24 hours in Doha – Places to visit in Doha
I was flying Qatar Airways from Gothenburg in Sweden to Bangalore via Doha and I landed in the wee hours of the morning at the Hamad International Airport. The Doha airport transit hotel was full and hence I was in a taxi at 2 am heading to my hotel. My transit in Doha was a little less than 24 hours but I slept for almost half of it. As the morning dawned, I decided to explore the city with Discover Qatar and head to some of the places to visit in Doha. I met my guide Firas at the reception and together we went on a whirlwind tour of Doha. We had time for just five fascinating places and here is my suggestion on what you can explore in 24 hours in Doha
We started at The Corniche, where I spent a few minutes admiring the skyline of Doha before sudden drops of rain started tumbling down from the skies. The Corniche is a seven km strip of waterfront along the Doha Bay shaped like a half-moon. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Doha, especially if you have just 24 hours in Doha.
The promenade has several landmarks and monuments but most notable is the Museum of Islamic Art, where the walkway ends. Several traditional dhow boats beckon you for a cruise as you glimpse at Doha from the waters. If you have the time, do go on a cruise as its one of the fascinating experiences if you are on transit through Doha.
The Museum of Islamic Art
Located on the dhow harbour in an artificial peninsula, which is reclaimed land, the museum is home to Islamic art collected from three continents across 14 centuries. The landmark building is designed by Chinese-American architect IM Pei, of the Louvre fame, and is influenced by ancient Islamic architecture and inspired by the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo. This iconic museum is one of the places to visit in Doha, especially if you have just a few hours on your transit in Doha.
The main building has five storeys and is topped with a dome and a central tower. A massive courtyard connects it to the educational department. There is a library with nine rooms. Several workshops for students and the public are held here. There is a lush park here as well. You would need at least a day here but then with such a short time in hand, I could barely get a glimpse.
The Souq Waqif
The oldest souq in Doha is not just the cultural symbol of the city but also one of the popular tourist destinations here and one of the places to see in Doha. The labyrinthine lanes of the market take you into different worlds as you find everything from spices to antiques, falcons to fish. If you can see just one place during your transit in Doha, then head here. Its like a microcosm of the country itself and the best way to explore the city while on a transit through Doha.
There are Shisha lounges, famous restaurants, boutique hotels, and art galleries here. Historically the Souq is over 200 years old and was the marketplace for Bedouins who traded primarily in livestock among other wares. There are so many places to visit in Doha souk and its a perfect destination if you have just 24 hours in Doha.
It is believed that the traders and tribes used to stand and display their goods, be it spices or textiles. Hence the name Souq Waqif or standing market stands even today.
The Souq was restored recently but it retained the traditional architectural designs and even today, it is one of the historic souqs that remain in the Middle East today and one of the best places to see in Doha.
National Museum of Doha
Immersive and experiential, Doha’s story is described in eleven different galleries and is focussed on these three themes – Beginning, Life in Qatar and The Modern History of Qatar. But for me, the very experience of the museum starts with the magnificent facade and the architecture of the museum and the waterfront with the fountains. Not to be missed even if you have just 24 hours in Doha as its one of the iconic museums and places to visit in Doha.
Inspired by the desert rose crystal found in Qatar, the museum was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and mesmerises you with its series of discs that intersect and collide with each other. The museum spread over 1.5 km includes the palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani as well. The museum is more than a monument. It is an experience. Make sure you see this museum even if you have a short transit through Doha.
Doha Heritage Village or Katara Cultural Village
Katara was the ancient name for Qatar and the Katara Cultural Village gives you a glimpse of the architectural heritage of this country, besides being a tourist hotspot. Pottering around, you can see amphitheater, galleries, museums, and markets here besides a souk and a traditional mosque. Its a little further away and may not be possible if you have just a short transit in Doha.
However, if you have 24 hours in Doha like me, it’s easy to just do a quick visit. One of the best places to visit in Doha for the architecture and cultural displays, it is always bustling with life as several events are held here. Locals and tourists throng here after sunset for the lively atmosphere and there is even a public beach with water sports being the main attraction and one of the places to see in Doha.
While these are some of the attractions in Doha for a whirlwind tour, I wished I had more time to explore Qatar’s capital. Perhaps I will get an opportunity to visit Doha again and hopefully it is not just on transit in Doha. What are some of the places to see in Doha that you would recommend if you have just 24 hours in Doha ?