For those of you that hate planning but enjoy a well-planned trip, this is for you! To start, here is the EXACT plan that I used for my own family when they came to visit me in Qatar. Qatar is found on the Persian Gulf shoreline along with the United Arab Emirates that attract thousands of tourist every year to their well-known cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Here is my day by day breakdown for each day of our Qatar trip:
Usually, on the very first day of the trip, you want to plan something light and relaxed so that everyone has a chance to recover from the flight. It is a great morning to stay in for breakfast to have that time to be together and catch up.
Next, you want to give them a chance to briefly see the city and feel what Qatar is like, especially the iconic West Bay skyline. Talking a walk down the Corniche is a beautiful way to do all of this. Once everyone is tired of walking, one of my favourite nearby restaurants, Eatopia, is an excellent place for lunch.
Finally, to give the guests an absolute blast of Qatar, going to the old school Souq Waqif (Souq post) is in complete contrast with the city and provides an excellent perspective of Doha as a whole. Not to mention, it is covered up with fantastic restaurants and sheesha galore– if they are into that!
We planned the Camel Races for this day because my family had mentioned a strong interest in the event. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t find a schedule for the actual races. Still, we lucked out learning that almost every single morning (during the cool months), the race camels train at 9:30 am, and the track is entirely open to visitors.
Next, we headed to The Pearl area for lunch to spend some time relaxing in the sun and enjoying the beautiful artificial island. Not to mention that the restaurant Nando’s at the Pearl is the bomb.
For the evening, we had planned to go to the Islamic Museum of Art. Still, because of unexpected events arising, I (shame on me!) had to bail out for an hour and let the boys fend for themselves. They opted for the Villagio Mall, which I think was a great choice, and they just grabbed some dinner there. We decided to pick back up the Museum later in the week. This is an excellent example of why I LOVE to have a full-fledged plan! It is easy to shift around and quickly find what other activities can fill gaps when things change.
The guests have been in town for a while at this point, they have seen a bit of the city, and now it is time to have some fun! Oooof course, it completed flooded that day for us, and dune bashing was no longer an option. (Again, no panic, we quickly adjusted the plan!) We decided to go to the Islamic Museum of Art instead. It was so fun and perfect for a rainy day! We also went to MRA (one of our favourite Indian food restaurants) for lunch and made up for the night before that we had missed.
Then, we picked right back up with the planned schedule and went to the Four Seasons for a classic razor shave…..but of course, it had rained that day, and the whole city shut down. Even our Nobu reservation was affected by the rain because we had planned to be on the upper terrace; seriously, the city shuts down in the rain. Nobu is a great new restaurant to take guests to because it is just too cool. It has this new-age urban vibe with a perfect view of the city. It is a bit pricey, but they just introduced a new Happy Hour menu that we had a blast trying out.
Our situation was unique because it just so happened to be Thanksgiving Day, but we can skip forward a day and base this on a five-day trip vs our six days. Suppose you do have a 6-day trip. In that case, this is a great recovery day for sleeping in, making it easy and then hitting any key favourites that may not have been included in my guide to Qatar.
But okay, DAY FOUR, take another easy morning, letting everyone recover from the week so far. For us, we like to take this day (every Friday) to gather in fellowship and grow together in our walk with our saviour. Again, to each their own.
Next, do yourself a favour and head over to MegaMart, where outside, you will find some of the MOST DELICIOUS shawarmas in Doha!
Finally, finish this relaxed day with a sunset cruise on the Persian Gulf. I know it sounds like a short little day (and it is), but the sun sets around 5 pm here, so for a good ride, you’ll want to grab food and drinks for the boat at about 3:00, meet at the boat at 3:30 and then be on the water by 4ish to watch.
I suggest taking at least a three-hour cruise; that way, you get some sunlight, a full sunset and then watch the city light up. It also allows time for eating, chatting and even dancing. Don’t forget to bring your iPod loaded with tunes because many Dhow boats come complete with a sound system. Also, don’t worry about reserving your boat because any day of the week, the Corniche is lined with dozens of Dhows for you to choose from and try out your negotiation skills.
Boo! We are already on our last day with friends and family! This is the day to see anything you may have missed during the beginning of the week; for us, it was our Dune Bashing day or to revisit any favourite spots. Going back to a favourite may sound like a waste, but it usually seems quite the opposite. It allows your guests to see the site with familiarised eyes and lets them solidify the memory. It is also fun to feel like they know the place and enjoy it less as a tourist and more as a local.
I listed Katara Cultural Village, but we decided to return to the Souq instead. The first time, we had the best time, and it was an easy choice to return to, not to mention that it was a great place to grab some last-minute souvenirs. We also added in the Abdul Wahhab Mosque (Grand Mosque) (which is gorgeous, by the way, and was worth visiting) because it sparked my families interest. You may note that the mosque is open to all guests (outside of prayer hours) and that men and women will be asked to enter through different areas. Covering garments (burkas) are provided for women upon request. Just be sure to be respectful during these visits and show appreciation to the security and reception inside.
Qatar truly is a beautiful travel destination. Again, I am reminded that it is an absolute privilege to live and work here. So, if you have the chance, do stop by, Qatar has got something for everyone!
- Whatever you do, DO NOT attempt visiting during the summer months (April-September); YOU WILL HATE YOUR LIFE. This is a DESERT, after all.
- Be sure to fly Emirates. Seriously. Don’t question, do it.
- Most importantly, do not come to sit and simply be entertained; come as a true traveller to experience this great country!