With the FIFA World Cup 2022 being hosted in this gorgeous Arab country, Qatar stadium grounds are all set to echo with roaring cheers of football fanatics coming from all around the globe. In light of this unprecedented event for the country, Qatar is leaving no stone unturned to make it as memorable as possible. So, if you are a football fan visiting the country or simply someone on a leisure trip, here’s a complete Qatar travel guide for you to keep handy.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar from November 20 to December 18. Eight world-class stadiums — Lusail, Al Bayt, Al Rayyan, Al Thumama, Al Wakrah, Khalifa International, Education City and Ras Abu Aboud — are being prepared before the matches unfold.
However, amid all the hullabaloo, if you are landing in the country for the first time, or even otherwise, you would want to visit some noteworthy places or explore around. Whether it is visiting the Museum of Islamic Arts, Katara Cultural Village, the dazzling Souq Waqif neighbourhood, or indulging in luxury shopping at the City Centre in Doha, there is something that suits everyone’s preferences.
And, speaking of indulgence, Qatar is one of the most stylish and vibrant countries in the world, brimming with accommodation and dining options. Ranging from lavish five-star hotels and resorts to phenomenal restaurants, you can be totally spoiled for choice not just in the capital city of Doha but wherever you go. Read on for our comprehensive Qatar travel guide on where to go and what to do, especially if you’re in town for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Here’s a Qatar travel guide if you’re visiting during 2022 FIFA World Cup
Visit the Museum of Islamic Arts
Considered the jewel in the crown of Qatar, this is one place that should be on the list of every traveller visiting the country. It is located on an island bordering Doha’s Corniche, specifically built for the purpose.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, the Museum is an architectonic marvel spread across four floors. It houses a heritage library with a collection of 21,000 books including 2,000 rare editions in both Arabic and English. The Museum of Islamic Art also holds permanent and temporary exhibitions and contains a gift shop as well as a café. A chic French cuisine restaurant called IDAM by celebrated chef Alain Ducasse sits on the fifth floor too.
Head to Katara Cultural Village
Located at the edge where the Middle East merges with Asia, Qatar is known for being the hub of diverse cultures and traditions from all across the world. Such an essence is reflected in the self-acknowledged village of Katara which derives its name from the old spelling of the country.
While here, one can visit the Katara Mosque — a mosque styled with Persian and Turkish tile and enamel work in blue and gold. It was designed by Türkiye’s Zeynep Fadilloglu, believed to be the first female architect to specialise in mosques. In a close follow-up to the Katara Mosque is the Gold Mosque which lives up to its name and is a golden vision under the sun.
You must also visit the amphitheatre. It is spread across 3,275 sqm and can accommodate around 5,000 spectators. This classical Greek-style amphitheatre imbibes Islamic influences, as seen in its arched entrances too.
Explore several art galleries nestled in the Katara Village as well as the Al Thuraya Planetarium. You can also Satiate your hunger pangs at the numerous eateries here. Besides various restaurants serving cuisines from all over the globe such as Egyptian and Mediterranean, Tasty Street is also lined with food stalls for you to have a bite on the go.
Visit Al Zubarah Fort
This 20th-century fort lies very close to the walled seaside town of Al Zubarah and is the newest and most prominent place in the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013.
Located about 105 km northwest of Doha, this fort features 1m-thick walls that helped ward off enemies as well as kept the rooms cool during the scorching summers, at the time it was built. The fort complex comprises residential palaces, mosques, courtyard houses, fishermen’s huts, streets, double defensive walls, a harbour, a canal, cemeteries and a museum, and overlooks the ruins of what was once a thriving village.
Unwind at The Pearl
Doha is home to numerous spectacular artificial wonders and The Pearl is one of them. Visit this incredible destination, situated in the West Bay area, very close to the Katara Cultural Village, to soak in a tranquil Mediterranean vibe. As yacht-lined marinas, gorgeous villas, magnificent towers, luxury hotels, exotic restaurants and shopping malls abound the place, it is the best spot for an amazing view and rich indulgence.
It is easily accessible by cabs and the Hamad International Airport is around 40 minutes away.
Explore Dahl Al Misfir
Qatar is also home to stunning natural relief forms and the Dahl Al Misfir is a must-visit. Located to the west of Doha, this 40 m deep cave is considered to be the largest, deepest and accessible cave in entire Qatar.
It is said to have formed 3,25,000 to 5,00,000 years ago during the mid-Pleistocene Era. Visitors need to wear hiking shoes and be dressed as needed to get to the cave owing to the fact that temperatures tend to dip as you go further inside. The main attraction here is the light moon-like glow that the cave emits during the daytime. It is a haven for bird lovers as one can easily spot nightjars or wagtails.
The drive to the site requires one to go off-road from Salwa Road and Rawdat Rashed Road.
Stroll through Souq Waqif
Located on the edge of Wadi Musheireb district, Souq Waqif is one of the most popular, dynamic and vibrant trading markets in Doha. From tasting local delicacies to splurging in shopping or just experiencing the local fanfare, there’s a lot to do in Souq Waqif.
Stroll through Gold Souq and witness the incredible collection of gold jewellery and other gold items that make a very important part of Middle Eastern culture. Qatar is also known for its exotic wildlife and falconry is a major sport in the country. You can try holding a falcon, posing with it and even seeing how the falcon hospitals take care of these regal birds. From here, head to the camel lane to see these incredible beasts up close.
While here, you can also buy some local products including antiques, woven fabrics, rugs, wooden furniture and glass ornaments. Indigenous beauty products like handmade perfumes, kohl and henna designs are also available. The area also has spice markets, pearl markets, eateries, restaurants and more.
Go for adventure sports
For adventure lovers, Qatar has a wide range of sports to offer apart from the FIFA World Cup.
Southern Qatar is all about the sandy desert with many desert activities that await you. These include dune bashing in a 4WD, camel riding, kite surfing, quad biking and wakeboarding. This is also the place where you can witness the ‘inland sea’ — Khor Al-Adaid is a UNESCO World Heritage site where the sea is interlocked by dunes bordering Saudi Arabia.
While in Qatar, you can also try skydiving, waterboarding, paragliding, kayaking and go-karting.
Go restaurant hopping
No Qatar travel guide can be complete without food destinations and dishes to satiate your taste buds. Local delicacies like machboos, kunafa, karak, luqaimat, thareed and of course shawarma and falafel have to be on your list.
Although Qatar is known for Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine, the restaurants and hotels offer delectable menus from all over the world such as Mediterranean, Indian, French and the list is endless.
Head to restaurants such as Atrium Lounge and Al Hubara in the Corniche for a splendid gastronomical delight. Also, hotels such as Wyndham Doha West Bay and Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels have some exquisite fine dining options. Be it the latter’s Argan and La Piazza restaurant or the former’s Crema Crew Bar and Bazar West Bay pavilion, be sure to be bowled by the sheer diversity of the foodscape.
Other noted restaurants to add to your list include Nassayem Qatar, Al Jasra and Al Shurfa Arabic Lounge.
For those looking for Asian delights, Qatar has a lot to offer. Hakkasan at the St. Regis Hotel brings an authentic gourmet Cantonese menu to the table; Banyan Tree Doha at La Cigale Mushaireb’s Saffron serves a slice of Thailand on the plate; The Four Seasons Hotel in Qatar houses the world’s largest Nobu restaurant that serves chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s signature Japanese dishes.
As dusk sets in, enjoy the sunset vistas with delectable cocktails at some of the jazziest bars and lounges such as The Roof Top Lounge in Dusit Doha, and Isle Lounge and Library Lounge in the Four Seasons hotel.
Relax at comfortable hotels
Amp up your trip to Qatar by staying at some of the most lavish and gorgeous hotels.
From The Park Hyatt, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl and Mandarin Oriental to the Alwadi Hotel Doha-MGallery and Souq Al Wakra, there’s something for everyone. Impeccable service, luxury amenities and superlative views make them some of the elite properties in Qatar.
All of these are well-connected with the airport and enable easy access to key locations in the city. You can easily enjoy the scenes and sights of Qatar at ease and head to the stadiums when needed to cheer for your favourite team.
Other important things to note
Qatar Airways expects a steady flow of visitors from all over the globe during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to keep all your documents like a visa, a confirmed stay receipt, the Hayya Card and COVID-19 vaccination certificates handy. It is also advised to be abreast with recent travel information closer to your date of travel. Needless to say, those going to watch any of the football matches must carry their tickets procured through official sites with them.
Qatar is an Arabic country with slightly conservative rules for both men and women. Though there are no strict steadfast dress codes, you need to wear decent clothes that cover the arms, shoulders and knees. This is important while visiting government buildings and museums or walking through Souq Waqif.
It is also important to note that the country is relatively warmer than most places. Therefore one must carry appropriate garments. While the hottest period lasts between May and September, winter in Qatar is also quite warm (temperature lies between 70°F and 80°F).
The country has a coastline of nearly 560 km which means no dearth of stunning driveways, beaches and views of the sand and sea. Rent a car or even a cycle and enjoy quality time when you are not cheering for your favourite teams.
(Main and featured image: John Simmons/ @ouch_media/ Unsplash)
This story first appeared on Travel + Leisure India & South Asia