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Best Things To Do In Doha In One Day

These are my recommendations for the best things to do in Doha in one day after I spent a 1-night stopover with Qatar Airways in the city and went out exploring.

Chances are you may be in a similar situation on a layover/stopover or having a quick weekend visit and looking for the best things to do in Doha for your time there.

If you’re on a stopover then Qatar Airways most likely will have put you up in a Qatar Airways stopover hotel if you have at least 12 hours or more in Doha

Sitting around in your hotel is no fun and you should get out and explore a little. Or maybe you live in Dubai, Oman or somewhere in the region and want to know what the best things to do in Doha in one day are.


Best Things to Do in Doha in One Day

You can do any of these in whatever order you like but the advice is given on what order is recommended.


Visit The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

The first place you should head to is the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). It’s a beautifully designed building and is situated next to the old harbour with modern skyscrapers in the far distance to contrast the old and new.

The Museum of Islamic Art is a remarkable cultural institution, known for both its architectural brilliance and its rich collection of Islamic art.

The museum is situated on its own artificial island along the Doha Corniche. The building is a striking example of modern Islamic architecture, with geometric patterns and a minimalist design. The museum’s design reflects a blend of Islamic architectural traditions with contemporary aesthetics.

MIA boasts a diverse and extensive collection of Islamic art from various regions, spanning a period of 1,400 years. The collection includes artefacts such as manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, metalwork, glass, and other decorative arts.

Surrounding the museum is a beautifully landscaped park, providing a serene environment for visitors to relax and enjoy views of the Doha skyline. The outdoor spaces complement the museum experience and offer a picturesque setting.

There may be special displays on while there so check when you arrive. Even if you aren’t really into museums it’s worth taking a look around, if anything for the great views and architecture.

Looking from the Museum of Islamic Art to the modern city of Doha.

doha in a day

Doha Corniche

After the museum wander along the Doha Corniche which is a picturesque waterfront promenade that stretches along the coastline of Doha, offering stunning views of the Doha skyline, including iconic landmarks such as the Museum of Islamic Art, the Doha Tower, and the Corniche’s own distinctive arches.

Around a 10-minute walk from the Museum of Islamic Art, you will reach the old harbour of Doha.

The traditional wooden dhows, which are a common sight in the Gulf, can be seen along the Corniche. Some operators offer short boat rides, providing a unique perspective of the city from the water.

Throughout the Corniche, you’ll find various art installations and sculptures that add to the cultural ambience of the area. These artworks contribute to the aesthetic appeal of the waterfront.

Men regularly go there to fish and you can easily relax by the water watching them. You can also take a slow stroll along the Doha corniche/esplanade.

Souq Waqif

Head to the old Souq Waqif (market) which is only a 5-10 minute walk from the old harbour area. Souq Waqif is a vibrant and traditional marketplace located in the heart of Doha and is easily one of the best things to do in Doha in one day.

You can stroll around and enjoy getting lost in the maze of narrow winding alleys where the smell of spices gives a sense of the exotic. Markets are one of the best places to get a feel for a city, and the same can be said in Doha.

Souq Waqif has been beautifully restored to reflect traditional Qatari architecture. The narrow alleyways, mud-rendered shops, and wooden details create an authentic atmosphere reminiscent of historic Arabian markets.

The souq is known for its diverse range of shops and stalls, offering a wide variety of goods. You can find traditional Qatari clothing, spices, textiles, jewellery, handicrafts, souvenirs, and more.

One of the highlights of Souq Waqif is the spice market, where you can explore an array of aromatic spices, herbs, and traditional ingredients used in Qatari and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Falconry is an important part of Qatari culture, and at Falcon Souq, you can find shops dedicated to falconry equipment and even live falcons. It’s a unique aspect of Souq Waqif that reflects the region’s heritage.

Souq Waqif is home to a variety of restaurants and cafés serving traditional Qatari and Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s a great place to experience local flavours and enjoy outdoor dining.

The souq features art galleries showcasing the work of local and international artists. It’s a chance to explore contemporary art and support the local art scene.

At the heart of Souq Waqif stands Al Koot Fort, a historic military structure that has been preserved and is now home to a police station. The fort adds to the cultural richness of the area.

The souq also has stables where you can see and interact with Arabian horses. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of these majestic animals.

Relax at one of the traditional shisha lounges scattered throughout the souq. You don’t have to smoke shisha, of course, you can just sit with a good tea and relax.

Souq Waqif is not just a marketplace but a cultural destination where you can immerse yourself in the heritage and traditions of Qatar. If you can try and visit in the evening, which I did, when the atmosphere is livelier, and the temperature is more comfortable.

The market can get busy so take a break in any of the cafes around the area and enjoy a cup of tea, or whatever takes your fancy. Sitting there with your drink you can watch the world go by. Observe the hustle and bustle of the traders and buyers alike.

Souq Waqif is my favourite place that I visited in the city and like I said if you only have one day in Doha, be sure to go there.

Shopping in Doha

After the souq, you can wander over to the new city, either by a very long walk by continuing along the waterfront corniche or by taxi. If you are short on time or the sun is too strong, then take a taxi. Otherwise, it’s a very long but nice walk past the old harbour and into the new.

Get a taste of modern Qatar and take a walk through the big shopping malls where you can do more shopping. As for the best mall in Doha to go shopping it’s best to ask your hotel or an information centre as everyone has their preference.

Having said that the Villaggio Mall could be considered one of the best malls in Doha as it’s extremely popular. It’s the one I would choose. It’s a shopping and entertainment destination featuring an indoor canal and gondola rides, as well as a variety of international and local brands.

Join in and enjoy some local foods, such as the tasty kebabs. You can also find plenty of traditional local foods to try as well, although I would recommend Souq Waqif for some of the best local dishes to eat.

The contrast between the old area of the souq and the new modern city is huge. With all the gas money in Qatar, they have the money to build, and they certainly have.

There is what seems to be a never-ending road of new skyscrapers, filled with government buildings and businesses, and massive new shopping malls and eateries.


Doha City Tour

If you don’t want to do things by yourself, either for lack of time or want a more in-depth experience with a guide, then it might be best to book a tour. This could be especially good with children to save a lot of hassle getting around to see these things in Doha in one day.

If you want to get more adventurous with your time you can get out of the city and head into the desert on a 4WD safari that can include sandboarding in Qatar, riding camels, dune bashing in the 4WD, and chilling at the end of it all by the beaches of the inland sea.

These are some highly recommended tours to do:


Doha in One Day

This is not a post about everything there is to see in Doha as I only had a 21-hour stopover, and managed to do what I have written about here.

If you may be heading to Dubai at any point as well then have a look at what to do with one day in Dubai.

Recommended guidebook for the region that includes Doha and Qatar: Lonely Planet Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula (Travel Guide)

Enjoy the day in Doha for the time that you have.


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21 thoughts on “Best Things To Do In Doha In One Day”

  1. The Sunset Goddess

    Hi! What’s the best way to travel around these destinations you’ve featured in Doha? Also, what’s the best way to get to and from the airport? Thanks so much!

  2. Hey,

    Qatar Airways payed for my hotel for the night and transport from the airport and back. I would guess the best way to get to the airport would be with a taxi, it’s been a while now and I was only there for 21 hours, but I remember it being not so expensive. Maybe things changed though. When I went around exploring the city I took a taxi between all the areas that were further apart from each other and walked between everywhere else. Enjoy! 🙂

  3. Why, or how, did Qatar pay for your hotel?
    I assume you layover was a lot longer than it was supposed to be?

  4. A lot of airlines will have a hotel they work with and use them to put up customers on longer stay overs. Mine was around 20 hours long. They also provided a $70 food token for hotel restaurant. But Qatar Airways are very good, so that helped!

  5. Qatar airlines offers hotel accomodation, airports transfers and transit visa free of charge if your layover is more than 8 hours. Call Qatar airlines in your country and they will let you know how to obtain the voucher.
    It is called STPC (stopover paid by carrier).

  6. Great information Heidi! Thanks for that. It’s been over 2 years since I did the stopover so good to know the actual recent requirements. I’ll put this info into the post. Happy travels!

  7. Arguably the dullest city in the dullest country in the entire middle east. Roads choked with traffic, the Museum of Islamic Art is dull, the Souq is actually a modern fake, and the “modern skyscraper quarter” is simply uninteresting. Avoid.

  8. Well Dave if you hadn’t noticed this post was generally written for those who have a stopover in Doha, most likely with Qatar Airways. So it’s a case of stay in your hotel for 20 hours doing nothing or at least get out and take a look around. I would prefer to get out and walk around somewhere I may not perhaps like, but at least it’s not just staying in the hotel bored. You can find something fun wherever you are if you have the right positive mindset.

  9. Hi,

    I am travelling to Bangkok in October this year and wondering if its worth to spent €80 more on a ticket so I can spend 1 day each way in Doha? And is it save enough for a women travelling alone?

    Marjolein

  10. To be honest I wouldn’t bother. I only was there because it didn’t cost me any extra and was actually cheaper to have the stopover on the way to Singapore. I would much rather that 80 euros for 2 more days living it up in Thailand 🙂

  11. Hi Johnny, I just came across your article as I have a similar layover in Quatar on my way to Singapore! From what you can remember, how was Singapore?

  12. I’ve been to Singapore many times and it’s a very modern city. It can be a little pricey but my main reason for visiting these days is for the delicious food in the hawkers courts.

  13. I think it would be sad for me to just spend a day there. Doha looks great! What do you think if I go there in Doha alone? Would it be safe? That’s what I always worry about when I travel. Anyways, love the views. Must really put Doha in my bucket list 🙂

  14. Pingback: Your One Day Stopover in Qatar – Never Ending Footsteps

  15. Hi Jhony. I am going to Europe next year and I have two options to stay a couple of days in Singapore or Qatar. Ive never been to any of these two. Which one would you choose to spend 48 hrs?

  16. Personally I would choose Singapore because I love Asian food 🙂 But depends what you are looking for. Want to go on a desert safari and enjoy Middle Eastern food? Then Doha. Want an Asian vibe and Asian Food? Then Singapore. I would say whichever kind of vibe you’re not used to go there. If you’ve seen a lot of Asia and less of Middle East go to Doha. And vice versa. Either way 48 hours in either one will be great!

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