What can I do in Doha during a 48 hour layover?
Qatar’s cosmopolitan capital is geared up for international visitors, whether they’re working long-term or simply transferring from one flight to another. Delicious cuisine, huge shopping malls, atmospheric souks, waterfront attractions, and fantastic museums are all part of the mix. So don’t ask what can I do in Doha in 48 hours. What can’t you do during a stopover? That is the real question.
Things to do during your layover in Doha
Doha may be relatively small, but there is a lot to see. Start with the Grand Mosque in Jubailat, and then walk along the ledge, which overlooks the Arabian Gulf. After that, it’s time to feed your mind. Doha has recently added a handful of world-class museums to its portfolio, and you can probably see them in one day of intensive sightseeing. The National Museum is the highlight, taking visitors on a tour of Qatar’s past and present. The Museum of Islamic Art houses one of the world’s greatest collections of Middle Eastern masterpieces in its ziggurat-like design, while the Museum of Illusions offers something unique: a wacky journey into the world of magic and deception. And, of course, you don’t need to get into just one museum. Doha offers water sports, golf, bowling, cinemas and much more.
Sights in Doha that everyone should include in their layover
Be smart when scheduling your Doha tour, as 48 hours is not a long time in global cities. However, there are some sights that every visitor should include in their itinerary, even if they only glance for a few minutes between museums or restaurants. The exterior of the National Museum is spectacular, with its petal-shaped discs (and it looks even better at night). Radwani House offers a glimpse of Qatar before development took hold, while Al Zubarah Fort goes back even further, having guarded the port since the 18th century. But the recent additions to the city are just as spectacular. For example, the Pearl Development features an iconic oyster and pearl fountain, while the downtown skyline is almost as jaw-dropping as Dubai. Head to Pearl Island at night to see it light up in all its glory.
Where to take a selfie during a visit to Doha
If modern travel for you means adding to your social media profile, finding Doha’s top selfie spots will be a priority. Fortunately, the Qatari capital is not short of potential candidates. For example, stop by Parisa Souq Waqif to have your photo taken next to its beautiful golden interior. The capital’s mosques make an elegant and exotic setting for anyone’s vacation snaps, while the imaginative architecture and art treasures of the National Museum will make the perfect selfie backdrop for savvy travelers. And when they’re complete, the city’s 2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums are sure to be the place for sports fans to show off their tan.
What to eat during a layover in Doha
Qatari food may not be as famous as Japanese sushi or Argentinian barbecue, but like everything else in the emirate, it’s on the rise. The local cuisine will be familiar to mezze lovers, while dishes like biryani-style machboos show an Indian and Persian influence and saloona stews will satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike. There are also some irresistible sweet treats to indulge in, such as rosewater-flavoured mehalabiya and luqaimat, a sort of saffron and cardamom dumpling covered in rich syrup. But the beauty of Doha is that local food is not your only option. The city welcomes chefs from all continents, and hotels are often better known for their incredible menus than the quality of their accommodation. Most of the best restaurants can be found in or around Souq Waqif, so make it your nighttime destination after exhausting the sightseeing and recreation options.
Immerse yourself in Doha’s retail scene
Doha is fast becoming one of the major commercial hubs in the Middle East. Like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the city has invested in huge shopping malls that dwarf similar places in Europe, mixing designer brands, fine dining and recreational attractions. If you want to go high-end shopping, don’t miss Al Hazm or the Mall of Qatar. Both are architecturally sublime and packed with global brands. But if you want something more authentic, head to the city’s souks. Located on Doha’s waterfront, Souq Waqif Al Wakra offers exotic perfumes, dates and nuts, and even traditional swords. It’s a great place to shop between dips in the ocean or mocktails at laid-back beach bars.
Prepare for your layover in Doha
Thanks to its position as a global hub for Qatar Airways, Doha regularly welcomes short-stay visitors. Many transfer directly to connecting flights, but others choose to stay. And as we’ve seen, there’s plenty to see, buy, and eat in the ever-changing nation’s capital. If you choose to reserve 48 hours in Doha when you book your flight with BudgetAir, plan ahead to make the most of your time. Be prepared to use taxi apps when you’re in town, as they are easily the best way to get around. And remember: wear light clothing. Doha is a very hot city, and you will be much more comfortable if you pack sensibly.