48 hours in Doha
With an impressive new airport unveiled in May 2014 and Qatar Airways’ increasing destination portfolio, there is sure to be an influx of transit passengers passing through Doha. These travelling families and corporate colleagues will expect to be entertained and so we have put together a taste of the city that can be squeezed into just 48 hours.
The Inland Sea in a 4x4 (4 hours)
Whether you are already familiar with the Arabian Desert or not, the half day tour to the Inland Sea just outside of Doha is a must. The exhilarating 4x4 ride over the sand dunes takes you to a perfect Bedouin camp by the seashore, which is deal for morning tea and a quick dip with a glimpse of Saudi Arabia across the water.
A four-hour trip costs QR240 per person.
Qatar International Adventures (QIA)
+974 4455 3954
Afternoon (2 hours)
Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
Located in a striking building designed by the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei and built on an artificial island just off the Corniche, this is a stop for the young and old alike. The architecture is just as delightful on the inside and the museum exhibits all kinds of artwork from calligraphy to carpets. Family and group tours can be booked in advance where experienced staff will guide you through each room and even tailor-make the presentation to suit the audience in question (children are most welcome). The MIA café is located in the central hall of the building with its high ceilings and lovely tall glass windows overlooking the sea and West Bay. It will be hard to say no to the French specialties and signature creations on offer!
Opening times: 10:30-17:30 daily except Tuesdays and 14:00-20:00 on Fridays
Sunset and dinner (4 hours)
Located in the West Bay, this cultural village consists of an amphitheatre, a heritage centre, libraries, art galleries, museums and academic facilities but, arguably, its biggest draw is its array of restaurants, cafes and ice-cream parlours. It only takes a few hours to wander around while you sip on your chai or gahwa (local tea and coffee), which you can buy from street vendors. Otherwise, hop on a complimentary buggy, which will take you around each area to help you decide where to dine
Its traditional Qatari architecture and alleyways provide a perfect location to have a stroll and relax in the tranquil surroundings. It regularly stages outdoor concerts and performances by local groups, such as the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, and also hosts events such as the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
Katara even has a wonderful beach packed with activities from parasailing, pedal boats to jet-skis. On this public beach, however, women are required to dress modestly (covered shoulders and up to the knee). There is an entrance fee of QR 100 per adult and QR 50 per child (water sports facilities not included).
There are so many restaurants at Katara–Indian, Turkish, Egyptian, Italian and more–you will really be spoilt for choice. But if a sit down dinner is not what you are after, then pick up a shawarma or a plate of fish and chips for QR 20 and sit on the steps of the magnificent amphitheatre to watch the sunset before heading off to the Jazz Club at the El Cigar Lounge for a touch of the blues before bed.
After Dinner Treats (3 hours)
If sunset jazz is not your style and you would like to enjoy a stronger beverage, then jump in a taxi and try the chic Crystal Lounge at the W Hotel in West Bay
974 453 5353
Souq Waqif (4 hours)
This souq is not your average Arabian market. Modernized to fit into the ever-growing demand of tourism, but retaining its local flare, it consists of a main street of traditional Qatari buildings converted into shops and restaurants offering local food and shisha with alfresco seating and Arabic entertainment. Jutted off to the sides are the alleyways, filled with authentic Qatari items, including souvenirs, perfumes, spices, handcrafted woodwork and artwork by local artists. Exploring this colourful labyrinth makes for a wonderful morning. If you fancy some local bling, there is a small Gold Souq attached to it, along with a Falcon Souq and an Art Gallery. You will also be able to enjoy the wide choice of restaurants and street food on offer, with flavours and budgets to satisfy any customer.
Afternoon Tea (2 hours)
Only a five-minute drive from Souq Waqif, Al Rumaila or Al Bidda Park is a great location to take in Doha’s Corniche and West Bay skyline. This landscaped park offers plenty of green areas, a children’s playground, attractions and rides, art gallery and water features. With free Wi-Fi and a cafeteria, it is a lovely spot for a short walk or just to enjoy the sea views on a picnic rug.
Sunset (2 hours)
If you fancy exploring the entire length of the Corniche (and you’re too tired to walk it) then take a dhow trip. The dhows, which operate from the landing opposite the Ministry of the Interior, are available from morning until midnight. Doha's dhows are original wooden crafts that once served the fishing and pearling industries, and now provide a means for tourists to joyride around the harbour. It will cost around QR 20 per person for a minimum of four people taking a trip lasting 20 minutes. You can negotiate longer trips, and for an hour-long excursion with a small group expect to pay around QR 300.
If it is too hot or if parks and dhow trips are not to your liking, shopping is also a great option for the afternoon. Villaggio Mall and its Venice-like splendour offers a kilometre of shopping all on one level, including luxury brands and high-end boutiques as well as all the regular brands. There is a public ice-rink and a large food hall with several well-known American restaurants where you can refuel for the night.
One must not forget that a stopover or visiting guest always requires some pampering to assist with the jet lag. And what better way is there of unwinding than to enjoy a traditional hammam bath? Head to the Six Senses Spa at Sharq Village—a 174-room resort fusing five-star luxury with traditional service and architecture. The Six Senses Spa is the largest spa in Doha and offers a wide range of experiences, including a hammam: a Turkish bath where you are scrubbed and buffed until the skin literally glows. While initially confronting, the experience is invigorating, and some say even spiritual.