Tourism has been on the rise for a few years in Qatar. The government is investing in tourism, and now more travelers that previously only transited at the airport now actually stay in Qatar. Like other Gulf states, Qatar will feel very exotic for travelers from non-Arabic countries.
Qatar is a fast-developing country in the Middle East, and with the growth of Qatar Airways over the years, Qatar has now become a major transport hub between Europe/the USA and Asia/Australia. While most passengers use Doha Airport only for transferring flights between continents, it has now become easier to plan a long stopover in Qatar too. When flying Qatar Airways, you can apply for a free transfer visa to explore Qatar for a couple of days. Cheap tourist visas have now also become easier to obtain for many nationalities. The free transit visa must be applied for in advance online and is currently limited to Qatar Airways passengers. If your stopover is only a couple of hours, you may look at the free tours that are offered a few times per day from the airport by Qatar Airways. While Qatar is the airline with by far the most flights into the country, it is definitely not the only one; there are a few budget airlines -- especially from other countries in the Middle East -- flying into Doha. However, due to a diplomatic embargo by several Arabic countries, land borders are closed and some air connections have been cancelled in recent years.
Even though it is possible to snap a few pictures on an organized tour from the airport for transit passengers, booking a stopover for more than one day may be well worth it. Booking a few nights in Qatar will allow you to much better explore this small country on the Persian Gulf. Previously, staying in Qatar overnight was too expensive for those traveling on a lower budget and Qatar hostels were scarce, but recently some Qatar hostels have opened. All Qatar hostels are currently in Qatar’s capital, Doha, but none of them is in the city centre. But an extensive metro network is currently being built, and with the first metro line scheduled to open soon as of this writing, getting around the city from your Qatar hostel will soon become easier. Buses are currently already available and so are taxi apps such as Uber.
Currently a lot of reconstructions are going on in Qatar in preparation for an upcoming FIFA World Cup, in particular in Doha. The city is getting modernized, the infrastructure is being improved, and new accommodations are expected to open, including new hostels in Qatar.
Doha is the only big city in Qatar. There are interesting places to visit outside Doha, such as the dunes in the desert, which are great to explore with a four-wheel drive. All cities and landmarks in Qatar can be reached in less than one-and-a-half-hour's drive from Doha, so they can be easily be visited on a day trip. For this reason, Doha is the best place to book yourself a Qatar hostel. If you do wish to stay overnight elsewhere in the country, you are limited to hotels because there are no Qatar hostels outside Doha in Qatar. If you are a man and a woman traveling together, be aware that it is illegal to stay in a room together if you are not married; however, this law is normally not enforced for tourists.
Hi, I'm Martin Straatman,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Qatar hostels. Welcome.