CITY GUIDE – From Souq Waqif to Katara Village, passing by The Pearl or the Museum of Islamic Art… A journey through the small Middle Eastern emirate, ideal to visit during a long layover.
Here is your Ultimate Guide for spending unforgettable 48 hours in Doha.
Table of Contents
Ten years ago, Quatar was not yet a popular travel destination. Yet today, it is a transformed country where natural gas money has been invested in cultural, sporting, and tourist developments. This has made the destination increasingly attractive, thanks in particular to buildings commissioned from internationally renowned architects, such as the National Museum of Qatar (Jean Nouvel) or the Museum of Islamic Art (Ieoh Ming Pei).
Thanks to its strategic geographical location, Doha is seeking to attract some of the travelers who, departing for Asia or the Indian Ocean from Europe, are willing to stop over for a day or two. An ideal extended layover to experience between November and April when temperatures are bearable.
To reach the center of Doha from the Hamad International Airport, the best option is to take the red line of the metro. The 30-minute journey can be done in Standard Class (€0.50) or Gold Class (€2.50), which offers more space and comfort. The cost for a day pass is €1.50 and €7.50 respectively.
What to do in Doha now
The M7 Design and Innovation Center, located in the Msheireb Downtown neighborhood of Doha, pays tribute to Valentino Garavani, founder of the Valentino fashion house. Through a museum-like presentation evoking his beloved city of Rome, where it all began in 1959, the exhibition features 200 pieces of haute couture created over the six decades of the Italian institution’s history. It can be visited until April 1st, 2023.
M7, Msheireb Downtown, Doha. Free entry.
Ramadan Sport Activities
“Ramadan Sports Festival” 9th edition being held at Aspire Zone Foundation, starting from Tuesday, March 28th until Saturday, April 8th. The festival aims to attract a significant number of participantsand comprises a total of 8 activities, ranging from sports competitions to physical challenges, catering to the interests of those seeking active leisure.
All competitions will take place from 9:30 pm until midnight, and exciting prizes await to encourage and motivate sports enthusiasts to participate and showcase their skills.
More information and registration here.
Ramadan Events in Katara Cultural Village
During Ramadan 2023, the Katara Cultural Village will organize a variety of daily events, such as a photography exhibition, Garangou celebrations, a Ramadan Lantern Festival, religious lectures, and other engaging activities.
Full program here.
Located on the fourth floor of the Qatar National Museum, Jiwan (which means “perfect pearl” in Qatari) showcases the country’s culinary specialties. Chef Morgan Perrigaud, originally from Saint-Malo, heads this second Alain Ducasse restaurant in Qatar (after IDAM, located in the Museum of Islamic Art), and insists on respecting Bedouin cooking techniques. Guests will appreciate the care given to the dishes, carefully selected from artisans around the world, as well as the decoration. A feast for the eyes as well.
Location: Museums Park Street, Doha. Tél. : +974 4452 5725. Menu Jiwan à 77 €, à la carte dishes from 25 to 55 €.
Waldorf Astoria Lusail Doha
It was one of the most highly anticipated luxury hotels in Qatar. The Waldorf Astoria Lusail Doha welcomed its first guests since December 2022 in its 429 rooms, suites, and residences spread over 12 floors. Located in Lusail, a city north of Doha, the five-star hotel features a water park, three pools, and a private beach on the Gulf. With a blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisine at Sushisamba, Italian dishes at Scarpetta, and French-American brasserie at Bywater, you can count on a rich and varied offering at the hotel’s eight bars and restaurants.
Waldorf Astoria Lusail Doha, Damsa Boulevard – Entertainment City, Lusail. Tel: +974 4456 5656. Deluxe Room starting from €242 per night for two people (breakfast optional at €26).
Day 1 : Culture
After a good breakfast, take a walk along the Corniche to visit the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), inaugurated in 2019. Designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, the building of over 52,000 m² in the shape of a desert rose is impressive from the outset. The interior is also worth a visit. Several galleries introduce you to the fauna and flora of the country, the customs of its inhabitants, the essential pearl fishing industry, and the development of natural gas exploitation.
Still on the Corniche, just a few minutes’ walk away, is the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), reopened in the fall of 2022 after renovation works. The building, designed by architect Ieoh Ming Pei – who is also responsible for the Louvre Pyramid in Paris – immerses us in 14 centuries of Middle Eastern history through the exhibition of 800 works of art. Building is another architectural masterpiece of Doha. Don’t miss the outdoor terrace which offers an amazing view of the skyline. The perfect spot for a souvenir photo! To move around the park surrounding the museum, hail an electric cart (free).
For lunch, you don’t need to go far: stay inside the MIA and head to the IDAM restaurant, Alain Ducasse’s first address in Qatar (the second, Jiwan, is located at the National Museum). Don’t miss the signature dish: tender camel, duck foie gras with black truffle and puffed potatoes, which takes six days to prepare. The attention given to the dishes is remarkable, meticulously selected from artisans from around the world. The contemporary decoration, designed by Philippe Starck, also makes this address a feast for the eyes.
IDAM, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha. Tel.: +974 4422 4488. Lunch menu: €65. 6 or 8-course tasting menu: €130 or €175.
On the northwest outskirts of Doha, take a walk through Education City, a 100% pedestrian campus where some major American universities and the National Library are concentrated. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it resembles that of an ultra-modern airport. Its collection is also impressive with over one million books, in multiple languages, and 500,000 digital editions are available to readers.
Next, make a brief stop at the Convention Center to admire “Maman,” a must-see monumental work by Louise Bourgeois, before finishing with the surprising mosque of Education City. A futuristic place of worship, designed by the MYAA architecture firm, capable of accommodating several thousand worshippers. Do not hesitate to enter once the prayer time has passed, the reception is very warm and you will be told about the genesis of the site.
Finish the evening at Katara Village, located on the east coast of the city, between West Bay and The Pearl. At nightfall, locals often come to stroll in this cultural quarter, passing through small alleys to the open-air amphitheater where concerts and performances are regularly held. While walking is the best way to explore the area, electric carts with drivers can be borrowed for free. Just a few meters away, take a stroll down the central aisle of Katara Plaza, a luxurious shopping center where Printemps opened its doors in November 2022.
For a dinner on the terrace facing the Arabian Gulf, is a renowned restaurant offering Lebanese and Armenian specialties- Mamig. Be sure to make a reservation, as the restaurant is often fully booked. Opt for the terrace with a view of the skyline to be able to chat comfortably, once the music and singing start.
Day 2: Desert
Wake up early to head towards the desert and the inland sea of Khor al Adaid. This natural reserve, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located just over an hour away from the capital. A place of rare beauty. You must try camel ride safari!
After lunch, plan a visit to the Al Shaqab Stables. This immense complex of 980,000 square meters in the shape of a horseshoe has all the imaginable facilities for the well-being of the equids: outdoor and indoor competition tracks (in case of extreme heat), ultra-modern care center, and numerous equipment, including the essential jacuzzi. The visit (bookings here) ends at the stables, where the most beautiful Arabian thoroughbreds in the world, worth millions of euros, rest before leaving to participate in the biggest international competitions.
Evening and dining
Finish your last day in Doha strolling through the lanes of the traditional market, Souq Waqif, starting with the market itself. It’s an opportunity to negotiate for some local products such as carpets and fabrics, jewelry, crafts, or fruits. A visit to the Falcon Hospital, a rather surprising medical establishment where the only patients are birds of prey, is also a must. Let’s be clear, most of the shops sell imported products, but you will find handmade products in an alley called the Handicraft Market. But be careful, most of the shops close earlier than the others.
Finally, continue down the main avenue, Al Souq, where you will find the Al Parisa restaurant. With its sparkling decor and vibrant colors, the establishment looks like a Persian palace straight out of One Thousand and One Nights. The Iranian food is warm and very generous, just like the venue. And to extend the evening, head to the Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel, in The Pearl district. At the top, you’ll find the Secret Garden, a bar lounge that is becoming increasingly popular in Qatar. Whisper to an employee that you wish to access it, and they will discreetly lead you to the rooftop. It’s very chic for a final cocktail before flying out the next day.
Al Parisa Souq Waqif – Al Souq Street, Souq Waqif Doha. Phone : +974 4441 1494.
Jiwan, Museums Park Street, Doha. Tél. : +974 4452 5725.
Al Sufra – Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha. Phone : +974 4035 5555.
Zuma, Al Maha Island, Lusail. Phone : +974 4497 1666.
Yasmine Palace, Marina Way 31, The Pearl, Doha. Phone : +974 4411 1502.
CAFES AND BARS
Nobu – Four Seasons Hotel Doha, West Bay. Phone : + 974 4494 8888.
Vertigo – Hôtel Banyan Tree Doha, Al Khaleej Street, Doha. Phone: +974 4410 3338.
Secret Garden – Hôtel Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar. Phone : + 974 4035 5757.
Sky View – La Cigale Hotel, 60 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street Doha. Phone: + 974 4428 8204.
Belgian Café – InterContinental Doha, 223 Lusail Street, Al Dafna, West Bay. Phone : +974 4484 4919.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara. Phone : +974 4040 5050.
The Ritz-Carlton Doha, West Bay Lagoon, Phone Phone : +974 4484 8000.
Le Royal Méridien Doha, place Vendôme, Lusail. Phone: +974 4141 6000.
The St. Regis Marsa Arabia, The Pearl, Doha. Phone : +974 4020 4444.
Sharq Village & Spa a Ritz-Carlton Hotel – Ras Abu Abboud Street. Phone: +974 4425 6666.