Travel Guide for the Outskirts of Doha - Backpack and Snorkel Qatar Purple Travel Guide

Today we will explore attractions on the outskirts of Doha on our self-guided tour of Qatar. We provide detailed information and the best things to see and we show lots of photos so you know what you can expect.

You can reach all destinations by public transportation. If you don’t mind paying a little more for an Uber, then you can save yourself a bit of walking and also save some time.
See our experience with Uber.

Map of Day of of the Self-Guided Tour of Qatar

1) State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque)

2) Villaggio Mall

3) Aspire Park and Aspire Tower

4) Qanat Quartier

5) Katara Cultural Village

Here at Backpack and Snorkel Travel Guides, we typically promote self-guided walking tours.
But we realize that not everybody likes to walk by themselves in a foreign city. So, just in case that you rather go with ab guide: NO PROBLEM! Please see the tours below.

Table of contents

State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque)

Villaggio Mall

Aspire Park and Aspire Tower

Qanat Quartier

Katara Cultural Village


Itinerary for Eight Wonderful Days in Qatar


General Information about Qatar

Day 1: Highlights of Doha

Day 2: Highlights of Doha

Day 3: More Highlights of Doha

Day 4: Outskirts of Doha

Day 5: Qatar outside Doha

Day 6: Qatar's Desert

Day 7: Zekreet Peninsula of Qatar

State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque) in Doha

Opened in 2011, the Qatar State Mosque is named after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who was a Sunni Muslim preacher, scholar, and theologian who founded the Islamic revivalist and reformist movement that is known as Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a pure Islamic or Salafist interpretation of Islam, which is dominant in Qatar.

As such, the mosque is built in traditional Arab style out of sandstone, but with modern features.
The mosque covers 1.89 mio sqft (175164m2) and can accommodate 30,000 people.
The air-conditioned prayer hall fits up to 11,000 men and the adjacent enclosure for women fits 1,200 women.

The mosque has three primary entrances, and 17 side entrances. The central hall is adorned with 28 large domes, and the outer quadrangle is crowned with 65 domes. There is one minaret.

The mosque can be visited by non-Muslims. Men need to be covered from the neck to below the knees, elbows can be exposed. Women will be directed to go down a staircase near the eastern main entrance to a dressing room, where friendly women will help them dress in an all-black traditional Abaya with Shayla.

Women changing room at State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque) in Doha in Qatar

A tour guide will pick them up from there and start the free tour.
You will need to take your shoes off when entering the prayer hall. Shoes are permitted inside the rest of the mosque.
It is absolutely essential to arrive at least 30min (better 1h if you have women in your group) before prayer times begin, as non-Muslims are not allowed inside the mosque during prayer times.
The tour itself is interesting, but only lasts 10-15min, depending on the questions you ask.
Photography is permitted.

State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque) in Doha in Qatar
State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque) in Doha in Qatar
State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque) in Doha in Qatar
State Grand Mosque (Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque) in Doha in Qatar

In our opinion, the best way to get to the mosque is by taking an Uber.
You can also take the Metro to the Msheireb Metro Station, exit, and walk to the Msheireb Bus Station. There you can take bus T605 to Bus Stop 62602, which is a 10min ride and you exit at the 7th stop. There you take the overpass over the highway and get directly onto the large parking lot in front of the mosque.

Villaggio Mall

Opened in 2006, Villagio Mall is a large upscale shopping mall with a 1,350,000 sqft (125000 m2) retail floor area with an Italian theme (similar to what you see in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas), which includes a 500 ft (150 m) Grand Canal in which you can take a Venetian-style gondola ride.
The mall has lots of higher end Western stores, but also a Carrefour supermarket and fast-food restaurants.
In addition to the retail space, the mall also contains the one of two ice hockey rinks (but the only Olympic-size rink) in Qatar, and the indoor Gondolania Theme Park.

The opening hours are at the time of writing:
Sundays – Wednesdays: 9am - 10pm
Saturdays & Thursdays: 9am - 11pm
Fridays: 1pm- 11pm

Villaggio Mall in Doha in Qatar
Villaggio Mall in Doha in Qatar
Villaggio Mall in Doha in Qatar
Villaggio Mall in Doha in Qatar

Aspire Park and Aspire Tower

Aspire Park is a 217-acre (88 hectare) park directly west of Villagio Mall. It is Doha’s largest park and the site of Qatar’s only lake: Aspire Lake.
Aspire Lake is a manmade 8.3-acre (3.4 hectare) lake that was built in 2003 and serves as a sanctuary for several species of waterfowl and sea-faring birds.
The ducks, geese, and Muscovy you see are descendants of waterfowl that was artificially introduced after the lake was completed. They are tame and may come to you and beg for food.
Other bird species are wild and have come here by choice. Many of those birds have become accustomed to the people that visit here and are less skittish than in other parts of the country.
Koi carp are the only fish in the lake, but there is a discussion of introducing other fish to diversify the ecosystem.
There is a 16 ft (5 m) island in the lake that was settled by wild Great Cormorants.

The large grassy meadows, the lake, its proximity to Villagio Mall, the fountains, playgrounds for children, and art installations have made Aspire Park a popular destination for people to picnic and relax.

Aspire Park in Doha in Qatar
Aspire Park in Doha in Qatar
Aspire Park in Doha in Qatar
Aspire Park in Doha in Qatar

Aspire Tower is also called The Torch Doha. It is a 980 ft (300 m) tall hotel tower with the Three Sixty restaurant on the 47th floor.
The Three Sixty is the only revolving restaurant in Doha and it offers Mediterranean cuisine and wonderful panoramic views of Doha and its skyline.
Aspire Tower was built from 2005 – 2007 and was the landmark of the 2006 Asian Games. It is currently the second tallest building in Qatar after the Lusail Plaza Towers.

Aspire Tower in Doha in Qatar
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Qanat Quartier

The Qanat Quartier is part of the larger Pearl Island development at the northern end of Doha. Pearl Island is an artificial island of almost 1,000 acres (4 km2) which is the first land in Qatar that is available for freehold ownership by foreign nationals.

Illuminated The Pearl sign in Doha in Qatar

The Qanat Quartier, settled since 2012, is a community with Venice-like features, like an extensive canal system, a marina, pedestrian-friendly squares, plazas, and beachfront townhouses.

The Quanat Quartier is way too big and there is way too much traffic to walk, so it is wise to concentrate on one area.
A nice part of the afternoon can be spent visiting the replica of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, musical steps, and walking along the water with nice views on Arabia Island.

Map of destinations of self-guided walking tour of Qanat Quartier in Doha in Qatar

1) Bus station

2) Rialto Bridge replica

3) Piano Stairs

4) Marina and Arabia Island view

Bus station

Our recommendation is to come here by Uber, but there is also a convenient way to come by Metro and MetroLink. To do that, you can take the Metro Red line to Legtaifiya Station, exit the Metro, and take the free MetroLink bus M109 to the station: Palazo 3 North East Pearl Blvd.
This station is one of the last on the trip and it should take around 22 min to get there. Our advice is to follow the bus on google maps to understand when it gets to this station.

Bus station in The Pearl in Doha in Qatar

Once you arrive at the bus station, exit the bus, and walk to your right, where the walkway is that allows you to go left and cross the next street to the north. Then walk along the building to the east (right) and enter the next street to the left (north) which brings you directly to your next destination, the Rialto Bridge replica.

Rialto Bridge replica in Doha

This is a replica of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy.
Before you walk over it, check out the canal front. There are restaurants, bars, and a dock where you can board the sightseeing boats.

Rialto Bridge replica in Doha in Qatar
Rialto Bridge replica in Doha in Qatar
Rialto Bridge replica in Doha in Qatar
Rialto Bridge replica in Doha in Qatar

After you cross the bridge, walk left along the canal until your next destination, the Musical Steps / Piano Stairs.

Piano Stairs in Doha

The Piano Stairs are a staircase that leads through a residential building into a plaza behind it.
The stairs are painted like a piano keyboard. There are light sensors installed in the wall near the steps that, when they sense movement, initiate a piano tone played in the speakers above you. So, by walking up and down the stairs, it will sound as if you are playing a piano.
This can be real fun, for children and adults.

Piano Stairs in Doha in Qatar

Marina and Arabia Island view in Doha

When you are done with the Piano Stairs (3), continue walking away from the Rialto Bridge Replica (2), until you come to the car bridge that leads over the canal. Get on the bridge and cross it (=walk south) until you get to the other side of the large residential building. Then go right until you come to the canal. There, take the underpass under the highway and follow it all the way along the canal to the end.
There are benches at the end where you can sit, relax, and watch people and Arabia Island.
You can also continue to walk along the waterfront to a nice long waterfront plaza with Marina Gates 12 and 14 and some restaurants.

Map of destinations of self-guided walking tour of Qanat Quartier in Doha in Qatar

1) Bus station

2) Rialto Bridge replica

3) Piano Stairs

4) Marina and Arabia Island view

Marina and Arabia Island view in Doha in Qatar
Marina and Arabia Island view in Doha in Qatar
Marina and Arabia Island view in Doha in Qatar
Marina and Arabia Island view in Doha in Qatar

Katara Cultural Village in Doha

Opened in October 2010 during the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, Katara Cultural Village is a diverse entertainment complex in the northern part of Doha. It contains bars and restaurants food stalls, an amphitheater, a conference hall, a movie theater, a museum, an opera house, a shopping center, art galleries, and even a beach which closes before sunset.

Katara Cultural Village has its own Metro Station on the Red Metro Line.
Admission is free and the opening hours at the time of writing are:
Saturdays through Thursdays: 9am – 4:30pm (restaurants and food stalls stay open longer)
Fridays: closed

The map below shows some of the venues:

Map of Katara Cultural Village in Doha in Qatar

a. OliOli Doha Children's Museum

b. North Hills Park Katara

c. Qatari society of Algannas

d. The Golden Masjid

e. Katara Art Centre

f. Lightning Stairs

g. Katara Beach

h. Open air Theatre

i. Art gallery

j. Katara Mosque

k. Katara Opera House

l. Katara Fountain

m. Katara Plaza (Shopping Center)

Katara Cultural Village in Doha in Qatar
Katara Cultural Village in Doha in Qatar
Katara Cultural Village in Doha in Qatar
Katara Cultural Village in Doha in Qatar
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