The vibrant capital of Qatar has plenty to offer, whether you're visiting to catch one of the upcoming football matches or spending a weekend in the city
Doha is much more than a stopover destination and two days can never be enough to discover everything the dynamic Qatari capital has to offer. But if 48 hours are all you have on hand, this guide will help you make the most of your time. Whether you're in the capital to catch one of the FIFA World Cup matches or are spending a weekend in the city, we've covered the top things to do and the best places to see in Doha.
Doha's deep cultural roots mean that visitors have plenty of opportunities to discover the region's past. Perhaps one of the best places to start is the National Museum of Qatar. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the US$434 million building is a work of art in itself. Inside, it houses exhibits that tell the story of the country's heritage and history. Visitors begin their journey with the oldest artefact found in Qatar – a 400 million-year-old fossilised fish – and continue through 11 galleries, each depicting a different era of Qatari history, from the Bedouin culture and its pearl diving past to the discovery of natural gas and oil.
Next, head over to the Museum of Islamic Art, where a collection of rare objects collected from the Islamic world brings Middle Eastern history, from the seventh to the 16th century, to life. Exhibits include rare manuscripts, textiles and cultural artefacts. Before you leave, take a brief pause in the museum's atrium to admire the breathtaking panorama of the city's skyline.
Linking the National Museum of Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art is the Doha Corniche. And there couldn't be a better way to wind down your first day in the capital than taking a relaxing evening stroll along this waterfront promenade. It's the ideal vantage point to take in views of the dhows peacefully sailing through the Arabian Gulf on one side, with Doha's majestic towers reaching for the skies on the other.
Begin your second day in Doha by heading north towards the coastal town of Al Zubarah, where a UNESCO-listed archaeological site offers insight into the nation's past. The 20th-century Al Zubarah Fort is a perfectly preserved example of a typical Arab fort, which in the past helped the inhabitants ward off invaders and also keep cool during the hot summers.
The archaeological site comprises the ruins of a once-bustling pearl diving hub and trading centre, which was ravaged by wars fought in the 18th century. What remains of it are palaces, mosques, courtyards, homes, fishermen’s huts and cemeteries.
After soaking up the country's history, head back into the city to explore Katara Cultural Village, an all-round destination offering art, culture, entertainment and more. The complex houses the Katara Mosque, with décor inspired by the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, the Gold Mosque, which is fully covered in gold tiling, a classic Greek-style amphitheatre spanning 3,275 square metres and a number of art galleries showcasing modern creations.
No travel experience is complete without a spot of souvenir shopping. And in Doha, Souq Waqif should be your first port of call. This century-old landmark stands out in Doha's retail landscape, which overflows with designer boutiques and mega malls. It provides a glimpse into the local culture through a range of products that includes pearls, gold, textiles, incense, spices, traditional jewellery and handicrafts.
Where to stay
Rotana offers a selection of unique properties in Doha, including Centro Capital Doha, City Centre Rotana Doha, Sedra Arjaan by Rotana, Sedra Residences by Rotana, Bin Al Sheikh Residences by Rotana and Riviera Rayhaan by Rotana. To book your hotel in Doha, visit rotana.com.