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How to make the most of your 48 hours in Qatar

A guide on what to do if you’re short on time

Often described as the undiscovered gem of the Middle East, Qatar has slowly emerged as a holiday hotspot for travellers in search of a destination that has it all.

Qatar’s rich heritage and culture set on a landscape of glittering blue seas and buttery-soft sand makes it the ideal choice for those who want a mix of beach relaxation and traditional city exploring.

Whether you’re headed to Qatar for a stopover, or only have a few days to spare, there’s more than enough to keep you busy.

Here is a 48-hour itinerary of ‘must-dos’ to help you get the most from this thriving and exquisite country.

Day 1,
9 am

A morning at the museum

Ease yourself into the hustle and bustle of Qatar by heading to the Museum of Islamic Art first. The building alone is an architectural masterpiece, located on its very own purpose-built island with an exterior structure built to mimic the shape of the niqab, worn by devout Muslim women. After you’ve taken in the spectacular views head inside and check out the world’s largest collection of Islamic art.

Then, once you’re done exploring, take a stroll around the MIA park located outside. It boasts beautiful views of the coast, leads to a secret café and allows you to take in the Doha skyline.

Museum of Islamic Art

Location:
MIA Park

+97444224444

mia.org.qa


Day 1,
2 pm

Brunch is the new lunch

If you’re staying in Qatar on a Friday or Saturday (the Muslim weekend), brunch is a must. In fact, it’s almost a tradition in itself.

Qatari brunches are an extravagant affair, usually laid out in a sprawling buffet, allowing you to try a bit of everything.

The Westin Doha is a firm favourite of expats and visitors for its lavish brunch displays. Sample some traditional Middle Eastern dishes before moving on to the seafood section, followed by an outdoor live-cooking station boasting cuisines from around the world. And if you still have space there’s a huge selection of desserts and cheeses to finish off with.

The Westin Doha

Location:
Salwa Road Fereej Bin Mahmoud

+97444921555

marriott.com


Day 1,
4 pm

People watch at the Pearl

No trip to Qatar is complete without a visit to the Pearl – a man-made island located near the west bay coast.

Described as one of the ‘most glamorous addresses’ in the Middle East, the Pearl is packed with eateries, shops and apartments. Grab a quick coffee or shisha and watch the supercars zoom by.

If you’re after a more unconventional way to see the sights, the Blue Pearl Experience allows you to kayak around the Pearl and see the city in a completely different way.

The 90-minute kayak ride goes around the island, letting you can take in stunning sights like the yacht-lined marina, luxury shops and fancy residential tower apartments.

Once you’re done exploring it is time to head back to the hotel, get changed and ready for…

Kayak rental

Location:
The Pearl Qatar

+97466602830

Website


Day 1,
7 pm

Dinner with a view

There’s no shortage of eateries in Qatar, but if you’re after a truly memorable experience try the waterfront restaurant Al Mourjan, one of the most popular eating spots in Qatar and the only restaurant located on Doha’s corniche.

Grab a seat at their outdoor patio and enjoy some hearty Lebanese food while watching the sunset as Doha’s skyline lights up.

Al Mourjan

Location: 
Corniche Promenade

+97444834423


Day 1,
9 pm

End the night with a cruise

Once dinner is over head out to Doha’s waterfront promenade for an evening ride on the dhow — a traditional Qatari sailing boat. You’ll find an array of them lining the corniche. Simply approach the captain, buy a ticket and head out.

Day 2,
8 am

Souq shopping

Spend your morning bartering with the locals at Souq Waqif — one of Qatar’s most iconic street markets.

Haggle in the gold market for some jewellery, admire the birds at the Falcon Market and treat your senses to a stroll along the spice and fabric markets.

Skip lunch and graze on the array of street food options that the Souq has to offer, and don’t forget to pick up a cup of Qatar’s famous karak chai as you weave through the bustling markets.

Souq Waqif

Location: 
Al Diwan St.


Day 2,
12 pm

Recharge at the beach

Once you’ve finished at the Souq, recharge and relax by the beach. Qatar boasts several beaches along the coastline so there’s something for everyone.

Day 2,
2 pm

Desert visit

Don’t leave Qatar without seeing the Arabian desert and enjoying an evening steeped with rich culture and ancient traditions.

The best way to sample the desert’s delights is to book yourself on to a half day desert safari experience.

Start off with an exhilarating drive through the desert where you’ll experience dune bashing — hold on tight because it can get bumpy.

Then slow down with a camel ride along the Saudi Arabian border before stopping off at the Regency Sealine Camp for a dip in the Persian Gulf, followed by an extravagant Arabian dinner.

Illustration on the cover: Khadia Ulumbekova. 

Photos: 1 — Unsplash / Anantha Krishnan; 2 — Facebook / The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa; 3 — Getty Images/Leonid Andronov; 4 — Facebook / Blue Pearl Experience; 5 — Gavin Hellier / Nature Picture Library / sciencephoto.com; 6 — Unsplash / Federico Gutierrez