Qatar is a country rich in culture and steeped in tradition, all against an ever-expanding backdrop of skyscrapers and luxurious hotels. It’s capital Doha could be considered the new Dubai, with an up and coming presence in the holiday market, year-round sun and a wealth of cultural delights to discover.
This status as a must-visit destination for tourists is only destined to rise, as Qatar is hosting the Football World Cup in 2022. This means if you’re planning a trip in the future it pays to reserve this as early as possible because hotels will be booked up by those visiting to watch the matches.
The city and its offerings are relatively untouched – it hasn’t yet become a tourist hot-spot. But should you choose to spend a couple of weeks in Qatar, you can expect glorious sunshine, luxurious accommodation and a plethora of adventurous activities out in the unique landscape around the main city.
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Holidays in Doha
The city of Doha is growing more each day, with larger than life structures reaching for the sky and buildings designed by some of the world’s leading architects springing up along its roads. The city itself is relatively small, so you can explore its major attractions with plenty of time to spare to enjoy some leisurely activities by the hotel pool later in the day. From guided tours to areas you can explore in your own time, consider these fun activities during your stay.
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Top things to do in Doha
Doha may be small in size but there is an abundance of activities to seek out and enjoy during your stay. When you’re bored of lounging around in the sunshine, head out and take in the sights and sounds of the city with one or more of these activities.
Visit the Corniche
This horseshoe-shaped promenade creates a stunning stretch of path to enjoy during an evening stroll. The city skyline in the distance, blue waters featuring traditional dhow boats and bountiful rows of palm trees make this the perfect place to relax. You’ll find it gets busy with families and couples in the evenings but it’s a great first night stop off.
Take a stroll around the Museum of Islamic Art
Qatar has truly embraced the world of art in recent years and has even hosted work by some of the world’s most renowned artists, including the controversial Damien Hirst. The Museum of Islamic Art features a selection of incredible works created over a period of 1,400 years and with regularly changing exhibitions. From practical ceramics used in times past to delicately blown glass pieces and intricately decorated textiles, there’s a myriad of intriguing artefacts to discover. Consider booking a museum tour, that offers you entry to the art museum, National Museum of Qatar and Msheireb Museums.
Head out on a desert safari
Outside the city, you’ll find a host of adrenaline-fuelled activities available to try. The sand dunes nearby offer everything from 4×4 driving to racing around the golden sand on quad bikes.
Look into an excursion that takes you out 60km from the city to see Qatar’s natural wonder, Khor Al Adaid or ‘Inland Sea’. This body of water in the middle of the desert, boasts its own ecosystem, offering visitors the opportunity to see turtles, a range of bird species and even Arabian gazelles.
Explore the Souq Waqif
Doha’s standing market offers travellers a great night out once the sun sets but also the opportunity to buy some authentic wares from spices to perfumes to traditional garments.
There are also lots of restaurants and cafes to take a seat in and people watch during your visit while smoking shisha. If you’re a fan of glitz and glamour, head towards the Gold Souq featuring 40 shops boasting an array of stunning jewels and sparkling accessories.
Meet the country’s animals
Falconry is a popular sport in Qatar, and you’ll find many operators offering experiences that allow you to get up close to these majestic birds. You’ll find the Falcon Souq within the Souq Waqif which features falconers selling prized birds and accessories for those who want to handle them.
In some instances, the stall owners will allow you to hold the birds which is an incredible experience. Falconry is such an important part of everyday life in Qatar that there is even a dedicated falcon hospital in the country that treats 10,000 birds each year.
As well as these incredible birds of prey, be on the lookout for camels and stunning Arabian horses. You can book onto camel excursions, where a guide will take you out to ride and meet these incredible creatures for an afternoon in the sunshine.
Some of the best hotels in Qatar
Wondering where to stay in Qatar? We’ve considered three of the very best hotels and who they’re suited to.
Best for exploring Doha
The 5-star Hilton Doha offers luxury in close proximity to the city. It features a stunning pool and its own beach close by, a 24-hour health club to take advantage of after a long day of sightseeing and fine dining with three restaurants to choose from.
Best for couples
For couples looking to unwind, the Intercontinental Doha Hotel is the perfect choice. Six restaurants, 24-hour room service, Wi-Fi and video games consoles in the rooms and a private beach ensure you enjoy luxury together as a couple. The hotel is conveniently located in Doha’s centre, this means you can explore the area together then head back in the afternoon for some sunshine and relaxation.
Best for families
For families looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Grand Hyatt Doha hotel is ideal for fun in the sun. There are babysitting services available if Mum and Dad want some time in the hotel’s spa while a large pool offers plenty of opportunity for a day of fun, plus there is also an indoor pool if you fancy a break from the heat.
Frequently asked questions about Qatar
What is the flight time to Qatar?
From London, it takes around 6 hours and 45 minutes to reach Doha’s Hamad International airport if you fly direct. In some cases, you may have a flight that includes a stopover in Kuwait or Istanbul, these can take anywhere from 10 to 20 hours so it’s a good idea to carefully select your travel.
When is the best time to visit Qatar?
Qatar enjoys balmy temperatures in the low 20s earlier in the year, with February cited as an ideal month to pay the country a visit. In the summer months, June and July, temperatures can soar to 40°C which makes it a little too warm for outside activities.
What is considered traditional food in Qatar?
Qatar serves up a delicious array of Arabic cuisine in its restaurants with meals consisting of perfectly cooked rice, meat and vegetables. Saloona is a popular choice – this spicy meat or vegetable broth is a hearty meal, ideal for filling up after a day of sightseeing.
Look out for Machboos on the menus, this tasty rice and meat dish featuring a blend of spices and could be compared to a biryani. If you have a sweet tooth, luqaimat are delicious little dumplings that have been deep-fried and coated in syrup or honey.
Do Qatar’s residents observe Ramadan?
Yes, many of those living in Qatar observe Ramadan each year. The celebration lasts for 30 days from the end of April and the dates vary each year. Those who take part fast during daylight hours then meet in the evenings to enjoy large meals together.
It’s worth noting that if you visit Qatar during the month of Ramadan you may find that local shops and restaurants are closed throughout the day, but hotels typically stay open to accommodate guests.
This year consider a holiday in Qatar, a melting pot of culture, art and luxury. Take a look at our full selection of breaks available in the country and escape to the Persian Gulf.