A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar

A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar
The skyline of Doha city center @shutterstock

Welcome to my new travel series where local’s share their tips and advice about their hometowns. In this guide, you’ll learn what to see, where to eat and drink, what to buy and all the information needed to make your holidays unforgettable.

On this post, Leona shares his top things to do in Doha, Qatar.

We are the Wandermust Family – Fearless Family Travellers. Ex-expats based in Doha Qatar. Previously based in the Middle East for four years now looking for our next adventure!  We love experiencing new places, experiencing luxury and adventure travel around the globe.

A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar

Top 5 things to do in Doha

  1. SouqWaqif– probably the most famous attraction. Meaning standing market, my personal favourite time to go is weekend evenings when the place really comes alive. It’s a great place for food too!
  2. Museum of Islamic Art – one of the most photographed buildings in Qatar. Designed by IM Pei on its own island off the Corniche. The museum is home to Islamic Arts from carpets, jewelry to astrolabes. It also has a great café and is a great spot to sit by the water overlooking the West Bay skyline.
  3. The Inland Sea – is a great place to go to experience desert. It is a brilliant place to go dune bashing
  4. Malls – Qatar is home to the world’s second and third largest malls after Dubai Mall. Mall of Qatar and Festival City Mall are now open and are a shopper’s paradise
  5. The Pearl– Doha’s answer to The Palm in Dubai. A man-made island home to great restaurants and shops.

If you would like to know more about things to do in Qatar check out my A-Z of Things to See and Do.

A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar
Museum of Islamic Arts

Two off the beaten path things to do in Doha

Qatar is a small country so not much is off the beaten path. Outside of Doha though I think the best thinks to see are:

  • the forts in the Northern part of the country, home to Qatar’s only UNESCO world heritage site – Zubarah fort. You will need to hire a car
  • Zekreet – known for its beach and film city. You can also see the stunning East Meets West sculpture by Richard Serra in the desert. Please note you will need a 4×4 to reach Zekreet’s main attractions. This outing could be coupled with a visit to the Sheikh Faisal Museum
A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar
Camel at the forts

Top 3 restaurants to eat in Doha

Doha is full of great restaurants from high end brands to cheap eats so it is really hard to choose. My favourites are probably –

  1. Bandar Aden in the Souq as it was the first place I experienced Yemeni food and it’s so different from any other Middle Eastern cuisine.
  2. Hakkassan for high end food and keeps the standards of its other global branches.
  3. Damasca 1 also in the Souq. It has a great terrace to people watch from and does amazing Middle Eastern Mezze.

I have compiled this A-Z Guide of Doha’s best restaurants for those looking for more about the Doha foodie scene

Top 3 bars to drink in Doha

While Qatar is not a dry country, only 5* hotels are able to serve alcohol (except during Ramadan when the whole country is dry). My three favourite places to go for a drink are:

  1. Champions at the Marriott Marquis. An American style sports bar with an amazing quiz night once a month
  2. Wahm Bar at the W hotel- great for cocktails and has a lovely outdoor terrace!
  3. La Veranda for their appertivo nights! You can sit right by the water with stunning views of the Doha skyline. It also has a great brunch and is one of my favourite places in Doha especially in the cooler weather

The best area to stay in Doha

My favourite place to stay in Doha has to be West Bay Lagoona. It has my two favourite hotels – Intercon the beach and the St Regis. They both have lovely beaches and fantastic pool areas and on top of that are home to some of my favourite restaurants in Doha.

A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar
The Intercon Hotel

Traditional dishes to try in Doha

If you want to try general Middle Eastern cuisine then there are plenty of places to get Hummus, Fattoush, Tabbloueh and kebabs etc. However more local dishes can be harder to come by. A traditional roast lamb dish called Qusi is served on a bed of rice and can be found at any of the city’s Ramadan tents. I have also tried Qatar Majboos – slow cooked chicken on rice year round.

The best spot to see Doha from above

If you want a view of skyscrapers and the Arabian Gulf then you should head to Tornado Tower to one of the restaurants on the top floor for stunning views of the city.

A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar
The skyline from the Corniche

The best souvenirs to buy from Doha

Spices and dates are the most traditional souvenirs to buy. But if you want something longer lasting then there are plenty of souvenir stands in the Souq.

The best day trips from Doha

Being only 111km around the whole country day trips are limited but there are some. You can visit the forts in the North but my favourite thing to do out of the city is to go dune bashing at the inland sea.

A local’s guide: Things to do in Doha, Qatar
Traditional Dhows

Tourist traps to avoid in Doha

Being so small and not being a huge tourist destination means there aren’t really any tourist traps that you need to avoid.

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