How to spend a winter sun break in Qatar

Boasting a vibrant array of entertainment, a wealth of captivating architecture and a rich variety of charming cultural and historical attractions, Qatar ranks amongst the Middle East's biggest draws. Whether you're new to the country or are looking to experience something different on your next visit, here are some useful tips to help you plan your winter sun visit.

Ambling the Doha Corniche is a great way to get your bearings. This 8km promenade curving around the Qatari capital’s crescent-shaped waterfront takes you between the shimmering waters of the Gulf and the city’s glittering futuristic skyscrapers, in the company of locals jogging or working out at the dedicated stations. You can also set sail on the Gulf in a traditional dhow, once used for pearl fishing, dive to shipwrecks from Downtown Doha itself, paddleboard, sail and kayak – tours by the latter can take you to hidden sandbanks and beaches.

Experience the Culture

Doha’s landmark buildings include the Msheireb quarter, Education City and the  Museum of Islamic Art on its artificial island. The last – designed by IM Pei of Louvre pyramid fame – has the world’s largest collection of Muslim art, dating from the 7th century onwards, plus weapons, manuscripts and scientific instruments. Another must-see is the Jean Nouvel designed National Museum of Qatar, inspired by a ‘desert rose’ (multilayered crystals that form in salty sand), with 11 galleries showcasing the history of Qatar from prehistoric times.

There’s more local heritage in store at Katara Cultural Village, which brings together an opera house (which also hosts poetry and jazz performances), galleries of local photography and fine art, mosaic and gold embellished mosques, and a huge Gulf-view amphitheatre blending classical Greek and Islamic design.

Explore the Natural Landscape

Beyond the glamour and glitz of Doha, the desert beckons with activities including dune bashing in SUVs, with half-day tours available. Also exhilarating is a stand-up paddleboard trip through the mangroves of the Al Thakira natural reserve north of Doha with its herons, purple crabs and seasonal flamingo population. You can also take an organised day tour to Khor Al-Adaid, the Inland Sea, in southeast Qaar. This tidal river forms a unique lagoon system protected by UNESCO for its terns, ospreys and oryx.

There’s also the otherworldy Brouq Nature Reserve on the far west of the peninsula, with its mushroom-like limestone outcroppings, gazelles and ostriches, and East-West/West-East art installation by Richard Serra. You might also head to Al Zubarah, the country’s largest archaeological site – a once-thriving pearl-fishing port that’s now one of the best-preserved examples of an 18th/19th-century Gulf merchant town.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping is also brilliant in Doha - not least at Souq Waqif with its stalls purveying handmade gold jewellery, fabrics, fragrances, nuts and spices on a historic Bedouin market site. There are also vast malls with high-street shops and designer boutiques; Villaggio Mall stands out for its Italianate decor and even a canal with gondola rides.

If your Qatar stopover happens to include a Friday daytime, make sure to join in the local institution of the Friday brunch, which often includes the likes of sushi, ceviche, oysters, dim sum and cocktails.

To book your stopover in Qatar, get in touch today. You’ll benefit from full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.

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