Qatar: What to do, what to eat and where to stay

From discovering local culture, world-class shopping and fine dining to thrilling desert adventures, this Arabian Gulf peninsula has rapidly evolved from a stopover location to a major tourist destination in its own right.

Qatar: What to do, what to eat and where to stay

Where to stay and eat in Qatar

Nestled in landscaped gardens with 500 blissful metres of sandy beach, just minutes from the new Al Qassar Metro Station and all the attractions of downtown Doha, the InterContinental Doha Beach & Spa is a smart and sleek contemporary option with a free-form pool and no fewer than 14 restaurants and bars to choose from. Among its special touches is the fact that its excellent spa therapists precede all treatments with a relaxing foot ritual using indigenous ingredients.

On the exclusive artificial island of The Pearl with its waterfront promenades and lovely marinas, the Marsa Malaz Kempinski blends Arabian traditions with European elegance. As well as another fabulous spa (by Clarins), a private beach, outdoor pools, a tennis court and a kids' club, it has seven stylish restaurants which offer delicious dining from around the globe. Among them, Zengo Doha with its authentic Pan-Asian cuisine inspired by the world travels of chef Richard Sandoval stands out.

Indeed, some of Doha’s finest dining is to be had in its luxury hotels, including Nobu at the Four Seasons and Hakkasan at The St Regis. Friday brunches are a weekly ritual in Doha, featuring the likes of sushi, ceviche, oysters, dim sum and cocktails, and the St Regis is a great place for them.

If you want to try authentic Middle Eastern fare (which includes saloona, a classic Arabic stew, and warak enab stuffed vine leaves), it’s on offer in abundance here, in both hotels and in local Qatari restaurants such Bayt Sharq in a century-old heritage house. Other places to sample Arabic fare are dhow boat rides, which generally include an onboard barbecue with local grills. Once used for pearl fishing, dhows now take you to Qatar’s hidden sandbanks and beaches for paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing.

Best things to do in Qatar

New attractions for 2023 – including purpose-built Fuwairit Kite Beach, the Outpost Al Barari resort of tented villas and nature experiences, Qetaifan Island North with its floating hotels, beach clubs and water park, and West Bay North Beach Project – have added to other recent developments including the immersive 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, and Quest Doha theme park with the world's tallest indoor rollercoaster.

The 8km curving promenade of the Doha Corniche is a great way to get your bearings, taking you between the shimmering Gulf and the city’s futuristic skyscrapers. Doha’s landmark buildings include the sustainable Msheireb quarter, Education City, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Jean Nouvel designed National Museum of Qatar, inspired by a ‘desert rose’ (multilayered crystals that form in salty sand), with 11 galleries showcasing regional history from prehistoric times. There’s also the Katara Cultural Village, with an opera house, photography and art galleries, mosques and an amphitheatre.

Beyond the glamour and glitz, the Qatari desert beckons with exciting activities including dune bashing and camel rides. Also exhilarating is stand-up paddle boarding through the mangroves of the Al Thakhira natural reserve north of Doha with its herons, purple crabs and seasonal flamingos, while the otherworldly Brouq Nature Reserve on the far west of the peninsula has mushroom-like limestone outcroppings, gazelles, ostriches and the East-West/West-East art installation by Richard Serra. 

To book your holiday in Qatar, call your Travel Counsellor today.

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