Qatar, not on everybody’s bucket list but it is gaining momentum on the tourist front especially through layover/stopover offers with Qatar Airways making Qatar holidays are more frequent thing. I have lived in Qatar for over three years and have discovered that people’s perceptions of the country are limited and many people even expats don’t really head off the beaten track. But there are loads of really interesting places in Doha Qatar. So here are my hidden and not so hidden gems of Qatar!
THE BEST BEACHES IN QATAR
KNOWN GEM – BEST BEACH IN DOHA QATAR
Most people when they think of the Middle East think of swanky 5* and luxury hotels where expats can sun themselves all year long. While the reality of being an expat in the Middle East is not all sunbathing and beaches, it is true that there are beaches in Doha, and they are pretty awesome! So if you are looking for a Doha beach these are the ones I recommend!
Intercontinental Doha Beach
In my opinion if you are looking for a Doha beach, then you really can’t go wrong with the Intercontinental Doha Beach. It is possible the beach nearest Doha and has beautiful views of the Doha skyline!
Advice about the Intercontinental Doha Beach: there are two Intercontinental Hotels in Qatar. Both are lovely however only one has beach access. The Intercontinental Doha the City does not have a beach while the Intercontinental Doha does have beach access. If you aren’t staying in the Intercontinental that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the Intercontintental Doha Beach. The Intercontinental Doha beach pass is a way to experience the luxury hotel beach resort without having to stay there! Who doesn’t love getting to experience luxury for less!
If you are looking for other beach near Doha then I recommend checking out some of the 5* hotels for those that don’t want to travel outside of Doha for the beach.
Another fabulous beach near Doha can be found at the Grand Hyatt Doha. It has a beautiful long stretch beach with lovely views of the Pearl. They also offer one of the best pool and beach day access in Doha.
Now while Doha is home to a plethora of 5* hotels there are other beaches off the beaten track which mean you don’t have to go to hotels to catch some rays
HIDDEN GEM – Beaches Near Doha
Qatar’s coastline offers many diverse beach experiences all of these beaches are near Doha. Fuwarit to the North of Doha is one of my favourites as it is one of the more sandy beaches. Be careful of the time of year you go as many turtles go there to lay their eggs and the beach and the beach is sometimes closed for their protection.
Hidden Gem – Zekreet Beach
Perhaps my favourite hidden beach gem is Zekreet on the Western coast. It is a rockier beach but you really feel secluded here despite the fact that you are really close to civilisation being extremely close to the Cuban Hospital. There are other tourist attractions as well as the beach at Zekreet with a film village and the Richard Serra artwork East/West all located here. Nb you will require a 4×4 to visit! If you don’t have a 4×4 or access to your own vehicle you can take this tour out to see the sculptures and Zekreet!
BEST QATAR MUSEUMS
KNOWN GEM – Museum of Islamic Art Qatar
The Museum of Islamic Art Qatar is one of the most iconic buildings in Qatar. It was designed by IM Pei and is located on a man made island just off the corniche. I love it as it plays with light and shadows so familiar with traditional Islamic architecture and is said to look like a woman in a batoola (a batoola is a traditional metal face mask worn in the Gulf). The Museum is home to an array of beautiful Islamic arts from jewellery to carpets, armour to astrolabes. It also has a great park.The museum is a must visit see cultural attraction in Qatar!
HIDDEN GEM – The Sheikh Faisal Museum
The Sheikh Faisal Museum located just outside of Doha past Education City. This is the only private museum in Qatar and is the private collection of Sheikh Faisal. It contains personal memorabilia from his life along with an amazing vehicle collection. It is well worth a visit. Please check the website for visiting details, and as the Sheikh Faisal Museum is located outside of Doha, you may need a car to visit.
HIDDEN GEM – MSHEREIB MUSEUMS
Did you also know that the Mshereib Museums complex next to Souq Waqif also has four museums now open to the public including the bin Jelmoud House which tell he story of slavery on the region, a house documenting the mshereib project, a historic Qatari house and a museum dedicated to the companies house which documents the history of oil in the country.
BEST HOTELS IN DOHA
KNOWN GEM – BEST LUXURY HOTELS IN DOHA
Doha is home to amazing 5* hotels and we love nothing more than a staycation. We loved visiting the Intercon and Grand Hyatt but have our sights set on stay cations at the Four Seasons and maybe even the Banana Island Resort. If you are looking for luxury then look no further than Doha’s hotels.
HIDDEN GEM – BEST HOTEL IN DOHA – SOUQ WAQIF BOUTIQUE HOTELS
I will admit that I have never stayed at a boutique hotel is Souq Waqif but this has suddenly jumped up my list of things I want to do in Doha. I recently visited one of the boutique hotel restaurants, Gymkhana and had an amazing time and have since then been looking into this boutique hotels. They look to be real hidden gems!
For more advice on where to stay in Doha, check out this guide
BEST PLACES IN QATAR
KNOWN GEM – Souq Waqif – one of the best tourist places in Doha
In my opinion, Souq Waqif is the number one tourist destination in all of Qatar. Whenever we have guests in town this is the place they want to go! Any one who has visited Souq Waqif won’t have failed to see the bejewelled and mirror restaurant Parisa. This is one of our favourites in Souq Waqif and is located on the main thoroughfare. This main walkway provides you with plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops and access to the amazing handicraft, gold and art souq but it worth getting lost in the souq as you find some real hidden gems.
HIDDEN GEM In Souq Waqif
Getting lost down the winding lanes of the souq has meant we have found some great discoveries. From amazing fabric shops, to spice shops and even finding a tailor for my husband to get hand made custom suits at the most reasonable of prices, I can not recommend getting lost in the Souq enough. One of my favourite finds has to be the restaurant Bandar Aden, a Yemeni restaurant near the camel souq. I had never experienced Yemeni food before and am so glad I have as it is so distinct from other Middle Easter cuisine. With large breads served with a type of salsa and sizzling pots of stews it is something that must be tried. Added bonus is you get to eat authentically on the floor!
KNOWN GEM – UNESCO Site in Qatar
Qatar as the history aficionados probably know has one UNESCO World Heritage Site. Zubarah Fort. The fort was abandoning in the 1930s but in there you can learn about life in Qatar as a trading port.
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
Although Zubarah is the most well known of the forts, the coast from Al Ruwais to Zubarah is littered with abandoned forts. It is worth driving down the coastal road and visiting each one.
For those who don’t have the time to make the hour and ten minute drive, Barzan Towers located near to Ikea can satisfy your history thirst while never leaving Doha city limits!
You can read more about our explorations of Qatari forts here
BEST PARKS IN DOHA
KNOWN GEM – MIA Park – the best park in Doha
Perhaps the best known of all the parks in Qatar is MIA Park. Whenever the weather is good, meaning Winter here, everybody tries to take advantage of the weather by going outdoors. MIA Park is a family favourite with lovely walks, views of the city and a great children’s play area complete with carousel. During the Winter months it has a bazaar on a Friday which is well worth a browse as it is full of amazing local products and handmade goodies such as Pie Lady and Patt’s Handicrafts to name but a few.
HIDDEN GEM – Oxygen Park
Oxygen Park is a new addition to the Doha Park scene and is little known about. It has become our go to Park with Baby E! We love the walk around the park and will be using in the summer aswell as they have thought careful about shade and cooling. It also has a great play park for children and this beautiful flower tunnel. It is a lovely place to while away an afternoon.
If you would like to know more about Things to See and Do in Qatar when not check out my A-Z Guide.
What are your hidden gems in Qatar and how did you find them? What are the most interesting places in Doha Qatar to visit in your opinion?
Further Reading on Qatar:
What to do with Kids in Qatar
Qatar’s Most Beautiful Places
Hidden Gems in Qatar Public Beaches in Qatar