Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The ATOR Vestnik correspondent brought not only emotions, but also practical advice from Qatar active and family travelers who are going on vacation to Doha. Recall that Qatar has lifted all entry restrictions. For the trip, you only need a passport, hotel reservation and a return ticket.

A week in Qatar is not enough to see everything that this country of the Middle East can offer a tourist. But enough to get into the spirit of Qatar and fall in love with it.

During a week-long trip around Qatar, organized by Qatar Tourism, a group of Russian journalists traveled several hundred kilometers along the country's perfectly smooth roads.

We saw and tried a lot – the customs and customs of the locals, impeccable resorts offering guests incredible amenities, beautiful and unique architecture, parks, camels emerging from behind the dunes, a string of expensive cars.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Roads of Doha. Msheireb Downtown area. Photo: ATOR

Swimming in the sea under the starry sky in the desert, looking at leather caps in front of falcons, admiring the red sunset, imposingly flowing into the Arabian Gulf, drinking delicious coffee on the Corniche at night with a view of skyscrapers shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow.

Surprisingly, the seen reality of Qatar in its essence did not coincide with the picture that was formed in the head before personal acquaintance with the country. Qatar turned out to be completely different, unlike any other Middle Eastern country. Let's talk about what to do for active and family travelers in Qatar.


The first entry in my travel notebook was made in the evening at our hotel, The St. Regis Doha, the service in which can be described as “above all praise.” The entry itself was as follows: “Qatar is like a house. It’s just as cozy and simple here.”

The first observation was confirmed every next day. Like any thriving capital in the Middle East, Doha looks like a city from the future, woven from luxury and the creations of star architects.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Embankment next to Katara Cultural Village. Photo: ATOR

But there is one unique feature in this country – local luxury does not press, it is not flashy, but sophisticated. In a word, Qatar is not a banal dolce vita, but a meaningful elegance. Add to this the friendliness of the locals and get a warm atmosphere for the whole holiday.


Walking around the new area of ​​Doha Msheireb Downtown (Msheireb) and looking through the eyes of an enthusiastic tourist at modern architecture, which is dominated by simple lines, light, layering, we met a local resident who greeted us in Russian.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The locals in Qatar are kind and welcoming to tourists. Photo: ATOR

A man studied in Russia in the last century. He was glad to remember the Russian language, talked to us and confidently stated that tourists from Russia are always welcome in Qatar. It was nice.


Be sure to set aside time for the Msheireb area. This is the very heart of Doha, artfully reconstructed old city center, seamlessly integrating history into modernity.

The area is created in the same style: all the houses here are bright, built using limestone, typical of Qatari traditional architecture.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The central square of the Msheireb area is Barahat Msheireb. Photo: ATOR

Msheireb, the world's first sustainable urban renewal project, is based on the concept of a “five-minute city” in which all city services are within walking distance.

The development is designed in such a way as to naturally create shade at different times of the day. For example, over the central square of Barahat Msheireb, there is a retractable roof that closes or opens the square depending on the activity of the sun.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

In the Msheireb area, there is a complex of four interesting museums dedicated to different eras in the life of Qatar. Photo: ATOR

It is worth visiting Msheireb Museums, a complex of four historic houses restored and turned into museums, as well as trendy coffee shops, art galleries, boutiques.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

You can walk around the Msheireb area or take a ride on an eco-friendly tram. Photo: ATOR

And, of course, the QINWAN date store. They say that the most delicious dates in Doha are sold here. You can walk around the area on foot, or you can ride a free eco-friendly tram.


Continuing the topic of preserving traditions, it is worth noting that great attention is paid to this issue in Qatar. You will notice for yourself how warm the relationship between the cultural authenticity of Qatar and modernity is.

Qatar actively acquaints its guests with the history of the country, popularizing the national heritage and culture. Resting in Doha, all the time it seems that you are at the crossroads of eras. And it's a very interesting experience. They can be obtained, for example, in museums.

The museums of Qatar are a story about impressions, not about boredom. The desire to get out of there as soon as possible does not arise either in adults or in children. And there are many museums in Qatar.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

National Museum of Qatar. Photo: ATOR

The National Museum of Qatar, designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, is called the “desert rose”. Not by chance. It was the mineral, which crystallizes in the flower-shaped layers of sand, that inspired the architect of the National Museum. The museum has 11 halls with an immersive exposition covering the history of the country from ancient times to the present day.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

One of the 11 halls of the National Museum of Qatar. Photo: ATOR

It is easy to get acquainted with the exposition: there are huge screens in the halls, sounds, smells that help to feel one or another period of history.

Here you can teleport to one or another era. For example, make a fire in the desert, as the ancient Qatari did, or “dive” for pearls. These attractions are intended primarily for children. But they are also very loved by adults – after all, we didn’t have such museums in childhood.

After an entertaining walk through the museum, do not deny yourself the pleasure of visiting the restaurant, which is located on the 4th floor of the museum, and try dishes from the famous French chef, Michelin-starred Alan Ducasse.

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In the restaurant of the Qatar National Museum in Doha. Photo: ATOR

In addition to the exquisite interior and very tasty dishes, the restaurant's outdoor terrace offers a breathtaking view of Doha and the Gulf.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond outside

Lunch at a restaurant at the National Museum of Qatar. Photo: ATOR

Qatar also has the first museum in the Middle East entirely dedicated to sports – the Museum of the Olympic Movement and Sports 3-2-1.

It is made in the form of Olympic rings stacked on top of each other. The Spanish architect Joan Sibin worked on the image.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Michael Schumacher's Ferrari at the Museum of the Olympic Movement and Sports 3-2-1. Photo: ATOR

The history of sports from ancient times to the present day is shown here, personal belongings of world sports stars are presented. There is also a Ferrari car by Michael Schumacher, and the uniform of the Brazilian football legend Pelé. And interactive games, including for children. You can, for example, swim on the Sapa in the Arabian Gulf.

Book at least two hours for a walk through the sports museum. If you get hungry, go to the 8th floor restaurant NAUA, whose menu includes healthy food from the famous British chef, Michelin star owner Tom Aikens.


The connection between the past and the present is also vividly felt in the city of Al Wakrah, located 10 minutes from Doha.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Al-Wakra ancient fort. Photo: ATOR

Al Wakra is the former capital of Qatar. People come here to admire the local colorful harbor of Dou (the name comes from the traditional Qatari boat), to see the ancient fort, which now houses the largest museum in Qatar, to visit the Sheikh Al Thani house-museum. There you can try Arabic coffee “kahwa”, learn about the coffee ceremony and the laws of hospitality in Qatar.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

At the Al-Wakra Museum, you can try Arabic coffee “qahwa”. Photo: ATOR

After the cultural part of the program – a walk along the beautiful promenade, the Al-Wakra Bazaar, eating goodies in numerous cafes and relaxing on the beautiful city beach of Al-Wakra Beach.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Al Wakra Beach. Photo: ATOR

The most famous public beach in Doha itself is located opposite the Katara Cultural Village. This is an interesting public space created for the exchange of cultures.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Katara Cultural Village. Photo: ATOR

There are theaters here, including an opera house, galleries, exhibitions, master classes, and in shops you can buy creative gizmos, jewelry and pearls. Or you can go to the branch of the French Galeries Lafayette, one of the most popular malls in the city.

Before shopping, you can relax in an open-air cafe on the street, where cool air is supplied directly from air-conditioned systems installed right on the ground.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The Golden Mosque in Katara Cultural Village. Photo: ATOR

Mandatory points of a walk around Katara Cultural Village are acquaintance with the blue mosque Katara Mosque, the golden mosque Gold Mosque and admiring the bay from the open amphitheater. The spectacle is a delight.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Sculpture “Force of Nature II” against the background of the amphitheater. Photo: ATOR

Immediately, next to the amphitheater, the already recognizable sculpture “Force of Nature II” by Lorenzo Quinn, in the form of a woman of mother nature spinning the planet, is installed. Force of Nature II is one of the many art objects in Qatar, and in general this country is capable of captivating the most demanding art fans.


The Corniche promenade must be included in the Qatar art route. There, next to the Museum of Islamic Art, there is a 24-meter steel sculpture “7” created by Richard Serra.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Sculpture “7” next to the Museum of Islamic Art. Photo: ATOR

This work embodies the deep spiritual symbolism of the number “seven” in Islamic culture and is a metaphor for infinity.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond< /p> View from the waterfront of Doha to the skyscrapers of the West Bay area. Photo: ATOR

Come to the Corniche at any time, but it's better in the evening or at night. Walking around Qatar at night is absolutely safe and very beautiful.

Choose a seat on the soft grass near the bay, or in a cafe and admire the mesmerizing view of the skyscrapers sparkling in different colors of the West Bay business district of the Qatari capital.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Aspire Park. Photo: ATOR

Those who like to lie down on fresh grass or go in for sports in the capital of Qatar will also find Aspire Park. Dozens of tree species from around the world are planted there and a beautiful view of the city opens from there.


Lovers of interesting objects and a positive atmosphere will like Pearl Island. The Pearl Qatar area is not even one island, but four artificial islands connected by bridges.

The Pearl Qatar consists of 12 districts, each of which is made in a certain style.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The Pearl Qatar quarter dedicated to Venice. Photo: ATOR

In the quarters dedicated to Andalusia and Venice, everything is as in the original – narrow streets, canals along which you can ride a water taxi, colorful houses. In these places, the understanding that you are in Qatar disappears instantly.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The Pearl Qatar quarter dedicated to Andalusia. Photo: ATOR

Another interesting place is the smart city of Lusail, located 15 km from Doha. The real dream of every curious tourist who wants to get a vacation that will be remembered forever. Admirers of art objects will appreciate the recently opened installation “Yigal” by Qatari artist Shuk al-Mana.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Lusail Smart City. Photo: ATOR

There is also an interesting building in the shape of two swords in Lusail. These are two hotels – the Raffles hotel and the Fairmont hotel. Shoppers will love Place Vendome, Qatar's largest mall. There are about 600 shops here, and in the evenings, a fountain show takes place in the center of Place Vendome Mall.

Qatar: what to see and do in Doha and beyond

Raffles Doha hotel and Fairmont Doha hotel. Photo: ATOR

In the north of Lusail, on Qetaifan Island, is the Rixos Qetaifan Island Doha Hotel (opening soon). This is one of only two all-inclusive hotels in Qatar (the first is the Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha)

Guests of Rixos Qetaifan, as well as the whole island, are waiting for a lot of entertainment, because Qetaifan itself was conceived as an entertainment center. Megacenter Qetaifan Island North with beach clubs, water park Meryal Waterpark with 36 attractions, including the world's highest water slide The Icon Tower with a height of 85 m, is definitely worth a visit.

Another island adjacent to Lusail, Al Maha Island, is also full of entertainment – from restaurants and a shopping center to the Lusail Winter Wonderland amusement park with dozens of attractions.


Another location for lovers of originality and those who want to feel the spirit of old Qatar is the Souq Waqif market, which is located across the road from the Msheireb area.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Souq Waqif market in Qatar. Photo: ATOR

This market is not like other oriental bazaars. There are no shouts of merchants inviting discounts to their shop, there is no chaos. Only Arabic aesthetics and immersion in the local flavor.

Each street of Souq Waqif, like Scheherazade in the Thousand and One Nights, tells a new interesting tale. Therefore, you can wander around the ancient bazaar without a pre-planned route.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Falcons in the Souk Waqif. Photo: ATOR

Wherever you are, interesting things are waiting for you: an area where falcons are sold, a unique falcon hospital equipped with everything necessary for the treatment of the national bird of Qatar, shops with natural pearls, spices, jewelry, products of local craftsmen, delicious pistachios and other nuts, dresses.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Perfume vendor at Souq Waqif. Photo: ATOR

Girls can buy interesting oriental perfumes and a traditional Arab women's dress – abaya at the bazaar. It is beautiful and inexpensive. Prices start from 1.5 thousand rubles. Buy pistachios too. Such delicious pistachios, perhaps, are not found anywhere else in the world.

Delicious spices can be bought in a store located next to the Shayal Shomous national cuisine restaurant right there in the Souq Waqif market.

This is the first café in Qatar where a Qatari woman prepares food. Her name is Shams Al-Kassabi. She also owns a spice shop, where they cook them according to Shams Al-Kassabi's own recipes.

Please note: you can only pay for purchases in Qatar with the local currency – the Qatari rial. It is more profitable to buy rials for dollars.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The famous Parisa restaurant in the Souq Waqif market. Photo: ATOR

As you explore the many cafes and restaurants in Souq Waqif, make sure you don't miss out on the dazzling Parisa Restaurant. Walking along the sparkling mirrored corridor, you will find yourself in a very beautiful hall and you will probably think: “I have never had dinner in such a sparkling hall.”

The tasting of authentic Persian cuisine will take place in an interesting interior with hand-painted walls and ornate chandeliers.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Sculpture “Thumb” in the Souk Waqif. Photo: ATOR ​

Not far from this restaurant is the main square, where the famous sculpture “Thumb” by artist Cesar Baldacchini is installed.


In Qatar, you can see not only the works of talented architects, but also the creations of nature. Desert landscapes, mangrove forests, camels, the sea are the main symbols of the very beautiful Qatari nature.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Tourists travel through the Meseid desert in jeeps. Photo: ATOR ​

You don't have to go far for nature – just 60 km from Doha, and you are in the Mesaieed desert. Traveling along it will become an adventure, from where you will bring memories and emotions.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

In the Khor al-Adaid nature reserve, the sea meets the desert. Photo: ATOR ​

In the desert is the UNESCO-protected Khor al-Adaid Nature Reserve, where the desert meets the inland sea of ​​the same name. Such a picture, when the desert meets the water surface, can only be seen in Qatar and Namibia, and nowhere else in the world.

Access to the inland sea is possible only by jeep through the sand dunes. The trip is going to be exciting, and the views outside the window will noticeably reduce the amount of memory on your phone.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Sunset in the Khor al-Adaid nature reserve. Photo: ATOR ​

An evening in the desert is just perfect if you end it on the beach at the Regency Sealine Camp. Dine in a restaurant, and then go swimming in the warm sea under the starry sky. If you wish, you can stay in this excellent hotel for the night.

Active tourists will also appreciate a trip to the unique Al-Takira Reserve, where you can kayak among the mangroves and see flamingos and other birds.

By the way, this reserve is located near the Zulal Wellness Resort, for the guests of which a unique wellness program has been developed that combines traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine with the Asian philosophy of health and well-being. We wrote about the wide possibilities of SPA in Qatar here.

Qatar: what to see and do in Doha and beyond

Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & villas. Photo: ATOR ​

Another resort outside of Doha that Russian family tourists love is the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas.

Love it for the longest beach in Qatar (more than 3.5 km), exceptional service, varied food in 12 restaurants, all kinds of activities and a picturesque area. Young guests of the resort, as well as adults, often spend time in a huge water park, karting, in the sea. The resort has a marina for 50 yachts.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

The pool area at the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & villas. Photo: ATOR ​

The resort's guests end their evenings beautifully – for example, Russians here often go on a picnic at sea to enjoy dinner on a yacht overlooking a blazing sunset. Sunsets in Qatar are truly spectacular.

Hilton Salwa Beach Resort &Villas is certainly not the only resort where tourists with children can comfortably relax. You can explore the best beach hotels in Qatar for families with children in our review here.


By the way, about the beaches. In anticipation of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, many beach clubs and public beaches for tourists have opened in addition to the already existing fund of beaches in the resort hotels of the country.

As part of the West Bay North Beach project launched in November 2022, three beach areas were opened in the center of Doha: West Bay Beach, B12 Beach Club Doha, and others. We wrote about them and other novelties in Qatar in detail here.

That is, now even travelers who stay in city hotels in Doha have opportunities for a beach holiday. There is no dress code on the territory of the new beaches, as, for example, on the beach in Katara Cultural Village, where you can swim only in closed swimsuits (burkinis).

Also, tourists staying in city hotels can now go to free shuttle to beaches to beach hotels.

This opportunity is now provided by many hotels in Doha, but not all. Therefore, check this point before settling.

Qatar: what to see and do in Doha and beyond

Quest theme park in Qatar. Photo: ATOR

Children in Qatar should definitely be taken to the Quest theme park, which is located next to the Msheireb area.

Among the 30 attractions presented in the park, there are those that will appeal to both adults and children. There are two rides that have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

This is the tallest (56.4 m) indoor tower and the world's tallest indoor roller coaster. The height of its loop is 56.7 m. Checked: scary and fun.

Qatar: what to see and do for a tourist in Doha and beyond

Attractions in Quest Park. Photo: ATOR ​

Another children's location is the Angry Birds World park in the Doha Festival City shopping center. This first Angry Birds theme park in the world was opened in Doha in 2019 and has already won the recognition of young fans of attractions and the characters of the Angry Birds game, of course.

Children will love the Lusail Winter Wonderland amusement park on Al Maha Island, the planetarium, and the Meryal Waterpark on Ketaifan Island.


Qatar is developing all spheres of its economy so rapidly, including tourism, that it is completely unrealistic to tell about all the novelties and proposals of this country within the framework of one text.

We will continue to acquaint you with Qatar on the pages of the ATOR Bulletin, a country of fascinating cultural routes, interesting places, special flavor, delicious food, kind people and beautiful sunsets.

Alexandra Polyanskaya

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