Doha’s Hamad International Airport is Qatar’s only international airport, and it’s likely that you could have a stopover there should you be travelling in the area. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend all your time at the airport, as Doha is full of quick attractions you can visit before catching your next flight. Learn all about what to do on a stopover in Doha, Qatar.
1. Shop for Souvenirs at Souq Waqif
The airport isn’t too far from the city centre, and that’s where you’ll find the famous Souq Waqif. This open-air market is traditionally Qatari and offers a wide variety of products for sale from various vendors. You’ll find traditional crafts, modern accessories and everything in between. The market has cafes as well, so you’ll have no problem keeping yourself hydrated and full during your stopover.
2. Ride on a dhow Boat
A dhow is a traditional Qatari sailing boat, and there are plenty of them around the docks of the city offering tours. When you embark on one yourself, you can see the stunning Doha skyline from the water while surrounded by the intricate woodwork of the dhow boat itself. One of the best times to take a dhow boat tour is at night since Doha is illuminated by a colourful range of lights darting up and down the towering skyscrapers.
3. Stroll through Doha Corniche
Doha Corniche might be the most popular promenade in the city. It spans 7 kilometres right alongside the Doha Bay and is packed full of exciting attractions. You’ll find numerous restaurants and shops along the Corniche in addition to a museum and a park. Foodies won’t want to miss out on this spot, as it’s home to some of the best traditional cuisine in the city. It can also serve as a useful starting point for any boat tours since it’s located right along the Doha Port.
4. Visit the Museum of Islamic Arts
Travellers frequently visit local museums during stopovers, and the Museum of Islamic Arts is one you won’t want to miss. This museum is home to an expansive collection of Islamic art spanning 1,400 years and 3 continents. You’ll see exhibitions showing off art connected with ninth-century China during the Muslim venture into those lands, as well as those showcasing art combined with Islamic scientific achievements during the Muslim golden age.
5. Step back into the past in Katara Village
Katara Village functions as a melting pot of different cultures that influenced the region throughout its history. You’ll find plenty of historical Arabic designs, of course, but that’s just the beginning. This village is home to a Roman-Greek-style amphitheatre that frequently hosts concerts and shows. The arrangement of the village’s buildings is designed to reflect the historical and cultural heritage of the city and the Qatari people as a whole, so it literally feels like you’re walking through time.
6. Visit Sharq Village
Sharq Village is located right by the airport, so it’s the perfect destination for travellers with a short stopover. This village primarily functions as a spa and offers various massage and treatment options. You can also step into the local sauna or head to the relaxation area to pass the time laying in a sunbed surrounded by fire-lit lanterns. No matter what you decide to do there, you can enjoy stunning views of Doha Bay as the turquoise waters shine up to the horizon.
7. Stop by the Pearl
The Pearl is one of the crowning achievements of Doha. The region is composed of 13 artificial islands that are all connected for easy access. It’s a particularly luxurious area with high-end restaurants and shopping centres throughout, in addition to art galleries showcasing its cultural proclivities. Being an island, the beach is also available and remarkably well-maintained. In fact, the seaside portion of The Pearl encompasses over 30 kilometres, so it’s easy to enjoy the water’s edge without having to worry about crowds.
8. Shop at the Mall of Qatar
The Mall of Qatar is appropriately named, as it’s the largest mall in the country. It measures 500,000 square metres in total, and within all that space, you can find virtually any item you’re looking for whether it be something common or a niche item that’s typically a bit more obscure. The mall includes a food court, as you might expect, but it’s also home to several proper restaurants that serve high-end food with a relaxing and luxurious dining experience.
9. Find thrills in dune bashing
Doha isn’t all that far from the desert, so it’s easy to find quick transport to the local sand dunes. If your stopover is particularly long, dune bashing is a great way to pass the time. The sand dunes outside of town can get downright massive, and you can embark on a tour that tackles the challenge head-on. From the inside of an off-roading Jeep 4×4 vehicle, you can feel thrills similar to that of a roller coaster as you soar up the dunes and back down the other side at high speeds.
10. Take a nap
For travellers dealing with short layovers after a flight to Doha, one of the best things to do to kill time is to simply take a nap. Most airports don’t have particularly comfortable places to do this, but at Hamad International Airport, you can rent a room with a bed for as few as 5 hours. That’s more than enough time to locate the room, take a nap, take a shower and even use the gym that’s complimentary when you book a time slot. For a more budget-friendly option, there are quiet rooms at the airport with recliners that can offer a surprisingly relaxing sleep.
Now that you know what to do on a stopover in Doha, you’re more prepared than ever for your adventure through the area. Considering the sheer number of things to do in Doha, you may want to consider spending a full holiday in the area. Fortunately, you can find plenty of Doha travel packages available whether you’re travelling on your own or with the whole family.