There are more things to do and see in Qatar than you might imagine, and so if you only have a short time here, plan your time wisely. You will find a number of architectural masterpieces, beautifully landscaped green spaces and much more to explore while out and about. Here are just 10 recommended landmarks and attractions that you should visit while in Qatar.
Katara Cultural Village
Spend a lazy few hours at Katara Cultural Village, where visitors can admire the architecture, visit the galleries or enjoy watersports at the 1.5 km-long beach. Katara is located on the waterfront just a few kilometres north of Doha. Some important landmarks to look out for are the amphitheatre, the pigeon towers, and the Opera House. A recent addition is Al Thuraya Planetarium, the first in Qatar. Walking around you’ll find works of art including Lorenzo Quinn’s Force of Nature and Gandhi’s Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta. Gastronomes will enjoy first-class dining at one of the many restaurants and cafés.
This distinctive waterfront development of reclaimed land is located on Doha’s northern shore, just a short distance from Katara. The mixed‑use residential and commercial development, with its mix of Mediterranean and Arabic influences, is home to international retail brands and lifestyle outlets offering everything from refreshing ice lollies to designer furniture and artwork. There are plenty of cafés and coffee shops for a drink or sandwich, or spend some time enjoying al fresco dining and the different cuisines available. The development has some unusual landscaping with extensive walking areas and family zones.
A cultural hotspot, Souq Waqif includes a covered labyrinth lined with shops and stalls selling spices, dried fruits and nuts, textiles, clothing, Arabic oud and incense, souvenirs, and much more. Getting lost and enjoying the atmosphere is a fun way to spend a morning or an evening. Remember to haggle with the shopkeepers! There is also an art centre, falcon souq, stables, and a number of restaurants. Alternatively stop at one of the luxury five-star hotels for a spot of pampering if you need reviving after all that shopping and eating! The shops generally open from 10 am –10pm, with a break from 12-4pm. Restaurants and cafés, however, remain open all day until late.
Souq Al Wakra
Built to look old and traditional, Souq Al Wakra (Heritage Village) gives one a feeling of having stepped into the past. The small shops in the complex resemble traditional Qatari buildings, featuring walls with a mud coating and classic wooden doors and lanterns, while the roofs are made of palm leaves. The souq also houses a mosque with gates and a walkway made of wood and a well, and a five-star hotel built around former heritage houses. Souq Al Wakra welcomes visitors to swim or relax on its beach daily from 10 am – 6 pm. You’ll find Souq Al Wakra when travelling southward from Doha on the road to Mesaieed. The shops generally from 10 am –10pm, with a break from 12-4pm., while most restaurants and cafés remain all day until late.
One of Qatar’s biggest parks is behind Hyatt Plaza in Al Waab district. The vast expanse of green gardens and baobab trees contains a large lake with ducks and geese, football fields, a multi‑surface 3 km walking/jogging track and fitness equipment. There is plenty of parking and free Wi‑ Aspire Play Park has two sandy areas, fitness stations and paved areas for cycling, roller‑skating and skateboarding which can be used at night thanks to solar‑powered lighting. The ‘smart park’ has introduced the first smart benches, which use renewable energy and advanced technology, and provide wireless chargers, USB ports, Wi-Fi access points and an integrated cooling system which keeps seats cool during the hot summer days. Look out for Perceval, a public art installation by Sarah Lucas, featuring a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Shire horse pulling a cart overflowing with two oversized marrows – it’s a great photo opportunity! The park is open 24/7, the restaurants and restrooms 8 am – 10 pm.
This is a popular destination for walkers and runners as the path curves along the waterfront from the port to Hotel Park, next to the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. The Corniche is one of the most beautiful in the Middle East, with its many grassy areas and views of the turquoise water of Doha Bay. There are bicycles available for rent, a children’s play area, fitness stations, café and restaurants, and free Wi‑Fi. Traditional dhow boats dock along the 7 km‑long Corniche for visitors to enjoy a ride on the sea day or night.
Al Bidda Park
Qatar’s first pet-friendly park is the biggest green space in the country. On the opposite side of the road to Doha Corniche, the park provides a peaceful escape from the busy city. For those feeling active, there are opportunities galore: running and cycling tracks, a human maze, gymnasiums, outdoor exercise equipment, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, playgrounds, an open theatre that seats 850 people, as well as horse and camel rides, water areas, barbecue areas and beautiful landscaping. There are also buggies to help visitors move around the park comfortably. The park is approximately 1.25 million sq m and has underground parking for 6,000 cars. Look out for Al Bidda Street – the unique ‘red road’ which runs through the park. The park is open 24/7.
Al Zubarah Archaeological Site
A historic coastal town, Al Zubarah is approximately 100 km northwest of Doha. Founded in the mid-18th century, the town was a centre for pearling and international trade, becoming the country’s largest and most important settlement. This success attracted the attention of other Gulf powers, and after several attacks the town was eventually burned to the ground in 1811. It never fully recovered and was abandoned by the mid-20th century.
Al Zubarah Archaeological Site is Qatar’s largest heritage site, covering an area of 60 hectares with the remains of houses, mosques, large fortified buildings and a market. It has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of an 18–19th century merchant town in the Gulf region. With the help of international and local archaeologists and scientists, the site of Al Zubarah, offers a key to understanding Qatar’s cultural identity and a model to explain the history of the pearl trade which was a significant factor in the development of the modern Gulf region. Open daily 9 am – 5 pm.
Khor Al Adaid (The Inland Sea)
Situated 60 km from Doha, Khor Al Adaid is one of Qatar’s finest treasures and a tourist hotspot. The UNESCO natural reserve is best reached by four‑wheel‑where visitors can enjoy the crescent‑shaped sand dunes that rise above the shallow tidal lake. Khor Al Adaid is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, particularly Arabian gazelles and certain species of birds. Local tour companies organise day trips and overnight camps and provide drives along the dunes, as well as picnics, barbecues, folkloric entertainment, camel riding and sandboarding.
National Museum of Qatar
Designed by world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, the new 40,000 sq m NMoQ building opened to the public in March 2019. Its interlocking disc design was inspired by the desert rose. The museum is one of most significant cultural projects and a recognisable landmark in country full of stunning architecture. Appearing to grow organically out of the ground, NMoQ’s structure surrounds the former Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani – his family home and seat of the government for 25 years. The museum is organised in three ‘chapters’ – Beginnings, Life in Qatar, and Building the Nation – presented in 11 galleries. The visitor’s chronological journey, which extends through more than 2.7 km of experiences, starts in the geological period long before the peninsula was inhabited by humans and continues to the present day. Oral histories, archival images, artworks, music and storytelling contextualise the impressive array of archaeological and heritage objects as well as manuscripts, documents, photographs, jewellery and costumes.
Opening times: Saturday – Thursday 10 am – 9 pm; Friday 1:30 pm – 7 pm; Saturday 10:30 am – 7 pm
Admission: Free admission for Qatar residents (with Qatar ID), and children aged 16 and below; QAR25 for students (with student IDs); QAR50 for non-residents