A small but useful article for those who plan to transit through Qatar, whether it’s a short layover in Doha or a long one. I will tell you about all the nuances that will help you organize your trip without any issues. You will find out if you can leave the airport in Doha and what to see, even if you have only a few hours to spare.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Qatar without these websites
Table of Contents
Transit through Qatar: general information
If you have already purchased tickets for a vacation, let’s say London – Maldives with a transit through Doha, and you know nothing about Qatar, we will fix that now. If you have any questions left unanswered, feel free to ask in the comments, I will answer 🙂
- Qatar is a small but very wealthy country in the Middle East.
- Doha is the capital of Qatar, with over 50% of the population living there. However, compared to London, Doha is much smaller. Only about 1.3 million people live in the capital. You can read about Doha: transportation, districts, shopping, and where to stay – in the article provided in the link.
- The only international airport in Qatar is located right in Doha. It is called Hamad. IATA code – DOH.
Good news:From the Doha airport, where you will arrive, there is a metro to the city center. You can reach the center of Doha in half an hour for only $1.6. Even in European capitals, not all airports have a metro to the city center. You can read about Qatar’s metro system, how to use it, how to buy a ticket, prices, and which car to get on in the article provided in the link. The metro in Doha is the solution to all transport problems for those with a short transit through Qatar.
Can I leave the airport during a layover in Doha (short transit)?
This is the most common question I get from transit tourists. The answer is yes, you can. Here’s what you need to know about it:
- There are two types of visas in Qatar: tourist visa and transit visa. For most of you reading this article, there is no significant difference between them.
- Tourist visas are available for citizens of 95 countries worldwide, including all of Europe and the USA. They are issued for free upon arrival at the Doha airport. The duration of stay is 30 days (up to 90).
- Transit visas are available for citizens of 150 countries worldwide, including all the same countries plus an additional 60. They are also free and obtained upon arrival at the airport, with a validity of four days.
- If you are a citizen of a country on the above list and have a short transit through Qatar, it does not matter which visa you get. The passport control officer will decide for you.
- For more information about visas in Qatar, please visit the link provided.
An important note for those with a short transit through Qatar:You can only leave the airport and enter the city (with a tourist or transit visa) during a transit through Doha if your layover is longer than 5 hours, regardless of the type of visa. One of the required documents is your flight ticket out of Qatar, which will be checked. If you have less than 5 hours until your next flight, you will not be allowed to leave the transit zone of the airport. However, there are things to do here as well, such as buying an iPhone at the iStore.
- Regarding shopping and stores in Qatar, as well as getting tax-free refunds if you plan to make expensive purchases.
Transit hotels at the airport, and where to stay overnight in the city.
There are two options depending on the length of your layover in Doha.
- If your layover in Doha is less than 5 hours and you want to sleep, your only option is a transit hotel at the airport. There are several of them, including capsule hotels. The prices are not low, but you can sleep in a normal bed almost in silence. You can find out more about these hotels, where to book them, and a comprehensive overview of the airport in the linked article.
- As an alternative, you can buy the pass to one of the business lounges. You won’t be able to sleep in a bed, but there are comfortable chairs where you can stretch out fully, and you can also have a snack. Look for information about lounges in the airport review.
For those with a transit through Doha of at least 12-15 hours, it will be easier, cheaper, and more comfortable to book a hotel in Doha, take a half-hour metro ride there, and relax. And if there’s time, take another look around the city.
At the beginning of the article, there was a map of Doha with the airport, and a red square marked in the center. This is the old part of Doha, and I recommend looking for accommodation there if you have a long transit through Doha. This part of the capital has a lot of affordable housing, and a good room in a hotel costs $30-40 per night. There is a direct metro line from the airport, and many attractions that you can easily walk to.
Transit through Doha: what to see in the city.
If you don’t have much time in Qatar, but you want to see more of the city? What’s even worse is that there are cool locations outside of Doha too, and if you see photos, you’ll be disappointed that you don’t have time to see them.
- Sights of Doha in 1 day: map, prices, description, itinerary. Here you can plan your route considering your transit time.
Good to know:For those with transit through Qatar for at least 2 days, I strongly recommend renting a car and spending 1 day exploring the sights outside the city. The process of renting a car in Qatar is very easy and cheap, as is gasoline.
How to make it if my layover in Doha is only 45 minutes?
This is also a common question, and it’s no longer about leaving the airport. The question is how to make it to your next flight. I’ll share my own experience.
- We’ve been to Qatar many times, including transit. Our shortest transit through Doha between flights was 1 hour 5 minutes, and the plane (which arrived in Doha) was already 20 minutes late. We made it, and even our luggage was transferred to another plane. But we had to run.
Here’s what you need to know about a short transit through Doha of less than an hour:
- If you know in advance about a short connection, choose seats at the beginning of the cabin on the first flight. Try to be one of the first to leave the plane.
- Then you literally have to run, relax only when you sit in the next plane 🙂
- The airport in Doha is very large, with 4 terminals. In terminal A (200+ gates), you can run for 25 minutes to the last gate.
- Even transit passengers are subject to inspection upon arrival at the airport.
Important note:There are many airport staff in Doha. If you see a long queue at the inspection, approach an employee and show your ticket, they will let you skip the queue. Plus, there’s fast track, just for those with a short layover in Doha.
The most important thing in this matter: don’t procrastinate, do everything quickly, follow the signs “Transfer.”
Traveler’s tip:I always try to buy tickets with short layovers where all flights are operated by the same airline, for example, a route like Istanbul-Doha-Bali, where the Istanbul-Doha flight is operated by Qatar Airways and the same airline operates the next Doha-Bali flight.
Then you are an internal passenger of the airline, and in your case, if you are late for the next flight (due to the airline’s fault), they will solve the issue themselves with compensation and finding tickets for the next flight.
But if the first flight, let’s say, is with Turkish Airlines and you are late for the next flight with another airline because of them, then you will have a lot of problems, big expenses, and lengthy disputes with the airline for compensation. Because for the first one, a delay of up to 2 hours according to international standards is considered normal, and the latter flew without you, and your ticket simply expired. Finding the truth in this chaos will be difficult.
- This applies to any short transfer in any country, not just in Qatar. Remember, if there is a short layover, it is best if both flights are operated by the same airline.
Travel tips about transit through Doha
Finally, one more point that will not apply to everyone who is flying through Doha in transit, but you should know about it. And this is another pros in favor of buying tickets where all flights are operated by one airline.
Good to know:All the world’s best airlines, and Qatar Airways is one of them, have programs for transit passengers.
Different airlines have different conditions for these programs, and there are many nuances, but the essence is simple: if you’re a transit passenger with a long layover in Doha, you may be eligible for free hotel accommodation or a meal voucher with some caveats. By the way, the hotels that Qatar Airways works with are all 4 or 5 stars. We were personally accommodated at the Hilton.
There are many nuances involved, and not every transit passenger will meet the requirements. But if you have a long layover in Qatar, find out the requirements in advance – you may be eligible.
- Details about free hotels, miles, and purchasing tickets with bonuses can be found in the article: Qatar Airways Review – One of the Best Airlines in the World.
In conclusion: transit through Qatar is a great opportunity to see Doha if you have the time. You don’t need a visa, and there’s a metro from the airport to the city center. What else do you need to avoid sitting in the airport for many hours? Qatar is a beautiful and welcoming country that will delight anyone.
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