You need a layover itinerary in Qatar if you are taking Qatar Airlines. Depending on your flight times, you will arrive in different countries for different amount of times. Qatar is one of the most popular countries in the Gulf Regions for layovers, thanks to their five-star airport and best airline in the world. Depending on your travel journey, you can have a minimum layover of 1 hour or a long layover of over 24 hours!
Check If You Are Entitled To Free Accommodation with Qatar Airlines
Trevellers Tips: If the next available flight of your travel route meet these 3 conditions, Qatar Airways will pay for your accommodation, entry visa, airport transfer and meals!
- There is no connection of less than eight hours available;
- The transit time in Doha is between eight and 24 hours;
- The booking does not include flights to or from Kuwait (KWI) or Muscat (MCT).
This is usually for people flying from South America to Asia. The flight connections are not as popular as Singapore-Doha-London, so you might satisfy these conditions and check yourself in to a free hotel! For other travellers, check out the layover itineraries in Qatar, depending on the amount of time your transit is.
1-8 Hours Layover
If your layover is in this time period, I suggest that you just stay in Qatar’s Hamad Airport. The airport has many things to do with high speed Internet and iMacs everywhere. There are also private resting areas for you to take a quick nap. The private resting areas are separated by genders. It gets rather chilly at night, so I recommend that you get a warm scarf or jacket.
Get into A Lounge
Get into Al Safwa First Lounge or Al Mourjan Business Lounge, whichever you are entitled to. They have an assortment of great food, free shower after your long flight and private workstations for business travellers.
The lounges are available to OneWorld First Class and Business Class ticket holders respectively. You can purchase the lounge access at the check-in counters.
Check out Be My Guest to see if someone is flying through Qatar and can guest you in!
Get an Airport Hotel
For a short layover and you need a proper place to sleep, you can check in to the Oryx Airport Hotel. You can stay for as short as five hours, which is perfect for a short transit without lounge access. This is exclusively only for transit passengers!
8-12 Hours Layover
You should consider going out of the airport. If you have an 8 hour layover, factor in time to clear immigration and work backwards. You should be at the airport 2h before your flight, so you are left with 6h.
It takes 15min from Hamad International Airport in Qatar to the city centre of Souq Waqif. Get a cab outside of the airport to do explore the city. You can either negotiate with the cab driver and do a drive around the city and return to the airport, or ask the drive to pick you up at a specific time.
What to do during your short layover? Explore the city. Visit Souq Waqif and soak in the Middle Eastern atmosphere with spices and dates. Try out one of the restaurants there after shopping in the Souq. Everything is within walking distance in Doha city centre.
If your layover is slightly longer, say 12 hours, visit The Pearl. Start by taking a stroll around the city centre, from the Souq to The Pearl Monument to the Clock Tower. Then get a cab to The Pearl and enjoy some classy afternoon tea in hotel of Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl. Feast your eyes on the exotic Pagani Zonda, Rolls Royce and Ferraris there. Try out the water taxi in the Arabia marina port too!
12-24 Hours Layover
Now you can see more of Qatar! Consider exploring further out of Doha. If you want the most out of your middle east experience, you can rent a car or take a cab to the deserts, at the other end of Qatar.
Catch sunset at the desert and catch a ride with one of the camels there too! Camel is the main transportation method in the desert. If you rented a 4×4, have fun playing in the sand dunes too! Do note that it is very dangerous, if you don’t know how to drive in the desert. We saw tons of cars getting stuck in the sand, and the sun just rose! You don’t want to miss your flight because of that.
As the sun rises, chill on the beach by the sea. It’s fun to see a more diverse crowd (Indians, Filippinos, North Africans) in the water, playing.
After which, go back to the city centre and visit the shopping malls and have lunch in the Museum of Islamic Art.The Museum of Islamic Art is an iconic skyscraper in the skyline of Doha. Not only does it look amazing on the outside, there are so many art and classic Islamic architecture exhibitions inside. There is a café inside, with a splendid view of Doha’s skyline. Bonus: visit the cafe during sunset and watch the colourful sky light up the city!
Proceed to The Pearl and feel like you’re in another world. Best time to visit The Pearl would be in the evening at sunset. Then you can enjoy sunset with the fast and furious cars. At night, chill at Souq Waqif with shisha and Middle Eastern cuisines. The souq closes at around 5pm, so you might also want to visit it when you are at the Museum of Islamic Art in the afternoon.
Check out the Landmarks of Qatar to decided where to go
Things to Note about Layover in Qatar
As much as the layover itinerary in Qatar is laid out for you, there are other things to note, including visa, currency and country rules.
Get your visa before hand if you wish to exit the country. There are some countries that are eligible for visa-on-arrival and they are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, The Netherlands, USA, UK, and Vatican City. Most countries would require a visa, unless if you are from the Gulf Region. But do check if you need them before hand. Apply for visa here, or get visa-on-arrival, by checking your flight and nationality.
How to get Qatar Visa-on-Arrival
For visa-on-arrival, you need to get them before queuing and have your passport stamped. Before you arrive at the stamping area, you will have to take the escalators down. At the foot of the escalators, you will see a “Qatari National Bank” counter. It opens 24/7. There, you can buy an e-card to pay for your visa. Payments can be made in Qatari Rial, USD or other currencies and change is given in Qatari Rial. If you have a credit card for international transactions, you can purchase the visa on the spot while having your passport stamped. For the cost of your visa, is it USD7. You can also get your visa through your hotels at QR 100 for each visa.
The Qatari Rial is fixed at US$1 = QR 3.64. In some touristic places, they accept Qataru Rial, USD and British Pounds. If you are not staying for a long time, I recommend using your credit card instead. You need payment for:
- Visa: US$7, payable with card
- Transport: get an uber
- Meals: many restaurants accept credit cards
- Shopping: many merchants accept credit cards
There isn’t a strong need to exchange the local currency.
As mentioned before, please dress decently and respectfully there. Males and females are not allowed to share hotel rooms unless there is a marriage certificate, in accordance to the local law. However, many international hotels do not ask for marriage certificates of tourists.
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie at beautiful destinations. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always dreamt of.