How to visit Doha for free: Qatar Airways layover


Most of the flights going to Asia from Europe do a layover in one of the capital cities of the Middle East. Depending on which airline are you flying with, your flight will stop either at Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha, among others. My choice this time was Qatar Airways, so I stopped in Doha for 8 hours.

You can enjoy this stop in two different ways, by your own or with a tourist guide. The first one will give you more freedom to move around and stop wherever you want, but you’ll also have to assume the costs. The second option is FREE!!! Except for the tip you want to give to your guide. You’re even given a bottle of water, and I assure you it feels so good with that hot and humidity!

La mayoría de los vuelos al sudeste asiático desde Europa hacen parada obligatoria en una de las ciudades de Oriente Medio. Dependiendo de la aerolínea con la que volemos, nuestro avión podrá hacer escala en Dubai, Abu Dhabi o Doha, entre otras. En mi caso me decidí a volar con Qatar Airways, así que escogí la escala de 8 horas.

Hay dos tipos de formas de hacer tu escala, a tu aire o con guía turístico local. La primera te dará más libertad para moverte y visitar aquello que prefieras, pero también tendrás que asumir los costes. La segunda es GRATIIIIS! Excepto la propina que le quieras dar al guía, claro. Encima te dan hasta una botella de agua, que con el calor y la humedad que hace allí, os aseguro que no viene nada mal.

  1. FLIGHT BOOKING

We need to make sure our layover lasts minimum 5 hours, otherwise we won’t be accepted on the free tour. Same applies if you decide to visit the city by your own, with less than 5 hours you could have trouble to make it back to the airport and lose your connection flight. To book the right flight I always use Skyscanner. This search engine will show you exactly how many hours are there between flights before purchasing it.

Once you are sure about your flight, follow the steps and purchase it.

Book your flight to Doha
1: Book your flight to Doha

Lo primero de lo que nos tenemos que asegurar es que nuestra escala dure como mínimo 5-6 horas, de lo contrario no seremos aceptados en el tour. Recomiendo lo mismo en el caso de que decidas visitar la ciudad por tu cuenta, con menos horas podrías tener problemas para llegar a tiempo de vuelta al aeropuerto y perder tu vuelo. Para encontrar el vuelo que necesito siempre uso Skyscanner, ya que te muestra para cada resultado de búsqueda las horas que tenemos de conexión.

Cuando ya estemos seguros del vuelo que queremos, sólo falta seguir los pasos para comprarlo.

  1. BEFORE DEPARTING

If you plan to check in some baggage, make sure you also take a small bag with you with all things you’re going to need during the layover. I normally take extra clothes to get changed or to wear according to the country I’m visiting. For example, we travelled to Thailand with summer clothes, but we also took something to cover our shoulders, as we were visiting Doha.

Si piensas facturar algo de equipaje, es recomendable llevar también una mochila pequeña en cabina con todo aquello que necesitemos para el viaje. No sólo hablo de dinero y aparatos electrónicos, sino también algo de ropa para cambiarnos o para vestir acorde con el país de la escala. Por ejemplo, nosotras empezamos el viaje con ropa de verano porque hacía calor, pero también cogimos algo para tapar los hombros porque íbamos a visitar Doha.

First stop Doha
First stop: Doha
  1. ARRIVE IN DOHA AND ENJOY YOUR FREE TOUR

The flights normally arrive in Doha between 5 and 7pm, and the connections to the final destinations depart around midnight. The first thing we need to do in our arrival is to follow the transit signs until we reach the tourist information point. There we just need to say we are in transit and that we would like to be part of the free tour offered by the Qatar Tourism Authority. The friendly guy will inform you of the meeting point and the time when the tour starts.

Once you meet with the guide in the place and time previously accorded, you’ll go through the passport control to leave the airport. A bus will be waiting for the group and the route will start. The tour normally lasts between 3 and 4 hours, depending on the time you start it. If you are in the one starting between 7.30-8pm, you’ll probably spend less time in the city as some of the places are out of their business hours.

Layover in Doha Airport
Layover in Doha Airport

A Doha los vuelos suelen llegar entre las 5 y las 7 de la tarde, y los vuelos al destino final suelen salir a partir de medianoche. Lo primero que tenemos que hacer al llegar al aeropuerto Internacional Hamad es seguir las señales de tránsito hasta llegar al punto de información turístico. Ahí decimos que estamos en tránsito y que nos interesaría hacer el tour gratuito que ofrece la Qatar Tourism Authority. El señor muy simpático os informará de la hora y lugar de encuentro de inicio del tour que suele ser en el mismo punto de información.

Una vez en la hora y punto de encuentro, un guía os acompañará a pasar el control de pasaporte para salir del aeropuerto, os subiréis a un autobús y empezará el recorrido. El tour suele durar entre 3 y 4 horas dependiendo de la hora de inicio. Si es el último que empieza a las 7.30-8pm, suele durar menos porque hay lugares que ya se encuentran fuera de su horario comercial.  

1. The Pearl

The first stop in our tour was The Pearl, an artificial island where you can find restaurants and luxury shops. We spend our time taking pictures of the place because we loved it, and also because we could not afford those prices.

La primera parada de nuestro recorrido fue The Pearl (La Perla), una isla artificial donde podréis encontrar restaurantes y tiendas muy lujosas. Nosotras sólo nos dedicamos a fotografiar el lugar porque nos encantó, además de que esos precios no estaban a nuestro alcance 😀

Doha The Pearl
Doha, The Pearl

 

Doha The Pearl
Doha, The Pearl

 

Doha The Pearl
Doha, The Pearl

2. Museum of Islamic Art

It’s located on the Corniche of Doha. As we arrived at night it was closed to the public, so our guide left us a few minutes to take pictures of the place and the views we had from there. It was amazing seeing the skyscrapers and the reflection on the water!

Se encuentra en un extremo de la Bahía de Doha. Al llegar de noche estaba cerrado al público, por lo que el guía nos dejó unos minutos cerca de la entrada para fotografiar las vistas que había de la ciudad. ¡Nos encantó la luz de los rascacielos y su reflejo en agua!

One of the best spots in Doha
One of the best spots in Doha

3. Katara Cultural Village

This was the only place we couldn’t visit as we did the night tour. Katara buildings and facilities were arranged in order to reflect the cultural and architectural heritage of Qatar. If you do one of the day tours you’ll have the chance to visit it. Our guide took us directly to the last stop.

Este es el único sitio que no pudimos visitar debido a que hicimos el tour nocturno. Es una fundación creada para reflejar la arquitectura y el patrimonio cultural de Qatar. Si hacéis el tour durante el día tendréis la oportunidad de visitarlo. Nuestro guía nos llevó directas a la última parada.

4. Souk Waqif

If we have to choose what we loved the most during our hours in Doha we would say the Souk Waqif. Although it was night and a week day, the place was full of locals and tourists visiting it to have dinner or to go shopping. You can find from traditional garments to spices and handicrafts, as well as all the places where you can eat.

Si tenemos que escoger lo que más nos gustó de nuestras horas en Doha, nos quedamos con el Zoco Waqif. A pesar de ser de noche y entre semana, el lugar estaba lleno de gente, tanto locales como turistas que lo visitaban para cenar o hacer compras. Se pueden encontrar desde vestidos tradicionales hasta especias y artesanía, además de todos los puestos de comida.

Souk Waqif in Doha
Souk Waqif in Doha

 

Souk Waqif in Doha
Souk Waqif in Doha

After the souk, our guide took us back to the airport. We had plenty of time to go around the shops and restaurants to eat something before boarding our flight to Bangkok.

Después del zoco, nuestro guía nos llevó de vuelta al aeropuerto. Tuvimos tiempo de sobra para pasear por las tiendas y restaurantes para comer algo antes de embarcar en nuestro vuelo a Bangkok.

The pearl Doha
The Pearl, Doha

If I had to do again a long stop in Doha I would definitely escape to the city, but maybe by my own to enjoy more each place. I think that layovers are not a problem but a great opportunity to discover a city which maybe you would not visit in another situation. Have you ever thought about visiting Qatar? It wasn’t on my bucket list, but if you have the chance to visit its capital with almost no costs, would you miss it?

Si tuviera que volver a hacer una parada larga en Doha sin duda me escaparía a la ciudad, aunque quizás por mi cuenta para disfrutar un poco más de cada lugar. Creo que las escalas más que un problema son una gran oportunidad de conocer una ciudad que quizás no te plantearías visitar en otra situación. ¿Alguna vez has pensado en visitar Qatar? A mi nunca se me había pasado por la cabeza! Pero teniendo la oportunidad de visitar su capital y con poco coste, ¿cómo podía desaprovecharlo?

Camera: iPhone 6s & GoPro 4 Silver

Related links:

Doha Free Tour: http://www.qatarairways.com/global/en/offers/doha-city-tour.page

 

28 comentarios

  1. I just LOVE layovers like this! And I love your tip for checking most of your luggage. It’s always a pain to have extra baggage that you have to lug around. It’s always hard to find anyone to hold it for you. Doha looks amazing. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kristen! Exactly, I think it’s very important just to carry the necessary during layovers. That way we will just worry about taking pictures and enjoying as much as we can.
      If any of your future flights stop in Doha, I totally recommend to visit the city!
      Have a great day 😉

  2. What a great idea! I never thought very much about layover adventures. Usually I pace the airports just trying to stay awake! I also like that your post is in both English and Spanish. Thanks for sharing!! Next trip that I have long layovers on, I’ll look for something similar!

    1. Yes! I think layovers are an adventure instead of just a stop in our trip! That’s why when I travel far I always try to visit a new destination.
      If you plan to stop for a few hours in a city, try to go out of the airport and explore the place. Who knows when will you have a chance to do it again? 😉

  3. Could’t find anyone who trasmit as good vibes as you do babe!! You made a lot of my days!! And thank you for your tips!! So helpful and interesting!! Keep lighting up the world as you’re doing it!!

    Love ya

    Vaquiñas forever

    1. Thank you babe!! But I’m saying it del palo guay, you know?? Espero que te encante todo lo que quiero enseñar aquí. Ya sabes que disfruto con esto de compartir aventuras. Ojalá disfrutemos pronto de alguna juntos 😉

  4. Really??!! had no idea! this is the best tip I have received lately! I am actually going to do this with the next occasion 😀

    1. Great, Mihaela!! I hope you enjoy your next layover as much as I did in Doha! Have a great day 😉

  5. Wow I love how handy this is! Didn’t ever think to intentionally book a long layover to see the sights!

    1. Yes! I’ve done it twice and I don’t regret it! The first time I visited Dubai and I loved it, so I decided I had to do it again when travelling to Thailand 😉

  6. Okay, this idea is brilliant and I had no idea about it for this specific part of the world! I have tried to take advantage of layovers, but it never works out right with enough hours, but it’s a great way to quickly explore a city. Didn’t know they offered tours and all!! SO SMART!

    1. Hi Lili! Yes, there are a lot of cities that offer a free tour for a few hours. You just need minimum 5 hour stop to leave the airport and explore the place!

  7. What a brilliant idea! I’ve actually never used a layover to explore a new place… Time to start, I guess!

    1. Hi Christie! Totally! Do it whenever you can 😉 I did it in Dubai and Doha and I really enjoyed it!

  8. I would have never thought to do this, I always try to have the smallest amount of time in a layover as possible. Great tip!
    Lisa
    http://www.topazandmay.com

    1. Yes, some people do not like to have many hours in a layover, but there are some cities you cannot miss 😉

  9. This is such a great post, I’ll have to bear it in mind next time I fly with a Middle Eastern airline. Doha looks pretty awesome, I’ve flown Qatar in the past, before the new airport opened, but the transit time was only three or four hours, and the old airport wasn’t great at all!

    Also love how you lay out your posts, with the sections in English and Spanish – makes me want to come back and keep reading more!

    1. Hi Lima, thanks a lot for your comment! Doha is great and I really enjoyed my time there. I hope you have the chance to do a longer stopover and discover the city 😉

  10. This posts makes me wish I could travel more. It’s crap how little of the world I see right now. It’s pretty much due to my family being such home bodies and traveling and a 6 and 4 year old is tough.

    Thanks so much for posting so I could see a new part of the world.

    1. Hi Patty! Don’t worry about that, you’ll have a lot of time to travel when they grow up. Must be amazing to do family trips!!

  11. I always avoid layovers but what a fantastic idea! Think I will be using your tips in the future!

    Sophie x
    http://www.sophobsessed.com

    1. Yes! I avoid them too in some trips, but I love stopovers when I do long flights 😉 So happy you find it useful!

  12. This is a great idea – you get to explore a new place and it breaks up the long flights! I think they do something similar at Singapore airport as well

    1. Hi Claire! It’s an amazing way to discover a new place! Most people do it in Singapore because is such a cool city!

  13. I never thought of trying this but I will be from now on! Thanks for these tips. I will definitely use them on my next international trip.

    http://www.susanalopessnarey.com/boohoo-swimwear/

    1. Sure! Long trips normally have a layover so try it! I loved my stop in Doha 😀

  14. Oh my this is so clever, who would have thought of that! Doha looks so lovely too! x

    1. Hi Tereza! It’s my second time doing it! You should try on your next long flight! 😀

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