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque; Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS) Mosque also known as the Education City Mosque; HIA Mosque; and at Katara, the Katara Masjid and Golden Masjid.
Others: Souq Waqif, Al Wakra; Qatar National Library (QNL); Aspire Park; Oxygen Park; Hotel Park and Zubarah Fort. There’s always more to see!
Touring options: Hop-on and Hop-off around Doha’s main landmarks with the Doha Bus while enjoying sightseeing around the city, whether day or night.
Dining options: Indulge in Lebanese cuisine at Assaha Village. Don’t leave without trying the best cookies in town, Camel Cookies! Grab karak with your cookies too. At The Pearl-Qatar, choose from Burj Al Hammam, Isla Mexican Kitchen Qatar, Urban Jazz Kitchen or Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar.
Enjoy a fully-packed visit to Qatar!
For more sightseeing tips, check out ‘Sightseeing’ in Discovering Qatar in the latest issue of Marhaba Information Guide.
Author: Ola Diab
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