Stopover Guide:How to Spend 24 Hours in Doha

Over 37 million travellers pass through Doha’s Hamad International Airport each year. But how many of these travellers are taking the time to discover Doha en route to their final destination? Travelista’s Editor Jessica Ruth Gibson shows you how to do it, in style.

Last updated April 2024.

I recently got to experience 24 hours in Doha en route from Chiang Mai to Birmingham with Qatar Airways. It felt like a bit of a whirlwind, but we squeezed in all the top sights of Doha and it made me realise how much there is to see there. If you fancy adding a slice of Middle Eastern culture to your next adventure, here’s how to spend 24 hours in Doha, and how to do a layover there from just $14 per night.

Stopover in Doha with Qatar Airways

If you’re travelling to a destination beyond Doha, why not turn one holiday in to two with a layover in Qatar? Qatar Airways offer exclusive stopover packages which include incredible rates on Qatar hotels, ranging from budget to luxury (you can spend 1 night in a 4 star Doha hotel from $14 dollars and a 5 star Doha hotel from $77 dollars). Check out the Qatar Airways stopover packages to find out more.


4 Things to Do in Doha for a day 

1. Visit The Museum of Islamic Art

Amongst all the glitzy skyscrapers, the most iconic building in Doha has to be the Museum of Islamic Art. Located in a prime location on the Corniche and surrounded by Doha Bay, the museum stands tall on its own island, away from all the high-rise buildings. The building is a work of art in itself, but it also houses 3 floors of historical Islamic Art. There’s also a modern café to rest tired feet, but a short, intense visit here should do the trick. This is one of the great free things to do on a day in Doha.

How Long to Spend: 1-2 Hours
Top Tip: A modest dress code is very important here. Be sure to have your legs, chest and shoulders covered.

2. Explore Katara Cultural Village

Doha’s purpose-built cultural village is a fascinating place to explore when on a layover. There’s a heritage centre, opera house, libraries, amphitheatre, art galleries as well as café, restaurants and green areas. The most impressive part has to be the white stone amphitheatre which has a classical Greek design with Islamic features. Overlooking the glittering ocean and skyline, it’s beautiful to visit at any time of day. Close by there is also a public beach with water sports. Access to Katara Cultural Village is also free.

How Long to Spend: 1 hour or longer if you want to stop for lunch or dinner


3. Enjoy a Traditional Qatari (Dhow) Boat Ride

The Corniche is a 7km waterfront promenade that stretches around Doha Bay. Moored up along the Corniche is a scattering of traditional wooden long boats known as Qatari Dhow boats. Many of them operate boat trips for tourists and stand out with their colourful lights. These boats are very close to the Museum of Islamic Art, so it would be a good idea to do both attractions one after the other.
How Long to Spend: Boat trip durations can vary. Book in advance or just enquire on the day.


4. Haggle for Souvenirs at Souk Waqif

Get lost in the labyrinth of the Souk Waqif and hunt out some treasures to take home with you. The narrow alleys of the Souk are filled with market stalls and tiny shops selling everything from spices and ceramics to fabrics and fragrances. There are lots of casual cafe cafes with outdoor seating that serve drinks, food and shisha (it would be a fun and reasonably priced place to eat on a stopover in Doha). I really enjoyed my experience at the Souk Waqif apart from walking through the pet shop area, which I found really upsetting as it has puppies and kittens in cramped cages.
How Long to Spend: 1-3 hours. The best time to visit is in the evening, when the Souk is at its most atmospheric.

Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to try and barter the shopkeeper for a better price and remember to dress modestly.


Where to Stay on a Layover in Doha

JW Marriott Marquis – City Centre Doha

I spent one night in the luxurious Shangri-La Doha, which is located in Doha’s West Bay, otherwise known as the financial district. This was the third Shangri-La I have stayed at (the others being Boracay and Chiang Mai) and I love how each individual hotel design is influenced by its location. The skyscraper hotel feels incredibly luxurious and contemporary with Middle-Eastern influencers and patterns. The food was exceptional, as was the service. There’s also a fabulous pool area which sadly I didn’t have time to visit. 

Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel by Tivoli

If you prefer your hotels smaller and more boutique in style, this is a perfect option. I got the chance to have dinner and a show round of this hotel whilst in Doha and if I were to return to Doha this is definitely where I would stay. The interiors are beautiful and the location is right in the heart of the Souk Waqif, so it has an authentic Middle-Eastern feel as opposed to the high-rise buildings of West Bay. 

Browse rates for all hotels in Doha


I loved getting the chance to spend 24 hours in Qatar and whilst I only scratched the surface of this intriguing Middle-Eastern City, it was definitely enough time to get a feel for the place. It isn’t somewhere I would want to spend a full week, but if you’re ever passing through I would definitely recommend a culture-filled stop over in Doha.



What did you think of this 24 hours in Doha Guide? Have you ever passed through Doha or are you planning to visit? We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Travelista x

Browse all flights to Doha.

Want to read more about my Eastern adventure? Read Retracing My Steps in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Thanks to Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar International Adventures for organising the itinerary whilst in Doha.

This 24 hours in Doha was part of a press tip from Birmingham to Chiang Mai with Birmingham Airport and Qatar Airways. All views, words and images are our own. 


Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.


  • What a beautiful, paradise: tucked away and unknow for many.
    Truly, much praise to those for making this happen.

  • Zia ur rahman

    I have a layover in Doha qatar 14 hours. What would you suggest me?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Great dress! 🙂

  • Girl this guide is AMAZING – I’ve never explored any of the middle east (again, only ever stopped over in Dubai or Abu Dhabi) but am definitely intrigued by it! This guide is wonderful and definitely would make me consider travelling to Doha! (the market looks incredible, I love bringing souvenirs back for my home!).

    Hayley xo

    • Oh love thank you so much! I think you’d absolutely love the Middle East, it’s so fabulous in many ways as long as you are respectful of the local culture. xx

  • I love this – I always want my flight to get cancelled for 24 hours when I go through here and Dubai. Although 24 hours isn’t long it’s enough for those places you might not necessarily have gone to on their own, looks like you had a great time,

    • Hey Jet, thanks for your comment! If a flight gets cancelled in Doha it would a nice bonus as you’d have a chance to go and explore. I agree 24 hours isn’t long enough to do the city justice but thats usually how long most people spend here if they’re on a layover 🙂

  • Lots of great tips Jess. I would love to wander around the souks, although I definitely wouldn’t want to see those animals caged so I would need to avoid that part! x

    Jenny | Luxestyle

    • Thanks Jenny! The souk was definitely the most exciting part. I love looking at all the weird and wonderful trinkets in the stalls. There wasn’t much hassle either. The caged animals were so sad though. It reminded me how far ahead the UK is compared to other parts of the world in terms of animal welfare. x

  • This sounds like the perfect way to have a quick 24hr stop over. Love this post, Jess!

    • Thanks Aftab! It was a great place to explore during a layover. A nice middle eastern experience and handy for breaking up the journey x

  • I would definetly have a stay over in Doha. You managed to see so much in a short space of time too!

    • Thanks Mrs B! We did cram in a lot in the short time we were there. I would advise picking a couple of the things in my guide and going at a more leisurely pace x

Leave a comment

Travelista is an online publication and community for the adventurous modern woman covering travel, style, family, home, career and wellbeing.