In this ultimate Qatar itinerary we will tell you what to do in this beautiful country whether you have 1 or 7 days in Doha. We cover the best things in Doha city, the desert and some off the beaten track recommendations from locals to make sure you have lots to do in this little country we once called home.
How to get around on this Qatar itinerary
The main ways to get around Doha are:
- Doha Metro
- Careem or Uber.
- Private Transportation
The cheapest ways to get around Doha are the Metro and buses. As a tourist I would recommend the Metro if you are looking for a cheap way to get around the city. The Metro is new and air conditioned which is definitely needed for those visiting Qatar in the Summer and is reliable. Buses really aren’t a great option for a tourist in Doha.
The taxis in Doha are called Karwas and are easily spotted by their colour and there is always a taxi rank at major tourist attractions. When I lived in Doha I would usually use the Karwa taxis instead of the app based taxis but that is my personal choice.
The other option is to hire a vehicle at the airport or at your hotel but the traffic in Doha can be challenging and may not suit everyone. If this is an option you wish to go down be sure to check the documentation you need before arrival.
For a more complete guide to your transportation options in Doha please click here.
Day 1 – Museum, the Dhow Port and Souq Waqif
If you only had one day in Doha and wanted to get a good idea about the city and country then this is the day I would chose to do.
I would start the day at either Museum of Islamic Art or the National Museum of Qatar which are both located on the Doha Corniche.
The Museum of Islamic Art is a beautiful building designed by I M Pei, which plays th symmetry and shadows and from a certain angle resembles a Qatari woman wearing a batoola (a traditional local face covering) inside explores the decorative arts relating to the Islamic world with items from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Highlight of the displays include carpet, pearls and armour.
This museum is probably more suited to those travelling without children as it is more suitable for an adult audience. Please note: the museum is closed and will be reopening in Autumn 2022 before the Qatar World Cup.
The other option would be to visit the National Museum of Qatar which tells you the history of the country from the nomadic and pearling days to the discovery of oil to contemporary life. There is also a gallery for children to explore which makes this a better option for those visiting Doha with kids. If you are interested in getting to know more about Qatar then this is definitely the museum for you.
Once you have finished at the museum we recommend taking a walk around the Museum of Islamic Art Park. It offers one of the best views of the Doha city skyline in my opinion and there is a cafe at the sealine which offers some of the best views in the whole of the city.
These museums are also one of the great free things to do in Qatar.
Once you have finished at the museums we recommend taking a stroll along the corniche to see the traditional Dhow port. Dhows are the traditional wooden boats of the area and boat rides are available if you are looking for something to do in Doha at night.
For your evening we recommend heading over to Souq Waqif, perhaps Doha’s most famous tourist attractions. Meaning Standing Market, the souq is a great place to go shopping especially for your Doha souvenirs. Here you can see spice souqs, the impressive gold souq, arts and crafts from the local area and grab a bite to eat. Our favourite place to eat in the Souq is Damasca One which has great balcony seating which gives you great views of the Souq and serves traditional Middle Eastern food. Alternatively we also love the Yemeni restaurant Bandar Aden which is the cheapest place you can eat in Souq Waqif.
Note: The Souq is definitely something to do in the evening as it is shut in the mornings and doesn’t really get going until the sun has gone down.
Day 2 – Mangroves, Al Khor and Katara
This day gets you out of Doha City and will require either your own vehicle or perhaps more preferable an organised tour.
This day requires an early start as you head out to the Mangroves at Al Khor.
Mangroves and Al Khor
The reason to head out of the city is to go and see some of Doha’s wildlife. The Al Khor Mangroves is famed for being a stop in the flamingo migration and they can usually be seen in January or February.
The best way to see them is via a kayaking tour. There are plenty of tours available such as XYZ.
Once you have visited the Mangroves, head back to your hotel to cool off and change before heading back out to Katara.
Katara is a cultural village in Qatar and is home to many of Qatar’s cultural festivals such as the Camel Festival usually held in February. It is a great place to wonder around with a museum and shops but also a great place to stop for dinner.
Day 3 – Visit the Desert
No visit to Qatar is complete without a visit to the desert.
Driving in the desert is an art form so even if you have a car we don’t recommend driving yourself. Instead use a local firm to do a half day or full day trip. These trips usually include a camel ride and dune bashing experience along with a BBQ meal.
Day 4 – Visit the Malls
The Middle East is a shopping paradise but even if shopping isn’t your thing the malls are still worth hitting during your stay. My favourite mall in Qatar is Villagio with its mock Venetian theme complete with gondola rides and a theme park but other favourites include Mall of Qatar and Festival City. There are lots of restaurants including some British and American Chains (Cheesecake Factory anyone?) and usually a theme park, soft play or ice rink to add extra entertainment.
Day 5 – Have a Beach Day
While Qatar might not rival the Caribbean or Maldives for pristine beaches many of the hotels will have a beach. If you hotel does not then we recommend buying a beach and pool day access at a hotel such as the Grand Hyatt or the Four Seasons. This is the ultimate in Qatar relaxation.
If you are visiting with kids then we recommend the Intercon (NOT the city one) as it has the most child friendly amenities and some great poolside restaurants.
Note: while Qatar has some public beaches we recommend tourists using a hotel beach as these do not have the same dress code rules as their public counterparts.
Day 6 – Sheikh Faisal Museum and Camel Race Track
While Doha city has lots to see and do, it is worth getting out of the city again. The Sheikh Faisal Museum is one of my favourite museums in Qatar and has an eclectic mix of objects from American muscle cars to local artefacts which make it a great day out. As it is slightly out of the city it is worth pairing this trip with a visit to the Camel Race track located nearby.
Day 7 – Visit the Forts
While it may not have ancient monuments, Qatar does have some archaeological sites and some amazing forts.
The forts are a great way to find out some of this country’s history while seeing a different side to the Qatar landscape. For more information on how to get to the Qatar forts please click here.
NB: if you are looking to do a Doha stopover be sure to check out this post which looks at what is achievable if you only have a short time on a Qatar layover.
Where to Stay in Doha
For this itinerary, there is not one place that I recommend staying as it depends on your budget and what facilities you prefer your hotel to have. For a breakdown of areas and facilities check out our post on where to stay in Doha.
Things to Consider Before Travelling to Qatar
Things to consider when planning your Qatar itinerary that may affect opening hours and your ability to do outdoor activities. These are
Summer gets VERY HOT. Be sure you are planning your day around the heat and take plenty of breaks
Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting and during Ramadan many things will be closed during the day time and eating and drinking in public is forbidden, (although some five star hotels will have a hotel restaurant open but screened). Be sure to check when this is as if you are travelling to Doha during Ramadan it will greatly affect what you will be able to do.
- Public Holidays
The main public holidays in Doha are
- Sports Day (usually the second Tuesday in February)
- Eid al Adha and Eid al Fitr – as the Islamic calendar is lunar these holidays move year on year so be sure to check when they fall during your year of travel.
- National Day – December 18th
FAQs about Visiting Qatar
Is Qatar Safe?
We lived in Qatar for four years and found it to be a very safe country. As with being a tourist anywhere it is best to be aware of your surroundings but petty crime and theft is not common in Qatar.
Is there a dress code I must adhere to when visiting Qatar
Yes being a Muslim country there is definitely a dress code you must adhere to when visiting Qatar. Click here for my guide on what to wear in Qatar.
Is Qatar good for families
My first child was born in Qatar and I can say without a doubt that Qatar is a great place for families to visit. There are many kid orientated places to visit and most restaurants and venues welcome children with open arms. For more information on what to do in Qatar with kids click here.
What would you put on your Qatar itinerary?