From culture vultures to thrill-seekers, families to foodies, there are so many things to do in Doha to suit everyone!
Qatar is of one of the richest countries in the world, so it is no surprise that its capital is home to a futuristic skyline and architectural masterpieces. I expected that there would be many things to do in Doha, but I was amazed at the diversity of activities available.
Qatari’s are proud of their heritage and like to show it off. Doha’s spectacular National Museum, Cultural Village and traditional souqs are just as show-stopping as its Mykonos-inspired beach clubs, mind-blowing shopping malls and tree-lined promenades.
It may also surprise you to learn that Doha excels in adventure activities too. From swimming with whale sharks to dune bashing in the Arabian desert, there are many things to do in Doha for thrill seekers.
Families are not overlooked either, as there are plenty of things to do in Doha with kids, including indoor and outdoor theme parks.
Whether you have a short stopover in Doha or are planning longer holiday, you will be spoilt for choice for things to do. Qatar Airways asked me to explore the top things to do in Doha, and I have highlighted some of these below. I hope they will help you with you plan a holiday to Doha soon.
1. Stroll along the Corniche
Doha’s crescent-shaped waterfront promenade stretches for 7km and is an ideal place to start your exploration of this vibrant city. You can enjoy a Dhow cruise from here, or walk to the Souq Waqif or the National Museum of Qatar.
You will find numerous restaurants, as well as parks with picnic spots, and the famous Pearl Monument. The Museum of Islamic Art Park, (MIA Park), has family friendly trampolines, castles and slides alongside food trucks and an open-air cinema. I have lots more things to do with kids in Doha at the end of this post.
2. Shop at Souq Waqif
Built on the site of the old trading market, the Souq Waqif is the beating heart of Doha. It was renovated in 2006, but its original Qatari buildings were restored rather than replaced, so it still has an authentic feel, which is a dramatic contrast to the backdrop of the modern skyline.
Locals hang out here while tourists shop for spices, garments and souvenirs. The Souq Waqif is also home to a Falcon Souq. Falconry is a traditional sport in Qatar so you can get up close to these magnificent birds and even get your photo taken with them.
You can also enjoy some traditional Qatari cuisine in one of the many restaurants or street food outlets here.
3. Swim with whale sharks
Qatar is home to one of the largest congregations of whale sharks on the planet. Each year hundreds of whale sharks congregate in the waters off the north east coast of Qatar in the months from April to September. Until recently, this area was closed to the public.
Although Whale Sharks are the world’s largest fish, they are also one of the most gentle – in fact they are often referred to as ‘gentle giants’. I had an encounter with a whale shark a few years ago, and until you swim next to them you cannot fathom just how big they really are.
The Whale Sharks of Qatar tours are now available for early booking in 2023 for sailings between 15th May to 31st August 2023.
4. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art
As well as housing the largest collection of Islamic art in the world, the Museum of Islamic Art (or MIA), enjoys a fabulous location on a purpose-built island, with massive green parklands and stunning views of Doha’s skyline.
It was designed by award-winning architect I.M Pei – best known for designing the Louvre’s glass pyramid. Traditional Islamic styles meet modern architectural design over three floors, showcasing ceramics, textiles, glass and jewellery – it is one of the top things to do in Doha.
5. Book a desert safari and visit the Inland Sea
No visit to Qatar would be complete without an experience in the Arabian desert. Thrill seekers will love dune bashing or sand boarding, while nature lovers will me mesmerised by the diverse landscape, where the sand dunes of Khor Al Adaid meet the Inland Sea.
There are many desert safaris available including sunrise and sunset tours, some including falconry and camel rides, as well as meals in tradtional bedouin tents.
6. Explore Katara’s cultural village
Katara has it all – art, culture, cuisine, hill walks and even a sandy beach! A visit to the Katara cultural village is without a doubt one of the top things to do in Doha.
The Greek style amphitheatre is one of the most Instagrammable locations in Doha, and is a good place to start. It can accommodate up to 5000 spectators and offers sea views on one side, and the cultural village on the other.
The Katara Mosque is also a must visit. Its colourful Turkish tiles and ornate decor are a stark contrast in design to the amphitheatre.
You can also visit a luxury high street with designer shops including Galeries Lafayette, as well as art galleries and exhibitions. An innovative outdoor cooling system allows you to enjoy al fresco dining even in the hot summer months.
Families can visit the Planetarium or enjoy a picnic on Katara’s hills, and the public beach offers numerous watersports, including boat rides and parasailing.
7. See how the other half live at The Pearl
A man-made island with yacht-lined marinas, luxury villas and lavish hotels, this is the place to go if you have money – or are aspiring to have money! The ‘Arabian Riviera’ as it is often called, has designer boutiques and celebrity restaurants, alongside pretty piazzas and parklands.
It is worth going to explore its different neighbourhoods with colourful buildings, canals and bridges. This is another favourite Instagram location in Doha.
8. See Doha from the air
From paragliding, kitesurfing or skydiving, to a more relaxing helicopter or hot air balloon ride, there are many ways to admire Doha’s futuristic skyline.See more here
9. Try a unique dining experience
From celebrity chef-owned restaurants to traditional Qatari cafes, Doha has a vibrant and varied food scene. The biggest Nobu in the world is located at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha, while world famous Coya has added Doha to its list of destinations that already includes Monte Carlo, Paris, Mykonos and London.
However, there is another stand out restaurant that should not be missed – if even for the views alone. Three Sixty is a unique dining experience on the 47th floor of The Torch – one of Doha’s most iconic buildings. Originally designed to resemble a torch for the Asian Games in 2006, it is now a luxury hotel with incredible views of the Doha skyline.
Adult and Family Friendly things to do in Doha
10. Be inspired at the National Museum of Qatar
This spectacular desert-rose inspired structure is worth visiting for the architecture alone. Completed in 2019 it houses 1.5km of interconnecting galleries that take visitors on an immersive journey through Qatar’s history and heritage, as well as its present and future.
It is also home to a 220-seat auditorium, two restaurants, and a landscaped park for visitors and students to explore. Children are not overlooked either…
There are six educational areas specifically designed for families, including environmental exhibits, archaeology, and nomadic tracking and navigation skills. This is one of Doha’s top attractions and a must visit.
11. Relax on a Dhow cruise
A traditional dhow cruise is one of the best ways to soak up Doha’s atmosphere and admire the skyline. They are a huge part of Qatari culture where fishing and pearl diving were once Qatar’s largest sources of income.
There are many boat tours available along the Corniche, but if possible go at sunset for the ultimate views. You can go with a group or ask for private tour, with or without a meal included – but always haggle for the best price!
12. SUP or Kayak through Qatar’s Mangroves
Mangroves are the last thing you think about when you think of Qatar’s desert landscape. However, the Al Thakira Mangrove Forest is among Qatar’s oldest and largest forests, and you can see various birds and animals depending on the time of year you visit. Choose SUPing or kayaking depending on your preference for a memorable day out in Doha.
13. Shop, sail or skate at the Villaggio Mall
From luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton and Dior, to high-street favourites such as Parfois, the Villaggio Mall boasts over 200 stores – with tax free shopping!
But in typical Qatari style – there is much more to do in here than shop. Take a gondola ride along its Venetian canal, ride a go-kart on a 350m track, or try ice skating on an Olympic sized ice rink!
14. Cool down at Desert Falls Water and Adventure Park
One of the largest theme parks in the Middle East – Desert Falls Water and Adventure Park, features 18 attractions and 56 rides and slides, including tube slides, surf simulators and lazy rivers. There are rides for younger children too, including the Ship Kids Pool – a dhow boat with slides and water features. This is one of the top things to do in Doha with kids.
15. Ride the rollercoasters at Doha Quest
Families and daredevils will love this indoor theme park that boasts 30 rides and attractions including thrill rides, simulators, virtual reality experiences, and family-friendly attractions.
The world’s tallest indoor coaster and world’s tallest drop tower are at Doha Quest, as well as plenty of attractions for children aged 4 – 10 yrs. This is an ideal respite for families during the hot summer months, looking for fun things to do indoors in Doha.
How to get to Doha?
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Qatar Airways fly 11 times weekly from Dublin airport to Doha and to 150 destinations worldwide. They are the official airline of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
The multi-award winning Qatar Airways won Skytrax ‘Airline of the Year’ 2022 – the only airline awarded this for a record seventh time, as well as Best Business Class, Best Airline in the Middle East and Business Class Airline Lounge Dining experience. In addition to this Qatar Airways, international hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) is the proud winner of the Skytrax Award for the World’s Best Airport 2022.
Read: My review of Qatar Airways service
This post on the top things to do in Doha was sponsored by Qatar Airways.