Doha is a small enough city that you can see a lot of it in a single day. Here are some of the highlights if you’re looking for the best way to spend your time.
After a leisurely breakfast, start out at the National Museum of Qatar. Built to look like a desert rose crystal, this spectacular space was designed by the architect Jean Nouvel and opened in 2019.
Part historical exploration, part cultural narrative, and part boosterism, the National Museum houses everything from taxidermy and tent walls to precious jewels and prints. It’s an immersive experience in many ways, complete with giant screens, music, and educational areas for kids.
From here, head over to the Museum of Islamic Art (the distance is certainly walkable, but taxis are plentiful and cheap, and they will help you save time and much-needed energy). Designed by I.M. Pei, this 2008 colossus is set on top of an island that was built especially to house the museum and its grounds.
Make sure to stop at the first floor cafe for a snack, a beverage (they serve a very nice mint tea), and beautiful views out over the water. Then head up to see the collections, which represent some of the best of the best of the Islamic world. This is serious art, and it’s worth spending at least a couple of hours taking it all in.
When you’ve had your fill of art, head out to the parking lot and catch a free buggy shuttle to the tip of MIA Park, which offers excellent views toward West Bay. There are also coffee shops here if you’re feeling peckish.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be in town during one of the museum’s many special sculpture exhibits. They’ve kicked off 2023 with a set of pieces by Yayoi Kusama, which have been installed both in the museum courtyard and throughout MIA Park.
While you’re in the park, make sure to admire the boats at anchor. Doha is an old fishing and pearl-diving city, and many people still lead active lives on the sea.
If the weather is cool enough for a walk along the harbor, you’ll eventually find yourself at The Pearl Monument, a testament to the gem that put Doha on the map many centuries ago.
You’ll want to head inland at this point for a good view of the Spiral Mosque (its full name is the Abdulla Bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center), the tallest mosque in the city.
From here, you’re just a stone’s throw away from Souq Waqif, where you’ll probably want to stop for a much-needed snack …
… before diving in to explore the street life and shops of the souq itself. But the souq is more active — and cooler — at night, so you could opt to have this be a later-in-the-day activity.
At this point, you may want collapse and have a nap. But if you’re still up for more activities, options include making a visit to the spectacular Qatar National Library (this will require either a cab or public transport) …
… hitting up yet another museum (we went to the Valentino exhibit at M7) …
… or playing the “I Spy a World Cup 2022 Sculpture” game.
End your evening with an indulgent Lebanese dinner at Nisrine (you’ll likely need reservations). I could go on and on and on about the freekeh salad and the hamour (reef cod) filet on sayadieh rice — and you can finish your meal with a wild cotton candy delight!