Roughly 80% of Qatar's population live in Doha. Credit: Shutterstock

Port guide to Doha

Author: Nicole Carmichael

Published on:

With world-class museums, fabulous cuisine and amazing luxury hotels, Qatar’s capital is justly known as the Pearl of the Middle East.

Between the beautiful Persian Gulf and the Qatari desert, there used to stand a pearl-fishing village. Today that village is a dazzling capital city, home to more than 80 per cent of the population in one of the five richest nations on earth.

Modern Doha is a heady mix of old and new, with huge glass skyscrapers in the futuristic West Bay business district, and opulent five-star hotels standing alongside traditional Arabian souks.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup showcased the city to the world, but there’s much more to Doha than its state-of-the-art stadiums.

You’ll also find amazing museums, stunning beaches, lots of green space, truly world-class shopping and a brand-new metro to whisk you from one attraction to the next. You can even try camel rides, sand surfing and 4x4 trips in the surrounding desert.

So plan ahead and you can look forward to the port stop of a lifetime...

Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the National Museum of Qatar is a must-do. Credit: Shutterstock

Best sights in Doha

National Museum of Qatar

This amazing building, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and inspired by the structure of the desert rose crystal, is a proud showcase of the nation’s history and culture.

Just one highlight among its thousands of exhibits is the fabulous Baroda carpet, decorated with more than 1.5 million marine pearls, as well as emeralds, sapphires, rubies and diamonds.

Museum of Islamic Art

Sourced from three continents and spanning 1,400 years, the world’s finest collection of Islamic art is a treasure trove of stunning jewellery, metalwork, ceramics and textiles.

Even the museum itself is a work of art, created by architect IM Pei (designer of the Louvre pyramid), with its domed five-storey atrium, breathtaking views of Doha’s skyline and serene waterside setting.

Corniche Promenade

Starting near the cruise port and taking in most of the city’s key landmarks, this four-and-a-half-mile pedestrian boulevard follows a crescent-shaped route between soaring skyscrapers and the glistening Persian Gulf.

It’s particularly lovely in the early evening, as you stroll past monuments and parks and admire the traditional sailing dhows in the harbour, preparing for their all-night fishing trips.

Souk Wakif

Even though the city has no end of ultra-modern malls, this ancient market is still a hub for shopping, eating and entertainment.

Here you’ll find traditional textiles, incense, spices and abayas (the head-to-toe gowns worn by Qatari women) – not to mention that huge gold thumb statue, pictured many times during the World Cup. And for a real flavour of old Qatar, visit the Falcon Souk livestock market next door.

Opt for the delicious sweet dumplings known as luqiamat. Credit: Shutterstock

Best restaurants and bars in Doha


Popular with locals and visitors alike, this friendly cafe has branches in various locations around the city.

For instant refreshment try chai karak – black tea mixed with milk and cardamom – with a rolled chapati (sweet or savoury), or opt for the delicious sweet dumplings known as luqiamat. A lovely blend of tradition and innovation, Karaki is an Instagrammer’s delight, too.


For the authentic flavours of Arabian cuisine, head to this large but welcoming Syrian restaurant in the heart of Souk Wakif.

Here you’ll find freshly made comfort foods such as vegetarian mezze and fattoush (cucumber and tomato salad), as well as hearty kebabs. Lovers of traditional music are in for a treat, too, with live performances to accompany your lunch or dinner.


Located on the fourth floor of the National Museum, this high-end restaurant is overseen by triple Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse.

Seriously stylish, with shimmering crystal interiors reflecting Doha’s pearl-fishing traditions, it offers a fresh take on Qatari cuisine.

Deliciously light sharing plates include beetroot citrus tabbouleh, confit lamb with mint and spices, wild red snapper and pistachio baklava.


Many of Doha’s finest restaurants are connected to its five-star hotels, and
the world’s largest Nobu restaurant is found at the Four Seasons.

Dramatically perched on the Arabian Gulf with its own pier, it offers all the Nobu signature dishes, including miso-glazed black cod, rock shrimp tempura and king crab with shiso salsa. It’s expensive – naturally – but reliably delicious.

Stay at The Mondrian for a glamorous experience. Credit: Shutterstock

Doha trip planner

What to expect

You’ll get a friendly welcome but Qatari culture is very different so it’s essential to be aware of local laws and customs.

Women must keep their shoulders and knees covered, as well as their heads if entering a mosque.

Avoid public displays of affection, never film or take pictures of local women without their consent, and don’t drop litter – there’s a heavy fine.

Alcohol is limited to some five-star hotels, and shops close from Friday until after sunset on Saturday.

When to go

Qatar is one of the hottest places on earth, with temperatures in summer (May to September) regularly hitting 50c.

Winter averages a more comfortable 25c, so the best time to visit is November to January.

You’ll need to pack some layers against the evening chill but you can safely leave your umbrella at home.

Getting around

Opened in May 2019, Doha’s new metro system is cheap, efficient and easy to navigate.

Where to stay

All the big international hotel chains are here, and prices are surprisingly affordable.

There’s also an abundance of five-star – and more – alternatives, including The Mondrian, where the bridal suite has a 24-carat gold elevator to its private rooftop indoor pool.

Read more port guides