Qatar is a beautiful country, with a dramatic desert landscape and pristine beaches on the waters of the Arabian Gulf. It is one of the most popular destinations to visit at the moment, lauded by both Forbes Travel Guide and the New York Times. There is visa-free arrival for passport holders of more than 80 countries, and all visitors are guaranteed a warm welcome.
There are a multitude of reasons to visit Qatar this summer – here are just 10 of the best:
Keep the kids entertained
Qatar is a family-friendly country with most malls offering a play zone for all ages to enjoy. Kids can take part in activities ranging from trampolining at BOUNCE in Tawar Mall, to pretending to live in a child-sized city and being a doctor or firefighter at KidZania. Families should head to Doha Festival City to spend a fun-filled day at Angry Birds World, experience e-gaming on a new level at Virtuocity and experience winter at Qatar’s first snow-themed park ‘Snow Dunes’ opening in July. Entertainment City at DECC is also offering tons of family fun till 13 July with bouncy castles, exciting rides, skill games, video games, food, shopping and much more. If you want to spend your day outdoors but remain safe from the heat, visit Aqua Park, which is open throughout the summer with slide towers and a lazy river, amongst other attractions. Also make time to visit one of Qatar’s beautiful parks, which are perfectly maintained and offer a number of amenities.
A perfect time for R&R
For every taste and budget, visitors will delight in the wealth of options available. Visiting a spa can be a five-star experience, providing a one-stop shop for massages, facials and beauty services. Many spas offer traditional Middle Eastern rituals, where you can relax in a hammam (Turkish bath) or try a locally inspired treatment using natural products. Look out for special promotions to really enjoy your time in comfort as a wide range of hotels are offering up to 40% discounts throughout the season. Visit summerinqatar.qa for details.
Experience the old days
Visit the renovated Souq Waqif and new Souq Al Wakra, showing a glimpse of Qatar’s recent history. Souq Waqif is Qatar’s oldest trading area and is lined with alleyways, small stalls and shops selling spices, perfumes, souvenirs, artwork and much more. Alternatively take a trip to Souq Al Wakra, a new heritage village in Qatar’s second largest town. Stretching along 3 km of coastline, the Souq is divided into 10 zones with markets, restaurants, shops and a kid’s playground. Both Souqs feature luxurious boutique hotels by the Tivoli group, offering a great chance to sample local cuisine or have a pampering session.
Enjoy more than 500 km of coastline
Qatar has some of the best beaches in the region, and you are never too far away from being able to paddle your feet in the crystal blue waters of the Arabian Gulf. Many of the hotels in Doha offer access to a private beach, or why not go further afield and visit Mesaieed and the Inland Sea? The beaches are a great place to relax, although there are several activities from snorkelling to parasailing and boat rides to keep you entertained.
The impressive skyline of Doha
This is at its most impressive by taking a walk along Doha’s justly famous Corniche, a 7 km promenade affording excellent views of the city. The area comes alive at night, with lights twinkling on the multitude of chrome and glass buildings.
Some of these have been designed by some of the world’s most famous architects. Look out for the award-winning Doha Tower by Jean Nouvel, designer of the new National Museum of Qatar, and which is the sixth-tallest building in Doha.
The thriving food scene
With such a diverse population, there is a spectacular range of food styles available in the city. There is something for everyone – Arabic, Persian, Indian, Thai, French, Japanese, British, American, Mexican, vegan, gluten free, fast food, diet conscious – and just about everything else! New restaurants continue to open at the hotels by Michelin-starred chefs – try offerings by Gordon Ramsay, Richard Sandoval and Wolfgang Puck. Dine out around town and sample some of the best food imaginable.
For getting out and about
One way to see the country is to venture out beyond the capital city. Qatar has a surprisingly large amount of archaeological sites, forts and ruins to visit, such as Al Zubara Archaeological Site. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located 100 km outside of Doha, with remains of houses, mosques, buildings and a market. At Bir Zekreet, you can see formations known as hofuf, fluvial sandstones forming fascinating landscapes, and also Richard Serra’s public art installation ‘East-West/West-East’.
Taking a cultural tour
Doha is home to the world-famous Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), a majestic building on the Corniche designed by the late I M Pei. The collection includes ceramics, glass, textiles and jewellery. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Islamic Art, part of Qatar Foundation, has more than 9,000 works collected over the last 30 years representing artistic trends and modern art. The Fire Station Artist in Residence, located in a renovated civil defence building, is a unique open creative space for artists to produce their work. Also, visit the new National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. The striking building uses an interlocking disc design inspired by the desert rose; internally the building is just as impressive with 11 galleries, beginning in the geological period long before the peninsula was inhabited by humans and continuing to the present day.
Get on board the Doha Metro!
The Doha Metro Red Line South opened to commuters in May 2019 and is already a huge success. Enjoy the high-speed metro to a number of convenient stations – within minutes you can be at Katara Cultural Village, Al Dafna business district, Souq Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art, or Souq Al Wakra.
Explore Qatar’s ‘mini-cities’
Some magnificent suburbs can be found just a few kilometres outside Al Dafna, the business district of the capital city. Msheireb Downtown Doha is the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project on a 31-hectare site. Here you can find Msheireb Museums, which celebrate the history of four historic heritage houses, and two recently opened five-star hotels. Katara Cultural Village is a vast multidimensional project that aims to bring together all the cultures of the world. Set in beautiful landscaping, there are theatres, concert halls, art galleries, restaurants and cafes, a planetarium, and a Nordic-inspired beach club and spa. Just further on from Katara Cultural Village is The Pearl-Qatar, a man-made island with residential towers, luxury villas, a five-star hotel, famous name boutiques and restaurants, and a multitude of leisure and entertainment facilities.