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, 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.

Good To Know

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

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 plane. 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

Photo credit: @marc.desbordes via 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.

Souq, Doha

Photo credit: Souq Waqif via FlickRiver

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.

Find out more about the Doha City Tour.

3. Watch Planes from the Pool

Photo credit: 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

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.

5. Chocology and the Marmalade Market

doha airport

Photo credit: 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


dining doha airport

Photo credit: Qatar Airways

There’s no such thing as wilted salad and miserable cafeteria food in Hamad International Airport. 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.

doha airport shops

Photo credit: Qatar Airways

8. Power Up


Photo credit: @klopferp via 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 Airport, 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, but there are also Al Maha service counters inside the passenger terminal for booking on arrival.

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, a quiet room, a smoking room, a 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

Photo credit: Reddit User

Al Mourjan Business Lounge

doha airport games room

Photo credit: 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.

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Featured image credit: Qatar Duty Free

Our Readers Comments

  1. We will be having a 8 hour lay our at Doha. If anybody recently experienced that can you please indicate if the bus tour is still valid.

    • Hi Alet,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to contact Qatar direct. As they would be able to advise if they offer this service or not.

      Their contact details are: 011 267 7700 or 0861 861 868

  2. Bonjour;

    y’a t ‘il des bon de repas à l’aéroport lors d’une escale plus de 08heure à l’aéroport de doha sachant que meme les chambres offerte ne couvrent pas les repas

    merci de me répondre

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Yes there are a variety of restaurants to choose from at Doha airport.

      Good selection so you would be spoilt for choice.

  3. Does the FREE BUS TOUR still apply for this year?

    • Hi Shawn,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      For this you will need to contact Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority to see if they still offer this service.

      Fingers crossed that they still do.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 :

  6. 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

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.


    • 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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!

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

  20. 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.

  21. Thanks so much for the detail explanation!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.


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