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Tourism development increased exponentially in Qatar as the country prepared for the World Cup in 2022. In this small country, you can shop at lively markets, enjoy a sand dune safari, soak up the sunshine at a beautiful beach, or let the kids enjoy a fun-filled day at a water park. Indulge in cuisines from across the globe, or get immersed in the beauty of Islamic art.
Put Qatar on your must-visit list after reading this list of the top things to see and do.
Wander Through the Souq Waqif - Doha
What Is It?: The Souq Waquif, or standing market, is one of the most popular attractions in Doha. It’s a traditional market with winding alleyways and a total feast for the senses. You’ll also find some modern cafes and restaurants there too, as well as some of the most luxurious places to stay in Qatar nearby.
Why Do It?: It’s a unique cultural shopping experience, offering the chance to soak up the local culture and perhaps buy some unique items. Many of the small shops offer a wide range of goods from traditional Qatari clothing and handcrafted items to custom-made perfumes, gold jewelry, and souvenirs. It’s even home to a Falcon Souq where you can pose with a falcon perched on your arm or just enjoy seeing these majestic birds up close.
Good to Know: Guided walking tours through the Souq are available through multiple outfitters.
Enjoy Thrills, Sun, and Sand at Doha Winter Wonderland - Doha
What Is It?: An island with amusement rides, carnival games, eateries, seafront chalets, and beaches.
Why Do It?: A perfect escape from the heat, Doha Winter Wonderland is one of the most highly anticipated of Qatar’s newest attractions. And you won’t have to bundle up in warm winter clothing either. Its set on an island with beautiful beaches and temperatures in the pleasant mid-70s. A huge collection of amusement park rides are included, including a giant Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and bumper cars. Tiny tots have plenty to enjoy too.
Good to Know: This 50-acre venue provides fun and excitement for all ages.
Make a Big Splash at Qetaifan North Island's Waterpark - Lusail
What Is It?: Qatar’s first “Entertainment Island.”
Why Do It?: What better way to cool off than with a fun water park? Qetaifan Island North, just 12 miles north of Dohan’s city center, is located near Lusail Stadium, where the final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 took place. It includes beach clubs, floating hotels, and a water park with three dozen rides.
Good to Know: Rides include the Icon Tower, a 279-foot-high slide set to be the highest of its kind in the world. It sits on its own man-made island just offshore and is accessed via a train. Water features on the island also include tube, body, and raft rides for an even greater variety of experiences.
Take a Sand Dune Safari - Doha
What Is It?: A sand dune safari that begins just outside of Doha.
Why Do It?: One of the biggest thrills you can enjoy in the desert is “dune bashing.” This sand dune safari allows you to experience the desert’s vastness. Make it fast and bumpy for a more roller coaster-like ride or smooth if you prefer to relax and soak up the incredible scenery. Many outfitters offer the chance to enjoy a refreshing dip in the pale turquoise waters of the Inland Sea at the settlement of Khor Al Udaid too.
Good to Know: The best outfitters will time it so that you can witness a breathtaking sunset over Doha on your return.
Visit Al Zubara Fort - Al Zubara
What Is It?: Al Zubara Fort is the most important feature of the UNESCO-listed Al Zubara Archaeological Site, known as one of the finest examples of the region’s 18th- to 19th-century settlements. The over three-foot-thick walls of the fort helped to ward off invaders and keep the rooms cooler during the hot summers.
Why Do It?: The fascinating site also includes mosques, residential palaces, courtyard homes, fishermen’s huts, cemeteries, a canal, and a harbor.
Good to Know: While the fort is the youngest feature, built in 1938, the ruins date back to the 18th century.
Sample Food From Across the Globe - Doha
What Is It?: With a broad mix of cultural influences, Qatar has one of the most diverse gastronomic scenes in the region.
Why Do It?: It’s a foodies’ paradise with practically an endless number of options that include Qatari, Malaysian, Filipino, Chinese, Nepalese, Mexican, American, and just about everything else imaginable.
Good to Know: You’ll want to sample some of the country’s own traditional fare. That includes Machboos, a spiced rice dish with marinated fish or meat like lamb, beef, or chicken. As the national dish, nearly every restaurant offers it. Tasty foods for every palate can be found everywhere, from food trucks and street vendors to celebrity-helmed Michelin-star eateries.
Explore the World's Largest Collection of Islamic Art at the Museum of Islamic Art - Doha
What Is It?: Qatar’s most important cultural landmark, the Museum of Islamic Art, displays Islamic art from three continents that spans some 1,400 years. It’s the largest collection of its kind in the world. It sits on its own island off the Corniche promenade, built like a post-modern fortress with a few windows to help reduce energy use.
Why Do It?: There are five floors filled with artifacts, including spectacular pots, glittering jewels, swords, daggers, and a complete set of armor.
Good to Know: The view over the Persian Gulf and the city skyline across the water are worth the visit alone.
Stroll the Doha Corniche Promenade - Doha
What Is It?: The Doha Corniche is a picturesque promenade that stretches nearly 4.5 miles across the Persian Gulf in the West Bay.
Why Do It?: If you want to work out, there is even exercise equipment free for public use along the way. But most visitors come to enjoy the people-watching and a dazzling view.
Good to Know: Don’t forget your camera for the many photo-ops like the Pearl Monument, a fountain sculpture that pays homage to the country’s history of pearling, the primary industry before oil. It’s a giant open oyster with a pearl in its mouth that lights up after dark.
Check Out the Fascinatingly Unique Exhibits at Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum - Al-Shahaniya
What Is It?: Located about 14 miles west of Doha, the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum is the private collection of Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, a distant relative of the country’s Emir.
Why Do It?: This unique and fascinating collection includes everything from old cigarette packages and textiles to ancient religious books and even an 18th-century bomb that belonged to the Ottomans. There’s a house from Syria, too, which had to be shipped here piece by piece and then put back together again. Another section includes vintage cars from the U.S. and traditional pearling boats, with over 15,000 different artifacts in total.
Good to Know: The Sheikh started the collection when he was just 10, gathering random objects during his travels.
Paddle Through the Mangroves of Al Thakira - Al Khor
What Is It?: The Mangroves of Al Thakira are a lush oasis that provides a unique ecosystem as one of the country’s oldest and largest mangrove forests, surprisingly found just a short distance from the industrial city of Al Khor.
Why Do It?: The mangroves are one of the few plants endemic to Qatar. They’re a hardy species that can tolerate the high salinity that the Persian Gulf is known for. Filled with bird life, flamingos and herons have been migrating to this area for years.
Good to Know: The best way to enjoy the mangroves is to take a kayak tour or rent a kayak and explore on your own.
Marvel at Magnificent Architecture and Glittering Jewels at the National Museum of Qatar - Doha
What Is It?: One of the newest museums in Qatar, the National Museum opened in March of 2019. It provides the opportunity to learn about the country’s rich heritage and culture. Architecturally stunning, the building was inspired by the desert rose crystal, with its many curves designed to take the hot climate into account.
Why Do It?: Learn more about the country through interesting exhibits and capture a photo of the magnificent building. The 11 galleries portray the entire story of this must-visit Middle East destination in three chapters: the beginnings, life in Qatar, and modern history.
Good to Know: The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is a highlight, believed to have been commissioned to shroud the Prophet Muhammad’s hand-embroidered tomb. It includes 1.5 million pearls, sapphires, and diamonds.
Delve Into Culture and Heart-Pounding Water Sports at Katara Cultural Village - Doha
What Is It?: Katara Cultural Village, located on the eastern coast between the West Bay and the Pearl, offers many attractions and activities, including a cinema, opera house, open-air amphitheater, and a museum focused on Qatar’s maritime heritage, a souq, and a beach.
Why Do It?: This is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the country’s culture and enjoy fun out on the water. Home to Katara Beach, one of the most beautiful in Qatar, it’s popular for parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, kneeboarding, and much more.
Good to Know: Anyone who takes advantage of the water sports and other activities at Katara can use their umbrellas and beach chairs for free.