With the FIFA World Cup just around the corner and the consequential surge in tourism infrastructure, Qatar is more ready than ever to welcome foreign visitors. Why not plan a visit yourself and explore this underrated, widely misunderstood part of Arabia with a trip or a short stopover in Qatar, with plenty of day trips from Doha to really see what this country is all about.
At just 11,000 square kilometres, Qatar is an ideal country for planning day trips. Pick a hotel in central Doha as your home base and move around from there during your stay.
West Coast of Qatar
Explore Qatar’s artistic and cultural side on this tour from Doha. First off is the Zekreet Fort, with the archeological remains of 18th century settlements in the area. Then is the world-famous East-West/West-East art installation by Richard Serra, which comprises of four massive steel plates, each over 14 metres in height, and spans over 1 kilometre to mark the passage of time and isolation.
Qatar desert safari and camp
What could possibly be more quintessential to a Qatar vacation than a desert safari as one of your day trips from Doha? Hop in an iconic white 4×4 and head to the vast expanse of the Qatari desert. On your way there you’ll also be passing by landmark towns like Mesaieed and famous attractions like Khor Al Adeid, the famous inland sea between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. You’ll also spend some time at a Bedouin-inspired camp where you’ll feast on BBQ!
Scuba diving in Qatar
The country is vastly underestimated when it comes to its scuba diving possibilities. It’s obviously not Australia or the Caribbean; yet, the Persian Gulf, especially along the Qatari coast, offers several attractive options for beginner and intermediate divers, with depth ranging from 6 to 20 metres. Not that some of the reefs are man-made and are specifically designed to protect and enhance local marine life; batfish, sergeant major, Arabian blue angel fish, snappers and even small rays and barracudas can be found here.
Sand boarding and dune bashing in the desert of Qatar
Here, you’ll experience dune bashing. That’s essentially off-road driving, and it’s not for the faint of heart; if you’re anything like me and have transportation sickness, do yourself a favour and grab a few dramamine pills before you leave. Sand boarding is also on the programme, in one of the most untouched, underrated deserts in the Middle East.
Inland Sea of Qatar
Located roughly 100 kilometres west of Doha, the Inland Sea (locally known as Khor al Adaid) is a nature reserve wedged between the Qatari and Saudi coast; in fact, you can clearly see Saudi Arabia across the sea on the photo above. While it used to be disputed territory, especially back in the 1800s when it was used as a harbour by Persian pirates, the Inland Sea is now one of the most popular things to do in Qatar and a major seaside destination. We tend to think of Qatar as a desert country, which for the most part is factually correct, but that would be vastly unfair to the stunning coastline and beaches of Qatar that now make up its largest nature reserve.
Al Zubarah Fortress
Mangroves in Qatar? Yes, please. On this active day trip from Doha, explore the coastal city of Al Thahkira and its natural reserve on a kayak, no less! If you’re lucky, you’ll spot local birds such as egrets and herons. Then, you’ll head on over to the UNESCO-listed Al Zubarah archeological site. The walled fortress flourished as the Persian Gulf’s leading pearling and trading centre in the late 1700s, with trading links across the Indian Ocean, Arabia and Western Asia.