A comprehensive guide of Qatar’s capital for tourists. Doha is a modern metropolis that few people know about. I will tell you everything that a traveler needs to know, such as how to get around the city, where to stay, whether it’s worth visiting the new neighborhoods of Pearl and Lusail, how safe it is, and many other questions that will help you prepare for your trip.
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Table of Contents
Doha: general information
- Qatar is a small Arab state in the Middle East, measuring 100 by 200 km, with a population of approximately 2.6-2.8 million people.
- This guide covers everything about vacationing in Qatar, including general information, tourism trends, and what to expect when visiting this country.
- The capital of Qatar is Doha, where more than 50% of the country’s population lives today.
- Doha is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf, offering beach vacations and tour packages.
Interesting fact:Qatar is aiming to open its borders to global tourism. The Qataris want to follow in the footsteps of the Emirates, especially Dubai. The city of old limestone buildings is transforming into a modern megapolis.
To be honest, if you were to ask me about the downsides of traveling to Doha in Qatar, I can’t immediately name any. However, there are many advantages:
- Doha is ranked among the top three safest capitals in the world. From personal experience, I can say that it’s safer than Paris or London. There are no thefts, robberies, or drug sales in the city center, and leaving your car with a 2 euro glass on display won’t result in it being smashed.
- There’s a stereotype that Doha is a very expensive city, but that’s not the case. While some areas have higher prices than what we’re used to, overall, it’s not more expensive than your hometown.
- I could list more benefits, but you can read about them in more detail at the following link: 10 Reasons to Visit Doha and Qatar.
A brief overview of Doha’s transportation
Regarding public transportation, Doha is far ahead of many capital cities worldwide, and we’re already falling behind. For me, the development of public transportation is significant because if tourists can move around the city quickly, easily, and inexpensively, it’s a huge plus for tourism development. In this case, public transportation is excellent.
In summary, as there are detailed articles in this guide about the public transportation of Qatar’s capital:
- Qatar’s international airport is located within the city limits, just 7 km from the center of the capital.
- In 2019, Doha opened its metro system, which now includes 37 stations and 3 lines. The plan is to have 5 lines and 100 stations in total. However, you can already take the metro to any of the city’s attractions.
- The most important thing is that the metro is fully automated and operates without any staff.
- What’s more, there is a metro connection to Doha Airport, which is incredibly convenient. For just $1.50 and a 30-minute ride, you can get from the airport to the city center.
- In addition to the metro, there are two excellent taxi services in Doha that operate through mobile apps. Taxis are very affordable here, with an average cost of $3-5 for a ride around the city.
- There is also a network of electric buses and four tram lines.
- For more information on public transportation in Doha, click here.
Where to stay: the best places in the city
Now that we’ve covered transportation, let’s talk about where to stay. In terms of safety and access to the metro, it doesn’t matter which neighborhood you choose. You won’t be in any danger, and there is practically a metro station in every area of Doha.
Important note:In Doha, there are very few housing options that we are used to when traveling in Europe, specifically apartments with a kitchen that are rented out by locals. This is due to the country’s history of being closed off from the rest of the world for a long time. Today, apartments with kitchens are appearing in new residential skyscrapers, but 99% of them are apart-hotels managed by hotel chains, and the daily rental rates are very high.
90% of tourists who visit Doha stay in regular hotels, of which there are a huge number, from budget options for $30 per night to luxurious chain hotels like the Ritz-Carlton. Even in the cheapest hotels, everything is very decent, including good rooms. Here are two useful articles on this topic:
- Features of hotels and apartments in Qatar.
- List of the best hotels in Doha: where to stay for a day or two weeks as a tourist.
There are four zones that tourists are mostly interested in when looking for a place to stay in Doha. You can find them marked schematically on the map above. All links to rental services in Qatar can be found at the end of this article.
- Neighborhood 1: Old Doha. The city center and all major city attractions are located here. Also, the cheapest hotels and the most affordable eateries are located in this part of the city. Additionally, the country’s main market, Souq Waqif, where all souvenirs and gifts should be purchased, is located here.
- What to bring as a gift from Qatar?
- Old Doha has no skyscrapers, mainly old buildings and traditional Arab architecture quarters. By the way, the Emir of Qatar lives in his palace here.
Neighborhood 1:Ideal for all transit tourists who are in Qatar for a couple of days. It is close to the airport, cheap, and most importantly, most of the attractions are located here.
- Neighborhood 2. New Doha, a modern area with high-rise buildings. The area is called West Bay. There are newer hotels here, and accordingly, they are more expensive, but you can find rooms on the 60th floor with a stunning panoramic view. This is where you’ll find large shopping centers, and this part of the city offers excellent shopping opportunities.
- It is also perfect for transit tourists and those who come here for a week.
- Although this is not a beach area, there are already several paid beaches in West Bay where tourists can sunbathe in bikini swimsuit. Such beaches are called beach clubs.
It is important to know:Neighborhoods 1 and 2 of Doha are not considered beach areas – they are the city center. Tourists come here to get to know the country, enjoy shopping, see the sights, and take walks along the beautiful promenade. If you’re willing to pay $100 a day or more, it’s best to stay in a fancy hotel in West Bay with a beautiful view of the city and the bay. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, look for hotels in Old Doha. There are only three metro stations between these two areas.
And there are two more modern districts, or rather, cities within the city. They are marked on the map with numbers 3 and 4, respectively, and they are the Pearl and Lusail districts.
They are often presented on the internet as the main attractions of Doha, but that’s not entirely true. In short, these are two new districts, primarily for tourists who come here on beach vacation packages.
It takes a long time for independent tourists to get here from the city center, and there is not much to see here. Yes, there is a promenade and shopping centers, but it’s not a must-visit place if you only have one day in Doha.
This is an artificial island where almost all hotels, shopping centers, yacht marina, and beaches are open. The island is already 95% functional.
- There are rumors that foreigners will be able to buy real estate only in Lusail and the Pearl, as buying property in Qatar is currently unavailable to foreigners.
This is where most of the best hotels in Doha are located. There are probably no hotels below 4 stars here. On the one hand, yes, it’s a cool island that looks very impressive from a helicopter. But as a tourist, what can you do here, where can you go, and what can you see? I don’t know. Even during the day, there are hardly any people on the streets.
Therefore, if you have purchased a tour package to this area, that’s great, and I’m a little jealous of you. But if you are in Qatar for a couple of days to see the country, there is not much to do here.
- Official website of the Pearl district https://www.thepearlqatar.com/
Lusail is the twin brother (or sister) of The Pearl district. The main difference is that Lusail is still in the process of massive construction, and its completion rate is lower than that of The Pearl.
To put it briefly, Lusail was a fishing village outside of Doha 20 years ago. But today, it has been turned into a modern city within a city where people can live, work, and relax without leaving the area. Lusail is now officially part of Doha and is located in the north of the city.
Lusail consists of two parts, one on the mainland and the other on an artificial island. The metro goes there, and the final station is on the red line. However, you can only get to the border between Doha and Lusail. After that, you need to switch to trams that operate in this area.
There’s not much to see here today, except for the Raffles Hotel, which has been dubbed “the horns” because men like to take selfies in front of it, especially those who left their wives at home.
It’s worth knowing thatthere are already hotels, beaches, shops, restaurants, and a promenade here today. You can spend a great vacation here. However, there’s no point in coming here as a tourist just because someone said it’s a cool attraction. What are you going to see here? Take a walk in West Bay, and you’ll have the same experience. Lusail is not a tourist area with attractions; it’s a regular city for living, but a very modern one. Additionally, construction is still underway everywhere.
- Here’s the official website of Lusail: https://www.lusail.com/
We’ve covered all the general questions related to Doha, such as where to stay and how to get around. In the linked article, you’ll find a cool overview of the city’s attractions. You’ll learn what to see in Doha in one day, with photos, maps, coordinates, prices, opening hours, and the time required for each location.
- And for those who are interested in finding large shopping centers and learning about the peculiarities of shopping in Doha, read the article about the market and the largest stores in Doha.
In conclusion, today, Doha is a modern city that is fully open to tourists. It’s safe, not very expensive, tasty, and has an Eastern vibe. And what I like is that even tourists with a short transit through Qatar can see Doha since it’s very convenient to get around on the metro, which even goes from the airport.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental: Discovery Cars (cheaper – only by bus)
- Hotels and apartments in Doha: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Montenegro