Beat the Layover Blues With Our Top 10 Things To Do At Hamad International Airport

We all know the necessary evil of a long wait in an airport with nowhere to sit, tired coffee and time that seems to stretch on forever. The uber modern and outrageously luxurious Hamad International Airport is here to show you that a layover can be time well spent and might actually enhance your journey.

Say hello to free Wi-Fi, over 80 stores for duty-free shopping and complimentary Doha City Tours. This is the first airport ever designed with the A380 specifically in mind and it’s the second largest hub in the Middle East, costing a reported $16 billion to build. From gold-plated coffee counters to every modern amenity, you’ll find yourself secretly hoping for a longer layover.

Header image courtesy of Qatar Duty Free

Air Traffic Control Tower at Sunset

Courtesy of Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar

Courtesy of Hamad International Airport

Good To Know

  • Hamad has replaced Doha International Airport but still carries the airport code DOH.
  • From December 17 2015 Qatar Airways will be flying directly to Durban.
  • For detailed maps of arrivals, departures, lounges and duty free go here.

1. Kids Can Let Off Steam On The Tom Otterness Copper Playgrounds

HIA Playground Sculpture By Tom Otterness_Low Res

Courtesy of Hamad International Airport

These attractive sculptures by American artist Tom Otterness are clamber-friendly and provide a much-needed play area for kids to go wild after being cooped up in the air. They’ll also have fun counting the little copper figures dotted around the big sculptures.

2. Free 3 Hour Bus Tour

museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Museum of Islamic Art by Marc Desbordes on Flickr

Experience a journey within a journey with Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority. They offer a complimentary 3 hour tour of Doha which visits four key landmarks, namely the Souq Waqif for jewels, spices and traditional art, the beautiful Museum of Islamic Art (set by a seaside park), the Pearl-Qatar, (shops and restaurants galore) and the Katara Cultural Village. A bonus is that you don’t have to pre-book. You’ll get an English speaking guide and a free bottle of mineral water.

The tour is available for those passengers who have a transit time of 5-12 hours and who arrive in Doha between 04:00-19:00 local time (GMT +3). Simply present yourself at the Doha City Tour desk on arrival to get on the next scheduled tour.
Souq, Doha

Souq Waqif courtesy of FlickRiver

3. Watch Planes from the Pool


Courtesy of Qatar Airways

Passengers can book a room in the plush Airport Hotel for a minimum of 3 hours. First thing on your list should be a dip in the amazing temperature-controlled 25m Indoor Swimming Pool with a view of arriving and departing planes. Enough with ankle exercises, break a sweat on one of the two squash courts, enjoy the hydrotherapy tub and catch up with friends and family using the free Wi-Fi. VIP travellers can enjoy the use of its Presidential Suite for three-hour layovers.

Good to Know: if there’s no available connection of less than 8 hours (and the transit time in Doha is between 8 and 24 hours) Qatar Airways will arrange accommodation, entry visas, airport transfers, and meals to passengers facing extended transit times in Doha.

4. Visit the Lamp Bear

Urs Fischer's Lamp Bear

Courtesy of Hamad International Airport

This 7m high giant lamp bear by renowned modern artist Urs Fischer will stop you in your tracks. The New York based Swiss artist constructed the lamp bear out of bronze causing it to weigh in at a whopping 20 tons! It belongs to the Qatari Royal family and costs a weighty $6.8 million. Whether you find him loveable or creepy he is certainly worth looking at, as are the many other modern art pieces dotted around this lavish airport. There’s even a Damian Hirst planned to take up residence in the future.

5. Chocology and the Marmalade Market


Courtesy of Qatar Airways

It’s well known that flying dulls your taste buds, at 35,000 feet, the first thing to go is your sense of taste except weirdly your ability to taste savoury foods, which is why tomato juice tastes so good on a plane. Revive them by indulging your chocolate craving while watching master chocolatiers at work at Godiva. Follow up with Marmalade market for more foodie delights. You’ll discover beautifully packaged baklava, fresh dates, nuts and high-quality coffee. The hard part will be knowing what to choose. If your tastes run in the high-end couture direction you’re spoilt for choice with over 80 luxury stores.


Courtesy of The Moodie Report

6. Fine Dining At Le Grand Comptoir


Courtesy of Qatar Airways

There’s no such thing as wilted salad and miserable cafeteria food in Hamad International. Dine at Qataf Café for traditional Arabian cuisine, Le Grand Comptoir for delicious french brasserie eats, Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar for prawn delicacies and Soprafino for Italian done the right way by celebrity chef, Massimo Capra. With 30 restaurants to choose from you won’t have to settle for Burger King.
Qataf Cafe

Courtesy of Qatar Airways

8. Power Up


Courtesy of Klopferp on Flickr

There’s nothing worse than your phone on its last power bar. While you charge your ipad/ laptop/ phone at the charging stations provided you can make use of the Macs free of charge.

9. Skip the Queues with Al Maha

Al Maha Service Packages are available to help you fast-track your way through the security check at Hamad International then relax in the Al Maha Lounge with drinks, snacks and unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi. You’ll also get priority boarding. You need to pre-book the service you require, however there are Al Maha service counters inside the passenger terminal for booking on arrival also.

10. Lounge in Style

Oryx Lounge
For QAR200 or $55 you can spend 6 hours in the Oryx Lounge (walk-ins are welcome). This may feel a little steep against the weak rand but you’ll have access to the business centre, quiet room, a smoking room, gaming room for kids as well as food and beverage services. Good news is it’s free for kids 3 years old and below.

Al Mourjan Business Lounge
Al Mourjan Business Lounge

Al Mourjan Business Lounge courtesy of Reddit User

games room - Hamad International Airport

Courtesy of Qatar Airways

This incredibly spacious 33 000 square foot lounge is available for Qatar Airways and oneworld First Class and Business Class passengers only. The lounge has a fully-stocked bar, snacks and gourmet meals available according to your whim. You’ll also find seats with individual charging stations, private family areas with widescreen TVs, game rooms and a children’s nursery among many other amenities. There’s even a replica, life-size Formula One Racing Car in the kids’ game room.

This is part of our “Beat the Layover Blues, Discover The Best Of” International Airports Series

Our Readers Comments

  1. Beautiful @Rebecca, I will take your to do wishlist with me, when I go to Hamad , the Marmalade Market near hamad international airport is attracting me a lot. I will surelly want to visit once.


  2. Hi. If my flight layover at the doha airport is between 23.50 to 13.35 (11hrs layover). Can we still get a chance to hop on the tour bus??

    • Hi Sadaf,

      thanks for getting in touch.

      I’m not sure how long the bus tour is. I would suggest contacting the airline direct to see if you have sufficient time to do this bus tour and if a visa is required as you will pass immigration.

  3. Hello,

    The tour bus can be taken during night(00:00-06:00) as well.Someone will provide us visas if needed?

    • Hi Lucian,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      For visa related queries we recommend you contact the Embassy direct. They specialize in this area and would be able to give you the most up to date information.

  4. Thanks so much for the detail explanation!

  5. Is the food in the lounge free if you pay to get in?

    • HI Leo,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      There are over 30 restaurants to choose from, which is great. I’m afraid they are not free. But still worth trying out. 🙂

    • Yes the food is definitely free if you pay for lounge access.

  6. Very nice article, very helpful to plan our layover blues in Doha..thank u so much

  7. Hye I am going to travel with my four year old I have 9 hrs I would not be able to go out of the airport what should I do to spend 9 hrs with my child ???reply

    • I’m in the same predicament. 9 hours with my 7 year old!

  8. Sounds good can’t wait to give it a try

  9. Hi, where did you guys find that Doha City Tour is available during the night time as well? Qatar airways site still mentions only 4 day time tours. I have 7 hrs 55 min layover during the night and wondering what to do.

    • HI Marin,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      This blog was written last year. I’m afraid we do not update blogs as it’s not a website.

      You will need to go by the airlines website which would be updated with the most up to date information.

  10. Sure, but Lucian wrote on March 7, 2016 that the tour bus can be taken during the night as well. I was wondering where has he found that. Cheers!

  11. I have 8 hours 45 minutes layover in Doha- how is the free accommodation/ meal arranged?

    • Hi Jane,

      You will need to contact the airline direct. Provide them with your airline booking reference number.

      They will need to see if you qualify for the complimentary accommodation and then will arrange it from their side.

  12. Not always this way!! I just spent 18 miserey fill hours there. I was simply told by qatar airline that my 2ooo plus ticket was a discount ticket to the Philippines and i would have to pay 350$ usd for hotel 150 usd for 24 hour visa on my own! And the loung is only for 1st or business class tickets. There is not even a dozen chairs in this airport. Qatar airlines will never get my business again
    500 more than norman 15 extra hours flight time and a 18 hour layover ! You call that special

  13. Doha Airport is excellent and one of it’s kinds. I liked it so much so that I would want to take my trip via Qatar Air next time around. Wonderful service, beautiful lounges, friendly staff and most importantly great food all around the airport. My friends liked it too and they want to encourage tourists, travelers to choose Qatar Air for their travel needs over Emirates airlines.


    • Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      For this you will need to contact the airline and they will be able to advise you on the correct procedures to follow when applying for a visa for Qatar, what documents are required and the cost.

  15. I love Doha Airport. It’s very nice and has many wonderful shop. I just bought my iOhone 7 Plus there whic was very vheap then my country.

  16. Hi, I have a 10 hour layover in Doha on the 15 July 2017. We are a family of 5. My kids qualify for a free hotel room but my husband and I don’t?
    It states on this page that if you have a layover of 8 hours or more, you qualify for a hotel room. It doesn’t say anything about having to qualify for the room.
    Please advise on this as we would all like to be together. Thanks

    • Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      To my knowledge if the passengers layover is 8 hours or longer you will need to contact the airline direct to see if you qualify for this complimentary accommodation.

      They will check the booking class of your ticket and work out out the NUC (natural unit to currency) of your ticket. If it is over a certain value then you will qualify for this. However the airline will need to check on their side and advise accordingly.

  17. We will be stopping for 7 hours overnight….what time do the shops close??

    • Hi Rona,

      Thanks for getting in touch. You welcome to contact the airline direct they might be able to help with this information one what time the shops are open till.

  18. Hi I have a layover from 23:25 to 6:25. What could I do during this time outside the airport?

  19. Cool guide! Even better if you can get out to the city. Qatar now offers free stayovers and I took them up on the offer this month

  20. I have a South African passport and will be in transit in Doha for 16hrs. Will i need a visa if I want to do the complimentary city tour. I am flying with Qatar Airways.

    • Hi Mary-Ann,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      To my knowledge you would need to apply for a visa as you will be passing through passport and immigration.

      However to get the most up to date information if a visa is required please contact the Embassy direct on:

      Embassy of the State of Qatar
      Telephone No : (012) 452 1700 / 11/ 13
      Fax No : (012) 452 1710
      Street Address : 1077 Justice Mahomed St, Waterkloof, Pretoria
      Email Address : /
      Website Address :

  21. If I arrive at 5.35pm – will I still be able to get on to a three hour tour of Doha? Would love to see more of Doha!

    Many thanks

    • Hi Lyn,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      It depend how long your layover is in Doha.

      Looking at this blog is was written in 2015 so we recommend you contact Qatar direct and they will be able to provide you with the most up to date info.

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