The 1.3 Million capital of peninsular Qatar, which is continuously growing, provides a great hub between Europe and Asia. The city is a perfect place to spend a layover on your trip between continents. A city with Arabian roots and a futuristic modern twist will leave you with many stunning photos of its shiny skyline – decorated with palm trees. This guide is intended to help with planning before you visit Doha.
Qatar offers a visa exemption to more than 30 countries and GCC member states – the number of countries enjoying visa-free entry to Qatar has now risen to 80 as of 2018. This includes 30-days for citizens of the USA. Visit the government’s website to learn more about visa requirements before visiting Qatar.
Best time to visit Doha
Because of the desert climate, visiting Doha is most enjoyable during the cooler months.
- October – May: Any time during these months will provide pleasant temperatures, allowing you to explore the city outside of the air-conditioned malls.
- October – November: Expect pleasant summer weather, perfect for strolls on the beach, dinners outside and walking along the Corniche.
- March-May: Weather is much the same as from October to November. A great time to explore the region.
- December – February: Comfortable temperatures with chilly evenings.
Check here for a full weather forecast before you visit Doha.
Visiting Doha: City Tips
International flights land at Doha International Airport. Getting around is possible by bus or taxi. The taxis are fairly cheap, but mind that there is a shortage of taxis, resulting in people sharing one taxi and getting off at different stops. Just hail a taxi and tell them where you want to go. If they’re headed that way you can hop in and enjoy the ride.
Qatar, like other Middle Eastern countries, is a very international community. Even though the official language is Arabic, English is the widely spoken and you will find signs in both Arabic and English. It is however highly appreciated if you can say some Arabic words when talking with locals. You can learn some basic phrases here.
It is a Muslim country, so pay attention to local laws and be respectful of the local culture. Make sure to dress appropriately and follow the dress code by keeping your shoulders and knees covered this applies to men and women. Most bars, restaurants, and clubs won’t let you in with flip flops or open shoes. However, on private hotel beaches, western swimwear is acceptable.
Also, showing romantic affection in public, especially between unwed couples, is frowned upon, and it could get you into trouble. Alcohol consumption is only allowed in international hotels, where you will find bars, beach clubs, restaurants, and nightclubs.
Be sure to check out the top sights in Doha the next time you visit the capital of Qatar.
- Museum of Islamic Art – Home to one of the most prominent Islamic art collections covering 1,400 years of Islamic art. All this is set in a building described as an architectural wonder – designed by I.M. Pei.
- Souq Waqif – Get lost in the maze of streets and shops in this market and don’t forget to bargain for spices, textiles, and souvenirs.
- The Pearl – Head to this man-made island if you feel like peeping at fancy cars and rows of glamorous name-brand stores. You will find plenty in this high-end neighborhood. For a Venice look alike, head to Porto Arabia marina and stroll around this Venice like canal system with plazas and cafes.
- Day Trips – Day trips around Doha are a great way to enjoy your trip to Qatar. If you’re an adrenaline junkie you could opt for an off-roading desert safari. Culture minded travelers will certainly enjoy trips to some of the historic cities located in the North of Qatar. Remember, Qatar is relatively small in size so one could theoretically take a day-trip anywhere in the country!
What to eat in Doha
Thanks to the international community Qatar’s food scene is quite diverse. Here you can find anything from Arabic to Indian to Turkish – as well as numerous American fast food chains!
For a taste of local vibe, try the Tent restaurant in a Bedouin-style tent, where you can try Arabic mezze and shisha.
There are also many lovely Arabic cafes in Souq Waqif. You must stop by for some aromatic coffee when you visit Doha!
Getting a Hotel in Doha
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Best Doha Tours
Hop on a traditional dhow boat in the bay and enjoy the one hour ride. All while soaking in the amazing views of the spectacular Doha skyline. Check out The Corniche below if you’re more into keeping your feet on the ground.
The seaside walkway around the bay of Doha is perfect for a stroll and getting a glimpse of all of Doha’s skyline, stopping by at the Heritage village to get an idea of the local culture and history and refueling at one of the many cafes along the way. On one end you will find the Islamic Art Museum in the adjacent MIA Park, where you can partake in one of the events, rent a paddle board or cycle.
Make the best of the proximity of the unpopulated desert and go for an overnight camping trip and BBQ under the stars. Unless you have some friends with a car and camping gear you will have to go with an agency, but the experience is no less exciting.
What to bring to Doha
In the winter months the evenings are windy and cold, so bring a cardigan or a light jacket – especially if you’re planning on spending a night in the desert.
In the summer you will need light, yet respectful clothes to deal with the heat and humidity outside and a sweater to wear inside because of the A/C.
For women, a scarf is recommended because you can use it to cover your shoulders or to keep you warm inside a mall.
Most licensed restaurants and bars are in high-end hotels, so bringing an elegant attire might come in handy when going for a dinner or night out.
An electric converter could be useful, even though most extensions already have converters build into them. Charging your phone or using your laptop in most coffee shops is completely acceptable.
If you plan to visit Doha during the holy month of Ramadan, mind that drinking, eating and smoking in public during daytime is not allowed except in dedicated areas.
Tip: Soak in the spectacular skyline views while relaxing on a dhow in Doha Bay
If you’re planning trips to other destinations please take a look at our growing catalog of City Guides!