7 Free Things to do in Doha & Qatar

Doha City, and Qatar in general, are full of history and contrast. From the rapidly developing cityscape to ancient artefacts – Qatar has something to offer every visitor. Whether you’re just visiting Doha for a quick stopover, or you’ve planned a longer visit to Qatar, there is plenty to keep you busy. Read on to find the best things to do in Doha, Qatar – and they’re all free!

Best Things to do in Doha

If you’re short on time in Qatar, or you don’t have transport to explore further, there are plenty of free things to do in Doha City to keep you occupied. The city is fairly walkable, but if you get tired, taxis are very cheap too.

Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art - Doha, Qatar

A short 15-minute taxi ride from Hamad International Airport, the Museum of Islamic Art is a must-do activity if you’re only passing through Qatar for the day. Built on its own little island of reclaimed land at the southern end of the Doha Corniche – it’s also just a short walk from the famous Souq Waqif.

Free things to do in Doha, Qatar

I’m certainly no art aficionado, but I still thoroughly enjoyed strolling through this museum and taking in the many collections of ancient Islamic art.

The building that houses the museum was designed by Chinese architect Ieoh Ming Pei – the same man behind the Louvre pyramid in Paris. The architecture of the building is as captivating as the art it houses.

Free things to do in Qatar

English guided tours run every Wednesday and Thursday at 2 pm, and Saturday at 4 pm. Alternatively, you can pick up a free audio guide at reception. The Museum is open every day except Tuesday but has varied opening hours. See the MIA website for further information.

The Doha Corniche

Free things to do in Doha

If you’ve ever googled Doha, at some point you will have stumbled upon a breathtaking photo of the cityscape which was no doubt taken from the Doha Corniche.

Stretching several kilometres in length, the corniche runs in a horseshoe shape from the West Bay business district to the Museum of Islamic Art, and offers unparalleled views of the City.

Views from the Doha corniche

The palm-tree lined promenade makes the perfect place for a walk or a jog when the weather allows. If you’re looking to relax, there are plenty of green spaces to grab a coffee and sit down under the shade of a tree to people-watch.

Tip: Sheraton Park at the West Bay end of the Corniche offers free wifi – look out for the iPark sign to connect.

Souq Waqif

Souq Waqif, Doha

Doha’s oldest souq – Souq Waqif – went through an extensive revamp in the mid-2000’s and is now widely regarded as the cultural heart of Doha. An excellent place to shop for gifts or souvenirs, there are a range of goods on offer – from spices and traditional clothing; to local artwork and antiques.

Unfortunately, the souq isn’t immune to the odd shop selling cheap and cheerful tourist paraphernalia either.

Free things to do in Doha, Qatar

Souq Waqif is open 10am – noon and again from 4 pm – 10 pm, but it’s in the early evening that it really comes to life. Sit down for shisha and refreshingly cool mint soda at one of the lounges lining the alleyways, or sample the middle-eastern fare on offer at a number of restaurants in the souq. 

You can also visit the souq as part of a city tour if you want to make the most out of your time and have help navigating the immense market.

Tip: Skip the animal market within the Souq – if you’re sensitive to animal suffering it will upset you.

Read also: A to Z of things to see and things to do in Doha Qatar of things to do in Qatar.

Best Things to do in Qatar – Outside of the Capital

If you can, I’d recommend getting out of Doha to explore what’s on offer outside of the capital. There are plenty of free attractions you won’t want to miss in Qatar!

Al-Jassasiya Rock Carvings

Free things to do in Qatar

Al-Jassasiya rock carvings are a little-known gem in Qatar. There are no signposts, no directions, and very little to tell you you’ve arrived at the right place once you get there. Despite this, it’s well worth the trip to see approx 900 well-preserved petroglyphs depicting cup-shaped holes, boats with oars, fish, scorpions, donkeys and turtles.

The age and purpose of the glyphs is still in debate, but they give an impressive glimpse into the ancient roots of Qatar.

Free things to do in Qatar

The rock carvings are located about an hour north of Doha. Take the Doha Expressway north and merge onto Al Shamal Rd. Take a right at exit 66 and then take the first paved road on your left.

Drive down this road for approx 3kms until you see a large area with a simple wire fence surrounding it. Leave your car outside and go exploring by foot.

Al-Zubarah Fort & Ruined Village

105km from Doha lies Qatar’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site – Al-Zubarah ruined village and fort. Formerly a pearling and fishing village, Al-Zubarah was abandoned in the early 1900’s and was largely buried by sand until archaeologists began excavating the area in the 1980s.

You can take a self-guided tour around a small area of the site – follow the signposts or ask at the fort for direction.

The more recent Al-Zubarah Fort was constructed in 1938 using traditional Qatari materials – coral stones, limestone and compacted mud. It was once used as a military and police base, but now houses a visitor centre with exhibitions telling the tale of the town’s history and culture.

Although possible to get public transport to Al-Zubarah – buses take approx 2 hours and are few and far between. The fort and village will keep you busy for a couple of hours, but past that there is nothing more to do in the area. Give this one a miss if you haven’t got your own car to explore.

East-West/West-East by Richard Serra

Free things to do in Qatar

“East-West/West-East” by renowned sculpture Richard Serra is an art installation of grand-scale set deep in the Qatari desert. Four towering steel posts span over a kilometre through a corridor framed by limestone cliffs. Each post reaches 14 – 16m above the desert service, but they are all level at the top.

Free things to do in Qatar

This is an art installation that is best admired from all angles. Get up close to appreciate the rusty tones of the oxidising steel and the sheer height and size of the posts. Climb the crumbling cliffs on either side to take in the grand scale and contrast against the dusty desert bed.

Free things to do in Qatar

Located approx 80kms West of Doha in the Brouq Nature Reserve – you’ll need a 4WD to access the East-West/West-East sculptures.

Sand dunes in Qatar

Sand Dunes Qatar

No visit to a desert country would be complete without doing the obligatory sand dune climb. We drove south of Doha to Mesaieed Beach where you can enjoy a not-too-strenuous climb and be rewarded at the top with spectacular views over the endless dunes and waters of the Persian Gulf.

Those looking for a bit more adventure can rent 4×4’s for a fun day of dune bashing or head out on a desert safari.

Tip: Make sure you wear closed shoes to climb the dunes. I learnt the hard way that the dunes get super hot and sandals do nothing to protect feet from the scorching sand!

Doha turned out to be such an incredibly diverse destination to explore. And with so many amazing free things to do in Doha and Qatar, there’s no need to break the bank while you’re visiting! For more info on where to stay and eat while you’re in Doha, make sure to read this post from the Middle East experts – Exploring Kiwis!

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Free things to do in Doha, Qatar.
There are plenty of free things to do in Doha and Qatar. From visiting the souq, to scaling sand dunes, there's something to suit everyone in Doha. Things to do in Doha | Things to do in Qatar | Doha Attractions | Qatar Attractions | Free Doha Attractions | Doha Stopover | What to do in Doha | Doha Holiday #doha #qatar #middleeast
Free things to do in Doha
There are plenty of free things to do in Doha and Qatar. From visiting the souq, to scaling sand dunes, there's something to suit everyone in Doha. Things to do in Doha | Things to do in Qatar | Doha Attractions | Qatar Attractions | Free Doha Attractions | Doha Stopover | What to do in Doha | Doha Holiday #doha #qatar #middleeast

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  1. The Al-Zubarah Fort kind of looks like a giant sandcastle! Crazy to think that at one point it was practically buried in sand!

    And that sunset view from Doha Corniche – woahhhh!

  2. Nice post with a lot of ideas for visiting Doha! I loved the pictures and the light in there, particularly those from the Fort! Thanks for sharing!! E

  3. Imma go ahead and admit that despite living in the Middle East, Doha has not been high on my list of places to visit, mostly because it seems so expensive. This is a great list of interesting sights to make the trip less dauntingly expensive. Great post, and thank you!

  4. We tried to move to the area last year so I was familiar with some of those places but not all. That souq! I could spend hours and hours there. What were the prices like?

  5. Awesome post! Living in Dubai, Doha is definitely on my travel list for the immediate future, I’ve heard so many lovely things about it i can’t wait to finally visit!

  6. Beautiful! I really love looking at Islamic art so glad to hear that it’s something I can do in Doha for free… I’ve heard it’s quite an expensive town so I’m stoked there’s a bunch of free things to keep myself busy if I’m ever in the region 🙂

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