A walk along Doha Corniche, the city’s wonderful waterfront promenade, makes for a fabulous introduction to the city. One of the things we love most about the Qatar capital is its stunning location set around a turquoise bay.
Doha’s name comes from the word ‘dohat’, which is Arabic for ‘bay’, so it makes sense to begin your explorations of the Qatar capital by the water.
A walk along Doha Corniche – ‘corniche’ is a French word for waterfront promenade widely used across the Middle East – is a fantastic introduction to the Arabian Peninsula city.
A Walk Along Doha Corniche
At the southern end of Doha Corniche is the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Port, and beyond, as it curves around, will be the new Qatar National Museum when it opens in 2017.
At the northern end you’ll find swanky hotels such as the Sheraton and the Four Seasons Hotel and the upmarket diplomatic area.
During winter (December through to February), you can comfortably amble the Corniche’s entire length at any time of the day.
During spring and autumn/fall it’s advisable to save your strolls for the early morning or after dark as it’s steamy, and in summer, when it gets sweltering, you’ll probably only want to walk a short stretch before hailing a taxi.
You’ll also find that the people watching on Doha’s Corniche is the most compelling in the evening when locals and expats are out for a slow saunter, power-walk, jog, or are walking their dogs.
Start at the northern end of the promenade, taking in the aquamarine waters, along the way.
If you need a break, about half way along you can cross the busy thoroughfare to rest in the lush green Al Bidda Park and Al Rumeilah Park, home to the Heritage Village, a recreation of a old settlement, with traditional coffee shops.
Shaded by towering palm trees, the parks are a popular picnic spot for local families in winter and the evening is when they come alive, as does the charming Heritage Village, were you can learn about the country’s pearling history and heritage.
You’ll soon come to the old port where the traditional wooden dhow boats dock.
While the Corniche is the focus of so much of Doha’s life, a cruise in a traditional wooden dhow boat is a wonderful way to take in the city skyline from the sea as well as soak up a bit of Arabian culture.
Some cruises do a circuit of the bay, while others visit a small island; check before you board.
Do as the locals do and take a picnic lunch. But leave the bubbly back at the hotel, as drinking alcohol outside licensed hotels is illegal in Qatar.
Across the road from the dhow port you’ll see Souq Waqif. See our shopping guide to find out more about this atmospheric Arabian bazaar.
The spectacular Museum of Islamic Arts, which juts strikingly into the bay on its own mini man-made peninsula, is worth a couple of hours of your time, whether you’re an art lover or not, and is an ideal place to escape the heat if you’re visiting outside the winter months.
Designed by I. M. Pei, the architect of The Louvre’s Pyramid in Paris, the museum houses one of the world’s finest collections of Islamic arts, along with a library, cool gift shop, and brilliant restaurant.
If you enjoyed the museum, you should also make an effort to see the engaging collection of Middle Eastern art at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in a former school on the edge of Education City that was re-designed by the French architect Jean-François Bodin. It’s not on the Corniche; you’ll need to take a taxi.
Also make a note to visit the jaw-dropping new Qatar National Museum when it opens, with a design inspired by delicate sand petals by acclaimed French architect, Jean Nouvel. Due to have launched in 2016, its opening is now set for this year.