Rich in history but with its eyes firmly on the future, Qatar is packed with spectacular cultural attractions, including world-class museums and galleries, vibrant markets, sporting escapades, desert safaris, bewitching landscapes, a fabulous foodie scene, brilliant wellness experiences, and some of the world’s best shopping – all of these bound together by famous Arabian hospitality. It makes for an easy safe introduction to the Middle East and an excellent holiday destination blending various different elements.
About 100km wide and 200km long, this peninsula has several islands, the largest of which are Halul, Shraouh, and Al Ishat. When the tides go in and out, the island landscapes change continuously as pristine sandbanks emerge out of the sea.
With its towering skyline and vast waterfront, the Qatari capital Doha is a city of great views – especially from many of its tempting restaurants. Doha is the perfect stopover destination if you’re flying further with award-winning Qatar Airways, with amazing packages starting at $14 a night at four-star hotels and $21 at five-star!
In the south of the peninsula, sand dunes and salt lakes are the main features. The strikingly beautiful undulating dunes are a popular destination for desert safaris and Bedouin experiences.
In the north, there’s a rocky shoreline to explore, with traditional fishing villages and picturesque beaches shaped by the strong tides, attracting an array of wildlife.
When to visit
Qatar bathes in sunshine for up to 320 days a year, so it’s a year-round destination. Temperatures in the cooler months (October–May) range between 20 and 30°C, making it a great place for some winter sun. During the summer months (June-September), they’re around 35-45°C, but Qatar’s extensive coastline means it benefits from cooling onshore breezes during the day, plus cooler nights – particularly in the dessert. Summer sees a huge choice of indoor activities, festivals, and events.
Those visiting from April to September can now see one of the largest congregations of whale sharks on the planet, which congregate in the waters off the north-east coast of Qatar. It is a relatively new offering, as the area that hosts the whale sharks used to be closed to the public.
Qatar is best known for its modern, cosmopolitan cityscapes, but its natural assets are one of its best-kept secrets. The ever-changing colour of the sands and sea at Khor Al Udaid – the Inland Sea – make it a photographer’s dream.
Qatar is home to a thrilling wildlife, including flamingos, sea turtles, Arabian oryx (the national animal), and camels.
From a pearling and fishing village little more than 100 years ago, Doha has transformed into an ultra-modern capital. Home to more than 90% of the country’s population, it’s become a sophisticated 21st-century metropolis while embracing its nomadic Bedouin beginnings.
Hamad International Airport – named the best airport in the world on several occasions – includes five-star facilities such as boutiques, restaurants, a gym, sleeping pods, a spa, squash courts, playgrounds, and even a world-class art collection.
Qatar is consistently rated one of the world’s safest countries (according to the Numbeo Crime Index 2022).
About 40km west of Doha, central Qatar is home to camel racing and to the largest and deepest (but accessible) cave in Qatar.
Kayak through the mangrove forests
Kayak through the mangrove forests at one of Qatar’s natural wonders – the Al Thakira Mangrove Forest, among the country’s oldest and largest forests and a real surprise for most visitors in a country known for its desert landscapes.
Visit Souq Waqif
Don’t miss a visit to Souq Waqif – one of the best ways to experience local culture as you explore the vibrant alleys to chat to vendors and bag a great deal. The Souq sells spices, gold, perfume, fabrics, and much more besides.
Explore the desert landscapes
Spend a day exploring the incredible desert landscapes, where sand meets the water, at the ‘Inland Sea’. You can experience a thrilling ride over the dunes before dipping your feet in the water and stopping at a traditional desert camp.
Visit the National Museum of Qatar
Take a visual journey through the country at the National Museum of Qatar, which tells the story of this nation from the prehistoric to the modern era. The building in itself is a wonder, inspired as it was by the naturally occurring crystal formation known as the desert rose.
Visit the Katara Cultural Village
Go back in time at Katara Cultural Village, where activities include taking out boats at the public beach, admiring art installations, sampling local food, climbing the steps of the amphitheatre, and visit the architecturally stunning mosques.
Enjoy some food made with local ingredients
On the top floor of the NMoQ, Jiwan is an immersive gastronomic concept. Its ever-changing, seasonal, contemporary Qatari menu featuring sharing dishes and using local ingredients takes you on a sensory journey.
Nobu Doha is an outpost of the iconic restaurant known for its unique fusion of traditional Japanese cuisine with Peruvian ingredients. Overlooking Doha, this Nobu has glorious views of the Arabian Gulf.
In an alleyway in Souq Waqif, Parisa is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds thanks to its mirrors, mosaics, and hand-painted art works. Its array of Persian specialities include fresh breads, Kashko Bademjan (aubergine with walnuts and yogurt), and kebabs from a charcoal grill.
La Mar by Gaston Acurio
La Mar by Gaston Acurio explores the authentic flavours of Peruvian gastronomy in a modern way. Don’t miss the authentic ceviche, fresh seafood, grilled steaks, and great cocktails – our favourite is the Pisco Sour.
For more laidback dining, BOHO Social has an extensive global menu, including fantastic vegetarian and vegan options. This popular spot in Katara Cultural Village is known for its convivial vibe and great views.
Hilton Salwa Beach Resort
On 3.5km of private beach by the sparkling Persian Gulf, Hilton Salwa Beach Resort includes one of the largest theme parks in the Middle East, the Desert Falls Water & Adventure Park. There are also signature restaurants, kiosks, food stalls, and poolside restaurants, together showcasing global flavours in unforgettable settings.
Intercontinental Doha Beach & Spa
In landscaped gardens on Doha’s longest private beach, the Intercontinental Doha Beach & Spa includes a free-form swimming pool and no fewer than 14 restaurants and bars – including La Mar Doha by Gaston Acurio. It’s also just minutes from Downtown.
Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli
A minute’s walk from Souq Waqif market, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli offers an authentic local experience in a collection of nine historic buildings with traditional decorative elements. Inside, you’ll find eight restaurants with an eclectic choice of cuisine, plus a spa fusing ancient Arabian traditions with cutting-edge skincare.
Shaq Village & Spa, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel
The secluded Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village is a traditional, romantic option where staff go out of their way to make you feel like royalty –fittingly, as it’s designed to resemble a sheikh’s palace. Amenities include an infinity pool, private beach, and spa, and it’s just a stone’s throw from the NMoQ and Souq Waquif.
Waldorf Astoria Lusail
On the only private beach in Lusail, the Waldorf Astoria Lusail is a luxury oasis with amenities including family-friendly pools, a water park, cabanas, kids’ clubs and plenty more besides. The hotel also includes the only ESPA Life spa in the Middle East, as well as seven renowned restaurants.