In this article I’m going to show you 11 things to do outside of Doha, Qatar, that we have personally been to. Qatar has the advantage of being quite a small and accessible country. So you can easily jump in your car and visit a lot of these in one go. I will list them in no particular order and I’ll also pin each place so you can easily find them.
If you’d like to watch our video on “11 Things to do outside of Doha” instead, head HERE now.
Just a quick note before we get started, most of these are remote open places to visit which means there are no facilities nearby. So, you will need to make sure you have have a full tank of petrol, a ton of water and food for your visits. Additionally, don’t forget a rubbish bag to ensure all the rubbish you bring with you, leaves with you.
1. Abandoned Villages
Qatars history pre oil relied on fishing and pearling, and yes, you can go to the museums and view artefacts and learn about the history. But what better way to take it all in than by driving up north and visiting some of its abandoned villages.
The villages used to be inhabited by fisherman and pearl divers as late as the the 1970’s. Once the first oil reservoir was found under Qatari soil, people no longer had to face the daily hardships of life out there. As you can see, the villages were abandoned and forgotten, the harsh weather took care of the rest.
The drive out here is roughly 1.5 hours long so come prepared to make a day of it.
2. Musfur Sinkhole
This giant cave is Qatar’s largest sink hole located just over 40km away from Doha. I think it is worth the trip because it is one of Qatars best well kept natural wonders and easily accessible. Although a very bumpy ride , it can definitely be done even without a 4 wheel drive. Once you arrive, you can comfortably climb down the 100m deep cave down to its visible base. Our 3 and 5 year old boys at the time, were able to easily climb down and up so it’s great fun for the whole family.
Just a safety note here, we have not heard of any rocks injuring people but the cave roof is not protected so descend at your own risk.
3. Singing Sand Dunes
The singing sand dunes is a natural phenomenon where moving the sand in the sand dune produces an audible sound. Essentially, as the grains of sand collide and roll around each other they produce tiny shocks, put these shocks all together and you have a singing sand dune.
There are only 35 known places in the world where this impressive natural phenomenon exists, and we are lucky to be located only a 35minute drive from doha so you definitely can’t miss this.
This also has to be one of my favourite places to watch the sunset here in Qatar. Admiring the sand dunes and vast desert as the light changes over the landscape is a beautiful experience.
4. Al Thakira Mangrove Forest
If you are looking for a quiet and peaceful green spot to relax at, you must visit the Al Thakira mangroves forest.
This is one of Qatars oldest and largest, and it is only located just over 60km from the capital. The natural greenery here is better explored by kayak as to better preserve the health of the mangrove trees. You can however swim at the nearby beach. In addition, this is also an excellent place to come bird watch. You will also be able to see many small fish and crabs.
5. Zubarah Fort and Ruins
Just over 100km from doha you will find Qatars largest Unesco world heritage site. Al Zubarah was a thriving pearl fishing and trading port and it’s one of the best-preserved examples of a 18th and 19th centuries Gulf merchant town.
Here you can also visit the Al Zubarah Fort which was built in 1938 and you can check out the exhibit where you can learn more about the site, its history, environment and the preservation work being carried out.
Not many people arrive in Qatar knowing about its amazing beaches, particularly since they are mainly a fair drive away from its capital city.
However, from turquoise water to fine sand beaches, with or without facilities, family friendly or single, close by or remote, paid or free, there’s something out here for everyone.
Some of our favourites are Fuwayrit Beach, Dukkhan beach, Azerbajaini Beach Maroona beach and Wakra beach.
7. EAST-WEST / WEST-EAST
Located a 1.5 hour drive from doha, off roading into the vast desert, you will find a quite unusual and unique art installation by Richard Serra.
The sculpture, named East-West West-East, was installed in 2014 and it appears in an empty corridor between limestone cliffs. This monument features four monolithic steel plates 10 cm thick, towering between 14.7 and 16.7 m tall. The four steel plates are precisely aligned and because they are adjusted for the topography, they are all level with each other.
They really bring a stunning perspective to the vastness of the environment. I truly recommend reading up on Richard Serra’s vision and process before visiting as there is no information on site.
Also while you are here, make sure to pack your walking shoes and take some time to check out the mushroom-like rock formations of Zekreet. Our boys had the best time Climbing and we even camped here for a night. The landscape is truly magnificent.
8. Purple Island
Purple island, also known as al Khor island, is the perfect spot for nature lovers to visit. The name Purple Island, comes from this islands history as a prominent site for dye production, particularly purple dye. The purple dye was extracted from crushed molluscs found in the area.
This beautiful natural gem is only 50km north of doha and is accessible by all vehicles. Here visitors can stroll and explore the island, its mangrove forest, as well as observe bids, fish and crabs.
9. Inland Sea
Located nearly 100km from Doha, you will find Qatars most popular and extraordinary camping spot. This shallow salty inlet lies between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and it is surrounded by breathtaking sand dunes. This is a true place where the sand dunes meet the sea.
The drive to the most popular section for expats can be quite easily accessed through the Inland Sea “highway’. Here you’ll find people come to sunbathe and enjoy the vistas just for the day. However please note you must bring a 4 wheel drive to visit this gorgeous spot.
If you’d like to know more about the Inland Sea and camping there, watch this video HERE.
10. Al Jasssasiya Petroglyphs
Al Jassasiya is the most impressive of a dozen rock-carving sites in Qatar and located just over an hours drive from Doha. Rock carvings, known as ‘petroglyphs’, can be found along the coast of Qatar. The limestone carvings consist mainly of cup marks, boats, footprints and enigmatic symbols and signs.
The petroglyphs are located in a very vast area so they are not very easy to find. The site does not yet have markings or signs for visitors or clear paths. However, it is an excellent place to come and explore, and you are sure to find some along the way.
11. Umm Bab Clay Quarry
Umm bab is mostly known for its beach and having palm trees along the shore. But it is also home to an unconventional landscape formed by its clay quarry, operating since the 1960’s. Here you will find a barren land with deep canals and high ridges. Make sure to come out here with a 4 wheel drive so you can explore this vast environment.
The drive here is over one hour long from Doha. This place is the result of human excavation so although this is not a natural place, it is still super cool to see. For some strange reason, when the operators first started excavating, they did so around the existing trees. This then continued to be duplicated through out the site. As you can see, now the place has been left with clay towers about 5-10 meters high with solitary trees standing at the top.
If you’d like to see more, we share our visit to the Umm Bab Clay Quarry HERE.
Last Things to Consider
Lastly, please don’t forget to leave each location how you found it and to bring back all your rubbish with you. Unfortunately, a lot of these places are plagued by plastic bottles and other rubbish. So let’s all do our best to look after these destinations.
I hope you have enjoyed our list. If you know of any other must see places outside of Doha, please leave us a comment below and we will make sure to add it to our to do list .
If you’d like to know more about our experience in Qatar, make sure to read Our First Impressions of Qatar.