It’s been eight years now since I first set foot in Doha, which I’ve since considered as my second home. I can still remember clearly how quite an adventure the entire nine-hour flight was from Manila to Doha. Aside from the fact that it was my first time to travel alone and internationally, the trip was a short notice and I didn’t really have the chance to make myself fully prepared on what I’m about to face in a foreign city. But aside from my little mishaps along the way, everything went fine as I hoped for.
Looking back to that one hot summer day in July, where the sandstorm welcomed me outside the old airport (it wasn’t yet the new HIA, obviously), I remember feeling hopeful and excited about a new life in a new place.
Doha nine years back was quite different from what it is now and I’m happy to see how it has evolved throughout the years. When I first came in, there are only a few places worth visiting as most of the attractions are still under construction. There are still plenty of infrastructures being constructed these days, in preparation for FIFA 2022, but the old and new establishments, which are now open to the public, are worth visiting especially if you have a layover in Qatar for a few hours and prefer to go out of the airport to see the city.
On that note, I would like to share my favorite places in Doha, where I frequent regularly and do some of my OOTD photo shoots. 🙂
1. The Pearl-Qatar
The Pearl-Qatar has always been my favorite spot in Doha. You can never go wrong with its Mediterranean vibe and coast view lined with luxury yachts of different kinds and sizes. You can enjoy the view while dining at one of the restaurants with international cuisines. It is also filled with top luxury boutiques and brands such as Elie Saab, Alexander McQueen, and Giorgio Armani, just to name a few.
When you go down to Medina Centrale, which is called The Town Centre of The Pearl-Qatar, you will find more dining options and community retail shops amidst the vibrant ambiance. While you’re at it and you feel like watching the latest movies, head over to NOVO Cinemas and enjoy the most comfortable movie experience.
I can spend most of my day walking around at this place, having coffee with friends while simply enjoying the beautiful view and ambiance, especially during winter season.
See some of the shots here. The shot with colorful houses were taken at Qanat Quartier, The Pearl Qatar.
At MIA Park, overlooking the skyscrapers at West Bay.
SHOP THE LOOK
2. Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif is home for everything traditional in an Arabic culture. If you are looking for traditional Arabic sweets, such as dates, Arabic inspired garments, and handicrafts, souvenirs, or traditional food, this is the place to be! While you walk down the main street of Souq Waqif, especially at night, there’s no way you will miss out on the smell of different flavors of shisha filling in the air. It is livelier during night-time with a couple of entertaining activities to see.
You can see some pictures taken at Souq Waqif here.
3. Katara Cultural Village
Katara Cultural Village is like a bigger Souq Waqif to me with a bigger space to move around. It also has the traditional vibe and restaurants with a beautiful coast view, which I like. I appreciate more its beauty and serenity during the daytime when the sun is glistening over the sea and you can see the perfect view from the amphitheater. The charming alleyways that lead you to hidden art galleries, cafes and interesting spots, are also worth exploring.
4. Magical Festival Village
Just on the other side of Katara Cultural Village, you will find the colorful Magical Festival Village. It reminds me of a vintage high street concept. I love how they filled the walkways with hanging colorful decors where it is changing at every turn – from colorful pom poms to vintage lamps to flowers to umbrellas, etc. As you walk down the street, you will pass by the pastel-colored vintage houses with boutiques selling Arabic perfumes, ceramics, abayas, garments, snacks, etc. See some of the pictures here.
5. Aspire Park + Tea Garden
This is one of my favorite spots to run during weekends. It is also a good spot for picnics while enjoying the green surroundings.
If you will go to the 21st floor of The Torch Doha, you will find a tea lounge called Tea Garden which is overlooking the Aspire Park. This is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the sunset view especially when it’s hot and humid outdoors.
See some shots taken at Aspire Park here.
6. Doha Corniche + West Bay
Most of the people come to Corniche to have a picnic, run, do yoga or participate in a public Zumba sessions during weekends. I do love running here because the view of the waterfront and skyscrapers inspire me to finish the seven-kilometer long walkway. You can see the dhow boats at Corniche in my post here.
At West Bay, you will find plenty of five-star hotels with amazing restaurants and lounge bars that offer happy hours.
7. IKEA + Doha Festival City
Ahhh IKEA! I’m not fond of going to the malls unless there’s something I needed to buy or when friends decided to go shopping to unwind. In fact, I don’t like to spend hours at the malls, wandering from one shop to another, simply because it’s tiring and time-consuming. I would like to think that when I go to the mall, I know what to buy and where to buy it. I usually check it first online just to save time. But that’s not the case with IKEA! I can spend most of my day wandering and checking every home wares and furniture at IKEA. It’s like a dreamland and I always find myself visualizing my future beautiful home whenever I’m there and I find it very therapeutic!
The good news is that Doha Festival Mall is now open and there’s a passage connected from IKEA which made it convenient to visit or go back and forth between these two. Doha Festival City is one of the biggest malls in the city which is filled with plenty of international and high-end brands.
8. MIA Park
Here you will see the Museum of Islamic Art which houses the artifacts and collections from the Arab countries and Gulf region that contributed to the culture and religion of Islam. Aside from the museum attraction, the park also hosts several events and activities worth visiting. Some of my favorites are the weekend bazaars and the annual food festival.
If you are living in Doha, I’m sure you’ve already visited most of these places, if not all. But if you are someone who happened to have a layover in Doha and keen to know what the city has to offer or where to go, these are some of the major spots worth checking out.
These shots below were taken at MIA park overlooking the skyscrapers at West Bay. It’s such a beautiful and relaxing view to enjoy especially when the weather starts to cool down.