The Hidden and Not So Hidden Gems of Qatar

The Hidden and Not So Hidden Gems of Qatar

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

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!

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

One of my favourite Doha hotel beach resorts is the  Intercon, (you can read about our recent staycation here).

Enjoying the Intercon 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

Fuwarit Beach

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.

 

Fuwarit beach

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!

Rock formations at 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!

Museum of Islamic arts

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.

View from the Grand Hyatt

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

View from gymkhana

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.

Parisa Souq waqif

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!

 

Experiencing Yemeni food at Bandar Aden

HISTORY

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 

Zubarah

HIDDEN GEM

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.

 

Mia park

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.

 

The beautiful view from Oxygen Park

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? 



 

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase I make a small commission at no extra cost to you

50 Comments

  1. March 2, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    Such a good idea for a blog post. I know so little about Qatar and always love looking out for the hidden gems when I’m travelling. Zekreet looks particularly appealing – those rock formations are absolutely stunning. Thanks so much for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

  2. March 2, 2017 / 2:37 pm

    I definitely want to stay in one of the boutique hotels in the Souq! On my list of to see in Doha. #travellinkup

    • March 2, 2017 / 2:56 pm

      I know it’s near the top of my qatar bucket list! Do you know much about them

  3. March 2, 2017 / 3:35 pm

    Lovely pictures, the beaches there do look so beautiful! And taking a 4×4 to get to that rock formation? Count me in! 🙂

  4. March 3, 2017 / 9:43 am

    I keep hearing such good things about Qatar! It does look pretty amazing!

  5. March 3, 2017 / 10:29 am

    Lovely post! I grew up in the Middle East and have been wanting to go back and explore more of the region – Qatar is high on my list! I would love to wander around the souq and visit the forts. #FarawayFiles

    • March 3, 2017 / 11:01 am

      Let us know if you get here! Where did you grow up

  6. March 3, 2017 / 10:42 am

    I love this idea for a post -! It gives readers a much more extensive idea about what Qatar has to offer and, of course, you’re the resident expert.
    I’m very taken with the photo of the Museum of Islamic Art.
    #culturedkids

    • March 3, 2017 / 11:02 am

      Aww thank you – that’s so lovely of you! I hope people learn more about qatar than the World Cup! Idea originally inspired by the #travellinkup

  7. March 3, 2017 / 10:46 am

    I don’t know much about Qatar, but the Museum of Islamic Art sounds wonderful, as does the Sheikh Faisal Museum. The smaller, quieter museums are often where you can see the real treasures, aren’t they? Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids

    • March 3, 2017 / 11:03 am

      I completely agree – sheikh Faisal is quite original for the region

  8. March 3, 2017 / 11:43 am

    We have friends in Copenhagen who have moved from Qatar and they loved it. Thank you for sharing this post with #FarawayFiles – I love learning more about Doha and beyond.

  9. March 4, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    I don’t know much about Qatar, but it sounds like an interesting place. I love that they close the beach during the season that the sea turtles are hatching. Although I do think it would be very cool to witness all those baby turtles making their way out to sea. #CulturedKids

  10. March 4, 2017 / 1:45 pm

    Doha we have yet to visit – it looks fascinating and what a great mix of known and hidden gems away from the expensive waterfront

    • March 4, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Yes – there is so much more than the hotels and luxury which is all you see on first glance

  11. March 4, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    Wow I love the modern architecture you have shown. Amazing. Now tempted to stopover and visit the museums and beaches en route to Australia. I know very little about Qatar – thanks for sharing your perspective on #FarawayFiles

  12. March 4, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    I’ll be honest I’ve never thought about travelling to Qatar, but this is really interesting – it seems to have a lot to offer! Thanks for sharing.

  13. March 7, 2017 / 7:56 am

    I could imagine that Qatar is quite interesting to visit! Would be nice to go one day! #CityTripping

    • March 7, 2017 / 8:27 am

      It’s easy to visit as a transit hub so you can combine with another trip

  14. March 7, 2017 / 8:06 am

    A friend has just got back from Qatar and has been raving about it. Now added to my ever-growing bucket list

    • March 7, 2017 / 8:27 am

      That’s the problem with well travelled friends ook

  15. March 7, 2017 / 10:34 am

    Great post! I know very little about Qatar, so it was really interesting to learn more about the country and I love the architecture! #citytripping

  16. March 7, 2017 / 1:58 pm

    A very thorough list filled with inspiration. I’ve never been to Doha and didn’t realise there was quite so much beauty. If like to wander the fort and check out the rock formations…as well as stay in one of those wonderful luxury hotels! #citytripping

    • March 7, 2017 / 2:15 pm

      There is more to do than people think – both inside and outside the city

  17. March 7, 2017 / 9:57 pm

    So much to explore..the Museum of Islamic Art is stunning and I love the bit about the beach sometimes closing so the sea turtles can hatch their eggs. #citytripping

    • March 8, 2017 / 4:45 am

      I think museum of Islamic arts is one of the best looking museums anywhere

  18. March 8, 2017 / 4:07 am

    Oh my.. I LOVE this list of known gems and hidden gems! I’ll be sure to revisit this when I do go to Qatar! #CityTripping

  19. March 8, 2017 / 7:57 am

    Oh now after reading your post, I want to visit Doha! 😉

  20. March 8, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    So much to see, it’s such a fascinating and very beautiful place! Thanks for this, I will bookmark it as I really hope to visit one day! 🙂 #citytripping

  21. March 8, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    I love this idea – as you say Qatar isn’t that well-known yet so even the gems are only starting to get recognition and I doubt I would know the hidden ones without living there either. Laughing a bit at the idea you have to wait for winter for the good weather though I doubt I’d fancy a park in 50c heat! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • March 9, 2017 / 5:02 am

      Yes we are in prime seasons now but summer is coming

  22. March 9, 2017 / 6:16 pm

    I admit I don’t know a great deal about Qatar so this was very interesting to read. Would love to go one day! #citytripping

    • March 9, 2017 / 6:38 pm

      Thank you – I think most people don’t know much about it so I hope this piece is of interest

    • March 12, 2017 / 4:00 am

      Me too! I only wish I’d done. Pre when I lived in London

  23. March 13, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    It all looks so amazing, I do love to explore, the tops of my list would be to see the turtles on the beach x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.