Everything a tourist needs to know about the Qatar airport in its capital Doha. Departure and arrival board, currency exchange and storage, local SIM card and metro from the airport. And of course, prices in duty-free shops, capsule hotel and business lounge in the country’s main airport. I will tell you about transit through Hamad International Airport.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Qatar without these websites
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Qatar Airport (Doha): Brief history and general information
An interesting historical fact that shows how Arabs know how to spend money.
In Qatar, a large international airport was built in the capital, Doha, in the early 2000s. It was called Doha Airport and had the IATA international code – DIA. It was a large and modern airport that could serve 10 million passengers a year.
But that seemed not enough. And after 8 years, the construction of a second airport began, immediately adjacent to the main one that was already in operation. In 2014, they opened the new international airport, Hamad International Airport, which was 3-4 times larger than the first one and today it is not just an airport, but a work of art. At the moment, 100% of regular flights arrive at Hamad, and the old Qatar airport is used for official purposes. It may soon be closed altogether.
Further, we will only talk about the new airport of Qatar, where you will arrive.
- IATA code: DOH
- Passenger traffic: 30-40 million people per year. The second airport in the region in terms of passenger traffic. Dubai Airport is in the first place.
- 2 independent runways. The length of one runway is a colossal 4850m.
Interesting fact:This is one of the longest runways in the world. Hamad Airport of Qatar can accommodate any existing aircraft on this planet.
- Official airport website: https://dohahamadairport.com/
- Since its opening in 2014, Hamad International Airport has been included in the top 10 best airports in the world every year. It has been recognized as the best in the world in the category of up to 40 million passengers.
- It is the home airport for the national airline: Qatar Airways. Here’s an overview article on this airline, about miles, transit features in Doha, route network, food, what bonuses you can expect during a short transit, and much more.
Online arrivals and departures board
At Qatar airport, also known as Doha airport or simply Hamad by the locals, more than 100 airlines from around the world operate flights. By clicking on the links below, you can access real-time information for:
Airport map and infrastructure
To avoid confusion, let’s start with some general information. Despite being a very large airport, everything is intuitively designed. Navigation arrows are clear, and there are many information desks where staff are ready to help, guide, and send you in the right direction :). Here are some important infrastructure details:
- The airport is served by a metro station. This is the final stop of the main, red line that runs through the entire center of Doha. In just 30 minutes and for $2 (a day pass), you can reach the city center from the airport. The metro at the airport is always convenient and indicative of the high level of infrastructure you can expect.
- The metro operates from 5:30 am until midnight, but hours may vary depending on the day. For more information about the Doha metro, including how to purchase tickets and board the train, check out this link.
The airport offers all necessary amenities, so just follow the signs, which are plentiful. These include luggage storage, shops, children’s play areas, currency exchange, and even a round-the-clock limousine service if you’re used to leaving the airport in style.
Tip:It’s best to buy a local SIM card upon arrival at the airport, if you need one. There are few communication stores in the city, so buying a SIM card there could be time-consuming. It’s better to take care of it at the airport. For everything you need to know about the internet in Qatar, including providers, plans, and speeds (spoiler alert: Qatar already has 5G service), check out this link.
The airport is so large that it’s impossible to include a map of it in just one picture. You can see maps of all halls and terminals here.
Currency exchange is available at many locations throughout the airport, with exchange rates the same as those in other parts of the country. In Qatar, only banks change currency, and the exchange rate is the same everywhere. However, there is a commission for exchanging money at the airport, which varies depending on the amount. There are no other commissions elsewhere. It’s better to take the metro to Doha (and pay for the ticket with a card) and exchange money at any bank there.
For more information about currency in Qatar, commission rates, where to exchange money, and where cards aren’t accepted, click here.
Business Lounge and Capsule Hotel at Hamad International Airport
As expected of such an airport, there are lounges for passengers traveling in business and first class. There are also two capsule hotels where you can get a few hours of sleep.
Important note::If you have a layover of more than 5 hours, you can already get a free transit visa upon arrival. And since there is a metro directly to the airport, there are excellent hotels just 1-2 stations away and at lower prices. So, if you’re thinking about where to sleep and have a long layover, consider this option as well. The same capsule hotel is convenient for those whose transit is less than 5 hours. Here’s all you need to know about the Qatar visa, how to get it upon arrival, and what documents are required.
- First-class passenger lounge: Al Safwa First Lounge
- Business-class passenger lounge: Al Mourjan Business Lounge
Since information is constantly changing and new premium lounges are opening at Qatar airport, here is a list of up-to-date links where you can find all the fresh information.
- Page with information on all lounges at Hamad International Airport: https://dohahamadairport.com/relax/lounges
- Capsule Hotel at Doha Airport: https://sleep-n-fly.com (you can also check prices and book for a minimum of 2 hours, prices start from $30)
- If you’re flying in economy class and want to use the business lounge (which offers free snacks, drinks, showers, comfortable chairs, and Wi-Fi), you can buy a ticket there for an additional fee: Business lounge ticket at Qatar Airport.
Getting from the airport to Doha: metro, taxi, private transfer
With the metro available, I don’t really see the need for other transfer options. Unless, of course, you have 6 suitcases and 4 kids, then yes, the metro option might be difficult. For everyone else traveling light and able to carry all their luggage in one hand, my advice is to take the metro. It’s fast, cheap, and convenient. The metro in Doha is state-of-the-art.
You can also take a taxi from the airport. There are two major taxi services in the country, both with apps that require only a local SIM card, which I mentioned earlier:
- Karwa Taxi – a major transportation company in Qatar and several other Persian Gulf countries. Their signature color is turquoise. Their cars and the app for your phone are that color. The app is available for both IOS and Android and is called Karwa Taxi.
- Tip: if you plan to use them, download the app before you leave home so that you can quickly register with a local number and call a taxi upon arrival.
- And as for the other taxi service, you all know about it. Uber works great in Doha, as well. There’s nothing to tell, you just download the app, register, and link your card. A local SIM card is not required, but internet is necessary, as the app won’t work without it.
- The average cost of a trip from the airport to downtown Doha is around $20. It depends on the time of day. It can be more expensive or cheaper.
You can also order an individual transfer. Yes, it’s more expensive. But you’ll be met with a sign right at the exit of the arrivals area. Your bags will be brought, and you won’t have to wander around this huge airport looking for a taxi. It’s convenient for a large family or group. You can check prices and choose a car on the service: KiwiTaxi (they specialize in airport transfers around the world).
Qatar Airport: duty-free, prices and selection of goods
And finally, briefly about duty-free at Qatar Airport. Briefly because the selection of goods here is large, and the prices are high. For example:
- A pack of cigarettes costs around $40 (although there’s Winston for $22), but that’s an exception.
- 1 liter of Grants whisky – $27
- 1 liter of Red Label whisky – $31
- Souvenirs: 3-4 times more expensive than at the market in Doha.
Decide for yourself whether to buy anything here or not. But if you haven’t bought something you need, you can buy it at the airport, though at an inflated price.
Important note:You will go through duty-free in Qatar Airport, and also on arrival, but you won’t be able to buy alcohol. The import limit for alcohol in Qatar is zero liters!!! Alcohol is prohibited here. Only if you are in transit and have a boarding pass for the next flight, will they sell it to you. But even if you plan to go out to the city during a long layover, you won’t be allowed to take alcohol with you.
Important to know:It’s important to know that practically all taxes are absent in the country. There’s no VAT on goods and services, no profit tax. Therefore, there’s no TAXFree system at Qatar Airport, in other words, you won’t get back any VAT or other taxes on your purchase, as they’re not included in the price.
In conclusion, Qatar airport is a state-of-the-art aviation hub that was opened relatively recently. Today, it is one of the best airports in the world. The presence of a metro branch directly in the airport makes it possible for passengers with relatively short transfers to visit Doha.
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