Doha is the capital and most populous city of the State of Qatar. The city is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf in the east of the country. It is Qatar's fastest-growing city, with over 80% of the nation's population living in Doha or its surrounding suburbs, and it is also the economic centre of the country.
As the commercial capital of Qatar and one of the emergent financial centres in the Middle East, Doha is considered a beta-level global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Doha accommodates Education City, an area devoted to research and education. It is also one of the safest cities in the world for tourists and boasts the true wonders of hospitality that Arabs are so well known for.
Best Time to Travel
The best time to visit Doha is between October and the end of April when temperatures are at their most comfortable, the humidity is down and the sun is enjoyable. Between October and the end of April though, the weather is perfect. Sunshine every day, low humidity and temperatures a still warm 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5-21 degrees Celsius), with some highs in the 90s Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).
Doha and the rest of the country are dominated by cars. Everybody drives, and while public transport exists in the form of buses and a brand new Doha Metro system, taxis tend to be the easiest way of getting around, and ensuring that you get exactly where you want when it is too hot outside to walk far.
How to Ride the Buses
All buses are operated by the state-owned Mowasalat Karwa, who also operate the taxis. There is a quite extensive bus network, covering all corners of Doha as well as the rest of Qatar. Buses are air-conditioned and tend to operate every day between 5 a.m. and midnight, with reduced schedules at the Qatari weekend, Friday and Saturdays.
The best way to pay for bus rides is via the Karwa Smartcard, as bus drivers are not supposed to sell you a ticket, but instead tend to charge you a ‘lost card fee’ set at 10 Qatari riyal. Instead buy a smartcard at the airport, where there are several machines in operation at arrivals. The normal bus fare is 3 to 4 Qatari riyal within Doha’s city limits, and 4 to 9 Qatari riyal outside Doha.
The Karwa Smartcard machines only accept cash, Qatari riyal notes in the denominations 1, 5,10, 50 and 100, and do not give change. There are several choices of smartcards:
Limited Card (10 Qatari riyal), valid for two journeys within 24 hours
Classic Card (30 Qatari riyal), comes with 20 Qatari riyal credit and is rechargeable for long term, or repeated use
Unlimited Card (20 Qatari riyal), valid for unlimited trips within a 24 hours
The card needs to be tapped upon boarding the bus, and tapped when getting off. Please note that the front of the bus is usually reserved for women and children only.
How to Take a Taxi
There are three types of taxis in Qatar: Karwa, Uber, and Careem. Uber and Careem can only be hailed via their respective apps.
The iconic turquoise Karwa taxis can he hailed at taxi ranks, on the street, or via the Karwa app, available for Android and iOS. There are different sizes of taxis, and if you require a taxi for someone with reduced mobility, please pre-order one by telephoning +974 4458 8888.
Karwa taxis are all metered and, apart from a standard hailing fee from the airport of 20 Qatari riyal, and a standard hailing fee anywhere else of 4 Qatari riyal, charge a rate per kilometer.
Rate / km within Doha between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.: 1.6 Qatari riyal
Rate / km within Doha between 9pm and 5am: 1.9 Qatari riyal
Rate / km outside Doha day / night: 1.9 Qatari riyal
There is a waiting rate of 8 Qatari riyal per 15 minutes
The minimum taxi fare is 10 Qatari riyal.
Careem and Uber taxis allow you to book, check the fares, and track the cars online via the apps, and both offer cashless payments.
How to Ride the Doha Metro
Anticipated to be fully operational in time for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, the Doha Metro will be fully automated and driverless, made up of three lines, Red, Gold, and Green. The Metro will cover 46.6 miles (75 kilometers) of track and have 37 stations.
A preview service has opened on the Red Line, between Al Wakhra south of Doha to Al Qasser in the north, during weekdays, Sunday to Thursday, but not at the weekend, Friday and Saturday. Between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. trains run every six minutes. The branch to Hamad International Airport has not opened yet, but is anticipated to be operational by the end of 2019.
There are three classes on the metro: One carriage is for Gold (16 seats) and Family Class (26 seats), and two wagons are for Standard Class (88 seats), with each having a different payment structure:
A single ticket in Standard Class costs QAR2
An unlimited day pass in Standard Class costs QAR6
A single ticket in Gold Class is QAR10, and a day pass QAR30
Tickets for Family Class are the same as Standard, but only available to women with children.
Prices still subject to change
Tickets are available from the machines in each station, and re-chargeable cards are being planned.
When you walk down the lively streets of Souq Waqif you’re immediately transported into another time. This is a perfect place where you can taste, smell and experience tradition through the merchant’s produce, perfumes and stunning surrounding architecture.
The labyrinth of small shops offers a wide selection of various products from spices to handicrafts, clothing and many souvenirs.
Traditional art, cultural shows and music enrich the atmosphere of this unique space that also houses a comprehensive visitor centre.
The Pearl Qatar
The Pearl Qatar is a man-made island that became the epitome of luxury. It’s one of the places to visit in Doha especially if you’re interested in seeing how the wealthy are living. The yachts, high-end stores and villas in gated communities give you an interesting insight into how the upper class lives. Even though it’s more on the expensive side, it proved to be a popular dining spot that hosts many restaurants, cafes and restaurants lined along its waterfront promenades cater to every taste.
A perfect way to enjoy the sights of the beautiful Doha Bay is to take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, the Doha Corniche. The best spot to take a memorable photo from your trip is to position yourself next to the promenade, close to the Museum of Islamic Art, and from there capture the panoramic view of the skyscrapers. This is the heart of the capital, and you can find anything you might need. From cafes and restaurants for a short break between sightseeing to large green spaces for relaxation, this is one of the best places to visit in Doha.
Art lovers might be wondering what to see in Doha, but the art scene there will pleasantly surprise you! The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum’s (the FBQ Museum for short) collection was a project born out of a passion for art and artefacts of an influential businessman, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani. The museum is segregated into four parts: Coins & Currency, Vehicles, Qatar Heritage and Islamic Art. It’s an impressive collection that took years to build up. The most impressive part of the museum is the Sheikh’s astonishing car collection, that counts more than six hundred cars. All in perfect working condition!
Address: Al Samriya, 22km west of Doha, just beyond Mall Of Qatar
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday ( 9 AM – 4:30 PM), Friday (2 PM – 7 PM), Saturday (10 AM – 6 PM), Sunday (9 AM – 4 PM)
Price: 45 QR
The Katara Cultural Village
The Katara Cultural Village is also known as the Valley of Cultures and is the number one place to visit for all thespians, art and architecture enthusiasts, as well as for people passionate about learning other traditions. The Valley of Cultures is supposed to imitate the Qatari culture via a large space that houses a whole host of activities. It includes an opera house, an amphitheatre, art galleries, heritage centres, various academic facilities and of course cafes, green areas, museum facilities and an information centre. The large space was built to commemorate and celebrate not just the Qatari culture but also other civilizations and customs.
So if you wish to enjoy the epitome of Qatari traditional architecture, visit the Katara Cultural Village and enjoy the activities via concerts, exhibitions and other events.
No trip to Doha is complete without a visit to the Al Zubarah Fort, located close to the town of Al Ruwais. The Zubarah Fort is an iconic desert fort of Qatar. Its name was derived from the archaeological site of Al Zubarah town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The fort is immaculately preserved and is one of the best examples of 18th – 19th-century settlements in the regions. In the past it was ranked as one of the Gulf’s most important pearl diving and trading centres that were linked to the Indian Ocean, and it was considered a prosperous trading town – making it one of the places to visit in Doha.
Today the fort serves as a wonderful museum. On the ground floor there’s a small exhibition about the fort and the surrounding area that should not be missed.It is a very beautiful fort, even though it’s not actually very old. The fort is only an hour’s drive outside of Doha, but it’s definitively worth the visit.
Address: Al Zubarah, Shamal
Opening hours: every day from 7:30 AM – 5 PM
Price: Free of charge
The Qatar National Museum
Opened in March 2019 and shaped in the form of a desert rose, the Qatar National Museum now joins the iconic architecture along the Corniche. Learn about Qatar’s beginnings, the daily life steeped in local culture and traditions, and the country’s history. Video projections allow the visitor to be immersed in history, and there is plenty of interactive fun for the kids.
Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre
The elegant and haughty beauty of the purebred Arabian horse is admired throughout the world. At the Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre it is possible to see and experience the Arabian equestrian heritage first hand and see the horses up close. There are toured visits to the working facility and regular performances open to the public. Throughout the year, the facility also hosts competitions, including a stop on the Longines Global Champions show jumping tour.