Situated on the Arabian Gulf, Qatar is a small peninsula country that is rapidly emerging as one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world. There was a perception before the 2022 FIFA World Cup that Qatar is a small Arab country or it's just a desert, so there must not be many attractions. Despite being a tiny country, it offers an endless array of attractions and activities, from sprawling urban landscapes to natural wonders and cultural hotspots to the sparkling skyline of west bay in the capital of Qatar.
It's one of my favorite countries to visit. Whether you're looking for a luxury resort, family-friendly adventures or simply want to soak up some sun on its pristine beach, Qatar is one of the best places to visit.
The country is renowned for its stunning architecture and urban development. The iconic skyscrapers of the capital city are the testament to its rapid modernization and progress in just a few decades. The futuristic structures of Lusail city are the ultimate destination for retail and business.
Qatar is also home to several world-class museums, Islamic monuments, luxury shopping malls and state-of-the-art entertainment venues and stadiums. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year it's a destination where the weather won't be a problem in hot summer, as there are a lot of fully air conditioned options. However, the best time to visit Qatar is from November to April.
Find your next adventure in Qatar - explore our travel guide for insider tips and recommendations!
Why Qatar is Worth Visiting
Qatar has attracted millions of visitors from around the world by relaxing visa requirements during the 2022 World Cup. There are numerous compelling reasons you need to visit Qatar. Not only is it among the wealthiest countries globally per capita, but it also has a remarkably low crime rate, making it a safe destination. The country has invested significantly in its infrastructure, featuring the world's best "Hamad International Airport", and luxurious Doha Metro that ensures convenient and comfortable travel within the country.
Find the hotels near Doha Airport in our next article.
Locals in Qatar are renowned for their warm hospitality and welcoming attitude towards visitors from around the world. The Qatari citizens and residents take great pride in sharing their rich culture and heritage, which is evident during traditional festivals such as Eid al-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Gargano, and National Day celebrations.
Qatar has progressively shifted towards a sports-based economy, with successful hosting of international events like the FIFA World Cup 2022, and upcoming mega events like Expo Doha and Formula Racing serve as prime examples of this trend.
In addition to all these advantages, Qatar makes a unique blend of art and culture where centuries-old traditions are carefully preserved as modern art.
Let's take a look at some of Qatar's cultural and natural sites while catching a glimpse of the luxury lifestyle in Qatar, as well as entertainment options.
The Cultural Delights of Qatar
Qatar places a high value on preserving its cultural heritage. It offers visitors a plethora of captivating cultural experiences.
Whether you want to explore the beautifully restored Souq Waqif market reminiscent of its 19th-century glory of Persian Gulf or the contemporary Museum of Islamic Art, there's something to captivate everyone here.
Souq Waqif is a famous market that takes you on a journey back in time through its narrow alley's. When you're in Doha, it's an absolute must-visit. You'll discover a wide array of goods, from spices and perfumes to souvenirs and clothing, all reasonably priced.
Souq Al Wakrah is one of few places that beautifully showcases ancient Arabian architecture. As you stroll through its stone-paved alleys adorned with lamps hanging from mud walls and framed by antique doors, you'll get an ambiance of the 18th century.
This place is ideal for family outings, especially with kids, as it's conveniently located right next to the beach, offering dual entertainment in one spot. Your children can enjoy playing water sports while you immerse yourself in the captivating surroundings of Arabic culture. Additionally, there are various restaurants with outdoor seating options near the sandy beach, providing the perfect vantage point for breathtaking views.
The Museum of Islamic Artis a must-visit for art and architecture enthusiasts. Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, features a rich collection spanning 1,400 years of Islamic art history. This includes ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and paintings highlighting Islam's cultural contributions. If you visit Qatar, don't miss the Qatar National Museum. Its unique iconic desert rose-like architecture designed by Jean Nouvel. The magnificent interior will take you back to ancient Qatar. (source)
Make sure to visit the Katara Cultural Villagethat takes its name from Qatar's old name, "Katara,". It features a man-made stream amid lush green hills, beautiful blue beaches, and an iconic amphitheater, museums and street arts by local and international artists. Katara also hosts some famous festivals every year, like the Mahaseel Festival, that promotes local agricultural products, the most famous Arabian Horse Festival, and the Falcon Festival.If you are fond of art then visit the katara art center. Katara offers a wide range of food options. When you visit Katara, don't forget to try the famous Chapati & Karak.
Al Zubarah Fort: A UNESCO World Heritage Site. A trip to Qatar is not complete without visiting Al Zubarah Fort, a historic fortress located in the northwestern part of Qatar. Visitors can explore the fort and learn about Qatar's rich history. You can book a tour here.
Take a Desert Safari Tour: An Adventure Like No Other
Traveling to Qatar means exploring its vast desert landscape, with diverse terrains like sand dunes and rocks. You can go on a desert safari tour led by skilled drivers in special four-wheel-drive vehicles (usually Toyota Highlanders) or a camel ride amid the sand dunes, you'll be awestruck by the breathtaking views of sunset. These adventures are through the south part of Qatar called Khor Al Udiad also known as the Inland Sea.
It's also a perfect place for a night in a Bedouin camp or you can also do night rides in the desert. There are a couple of experiences available online and you can even have them pick you up at your hotel. Check our list of experiences for more information.
Visit Stunning Beaches Along The Coast: A Perfect Escape
Qatar isn't just about deserts; it also has stunning beaches. Katara Beach is one of the few places where you can enjoy water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, or simply sunbathe on the sandy shores.
Al Wakrah Beach is another favorite spot. It offers unique amenities like kids play areas, barbecue pits, perfect for picnics with ocean views.
Explore Unique Geological Formations in Zekreet: A Natural Wonderland
The Zekreet is a remote place with extraordinary natural wonders. Over millions of years, wind and nature created unique rock formations. The most famous one is "The Mushroom," which looks like a tall mushroom in the desert.
Besides that, there's the Film City, an abandoned movie set. Exploring film city excursions feels like being on another planet, admiring nature's incredible work.
Luxury Lifestyle: A Life of Pure Indulgence in Qatar
Qatar offers a luxurious lifestyle with top-notch dining, shopping, fashion, and relaxation options. As one of the richest countries in the world with some of the highest income per capita, there is plenty here to be admired.
Indulge in World-Class Dining Experiences
With over 90 nationalities living here, the variety of food is as diverse as the population, ranging from traditional Qatari cuisine to international fusion dishes. You will be spoiled for choice. It's a melting pot of flavors and a foodie's paradise.
While visiting Souq Waqif, you simply can't overlook the local women who skillfully prepare and sell delicious, authentic Arab dishes such as Machboos, Mathroba, Harees, Luqaimat, and Koushari. This bustling market is undoubtedly one of Qatar's must visit.
If you want to enjoy traditional middle eastern food, consider visiting Al Adhamiyah Restaurant or Parisa Souq Waqif. There, you can savor dishes like machboos (spicy rice with lamb or chicken) or thareed (stew served with bread). Regardless of your culinary preferences, you're sure to have an unforgettable gastronomic experience in Qatar.
For an authentic Yemeni food experience, make your way to Bandar Aden Restaurant at Souq Waqif or head to Damasca One, the casual Syrian cuisine that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.
If you're in the mood for a more casual bite, check out Shay Al Shomous, here you can enjoy bread filled with egg, cheese, thyme, or honey, along with a cup of cardamom milk tea, known as karak in Qatar.
For a luxurious dining experience in Qatar, consider Desert Rose Cafe. This restaurant offers Qatari fusion cuisine crafted by Chef Nouf Al Marri, one of Qatar's renowned chefs. Situated in the National Museum of Qatar, Desert Rose Cafe serves contemporary local cuisine in a unique setting inspired by the naturally occurring desert rose found in Qatar's deserts.
Hotels in Qatar offer a unique luxurious experience. Raffles and Fairmont hotels occupy one side of the iconic crescent-shaped Katara Towers in Lusail. Raffles has a restaurant called Alba, led by Michelin three-starred chef Enrico Crippa. They're famous for using fresh greens and serving a variety of creative dishes.
At the Fairmont, Jiggs Kalra's Masala Library serves contemporary Indian cuisine. Must visit Nobu Doha for Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, and Czn Burak at Vendome Palace for delicious Turkish kebabs and appetizers by chef Burak. There are numerous high end dining options on Al Maha Island, including Beef Bar, La Petite Maison, Zuma, and Nammos Beach Club.
When it comes to Qatar, experience delicious food, or a vibrant coffee scene, and embark on a global culinary journey in this Middle Eastern gem as it is home to mouth-watering local and international cuisine.
Shop at High-End Designer Boutiques
Qatar is a perfect place for luxury designer boutiques including Chanel, Gucci, Bulgari, and Cartier. The Pearl-Qatar is a popular spot for high-end shopping. If you want to enjoy more than shopping, visit places like Villaggio Mall, the Mall of Qatar, or Doha Festival City for entertainment like ice-skating, cinemas, and gaming. For unique and traditional Arabic items, explore souks.
Relax at Luxurious Spas and Resorts
Qatar is home to world class resorts and spas as well. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Doha blends Qatari healing traditions with modern techniques. Six Senses Spa at Sharq Village & Spa offers personalized wellness programs. St. Regis Doha Resort's Remede Spa features a 'diamond rose ritual' with diamond dust exfoliation and rose oil massage. Qatar has it all for a luxurious vacation with fine dining, shopping, and relaxation.
Visit KidZania, an interactive children's theme park
If you're traveling with kids aged 4 to 14, don't miss KidZania in Doha. It's an indoor city where children can play and learn by pretending to be doctors, firefighters, journalists, and more. They wear uniforms, develop social skills, and get creative while having fun. The park has restaurants for snacks and meals. It's a great place for kids to learn about teamwork and problem-solving while parents enjoy watching them in this special miniature city, thus a unique experience of learning through fun.
Paddle Your Way Through Al Thakira Mangroves Reserve
If you want to enjoy an outdoor adventure, consider kayaking or paddleboarding in Al Thakira Mangroves Reserve. It's north of Doha and showcases mangrove forests and wildlife like flamingos and dugongs. You can join guided tours from various operators to explore and learn about the reserve's ecology.
Daredevil Thrills: Skydiving or Bungee Jumping in Qatar
For those seeking thrilling adventures, you can go skydiving at the Qatar Parachute Center near Al Khor al Adaid or try bungee jumping at The Pearl.
You can also take a hot air balloon ride and enjoy the stunning views of the city of Doha. These heart-pounding activities offer breathtaking views for adrenaline junkies.
Explore The Pearl-Qatar
The Pearl is a man-made island with family-friendly activities and should be in your list of places to visit. It offers residential areas, shops, restaurants, cafes, and beach entertainment. Here families can enjoy luxury living here with high-end stores, sea-view restaurants, cinemas, and family-friendly activities like bowling and amusement parks. It's an ideal place for quality family time and diverse experiences.
Desert Falls Qatar
Qatar also has a couple of water parks, the most famous being, the Desert falls is one of the Middle East's largest water parks, that caters attractions for all ages, from thrilling slides to lazy rivers. It's great for families wanting a fun and cool escape from the heat and indulge in water sports.
Conclusion on the Top Reasons to Visit Qatar
So here are our top reasons why you should visit Qatar. There's so much to explore in this tiny country. You can explore souks, go on a desert safari, stay at luxury hotels, witness street art by international artists, and shop at designer boutiques. There are countless activities that make your trip worth a visit.
Qatar is one of the best places in the world with something for everyone, from culture to nature, luxury, sports, and family fun. It's an ideal place and a unique travel experience not to be missed. You can take advantage of this with Qatar Airways' Doha stopover which offers you up to 3 days stay on connecting flights. The stopover is free and the hotels included are at a discounted rate you won't find anywhere online. I highly suggest this if you're wanting to stop by and check it out.