Wondering what to do in Doha? Here’s a list of my top 10 things to do in Doha. (I lived there for over 15 years, so I’ve sent this list to lots of visitors!) Doha is not the largest city, but there are many fun activities you’ll enjoy. Whether you’re on a 2-day layover or you live in Qatar, here’s a bunch of ways to you can enjoy your time in Doha.
1. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art
Every Doha list has to start with the recommendation to visit the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). The building, designed by I.M. Pei, is absolutely stunning. It’s set out into the water on reclaimed land and built to resemble famous Islamic mosques. The interior is filled with beautiful, geometric patterns. The collection includes ceramics, manuscripts, glass, textiles, and metalwork.
2. Walk the Corniche
The Corniche, the waterfront promenade, is the beating heart of Doha. People walk and exercise along the Corniche throughout the day, families picnic in the parks, fishermen anchor their dhows in the ports. It’s a great place to people watch and enjoy views of the Gulf.
3. Stroll through Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif (conveniently located off the Corniche, near the Museum of Islamic Art) is a popular commercial and restaurant district. It saw extensive renovations in 2006, which brought in many excellent restaurants, shisha bars, and art galleries. There’s a little something for everyone – the gold souq is attached, there’s falconry stores, fabric stalls, grocery stores, spice shops, and handcraft and antique stores.
4. Have lunch at (and walk) The Pearl
The Pearl-Qatar is a man-made series of islands at the northern end of Doha. There are lots of places to eat and shop. The dining at the Pearl spans from high-end to fast-casual. Notable restaurants include Megu (high-end Japanese), Jones the Grocer (relaxed bistro featuring fresh food with an Aussie twist), Burj Al Hamam (Lebanese cuisine), and Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar (chocolate + comfort food).
Much of the shopping at the Pearl is also high-end and very luxurious – stores include Alexander McQueen, Versace, Stella McCartney, Aigner, and Balenciaga. There are several smaller boutiques though and more grocery stores, pharmacies, pet stores, etc are opening up.
5. See the Msheirab Museums
The Msheirab Museums are comprised of four houses: Mohammed bin Jassim House, Company House, Bin Jelmood House, and Radwani House. Together they tell some of the history and culture of Qatar – from typical family life to the discovery of oil, the history of slavery in the country, and the changing architecture of Doha.
Personally, I think they are the best executed and most interesting museums in Qatar. They’re small but well worth a visit.
6. Indulge in a decadent brunch
Brunch in Doha is serious business. Each of the major, 5-star hotels offers their take on a decadent brunch. Some have entertainment, others have multiple chocolate fountains – and they all go on for several hours. Check out this fabulous list of the best brunches in Doha.
7. Eat some great shawarma
One of the most relaxing things to do is to pick up some shawarma and have a picnic on the Corniche. For inspiration, check out this list of Doha’s Best Shawarma. My all-time favorite shawarma place has always been Flower Restaurant on Khalifa Street.
8. Try stand up paddleboarding
Stand up paddleboarding is a great (not environmentally damaging) way to enjoy the warm water of the Gulf. Check out Doha’s first SUP company – QSUP. They have two locations at the Pearl and offer everything from beginner classes to races for advanced paddlers.
9. Visit Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Mathaf is a small but interesting museum that shows contemporary Arab art. It’s located near Qatar Foundation, in the western part of Doha. It also has a very nice museum store, full of unique items. It’s often quiet during weekdays, so you’ll likely be able to enjoy a quiet, reflective stroll through the galleries. Mathaf can by a little tricky to find, so make sure you consult this map in advance.
10. Drink tea at Katara
Katara Cultural Village is located along the coast, north of the Corniche and near the Pearl. It has several restaurants, a beach, a cinema (that’s used for the Doha Film Festival) and plays host to many festivals throughout the year. One of the best places to get chai karak (a popular blend of black tea, milk, sugar, and cardamom) is a small restaurant at Katara called Chapati and Karak. Get a chai karak, sit at the beach, and enjoy the people watching.
What do you think the best things to do in Doha are? Let us know in the comments below!