Qatar and its capital city, Doha, are definitely one of the more underrated destinations in the region. Beyond the airport itself, an entire city lies in wait for you to conquer, with all of its luxurious Middle Eastern charm.
If you're planning to stay here for a few days and aren't sure how to spend your time, we've got the ultimate itinerary planned for you!
Getting from Hamad International Airport to City Centre
The easiest way to get into the city centre from Hamad International Airport is by taxi, which will only take you about 20-30 minutes. If you're staying at Doha Marriott Hotel, it's a mere 10-minute taxi ride away.
Transport in Qatar
Locals here get around mostly by car, but public buses and taxis are widely available. An intra-Doha metro is currently under construction and will be ready by the end of 2019, so it'll make getting around much easier in the future!
Alternatively, you can take the hop-on hop-off DohaBus city tour to hit up all the best sightseeing spots hassle-free. There are also adventure buses specifically for those thrill-seekers amongst you! Tickets can be bought at Souq Waqif from 9AM - 9PM.
Discover the beauty of Islamic art at Doha's Museum of Islamic Art (2h - 3h)
- Lose yourself in the splendid beauty and diversity of the artwork on display
- From ancient Ottoman army gear to gorgeous illuminated lamps and intricate Islamic calligraphy, you'll find more than 14 centuries worth of Islamic art here
- Check out the museum exterior for some great views of the Doha skyline (perfect for that Insta-worthy shot!)
Lunch at Al Mourjan Restaurant (2h)
- Savour the sumptuous authentic Lebanese cuisine at this fine restaurant overlooking Doha Bay
- Sink your teeth into juicy platters of mixed kebab, Lebanese-style hummus, cold and hot mezze, and more ?
- Full-course meals here have 4 courses, each of which is super filling, so do as the locals do and spend some time to enjoy your meal thoroughly!
Learn about Qatar's past, present, and future at Msheireb Museums (1h - 2h)
- Explore the picturesque grounds of Msheireb Museums, which consist of four traditional Qatari houses that were renovated to house these world-class museums
- Admire the beautiful architecture of Bin Jelmood House in particular, especially the Quranic verses on the walls in the main lobby
Bargain-hunt to your heart's content at Souq Waqif (3h - 4h)
- Wander through the numerous souqs found inside Qatar's century-old market, from jewellery souqs to animal souqs and art souqs!
- Fun fact: Qatar's weekends are on Fridays and Saturdays so Souq Waqif truly comes alive on Thursday nights and Friday nights!
For some cheap eats, you can find pizza within the souq for 10 QAR each. Alternatively, there are roadside hawkers selling Turkish pancakes (Gozleme), sweet treats and home-cooked Qatari food for as little as 5 QAR.
Dinner at Al Matbakh Rooftop Grill (1h)
- Dine with a view at this open-air rooftop eatery serving modern Indian cuisine in the heart of Souq Waqif
- Sink your teeth into the juiciest, softest chicken tikka in town (seriously, we're not kidding) as you admire the view of Souq Waqif spreading out below you.
Accommodation: Al Jasra @ Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli
- Spend the night just a stone's throw away from the falcon souq at this swanky refurbished boutique hotel
The Amiri Suite here comes with its own private balcony AND an LCD TV that's built into the mirror facing the bed!
Delve into Qatar's ancient history at Al Zubara (2h)
Credit: Maria's Photoclicks Ovsy on Facebook
- Travel back in time at this 18th-century pearl fishing and trading port, which is also Qatar's first UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest heritage site in Qatar as well!
- Explore the remains of the historic Qal'at Murair settlement and the nearby al Zubara Fort, along with its in-house museum.
Shop till you drop at Doha Festival City (2-3h)
- Lose yourself in the huge shopping complex of Doha Festival City and choose from amongst 540 retail outlets here, including Kiehl's, Victoria's Secret, Fred Perry and more!
- Stock up on tasty Qatari snacks at the supermarket or tuck into some mouth-watering Qatari cuisine at the various eateries dotting the mall
Doha Festival City is currently linked to IKEA next door, but construction is underway for a massive amusement park that you'll definitely want to check out in the near future, especially if you've got kids tagging along with you!
Cafe-hop your heart out at The Pearl Qatar (2h)
Credit: jbdodane on Flickr
- Have a leisurely stroll around the area, which is also known as the "Arabian Riviera" for its stunning aesthetics (that also makes for a great Insta-worthy setting!)
Credit: @dipndipqatar on Instagram
- Satisfy your sweet-toothed cravings and visit the many cafes lining the harbour, from Italian-themed bistros to American-themed dessert shops ?
Immerse yourself in the local arts scene at Katara Cultural Village & Katara Mosque (2h - 3h)
- A cultural beacon showcasing the best of music, art, dance, poetry, and more from all over the world
- Have the perfect end to your day by catching a performance or attending an art exhibition here!
- VisitKatara Mosque and be blown away by its brilliant facade painted in striking colours of turquoise, purple and gold.
If you're here in November, be sure to catch the Katara Traditional Dhow Festival for an awesome show of the Qatar's beautiful dhow boats!
Dinner at Saffron Lounge in Katara Cultural Village (1h)
- Indulge your taste buds with some delightful Indian Cuisine at the award-winning Saffron Lounge located in the heart of Katara Cultural Village
- Walk along the breezy Katara Beach just outside the Saffron Lounge to bring a relaxing end to the day ?
Accommodation: Grand Hyatt Doha
- Stay at the majestic 5-star Grand Hyatt Doha just a quick 5-minute drive from Katara Cultural Village. With such spacious rooms overlooking the surrounding bay area, you're guaranteed a good night's sleep!
Kick back and relax on the beach at Banana Island Resort (2h)
- Head over to the Banana Island Resort Boat Terminal Anantara to catch a 20-minute ferry ride to the Banana Island Resort Doha By Anantara
- A sprawling 13-hectare island with a unique marriage of the best of Thai and Qatari hospitality, Banana Island Resort Doha is definitely the ultimate luxury getaway you've always dreamt of!
- Sit back in the lounge chairs by the beach for a spot of suntanning or take a refreshing dip into the crystal-clear waters for the best day out at the beach.
Pamper yourself with a spa package at Anantara Spa (2h - 3h)
- Retreat into the lap of luxury at this Thai-inspired spa sanctuary which offers everything from Turkish and Moroccan bath packages to Swedish massages to Arabian exotic body treatments ?
- Treat your body to some of the best natural beauty techniques and services in the world, including relaxing white coconut mint scrubs and the Tahitian Rejuvenating Experience!
Lunch at Q Lounge (1h)
- Refuel yourself with the sumptuous spread of international cuisine on offer at the Q Lounge! Our favourites included the Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh and (of course) the Thai Chicken Green Curry.
Go for a movie marathon in the island's state-of-the-art cinema (2h - 3h)
- While the hours away in Banana Island Resort's exclusive private cinema exclusively for guests only and enjoy a movie experience unlike any other you've ever had before ?
Accommodation: Banana Island Resort Overwater Villa
- No island getaway is complete without staying at an overwater villa! Stay in Banana Island Resort Doha's gorgeous overwater villas to round off your Qatari island getaway experience!
Spend some time in the infinity pool on the terraces extending from your overwater villa--trust us, it's not every day you get so much privacy without compromising on those breathtaking views!
Admire the futuristic architecture of Doha Education City Mosque (1h)
Credit: راؤ فضہ ظفر on Facebook
- Catch a ferry back to Doha city the next day and head to the the Doha Education City Mosque to check out its one-of-a-kind, ultra-modern designs
- Perform your prayers here and soak in the peaceful atmosphere of this minimalist mosque, a true wonder reminiscent of Zaha Hadid's architectural style
Wander through Villaggio Mall in the Aspire Zone (1h - 2h)
Credit: Saadi Insha on Facebook#HHWT Tip:
- Pop by the massive Villaggio Mall a 20-minute drive from the Education City and be transported to Venice as you walk along the canals lining the mall's interior!
Take a gondola ride through the mall before you start shopping so you can spot all the shops you want to hit up on your shopping spree without wasting time ?
Take a camel ride through Doha's inland sea desert (30 mins)
- Make your way to Qatar's inland sea desert for the quintessential Arabian desert experience as a grand finale to your trip!
- Climb onto the camels and be taken on a short ride through the sandy dunes stretching out all around you as the sun begins to sunset behind you.
Embark on a half-day Desert Safari Experience you'll never forget (4h - 5h)Credit: Grant Matthews on Flickr
- Hop onto a 4 x 4 for the ride of your life through the rolling sand dunes of the Qatari desert or go sandboarding across the sandy landscape as you admire the breathtaking desert sunset!
Dinner in the desert at Regency Sealine Camp (1h)
- You can't leave the Qatari desert without wrapping up with an unforgettable dinner under the starry desert night sky at Regency Sealine Camp
- Take some time to lounge around in the beachside cabanas along the sea while you wait for your traditional Qatari full-course dinner to be served. When else will you get to say you had the dinner in the desert AND next to the sea at the same time? ?
Accommodation: Doha Marriott Hotel
- Head to the uber-comfy Doha Marriott Hotel to spend the night, conveniently located just a short 10-minute drive from Hamad International Airport so you won't have to rush to catch your flight the next morning!
From being spoilt for choice choosing from all of those sumptuous world-class halal restaurants in Qatar, to experiencing the best of Qatari hospitality and losing yourself in the bustling atmosphere of Souq Waqif, Qatar definitely needs to be on your travel bucket list. Don't wait around for everyone to jump on the bandwagon, though--book those tickets for your ultimate Qatar vacation RIGHT NOW ?