Planning to Travel to Qatar for the first time ? Here are several things to know before traveling to Doha.
I hope you will agree that one of the most frustrating things when preparing for a trip is doing research all over the internet. Especially when you are planning to travel to a country which is more conservative and strict with their cultural and social expectations.
Here I will give you some travel tips to Doha, things to know as a traveler coming here and an overview on what you should keep in mind when visiting Qatar.
All opinions expressed here are honest, based on my personal experience of traveling and living
Is it safe to travel to Qatar ?
As an European female expat living in Doha , I would say 100% yes! It is safe to be in Doha any time of the day.
Doha itself is not crowded city, population here is cosmopolitan, more than Qataris you will get to see people from Southeast Asia and Western countries. Doha is a small and calm place to be in, unlike other touristic cities in Middle East.
But if you decide to travel outside of Doha, it’s better to have someone to accompany you, as a non-local you might get stares and attention , which will make you feel little bit awkward, but people here are friendly!
Is English spoken in Qatar ?
Most people are fluent English speakers in Doha and the street signs , menus , everything is both in Arabic and English, which makes very easy to navigate.
The best time to visit Qatar, Doha
Doha is mostly known for the travelers who are looking for travel deal from West to East or other way around. And of course it’s always good idea to sneak into the new city while being on a long layover, especially in a city which is so impressive with its luxury and culture.
But when you are traveling to Doha, you have to have the right expectations for the best experience, so my advise is to take into consideration the time of the year !
Doha is hot! During several months Its not just hot, but extremely humid, which makes difficult to even breath! When I first visited Qatar , it was early October and it showed 27-28 celsius on the weather forecast , which is bearable for me while being in Europe and I thought its fine ! But when I landed in Doha and got off the plane ,this Middle Eastern hot humidity hit my face and I had to run indoors immediately ! That moment I really regretted that I hadn’t done enough research regarding the climate !
The best time to visit Doha in order to enjoy outdoor activities are from November till the end of March. These period feels like Western May and June!
Even though that Qatar is in Middle East and is known for its warm climate, take into account that January and February can get really cold, especially in the evening , so cold that you might need a coat! If you decide to travel during these months , you’d better pack some warm clothes too.
In April and October you most likely won’t enjoy hanging out outside during the day, but its ok to go out in the evening.
From May till the end of September it gets extremely hot and humid , which makes staying outdoors impossible. So if you decide to visit Qatar during these months, have the right expectations and plan to spend time indoors : in museums , cafes or driving in the city in a car with AC.
One more thing to consider is the month of Ramadan. If you are planning to travel to Doha during the month of Ramadan, know that eating and drinking options till the sun goes down will be limited. almost all the public places are closed during the day. So if are planning the sightseeing during Ramadan , head to the West Bay Area to find cafes that are open during the day.
What should I wear in Doha ?
Traveling to conservative country requires more preparation than just traveling to any regular destination. Cause as a traveler you definitely want to avoid offense.
While some countries are more strict with their cultural and social expectations, Qatar is modern and there is no dress code for travelers or any punishment for violating the dress code. But if you don’t cover up you might feel uncomfortable , cause you might get unwanted attention and won't be allowed in cultural spots such as museums.
So when you come to Qatar, you should follow the dress code not because of restrictions, but for the respect of local customs. Try to cover the knees and shoulders.
Drinking Alcohol in Qatar
Bringing even one bottle of alcohol in Qatar is prohibited doesn’t matter you bought it in Duty free or anywhere else. This rule is very strict and at the airport every bag will be carefully scanned. In case you have a bottle of alcohol in you bag, it will be confiscated.
Drinking alcohol in Doha is only possible in the bars and restaurants of five star hotels. We discuss the nightlife in Doha in another blogpost.
The Best Area to Stay in Doha, Qatar
There is no shortage of hotels in Doha , especially luxurious hotels, but deciding where to stay in Doha can be frustrating. I am sure you would love to stay in an interesting location handy to shops, restaurants where you experience the sights and sounds of the city!
While choosing the best place to stay in Doha , consider West bay and Souq Waqif. Based on your interests, you may prefer to stay closer to one of these landmarks.
West Bay is modern part of Doha, kind of a business center of the city full of skyscrapers with the view on Persian Gulf and famous Cornieche area for long walks. The views here are spectacular especially in the evening when skyscrapers light up. If you want a hotel with private beach access, then consider Hilton and Sheraton.
But If you prefer to be closer to an old area, experience local Arabic Culture , then you should definitely stay closer to Souq Waqif, there are several nice hotels in that area. Museum of Islamic art and amazing MIA park with the view on skyline will be in a walking distance.
For further tips and information , please write your questions below in the comment section.