24 Hours in Doha, Qatar: How to make the most of your layover

Transiting through Doha’s Hamad International Airport with 12 hours or more between flights? Be sure to make the most of your layover in Qatar by visiting Doha, the capital city. This 24 hour suggested itinerary will lead you to Doha’s famous tourist attractions and will help you make the most of your layover. Depending on your traveling priorities, you can certainly fine tune this itinerary to suit your needs. Enjoy Doha!

Things to know before traveling to Doha, Qatar:

Language – The official language of Qatar is Arabic, which is spoken by the majority of population. English, Farsi and Urdu are also widely spoken. Learning the language is not necessary but speaking at least some Arabic phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals.

Currency exchange – The official currency of Qatar is Qatari Rial (or “riyal”). Exchanging money in Doha’s Hamad International Airport is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in the middle east. There are currently 4 foreign exchange kiosks located across the passenger terminal, which offer money transfer services and currency exchange. There are also plenty of ATMs in the departure and arrival area prior and post immigration.

Qatar currencies and coins
Qatari currencies and coins

Tourist visa – Visitors (available to Qatar Airways passengers only) who have a layover in Doha, Qatar for 5 to 96 hours  are eligible to get a free transit visa. Nationalities from 33 countries (the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, the Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Lichtenstein, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea) are eligible for a Qatar tourist visa on arrival which costs QAR 100. Click here for more information.

Where to stay – Doha has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. For first time travelers, the best area to find an accommodation is Souq Waqif.

Hotel to consider in Doha:

W Doha Hotel & Residences (West Bay Area)

Four Seasons Hotel Doha (The Corniche)

InterContinental Doha The City (Off Al Wahda Street)

Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel (Omar Al Mukhtar Street | West End City Center, Area 61, Al Dalfna, Street No. 850)

Hilton Doha (Diplomatic District Street)

Getting Around – Karwa Taxi (turquoise green color taxis) is the most convenient way to get around Doha. The minimum fare from the airport is about QAR 25 and cost per kilometer is as low as QAR 1.20.  A cheaper alternative is the Mowasalat bus which takes you around greater Doha. You can either purchase Karwa Smartcard Classic or Karwa Smartcard 24 Limited depending on your transportation needs. For more information, visit www.mowasalat.com.

Doha Downtown Skyscrapers, Qatar
Taxis are painted in this gorgeous turquoise green color

Detailed itinerary:  24 Hours in Doha, Qatar: How to make the most of your layover

Day 1

Fort Al Zubarah, Doha, Qatar
Rebuilt historic Fort Zubarah (Al Zubara) in North East of the deserts of Qatar on the edge of the Persian gulf

After your arrival at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, check in to your preferred accommodation. Begin your tour at the Al Zubarah Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site located on Qatar’s north-west coast. It is an hour away from Doha, so if you are not ready to take a little road trip, you may choose to go to Al Koot Fort deep in the heart of the city. Both historic forts allow you to see traditional Qatari-style defensive military construction.

After your tour, head to Museum of Islamic Art and see collection of the Finest Islamic Art. Admission to permanent galleries is absolutely free, while special exhibitions may have an entry fee. If your tour date happens to be on a Thursday or Saturday, you may join the guided tours at 2 PM. For lunch, check out some of Doha’s most popular restaurants offering an authentic taste of Qatar and the Middle East. Sridan, Ard Canaan Restaurant, AlNafourah Garden and L’wzaar Seafood Market are some of the best restaurants you can try. Of course, major cuisines of the world are also well represented.

Museum Of Islamic Arts In Doha, Qatar
Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha

n the afternoon (around 4 PM), do not miss to visit Souq Waqif, the best place in Doha for shopping and eating. You will find almost anything in the souq such as traditional clothing, handicrafts, souvenirs, spices and so much more. End your day with a stunning view of Doha Bay at The Corniche, the waterfront promenade of the city.

Souq Waqif In Doha, Qatar
Shops at the traditional market Souq Waqif in Doha

Day 2
Today is your international flight out of Qatar. If you still have time, fit in an amazing breakfast or lunch in the town. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel to the airport. Head to the airport in time to check in for your international flight or you may opt to continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Qatar. The decision is all yours!

This is the end of our 24 hour suggested itinerary for a long layover in Doha, Qatar. If the pace gets too hectic, just chill out and prioritize which area you would really like to visit. Enjoy your layover in Qatar!

Have you had a long layover in Doha? Share your tips and suggestions in the comment section below. 

City exploring, layover, Middle East, Qatar

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Some good news if you’re flying with Qatar Airways and changing planes in Doha.

    You can get the new Transit Visa free of cost when you add a stopover of between five and 96 hours in Doha. Use the multi-city booking option to include the stop in Doha when booking your flight on qatarairways.com or contact your nearest Qatar Airways office. You must apply for your pre-approved transit visa at least seven days (excluding public holidays) prior to your departure. The visa is valid for 30 days from the date of issuance.

    • Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, at the moment Qatar Airways is not the best option to travel within the region due to the political situation there… still, they have pretty good deals if you are heading up to the Maldives 🙂


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