Doha, Qatar – The capital of one of the richest countries in the world is certainly popular among business and transit travelers as well as expats. And with the rapid growth the city is undertaking especially for its preparation for World Cup 2022, now is a good time to travel to this city-in-the-making. Here are my top 10 free things to do in Doha, Qatar:
Explore the alleyways of Souq Waqif
One of Doha’s must-see is Souq Waqif found in downtown Doha. It literally translates to “standing market” and has been around for at least a hundred years, although recently renovated last 2006 to fix drainage problems.
Get lost among the maze-like alleyways of Qatari architecture while having a taste and feel of Qatari culture.
Middle eastern marvels you can find in the souq include spices, jewelry, clothing, food, souvenirs, animals, perfume, antiques, and handicrafts. It is a popular destination especially at night, for both the locals and expats. It gets even busier during festivals and concerts, as music, cultural shows, and other entertainment abound.
Inside the souq, one can also find the Gold Souq, Falcon Souq, Animal Souq, Spice Souq, Fabriq Souq, and Art Centre.
📍Doha, Qatar: Souq Waqif ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ "You keep your eyes closed to block out the hardships, the pain, the unwanted; but in that, the true beauty of the world is lost because you refuse to open your eyes." ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ Falconry is not just a national sport in #Qatar. It is also a big part of their national and cultural identity. Introduced by the bedouin tribes, it evolved as a hunting tool to a sport. You can see these amazing creatures in the Falcon Souq in Souq Waqif! There is even a falcon hospital. 😁
2. Learn about Qatar history and culture at Msheireb Museums and Enrichment Centre
If you are pressed for time, head by the barge near Costa and Sheraton to check out Msheireb Enrichment Centre where you can learn about Qatar’s evolution from its Bedouin past to its modern and bustling future. It only takes an hour to go around.
For those who have more time, book a tour with Msheireb Museums near Souq Waqif, to see the four heritage houses. For more information and to book a guided tour, click here.
3. Museum of Islamic Art
One of Qatar’s iconic landmarks is designed by world-renowned architect, I. M. Pei. Made from limestone, Museum of Islamic Art’s geometric building stands tall at the Persian Gulf along Doha’s Corniche.
The lines and symmetry inside and outside is a wonder to behold, along with the Islamic art treasures that it hides within.
📍Doha, Qatar: Museum of Islamic Art ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ MIA has got to be one of the most beautiful museums I've ever seen. It's geometric limestone building is designed by world renowned architect, I.M. Pei! I was drawn to it initially because of the Treasures of China exhibit (posting about this soon!). But I must say that I really enjoyed learning about traditional Islamic Art through the exhibits. Entrance is free and Alain Ducasse's first restaurant in the Middle East is here too! Don't miss it if you're in Doha! 😊💜 #PSwanderlust
4. MIA Park
Beside the Museum of Islamic Art is one of Doha’s favorite parks which stretches to a crescent-shape ending in Richard Serra’s sculpture. A playground, trampoline, and cafe can also be found in the park. A small mound serves as the perfect viewpoint for Doha’s skyline.
'7' sculpture at MIA Park | Doha 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 At the end of the MIA Park is this towering sculpture made by Richard Serra. Made with seven steel plates in a heptagonal shape, this work of art is inspired by the significance of the number 7 in Islamic culture. Standing at the edge of MIA park's pier, this tower dominates Doha's skyline.
5. Doha Corniche
In front of the Persian Gulf is the seven kilometer stretch of promenade in crescent shape famous in most of Doha’s photographs. Dotted by traditional dhows moored in its sandy waters, the palm-fringed boulevard is perfect for walking and discovering the modern side of Doha. Children play areas are also available as well as charging stations. It could get crowded on Fridays as this is a popular spot for expats and locals alike.
Doha Tower | Qatar 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 "See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see." – Dr Wayne Dyer 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 One of the iconic buildings along the West Bay in Doha's Corniche is the Doha Tower. With its bright yellow lights and cylindrical shape, it stands out among Doha's skyscrapers.
6. Katara Cultural Village
Also known as the Valley of Cultures, Katara Cultural Village aims to showcase and nurture Qatari history, traditions, art, and culture. Through festivals, exhibitions, and showcases, they also promote a multi-cultural exchange. The amphiteatre and the Opera house is a must see. The restaurant area offers a beachfront view and the view of Doha skyline.
📍Katara Cultural Village | Doha, Qatar 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 Katara is named after Qatar's oldest known name Catara. These Pigeon Towers beside the revered Masjid of Katara is also one of the iconic buildings I've wanted to see ever since I set foot in Doha. Katara Cultural Village is a project of the Emir of Qatar and houses an amphitheatre, opera house, restaurants art galleries, beach, a cultural market and buildings that reflect traditional Qatari architecture. The village is a mix of both the past and the present and is sure worth a visit! #PSwanderlust
7. The Pearl
Watch the sunset from Porto Arabia or feel like you’re in Venice at Qanat Quartier. These are just two of the things you can do for free in the luxury, man-made island off West Bay. Dubbed as the “Arabian Riviera“, The Pearl rivals Dubai’s Palm Islands.
8. Have a taste of Venice at Villaggio Mall
One thing that Doha doesn’t have a shortage of are malls. But one mall stands out because inside is a man-made canal inspired by Venice, complete with gondola rides. Like the Venetian Hotels, the mall’s ceiling is also painted in the likeness of the blue sky on a sunny day.
Photo credit to Hazel of apinchofhaze
9. Feel the magic come alive at Magical Festival Village
Although it’s only open during the winter/spring season, Magical Festival Village is a must-see destination for those visiting Qatar. It is a popular attraction not just for families, but for everyone who wants to bring out their inner child. Entertainment and food options are aplenty inside, as well as Instagram-worthy spots!
You need not go far to travel. Start from your neighborhood. Take a walk. Discover new paths and sights you haven't seen and haven't been to. Eat your way around the city. There will always be something left to see and do. Doha may not be as exciting as New York or Tokyo, but i'll try my best to explore almost every nook and cranny.
10. Get sporty at Aspire Park
The biggest green space in the city lies near Villaggio Mall and the famous Torch Tower, previously used in the 15th Asian Games and now a modern hotel. Like MIA Park, it also boasts of different facilities and amenities like playground, football pitches, jogging track, and exercise equipment. You can also find here the only lake in Doha, complete with fishes and ducks. A perfect view while walking, chilling, or having coffee and drinks.
Aspire Park is inside Aspire Zone, the sporting destination of Qatar, that used to host the 2006 Asian Games. It boasts of world-class sporting facilities, including sports education, medicine, and research. Hamad Aquatic Centre, Khalifa Stadium, and Aspire Dome are the other notable buildings you will see here to name a few.
Are you planning to stop by or go to Doha? Which free activity would you like to try? 🙂