Do you have a layover in Doha and are unsure what to do? Are you considering taking the city tour? Here’s what you need to know about taking an evening tour in Doha.
What you need to know about the evening tour of Doha
The evening tour of Doha was once free, but is now still a great value at under £10 (75 Qar) per person. To sign up, go to the tour desk located by gate A4. It is really easy to find, just beyond the large teddy sculpture in the main hall.
You need at least five hours before your connecting flight. When you sign up they will check your flight and take payment details. You can either pay in cash (Qatari) or debit/credit card. Some credit cards charge additional fees for foreign transactions, but not all do.
The tours are available throughout the day on a first-come-first-served basis, departing at allocated times. We arrived at 5.30pm and by the time we got through the transit hall the 7pm tour was already filled. The 8pm tour worked out perfectly, allowing us to get a bit to eat and freshen up before meeting our group at the tour desk.
The tour is well-organised, with a group leader taking you through the airport and making sure you get on the tour bus. You may need to apply online for a visa. If in doubt, please contact the tour company.
First stop – Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif is Qatar’s oldest souq. It dates back more than 100 years, to a time when traders would buy and sell livestock, pearls, spices and wool. In 2003, the site was severely damaged by a fire. Today it’s a place for locals and visitors alike to sample an authentic souq selling everything from spices to hawks! There are also traditional restaurants and cafes.
There is ample time to explore and pick up some local bargains.
While shopping you can barter; in fact it is expected. Great purchases are Arab dallah (coffee pots), Bedouin weaving, embroidered pashminas, baskets and kelim rugs.
Second stop – Museum of Islamic Art Night View
As the bus pulls into the car park by the Museum of Islamic Art, look out for the large oyster and pearl sculpture. It’s a popular place to enjoy the city lights on the evening tour of Doha, with many cars and tour buses. After 15 minutes it’s time to re-join the bus.
Third stop – Katara Cultural Village
The cultural village was born from a project of hope and global cultural exchange with its partial opening in October 2010. The large area comprising The Golden Masjid, Katara’s Gardens, Drama Theatre, Amphitheater, The Masjid of Katara, The Opera House and Halls & Galleries.
“Catara” is the ancient name given to the Qatar peninsula on the map by geographers between 150 AD until 1738 AD. It is a beautiful area with incredibly sculptured buildings, especially in the evening when each is illuminated, casting shadows highlighting textures and colourful mosaics.
Forth and final stop – The Pearl
The Pearl is a man-made island made to resemble a string of pearls. Today it spans nearly four square kilometres and is the only freehold residential area available to foreign nationals. It has a good selection of restaurants, shops and entertainment. There is a lovely promenade by the marina to walk around and enjoy the city lights.
I was unsure what to expect and whether I was dressed appropriately. With the long flight and still a humid mid-20 degrees in the late evening, I opted for a modest t-shirt and jeans. I needn’t have worried, as the tour bus was full of internationals dressed the same. It was a welcome relief from the alternative of spending a number of hours in the airport terminal building. Great value and a really interesting experience to see and learn something different. The evening tour of Doha is suitable for families, too!
I can highly recommend it! Happy Travels!