Explore Qatar

Qatar – Family holiday guide

It’s also one of the smallest in the Middle East and, apart from a land border with Saudi Arabia in the north, almost entirely surrounded by the Persian Gulf. The sun never stops shining, temperatures seldom drop below 25˚ year round and flights from the UK take under seven hours.

 


Why go on holiday to Qatar

  • UNESCO World Heritage

    Al Zubarah Fort in north west Qatar and the ‘Inland Sea’ to the south are both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

  • Religion

    Qatar is predominantly Islamic: a modest dress code applies to both men and women; alcohol is served by special licence in most international hotels.

  • Direct flights

    Direct flights to Qatar from the UK, year round, take just under seven hours. Qatar’s weather is dry, sunny and warm, with average temperatures of 25˚ all year round.

  • Warm weather

    Qatar’s weather is dry, sunny and warm, with average temperatures of 25˚ all year round.

  • Driving across the country

    It takes under three hours to drive across Qatar and the country only shares one land border: with Saudi Arabia to the north.

  • Beautiful coastline

    Qatari’s Persian Gulf coastline is 560km long. In and around Doha, public beaches are well maintained and several resort hotels have private beaches.

  • Richness

    Relative to its size and population, Qatar’s one of the richest countries in the world. Doha registered 23,000 hotel rooms in 2016, an increase of 30% on 2015 numbers.



Where to go

Qatar is small and almost all major historic and cultural attractions are accessible, independently or on organised tours, so most family holidays here can be easily based in the capital, Doha.

Doha

First sight of Doha’s remarkable contemporary skyline makes it easy to see why it’s one of the ‘New Seven Wonders Cities’ along with the likes of Durban and Kuala Lumpur.

  • Seven kilometre long Doha Corniche is the city’s massive Persian Gulf promenade. Fully pedestrianised, it’s now the focus for most of the city’s construction and development.
  • Historic Doha can still be found in the city’s traditional souks, restaurants, stables and ancient wooden dhow sailing off West Bay.
  • Don’t miss: the Museum of Islamic Art; Aquapark; Villaggio Mall; West Bay; Doha Corniche; the Pearl Qatar.

The Pearl-Qatar

Doha’s newest luxury hotels, restaurants, shops, cafés, villas and apartments can now be found on this man-made island floating off West Bay in the Persian Gulf. Known locally as the ‘Arabian Riviera’, it’s also home to several of the city’s most extravagant car showrooms and an enormous yacht marina.


What to do

  • Khor Al Adaid the ‘Inland Sea’, south east Qatar

Qatar has several lovely family beaches but Khor Al Adaid is the only one where sea is surrounded by desert. A UNESCO World Heritage site and only accessible across dunes by jeep or guided tour.

  • Al Zubarah Fort, north west Qatar

Another UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the finest examples of an 18th century settlement in the Middle East. This 60 ha complex was once the hub of pearl diving on the Gulf. Al Zubarah Fort itself has an excellent visitor centre.

  • Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Doha Corniche

As famous for its stunning architecture and gorgeous waterfront setting as for the important collection of Islamic art, this is the Doha must-see museum.

  • Overnight Desert Safari, Khor Al Adaid

A night under the desert skies in a traditional Bedouin camp is a peaceful end to a day driving across desert dunes and swimming in the Inland Sea.

  • Kayaking Al Thakira, Al Khor

Al Thakira’s mangrove swamp is the largest in Qatar and home to hundreds of birds including flamingos and herons. The best by far way to explore is on a guided kayaking expedition.

  • Aquapark, Doha

Qatar’s first ever waterpark’s pristine, beautifully designed, packed with aquatic extremes and has a dedicated zone for younger kids.

  • Sheik Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, Al Samriya

The private collection of Sheik Faisal contains over 15,000 exhibits housed in the magnificent former royal palace. The vintage cars alone are worth a visit.

  • Dhow Cruises, Doha

For over 1000 years Dhows have sailed the waters round Qatar and been at the heart of everything from pearl diving to fishing and exploration. A day or half day cruise on one of these wonderfully restored boats is a magical experience with kids.

  • Camel Racing, Al Shahaniya Racetrack

Known as the sport of the sheiks, Camel Racing’s a huge passion in Qatar. The season kicks off in October and Al Shahaniya Racetrack in Doha’s where to be at the weekends – at least once.

  • Zekreet Beach, west Qatar

The country’s liveliest and most popular family beach is on the west coast and best for water sports, fun barbecues and camping.



Educational value for kids

  • Qatar in One Day is organised through Qatar Tourism Authority to allow visitors to see most of the country’s main sites in about eight hours. A bit whistle-stop with younger kids but fun for teenagers. Most resort hotels can arrange the tour for you and transport is by car or – oddly enough – double decker bus.
  • The Al Jassasiya petroglyphs were first excavated in 1957 and careful work over several decades uncovered a remarkable collection of over 800 carved figures and symbols. The sites in north west Qatar and can be seen on several tours –choose one which includes the prehistoric sites on Bahrain’s Al Hawar Island too.
  • The enormous Dhal Al Misfir is right in the heart of Qatar and the country’s largest cave. Estimates reckon it’s 40m deep but what’s truly remarkable is the phosphorescent glow which emanates from the depths. If you visit at the right time, you might glimpse the tiny Athene Noctua owls who make Dhal Al Misfir their home.
  • Qatar’s National Sports Weekend in February is a countrywide festival of events ranging from extreme sporting challenges to fun family competitions. The biggest draw’s always the Desert Caravan Challenge across Brouq Nature Reserve. You need serious endurance skills to take part, but seeing riders and camels charging across the bleakly beautiful Qatari desert is still pretty exciting for kids.
  • The narrow, cheerfully crowded alleys of Souk Waqif, in the historic heart of Doha, are a fascinating glimpse of local life before the soaring contemporary skylines, palm lined boulevards and glossy manmade islands.
  • Doha’s huge, shiny and glamorous malls are a direct contrast to the ancient hustle and bustle of city souks. The shops are fantastic along with everything else from ice rinks to bowling alleys, multi-screen cinemas and even Venetian-style canals complete with cutesy bridges and mock palazzo.
  • The Towers of Qatar scatter the landscape where they’ve kept watch for centuries, they were also used to chart the lunar year and collect precious rainwater. The imposing Towers of Barzan are the ones to see with kids.

 

Getting about with kids in Qatar

Qatar is a tiny country almost entirely surrounded by the Persian Gulf. Self-drive is a fantastic adventure with kids, but be prepared for fairly extreme conditions when you venture inland or into more remote desert areas to the south. Public transport is as efficient, clean and widespread in Doha as you’d expect in the capital of one of the world’s richest countries. If you don’t want to drive, there are tours for just about everything and all hotels and resorts will make arrangements and organise transport.



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