Doha’s 20 Best Sights – Description and Photos
Doha is the capital and largest city of Qatar, located on the shores of the Persian Gulf. It is home to almost half of the total population of this Arab country: 587,055 people inhabit the capital itself and 1,351,765 (2016) the surrounding agglomeration.
Save on your trip to Doha!
Doha is an ancient city. The first permanent settlement on the site appeared in the 17th century. The coast was known for its skilled pearl fishermen as well as craftsmen who made wool fabrics and clothing. The capital functions Doha acquired in the mid-19th century, due to its favorable geographical location, by the decision of the first emir of the Al-Thani dynasty.
Today Doha is the capital of Qatar, a small country occupying an area of 11,571 sq. km. There is a large-scale oil extraction and every inhabitant gets his share of profits. All Qataris, without exception, are rich because their social expenses are fully covered by the state. Curiously enough, only 20% of the inhabitants of Qatar have Qatari citizenship. The remaining 80% are emigrants and wage laborers from other countries, mostly from South and Southeast Asia. They are the ones who build the Qatari capital.
Doha is a modern and beautiful city. Rows of skyscrapers rise above the surface of the Persian Gulf in Downtown. The capital is home to the residence of the first person of the country, the Emir of Qatar, administrative bodies, ministries, diplomatic missions of other states, banks, insurance companies, tourist firms and numerous shopping centers.
Travelers come to Doha to see the modern Middle Eastern city, as well as its historical sites and monuments. Many are attracted by shopping in the markets and major shopping malls, the capital’s amusement parks, desert safaris, Bedouin life, camel racing, and falconry. The best time to visit Doha is from April to May and September to October, when the city is not in sweltering heat.
Location and Climate
Doha is built in the east of the Qatar peninsula. It occupies a flat area only slightly above sea level. The vast majority of Doha’s neighborhoods and the international airport area lie on reclaimed land, and barren deserts stretch around them.
At the center of Doha Bay is an artificial bulk island, The Pearl-Qatar, an upscale neighborhood of modern homes. In addition to it, in the bay opposite the city, there are several smaller natural islands.
Doha’s climate is not much different from that of the rest of the Qatar Peninsula. It is almost always hot and dry. During the summer months the thermometer often rises above +45 ° C, and from December to February the average temperature is +18. +20°С. Precipitation in Doha is very low – only 76 mm per year. There have been years when not a single rain fell over the Qatari capital.
History of Doha
According to archaeological research, semi-settled settlements on the site of today’s Doha have existed since the second half of the 5th millennium BC. The Arab settlement of Al-Bida, where people lived permanently, appeared here in 1686.
Al-Bida in 1823 Doha in 1904
Doha was made the capital in 1847 and was ruled by sheikhs of the Al-Thani family until 1913. Then for three years the independent Sheikh of Qatar ruled here until the Arab lands fell under the protectorate of Great Britain. Since September 1971, Doha is the main city of the independent state of Qatar.
Doha in the 1980s Doha in 2015
Sightseeing in Doha
Most travelers who come to Doha try to visit the El Corniche promenade. The beautifully decorated promenade stretches for almost 8 kilometers along Doha’s picturesque bay. The promenade starts from Emiri Diwan in the south and leads to the Sheraton Hotel in the north. Symbol of the prosperity of modern Qatar – skyscrapers – from here appear in all their glory. On the city waterfront walk and ride rollerblades, but riding bicycles is prohibited here.
El Corniche Fountain in front of the Spiral Mosque
The historic part of the city looks completely renovated. In the 1980s and 1990s, most of the old buildings were demolished to make way for modern neighborhoods. Several social organizations and movements were even born in Doha, urging the authorities not to do this and to preserve the old buildings.
On a hill, visible from afar, is the ancient fortress of Al-Samria, which is surrounded by a 6-meter-high wall. Al-Samria is the old fortress, visible from afar, surrounded by a 6 m high wall, and used to be the residence of the Qatari rulers. Today the fortress houses a rich museum collection founded by Sheikh Faisal. Nearby you can see the high clock tower. The clock strikes every half hour and this signal informs everyone around it that the palace guard is changing.
The fortress of Al-Samria (Museum of Sheikh Faisal) Great Mosque of Doha
Doha is a Muslim city with many mosques. The largest of them is the beautiful Muslim temple of Al Ahmet, and the highest minaret rises above the Shuyuh Mosque.
In the West Bay Area is Aladdin’s Kingdom amusement park, the only one in the whole of Qatar. There are 18 attractions for both children and adults. For visitors there is an artificial lagoon, a theater and two mosques – for men and for women.
Many people like the big zoo, which is 20 km from Doha. Get there by Salwa road. The zoo contains a large collection of animals, reptiles and birds, and a special for children opened Luna Park.
Aladdin’s Kingdom Zoo Doha Zoo
The largest museum collections telling the history of the Arab state are in the National Museum of Qatar. It occupies a beautiful palace which was the residence of the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed, from 1913 to 1951. The museum exhibits a large two-story aquarium, where you can see almost all the inhabitants of the Persian Gulf. There are even rare species of sea turtles, which nowadays are almost impossible to find in their natural habitat. Of particular interest are the traditional single-masted Arabian dhows.
Museum of Islamic Art
Travelers who get to the artificial island in Doha Bay can visit the magnificent Museum of Islamic Art, often called the symbol of modern Qatar. It is accessed from the city’s waterfront by two road bridges and one pedestrian bridge. The museum’s unusual building is stylized like traditional Arab houses. The huge cubes are piled one on top of the other and decorated with window openings typical of Arab architecture. One of the walls of the museum is made entirely of glass and through it you can see a picturesque view of the Persian Gulf. In the museum halls you can see ancient manuscripts, ancient ceramics, textiles and metal items collected from three continents and covering the period from VII to XIX centuries. Admission to this museum is free; you only need to buy tickets to see the temporary exhibitions.
Inside the Museum of Islamic Art Tower of the Wind at the Qatar Museum of Ethnography
Doha has an interesting museum based on the personal collections of Sheikh Faisal. It occupies the ancient fortress of Al-Samria. Nowadays it displays ancient weapons, more than 30 historical cars, jewelry, Islamic art, carpets, antique furniture and exquisite embroidery.
Qatar’s history before the oil boom is on display at the city’s Ethnography Museum. It is housed in a traditional Qatari house. Perhaps the most interesting museum exhibit is the “tower of the wind”. This is the name of the typical Qatari dwelling with its unique ventilation and air conditioning systems, which are indispensable in a hot climate.
Since 2010, the Katara Cultural Village was opened in the capital. It is a large educational and entertainment complex with its own galleries, concert halls and ethnic restaurants.
Katara Cultural Village
According to the customs of Muslim culture in the restaurants of Doha you will not find a dish made of pork. But the Arabs love meat dishes so you can try many well prepared treats of lamb, goat, beef and poultry in the city. Interestingly, in keeping with Arab culinary tradition, most meat dishes are cooked without the use of oil or fat.
Street Café in the historic part of Doha Queue for Apples
The warm climate contributes to the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Freshly squeezed juices are popular in the Qatari capital all year round. Well, of course, restaurants in Doha, as well as throughout the Arab world, use a lot of spices and spices. It should be noted that all establishments are customary to leave 10-15% of the bill as a tip.
Clab Sandwich Beef Steak Turkish cuisine Indian cuisine
Shopping and Souvenirs
In any Arab country shopping in the markets and stores is an adventure. Here they love and know how to bargain, they are ready for good discounts for the sake of a good buyer. Doha is no exception. In this city, there are many small traditional markets where you can buy fresh fish, Arabian spices and spices, beautiful ceramics, delicious dates and oriental sweets.
For gold, silver and pearls, head to Souk Gold. 18 and 22 carat gold, which has a distinctive yellow luster, is for sale at this market. Aside from jewelry, you’ll also find candlesticks, lamps, antique coins and wine glasses.
Those who want to sit in the colorful coffee houses, eateries and restaurants, as well as buy incense, national costumes and handicrafts come to the Souk Waghif Market. Its history dates back to the time when Doha was the site of a small village where Bedouins used to come to trade. The local restaurants do not sell alcohol, but almost everywhere the guests are offered to smoke hookah. On Sunday afternoons, in addition to vending, Suq Waghif becomes a place where musicians and dancers perform.
For those who like modern modes of shopping, the large Land Mark and Hyatt Plaza offer a variety of pleasurable experiences. Definitely worthy of attention is the Vilagio shopping center, which is made in the style of Venice. Glory of the largest shopping complex in the city belongs to “City Center Doha”. This megamall is considered the largest not only in the Qatari capital, but also in the entire Middle East. Inside it there are not only hundreds of stores, cafes and restaurants, but also a water park, two large skating rink and two bowling centers, a ballroom and spa salons. Notably, for women, the local ice rinks are only open on Mondays and Wednesdays.
City Center Doha Mall Villaggio Mall
Special offers on Doha hotels
Selected hotels from hotellook
The central parts of the city and remote corners of the Qatari capital are linked by a network of bus routes. Buses and coaches are available for visitors to Doha. Tickets cost 50 Euros a day.
It’s convenient to travel around the city by cab. You just need to keep in mind that at night time tariffs are doubled. Official cab cars are blue and necessarily equipped with meters.
Often travelers arriving in Doha rent a car. This is convenient because it is inexpensive, and for the first 10 days drivers are allowed to drive on a licence issued in their home country. If you have a desire to drive for a longer period, you will need to obtain a temporary license from Qatar.
Useful information for tourists
- Working week in the country begins on Sunday and Friday and Saturday are declared days off. However, shopping malls and boutiques in Doha on these days are not closed.
- Most of the population speaks fluent English.
- ATMs are located in every corner of the city, but the currency exchange offices are concentrated mainly in the south of the Qatari capital.
- Holidays in Doha, it is worth considering the Muslim traditions. It is not accepted here to walk in the streets with open shoulders and knees. Also, many places of entertainment, centers and clubs have separate schedules for women and unmarried men.
How to get there
Doha has its own Hamad International Airport. It is located in the desert and is like an oasis. The modern air transport hub replaced Doha’s old airport and was opened in 2014. Three times a week from Moscow you can fly to Doha on Qatar Airways.
20 sights in Doha worth seeing
In this article, we will tell you about what is interesting about Doha. The sights of the capital of Qatar have managed to fall in love with many lovers of tourism, and for good reason. A trip to Doha is your chance to see how a truly grandiose city is created. The local authorities are investing enormous amounts of money in everything from changing the landscape to erecting super modern architectural structures.
Doha is a city that combines confidence and style with the same ease with which its trendy malls coexist with cute traditional bazaars. Whether you visit the fabulous Souk Waqif Market, marvel at the beauty of the Museum of Islamic Art or go straight to the magnificent Corniche Promenade, wherever you go, you’ll know Doha is desperately trying to challenge Dubai for the title of the most dynamic city in the Persian Gulf.
Museum of Islamic Art
Museum of Islamic Art. | Photo: Derek Bruff / Flickr.
This incredible museum has the most extensive collection of Islamic art in the world, collected from three continents. There’s so much to see here that you’re unlikely to see even the most important pieces in one visit.
The museum building is located on a separate island by the bay and is surrounded by lawn and ornamental trees. It is in the traditional Arab style, but it has very few windows (this was done to reduce energy consumption). The view of the bay from the museum is one of the best in Doha.
The exhibits are arranged on three floors: the 1st and 2nd floor display a permanent collection including exquisite textiles, ceramics, metal and glassware, all complementing each other. For example, the same motif can be seen in the weaving of a carpet and the painting of a ceramic tile, and a little later in the patterns of a gold ornament, allowing visitors to feel the unity of styles of Islamic art, which has been carefully preserved for centuries.
Address: Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar.
Souk Waqif Market
Souk Waqif Market.
Without a doubt, this vibrant complex is one of Doha’s most atmospheric attractions. Built on the site of an ancient market, Souk Waqif is considered the center of the city’s social life.
Centuries ago, local Bedouins used to bring their sheep, goats, and wool here to haggle and make a living, and more recently the authorities have skillfully rebuilt the area, yet it retains all the features of the original 19th century bazaar with its dilapidated stores and exposed wooden ceilings.
Nor have they scored the old Qatari houses, which have been painstakingly restored. Some of the local outlets are more like museums, displaying curious artifacts (like swords and handmade souvenirs) as well as jewelry from all over the world. Many stores and kiosks in Souq Waqif close during the heat of the day, but its many cafes and restaurants are, in fact, open all day.
The address is Souq Waqif, Al Souq Street, Doha, Qatar.
Bird Market | Photo: Andrea Williams / Flickr.
If you want to enjoy the true traditions of Qatar, be sure to visit the local bird market. Here you can understand the importance of falconry in the life of the Qatari people.
The best time to visit is on a Thursday evening, when hundreds of people flock to the market in search of the strongest hunting hawk. Most of these graceful birds sit quietly blindfolded on the railing while owners and customers discuss the intricacies of falconry.
The address is Falcon Souq, Al Souq Street, Doha, Qatar.
This beautiful crescent-shaped island with blue waters, tropical plants, and 800 meters of golden beach is a must-see even for those who do not plan to check into one of its luxury hotels. It is easily accessible by boat.
The island has 6 restaurants serving everything from traditional Middle Eastern dishes to any Italian masterpiece. As for entertainment, there are segways, diving, bowling and artificial waves. And of course you can sunbathe too.
Address: Banana Island, Qatar.
Qatar National Museum
Photo: Arend Kuester / Flickr.
The long-awaited opening of the National Museum of Qatar took place in March 2019. The building was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, who drew inspiration from the desert rose, a mineral that crystallizes in layers of sand. The building turned out to be unlike anything else, the length of its galleries is one and a half kilometers, and they themselves are divided into three “chapters”: “The Beginning,” “Life in Qatar,” and “Modern History of Qatar.”
The exhibits focus on the country’s history and heritage, and are meant to glorify its past, present and future on the world stage. If you do not know what to see in Doha first, this is the place to go.
Address: National Museum of Qatar, Museum Park Street, Doha, Qatar.
The MIA Park around the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA stands for the Museum of Islamic Art) is one of the most scenic green areas along Doha’s waterfront. This is where Richard Serra’s famous steel installation called “7” stands, the famous artist’s first public work in the Middle East.
There are plenty of cafes with gorgeous views of the city, among which the MIA Park Café stands out and mobile food trucks operate in the area. Joggers will love the mile-long crescent-shaped path that winds around the park, and there’s a play area for kids.
Address: MIA Park, Doha, Qatar.
Talia Mare Club
Talia Mare Club.
Talia Mare is one of the best “party spots” in Doha, located on a nice beach surrounded by trendy houses, and its atmosphere and music are somewhat reminiscent of the famous Mambo in Ibiza. The local paid beach has lockers, umbrellas, sun loungers and all other amenities, including beach toys for kids. Here’s your chance to smoke an aromatic hookah while watching the beautiful sunset.
Address: Talia Mare Beach Club, Doha, Qatar.
Installation “7” by Richard Serra
Richard Serra’s “7” installation.
We have already mentioned this installation consisting of seven steel plates. As we know, the number seven has special spiritual significance in Qatari and Islamic culture. This is the first of two works by the famous artist Richard Serra commissioned by the Qatar Museums Authority. This 24-meter high metallic block stands close to the Museum of Islamic Art and is visible from various points around the city.
Address: The 7 Sculpture By Richard Serra, Doha, Qatar.
The Corniche Quay
This marvelous crescent-shaped promenade stretches for 7 kilometers along the Persian Gulf. Surprisingly it was just a regular garbage dump. The best views of the bay are from a platform next to the Museum of Islamic Art.
From here you can enjoy views of the bay with the backdrop of the many dhows (traditional Arabian sailing ships) passing by and the skyscrapers of the West Bay. The best time to come here is on a Friday evening, when families of all nationalities flock to the waterfront.
The address is Corniche, Doha, Qatar.
Imam Mohammed Ibn Abd Al Wahhab Mosque
The Mosque of Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
The National Mosque of Qatar is the largest mosque in the country. It is distinguished by an interesting architectural design, which makes the mosque resemble a huge fort with dozens of domes on the roof. At night these domes are illuminated by a bright light, so they are clearly visible from Doha’s tall buildings for tens of kilometers.
The mosque’s large white prayer hall can seat up to 30,000 worshippers. Its floors are covered with red carpets and the hall itself is illuminated by rather simple chandeliers. Tourists are not allowed to visit the mosque during prayers, and the visit itself must be booked in advance through the Internet or one of the local travel agencies. It is also good to know that anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sermons were preached here.
Address: Imam Muhammad bin Abdulwahhab Mosque, Al Muhandiseen Street, Doha, Qatar.
It is a pleasant and well-kept park in the city center with an area of five soccer fields, and it is both cozy and modern. There are bubbling fountains and beautifully shaped flowerbeds, comfortable playgrounds for children, plus a separate fitness area, prayer rooms, and restrooms.
The park is located behind the famous Sheraton Hotel, which stands in the center of Doha’s bustling business district. Festivals and social events from the Bollywood Film Festival to a pizza and pasta festival are held at the park throughout the year.
Address: Hotel Park, 1 Al Corniche St, Doha, Qatar.
Al Bidda Park
Al Bidda Park | Photo: wikimedia.
Al Bidda Park is one of the best green areas in Doha. It features numerous walking and biking paths, manicured lawns, children’s playgrounds, and a lush view of the Emiri Diwan government palace.
There are abundant desert wildflowers, basketball and tennis courts, and an outdoor floor exercise area. By the way, barbecuing is allowed in Al Biddah. It is planned that this will be the location of the fan zone during the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022.
Address: Al Bidda Park, Doha, Qatar.
If you want to go for a swim without going far from the city, this 1.5-kilometer beach is just what you need. There’s a picturesque stretch of white sand with trampolines for the kids and all sorts of water fun for every taste.
The only disadvantage: women are not allowed to swim in the usual for Europeans swimwear. Men, by the way, too, will have to wear at least swimming trunks in the form of shorts.
Address: Katara Beach, Doha, Qatar.
Jungle Zone theme park
Jungle Zone theme park.
Welcome to Jungle Zone, a chic 3,500 square meter children’s theme park. All sorts of arcades, slot machines, funny rides, trampolines and a cable car are waiting for you and your kids here – in short, all possible options to have a fun day! For the youngest visitors there is a soft playground.
Address: Jungle Zone, Al Waab Street, Doha, Qatar.
Golden Bazaar | Photo: Bradjward / Flickr.
This modern shopping mall, located right next to the Souk Waqif Market, hosts crowds of traders and merchants selling gold jewelry. Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, this place is worth a visit because you won’t find such a variety of ornaments and designs anywhere else.
The gold bazaar comes alive in the evenings, especially before the holidays, when men traditionally come to the market to buy their wives new jewelry.
Address: Gold Souq New, Doha, Qatar.
At 88 hectares, Doha’s largest park has literally everything you need for a fulfilling family vacation: spacious lawns, walking and jogging paths, children’s playgrounds, exercise equipment and places to eat delicious snacks. The Torch Doha, built in the shape of a torch, and the city’s only lake, where ducks, geese, and other birds flock to escape the desert heat, are also located here.
Throughout the year, the park hosts events and festivals, including fun runs and all kinds of fitness marathons.
The address is Aspire Park, Aspire Park Running Trail, Doha, Qatar.
Pearl Monument Sculpture
Pearl Monument Sculpture. | Photo: Christian Senger / Flickr.
The famous pearl-shaped monument with a fountain, which is very popular with fans of colorful selfies, is located at the northern end of the Corniche promenade. Before oil was discovered in Qatar, it was pearl mining that was one of the main sources of income in the region, so it is still prized by locals today.
Address: The Pearl Monument, Corniche Street, Doha, Qatar.
The Golden Mosque
This striking Ottoman-style mosque, covered in thousands of gilded tiles, gleams brightly in the sun all 365 days of the year. Even though non-Muslims are not allowed inside, you should still stop by to see this marvel from the outside – especially if you find yourself in the Katara Ethnographic Village area.
The address is The Golden Masjid, Doha, Qatar.
Fort Doha | Photo: wikimedia.
At one time this structure was used both as a prison and as an ethnographic museum. The fort was built during the Turkish yoke of the 19th century, but later lost its original appearance after restoration in the late 1970s. The fort is not currently in use but is clearly visible from the road and is a good point of reference when visiting the nearby Suq Waqif Market.
Address: Al Koot Fort, Ukaz St, Doha, Qatar.
Emiri Diwan Palace
Emiri Diwan Palace.
The stunning white building of Qatar’s national parliament is the official seat of the Emir of Qatar and is easily recognized by the massive flag atop the palace. It’s a good landmark for tourists exploring the Corniche waterfront area, but we advise against getting too close to it, as the site is considered sensitive and therefore heavily guarded.