If you’ve been following along on Instagram and Facebook, you know I just got home from an epic trip to the tiny Middle Eastern country of Qatar! I had a pretty unique experience there because I stayed with a Qatari family. They were so gracious and made sure I got to experience only the very best of their country, and I’m here to share the top 10 things to do on your own trip to Qatar!
10. Check Out the Malls
I would not normally recommend going to a mall on vacation, but trust me, you will want to take advantage of the air conditioning! Qatar can be very comfortable in the winter months, but with summer temperatures in the 130s plus and even greater heat index from extreme humidity, you will want a break! The malls are great for walking around, and if you really want a taste of something not so Middle Eastern, the malls are full of American restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory, McDonald’s, and even Krispy Kreme!
9. Eat All the Food
Qatari food is similar to Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, etc. And it’s delicious! Fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, spices, beef, chicken, pita, cheese… it’s all delicious! And almost all the food is grown right there in Qatar. I have some very special “What I Ate” blog posts coming out soon, so stay tuned for all the food along with explanations of what’s what and how to eat it!
8. Visit a Mosque
I’m actually a little uncomfortable thinking of places of worship as tourist attractions. However, when it’s such an integral part of a country’s or region’s culture, I don’t think visitors can really get the full scope of a place without visiting its religious sites. Be respectful, ask before you take photos, and remember you’re a visitor and an observer.
7. Explore Katara Cultural Village
Much of Doha is new and flashy! And that’s exciting and impressive, of course, but if you know me, you know I want to experience the history of the places I visit! The Katara Cultural Village is right by the water, you can visit a mosque and a pigeon tower in the same place, and there are restaurants where you can try food from Armenia, Lebanon, Palestine, and more! It would be easy to spend a whole day here.
6. Go Swimming in the Arabian Gulf
The Arabian Gulf is sometimes also called the Persian Gulf, but whatever you call it, it’s a refreshing experience to escape the heat! We went to the beach near Al Wakrah early one morning and got to see the sunrise over the Gulf. It was absolutely beautiful, and the water was the perfect temperature!
5. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a big fan of art museums. Paintings are just not my thing, and I’m more of a literal person than an abstract, interpretive person. Somehow my opinions and interpretations are always wrong! But this museum was truly fascinating. The art here is more along the lines of artifacts: beautifully painted vases, intricate tile work, incredible carpets, and more! I loved seeing things from places I have not yet had an opportunity to visit, like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and more. And the Museum itself is stunning, as well!
4. Haggle at Souq Waqif
If you’re in Qatar in the summer, you will want to have this authentic experience at night! This open-air market is the real deal–spices, fabric, carpets, jewelry, street food, and more! Haggling is part of the game, so do your best to get the price you want on the things you like! And don’t forget to try the Bread of Rgag with either Nutella or cheese–or try one of each!
3. Visit the Qatar National Library and Museum
This was one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip! I always like to visit national libraries, but the one in Qatar is in a league of its own. It’s quite new, and it’s absolutely beautiful. But the real gem is in the museum downstairs. The maps, globes, photographs, and other artifacts paint a stunning picture of Qatar and its position in Arabian history and world history. I might have learned more about Qatar here than anywhere else!
2. Spend Some Time in the Desert
All roads lead to the desert, literally! What’s there to do in the desert? A lot! Take a four-wheeler out on the dunes with Strong Power Sports, lower your tire pressure and take an incredible four-wheel drive ride on the shifting sands, or enjoy the best of both worlds–the desert and the beach! Complete your experience with a bedouin-led camel ride, and your desert experience will be complete! Plan to be there at sunset. A desert sunset is like none other.
1. Make Friends with a Camel
I leaned in to get a selfie with this beautiful camel named Sawsan, and I kid you not, she leaned in to nuzzle me! I saw her again the next day, and she did it again! I just loved her, and she took great care of me when I took her for a ride! Camels are so beautiful, and the slow way they walk around is too cute! And check out those eyelashes!
Are you convinced to put Qatar on your “must go” list? Tell me in the comments below!
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