We lived in Doha, Qatar for three years and those years were some of the most interesting, challenging, mind blowing years of our lives. We explored countries and cultures we had never dreamed of, had our second baby and lived a life we never thought possible. And it is amazingly family friendly.
Lately, a lot of people are asking me….”What are some fun things to do in Qatar?” I could write volumes on that subject after three years, but I decided to put together a post with suggestions from several travel writers for a little something different. Wondering if there are things to do in Qatar? Read on!
The one thing anyone heading to Doha should do, is to spend some time in the Qatari desert. Doha is a fascinating city, a mixture of old and new and expanding rapidly. However, the desert is something else. Quiet. Empty. Otherworldly.
I spent three months living and working in Doha and was lucky to get out to the desert a few times – to go sand dune bashing and visit Richard Serra’s EAST-WEST / WEST-EAST sculpture.
The trip that stands out in my mind is the night I spent camping in the Qatari desert, with a small group of colleagues. We spent the night alone at a campsite by the inland sea. We swam for hours – through sunset, into the night and were back in the ocean as the sun popped up over the horizon the next morning. Dinner was a BBQ prepared on site, followed by shisha for dessert, not uncommon at all in Doha. The best moment was seeing the stars for the first time for weeks. They’re normally hidden behind the light pollution of the city, but here they spread out of across the sky. We lay on the dunes and talked, looking out for shooting stars.
If you’re after the same experience, we booked with Arabian Adventures. It remains one of my most treasured memories of my time spent in Qatar.
Al Zubarah Fort, Qatar
Just over 100kms from Qatar’s capital, Doha, you’ll find the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original Al-Zubarah Fort used to be at the helm of a pearling and fishing village before being deserted in the early 1990s. It remained abandoned and partially buried until archaeologists began excavating the area in the 1980s. Another Al-Zubarah Fort sits at the same site today, and it’s this newer reincarnation that you will see dominating the ancient village remains when you visit. This fort was constructed in 1938 using traditional Qatari methods and materials such as limestone, compacted mud and coral stones. It was used as a military and police base during the 20th century and you can still see the scars from its previous occupation.
Nowadays, the fort houses a visitor centre and museum. It’s free to visit and combined with exploring the ruins of the buried village, it makes a great half-day activity while you’re in the area. I’d recommend only tackling this destination if you have your own car because although buses do go to Al-Zubarah, they are few and far between and take approx. 2 hours, as opposed to just over an hour if you drive yourself there.
Khor Al Adaid, also known as Inland Sea, is a marvel of nature located in the southeastern part of Qatar. Prior to going here, I have only reached the dunes near Sealine Beach so when I learned that Inland Sea was way further south it got me excited for the adventure ahead.
The ride through the desert using 4 wheel drive vehicles was definitely not for the faint hearted or for the easily nauseated. There are no concrete roads to get there so an adrenaline inducing ride is the only option. But the bumpy less than an hour ride from Sealine was definitely worth it when you see the vast rolling dunes surrounding the water. This seawater is a tidal embayment connected to the Arabian Gulf.
We went on a Thursday night and spent the night near the beach. It was so peaceful and eerily quiet in this part of the desert. Waking up early, though, to watch the sun come out from the towering will leave you in awe.It was fun walking to the top of a sand dune, but easy it was definitely not. The view will leave you speechless though as you realize how easily you can get lost in the desert.
The Inland Sea is a natural reserve recognized by UNESCO for its “diverse native terrestrial flora and fauna alongside a varied and sensitive marine ecosystem.”
The ride back to Sealine is just as exhilarating especially when going through vertical drops so if you are using your own vehicle, it is best to take the journey with others who know the way because frequent accidents happen in this side of the desert. Another option is to go with a local tour operator who offer day and overnight trips, with food and activities included.
Read more about Darlene’s adventures at https://pointandshootwanderlust.com/.
Along the way, you can glimpse many cafes, imaginative carvings and structures, some government buildings and must-visit places such as the Museum of Islamic Art and Qatar National Theatre with the Aztec-monument shaped Sheraton hotel rounding off the list of things to look for while strolling around the Corniche. If you fancy, you can take a short 10-minute dhow cruise along the sea to Palm Tree island which has excellent family amenities.
However, the best thing to do is probably nothing once you reach the Corniche. After a hectic day of sightseeing, the Corniche is a literal safe haven where you can lie and look out at the sea and illuminated buildings while sipping a coffee or having an early dinner. There are some good cafes and economical barbeque places that will keep you filled while you enjoy Doha from the Corniche, just like many of the locals do.
Read more about Priyanko’s adventures at https://www.constanttraveller.com/