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Things To Do

Making the most of a 48-hours stopover

Everyone from business travellers adding some downtime onto a work trip to leisure travellers passing through on flights further afield will appreciate a short stay in this popular transit hub — Doha’s compact nature and logical layout help visitors make the most of their time.

Moreover, national carrier Qatar Airways’ Qatar Stopover packages option, available on outbound or inbound flights, takes care of much of the planning. While that option has been temporarily halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, local tour operators such as Discover Qatar can also tailor a range of handy stopover packages for those who want to spend more time doing, and less time planning.

Day one

Start your Doha discovery with an early morning stroll along the four-mile Corniche, the city’s beating heart. It’s a great way to get your bearings and shake of any lingering jet lag while getting your fill of the scrolling West Bay skyline. Stop off for a morning coffee along the way at a spot such as Upside Down Cafe.

Defy the rising temperatures by checking out some of the city’s world-class museums and galleries. The Museum of Islamic Art is one obvious starting point, with its fascinating and unique range of artefacts, from manuscripts and ceramics to textiles, set amid exquisitely manicured grounds.

Continue your cultural tour at the nearby National Museum of Qatar, capped by a long lunch at its excellent onsite restaurant, Jiwan. One of the city’s latest big bang attractions, having opened in 2019, NMoQ is the best place to get an insight into the history of the country and its people, the quality of its exhibits matched only by the building’s eye-catching design and the sumptuously landscaped grounds, replete with indigenous plants.

Come afternoon, assuming you aren’t ‘museumed or galleried out’, there are plenty of other excellent options to consider such as Al Riwaq Art Space; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art; or the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, just out of town. Or you could just spend more time exploring the city on foot, for example taking a self-guided photography tour of some of the incredible public art dotted across the city, with Gandhi’s Three Monkeys; Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider sculpture, Maman; and eL Seed’s 52 large ‘calligraffiti’ murals on Salwa Road just some of the highlights.

Sunset dhow cruises on the bay, which leave from the Corniche and typically last around 30 minutes, help to bridge the space between day and night. The lights on the traditional local wooden fishing boats add to the experience, not least if you’re in the market for a romantic atmosphere.

Come night time, scour the local events calendar to see if anything tickles your fancy at the city’s myriad hotel venues, or in areas such as Katara Cultural Village, which supports a packed programme of music, performance art and theatre. Then, having returned to the hotel to freshen up, head back out and push the boat out with a memorable dinner at one of the fabulous eateries such as Bayt Sharq, or Nobu Doha at the Four Seasons.

 

Day two

Start the day with an exploration of Msheireb Downtown, grabbing a caffeine hit and a bite at one of the Instagrammable coffeeshops such as Nomad or Caffeinated before indulging in some serious retail therapy at Galleria Mall, literally a ‘one-stop shop’ for major international brands, luxury goods and other items. The area itself is fascinating, being the focus of the government’s ongoing 75-acre Msheireb Downtown Doha project, which is transforming the former commercial area into what they hope will be the most sustainable downtown area of any global capital.

Continue your shopping odyssey by strolling to nearby Souq Waqif, grabbing some snaps and selfies at key locations such as the Falcon Souq. The traditional-style market is particularly popular with locals in the cooler climes of evening at which point, having worked up an appetite, it’s time to explore the excellent food offering, sampling local staples such as the pancake-like regag, stuffed courgettes (kousa mahshi) and sweet dumplings flavoured with saffron and cardamom (luqaimat), followed by a more substantial traditional meal at one of the popular eateries such as Al Jasra.

If you still have any energy left, check out some of the city’s great nightlife options. Live music can be found throughout the capital, from hotel venues such as N’awlins Jazz House, at Marsa Malaz Kempinski, to La Vista 55 and Paloma at Intercontinental Doha, with Crystal Lounge at the W Doha and Oxygene at the La Cigale among the top-flight club night venues. There are loads of great rooftop bars to explore, too, plus al fresco shisha spots such as the terrace at the Four Seasons. Look out for good value ladies’ nights and happy hour promotions, especially on weeknights.

Making the most of a 48-hours stopover

Where to stay: The Four Seasons Hotel Doha

Promising ‘a seaside retreat in the heart of Qatar’s capital’, this local icon is fresh from an extensive renovation programme and enjoys a stunning Corniche location. It’s fronted by a private beach and further served by a promontory stretching into the bay, with a marina on one side and a standalone branch of Nobu at the tip, affording excellent views back towards the city.

Making the most of a 48-hours stopover
Making the most of a 48-hours stopover

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