Top 5 Things to See and Do in Doha, Qatar (In One Day)

jonny blair doha qatar

Backpacking in Doha, Qatar – doing a top 5 in one day.

I’ve touched on Qatar before on this blog, as I have passed through it twice now, in 2011 and at the end of 2013. As the country prepares in advance for the World Cup of 2022, I checked out the city of Doha with my girlfriend doing all the “touristy things” in mega quick time. The capital city of Qatar is Doha and it’s not actually that big a city to get around. While the skyscraping business centre hides the commercial intentions, the country is Middle East to the core and welcomes tourists while oozes local spirit. All in all, it’s not really the “plastic city” you were told about. In short, if you get the chance to have a stop over here, take it – don’t just pass through the airport. You can get a Qatari Visa on arrival pretty easily don’t forget!

doha qatar seafront jonny blair

Walking by Doha’s seafront past lots of local fishermen.

Let me take you through my personal top 5 things to see and do in the city. This is intended to be a quick easy guide for those passing through Doha by the way, not intended to be a complete overview of the city. In my life I’ve officially been to Doha for a total of 4 calendar days, though only had 2 nights there and only really one full day. And yes, you can crack this five in one day no problem!

doha mosque qatar

One of many Mosques in Doha, Qatar.

1. Dhow Ride in Doha Bay

Get this one on your list please. This is as relaxing as travel can get. Dhows are the traditional old school boats that sit in the harbour. You can get a one hour cruise for upwards of 20 Qatari Riyals per person.

doha dhow qatar

Cruising on our dhow in Doha.

We scrounged big time and hitched onto a boat with a top Australian family, and ended up paying 18 QR each – bargain. You can get the Dhows from a jetty near Al-Mourjan restaurant.

dhow ride in doha bay qatar

You HAVE to do a Dhow Ride in Doha Bay!

Savour the views, sit back and relax. You’re on a Dhow in Doha!

jonny blair dhow qatar doha bay

In front of our Dhow boat where we sailed round Doha Bay in Qatar.

2. Museum of Islamic Art

I’m not a museum freak, but guess what, I love a free museum. There’s something about not having to pay to see a cool place like this. Even if you don’t want to go inside, Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art is a state of the art modern building overlooking the bay.

free museum in doha qatar

Inside the stunning and FREE Islamic Museum of Art in Doha, Qatar.

There are 3 floors and an area for temporary exhibitions. There was a Hajj exhibition when we were there and it was awesome! It also offers good views of the city and some exhibits from Turkey, Iran and all parts of the Middle East.

doha qatar museum of islamic art

The artistic building which is the Islamic Museum of art here in Doha, Qatar.

3. Souq Waqif

Again, this place destroys all those “plastic city myths”. The Souq Waqif is an absoultely colourful, cultural and old school market in central Doha. It looks the part, it plays the part and it’s blatantly Qatari through and through. This is an immensely proud nation.

souq waqif doha qatar jonny blair

Walking through the markets of the Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar.

Alongside scarves, rugs and souvenirs, you will see hundreds of Qatar flags flying.

qatar flag souq wqaif

Souq Waqif and its Qatar flags.

Horses also march through the streets and by dusk the wafting smell of international cuisines fills the air of the streets around the Waqif.

souq waqif markets qatar

Horses in the streets beside the Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar.

4. Al Corniche

Rather than separate all the parts that line Al Corniche, I thought I;d include the whole promenade as one on here. The reason being – walk it! Walk along the promenade yourself and take in all the main sites – the harbour, the view of the city, the palace, the two biggest Mosques, the fort (near Souq Waqif), the Clock Tower and Al Bidda Park.

doha jonny blair

The view of Doha from Al Corniche.

As a bonus, try and do this walk by day and night. Sunset is gorgeous and the thriving heart of Doha will beat its welcoming soul out at you. Come 2022 these locals will already know the meaning of hospitality.

doha by night

Doha by night from the seafront.

5. World Cup Stadia

Get out to a World Cup Stadium while you’re here in Doha. They will need to build a few more over the next 8 years. They already have the massive National Stadium called the Khalifa Stadium that hosted Paris St. Germain v. Real Madrid last month (January 2014). World Cup fever hit Qatar as early as 2010 when they won the bid – the markets and streets are already covered in endless Qatar 2022 fliers, balloons, scarves, t-shirts etc.

doha qatar world cup 2022

Doha will be a World Cup city in 2022. Football Fever will send this place crazy!

Give them a chance to host this spectacle, they’ve had their critics before a ball has been kicked. If the get the 8 stadia they need by the time the World Cup starts and a slight change in licensing laws (and for pork) then no doubt they’ll make great hosts.

northern ireland qatar 2022 world cup

A sneak preview visit to one of the 2022 Stadia, here’s hoping Northern Ireland can qualify in 8 years time!!

So that’s a quick overview and my top 5 things to see and do in Doha, Qatar. I’ve based it on a stop over so it makes it easy for you to navigate. You can actually walk the whole thing from the airport, which is what we did. There currently is no obvious public transport from the airport.

doha qatar islamic building

Massive Islamic Building in Doha, Qatar.

Here are some of my videos including some of the top 5 things to see and do in Doha, Qatar:

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11 thoughts on “Top 5 Things to See and Do in Doha, Qatar (In One Day)

  • I have no doubt that they will do a fantastic job hosting World Cup 2022. I am just curious how they are going to fit eight World Cup – sized stadiums in such a small country. More importantly, what else is there to do in Qatar? How much time would you spend in the country if you could go back again before World Cup 2022?
    Ray recently posted…Are You Going to San Francisco?My Profile

  • Hi Ray – you mean before 2002?? If the World Cup isn’t on, three days max! There aren’t many big towns outside Doha, though the desert and the natural wonders are recommended so I’d do a night in the desert and a night in some other town. I’ll try and leave it until 2022 until I go back. I saw 3 of the stadiums on my 2 visits so they have no issue fitting them in. They just need to get that metro system started and allowing boozers. Pepperoni pizza and ham sandwiches would also be nice – they currently have ONE pork shop 😉 Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hey Jonny, nice post about a great city. I have always wanted to go to Doha and experience it first hand but I’m a bit skeptical if the area is safe for first time tourist like me. Please let me know your thoughts about the security. Thanks!

  • Hi Wayne – it’s a great city and VERY safe. Of that I assure you. I’ve been to a load of cities round the world now and Doha is in the top 20 safest places, you’ll enjoy it there! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Thanks, Jonny! I figured 3 – 5 days max in Qatar is all a tourist would really need to get a good comprehension of the country, so thanks for confirming that. If I am able to make it to Qatar for World Cup 2022, then my plan would be to totally do a Kuwait – Bahrain – Qatar trip or a UAE – Qatar or Oman – Qatar trip. I just didn’t want to short change myself on Qatar by not giving it enough time to visit!
    Ray recently posted…Are You Going to San Francisco?My Profile

  • Sounds like a crazy trip Ray – count me in, if I haven’t bagged that hattrick by then. Almost did Kuwait last week on a stopover but booked different flights last minute. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Will do, Buddy! It’s my goal to attend at least 3 World Cup tournaments in my lifetime, as I met a Vietnam War vet in Belize a few years ago who did the same thing. After Brazil this year, Qatar would be my next attempt to go! Could definitely use a travel buddy that appreciates culture and unique experiences without breaking the bank to accomplish it!
    Ray recently posted…Are You Going to San Francisco?My Profile

  • Wow Ray! A Hat-trick of World Cups??!! Amazing idea. I’m just up for one probably and that will be this year. That will change however if Northern Ireland qualify. Hopefully Canada will make it sometime too. You could have had Owen Hargreaves a few years back, so you never know what superstar is on the way up. Safe travels and see you in Brazil. Jonny

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