Are you planning a flight with Qatar Airways but weighing up whether it’s worth doing a Doha stopover?
What can you do in Doha during a stopover?
So if you have a stopover flying through Doha airport (DOH) – by this we mean more than 5 hours and less than 24 hours – what can you see and do in Doha?
In this post, we will cover several Doha layover and stopover options including:
- Staying in the airport – how long can you spend at DOH!?
- Sleeping at or near the airport – which hotels are closest to DOH?
- Take a guided tour – what are the best Doha transit tours?
- Self-explore around Doha – airport transit options and biggest city highlights to see.
Doha Layover; Stay at the Hamad International Airport (DOH)
On the scale of things, Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) isn’t too bad an airport for a long layover. There are plenty of family-friendly touches, eateries and rest areas.
In partnership with Qatar Museums, transiting passengers can enjoy artworks – including the children’s playground which itself is an artwork!
Let’s take a run through all the facilities you will find at DOH.
Airport lounges in DOH
If you have a longish transit stop but not enough time to leave the airport (under 5 hours), we suggest this is an airport you might want to invest in lounge access (or check if any of your credit cards gives you access). You will find:
- Al Mourjan Business Lounge
- The Business Class Lounge
- Al Maha Services Lounges
- The Oryx Lounge
- Unaccompanied Minors Lounge – strictly only children who are being transitted as Unaccompanied Minors
Doha Airport is well-equipped for families. There are free strollers (but sometime can’t be found when you need them transiting in the middle of the night). You can also find family bathrooms, parents rooms for changing and feeding, plenty of play spaces, and activity nodes. Seeking out the giant teddy bear art instalment is always a winner!
Can you sleep at Hamad International Airport?
There are limited sleeping options within DOH, but plenty nearby.
There is one hotel located airside, the Oryx Doha Airport Transit Hotel. With 100 rooms of varying sizes from one beds to suites, they are suitable for families. With a minimum 5 hour stay, you’ll find among other things, water, wifi and complimentary access to the Vitality Wellness Centre. You can also order room services at the hotel.
Guest can also just pay to use the Vitality Wellness Centre. This includes a 25-metre pool, gymnasium and hydrotherapy tub for 175QAR ($48USD). Massages and treatments at the Spa cost extra. Open 24/7.
Quiet Rooms at Doha International Airport
If you want simply a quiet place to rest there are dedicated “Quiet Rooms” on Concourse A, B and C – but if you’re travelling with kids these are not really realistic options. Firstly, they separate men and women – and well – kids and quiet? BYO blanket from off the plane during transit as the aircon can be fierce.
Hotels near to Doha Airport
Hamad International Airport sits on its own little peninsula, and strangely they seem to have built the entrance at the furthest possible point away from the city, so there are no hotels in the immediate vicinity of the airport.
The closest hotels to transit to by taxi about 10 minutes away are:
- Sharq Villa & Spa – a Ritz Carlton Hotel – beautiful luxury option
- Oryx Rotana – good midrange option
- Fraser Suites Doha – if you need a larger room
There are plentiful hotels closer to the city, we will cover them in our next Qatar series article.
If you are in Doha for more than 5 hours, it’s well worth leaving the airport to take in the cities major cities, be it on Qatar’s own Discover Qatar Tour buses (starting from 75QAR $20), or on your own self-organised tour.
Note on Qatar Airways Tours: At one point this used to be free, but it’s our understanding at mid-2019 that this is now a paid service for all passengers.
Getting your Doha Transit Visa
In late 2016, the QTA (Qatar Tourism Authority) announced the introduction of FREE 96-hour transit visas with layovers of 5 hours or more for nationals of over 80 countries.
There is now a multi-entry waiver which is issued at the airport on arrival You can find the visa waiver categories here.
To be eligible you must have an onward ticket, hold a passport valid for at least 6 months and share an email address to process the visa. Note there are separate rules Indian and Pakistani nationals. If you are not one of the 80 nationalities, you can still apply for a Qatar Tourist Visa.
What to do on a Doha layover
Doha Transit Tour
Doha is a great sightseeing city, and one of those places where taking a small guided tour or joining a tour bus is an ideal way to get around and see all the highlights. You can try one of these organised tours:
- Four-hour tour with airport pick up, including dhow cruise
- Private Doha city tour including MIA, Souq & falcon handling
- Transit tour taking in the Pearl, Katara Cultural Village & the Souq
Self-tour Doha during a layover
If you prefer to grab a taxi or even a hire car and self-tour (Be prepared for the urgh, unique driving style of the Middle East), these are some of the major attractions you will want to include:
- Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) – free entry (closed Tuesday)
- The Pearl – an artificial island of residences and shops, intertwined with canals and plazas – the “Arabian Riviera”
- Souq Waqif – beautifully restored from the original markets that stood for over a century – the cities hub of trade and entertainment
- Katara Cultural Village – “Valley of Cultures” is home to the cities cultural events, traditional handicrafts, restaurants and plenty of green areas to run around
- Traditional dhow cruise – for beautiful skyline views, best in the cooler weather
Visiting with Kids? Check out our kid-friendly Doha suggestions for plenty of places they can run about between flights, indoors 7 outdoors
If you have a longer layover that will last into the night, we recommend adding a desert safari to get a taste of Bedouin life and Qatari hospitality – as well as some thrills and spills to keep you going until that next long flight!
You may also squeeze in a visit to the al Zubarah Fort and the Inland Sea (NB some operators may cater to private small groups but most run at a designated time over the evening). Why not try:
- 5-hour safari, camel ride, sandboard, inland sea. Airport pick up possible.
- 5-hour sunset safari – camel ride & sandboarding. Airport pick up possible
And don’t miss these further Doha guides to help you decide if you are ready to leave the airport!
Booking your trip via Doha
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