DohaTravel Guide

The capital of Qatar, Doha, is a culturally diverse, cosmopolitan city in the Middle East, set on the Persian Gulf. Renowned for its futuristic skyline and architectural designs, from the iconic Aspire Tower to the skyscrapers of West Bay, Doha is also deeply traditional.

With a rich cultural heritage of Arabic and Western influences, the old and new happily exist side-by-side in Doha. Modern buildings and high-rises tower alongside traditional souqs (markets) selling everything from spices and street food to pashminas, traditional garments, gold jewellery and handicrafts.

Luxury malls are next level, packed with high-end brands and offering immersive high-tech experiences. The Middle East meets the West on the culinary scene with a fusion of flavours.

But beyond the many cultural and retail offerings, Doha is also a world-class sports and entertainment hub.

So go ahead, delve into our Doha Travel Guide, and discover more about this intriguing, must-visit destination!

Doha quick facts

Language

National language

Arabic

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

AUD $1.46

Local time

Monday

7:31pm

Currency

Qatari riyal

AUD $1.00 = QAR ﷼2.34

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

AUD $12.77

Electricity

Plug type: G

3 pins • 240V

Explore Doha

Where to stay in Doha?

The West Bay area, on the eastern side of the city, is the area to stay if you fancy holidaying among diplomats and dignitaries. Accommodation options here vary from extremely grand to slightly pared back but still pretty flashy.

On the West Bay shore, the five-star Grand Hyatt offers a choice of hotel rooms or suites or luxury villas, several swimming pools and access to one of the biggest private beaches in the city. As for dining options, you’ll be delighted by the Thai, Italian, and Middle Eastern restaurants!


Offering a combination of high-end luxury and traditional Qatari charm is The Mandarin Oriental in downtown Msheireb, in the heart of the city. It’s tasteful, modern and features a rooftop swimming pool. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the fine-dining options from Cantonese to Mediterranean, plus an entire lounge dedicated to gelato!


The Mondrian Doha, also in West Bay, is among the Top 12 hotels in Doha, according to Condé Nast Traveller readers. Art and fantasy combine, resulting in interior design that’s opulent and utterly unique. And let’s not even get started on the magnificent spa…


Got a three-star budget? The Hampton by Hilton Doha Old Town has got you covered. Bright and cheery with stunning views over the bay, there’s free Wi-Fi, a business centre and breakfast thrown in. Plus, you’ll be staying opposite The National Museum of Qatar and within walking distance of restaurants and shops.


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Distant view of Skyline on beach with sunsetting in the corner
    • Portrait photo of a hawk with its wings spread on a green pad attached with red rope
    • Katara Cultural Village during sunset
  • Distant view of Skyline on beach with sunsetting in the corner
    Distant view of Skyline on beach with sunsetting in the corner
    Distant view of Skyline on beach with sunsetting in the corner
  • Portrait photo of a hawk with its wings spread on a green pad attached with red rope
    Portrait photo of a hawk with its wings spread on a green pad attached with red rope
    Portrait photo of a hawk with its wings spread on a green pad attached with red rope
  • Katara Cultural Village during sunset
    Katara Cultural Village during sunset
    Katara Cultural Village during sunset

Things to do in Doha

Doha’s modernisation has moved at a furious pace. What was once a pearl-fishing village is now an urban landscape of towering skyscrapers packed with must-see attractions. Already back in 2015, Doha was named one of the New7Wonders Cities, and it’s not hard to see why. Here are some of our favourite things to do in Doha:

The Aspire Zone is a top lifestyle and sports destination stretching across 2.5 km2 in the Baaya district of Al Rayyan. Here you’ll find parks, running and walking tracks, restaurants, children's playgrounds, and the high-end Villaggio Mall. This complex is also home to a massive indoor sports stadium, the Aspire Dome and the 300-metre-high Aspire Tower or The Torch Doha – a five-star hotel visible from almost anywhere in Doha.


To get acquainted with Qatari culture and customs, there’s no better spot than the Katara Cultural Village. It showcases art by local and international artists, spectacular Qatari architecture, the beautiful Katara Gardens planted with species from all over the world. It’s also the location of the only opera house in Qatar.

Afterwards, stroll down the Corniche promenade along Doha Bay and discover relaxing green spaces, cafés and spectacular skylines. With dhows (wooden boats) departing from the Corniche, book a sunset cruise as the perfect way to end your sightseeing day!


This is not your typical 4x4 tour through the desert. Not even close. ‘Dune bashing’ is a favourite weekend pastime in these parts and one for adrenaline junkies. Tour operators take you in their luxury 4x4s to the dunes around Doha, where you’ll fly across the sand at top speed. This is followed by a sundowner of traditional tea in the desert (although some may wish for something stronger after this!). Among these tour operators are those who also offer camel rides through the desert, where you can travel across the sands with these magnificent creatures the way it has been done for centuries.


Art lovers will be in their element at the Museum of Islamic Art, which houses the world’s largest collection. Here you can marvel at Islamic artistic expression in various media spanning some 1,400 years, but make sure your shoulders and knees are covered to gain entry to this five-storey treasure trove. It’s situated on the Doha waterfront, in the MIA Park.

The park is also where the sculpture called “7” by celebrated American artist Richard Serra reaches towards the sky and faces the sea. This minimalistic work is particularly breathtaking when seen in the light of sunrise and sunset. The number 7 is considered spiritual and significant to the Qatari and Islamic cultures.


The art of falconry is intertwined with Qatari history and culture. Introduced by the nomadic Bedouin people as a form of hunting, today it’s a modern competitive sport, with some birds costing the same as a pedigree racehorse! Visit the Falcon Souq at Souq Waqif market to encounter these magnificent raptors up close. For a more unusual experience, book a safari tour into the desert to visit falcon-training camps.


If you have a rental car, set off on a day trip to Al Khor, about a 45-minute drive out of Doha, depending on traffic and your route. Once a humble, secluded fishing and trading village, it has grown into one of the biggest cities in Qatar while maintaining a fascinating blend of old and new. Visit the Al Khor Towers where sentinels once stood watch over the Persian Gulf, keeping the community safe from pirates, then pop into the Al Khor Museum to find out more about its history and the various archaeological digs in the area. For a family-friendly outing, head to Al Khor Park, one of the oldest wildlife parks in Doha and home to the biggest zoo in the country.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Doha

Doha food and drink

Dining out in Doha is an experience, from inventive presentation to authentic Qatari dishes and international flavours. Remember that Qatar is a dry country, meaning that alcohol is limited to hotels. Plus, it’ll cost you A LOT!

Let’s start with mentioning brunch. Because brunch in Doha is more than a meal, it’s a national pastime! And it’s huge, not only in popularity but in the sheer volume of food, from samosas stuffed with vine leaves, piles of sweet dumplings, plates loaded with makhboos (traditional rice dishes) and fahsa (slow-cooked meat stew) to decadent bite-sized batter balls (luqaimat) dipped in honey and washed down with karak (a milky, spice tea).

We suggest booking ahead for the fabulous brunches at the St Regis Doha or The Four Seasons Doha, which is famed for its rooftop restaurant, Nobu. Spectacular views are dished up together with world-class cuisine and top-notch service.


A visit to Doha should really include a meal at the spectacular Three-Sixty restaurant, the revolving restaurant at the top of the Aspire Tower. The panoramic views over the city are incredible, as is the Mediterranean menu.


Boho Social, as the name suggests, is a quirky but gorgeous Bohemian-chic restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. Experience hookah culture with their shisha and coffee evenings, and there’s also some fine mixology happening – non-alcoholic, of course. Find Boho Social at the top of the Katara Beach Club, a wellness and spa centre on Katara Beach.


For an authentic Qatari dining experience and hospitality, head to Shay Al Shoomos in the Souq Waqif market situated downtown. It’s known as one of the best laid-back local restaurants in Doha.

Doha also has a wonderful street-food scene, and while its many markets offer a large variety of street food in one place, you can also find these delicious nibbles being sold from food trucks and carts, little hole-in-the-wall shops or on the roadside. And what’s on this menu? Well, shawarmas, chapati flatbreads, falafel, local-style pancakes and more!


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Doha through your eyes

Where to shop in Doha?

Doha is known for markets (souqs), state-of-the-art malls and artificial island developments, where a shopaholic’s every desire is the name of the game.

The oldest souq is the Souq Waqif. This major tourist attraction is situated in the heart of the city, on the banks of a dry riverbed called Wadi Musheireb, and the original spot where Bedouins used to trade centuries ago. Walking through the old sections with mud walls and narrow twisting alleys is a delightful journey back in time. Agarwood incense (Oud) and perfumes are sold alongside lanterns, woven baskets, wooden crafts, souvenirs, material and so much more, while hamalis (porters) march up and down with wheelbarrows full of customers’ purchases.

This huge market features open-air and covered stalls, shops and eateries, and many souqs within the souq, such as the Spice Souq (or spice market) with its displays of jute bags piled high with all kinds of colourful and fragrant spices. There’s also the Gold Souq selling high-quality gold and jewellery (you can even have customised items made), the Camel Souq (where you can see these “ships of the desert” up close) and the Falcon Souq we mentioned earlier.


In downtown Doha, you’ll find the Msheireb Galleria, a mall with over 100 shops on four levels, including a cinema, supermarket and an entertainment centre for kids. Qatari brands are showcased here, like Qiyorro, Qatar’s first conscious beauty range, and the modern clothing brand The Project, with designs inspired by Qatari youth culture. Pop-up shops showcase up-and-coming Qatari designers alongside graffiti art.


Want to shop with the moneyed of the Middle East? Then head to Pearl Island, an artificial island that’s all about five-star hotels, superyachts, and high-end restaurants. The shopping experience here is like no other in Doha, with a selection of top boutiques, speciality stores and flagship showrooms.


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Doha?

The desert climate of Doha means that year-round, the city is hot and dry during the day and freezing at night. It also only has two seasons. The summers are long – from May to September – and peak summer, in July, can be an absolute scorcher. The average temperature is 41.5°C (106.7°F), while the average low temperature is 29.1°C (84.4°F).

Winters are mild, from December to March, a good time to visit Doha, especially if you want to venture into the desert with a tour operator. January is the coldest month, with an average high temperature of 21.7°C (71.1°F) and an average low temperature of 12.8°C (55°F).

If you’re keen to learn about Doha’s culture and religious practices, the Holy Month of Ramadan is usually around March and April. But keep in mind that many places will be closed or under restricted trading hours.

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How to get around Doha

Doha’s public transport system is easy to navigate. Grab a Karwa Smartcard near the baggage claim at Hamad International Airport to use on most kinds of transport around the city.

The easiest and most efficient way to avoid traffic and get to where you want to go is the Doha metro. It connects all the major areas, and also makes its way to the airport on the north-south red line and east-west gold and blue lines. Check times and top up your card with the Qatar Rail App – download it on your smartphone. The Doha metro system also has two bus networks, the metro link and the metro express, which you can use for free when using the metro.


Often used by locals, the bus service connects Hamad International Airport to most of the city, beaches and sites beyond. The state-run, air-conditioned Mowasalat Karwa offers dozens of routes covering all the main neighbourhoods and is best accessed and navigated with the Karwa Bus app. Make sure you have your Smartcard with you as bus drivers don’t sell tickets and might charge you an additional fee. You can opt for limited journeys (two trips within 24 hours) or the ‘unlimited’ option.

To get from the international airport to the city, you can also use the turquoise Karwa taxis, but draw Qatari cash beforehand, as they won’t accept international currencies. Otherwise, there’s Uber, which can make trips less stressful since you can pay using your credit card on the app.


Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in Doha?

Doha has some fabulous beaches, but please be mindful of the strict dress code, particularly at public beaches. Cover up your shoulders, midriff and legs.

Just 90km from the city is the limestone escarpment of Zekreet Beach, a popular spot for weekend campers. It’s also popular with people who prefer unspoilt, undeveloped beaches, as there are very few hotels. Instead, you’ll find shallow waters, limestone coves and remnants of a small 18th century fort and madabes – rooms where dates were pressed to harvest juice.


Among Doha’s most picturesque beaches is Katara Beach, with its 1.5km shoreline and separate ‘family only’ and ‘men only’ beaches. It’s in the Katara Cultural Village area, where you’ll also find plenty of cafés, fast-food outlets and a children’s playground.


About 80km from Doha, Fuwairit Beach is a popular destination with locals, families and travellers alike. Circled by cliffs and with pristine white sand and calm, shallow, turquoise waters, it’s a great beach for swimming, snorkelling and picnicking. Fuwairit Beach is also known for kitesurfing and gorgeous sunsets over the Persian Gulf.


Sealine Beach, located in the south, is dotted with the cabanas of the Sealine Beach Resort, Qatar’s first leisure destination. Many locals come here for the weekend, but you can still find a quiet spot to picnic, fish or enjoy water sports.


To experience something unique, drive to the Inland Sea from Doha in about an hour or opt for a day trip with one of the tour operators. This incredible body of water between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Khor Al-Adaid Nature Reserve. The sea is surrounded by dunes and is home to a variety of marine animals, such as dolphins, sharks and turtles. Migratory birds fly from here to Saudi Arabia.


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Doha Frequently asked questions

Due to Doha’s proximity, you can cover a lot of attractions in a day if time is of the essence. However, if you are keen to really experience Doha and its delights, try to spend three to four days here.


Official guidance from the Visit Qatar website indicates that attitudes towards dress in Qatar are relaxed, but visitors (both men and women) are encouraged to dress modestly and avoid revealing clothing in public. It is generally recommended for both genders to keep their shoulders and knees covered.


Lightweight loose-fitting long-sleeved tops and long pants in breathable fabrics and comfortable walking shoes are a necessity. T-shirts and board shorts (for men and women) if you’re planning on swimming at public beaches are also strongly recommended.


The West Bay area is ideal as it’s within the city’s financial and commercial district with plenty of options for sampling the local cuisine and provides easy access to Doha’s main attractions. It’s also just 30 minutes by car from the new Hamad International Airport, so that’s a bonus!


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Alcohol consumption is generally not part of the local culture however it is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars.


Doha is the capital city and main financial hub of Qatar, so it’s kind of a big deal. Doha is also famous for several of its cultural landmarks including the Imam Muhammad Ibn Abd Al Wahhab Mosque, the Souq Waqif market and the awe-inspiring Museum of Islamic Art, to name a few.


Doha is blessed with superb weather all year round, meaning it is a great destination whatever the season. That said, Qatar is known for its scorching summers. If you’re looking for a poolside vacay, aim for November or March to May, when it cools down a little. Just a heads up if you’re planning a March holiday, be sure to check the dates for Ramadan.


Doha dishes up a smorgasbord of things to see and do, from visiting cultural landmarks such as the Imam Muhammad Ibn Abd Al Wahhab Mosque and the awe-inspiring Museum of Islamic Art, to hunting for bargains at the traditional Souq Waqif market and sprawling by the beach.


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