People may have some preconceived ideas before they come to Qatar that it might just be desert and shopping malls, but really there is so much more to this unique and enchanting small country.
Sure, going dune bashing is an absolute must, but you can also kayak through lush mangroves and admire luxury yachts along the harbour.
We’ve got the most unmissable things to do in Doha and Qatar – vacation itinerary sorted.
Best things to do in Qatar:
1. Browse Souq Waqif
The maze of small shops offer a dazzling array of Middle Eastern merchandise from spices and seasonal delicacies such as fresh dates and nuts, to perfumes, ornate jewellery, clothing, handicrafts and a treasure trove of souvenir bargains.
Best time to go is between 7-11pm, when the market really comes to life. Keep an eye out for the traditional falconry market area, where you’ll see the beloved birds.
2. Go dune bashing
You can’t visit Doha and not spend a day in the desert having the adventure of a lifetime – flying across the white sand on roller-coaster drives across the desert dunes. Half and full day trips are available.
Many safaris take in the spectacular ‘Inland Sea’ and the chance to enjoy beautiful desert sunsets and moonlit barbeques.
3. Kayak through the Mangroves of Al Thakira
Al Thakira mangroves can be found just north of the seaside city of Al Khor, about 40 minutes from Doha. The area has a varied bird life, including flamingos and herons, and it’s so scenic to float past the white mangrove trees.
A great way to explore the mangroves is by kayak, available from several tour operators. All of these can be booked in advance, and many companies offer both morning and afternoon trips.
4. Stroll down the Doha Corniche
Doha’s pretty seven-kilometre long waterfront promenade stretches for the entire length of Doha Bay, and is a great spot to go for a stroll. The Corniche offers spectacular vistas of the city, from the dramatic high rise towers of the central business district to the bold shapes of the Museum of Islamic Art.
There’s also some lovely cafes, restaurants, outdoor exercise facilities and a running track.
5. Visit Bin Jelmood House
Bin Jelmood House is a unique museum in a historic house that is part of Msheireb Museums, which shine a light on Qatar’s national history. Bin Jelmood House focuses on the story of slavery and how it has evolved into modern forms of human exploitation.
It explores the role Islam played in providing guidance for humane treatment of enslaved people, their integration into society and the eventual abolition of slavery.
6. Watch a camel race
Camel racing has been part of the Qatari lifestyle for centuries. Since child jockeys were banned in 2004, remote-controlled ‘robot’ jockeys are used, and it’s super entertaining.
Al Shahaniya race track is an hour away from Doha in the desert, and it’s here that you can join in with excited locals in cheering on a winning camel. It’s free to watch – camel racing competitions take place every Friday from October to February.
7. Go to Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
Sheikh Faisal’s private museum showcases Qatar through the personal collection of one man and his family. The collection features more than 15,000 exhibits covering a spectrum of arts, personal artefacts and equipment. A fascinating insight into Qatari life in the pre-oil era.
One highlight of the museum is its collection of carpets and beautifully preserved vintage vehicles.