Long Layover In Doha, Qatar? Guide To 3 Must-Sees In The City

Long Layover In Doha, Qatar? Guide To 3 Must-Sees In The City
| 4 min read

Doha, the capital of Qatar, is a city that’s just starting to be recognized by tourism. As an effort to give people a taste of what it can offer, airlines that fly through Doha or are based there, such as Qatar Airways, allow visitors to schedule flights that have long layovers. Some have even partnered with the Qatar Tourism Authority in order to give tourists a free Doha City Tour. The entire tour is about three hours and includes a visa, bus transport, and tour guide.

The tour schedules are quite accessible too, giving tourists with diverse flights a chance to choose an option that best fits their layover time. The first tour departs at 8 AM, the second tour at 11 AM, the third at 4 PM, and the last tour is at 8 PM. You need to check in two hours before the tour starts though. So, for example, if the tour formally starts at 8 AM, check-in time for the tour starts at 6 AM and ends at 6:45. There are only about 30 available slots per tour, so it’s on a first come-first serve basis.

In any case, whether you join the tour or not, take your pick from these three must-sees when you have a layover in Doha.


Taxi2Airport is the easiest and most reliable way to get to and from the airport. Through secure online payments, you can book your airport transfers in advance, saving up to 35% on your journey.

1. Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif, Doha, Catar, 2013-08-05, DD 84
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Diego Delso used under CC BY-SA 3.0

For those who just want to take it easy, relax, have a bite to eat, and just soak in the culture of Doha, the Souq Waqif is a great space to spend the majority of your layover. A souq is a traditional open-air market. Souqs were usually found in deserts in Arabia or Syria as barter areas for wares like animal skin. In time though, the souq lost its cultural significance, replaced with convenience stores and air-conditioned malls. The Souq Waqif itself burned down in 2003. Luckily, the government of Doha saw the need to preserve it, especially since there was a public outcry from the locals calling for them to rebuild. Restoration started in 2004. The government even went as far as to design and restore the space based on traditional 19th-century Qatari architecture. Many of the areas have exposed beams and a mud-exterior.

This once-neglected part of Doha is now considered its heart. It has a heritage police station where the policemen dress in period wear from the 1940s, and just like traditional souqs, there is an area where you can bargain for great deals. Even if you don’t buy, the shopkeepers play their part well by yelling out deals and negotiating with you as you pass by.

Souq Waqif

Address: Souq Waqif, Al Jasra, Doha, Qatar.

Opening Hours: 7:30 AM–12 PM, 4–10 PM

Access: Located in the heart of Doha, between Al Asmakh street and Al Ahmed Street. The Souq is within walking distance from Doha Corniche.

Contact: +974 4499 3039

Website: Souq Waqif

Visited this place?

2. Katara Cultural Village

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bruce used under CC BY 2.0

Katara was the old name of Qatar, and like many places in Qatar right now, its name is telling of how the country is trying to find significance in everything old made new. The cultural village is essentially a showcase of everything the Qatari hold dear. Visitors will marvel at the architecture, music, visual arts, design, culture, and everything in between. Katara is relatively new, only opening its doors in 2010. Its concert halls, galleries, libraries, theatres, and heritage centers are sized to fit a large national and international audience. It is one of the many efforts of Qatar to be a cultural beacon of all of the Middle East.

If you stroll around the huge complex, you’ll notice that the streets are built to look like traditional Qatari al fareej or alleyways. It can be a lot to take in especially as, apart from those already mentioned, there are also so many other shops selling the traditional Qatari national dress, cafes, restaurants, handicraft stores, and bookstores that need a second look. Katara also has a private beach, 1.5 kilometers of sand for gondola rides and water sports. Children under 6 years old enjoy free entrance to the beach. An adult ticket costs 50.00 QAR (approximately 14.00 USD).

Don’t forget to drop by the two masjids (mosques) as well: the Masjid of Katara and the Golden Masjid. The former is considered one of the most beautiful masjids in Qatar. The latter was designed in the Ottoman style and was said to be decorated with golden chips during its construction.

Katara Cultural Village

Address: West Bay, Doha, Qatar.

Opening Hours: Open at all times.

Contact: 0097444080000

Website: Katara Cultural Village

Visited this place?

3. Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Flaming Ferrari used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Museum of Islamic Art houses a collection that spans three continents and over 1,000 years. The cream exterior that stands pristinely against the skyline quickly became an iconic symbol for Doha because of its close attention to patterns and details that pay an homage to Islam and Islamic architecture. The building itself is a work of art designed by the famous architect I.M. Pei. It boasts a large central courtyard that connects the main building to the education center.

The museum houses a wide collection of ceramics, glass, metalwork, textiles, and manuscripts. Special exhibitions are also scheduled monthly, putting focus on a variety of subjects such as the iconography of Muhammad Ali or the cross-cultural influence of Turkey, Iran, and India. The Museum of Islamic Art also has a cafe in the atrium that overlooks Doha Bay. If you have children with you, MIA also has playgrounds at MIA Park and special workshops for little ones. If you’re looking to interact with a local artist, MIA also houses a bazaar every Friday where you can buy jewellery, paintings, clothes, and food from local artists.

The Museum of Islamic Art

Address: Dummy Full Address

Opening Hours: Sunday 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Contact: +974 4422 4444

Near by Food: MIA Cafe which serves French food

Website: Museum of Islamic Art

Visited this place?

Doha Tour Guide

Show Me Qatar

Show Me Qatar

Rapid modernization in Doha

Doha in Qatar is currently undergoing rapid modernization. It is quite clear in its aim to be the strongest cultural hub in the Middle East. It is a city that is difficult to keep up with because what you may see one instant, you may not see the next. So, it is best to enjoy what you see today because the next time you come back, you can be sure that once again Doha will have reinvented itself.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Johanna Michelle Lim is a brand strategist, creative director, and travel writer based in Cebu City, Philippines. She swims in jellyfish-infested oceans, treks through mountains, rides rickety...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Doha
Good things are meant to be shared!
Back to top
Visited any of these places? Click this button to activate our "Add a Tip" feature to share your experience.