Qatar is a nation making history through its constant developments around the city by investing time, effort and money in art, culture, expansion and modernization. Projecting itself as a tourist destination for all travelers is an ongoing effort from a country keen to diversify from its oil revenues. While food and hospitality are top priorities, there is other fun to be had, even if pushed for time.
For the fitness freaks, wake up early and drive over to Aspire Park for a quick run before a hearty meal at the hotel you’re staying at or just stay in bed the extra hour, this is a vacation after all! Start your day at The Pearl-Qatar which is a man-made island that boasts high-end retail shops, luxurious car showrooms, apartments and buildings that are designed to replicate Venitian (Qanat Quartier), Mediterranean (Porto Arabia) along with Moroccan (Viva Bahriya) colony styles, with an extensive canal system and pedestrian-friendly walkways. Hop into Shakespeare & Co for an international range of breakfast and brunch options or walk into Debs W Remman for the Lebanese experience. Walk and shop around the Medina Centrale stopping off for coffee and taking in the beautiful view of the bay.
Katara Cultural Village should be next on the list for its rich culture, art exhibitions, beautiful concert halls, the open air amphitheater, magnificent structures and of course the beach where everyone can try out watersports or just lie in the sand to get a tan. Take a good book along and be seated in Chapati & Karak which is a famous tradition in Doha. The people here love their chai!
If the plan is to relax and take it easy by staying on the beach and going for a happy hour drink at Intercontinental Doha – The City’s Strata lounge where the view from the 52nd floor is absolutely gorgeous, the afternoon and early evening is sorted!
For the adventurous ones, plan ahead and book a half-day desert safari trip to the Inland Sea and experience dune bashing and camel rides where dinner is served at a campsite with bonfire and usually takes up the whole afternoon from 2pm-8pm. It takes an hour to drive to the dunes from specific pick-up points. Professional drivers who are usually from the security departments of the governments know these roads well and will stop over at the dune tops for tourists to watch the sunset and take great pictures from the amazing sand dunes that are a highlight of Qatar’s scenic view. Call it a night if you’ve tickled your adventure ribs enough for a day.
For the shopaholics, drive over to Doha Festival City where you can shop till you drop! With over 250 outlets for shopping, food and entertainment, this is the biggest mall in the country. Because of the extreme weather conditions in the Middle East, the mall culture has been a big hit for locals and tourists alike.
Hop on to a Dhow boat cruise at the Corniche area that hosts the spectacular Doha skyline located in the West Bay area of the city. Skyscrapers, designer buildings and the oldest hotel of the country that was built in 1982, the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and conventional center stands in a pyramid shape at the beginning. It was recently renovated in 2014. Other iconic buildings in the area include the Tornado Tower, Burj Qatar, Doha Bank tower, Nobu restaurant and The Hilton Hotel among others.
End the day with international cuisines from around the world that have made a home in Qatar. Food is everything here! Neo for sushi, Sabai Thai at The Westin for Thai food or Zafran for Indian or Al Shami Restaurant for an Arab touch, they are all great choices!
Start your day with a quick walk along the corniche that provides a green, vehicle-free pedestrian walkway right in the center of the city. Go into Ric’s Country Kitchen for an all-American breakfast to start off your day or try the breakfast options at Emirgan Sutis, a Turkish restaurant at Al Emadi Square.
Go back to the Corniche area for an artsy day visiting the Museum of Islamic Art designed by I.M Pie – an iconic building that is a must for everyone visiting the country. Attached to the museum is a park showing off luscious green grass for family picnics, which also hosts the park bazaar every weekend, making it a lively space. The park has two adorable cafes at the end from where the famous Doha skyline can be viewed.
Walk across the road from the museum into Souq Waqif entering the local market where herbs, spices, traditional garments, handicrafts, gold and souvenirs are sold. Shop around for souvenirs, walking through the narrow alleyways exploring the culture, an old police station now turned into an art gallery, the pet shop and a secluded section for falconry. This market used to be the area where Bedouins would trade a variety of products in the olden days.
An evening in the Arab world isn’t complete without a bit of the hubble-bubble, or shisha as they call it here. Wrap up the trip with delicious kebabs, appetizers and Moroccan tea for dinner at Damasca One or Le Gourmet. The shisha flavors include double apple, lemon mint, grape mint, orange and many more.
There’s something for everyone visiting Qatar!