Qatar sits in the heart of the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf). A small peninsula, it’s connected by land to Saudi Arabia and in close proximity to the Tropic of Cancer.
Qatar experiences a desert climate with sunshine almost year-round, and the occasional dust storm thrown in. So when is the best time to visit the city of Doha and the tiny nation of Qatar?
Visitors should expect long, hot summers followed by mild winters. There are no 4 seasons in Qatar, just summer and winter (also known as hot and really hot!). But does that mean you can only visit Qatar during the cooler winter months?
Certainly, the cooler months from late October through to April are the most pleasant for visiting Qatar. However, increasingly there are more attractions open year-round and Doha has its lights on year-round, 24/7, thanks in no small part to being the hub for international airline, Qatar Airways.
In this post, we will talk you through what to expect throughout the year, both in terms of climate in Qatar, as well as local holidays and events to be aware of.
How hot does Qatar get in the summer?
Peak summer temperatures in Qatar can average 45°C (113°F), so it’s a case of life moving indoors during those hottest months; outdoor activities during the peak of the day in Qatar are all but unbearable.
You will find a lot of the expat population use this time to leave the country, and everything really slows down across the city.
That said, it’s also your best opportunity to snap up a bargain-priced resort or short getaway. DOH airport still runs at its busiest, with Qatar Airways ferrying passengers across the globe over summer. You will still find plenty of things going on in Qatar to make it worth a stopover in Doha, even in summer.
You will find there is quite a dry heat at the start of summer, changing to ultra humid and sticky as August and September roll on. There is sudden relief come mid-October and temperatures will drop.
Note that sea temperatures in Qatar are very warm as well in summer. You can expect Gulf water temperatures as high as 34°C (93°F) so don’t go planning a refreshing ocean dip mid-summer (and check your hotel has a temperature-controlled pool!)
Qatar in the Winter
Qatar in the cooler winter months (broadly November to April) can be a beautiful place to be. Without a doubt, this is the best time to visit Doha and all that Qatar has to offer.
Doha makes for an ideal mid-winter escape over the Christmas break, and is still quite pleasant during school term breaks too; the end of October autumn half term for many schools in Europe and the Spring Break in later March are the perfect times to plan a visit.
Daytime temperatures in Qatar really start to fall back to the low 30’s by the end of October, and to around the mid-20s by December/January. These pleasant conditions last until around the end of April; by the end of May things really heat up again to 40°C+.
Careful of planning anything to do with the resorts or beaches through mid-winter; you may find the water is a little on the chilly side (though coming from the coldest parts of Europe it will probably feel tropical!!)
Winter is the perfect time to head out to some of the more remote parts of Qatar, including the inland sea, or north to visit some of the historic points such as Al-Zubarah Fort.
The springtime also sees the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) – though post-COVID this looks to have moved to a November/December timeslot, we await news of the next event date.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
The spotlight will really fall on this tiny nation come 21 November 2022 when they play host to the first-ever World Cup in the Middle East. The international tournament, normally held in the summer months has been moved to November/December to take advantage of the slightly cooler weather.
More coming soon on how to experience the best of Qatar during the World Cup!
Are the Football Stadiums in Qatar Airconditioned?
A great question and obviously one of the leading concerns both players and visitor might have attending the World Cup.
Daytime temperatures should drop to the pleasant mid-20s (around 70-80°F) but to ensure no discomfort for everyone involved, 8 new state-of-the-art football stadiums have been built for the World Cup.
Each new stadium in Qatar has air conditioning both in the stands and on the pitch. An interesting walk through here to learn more about this innovative cooling technology!
More Qatar Climate FAQs
We have more frequently asked questions about the climate in Qatar here to help you plan your trip:
If you love a bit of sunshine and warmth thrown in, our favourite months to visit Qatar are November and March.
Yes! It might take you by surprise, but rain is possible over the cooler winter months in Doha, Qatar (or it could stay completely dry!)
We wouldn’t recommend packing your umbrella just in case – but do expect sheer pandamonium if it does as buildings are put to the water-tight test; roads become easily flooded and most drivers don’t know how to react. Best to stay in place if a rainstorm does hit, it will soon pass.
Very much so. These occur largely in the spring to summer period but can occur at any time of year. Qatar can be susceptible to the Shamal – a northwesterly wind that blows over Iraq and the Persian Gulf states.
Those with respiratory conditions such as asthma should keep abreast of the AQI if it’s dusty out.
Real outside snow? No. The coldest it’s ever gotten in Qatar is 5.6°C.
Qatar hits its peak temperatures for the year in July, though August can often feel hotter due to the rising humidity later in summer. Expect July average high temperatures of 42°C (108°F), but highs as much as 50°C (122°F) are not unheard of.
Keep your eye on the “feels like” temperature or heat index, as well as the temperature in Celcius/Fahrenheit.
Public and school holidays in Qatar
Although the country follows the Gregorian calendar (January through December), the Hijri calendar is observed for religious occasions.
Religious holidays in Qatar
The main observances are:
- The holy month of Ramadan
- Eid al-Fitr
- Arafat Day & Eid al-Adha
- Hijri New Year
- Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif – the Prophet’s birthday
These dates move forward on the Gregorian calendar approximately 10 days each year.
Actual dates are not confirmed until the moon is sighted, and the Government may move the actual dates that the public holiday is observed, normally to align with a weekend.
Qatar also celebrates:
- New Year’s Day on 1 January
- National Sports Day on 13 February
- Qatar National Day on 18 December
School holidays in Qatar
School holidays are set by the Supreme Education Council and the Ministry of Education. Most schools run on a three-term calendar. They will have a winter term, and take a few weeks off over mid-December to January (coincidentally Christmas, it is not formally marked).
Term 2 then runs through until late March. There is a spring break in early April (again, only coincidence if it’s at Easter) then a longer summer break over July and August.
Also, note that the weekend in Qatar is Friday/Saturday making these days much busier than during the week Sunday through Thursday.
What to expect in Qatar during Ramadan
It’s important to note as a visitor when the Holy Month of Ramadan will occur as there are slight modifications in behaviour required. The 9th month in the Hijri calendar is a period of deep religious reflection for Muslims and is strictly observed.
Ramadan in 2022 will start approximately 2 April and end on 2 May.
The most important thing to observe is fasting with no eating or drinking in public permitted. There should also be no public displays of affection and ensure you are dressed modestly – more so than usual.
The other thing you may observe is that businesses and attractions are closed during the day and only open in the evening. That said, most tourist attractions are now keeping normal operating hours during the holy month. It is more so local businesses, government offices and schools that are impacted by the change in hours.
There is no reason not to visit Qatar during Ramadan. It can be a great time to enjoy the local culture, join in with a traditional Iftar (the evening breaking of the fast) and overnight festivities that last well into the night, especially on weekends. But do note the change in hours and dress code.
It is still a more conservative place than Dubai, for example, so expect hotels to have covered dining areas.
Future Ramadan dates in Doha
All subject to moon sighting for the actual start and end dates, you can expect Ramadan to fall:
- 2023 – March 23 to April 22
- 2024 – March 13 to April 12
- 2025 – March 3 to April 2
Sporting events in Qatar
Other than the impending World Cup (21 November to 18 December 2022), there’s a growing lineup of annual sporting and international events on the Doha events calendar, including;
The FINA World Swimming Championships will take place in November 2023.
Read more about visiting Qatar and Doha:
- How to do a short stopover in Doha
- Things to do in Doha with kids
- Top things to do and places to visit around Qatar
- What to wear when visiting Doha [+ printable packing list]
- Our complete Qatar with Kids guide
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