One of my first trips within the “Middle East” was a trip to Doha, Qatar.
Beforehand I heard several comments like “why? It’s boring” and “stay in Abu Dhabi, Doha is not worth a visit” – comments by whom? Of course, people who did not even go themselves – the REAL experts! 😉
As usual, these comments did change my mind and so I booked a flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha.
Distance: less than 1h by plane (AUH-DOH)
Ideal stay: weekend trip
Temperature: depending on season, between 14ºC and 42ºC
..Doha is..if your flight from Abu Dhabi lasts 30min and you queue 1h at Immigration..
The flight timings with Etihad are just perfect for a weekend getaway. You fly to Doha on Thursday after work (17h55 or 21h40) and fly back to Abu Dhabi Saturday evening (22h45).
Upon arrival you will have to be a little patient while queuing at Immigration as well as pay QAR 100.- for your tourist visa (payment by credit card is more than fine!).
The easiest way to explore Doha is definitely by car since blue taxis are quite rare (=our experience + stressed by locals). Another convenient way to move around is UBER.
We’ve stayed at the “fancy” W-Doha but I believe the Kempinski Marsa Malaz, the Sheraton and the Intercontinental would do, too (depending on your budget!).
After the hotel check-in we just relaxed and had a quick bite via room service. Club sandwich is definitely one of the BEST choices of every hotel’s room service menu.
The next day we decided to take a walk to the nearby mall and ended up at the Corniche with our “breakfast to go” by Carrefour.
Kindly keep in mind that Friday is a weekly holiday therefore you might have difficulties in finding open shops during morning time. The city comes to life from 18h onwards!
The best way to “cross” the bay from “new town” to “old town” is by traditional dhow. You can simply approach one of the providers at the port and enjoy the amazing view over Doha’s skyline.
Never book tours, services and rental cars in advance – go with the local provider & bargain
On “the other side” you will find the amazing Museum of Islamic Art which will keep you busy for a few hours. Did you know that almost all museums in the Middle East are free of charge because as per the Governmental’s perception, culture should be accessible by everyone? Great approach!
Once you are done (or at least physically exhausted) you can walk over to the famous and gorgeous Souq Waqif.
Here you will be able to find everything you might be looking for..from the handcrafted traditional art pieces, souvenirs, fresh juice, foreign (but also local) people, up to an enchanting, unique place to eat.
For dinner I do highly recommend Parisa which serves Persian Cuisine and glows with its incredible atmosphere.
Afterwards you could either stroll around the Souq or enjoy a drink in Sky View. Great outdoor seating with splendid view!
On the second day you either continue to explore the cities’ museums (National Museum of Qatar and MATHAF – Arab Museum of Modern Art) or you start your journey on THE PEARL with a delicious breakfast at Eggspectation.
The Pearl consists of different cosy coffee shops, a long promenade, various shops and a “Venetian village” – go and explore it!
Yes, there I am..the Blondie in the middle of the scenario! And guess what, no one cared – no one came too close or tried to annoy me. Why? Because as I told you the Middle Eastern world is different to other Arabic countries. Here Women rate high in society and especially foreigners are treated with the utmost respect.
We were looking for a particular restaurant and encountered a very friendly, helpful Local who gave us a great personal recommendation for Lunch – Mamig (Authentic Armanian Lebanese Cuisine) with a spectacular outdoor seating:
If you feel like spending some money on your next wardrobe item I would recommend you to go to Villagio (yes, again Venetian-style). We helped ourselves with a Frozen Yoghurt and walked over to The Torch. It’s a stunning, iconic hotel which reaches 300m high and offers a 360ºC city view (football fans can enjoy the view over the newly built football stadium).
The Torch is surrounded by the Aspire park. The park offers some food stalls, fake birds’ twittering and a relaxing lake view from the hills.
This is actually how our trip ended. We sat there, enjoyed our last Doha-breaths and went straight to the airport.
As said, next time I would rather rent a car or take UBER instead of having the taxi struggle but other than that I would re-do our trip just the way it was!
Bear in mind that Qatar is slightly more traditional than Abu Dhabi in regards to dress code and street behavior. I felt super safe, comfortable at all times and do highly recommend you to visit this lovely country soon 🙂