At the north western end of the Corniche is the main business district, which is noted for its spectacular high rise architecture. Among the prominent commercial buildings are the Qatar Financial Centre and new Doha Exhibition & Convention Centre, as well as the City Center-Doha and The Gate Mall. It is also home to several top hotels, including the Sheraton, Four Seasons, Kempinski, Hilton, Marriott Marquis, Movenpick and W Hotel. The central stretch of the Corniche offers a vista of green parks backed by a number of impressive public buildings.
Lying at the southern end of the Corniche, we find the Al Bidda district, the historical heart of Doha. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of fascinating sights and experiences, including the Museum of Islamic Art, Emiri Diwan, Dhow Harbour, Souq Waqif, Gold Souq, the spiral-shaped Al Fanar Islamic Centre and Al Koot Fort. This area boasts another concentration of hotels. Well known international and regional brands include Crowne Plaza, Mercure, Al Bustan, Century, Oryx Rotana, Concorde, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels and Marriott.
Lying just to the north of the central business district is the main diplomatic quarter where most of the international embassies are located. There are also several waterfront hotels, including the InterContinental, St Regis and, further out, the Grand Hyatt and Ritz Carlton. This up-and-coming area is where we find two more Doha’s visitor highlights, the new developments of Katara Cultural Village and The Pearl-Qatar.
Inland from the heart of Doha, the outer city and suburbs have plenty to interest the visitors. The Aspire Zone is a vast purpose-built sports complex with a comprehensive range of stadiums, training venues, pools and other facilities, as well as parkland and a lake. Adjacent to the main Khalifa Stadium is The Torch, an iconic tower housing a hotel. Two of Doha’s major malls are also located nearby, Villagio and Hyatt Plaza.
In Al Rayyan district, we can find the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club, venue for twice weekly race meeting from October to May, as well as Education City, the Qatar Foundation's 14 square km campus featuring the Qatar Science & Technology Park, Qatar National Convention Center and the Doha branches of eight major overseas universities, six from the USA and one each from the UK and France. Also worth a visit in Education City is Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Al Shaqab equestrian center, dedicated to the breeding and preservation of purebred Arabian horses.
North of Doha on the east coast are several superb beaches, including Al Marrouna beach (also known as French Beach) and Fuwairit beach, both are about 90 minutes drive from the city. Fuwairat beach is backed with eroded limestone cliffs forming small coves. In the summer, hawksbill turtles come ashore to nest on these beaches. On the west coast are Dukhan and Umm Bab beaches, backed by wild palm trees and with kilometers of golden sands. The little peninsula of Ras Abrouq on the west coast also has some spectacular beaches.
Qatar's largest area of sand desert lies to the south-west of the capital, with its high dunes. Here you can try recreational safaris or simply enjoy the spectacular landscape. The desert scenery constantly changes depending on the time of day and light conditions. The breath-taking colors of sunrise and sunset are especially dramatic and the clear night skies offer a rare treat for stargazers.
This showpiece waterfront promenade, which strentches the length of the semi-circular Doha Bay, offers spectacular vistas from the dramatic high rise towers of the central business district to bold shapes of the Museum of Islamic Art, as well as traditional wooden dhows lining the Bay. The Corniche provides a vehicle-free recreational space in the heart of the city, ideal for a jog in the cool of the morning or leisurely evening stroll.
The museum’s magnificent collection covers 14 centuries of the finest art and artefacts across the Islamic World. Housed in a dramatic IM Pei-designed building, jutting into Doha Bay at the southern end of the Corniche, it ranks internationally among the world's leading cultural landmarks.
For an authentic taste of lively traditional street life, commerce and local architecture, nothing can beat a wander through the bustling lanes of Souq Waqif, located just one block inland from the Corniche in the central Al Bidda district. Besides the fabulous range of souvenir bargains, it is a great place to relax over a coffee or meal and soak up the atmosphere.
An off-road desert safari by 4x4 is an experience not to be missed. Besides a heart-stopping ride over the precipitous dunes, safaris may include camel riding, sand boarding or driving a quad bike, followed by a moonlit Bedouin-style barbeque under the stars. Available from all major tour operators, most safaris take place in the high sand dunes lying to the south of Doha.
A purpose-built cultural and recreational district on the West Bay waterfront, Katara is ideal for a relaxing day of culture, entertainment and family fun. Its performance venues stage plays, concerts, film festivals and much more. Recreational options include a well-tended public beach with water sports, restaurants and cafes.
The Pearl is a spectacular string of man-made islands off the coast of West Bay. The main island features impressive marina esplanades, residential towers and villas. Symbolizing the ultimate elegance, the Pearl offers fine dining, Mediterranean-style yacht-lined waterfront walks, stylish cafes and an array of boutiques featuring the world's leading luxury brands.
An organized tour is ideal for visitors with limited time to spare or seeking an overview of Doha and its attractions. Local tour operators offer both standard city tours taking in all the main sights, as well as tailor-made tours catering to their clients’ special interests. The ‘hop-on, hop-off’ double-decker tours are also available and operated by Doha Bus (dohabus.com).
Some 60 km south of Doha lies Khor Al Adaid, which is also known as the ‘Inland Sea’. Recognized by UNESCO, this impressive natural wonder is one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaches deep into the heart of the desert. Best visited as part of an organized desert safari.
Qatar's climate, abundant marine life and crystal clear waters make it a perfect destination for water sport enthusiasts. Fishing trips can be arranged and sailing, water skiing, canoeing, jet skiing and windsurfing are all available through beach clubs, resorts and hotels. Dive sites are easily accessible and include wreck, deep water and reef dives. Sports facilities are excellent on land too. Golf is popular with many visitors, who have the chance to play a round in the footsteps of the top international players at Doha Golf Club, venue for the annual Commercial Bank Qatar Masters tournament, a ranking event on the European PGA Tour.
In the atrium of Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel you can get a fresh taste of Italy. While the cuisine focuses on homemade pasta specials, you will also find all your favourite antipasti and pizza classics. Enjoy the lovely décor and don’t forget to finish your visit with some delicious gelati.
Spice Market features South East Asian cuisine by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Take out some sushi packages, stay in for bentos and don’t forget to check their website for special tasting events. Let the attentive staff guide you through an evening of Asian specials and get carried away by the flavours of the East Asia.
Indulge yourself into Isaan for an exciting new dinner experience with Thai food including Pad Thai and Tong yam soup. The chefs will prepare your food in an open kitchen and create dishes to your own taste. Step in on a Monday for the special curry night and relax in the casual ambiance.
Take in all the flavours of India at the Saffron Lounge. The exotic dishes including Bengali lobster masala and goan fish curry, which are creatively prepared for you and include traits of Indian fare from different parts of India. The high quality of cuisine here has been rewarded yearly since 2011.
Located in a busy area of Souq Waqif, this traditional restaurant focuses on serving Middle Eastern cuisine. Besides authentic dishes, you can enjoy your food in traditional fashion while sitting on the floor. If you haven’t tried salta, fahsa, ogda or mashwi, then Al Bandar is the ideal place to try something new.
The menu may seem quite simple, but even familiar favourites like pizzas and burgers, beautifully prepared with fresh ingredients, ensure an outstanding experience at every meal. With its menu for children, Opal has established itself as the top location among family friendly restaurants.
This eatery combines three restaurants under the same roof. While the Deli serves light meals and delicious bakery in a casual setting, the Medi offers an ideal spot for lunch and dinner. Don't forget to try its Lebanese seafood specials presented with a creative twist. They are simply mouth-watering.
If you’re strolling around Souq Waqif, make sure to stop by Al Adhamiyah. You can’t miss its impressive façade and the inviting display of Iraqi delicacies that draw you inside. Here you’ll get generous servings with reasonable prices so make sure to taste one of the opulent desserts on offer.
Having served guests for over 50 years, this Lebanese restaurant leaves nothing to be desired. Located in the luxurious Pearl neighbourhood, Burj Al Hamam is an insider tip for an elegant dinner in a classy oriental environment. Try some savoury Shish Taouk and choose from a variety of pastries as well as Halawat el Jibn or Knafeh, just right for every sweet tooth.
Mamig is a luxurious two-in-one high-end restaurant in the heart of the Katara Cultural Village. Besides being a favourite venue for private and public events, this classy restaurant is the ideal place to dine before you enjoy some international art and global culture in the vibrant neighbourhood.
Take a seat at La Patisserie and explore Doha’s international cuisine. This café is all about French bites and specials like croissants, gateaux and refreshing coffee that give you a kick-start into a new day or provide an oasis of rest between exhausting shopping and sightseeing tours. The hotel also features an outstanding Italian restaurant.
Don’t expect only any usual coffee place when you enter the Torch Tea Garden. Overlooking Aspire Zone from the 21st floor, the traditional spirit of tea is revived within its four walls. You are not only treated with Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies but also a well-selected choice of salad, sandwiches and sweets which is offered for your delight.
If you’re craving the mild-bitter taste of dark chocolate or looking for creamy sweets that melt on your tongue, then this New York-style coffee shop is your fit. It will impress you with a great choice of unique chocolate creations and is loved by children and adults alike. Let the sugar raise your spirits and the coffee refresh your mind.
This bakery distinguishes itself by providing freshly baked products on a daily basis. Entering the coffee shop, you will be welcomed with the warm and lovely scent of homemade sweets. Soon you'll find it hard to leave or just stay a bit longer to create your very own cupcake.
Almost every street has a juice stall selling fresh juices and sandwiches. But you shall not miss Chapati & Karak, which is the local favourite in Katara. Here you can try middle Eastern snacks, both savoury and sweet are typically washed down with a cup of chai karak, a hot sweet and milky tea.
Souq Waqif is the place to go for Qatari and Middle Eastern souvenirs, with its array of handicrafts, spices, incense and perfumes. There are also a number of working jewellers to be seen here. Historic, but recently renovated in authentic architectural style, this vibrant bazaar also houses multiple restaurants.
Do not miss this special souq dedicated to the ancient practice of hunting with falcons, especially if you visit Doha during the falconry season (October to March). Observing owners showing off the birds and browsing through falconry paraphernalia is a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience.
Al Asmakh Mall mainly houses the retail outlets of the Landmark Group, including Home Center and Centrepoint. The 36.5 thousand square metre shopping centre also houses a children's entertainment area (Fun City) and underground parking. Visitors can even enjoy the street-side café-style seating during the cooler months of the year.
One of Doha’s newest malls, Villaggio on Al Waab Street, has its star attraction, a 500-metre long Venetian canal, completed with mini-gondolas in which customers can glide from shop to shop! The stores on either side of the canal are designed in Italian style with pastel-coloured architecture. Villaggio houses a branch of Virgin Megastore selling a vast selection of books and music, and a vast array of fashion boutiques catering mainly for the younger set.
The largest mall in all of Qatar, which is also one of the shopping and entertainment hubs in Doha. Home to international, regional and local brand stores as well as a cinema complex, ice-skating rink and bowling alley, City Center will easily keep you occupied all day long.
A recent addition to Qatar’s mall scene, Ezdan Mall, which is located in the bustling Gharafa area, brings many new global favourite stores to the country such as Aeropostale and WH Smith Books among a total of 52 branded outlets, as well as many supervised entertainment options for kids.
This luxurious artificial island is home to many upscale designer brand stores, as well as several independent designer boutiques such as The Vanity Room. The Pearl also boasts an impressive selection of dining options from all over the world with Indian, Mexican, Italian, French and American restaurants.
Among the top shopping destinations in Doha, this mall is very family-friendly with its multiple entertainment options for young and old. Cineplex, Circus Land and a whole range of brand-name stores await you here, as well as unusual furniture, fine china and ornaments at The One.
Besides the numerous shopping options, Royal Plaza also offers an interesting 1920s-themed cinema. Located in the heart of the lively Al Sadd district, the mall's Violet Room has a mini banquet space for up to 100 people. The Royal Plaza also gives special care to visitors with disabilities, who can call for arranging an access to special facilities.
Visitors from all around the world can enter Qatar either visa free, or by filling out simple online applications, depending on the passport they carry. Nationals of more than 80 countries are eligible for visa-free entry into the State of Qatar, with varying allowable lengths of stay. With a valid passport of a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed return ticket, people from the eligible countries can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival to Qatar without any prior visa arrangements.
The best months to visit Qatar are November to early April as the milder weather conditions allow for sightseeing and outdoor activities. The summer months from June to September are very hot with minimum rainfall, so these can be difficult, especially so if you're sensitive to high temperatures.
Located in the capital city of Qatar, Hamad International Airport is the international airport of Doha which hosts many airlines from around the world and provides a wide range of services like banking and currency exchange service, parents room and medical assistance. Doha’s bus network connects Hamad International Airport to various destinations across the city and all buses depart from Bus Pavilion that is located to the right of the arrivals hall.
Hiring car Many local and international car hire companies operate in Qatar. Hirer will be required for a credit card, passport copy and a valid driving licence from their home country or international permit. Bus Although buses are not widely used by tourists, the service of many buses are modern, clean and air-conditioned. Fares within the city are around QAR3 to QAR9 depending on the distance, and fares outside town are reasonably priced.
There are no major health risks and no special inoculations required by visitors. There are many well-stocked pharmacies with English speaking staff throughout Doha city, while some open for the whole day. Wellcare Pharmacy – Park n Shop Address: Park N Shop, Doha Tel: +974 4416 0546 Wellcare Pharmacy – Safari Address: Safari Mall, Doha Tel: +974 4468 0638 Al Rawdah Pharmacy Address: Basement of Centerpoint Ml Al, Doha Tel: +974 4452 5410
Qatar post provides fast mail delivery to more than 220 countries around the world and the post offices are scattered around Doha. Al Azizya Tel: +974 4458 2193 Opening time: Sun - Thur: 7:00 AM - 9:00 PM Sat: 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM Al Ghuwairiya Tel: +974 4473 1757 Opening time: Sun - Sat 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM Al kharthiyat Tel: +974 44784 026 Opening time: Sun - Thur: 7:00 AM - 9:00 PM Sat: 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM