From Qatar’s rich history to its breathtaking landscapes, unique shopping experiences and sporting opportunities, here are the best things to see and do in Doha and the surrounding area during your visit to the Qatar Grand Prix.
- The 2024 Qatar Grand Prix is scheduled on November 29 to December 1
- This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links
- Tickets for the 2024 Qatar Grand Prix are now on sale
A trip to the Qatar Grand Prix is a great opportunity to see what the city of Doha has to offer. With a population of around a million inhabitants, Doha is Qatar’s largest and most populous city. 80% of the country’s population lives in the city.
Tourism in Doha and the wider region within Qatar has been on the rise in recent years, mostly thanks to the arrival of the FIFA World Cup to the city in late 2022. 1.4 million tourists visited Qatar over the period of the World Cup. Efforts to sustain higher levels of tourists in the country have continued since then, with the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix being a key part of the strategy.
Qatar is a budget-friendly location, with lots of options on what to see and do to suit all ages and interests. Below, we’ve listed some ideas of where to check out during your trip to the historic city of Doha for the Qatar Grand Prix.
Delve into Doha’s History
Having been founded in the 1820s and made capital of Qatar in 1971, it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of history to uncover in and around Doha. The area’s history is celebrated in the National Museum of Qatar, which tells the immersive story of the country and its people. The restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (1880-1957), who was the son of the founder of modern Qatar, is the centrepiece of the museum.
The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, a 30 minute drive from the centre of Doha, covers various important moments in local history. Perhaps most interesting for Formula 1 fans is a collection of over 300 vintage automobiles. The Msheireb Museums are also highly recommended. Set out across four houses, it tells the story of Doha and traces the city’s roots from being a small fishing village to the capital of Qatar.
Located in the MIA Park on Doha’s waterfront, the striking Museum of Islamic Art stands out as impressive piece of architecture. Inside, you’ll find Islamic art pieces dating as far back as the 7th century. Entry to the museum is free. Interested in more contemporary art? There’s an impressive collection at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, another free museum within Doha which is an essential visit for those with a keen eye for the arts. Radwani House and the Katara Cultural Village should also be on your to do list.
There’s more history north of the capital, like the Al Jassasiya Rock Carvings (around 60km north of the capital) located in a former limestone quarry, or the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al Zubarah, located a scenic 100km drive north of Doha. The abandoned village of Al Jumail – where you’ll learn more about the area’s history at the time of the early pearl trade – is just next to the archaeological site, the latter being home to an impressive fort which was rebuilt in the 19th century.
Meanwhile, the mysterious Film City is 100km north west of Doha. Believed to have been built as a replica village for use in movies, Film City offers an insight into the way life used to lived in the Gulf region.
Shopping in the Qatari Capital
Doha has a wealth of options when it comes to shopping, from luxury brands, large malls and more traditional Qatari shopping experiences. Souq Waqif is a great example of the latter. In this colourful re-creation of the original souq – which dates back to the 19th century – you’ll find all sorts of unique souvenirs of your time in Qatar, from garments, artwork and other handcrafted items, to local delicacies and spices. Head here in the early evening to combine a shopping trip with a culinary experience in one of the souq’s highly-rated restaurants. There’s also a 1,000-seat theatre on site.
Around 20km to the south of Souq Waqif is the Al Wakrah Souq, a similarly atmospheric shopping experience to check out, complete with traditional Arabic architecture.
Make sure there’s free space in your suitcase to add new items to your wardrobe! The largest mall in the capital is Doha Festival City, combining fashion, food and entertainment. It was the first place in which numerous brands – like IKEA, Harvey Nichols and Charlotte Tilbury – appeared in Qatar. In downtown Doha, beautiful gold jewellery can be found at Gold Souq Qatar at affordable prices, and there are more bargains on offer at City Centre Mall. It’s one of Doha’s most popular malls, with almost 400 outlet stores.
For a more high-end option, head to the man-made Pearl Island. There’s a range of luxury shops here – including designer label fashion brands, top class jewellers and fine eateries. There’s also a Ferrari dealership nearby!
An altogether different experience is at the Villaggio Mall, which brings a slice of Venice to Doha. Aside from more opportunities to shop, you can take a gondola ride on the canal inside the mall through the mock-Italian architecture or take part in a host of family-friendly activities from ice skating to go-karting!
With the Qatar Grand Prix taking place in the evening, a trip to the race means that you’ll have time to check out the best of Doha’s vibrant nightlife after the racing action concludes. The aforementioned Souq Waqif comes alive after dark and is the perfect place to cool off and check out street performances.
There are plenty of rooftop terraces across the city where you can soak up the skyline views and enjoy a cocktail. You could also embark on a river cruise with onboard dining options or head to Doha Corniche to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the fringes of the Persian Gulf. The manmade Pearl Qatar island is a good place to head for upmarket meals.
Don’t forget, public drinking is banned in Qatar. You must be in a licensed restaurant, bar or hotel to consume alcohol. Not obeying the rules can result in hefty fines, or even a prison sentence.
Qatar’s Natural Beauty
Away from the hustle and bustle of busy Doha, Qatar is an area of much natural beauty and it’s worth taking some time to soak up the area during your visit. Whether it be the stunning golden desert landscapes or the pristine coastline views, there are lots of ways to enjoy nature during your time in Qatar.
The ‘Inland Sea’ – or Khor Al Adaid – is one such breathtaking landscape, with unique geological features where the desert meets the ocean. The area is largely uninhabited – aside from the rare species which call the Inland Sea their home. At 15km from north to south and 12km from each to west, there’s lots to explore in this natural reserve.
Watersports are big in Qatar. Aside from swimming and surfing at most beaches, you can go kitesurfing at Sealine Beach, try your hand at parasailing at Katara Beach or jetski at the Doha Corniche. Kayaking is the pastime of choice at the serene Al Thakhira natural reserve, which itself is a hotspot for wildlife (particularly migratory birds in the winter months). Talking of wildlife, get to Fuwairit Beach to see the local turtles!
If getting on the water isn’t your thing, all of the beaches mentioned above are also welcoming for those wanting to sunbathe and have a more relaxed beachside experience. For an all-inclusive experience, head to Banana Island – 20 minutes from Doha – where the whole family can enjoy a luxurious beach visit. Water slides, paddleboats, sunbathing and delicious food are on offer on this private island. The artificial island is part of a hotel chain, but you can buy a day pass if you’re not a guest.
Explore Qatar’s Desert
Talking of natural beauty, there are lots of unforgettable experiences on offer in the sandy deserts of Qatar. In 2023, the Qatar Grand Prix takes place in early October, when temperatures begin to cool off after the country’s long summer. It’s an appealing time of year to explore the desert area.
You can take a modern approach to exploring the desert in four wheel drive cars, or experience the area in the traditional way – on camel back. Safari experiences are popular in the area, as are dune bashing and sand-boarding adventures in desert buggies.
How about a night under the stars in the desert? There are a number of experiences available to explore the sand dunes at night. Some popular offerings include packages with all of the experiences mentioned above. You’ll need to leave a full day clear to get the most out of a trip to the desert!
Check Out Lusail’s City Sights
Lusail is located 25km north of Doha. Development is ongoing in this emerging city, which is the second largest city in Qatar. Grand plans for the city mean that in years to come 450,000 people will be accommodated here, with the city featuring expansive shopping districts, entertainment areas and more.
Lusail is where you’ll find the Lusail City Stadium, which hosted games in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including the final. Lusail Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix is located just 10km from the centre of Lusail.
Check out Lusail’s impressive architecture during your trip to the Qatar Grand Prix. Construction work continues on vast skyscrapers, like the Katara Towers. Place Vendome is worth checking out for its high-class shopping options.