Sleeping in Airports

Doha Airport Layover Sightseeing

This article includes links to our travel partners at Tripadvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Doha.

doha airport layover sightseeing
(photo credit: Sven Hansche / Shutterstock)

Hamad International Airport (DOH), formerly New Doha International Airport (NDIA), is a modern airport located 4 kilometres south of Doha, Qatar’s capital. While it’s beautifully designed and embellished with pieces of local contemporary art, the airport has little entertainment to offer to layover visitors. If your layover is over six hours, take advantage of its short distance (20 minutes) to Doha city center to appreciate this modern city with a rich Islamic heritage. Whether you want to stroll in the Corniche, admire the skyscrapers and dhow boats, or dive into Qatar’s history in its National Museum and Souq, Doha’s city center offers exciting options for layover visitors.

Airport Overview

If you have a short layover of fewer than six hours in Doha, stay within the airport, as you should consider at least an hour to go through security when leaving the airport and another 1 hour and a half to enter again. Besides duty-free shopping, you will find ways to pass the time at the Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre. It offers a swimming pool, a gym, hydrotherapy tubs, squash courts and a golf simulator. If you’d rather lay back, the free Quiet Rooms and the various paid lounges can provide you with a few hours of rest until your next flight. For more information on the airport, check out our Doha Airport Guide.

Doha Sightseeing Attractions

Below are a few of the top things to do in Doha:

National Museum of Qatar

Doha Museum of Islamic Art
(photo credit: Paul Cowan / Shutterstock)

With its unique architecture signed by the world-famous architect Jean Nouvel, the National Museum of Qatar not only contains precious gems but is also a masterpiece in itself. You can easily spend four hours visiting this interactive museum, which contains an ancient palace and a park. If you’re fond of museums, combine your visit with the Museum of Islamic Art, another place worth seeing for its exhibition and architecture.

  • Time Required: Count at least 3 hours to visit the museum and up to 5-6 hours to explore it entirely. The museum is open from 9 A.M. to 7 P.M. from Saturday to Thursday and from 1:30 P.M. to 7 P.M. on Friday.
  • How to Get There: You can reach the National Museum of Qatar by taxi, bus, and the Gold line of Doha’s metro (National Museum Station).
  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor to plan your sightseeing, read traveller reviews, or book a tour to the National Museum of Qatar or the Museum of Islamic Art.

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif
(photo credit: Paul Cowan / Shutterstock )

The Souq Waqif, Doha’s traditional market, is where you can feel the city’s pulse. Mountains of spices, golden daggers, colourful handicrafts, and even live falcons: this market will excite all your senses. You may prefer to visit in the late afternoon when the market starts to be busy.

  • Time Required: Guided tours of the market usually last 4 hours, but you can spend less time if you don’t like the crowd and have a glimpse of the Souq Waqif in less than 2 hours.
  • How to Get There: With its central location, the Souq Waqif is an accessible destination, just one stop from the National Museum of Qatar on the Gold Line (Souq Waqif Station). You can also get there by taxi and by bus.
  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor to plan your sightseeing, read traveller reviews, or book a tour of the Souq Waqif.

Villaggio Mall

Doha Pearl sightseeing
(photo credit: SLSK Photography / Shutterstock)

Qatar has many luxury shopping malls with a lot to entertain travellers on a long layover. They are cities inside the city, with all the brands you can dream of, cafes, restaurants, and even theme parks. Inspired by Venice, the Villaggio Mall is one of the most interesting to visit. It recreates a Venetian village with water canals on which you can ride a gondola. The Mall of Qatar and The Pearl can also be on your list if you’re a shopping enthusiast.

  • Time Required: Given the size of the complex (360,000 square meters) and the number of activities it offers, spending two hours is the bare minimum.
  • How to Get There: You can reach the Vilaggio Mall by taxi or metro (Al-Aziziyah Station), with the Gold Line that also stops at the National Museum and the Waqif Souq.
  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor to plan your sightseeing, read traveller reviews or book a tour.

Doha Corniche

Doha Marina sightseeing
(photo credit: Sven Hansche / Shutterstock)

Doha’s waterfront promenade – the Corniche – offers incredible skyline and West Bay views. It’s a pleasant walk of 4.3 miles with many art sculptures and cafes on the way. If your times allow it, go on a traditional dhow cruise, especially at sunset.

  • Time Required: Consider two hours to walk the Corniche. You can also rent a bicycle or a scooter, available there. For a dhow cruise, count 20 minutes during the day and 90 minutes if it includes dinner in the evening.
  • How to Get There: Use the Red Line metro that connects Hamad International Airport to the Corniche (Corniche Station) in 16 minutes.
  • Plan your visit: Visit Tripadvisor to plan your sightseeing, read traveller reviews or book a tour.

Airport Transportation

Hamad International Airport is conveniently located near Doha’s city center, at a short distance of 14 kilometres, which takes about 20 minutes. The airport has a large offer of modern transportation, both public and private, making it hassle-free for layover travellers.

Public transit options include:

  • Bus: All bus lines depart from the Bus Pavillon to the right of the Arrival Hall. Many bus lines connect the airport to Doha’s city and operate every 20 to 30 minutes. For fares and schedules, Mowasalat website.
  • Metro: The metro is a convenient way to reach Doha’s city center and main sightseeing. The Red Line operates from/to the airport, from 6 A.M. to 11 or 12 P.M. from Saturday to Thursday and from 2 P.M. to 12 P.M. on Friday. For fares and schedules, Doha Metro’s website.

Private transit options include:

  • Taxi: You will find official “Karwa” taxis at the Taxi Pavilion to the left end of the Arrival Hall. You can pre-book your taxi on the Karwa mobile app.
  • Limousines: Hamad International Airport offers chauffeur-driven limousine services operated by Mowasalat Limousine. Reservations must be made in advance.
  • Car Rentals: Several car rental companies are present to offer various rental car levels, from sedans to luxury vehicles. All car rental companies are located on the ground floor.

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited about your mini layover vacation, check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost, and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for extended security wait times, so be sure to research in advance and factor that into your overall time budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, confirm whether your luggage will be checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Check out our Doha Airport Guide for information on luggage storage.

Other Useful Resources

Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly: