Things to do on your layover in Doha, Qatar

Reflections on Islamophobia and suggestions for how to spend your layover in Doha, Qatar.

Before I share my suggestions for how to spend your layover in Doha, Qatar, I just wanted to comment on the recent wave of Islamophobia that seems to be crippling our global community.

Trump’s recent Muslim Ban has pained me more than I can say. I have travelled pretty extensively in Muslim-majority countries and my experiences there, even travelling as a solo female, have been overwhelmingly positive.


Truthfully, the Middle East is one of my favourite regions to travel in. The people are hospitable, the sights stunning, the food and culture sumptuous. I hate that these nations are stereotyped and are the victims of prejudice and xenophobia.

Islamophobia is such an ugly sentiment. 

So for this reason, over the next little while I will be highlighting my travels across the region. Through video, photos, and words, I hope to show you the beauty and wonder of these nations.

Hence this post today about my time in Qatar. While you’ve probably heard of the place at some point *cough cough FIFA World Cup 2022, cough cough* a mere decade ago, the Islamic nation of Qatar was not a destination on the average traveller’s lips.

But the construction of a spiffy airport in Doha, the capital, has made Qatar a great transit hub, and has subsequently meant that more tourists are passing through the Gulf State than ever before.

While I travelled to Qatar for four days last August as part of my solo round the world trip with Star Alliance, it’s more likely you’ll come here on a layover. Since Qatar is small and relatively easy to navigate, you can see a lot, even during a 12 hour stopover!

Here are my five suggestions for things you should check out on your layover in Doha– in video form!

Short on time and bandwidth? I totally get it (though you should watch the video when you get a chance, the visuals are stunning)! Here’s a rundown of my five suggestions for things to do on your layover in Doha, Qatar:

Visit the Museum of Islamic Art

It’s known for its unique design and houses art dating back 1400 years!

Visit the Inland Sea

Essentially where the sand dunes and the sea meet, the Khor Al-Adaid area is only a 40-drive from central Doha and provides stunning views of the desert and Arabian gulf. Make sure you go dune bashing when you’re there.

Walk around Souk Waqif

This lively traditional market gives a glimpse into Qatari street life and is perhaps the easiest way to while away your layover in Doha. The souk is bursting with vendors shilling jewellery, textiles, and food.  There are also horse stables, a falcon market (?), and an area where you can purchase livestock.

Shop til you drop in the insane malls

Doha’s shopping malls are at once quirky and luxurious.  The upscale Villagio Mall’s interiors are modeled after the canals in Venice, Italy and the Pearl-Qatar is a man-made island(!) that boasts stores from the highest of the high brow fashion brands.

Check out the futuristic architecture in central Doha

Strolling around central Doha is an attraction in and of itself!  Doha has the most unique structures in the Gulf region.  The city has approximately 30 skyscrapers that are over 500 feet tall!

So there you have it, my suggestions for how to spend your layover in Doha! Have you travelled to Qatar, within the Middle East, or to any other Muslim-majority countries? Where? What was your experience? And what would you most like to know about travelling to these places?

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  • Reply
    Kyle Malone
    February 9, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Oneika. I remember you had many positive comments about Qatar during your trip there. Ironically, I’ll be in Doha for a layover flying Qatar Airways from Philadelphia to Dubai. I’m not sure how much time I will have to enjoy the city but I’ve heard wonderful things about the airport experience. Looking forward to your adventures in 2017! Be well.

  • Reply
    Caroline Achieng Otieno
    February 10, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Looks interesting!
    Haven’t been to Doha…yet!

  • Reply
    Tommy Smith
    March 8, 2017 at 6:53 am

    This is first time I am visiting your website and I find this post very very useful thanks for giving such a great information..

  • Reply
    The Jetset Boyz
    April 17, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Some good news if you’re flying with Qatar Airways and changing planes in Doha.

    You can get the new Transit Visa free of cost when you add a stopover of between five and 96 hours in Doha. Use the multi-city booking option to include the stop in Doha when booking your flight on qatarairways.com or contact your nearest Qatar Airways office. You must apply for your pre-approved transit visa at least seven days (excluding public holidays) prior to your departure. The visa is valid for 30 days from the date of issuance.

  • Reply
    The Middle East is a Scary Place? | Layover in Doha, Qatar - Travel Lushes
    May 1, 2017 at 2:03 am

    […] realized later though after reading Oneika the Traveller’s post about Islamophobia that some people would have scoffed at the idea of a layover in a Middle Eastern country. Because, […]

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