Doha, Qatar. It’s home to Hamad International Airport, the megahub of Oneworld’s Qatar Airways. If you’re flying with Qatar Airways to pretty much anywhere, you’ll be passing through this airport.
Hamad International Airport is a world-class airport – clean, modern and connecting through there is relatively easy. But if you find yourself with a Doha stopover of more than just a few hours, you may wish to leave the airport and explore some of the sights and culture of Qatar.
Whether you’re just in transit or staying for a few nights, this AFF guide will help you to make the most of your Doha stopover!
How to get from Doha Airport to the city
The fastest way to get from Doha Airport to the city is by Karwa taxi or limousine. Uber also operates in Qatar and may be slightly cheaper.
Alternatively, public buses are available from Hamad International Airport. You’ll need a Karwa Smartcard to use public transport in Qatar, which you can purchase the Mowasalat Information Desk at the airport. The Smartcard 24 Unlimited costs QAR20 (around $8) and comes with unlimited trips within Qatar for 24 hours.
A metro system in Doha is still under construction. This will hopefully be completed in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar!
What to do during a Doha stopover
Doha doesn’t have quite as much to see and do for tourists as, say, Dubai or Abu Dhabi. But if you have some time in Doha to spare, check out the Museum of Islamic Art, Souq Waqif, the Falcon Souq and The Pearl.
Be aware that many attractions are closed on Friday mornings. It can also get very hot outside, especially in summer months (June to August). Luckily, pretty much all buildings and vehicles are air-conditioned.
If you wish to get around between attractions at your own pace, there is an air-conditioned city sightseeing bus in Doha, but tickets are quite expensive. If you’re in transit between flights, it may be worth taking a transit tour instead…
Discover Qatar Transit Tours
If you have a transit in Doha of at least 6 hours, why not take the opportunity to join a Discover Qatar Transit Tour? The Doha City tour runs six times per day, with departures between 8am and 9pm. The tour lasts around 3 hours and costs QAR40 (around $15). Alternatively, for something unique, head out to the desert on a Monster Bus Desert Experience tour. This departs daily at 9am and 2pm, and takes around 4 hours. You can book either tour online in advance, or at the Discover Qatar Tours desk at Hamad International Airport up to 90 minutes before departure. See the Qatar Airways website for more information.
Qatar Airways STPC (Stopover Paid by Carrier)
If you’re stuck with a long layover in Qatar due to misaligned flight schedules, you may be entitled to free hotel accommodation. Qatar Airways offers an STPC service for passengers with a layover between 8-24 hours, where no shorter connection times are available.
You can pre-book transit accommodation via your travel agent or Qatar Airways office up to 72 hours in advance. For last-minute bookings, you may be able to arrange complimentary transit accommodation at the Qatar Airways transfer desk on arrival in Doha. This service is not available for travel to/from Kuwait or Muscat.
The Best Doha Airport lounges
As the home of Qatar Airways, Hamad International Airport is home to the airline’s best lounges.
When it’s time to depart, you’re in for a real treat if flying Business or First Class on Qatar Airways or another Oneworld airline (British Airways, Royal Jordanian or Sri Lankan Airlines). Qatar Airways’ impressive Al Safwa Lounge is available to First Class passengers, while the excellent Al Mourjan Lounge is for Business passengers. These lounges are superior to the Qatar Airways Business and First Class lounges, which are the only lounges available to frequent flyers with Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status, respectively, when travelling in Economy class.
If you’re travelling at a peak time (late at night or early in the morning) and planning to shower in the lounge, RooFlyer recommends getting in early.
The QR business lounge is very large and pretty nice. If you want a shower, go straight there (opposite the entrance, you have to navigate across the ‘island’ of seating) and book, as waits can be lengthy if the lounge is busy.
Two eating options – the better is upstairs. Much reduced service and no alcohol served during Ramadan.
Do you have a great Doha stopover tip to share? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Doha (DOH) Stopover Tips