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Dazzling Doha: Discover enchanting cultural wonders and distinguished cuisine in the Qatari capital

A unique mix of historic culture and some of the region’s most cutting-edge architecture make Doha a must-visit destination. | By Paul Oswell | February 1, 2024

Qatar is quickly becoming a major player on the world stage, especially after recently hosting millions of fans for one of the most high-profile international sporting competitions. Doha is the capital of this small but mighty country and boasts an impressive array of striking modern art galleries, heritage museums and restaurants that rival any of its global peers. Here are a few reasons to add Doha to your travel plans:

  • Hallowed history: Monumental museums and showstopping galleries highlight the city’s history

  • Creative cuisine: Qatar serves dishes full of fragrant flavors and spices like cumin, saffron and turmeric

  • Supreme shopping: Browse a wealth of upscale shops in this playground for the ultra-affluent

Lobby area with chandeliers and desk
Experience refined elegance throughout Doha and at The Plaza Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts.

History and culture

Visitors to Doha are immediately rewarded with a visual showcase of the city’s complex and varied nature. Dhow Harbour is one of Qatar’s most iconic sights. Looking out over the sparkling waters, you’ll see dozens of traditional, centuries-old fishing boats bobbing along the waves. Beyond this, though, is a futuristic skyline — a symphony of glass and steel that tells the story of a destination on an evolutionary fast track.

Step into the spectacular Museum of Islamic Art or the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and let the exhibits weave the history of both the region and people. Contrast this with the evocative atmosphere of the Souq Waqif market, a 250-year-old window into the old world with photo opportunities around every corner. You can find world-class natural beauty here, too. Drive over desert sand dunes to reach Khor Al Adaid, the Inland Sea that’s uniquely sublime landscape earned it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Plaza Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts enjoys a prime location when it comes to cultural appreciation, with the National Museum of Qatar located only a few minutes away. Here, the country’s story is told through expansive exhibits, highlighting everything from the natural history of the Persian Gulf through Bedouin culture to the discovery of oil and its consequences.

Visit Sarabeth’s at The Plaza Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts, renowned for its weekend brunch.

Colorful cuisine

Qatar’s cuisine reflects the tastes and trends of much of the Middle East. Expect succulent dishes of tender chicken, beef and lamb flavored with the region’s famously fragrant spices, such as cardamom, saffron, turmeric and cloves.

For a chance to sample an enticing array of delicacies, your first stop should be Yasmine Palace on The Pearl, a man-made island known for its upscale offerings. This restaurant complex is a feast for all your senses, with elaborate Qatari architecture of strikingly colorful mosaics and towering arches. Choose from four high-end restaurants, all looking out over the panorama of the Persian Gulf and serving a mix of traditional Andalusian, Levantine and Qatari-inspired dishes.

For a fine dining experience that puts a contemporary spin on Qatari classics, your concierge can reserve a table at Jiwan, located inside the National Museum of Qatar. Set in a chic space with earth-toned decor that’s reminiscent of the nearby desert, Jiwan serves dishes made from local ingredients, using ancient Bedouin cooking techniques.

A variety of global culinary influences can also be found throughout The Plaza Doha. The sophisticated ambiance of Paris is the inspiration for The Courtyard, which serves local and international cuisine. The elegant columns and chandeliers frame one of the city’s most memorable dining rooms with European flare. You can also enjoy a more casual dining experience at the hotel’s outdoor patio restaurant, Sarabeth’s, which offers American fare and is renowned for its weekend brunch, while Horizons is a more relaxed rooftop terrace with outstanding views.

Woman looks at the Marina Walkway in Porto Arabia at the Pearl in Doha, Qatar.
Explore stunning architecture, culinary delights and bespoke shopping on The Pearl Island.

Sensational shopping

Souq Waqif marketplace is a slice of historic Doha, and it stands out among the slew of contemporary souqs (markets) that pepper the city. Wander amid the clamor of the stalls, which sell goods to excite every sense, from incense to fragrant mounds of exotic spices. Visit in the evening to watch as the market slowly transforms into a nighttime hub for shisha, music and socializing.

As Qatar is one of the wealthiest nations on the planet per capita, it’s no surprise that the high-end shopping opportunities are almost endless. Qanat Quartier is home to several designer boutiques that overlook the canals of this Venetian-inspired neighborhood. From high-end fashion to fine jewelry boutiques, bespoke stores welcome locals and visitors alike. This elite neighborhood is one of 10 architecturally themed precincts that make up The Pearl. Here, you can shop for Ferraris or a Rolls-Royce, enjoy the day on a pristine beach or delight in numerous retail, dining and entertainment options.

The concierge at The Plaza Doha can help you make the most of your shopping experiences, particularly at the exclusive boutiques that line the glistening Ras Abu Abboud waterfront that lies just outside the property. After a long day of exploration and retail therapy, enjoy a relaxing dip in either of the resort’s indoor or outdoor pools, where your stresses are guaranteed to evaporate.

Doha is enjoying a real moment on the international scene. A decade ago, most visitors would just pass through on their way to Asia or elsewhere in the Middle East. Today, Doha has become an alluring destination, tempting visitors with its dazzling museums, impressive galleries, gorgeous boutiques and more.

Paul Oswell is a British award-winning journalist and published travel author based in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. His books include Bucket List North America and The Great American Road Trip, as well as New Orleans' Historic Hotels. He has also been an editor of and contributor to several guide books/editions published by Dorling Kindersley (owned by Penguin), including New Orleans, Florida, Orlando, Los Angeles, California and The United States. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure (both of which he has written multiple online travel guides for) and The Guardian, as well as dozens of international newspaper and magazine titles, and inflight magazines for major airlines.

The Plaza Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts

Find us is in central Doha, one minute from Qatar National Museum and within 11 minutes of 974 Beach and Hamad International Airport. We offer outdoor and indoor pools, three exquisite dining options, and event facilities. Experience luxury in our ornate public spaces, contemporary guest rooms, and spacious suites.