Top 12 attractions in Qatar outside of Doha. If you want to know what to see in Qatar as a tourist, you’ll find a map, coordinates, prices, tips on how to get there, and a huge amount of useful information that will help you plan your perfect trip. For many people, Qatar is just a desert with interesting locations only in the capital city, but that’s not the case. Keep reading and you’ll be surprised by the diversity and originality of the local attractions.
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Table of Contents
Qatar attractions: general information
In brief, here are the main points that will help you plan your travel itinerary:
- Qatar is a very small country, only 100 by 200 km in size.
- All roads where they exist are of perfect quality and toll-free. However, 90% of the country’s area is real desert.
Tip:If you’re planning to drive to Qatar attractions on your own, be sure to buy a SIM card. You never know what might happen in the desert: you could get a flat tire or your car could break down. There are no people or water around. It’s like in the movies, but there is internet in the desert :). About mobile communication and internet in Qatar.
And the most important point: public transportation is only well developed in Doha. Outside the capital, there are buses, but you won’t get to any of the attractions on the list below by regular bus. In this case, there are only two options: car rental or private tour.
Personally, I recommend car rental because you can see all of Qatar’s attractions by car in just two days, and it’s much cheaper. Tours will cost at least five times more, and it will take a week to see all the locations.
- The most comprehensive report on car rental in Qatar: personal experience and pitfalls, traffic rules, roads, and police. Spoiler alert: you can rent a car in Qatar with a national driver’s license.
- Tours in Qatar and Doha: types, prices, where and how to book.
What to see in Qatar: map
Below you will find a dynamic map of all the attractions in Qatar where you can create your own itinerary, choose what to see in Qatar and in what order. And the description of each location will give you a complete understanding of whether it is interesting for you or not.
Tip:If you see that any attraction is located in a remote part of the country, don’t be afraid. Qatar is a small country with very good roads, and it takes a maximum of one and a half hours by car from Doha to the most distant attractions.
On this map, you will also find all the attractions in Doha. A link to this article will be provided in the next section.
Doha: the Pearl of the Persian Gulf
I could have titled this article the Top 30 Attractions in Qatar, of which 15-20 would be in Doha itself. But that’s not entirely accurate. Doha is visited by a lot of transit tourists for a few hours or a couple of days. They usually don’t go anywhere beyond Doha, as they don’t have time.
Doha is a modern city that will amaze many. In just 20 years, a modern metropolis has grown up in the desert. There are a huge number of attractions here:
- Souq Waqif Market
- Seven-kilometer Corniche waterfront
- Richard Serra’s “7” installation
- Spiral Mosque
- Museum of Islamic Art
- National Museum of Qatar
- The Palace of the Emir of Qatar
- Ethnic village “Katara” (in this case, Katara is the name of the village)
And this is not a complete list. The full list of Doha attractions is in the article linked above. There you will also find opening hours, prices, visit tips, and personal ratings.
- How long to spend in Doha: at least one full day is needed. Two days are better. If you want to visit the very cool museums in the city, then three days. Doha has such museums that you won’t be able to visit them for just an hour.
- This is a city you definitely won’t miss.
- Author’s rating: 10 out of 10. Doha is stunning, and that says it all. Here, history and modern technology intertwine. A 200-year-old market, mounted police, and falconry coexist with glass skyscrapers, artificial islands, and unique buildings.
The Purple Island and Mangrove Forests
Perhaps this is the only attraction in Qatar from this list that the Qataris themselves position as one of the coolest attractions in the country, but in reality, it is one of the biggest disappointments.
The Purple Island is a small island measuring 400 by 400 meters. Five hundred years ago, local residents extracted a rare mollusk, dried it, ground it, and obtained a natural purple dye.
Interesting fact:It is very difficult to obtain natural purple dye in nature. Therefore, the dye from Qatar was highly valued in all countries of the East. Qatar’s flag was also dyed with this purple dye. However, several decades ago, the color of the flag (or rather the shade) was slightly changed. Why and more interesting facts about the country’s flag can be found in the article: General information about Qatar.
In addition, excavations were carried out here, and the remains of an ancient settlement, which is at least several thousand years old, were discovered. However, after the end of the excavations, the place was destroyed and dug up, and you will not find or see anything else here.
The entire island is surrounded by mangrove forests, which, by the way, exist only in this part of the country.
The only activity that may be of interest to tourists is kayaking through these mangrove forests, with a visit to a Bedouin village. The island itself is absolutely uninteresting. You can book a kayaking tour of the Purple Island mangrove forests at this link.
- Coordinates of the Purple Island: 25.691978536711083, 51.550645688704925
- 60 km from the center of Doha or 1 hour by car. The roads are good, and the last 2 km are on normal gravel, suitable for any car. Parking is free.
- Opening hours: 24 hours, free admission to the Purple Island. The island is connected to the mainland by a 700-meter-long bridge.
- How much time to plan: 1 hour is enough to walk back and forth on the bridge and stroll around the island.
- Advice: there is no shelter or shade here at all. You need to walk under the blazing sun all the time. Be sure to bring a hat and water.
Author’s rating: 1 out of 10.An absolutely useless attraction, nothing to see, more reminiscent of an abandoned quarry. However, if you take a kayaking tour, it’s a completely different story. There’s great water activity, and visiting Purple Island is part of the program, so the experience is different. In summary, I recommend kayaking activities, but visiting the island independently is not recommended. You can even skip it altogether and not waste your time.
Ancient petroglyphs in the desert
About 800 petroglyphs have been found in the northern desert of Qatar. These are various images carved into stones, such as boats and fish silhouettes. Below are the coordinates of the place where most of them can be found.
Today, scientists are divided into two camps: those who believe that these petroglyphs are at least 4,000 years old, and those who say that they were carved in the 17th-18th century. No one knows the truth, and while scientists argue, we can evaluate this attraction ourselves.
- Coordinates of the largest number of petroglyphs: 25.951656567178393, 51.40596931951765
- Official name: Al Jassasiya Rock Art Site (see photo above). The signs on the road will guide you there.
- It’s 85km or a one-hour drive from the center of Doha. The roads are excellent, and there’s no off-road driving required. Parking is available right by the road gate.
- This attraction is completely free, as is the parking.
- Operating hours: 24/7.
- How much time to plan: 30 minutes is enough to climb the rocks and find the petroglyphs. There’s a map at the entrance showing their locations, which makes it easier to find them.
Author’s rating: 8 out of 10It’s quite interesting and unusual. This is a non-trivial attraction. It lacks shade from the sun and a picnic area or a gazebo where you can relax. However, the location itself is definitely worth your attention. There are about 30-40 main petroglyphs in this area. There’s no point in looking for all the others, as they are far apart.
The Abandoned Village of Al Jumail
Al Jumail is an abandoned Qatari village that has been left untouched for decades and is now an important landmark in Qatar. The streets, mosque ruins, houses, and stone fences have all been preserved, allowing visitors to see how the simple Qatari people lived and built before the discovery of oil in Qatar. The buildings in the photos below may look like they are 300-500 years old, but in fact, the village was abandoned only 50-70 years ago, and this is how homes were constructed over half a century ago.
A bit of history: Before oil and gas were discovered in Qatar, all of the country’s inhabitants lived in villages like these and made their living through fishing and pearl diving. However, when oil money began flowing into the country, the working population moved to Doha to take advantage of employment opportunities in the industry where wages were high.
In just 20 years, hundreds of abandoned villages like Al Jumail appeared across Qatar, and Al Jumail is just one of many. It is simply the most well-known and well-preserved.
- The coordinates of Al Jumail village are 26.094653792857866, 51.15525134430168
- It is located in the far north of Qatar, 115km from Doha or about an hour and a half by car. Yes, the country is very small, and 115km is already a remote region from the city.
- The road is excellent, but the last 400 meters have many sharp and large rocks on the road. I usually drive carefully in my sedan, but if you’re concerned, park your car by the roadside and walk the rest of the way. You can easily pass through the area with a high-clearance vehicle. In any case, it is up to you.
- The attraction is completely free, as is parking.
- Opening hours – 24/7.
- How much time to allocate for exploring the village: 30-40 minutes. The village is small.
- Tip #1: If you visit the village at sunset and during high tide, the photos and views will be much more impressive.
- Tip #2: If you rent a high-clearance off-road vehicle, you can visit another abandoned village called Film City instead of Al Jumail. However, more about that below. It’s better to visit both as they are very different, although they look very similar.
Author’s rating: 6 out of 10.Personally, I love such landmarks. Here, there is the history of the country, the culture, and you can see how Qataris built their houses before. Yes, the village is heavily damaged, and over the years, garbage has accumulated here. A big plus is that Al Jumail is located a couple of kilometers away from another two landmarks on the “what to see in Qatar” mandatory list, and there is also a good road nearby. If you are in this area, do not pass by.
Shadows travelling on the sea of the day
A brand-new installation in the desert that is difficult to describe in words. It was built by a Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. They say he is very famous in the world, although I heard his name for the first time in Qatar. The opening took place in the fall of 2022. The installation is called “Shadows travelling on the sea of the day,” and it looks like this:
- Coordinates of the art installation: 26.020324713470927, 51.05310718000286
- Here is the turn-off from the road by car according to the sign (you won’t be able to pass or go anywhere else, there is a fence everywhere): 26.007137746130308, 51.054318616891095
- From the turn-off from the road, it’s about 2-2.5km to the parking lot. The road is bad, a usual car will pass, but be careful. It is easy to puncture a tire or damage something under the car with large stones.
- From the center of Doha, it’s 110km or a little over an hour’s drive.
- This unusual landmark in Qatar is free, and so is the parking.
- Open 24 hours.
- Plan about an hour to visit. By the way, you can have a snack in the shade here, there are not so many landmarks in Qatar with shelter from the sun 🙂 From the parking lot, it’s another 300 meters to walk on foot.
Author’s rating: 10 out of 10Definitely the best and mandatory location for everyone to visit. Very unusual, super modern, original, and free. A cool landmark in Qatar that will appeal to both children and adults.
Al Zubara Fort
An defensive fort built in 1938 for coastal protection in the north of Qatar. Here are some interesting facts about this fortress:
- Al Zubara was built in the classic Arab style using limestone.
- It was never used for its intended purpose. While it was being constructed, oil was discovered in Qatar, and the country formed an alliance with England, rendering the fort unnecessary.
- Al Zubara is the best-preserved of all similar fortresses in Qatar, with a state of preservation that I would rate as 100 out of 100. This is why it is so popular among tourists. All the other forts are partially ruined and collapsed.
- Today, it serves as the Museum of Qatar’s History. There are no exhibits, mostly just photographs, maps, and illustrations of pearl diving, daily life, and so on.
- Coordinates of Al Zubara Fort: 25.9772188701201, 51.04554853871883
- It’s 100 km from Doha, which takes about 1 hour. The roads are excellent, straight to the parking lot. Even an ordinary car can get there.
- The parking is free, and there is a good, free toilet.
- You can see the outside of the fortress for free, 24/7.
- Al Zubara’s tourist hours of operation for those who want to go inside:
- Sunday – Thursday: 9 AM – 5 PM
- Friday and Saturday: day off. Friday is a public holiday throughout the country, don’t forget that Qatar is a Muslim country. Most organizations don’t work at all or work on a reduced schedule. You’ll learn a lot about time in Qatar, for example, that the metro operates from 2 PM on Fridays.
- Ticket price: 35 QAR (~10$)
- How much time to plan: 30 minutes. The fortress is quite small.
Author’s rating: 9 out of 10.A well-preserved authentic Arab fortress. There is no better fortress in Qatar than Al Zubara. You can enter all the interior spaces, walk around the perimeter of the fortress, and see halls with photographs of the country’s history. You can also walk along all the walls, which is also wonderful. The only downside is the relatively small size and lack of real exhibits. The attraction is at most 30-40 minutes.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Museum (FBQ Museum)
A magnificent museum owned by one of the ruling sheikhs of Qatar’s Al Thani dynasty. The museum houses all of Sheikh Faisal’s personal collections that he has gathered from all around the world, and he continues to add to them even today.
Built and financed by Sheikh Faisal himself, the museum boasts a vast collection of vintage cars, planes, and even ships, as well as weapons, furniture, and currency. The sheer scale of the collection is truly impressive, and in the author’s humble opinion (mine), the FBQ Museum outshines even the National Museum of Qatar, which would amaze any tourist.
- Coordinates: 25.349524869391523, 51.25986457860607. The only downside to the museum is that it is located 20km away from Doha.
- Opening hours: from 9 am to 6 pm, with reduced hours on Fridays. The museum is closed during Ramadan. It is always advisable to check the current schedule on the website before visiting.
- FBQ Museum website: https://www.alsamriyaestate.com/museum
- Ticket price: around $20
- I highly recommend checking out the best museums in Qatar, as there is a lot of information about FBQ and how to get there.
- Plan for at least 4 hours to fully explore the museum.
Author’s rating: 9 out of 10I highly recommend visiting this museum. The word “museum” might sound boring, but in this case, it is simply a vast collection of one of the richest men in Qatar, which is staggering in size. There are tens of thousands of incredible exhibits. We arrived 4 hours before closing time and didn’t have time to see everything. The only downside is that it is not located in Doha, otherwise, it would get a perfect 10.
Zekreet Rock Formation
One of the ambiguous natural landmarks of Qatar. Over millions of years, thanks to wind and soil erosion, a whimsical landscape has emerged in the desert. It’s beautiful at sunset, but I wouldn’t call it a “wow” sight.
Everything would be great if it were easy to get here. However, there are several drawbacks, one of the main ones being that you need a 4WD vehicle since the Rock Formations are located in the middle of the desert. The road is generally well-traveled, and with a strong desire, it’s possible to reach the destination in a regular car, but you might not make it back 🙂
On the plus side, this location is conveniently located on the way to the East-West/West-East Desert installation.
- The coordinates of one of the sites in the Valley of the Zekreet Rock Formations are 25.466671740142182, 50.86953428804207. Actually, there is no specific point to go to. The Rock Formations are located on a large area in the desert.
- Naturally, it is all free and available 24/7.
- You only need 10 minutes to see the attraction, the main thing is to get there. There is not much to do here, just take a few photos at sunset and move on to the next attraction in Qatar.
- It is 80km or 1 hour by car from the center of Doha. There is no public transportation available to get here.
Author’s rating: 6 out of 10.Yes, it is an interesting place, but nothing more. To be honest, it is not worth visiting the Zekreet Rock Formations specifically. This attraction in Qatar should be a stop on your bigger journey around the country. Don’t expect too much from it. You should come here specifically for the next location.
If you happen to find yourself in this place, you might think that it’s evidence of extraterrestrial visitation on Earth. Imagine a true desert, 5 km away from the nearest road, and in the middle of the sand, 4 thin iron plates protrude from the ground up to 17 meters high. The plates are spaced out at almost 1.5 km intervals between the first and the last one, and they are all oriented strictly from east to west, accurate up to one angular second.
- The coordinates of the first one, which you need to reach from the village of Zekreet (5 km through the desert), are 25.516252731749404, 50.86191348672973
- All 4 columns can be seen from the far side of this installation, as in the photo above. If you want to take the same shot, you’ll need to drive through all 4 columns to the furthest one.
- It is open 24/7 and completely free.
- It is technically possible to get there by car; I did it myself, but there are many large and sharp stones on the way. We had a flat tire and damaged the car’s threshold with a stone. It’s better to rent a car with high clearance, although 4WD is not required here.
- It is important to understand that the road there is very rough, it’s a true desert. On the plus side, the soil in this part is more clay-like than sandy. The surface is hard, and the car won’t get stuck.
- The installation was created by American sculptor Richard Serra.
- It is 80 km away from Doha, but with the last 5 km through the desert, it takes about an hour and a half to get there.
- Plan to spend about 30 minutes at this attraction, and then you can move on. There are other interesting locations in this part of the desert.
Author’s rating: 10 out of 10.This is a very unusual attraction, not only for Qatar but for the whole world. It really amazes and surprises. When traveling to different countries, you get used to the standard set of attractions, such as churches, castles, museums, or promenades. But this installation cannot be compared to anything else. You are unlikely to come across anything like it in your life. It’s definitely the best. I recommend it to everyone. You can come here on your own with a rental car, or buy a private tour.
All the necessary information can be found in this guide. And links to personal experiences of renting a car and where to buy tours were provided at the beginning of this article.
Film City – an abandoned cinema village
Another abandoned Arabic village, but not like hundreds of villages like Al Jumail. Those villages, partially destroyed, where people lived decades ago. Film City is a set of film decorations. Several local films were shot here, and for this purpose, they built a real Arabic village in the middle of the desert, which is now open to everyone.
- Coordinates: 25.578154356634517, 50.8465272553248
- Free and open 24/7.
- Important note: Film City is located deep in the desert, 7km away from “East-West/West-East” and 12km from the nearest road. If the previous Qatar attraction could be reached by sedan, for a trip to Film City, a car with high clearance is necessary.
- There is no clear road, just follow the beaten tracks and use a navigator. It’s best not to veer off from this makeshift road.
- Plan for 30-40 minutes to fully explore the entire village, although it can be done in 10-15 minutes.
- It’s almost 90km from Doha, and it takes two hours to get there. The last 10km through the desert takes almost an hour at a leisurely pace on a rental car. And if you take a tour, they zip around the desert on their equipped suvs.
Author’s rating: 7 out of 10.It’s a very interesting location and in good condition, and you’ll get a fair share of positive emotions. The downsides are that it’s difficult to get to and quite small in size. And comparing Film City to abandoned villages like Al Jumail is not fair; they are completely different attractions and leave different impressions. If you plan to travel around Qatar, then you must visit both for comparison.
Sealine – a beach where the sea meets the desert and sand dunes
Qatar’s main beach outside Doha. You can come here to swim, barbecue, ride camels, there’s a whole Bedouin camp. This is where the real Qatari desert begins with dunes and sand dunes that meet the sea, in this case, the Persian Gulf.
Local residents come here with their families on weekends. They swim, have picnics, fish, and even kite surf. This is where the road ends; it just runs into the desert and endless sands beyond.
- The coordinates of the beach, where you can get to by car, are: 24.851468191759952, 51.50997999841103
- The beach is free.
- Important note: since the beach is public, it is forbidden to sunbathe in swimsuits. Women can only swim in burkinis (not to be confused with bikinis). Here’s everything a tourist needs to know about beach holidays in Qatar.
- Also, the route to the inland sea of Qatar starts from this beach. You can find a detailed review of this mega activity in the link in the next section.
- It’s 55 km from Doha or 40 minutes by car. The road to the beach is perfect.
Author’s rating: 5 out of 10.The beach itself is not particularly impressive. It should not be your main destination. There is nothing special here, no palm trees, few sun loungers, and little infrastructure. There is not much to do here. This is not the Maldives or Mauritius. You should go to Sealine as an intermediate point on your trip to the Inland Sea. Get out, take a 10-minute walk, take a swim if you really need to, and then move on.
Inland Sea of Qatar (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
One of the main attractions in Qatar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A place with no roads where you can ONLY get there by special jeeps.
If I wrote above that you can carefully reach such attractions in Qatar as, for example, East-West/West-East, by sedan, then the inland sea is the only attraction that you will not be able to reach even with a rented 4×4 suv.
This is a real desert with shifting sands, dunes, and ridges. The distance from the nearest road to the Inland Sea is more than 30 km. And you can only get here as part of a private tour on a equipped vehicle. And the route starts right from Sealine beach, where the road ends.
- The coordinates of the Inland Sea of Qatar, where you should go, are 24.580316998062933, 51.33518978272418
- A detailed review of the tour to the Inland Sea and Sealine beach, where to buy, prices, features and nuances, what to expect in the desert, can be found in the link, where there is a lot of useful information.
- The excursion takes at least half a day. There are full-day tours as well.
Author’s rating: 7 out of 10 or 10 out of 10Here’s the thing: the Inland Sea itself and the final destination where you go do not create a “wow” effect. It’s just sand and sea, nothing more. Therefore, I give 7 points specifically for the attraction. But I give 10 points to this location for the activity and the tour itself. You ride suvs through the desert and dunes, ride camels, and even have the opportunity to do sandboarding, where you slide down a dune on a snowboard-like board.
So, I highly recommend this tour to everyone. It’s really cool, and the Inland Sea will be one of the cool intermediate points of your desert excursion program.
The Perfect Qatar Sightseeing Route
Let me help you with the timing and suggest the perfect route by car to see the sights of Qatar. This is intended for those who rent a car and want to see everything themselves. If you’re buying an individual tour where you’ll be chauffeured around, then this chapter isn’t for you.
Useful to know:It’s ideal to have 2.5 days to explore Qatar, specifically outside of Doha. If you’re flying in for four days in Doha, that’s the minimum you’ll need to see the country at an active pace. Of those, allocate 1.5 days to Doha, which is enough, and 2.5 days to the rest of Qatar.
Below is the itinerary by day, by rental car, which will be comfortable and have minimal mileage. I’ve personally driven this route more than once, but you can remove, add, and change any location. There are no strict boundaries here.
The route for each day assumes that you stay in Doha and start and end each day’s route in the city. There’s nowhere to stay outside of Doha.
- Day 1: Purple Island – Petroglyphs – Abandoned Village of Al Jumail – Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day art installation – Al Zubara Fort. The total route length is about 300 km, taking 6-7 hours. You’ll return to Doha by sunset, and you can stroll around the city.
- Day 2: Zekreet Rock Formations – “East-West/West-East” – Film City – FBQ Museum. Plan for about four hours at the museum. The total route is about 200 km for the whole day, and it’s best to leave early since it’s not easy to drive fast in the desert.
- Day 3: A half-day excursion to Qatar’s Inland Sea through Sealine Beach. However, a rental car is not required here.
Useful Information:This is the maximum route that allows you to see all of Qatar’s major attractions. If you have fewer days, you can cut it down and shorten it as you see fit.
In conclusion, I hope I have answered the question of “what to see in Qatar”. The biggest mistake is to think that there is nothing beyond Doha and that it’s all just desert, but that’s not true. To see all of Qatar attractions, you need a minimum of two full days, and even then, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll have enough time.
Wishing you bright discoveries and unforgettable experiences in this wonderful country.
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