Doha in 3 Days: Top Desert Adventure and Urban Experiences

Back in December last year, we originally planned to visit Qatar but ended up in the UAE instead. On the way back to Frankfurt, we flew with Qatar Airways and had a very good experience in their business class Q-Suite. Still thinking of visiting Qatar, we decided to fly with Qatar Airways again the following spring and managed to visit the Doha in 3 days.

We took a late afternoon flight from Frankfurt to Doha International Airport and arrived at midnight. An official taxi from the airport took us to the Marriott Hotel in West Bay in just a few minutes, costing around 80 QAR. After checking in, we caught up on a few hours of sleep and then enjoyed a wonderful international breakfast buffet.

Mina District in Doha
Mina District in Doha

Doha in 3 Days Itinerary

During our stay, the local temperature soared to 45 degrees. That largely limited our mobility. Therefore, we did not plan many activities for Doha in 3 days itinerary and made our decisions spontaneously.

Here are the activities we enjoyed in Doha in 3 days:

  • First Day: National Museum of Qatar, Museum of Islamic Art, Mina District, and Souq Waqif
  • Third Day: Katara Cultural Village and Mirqab Mall
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First Day: National Museum of Qatar, Museum of Islamic Art, Mina District, Souq Waqif

National Museum

We bought a daily metro ticket and took the metro to the Qatar National Museum, also known as the Desert Rose. This museum’s architecture is inspired by the desert rose and offers an immersive experience of Qatar’s history and heritage. The complex is enormous, and I had difficulty capturing a picture of the entire structure.

We admired the architecture in the scorching sunshine before hurrying to visit the gift shop, which also has a modern style. On the top floor, there is a restaurant called Jiwan, which offers local cuisine. We had lunch there and enjoyed a rooftop view of Doha city.

The Desert Rose - National Museum of Qatar; Doha in 3 days
Gift shop in National Museum of Qatar; Doha in 3 days
Museum of Islamic Art

We took the metro a few stops and exited towards the bus station. However, the original bus station had been demolished. While Google Maps instructed us to take the bus with its updated schedule, we had to ask locals for help. Unfortunately, none of them knew where the bus was. We decided to walk to the next stop and waited there for about ten minutes. In the distance, we could already see the Museum of Islamic Art, but it was too hot to walk any further.

Finally, a merciful taxi driver noticed us and stopped to pick us up. He informed us that the bus only ran in the morning. Demotivated by the hot weather, we asked him to drive us to the Mina District to catch the sunset.

Museum of Islamic Art; Doha in 3 days
Souq Waqif in Doha old town; Doha in 3 days
Mina district

The area is famous for its colourful buildings. It was constructed for the World Cup and is mainly used for commercial purposes. Along the waterfront opposite the cruise terminal, there are numerous cafes and restaurants, some of which look quite fancy. We ordered drinks at one of the bars and waited for the sunset while relaxing and cooling off.

At sunset, we strolled along the waterfront in the cooler air—still above 35 degrees Celsius but no longer scorching, making the heat more tolerable—and took some pictures of Doha’s high-rises in the twilight.

Water front outside the Mina district in Doha; Doha in 3 days
Water front outside the Mina district in Doha
Souq Waqif

The traditional market next to the Abdullah Bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center is renowned for its well-preserved traditional Qatari architectural style, with all facilities modernised without losing their historical essence. It features mud-rendered buildings, wooden beams, and beautifully crafted archways. The shops sold spices, textiles, and handicrafts. It was very busy in the evening as locals came out to shop when the temperature dropped. Most shops were equipped with air conditioning.

We planned to have dinner at Danat Al Bahar BBQ Fish restaurant, only to find out that there was a long queue for getting a seat. Instead, we dined at the Damasca One Restaurant, which was frequented not only by locals but also by tourists. The food was delicious, and the portions were more than I could eat.

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Second Day: Qanat quartier, Sunset desert tour

Qanat quartier

Qanat Quartier is a picturesque district within the Pearl-Qatar, an artificial island featuring luxury shops, restaurants, and homes. Often called “Little Venice” due to its canals and colourful buildings reminiscent of the Italian city, it offers pedestrian-friendly alleyways. Due to the heat, there were no tourists in sight, but evenings are likely busier.

Primarily residential, Qanat Quartier offers a luxurious lifestyle with townhouses featuring canal views and private boat moorings. Cafes and restaurants along the canals serve diverse cuisines with outdoor seating. At midday, in the sweltering heat, we sought refuge in the Artist Café, a cosy spot with canal views and artistic decor.

The café is a local artistic hub where we saw young women painting and sharing ideas. We ordered drinks and tried the reasonably priced lunch set menu with art-inspired dishes, cooling off before our sunset tour.

Katara Cultural Village in Doha
Katara Cultural Village in Doha, the little Venice in Qatar
Sunset Desert Safari Tour in Qatar

Our adventure started when our skilled driver took us on an exciting ride over the sand dunes. It felt like being on a rollercoaster as our 4×4 effortlessly climbed and descended the huge dunes.

After some exhilarating dune bashing, we stopped at the seaside where the towering sand dunes met the azure waters. The seabed was very flat, extending several hundred metres from the coast, allowing bathers to stand comfortably. The beauty of the desert meeting the sea was breathtaking, and my camera struggled to capture the splendour before me.

Later, our driver took us to a serene spot where we could enjoy a picturesque sunset, watching the sun dip below the horizon. It was the second time I had experienced such a stunning desert sunset; the last time was in the UAE a few months ago.

Sunset desert tour in Doha
Sunset desert tour in Doha; Doha in 3 days
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Third Day: Katara Cultural Village, Mirqab Mall

Katara Cultural Village

We exited the metro and entered Katara Cultural Village via Galeries Lafayette – the iconic French department store on 21 High Street. Stepping out of the store, we immediately felt a cool breeze under our feet. Upon closer inspection, we realised it was the underground air conditioning system blowing cold air onto the street. Despite the 42-degree temperature, there were hardly any pedestrians out in the middle of the day. With its powerful outdoor cooling system and Murano glass decorations, Katara High Street (21 High Street) offers year-round comfort, a true luxury.

Katara Cultural Village is a vibrant hub of art, culture, and history. We explored several impressive galleries and museums, with the most attractive being the photo studio displaying works from local and international artists.

As we strolled around, we admired the Katara Amphitheatre, an architectural marvel inspired by classical Greek theatres, and the Katara Mosque, adorned with stunning turquoise and purple mosaic work. I planned to visit the mosque but was informed that entry for women was through a side door, with a proper dress code required.

Katara Amphitheatre in Katara Cultural Village; Doha in 3 Days
Katara Cultural Village; Doha in 3 Days
Mirqab Mall

Mirqab Mall is a premier shopping and entertainment destination offering luxury, convenience, and cultural experiences. Its sleek and stylish architecture boasts high ceilings, with one reminiscent of the iron dome at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, spacious walkways, and a welcoming atmosphere. From high-end luxury brands to popular high-street retailers, the mall caters to everyone.

Our visit was initially to see the illuminated building. However, upon approaching the shopping centre, the security guard informed us that photography with a camera was prohibited without permission from the management office, though using a mobile phone was allowed. We headed to the second floor balcony, which offered the best vantage point for capturing the building and the fountain show.

Another goal was to find a place for a relaxed dinner. While the mall boasts diverse dining options, some restaurants appeared empty. Fortunately, we found Paul Bakery, a French restaurant bustling with locals and offering attractive dishes.

Mirqab Mall in Doha
Mirqab Mall in Doha
Mirqab Mall in Doha

Daha in 3 days travel tips

  1. Taxis in Doha are inexpensive. We downloaded the Karwa app and used it to book taxis conveniently.
  2. The metro system connects major attractions and shopping malls, with affordable fares for each ride.
  3. Occasionally, golf carts were available to transport passengers from the metro stations to tourist sites. These rides were complimentary, but it was customary to give a small tip to the drivers.
  4. While the metro service was highly reliable, local buses did not adhere strictly to their schedules as indicated on Google Maps.
  5. To explore Doha in 3 days is quite ambitious. If possible, we would extend our holiday for another day or two to enjoy some time at the beach.
  6. It is possible to do more things in Doha in 3 days if the trip is during the winter season, as the temperature would be bearable.

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