Are you looking for the best things to do in Doha? As someone who lived in Doha for 4 years I think I am in a pretty good place to tell you all the best things to do in Qatar. In this guide I will round up the best beaches in Qatar, museums, Doha parks, eats and much much more to make sure you have a brilliant time while in Doha.
Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you!
Thing to Know before Going to Qatar
Before we get into the best things to do in Qatar there are a couple of things that you will need to know before heading out to explore.
- Qatar is a Muslim Country and as such has a dress code for public places. You can read more about it in our What to Wear in Doha Guide.
- Qatar is a small country – it is about 111km around the coast but that does not mean there isn’t lots to do there. There is public transport in the form of Doha Metro and Taxis but it is also easy to rent a car to explore outside of Doha city. Be sure to read our Best Ways to Get Around in Qatar post.
- As Qatar is a Muslim country, it has public holidays different to the West. It also observes the holy month of Ramadan, check for key dates in Qatar before traveling and plan accordingly if you are going to be there during Ramadan in Qatar.
Best Things to Do in Doha Qatar
Best things to do in Doha
Now you know a couple of important things about Qatar we will turn our attention in this section to ll look at the best things to do within Doha city limits.
Visit Souq Waqif
If you are only in Doha for a short time there is one thing you must put on your Qatar itinerary – Souq Waqif.
Souq Waqif means standing market and Souq Waqif is Doha’s main souq. It is a great place to experience local culture, buy some Qatar souvenirs and have some great food.
If you plan to visit Souq Waqif we recommend going after 2pm, or even better in the evening. The Souq does not open in the morning and gets busier in the evening. This is when locals do their shopping and the souq really comes alive.
We recommend stopping here for dinner one night – see our best Souq Waqif restaurants post to find out our fave souq foodie spots.
On top of that we recommend stopping by at the following areas of Souq Waqif
- the gold souq – an impressive sight even if it will cost you a lot of $$$ to take something home from here
- the spice souq – this for me is the smell of Doha
- the handicraft souq – a great place to buy Doha souvenirs that are locally made.
- Falcon souq – Falconry is the national sport of Qatar. At the falcon souq you will be able to see magnificent specimens and even see a Falcon Hospital.
- See the camels and horses – at the souq near the Emir’s palace side you will be able to see camels and Arabian horses. This beautiful creatures are used in the Souq and and nearby and it is a great way to see some local wildlife.
Walking the Doha Corniche – one of the best things to do in Doha
Anyone who visits Doha has to visit the Corniche! It is absolutely one of the best things to do in Doha and is hard to miss as a visitor to Qatar.
The Corniche runs along the waterfront from by the National Museum of Qatar right around to West Bay which is the main business district of the city and is home to some of the best hotels in Doha.
Although if you are visiting Qatar in the summer, it may be too hot to do this unless you go first thing in the morning. However I would advise making room in your Doha itinerary to do.
It is a great way to familiarise yourself with the architecture of the city – which is unparrelled in my opinion and takes in many tourist spots along the way.
If you are looking for a place to stop for lunch or dinner while walking the route we recommend stopping at Al mourjan. It is right on the water front and offers lovely Arabic cuisine with one of the best views in the city.
Take a Dhow Cruise Around Doha Bay
Dhows are the traditional marine vessel of Qatar. They are wooden boats which were traditionally used for pearling and fishing trades.
However nowadays they are also used as tourist boats that offer great views of the harbour and the beautiful Doha skyline.
I would suggest pre booking an excursion on a dhow cruise rather than walking up to one on the corniche. You can do a day or night trip and have a BBQ on the boat.
We even enjoyed jumping in the salty sea to cool down. Taking a Dhow Cruise in Qatar is a must do for tourists and residents alike..
To book your dhow cruise click here.
Best Museums in Doha
Museum of Islamic art
In my opinion the museum of Islamic Arts in Doha is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The Museum of Islamic Art was designed by I.M. Pei and plays with light and shade.
It also, from the right angle looks like a woman in a batoola (a local female face covering made of metal).
Inside the museum is a great collection of Islamic art ranging from f jewelry, astrolabes and carpets amongst others and home to great temporary exhibitions.
The museum is currently closed for a refurbishment before the Qatar World Cup but is set to reopen in Fall 2022.
The Museum of Islamic Art also has one of the beautiful parks in the country (please see the parks section for more information on this).
The museum is a must visit see cultural attraction in Qatar!
National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ)
The National Museum of Qatar is one of the newer museums in Qatar. The National Museum of Qatar is one of the best places to learn about the country and it’s history.
It is a stunning museum based on the desert rose – one of Qatar’s most unique and beautiful geological features.
There are 11 galleries in the museum that take you from the beginnings of the country and it’s geographical formations through its natural landscape and wildlife through to the pearling trades and discovery of oil.
It is the best place to learn about Doha and Qatar in my opinion.
Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum
Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM) is the newest museum in Qatar and opened in March 2022. This museum is perfect for anyone who visits Qatar during the World Cup or any sports fan as this museum is full of amazing objects for some of the greatest moments in sporting history.
Sheikh Fasial Museum
This museum is a short drive outside of Doha on the highway towards Zekreet. It is famous because it has a large unique collection from vintage American muscle cars to local history.
The collection was built up by Sheikh Faisal based on his interests and is worth the drive out to see this unique collection.
Note: This museum is close to the camel racing track so could be combined with a visit but the opening times are limited so be sure to check openings before visiting.
Best Parks in Doha
Museum of Islamic Art Park
The grounds that surround the Museum of Islamic Art is one of the most beautiful parks in the country. There is a nice play area for kids and another Richard Serra sculpture.
But one of my favourite things about this park is the cafe which overlooks the West Bay skyline. It is a great place to stop for a coffee and cake while admiring the view.
Oxygen Park Doha
Oxygen Park is one of the newer parks in Doha and in my opinion Oxygen Park is one of the best parks in Doha. This used to be my local park as it was on the Education City Campus.
I love this park as it has amazing views of the architectural award nominated Education city mosque which is one of my favourite buildings in the whole of Doha. It is truly beautiful.
This is one also one of the best Qatar parks for walkers and is a great place to go for a walk even in summer as there are plenty of shady spots and cooling spots.
The park also has a great playground and there are often events held here. Be sure to check it out.
Aspire Park is actually the largest park in Doha. With the space it has this park also has a great running track and it is set up so you can walk a route to ensure you get your ten thousand steps in one walk!
For families there is also a lovely little boating lake and a bridge that sprays water over you which my daughter goes crazy for.
It’s proximity to the villagio mall makes it very convenient to combine in a day’s itinerary.
Sheraton Park – best park in Qatar for water play
This Qatar Park is located on the corniche which means that you get some of the best views of West Bay from the park.
But best of all there is a great water play area for kid which makes it the best park in Qatar for kids and a great place for kids to cool off if you are visiting Qatar in the summer.
At certain times of year Sheraton Park will also host the Qatar Food Festival so be sure to check this out if you are visiting at this time foyer.
Best Cultural Things to do In Qatar
Katara Cultural Village Doha
Katara cultural village Doha has lots of great restaurants, (one is on my list of dohas best restaurants from a-z), is a great space for art with and exhibition space run by Qatar museums, and a performance space.
There is also a stamp museum specializing in stamps from the region.
Katara is one of my favourite places to go for a walk in Doha as there are lots of covered passages and cooling walkways and to stop at one of the beachfront restaurants.
In the winter, katara hosts a series of festivals the most well known is the show festival which takes place in November. It is a must for any cultural visit to Qatar!
KAtara is a stop on the Doha Hop on Hop off bus route and there is plenty of parking for drivers or alternatively taxis will know how to reach Katara.
Please note: while there is a beach at Katara this is a public beach so not one I would recommend for tourists. There is a very strict Doha dress code on the beach (click here for more information on what to wear in Doha) and there are more tourist friendly beaches nearby which I would recommend over this one.
Best Places to Go Shopping in Doha
Villagio Shopping Centre
Qatar is a shopper’s paradise with a plethora of malls to take your choice from. One of my favourite malls is Villagio. Villagio is modelled on Venice with gondolas running through the center and has shops for every budget.
A visit to Qatar for shopping could be combined in your Doha itinerary with a visit to the Torch or Aspire Park.
Doha Festival City and Angry Birds World
Doha Festival City mall is one of the largest malls in Qatar. It offers great shopping with a range of mid to luxury brands but perhaps most excitingly it is home to Qatar’s Angry Birds World – Qatar’s angry bird theme park.
This is a great place to go if you are visiting Qatar with toddlers or kids and it is also one of the best indoor things to do in Qatar to escape the heat.
For more of on the best family friendly things to do in Qatar check out our Doha with kids post.
The Pearl Doha
The Pearl is Doha’s answer to the Palm Dubai in many ways. It is a main made island that comprises of a hotel, residential buildings, shopping and eateries.
The shops here do tend to be on the high end luxury side but it is a great pace to walk as there is plenty of shade and coverings but best of all it has some of Doha’s best restaurants and it’s hotel is one of the best places to stay in Doha.
Best Beaches in Qatar
As I have mentioned before there is a strict dress code when visiting Qatar and this applies at beaches too if they are public.
There are very different rules at the public to the private beaches and it depends on what you want to do at the beach to which you should go to.
Public beaches are as the name implies public – which means anyone can go. This also means that normal Qatar dress codes apply.
Therefore if you want to spend the day sunbathing in a bikini you should avoid these beaches and instead head to a private hotel beach where you can wear bikinis etc.
However if you want to see wildlife or do other things that don’t require swimwear public beaches are fine to attend. In this section I will highlight great public beaches for wildlife and some of my favourite hotel beaches where you can sun bathe and swim.
Fuwairit Beach Qatar – public beach
Fuwarit Beach in Qatar is a beach just to the north of Doha. It is one of the few powdery beaches in Qatar and it offers a great place for a day trip from Doha.
Please check before visiting Fuwairit as this is an important ecological destination in Doha as it is the site of turtle breeding and does shut during the turtle breeding season.
Simaisma Public Beach Qatar
Another beautiful mangrove beach and close proximity to the Simaisma Resort for those who want more of a hotel vibe.
What you need to know: At Simaisma family beach there are no shortage of food and beverage outlets in this area.
This beach offers privacy and you can find you own spot of solitude. Zekreet also has other desert attractions such as the Richard Serra East Meets West Sculpture, the Zekreet Fort and the film village to keep you entertained. It also has some great geological formations.
Please note 4 x 4s are required to reach much of Zekreet.
For those who want to sunbath, swim or relax at the pool while in Qatar this should be done at a hotel beach.
We have a whole guide on where to stay in Doha, but one of the things I love about the city is that many of the 5* hotels also offer beach days for those not staying in the hotel but want to use the facilities. In my opinion the best hotels with beach days in Qatar are
- Four Seasons Doha – this in ,my opinion has the most luxurious pool in Doha and unrivalled service.
- Intercon (NOT THE CITY WEST BAY BRANCH – this does not have a beach so be careful when booking). The Intercon for me has the best beach and pools for families in Doha. There is a playground, lots of shade round by the pool and some great eateries on site.
- Grand Hyatt – while not my favourite pool in Doha, the Grand Hyatt does have one of my favourite beaches. It is a long stretch of beach with lots of activities that will keep every member of the family entertained.
Best things to do in Qatar outside of Doha
Now we have explored all of the best things to do in Doha we will turn our attention to the best things to do in Qatar as a whole. This section will get you outside of the city and exploring some of Qatar’s natural landscape and smaller towns.
Dune Bashing in Doha at the Inland Sea Qatar
The Inland Sea in Qatar is one of my favourite places to go outside of the city. Not only is the inland sea a remarkable geological feature it is also one of the best places in Qatar to see the desert and go dune bashing.
While we often recommend hiring a car as one of the best ways of getting around Doha we do not recommend inexperienced desert drivers attempting dune bashing themselves.
It is really difficult to drive on the dunes and it may invalidate your insurance. Therefore we recommend booking a tour and experience to do this.
To book your dune bashing experience click here.
Al Khor & Purple Island Qatar
One of my favourite places to go outside of the city is Purple Island. Purple Island is located in al Khor and is called Purple Island because of the small snails found there which are said to create the color of the Qatar national flag when crushed.
My favourite time to visit Purple Island is in winter., In winter you will be able to come and see the flamingos as they migrate.
One of my favourite things to do when visiting Purple Island is to take a kayak tour. It is a great way to get up close and personal to the wildlife and see the island from a different vantage point.
To book your kayaking tour click here.
It’s also worth remembering that Al Khor has a great public park for children. In fact in my opinion it is one of the best parks in Qatar.
You can read our post about why Purple Island is the perfect desert experience for kids here!
Purple Island is proof that there are plenty of things to see and do in Qatar outside of Doha City!
al Jassasiya rock carvings
The al Jassasiya rock carvings comprise of a whopping 874 petroglyphs, you can see carvings showing boats, stars and rosettes amongst others. It is a great site for the archaeology lover!
To get here you will drive c.50 miles north of Doha on the Al Shamal Highway. Take Exit 66.
For more detailed directions click here.
East meets West, Richard Serra Qatar desert artwork
Richard Serra has numerous sculptures around Qatar. In fact Qatar is a great place to see public art and there is lots in Doha City. However if you go outside of Doha then you will be rewarded with seeing some of the Qatar’ hidden gems such as this.
East Meets West is the famous Richard Serra sculpture in the desert at Zekreet.
Zekreet is also a great place to visit because it has some unspoilt beaches, mushroom rocks and a film village to be explored.
If you are wondering about the best way to get Zekreet you will need a car. The desert driving here isn’t too difficult but alternatively you could take this tour out to see the sculptures and Zekreet!
For more information on how to get around Doha and Qatar check out this post.
I love history and historical sites and Qatar has some great forts located in the north but for those unwilling to travel Barzan is even closer – right near IKEA in fact! It should be definitely on your list of things to see and do in Doha
Zubarah Fort is Qatar’s only UNESCO world heritage site. At the site you will find a fort and museum that is worth the drive out of Doha to visit!
It is a great way to get to understand Qatar’s pearling past and can be done as part of a larger exploration of Northern Qatar.
If you want to visit the forts of Northern Qatar and don’t have a vehicle we recommend taking this tour – CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
How many have you done? What do you think are the best things to see and best things to do in Qatar?
Planning to visit Qatar why not check out hotel reviews from our staycations or check out our Great Middle Eastern Hotels 2016 Round-up
Saturday 9th of June 2018
I'd love to visit Qatar but unfortunately I live in Abu Dhabi and the flights have been restricted. Hopefully they lift the ban soon and I can visit.
Saturday 24th of February 2018
Lots to see if you know where to look
Sunday 4th of June 2017
I love posts like these!! I've done two for London now :)
Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi
Thursday 1st of June 2017
This is such, such a brilliant post - literally everything you could need about Qatar!
Thursday 1st of June 2017
Thanks Emma hope you enjoyed your trip
Tuesday 16th of May 2017
How does that replica of Venice compare to the real thing? ;)
Tuesday 16th of May 2017
I think you know the answer lol ?