Headed to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup? Here’s What to See

what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

Whether you’re in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, business, or a holiday, there’s lots to see there. The country is home to some spectacular museums, trendy restaurants, architectural marvels, and some breathtaking natural beauty. Figuring out what to see in a new country can be a bit tricky, especially if it’s your first time there. As always, we’ve done the work for you. Savoir Flair takes you through ten destinations in Qatar that are a must-visit when you’re there.

1

Visit the Museum of Islamic Art

A real architectural marvel, the Museum of Islamic Art was designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect I.M. Pei and is worth visiting just to admire the building itself. Standing alone on reclaimed land, the Islamic architecture-inspired structure is five-stories high and topped by a high-domed atrium within a central tower. The striking exterior is one to behold, with its cream-colored limestone capturing the changes in light and shade during the day. Inside, you can find Islamic art from three continents dating back to over 1,400 years ago. From ancient manuscripts of the Holy Quran to brightly colored mosque lamps and textiles produced for the elite of the Islamic world, this museum is a must-visit.

what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images
2

Stroll the Alleys of Souq Waqif

There’s nothing quite like aimlessly wandering the streets of an old souq to soak in a city’s culture. Doha’s Souq Waqif, historically a marketplace for Bedouins, was preserved and renovated over the years. One of the few remaining traditional markets, it is best discovered by losing yourself in its many winding alleys, stumbling upon little shops selling all sorts of goodies. An ideal place for a treasure hunter, the souq carries everything from local beauty products, spices, and fabric to traditional artifacts, including locally made glass ornaments from the city’s workshops. If retail therapy isn’t on the cards, then simply eat some street food or find a roadside café to sit back and soak in the atmosphere.

what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images
3

Learn About Vintage Cars at the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum

For those who love vintage cars, the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum is a fascinating must-visit. One of the world’s largest private museums, it boasts 30,000 items, which include unique exhibits like the Carpet Museum and the Car Museum. The museum is also home to over 600 antique vehicles, all of which are still in working condition. From steam carriages and vintage cars belonging to the Qatari royal family to retro trucks and classic limousines, this destination is quite the cabinet de curiosités.

what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of @fbqmuseum
4

Find Priceless Treasures at the National Museum of Qatar

Designed by award-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the National Museum of Qatar is yet another architectural marvel in the city. The building recreates a naturally occurring crystal formation called the ‘desert rose’ and is something to be marveled at. Inside, it houses many heritage pieces like manuscripts, photographs, and jewelry that bring to light not only story of the nation, but also the heritage of the region.

Additionally, it is home to the legendary ‘Pearl Carpet of Baroda’, a piece commissioned by Maharajah of Baroda in 1865. Pearls, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds set in gold were woven onto a silk-and-deer-hide tapestry, making this an important historical masterpiece. The precious item was purchased by an anonymous buyer at a Sotheby’s auction in Doha in 2019 for an equivalent of AED 20.2 million and is now displayed at the museum. Historical artifacts aside, various fashion exhibits are also part of the museum’s collections. Currently on display is a comprehensive Christian Dior exhibit titled ‘Dior: Designer of Dreams’.

what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of @nmoqatar
5

Enjoy Old-World Architecture at Al Zubarah Fort

For those who enjoy old architecture, a trip to the Al Zubarah fort should be an educational and fulfilling experience. Located roughly 105 kilometers outside of Doha, this 20th-century fort was built in 1938 and is a prime example of quintessential Arabic architecture. It gets its name from the neighboring town of Al Zubarah, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site whose ruins date back to the 17th century. Currently, the fort is a museum where visitors can see interesting artifacts from the pearl-diving era.

what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images
6

Immerse in Natural Beauty at Purple Island

Located just an hour from Doha near Al Khor city, Purple Island is the destination for nature lovers. Known for its natural beauty and exotic flora and fauna, there is lots to do at this spectacular island. Bursting with greenery and surrounded by mangroves, this scenic place has something for everyone. Camping, kayaking, hiking, bird watching, and paddle boarding – a day trip here will be thrilling and memorable. A word of caution: there are no facilities on the site. Be sure to pack essentials like food and water, and wear comfortable clothing and shoes. The best time to visit Purple Island would be during the cooler months, from November to February.

what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Qatar
7

Spend a Full Day in Katara Cultural Village

Nestled between West Bay and the half-moon towers of The Pearl, Katara Cultural Village is Doha’s go-to spot to enjoy some art, culture, and good food. Featuring art galleries, theaters, concert halls, and a planetarium, Qatar’s largest cultural project is quite impressive. There are also some excellent architecture to see here, such as the majestic Katara Mosque. The latter’s interior was inspired by Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, while its minaret and dome were inspired by famous mosques around the world. The Greek-style amphitheater is also worth checking out. A sprawling building, the venue can accommodate up to 5,000 visitors and offers beautiful views of the sea on one side and of the village on the other. We recommend spending an entire day in the village so you can make the most of it.

Katara Cultural Village what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images
8

Go Trekking at the Ras Abrouq Rock Formations

Located roughly 70 kilometers west of Doha, Ras Abrouq is known for its breathtaking topography. Unusual mushroom-shaped limestone rock formations dominate the natural landscape here, and its pristine sandy beaches are popular among windsurfers. Most of this area is heavily protected by the government as the neighboring reserve is home to wild deer. If you do plan a trip here, make sure to pack your essentials like food, water, and personal-care items as there are no facilities nearby. It is also highly recommended to take an SUV because there are no paved roads. While it might seem like a bit of a hassle to visit Ras Abrouq, the sheer beauty of it is worth every bit of it. Oh, and did we mention you can even camp the night there?

ras abrouq what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images
9

Experience an Adrenaline Rush in a Natural Cave

Dahl Al Misfir, Qatar’s largest cave, is a must-visit for adventure-seekers. Located 40 kilometers outside of Doha, the cave is 40 meters deep and is one of the country’s most exciting natural sites. Formed out of fibrous gypsum, here you can witness a moon-like glow thanks to the gypsum deposits. A word of caution: the site is not recommended for small children, and it is advised to take a 4×4 vehicle when visiting.

dahl al misfir cave what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images
10

Cool Down at the Oxygen Park

Located in the outskirts of Doha, the 130,000-square-meter Oxygen Park is a public park suitable for the entire family. The park was designed to introduce a green lung in Education City, a large campus housing multiple educational and research institutes. From cascading waterfalls to little water features and lush greenery, this park is unlike any other you’ll see in the country. The park is divided into two zones – sports and recreation. The recreation zone will keep the kids entertained for hours and even has fountains for them to splash around in. Meanwhile, in the sports zone, runners will love the semi-covered naturally cooled pathway with waterfalls at the edge that not only provide respite from the heat in hotter months but also serves as a great photo-op.

qatar oxygen park what to see in qatar
Photo: Courtesy of Qatar Foundation
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