Roadtrips’ President Dave Guenther has traveled to Doha numerous times in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. To ensure we provide our World Cup clients with the very best of the area, Dave has visited some of the city’s top hotels, met with local partners, checked out some of the coolest attractions and enjoyed Doha’s impressive culinary scene. We’ve included his account of his 2019 trip below, followed by our Doha travel tips and the best things to see and the best things to do in Doha during the 2022 World Cup.
Returning to Qatar was something I had been looking forward to for a while. I was eager to check out the progress of new developments to the Doha area in advance of the 2022 World Cup. Doha is thriving and growing with lots of construction and architecturally stunning buildings going up and I was excited to see it for myself.
Luxury Hotels in Doha, Qatar for the 2022 World Cup
Visiting our World Cup hotels was a key reason for my trip. In a city that is short on luxury hotel inventory, we have secured some of the best including the Ritz-Carlton Doha. Our wonderful hotels continue to impress me more and more with each visit and I’m confident that they’ll provide an amazing World Cup experience for our guests.
Accommodation Outlook in Qatar in Advance of the 2022 World Cup
Though there are some new hotels in the pipeline, it is becoming increasingly evident that demand for hotel rooms is going to exceed supply significantly during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. While host cities often struggle to fulfill the accommodation needs for events of this magnitude, it looks like Qatar is going to be as short of the anticipated demand as we have ever seen. For those looking to attend the 2022 World Cup, it will be more important than ever to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
Doha has no shortage of wonderful restaurants with more on the horizon. I had the pleasure of trying out many of them and there were a few standouts. The first was at La Mar by Gaston Acurio. Acurio is a particularly celebrated chef who has helped to introduce Peruvian cuisine to the world. I’ve been to this restaurant in Miami a couple of times and it is excellent. In general, I LOVE Peruvian food. Specialities include ceviches and tiraditos, which are delicious fresh fish dishes that incorporate various fresh fish with juices (usually citrus) and sauces.
Another memorable meal was at Hakkasan, one of Doha’s hottest restaurants, according to the Telegraph. It’s at the St. Regis but in its own building. With their restaurants in London, NYC and Miami it’s pretty famous. These restaurants always have a great vibe and feature Michelin star rated Cantonese and Asian fusion food within a nightclub feel. And that’s just a small taste of the great eateries Doha has to offer. Other big names include Nobu, STK, Toro Toro, Nozomi, Pearl Social, Spice Market…and Buddha Bar one of the best restaurants in Doha with a view… I could go on.
Will Alcohol be Allowed in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup?
Those wondering about Qatar’s alcohol policy and whether they’ll be able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner will be happy to know the answer is (mostly) yes. The restaurants and bars with a license to serve are usually inside hotels. There are exceptions of course but hotels have the advantage in this respect. There is also some discussion with the government regarding special alcohol licenses being granted to additional eateries specifically for the World Cup period.
Best Things to do in Doha for the 2022 World Cup
We’ve enjoyed our visits to Doha in preparation for the World Cup and we can’t wait for our guests to experience it for themselves. In 2022, thousands of soccer fans will travel to Doha, with many of them experiencing this fascinating city for the first time. Doha is an incredible destination that’s growing in popularity and receiving a lot of attention lately from publications like Condé Nast Traveler. The World Cup provides the perfect reason to travel to this dynamic, thriving locale.
One of the many great things about Doha is how close it is to everything else in the country. Compact Qatar is a convenient country to explore and despite its size has many unique landscapes and attractions, all within a reasonable drive from the capital city of Doha.
There are so many things to do in Doha, and so much to see, that we’ve created a list to help our guests decide what to visit in Doha and how to best spend their time in this exciting destination.
Msheireb Downtown Doha
Msheireb is a planned area of downtown Doha and its development is a pretty amazing thing. It consists of 100 buildings all connected by a 10,000 car underground parkade. This $5.5 billion project is home to lots of high-end retail and restaurants that we think our guests will enjoy exploring during the World Cup.
Doha Top 3 Museums
Museum of Islamic Art
Part of the tourism and public works strategy in Doha is centered on museums and visitors can reap the benefits of these wonderful institutions. The I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art is really quite stunning. In addition to the 1,400 years’ worth of Islamic art, there’s also a library featuring specialist books, and a great restaurant as well.
National Museum of Qatar
Also noteworthy is the new National Museum of Qatar, which opened in 2019 and is a pretty big deal. Designed by Jean Nouvel, it’s worth visiting just to check out the architecture alone. In addition, the museum’s gift shop is a great place to pick up some souvenirs and worth checking out solely for the cool design.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum also makes for an interesting visit. The private museum houses more than 15,000 exhibits from Sheikh Faisal’s personal collection, giving visitors a taste of traditional Qatari life in the pre-oil era.
As Doha’s largest market, you’ll find a little bit of everything at Souq Waqif: traditional Qatari clothing, souvenirs, food, art, home décor, even animals. It is a bit of a maze so it’s worth taking a look at a map first if there are certain items you are looking for. We recommend bringing cash as many vendors will not accept credit cards (and be prepared to barter). Souq Waqif opens at 10am and closes at 10pm, though many shops shut down between 12-4 in the afternoon. Go in the morning for a quiet visit or in the evening for the liveliest atmosphere.
Built on a former pearl diving site, The Pearl Qatar is a planned neighborhood/island known for all things luxury. On this man-made island you’ll find high-end residences, international fashion houses, high-end shopping malls, luxury car showrooms, wonderful restaurants, boutique coffee shops, and more. The Pearl also boasts plenty of scenic coastline, perfect for a relaxing walk.
Top 10 Things to do at the Pearl Qatar:
- The Pearl-Qatar – shopping and restaurants
- Qanat Quartier – for a beautiful walk.
- Novo Cinemas, The Pearl – high-end cinema experience
- Shakespeare and Co Cafe Restaurant
- Medina Centrale – pedestrian plaza
- Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar
- Illusion Nightclub – Dohas superclub
- Marsa Malaz Kempinski – 3 outdoor restaurants
- The Ritz-Carlton, Doha hotel
- Carluccio’s – The Pearl – luxury Italian
If you want to experience a unique thing to do around Doha, camel racing might be right up your alley. Al Shahaniya Racetrack is Qatar’s most notable camel racing venue. Races generally take place October through April (usually Fridays and Saturdays) and while it’s a draw for tourists, camel racing is also a popular sport in Qatari culture. The camels are controlled by robot jockeys, adding to the intrigue of the sport. The racetrack is about an hours’ drive from Doha, accessible by rental car or as part of a tour.
As one of the richest cities in the world, shopping is a favorite pastime of Doha residents. From traditional souqs (markets) like Souq Waqif, to mega-malls to designer boutiques, you’re sure to find a spot to suit your needs. We have little doubt that our guests at the World Cup will be impressed by the sheer number of options available. Another great thing about shopping in Doha: no sales tax!
Doha Shopping Malls
Visitors will find no shortage of shopping in Doha. In particular, shopping malls are big in this city, both in terms of popularity and size. City Center Mall in Doha’s West Bay is one of the largest. In addition to the 350 stores, the mall also boasts a bowling alley, ice skating rink, a children’s amusement center, 14-screen movie theater, and 38 restaurants. Also popular is Villaggio Mall in Doha’s Aspire Zone. It’s attractively designed after Venice, complete with an indoor canal and gondolas, and has a myriad of other attractions in addition to the shopping. Just outside of Doha in Al Rayyan, you’ll find the Mall of Qatar. The largest mall in the country is just a few years old and contains 500,000 square meters of shopping, entertainment, and restaurants. A nice bonus to the malls in Doha: the blissful air-conditioning. Complete your shopping experience by returning to one of Doha’s luxury hotels.
Souqs (markets) in Doha
One of the best places to do your Doha shopping is in the city’s souqs. The most famous of which is Souq Waqif, as mentioned above. Some other souqs to check out are Souq Al Wakrah, Falcon Souq, and Gold Souq. You can read more about Doha’s wonderful souqs including what you’ll find at each here.
Best Dates in Doha
Dates are staple food in Qatar and if you’re a fan, you’re likely to find some of the best you’ve ever had in Doha. Dates represent more than just sustenance though, they represent abundance; in Qatar as a guest you will often be offered dates and coffee as a show of hospitality. They are a popular gift item and you’ll notice a lot of specialized dates and confectionary in gorgeous boxes during your shopping. Our local hosts will be happy to recommend the best shops near your hotel to find dates.
Gold Market (Souq) Doha
While Souq Waqif receives most of the attention in Doha, the nearby Gold Souq (or Gold Market) is extremely popular as well. The name is a bit misleading as it’s closer to a mall than a typical market. Inside, you’ll find an abundance of jewelers selling a variety of items, catering to most budgets.
Qatar’s Famous Items
Whether you’re shopping for yourself or looking for gifts for friends and family back home, Qatar has some unique items that make for great souvenirs including dates, traditional clothing, gold or pearl jewelry, intricate Arabic coffee pots, carved wooden boxes, and tasty sweets.
If you’re wondering what else to visit in Doha, the Corniche is great option. This waterfront promenade runs just shy of five miles along Doha Bay. It’s a great place for walking, running, biking, or just some people watching. The Corniche offers some great views of the city, particularly at night when the skyline is lit up. Along the Corniche you’ll find parks and greenspaces, and in the water you’re sure to spot traditional wooden boats called dhows. For a unique perspective of the city, hop on one of the many dhows offering tours of the bay.
Katara Cultural Village
This purpose-built recreational district is a popular place for events, concerts, and festivals. In addition to its draw as an entertainment destination, there’s a lot to marvel at architecturally, with no shortage of Instagram-worthy photo opportunities. Katara Cultural Village has plenty of coffee shops to sit and relax in as well as a wide variety of restaurant options. If you’re a big shopper, there’s some of that too. There’s even a great public beach. It’s an easy place to spend a full day and a good option for those traveling with families.
Just a short drive south of Doha is Al Wakrah, a coastal city that has plenty to offer travelers. Visitors can check out its popular Souq Al Wakrah, wander the lovely public gardens, take a stroll along the city’s Corniche (waterfront promenade), or relax on the beaches. As one of the country’s larger cities, Al Wakrah boasts plenty of places for shopping and dining. Al Wakrah is also home to Al Janoub Stadium, one of the venues for the World Cup in 2022.
The Singing Dunes and Khor Al Adaid
While Doha has plenty to offer inside the city limits, you’ll need to travel outside of city to experience the singing dunes and the inland sea. As you head southwest from Doha and Al Wakrah, you’ll find a fascinating natural phenomenon known as the singing dunes. Caused by the movement of grains of sand over massive sand dunes, you can hear the singing effect by sliding down the dunes. While it may sound a bit childish, it’s a whole lot of fun and the landscape is pretty cool just to look at. Keep heading south to check out UNESCO-recognized Khor Al Adiad, also known as the inland sea. This unique reserve is one of the few spots in the world where the sea reaches deep into the desert.