Are you looking for the best things to do in Doha with kids? As ex-Qatar residents we have explored the country in-depth with our kids in tow. In this guide we round up over 50 of the best things to do in Qatar with kids.
Best Things to do in Doha with Kids
To make this list easier to navigate we have split this down into sections to include the best outdoor things to do in Doha, the best indoor things to do and some of the most unique things to do in Qatar, both in the city of Doha and outside of it with kids.
And as Doha is such an expensive place to visit we will also point out the free places to visit in Qatar to help you stretch your Qatar vacation budget.
So whether you are looking for parks, malls, museums or desert things to do this guide will have you covered.
Best Outdoor Things to do in Qatar
When you think of Qatar you may think about the scorching heat and the desert landscape. However the truth is if you are visiting Qatar in Winter, (i..e November, December, January and February) you will find that the weather is actually very pleasant and perfect for exploring outdoors.
In this section of the guide we will tell you all of our favorite things to do outside in Qatar both within Doha city limits and further afield and into the desert.
No matter whether you having a short stopover or a longer trip to Doha, Souq Waqif should always be part of your itinerary. Souq Waqif, meaning Standing Market is the main traditional market in Qatar. It is one of the best free things to do in Doha however it is easy to start spending when you see everything that is on offer. Here you can do some amazing Doha souvenir shopping for everything from spices to textiles, and from jewelry and perfumes to woodwork.
There are also some amazing more unusual souqs here including the falcon souq. Falcons are still a huge part of Middle East culture and falconry is still the national sport of Qatar. At the Falcon Souq you can see some amazing birds for sale, take photos and even see the world famous Falcon Hospital.
There is also a horse stables here, which my pony mad daughter loves, where you can see beautiful white Arabian Horses. There is also a pet souq, but personally I find this a bit uncomfortable to visit so usually avoid it.
The Souq is also a great place for families to eat in Doha. It is a great place to sample local Middle Eastern cuisine but there are also some of the best cheap restaurants here too. So no matter what your budget it, you will find good eats at the Souq.
Desert Falls Water and Adventure Park
The Desert Falls Water and Adventure Park is actually one of the largest theme parks in the Middle East. It has lots of traditional water park attractions such as lazy and torrent rivers, surfing and more.
Tip: if your itinerary allows it we recommend visiting on a weekday as opposed to a weekend as there will be substantially fewer crowds.
Aqua Park Qatar
The Aqua Park is located on the Salwa Road and is perfect for those looking to cool off from the Qatar heat. This water park is home to 15 attractions including a lazy river and plenty of slides. Perfect for visitors to Doha in Summer.
Purple Island it the mangrove area in Qatar and is a great place for viewing wildlife and going kayaking. Our personal favorite time to visit Purple Island is in the Winter when you will be able to see the migrating flamingoes resting in the lagoon.
Al Zubarah Fort
If you have time we recommend seeing more of Qatar than just Doha. One of the places we recommend visiting is the Al Zubarah Fort in the North of Doha which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a great place to visit with older children to learn more about local culture.
Best Parks in Doha for Kids
Many people associate Qatar with the desert, so you may be surprised to find out that Doha is home to a lot of amazing parks for children. An the good news is that for the most part the parks and a majority of activities inside of them are free.
MIA Park Doha
MIA park, standing for the museum of Islamic Art Park it is the most iconic and beautiful park in Doha. The Museum of Islamic Art (or MIA for short) is one of the most iconic buildings in Qatar. But what people don’t know is that it also has one of the best parks in the city for kids. In fact it is a place where lots of local families go for picnics and tp spend quality time to together.
My kids favorite thing about MIA Park is the large trampolines it boasts where they have spent many happy hours. On top of that there is a castle with play equipment such as slides and ropes and a really cute carousel you can ride for an additional fee.
And for frazzled parents, the park has one of the best cafes with a view in the city. The MIA Park cafe, has sea front tables that look across West Bay to the Doha skyline with views that can’t be beaten.
If you kids are struggling with the summer heat in Doha, then the place you have to head to is the Sheraton park. The Sheraton Park, isn’t a traditional green space park but is an urban park whose main draw is the water play area. Just be sure to have a change of clothes or swimwear with you as there is no way your kids are coming home from this park dry.
On top of the water play area there is also a traditional playground. And if you are worried about sun safety, you will be relieved to know that the play area is covered by large sun shade for added protection.
This park is also very convenient for those who decide to stay in West Bay as this has a central city location.
Souq Waqif Park
The Souq Waqif park, as the name suggest is located next to Souq Waqif. Souq Waqif is a must for any visitor to Qatar, more on it later, but if you are traveling with kids who need a break from the hustle and bustle of the market then this is the place to go.
Just a word of warning that this can get quite busy especially on a Thursday night and weekend.
Dadu Gardens is the new boy in the Doha park and play scene. Dadu is actually the name of the currently in-constriction children’s museum in Qatar. This museums will obviously fast become the top thing to do in Doha with kids once it opens, Dadu Gardens gives you a really great insight to what the museum will be like.
The Gardens, only for visitors with children, provides lots of hands of learning through play experiences aimed at the 0-11 audience so perfect for those visiting Doha with toddlers or babies and elementary aged kids.
Some of the amazing experiences in the Garden include the permaculture exhibit and Garden Atelier where kids can become gardeners and tend to plant as well as learn about farm to table food. A highlight for most kids is the bike powered smoothie maker!
Aspire was our local park when we lived in Doha and we would always visit here on the same day that we headed to villaggio Mall as they are next door to each other.
Aspire Park is actually the park that is known for exercise, and is always a central hub of the Qatar Sports Day Celebrations (always held on the second Tuesday in February each year). And although it is known for its exercise amenities – it has a track where you can walk 10,000 steps in one circuit, it also has a lot of things for families.
In the centre of the park is a lovely little boating lake where you can hire pedaloes. But my children’s favourite thing is the bridge that sprays water over you and conveniently gets you very refreshingly wet.
Al Khor Park
If you are short on time in Doha then this isn’t the park for you as it is located in Al Khor rather than Doha. However if you plan to head out to Purple Island, a beautiful wild mangrove area in Qatar, then this make a good addition to your itinerary.
There is also a small zoo here featuring everything from rhinos and big cats to exotic birds.
Note: other great parks in Doha also include Education City Park which has a great air conditioned park but is not the most convenient park for tourists to visit on a short Qatar layover).
Baladna Park is more of an outdoor activities centre / adventure park than a traditional park. It has lots of paid for activities aimed at families and has something for kids of all ages. At Baladna Park you can do everything from bumper boats, a high ropes course and climbing walls to trampolines and pedal racing cars to more sedate activities like a petting zoo and reptile centre.
Have a beach day
Although in summer, you will find it too hot to be outside at the beach in the midday sun, Winter is a great time to have a beach day. Now the biggest decision you have to make when looking at beaches for families in Qatar is whether you want to go to a public or a private beach.
As the name suggests, private beaches are those in which you have to pay an entrance fee to enter. Here you will find the normal conservative Qatar dress code does not apply as strictly and women can feel very comfortable heading into the pool or sea in bikinis or one pieces.
Public beaches, on the other hand are open to the public and are places where the local sensibilities regarding attire must be respected and are enforced.
For most families visiting Doha we recommend heading to private beaches attached to the luxury hotels. If your budget stretches to it we recommend staying at one of the 5* Doha hotels with beach access for the duration of your stay. However, if your budget does not allow then we recommend purchasing a beach day pass at one of these hotels. These day passes include access to beaches and pools and usually will come with a voucher to be used in one of the on-site restaurants.
Some of our favorite beach hotels in Doha include the Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt, th St Regis and the Intercontinental. Just be careful with the last one as there are two Intercons in the city one with a beach and one without in West Bay.
A dhow is the traditional wooden boat of the Gulf region. Historically they were used to transport goods and pearl divers, however today they are used for boat trips. These boats usually depart from near MIA Park and along the Corniche and then take in amazing views of the city.
Usually there is a chance to jump in the refreshing waters, but be warned it is very salty so you will need a good shower after and your kids won’t want to get the water in their eyes. We recommend picking your Dhow boat ride that comes with lunch or dinner.
Kayaking and paddle boarding have been embraced by Qataris and there are lots of locations across the country to indulge in this. My favorite place to go kayaking in Qatar is in the Mangroves at Purple Island however you can also do this at MIA park.
Doha Corniche is the walk around the bay from West Bay all the way to the National Museum past the Souq. If you are visiting Qatar in Winter, this is a beautiful walk to do. And one of the great things about it is that the walk is completely flat so is completely stroller friendly.
No trip to Qatar in my opinion is complete without a visit to the desert for a desert safari and dune bashing experience.
Depending on whether you go for the morning or afternoon experience, and depending on the temperamental Doha traffic the drive out to the dunes only takes around 30-40 minutes. Once you arrive you have a small wait while the driver lets air out of the tyres to prep the car out for dune driving.
After that it is time to head to the dunes, where older children and adults will love the rollercoaster like driving over the dunes and stopping for photos of the dunes, inland sea and views across to Saudia Arabia. Personally, although we lived in Doha with a toddler, we do not recommend taking children dune bashing until they are slightly older. Car seats usually need to be provided by you and the dune bashing can be quite a rough and wild experience. For this reason we recommend waiting until your children are slightly older before heading out dune bashing.
When we do dune bashing in Qatar we always use Qatar International Adventures and have always been impressed but there are lots of local providers. We like to opt for a package that also includes a BBQ dinner at a desert camp too. Usually there are also other activities such as camel rides and quad biking available for an additional fee.
Best Indoor Things to do in Doha
Doha Quest is the best theme park in Doha. Located in the Doha Oasis Mall in the Msheireb area. Although there are attractions for all ages it’s biggest claim to fame is that it is home to the world’s tallest indoor roller coaster, the EpiQ Coaster as well as the world’s tallest indoor tower drop, Magma Blast which is perfect for those visiting Qatar with teenagers.
If you are visiting Doha with children between the ages of 4 and 14 then Kidzania has to top of your list. Personally I think children at the upper end of this age range will not be as interest as the under 10s but it very much depends on the child.
Kidzania basically offers children the chance to work in a real life miniature city with experiences from fire fighting to painters through role play. Kidzania is located in the Aspire area so can be included on the same day as a visit to the Aspire Park or Villaggio mall.
Katara Cultural Village
Katara Cultural Village is an indoor – outdoor attraction in Qatar. You can simply enjoy wandering around the village, enjoying the architecture including the stunning mosque, but there are also plenty of indoor attractions housed there.
A great one to visit with kids is the al thuraya planetarium. On top of the regular planetarium experience there is also a host of special events throughout the year. There are also special exhibition spaces in Katara, but their suitability for families really depend on the show at the time of your visit.
On top of the indoor attractions, there is also a public beach, the Katara beach.
Best Malls in Qatar
The Middle East generally is known for its amazing shopping malls. While Dubai mall may the most famous in the region there are plenty of amazing malls in Qatar that have lots of things to do with children including many theme parks. Our favourites are:
Doha Festival City Mall / Angry Birds World
Doha Festival Mall is one of the newer malls in Qatar and has all the regular Doha shopping mall experiences and a good food court. But the appeal for many families is Angry Birds World. These theme parks has something for children of all ages from smaller rides and trampolines to large roller coasters.
Although not the newest mall in Qatar, Villaggio is still one of our favourites to visit with kids. The mall has been created to look like Venetian streets and you can even take a gondola ride around the mall. But the thing that will excite kids most is Gondolania, the amusement park inside of the mall. This theme park is full of amazing rides, especially if you are traveling with younger children and there is also an olympic size ice rink.
We usually combine a visit to Villaggio Mall with a trip to Aspire Park too.
Jungle Zone at Hyatt Plaza Mall
Although not a great one if you have teenagers, my favorite mall to visit with toddlers in Qatar is Hyatt Plaza. This mall has one of the best soft play areas for babies and toddlers in the whole of the country but also has a small amusement park called Jungle Zone which has small rollercoasters and bumper cars.
Best Museums in Qatar For Children
Note: Qatar currently does not have a museum dedicated to children, however there is one in the making. Dad Chidlren’s Museum is currently in construction and once opened is bound to top the best things to do in Doha list. Once we have more information on its opening date and exhibits we will update this section. However until it opens the best museums in Qatar for kids are:
National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ)
The National Museum of Qatar is the newest museum on Qatar’s cultural scene and tells the history of Qatar from its nomadic and pearl diving origins, to the discovery of oil right up to present day. While the museum is not completely family friendly, young families will enjoy the interactive elements and the family guides and tours which are delivered in both English and Arabic.
There is also a playground in the museum ground which is a great place for families with toddlers and young children to blow off some steam.
Museum of Illusions
Though not a traditional museum, the museum of illusions is a really fun place to visit with kids, especially those who love instagram as there are loads of photo opportunities here. Located in the City Centre Mall this is easier to visit if you are staying in West Bay or are short on time.
Doha Fire Station
The Doha Fire Station is now an artist residence that showcases the work of renowned local and regional artists. Although not a great attraction for toddlers it is a good one to add to your Qatar itinerary if you are visiting with older children or teenagers.
Have any other questions about visiting Qatar with kids? Be sure to check out our related posts or feel free to ask us any questions you may have!