While Dubai has long been the darling of travel bucket lists, I think that Doha, Qatar is an extremely underrated Middle Eastern destination. I took a stopover to explore the city a bit and my only regret was not being able to stay longer than the two days that I planned. Hamad International, Doha’s international airport is one of the nicest and most comfortable in the world, so it is certainly not a bad place to have a long layover. Qatar Airways actually offers an amazing free Doha city tour for passengers with layovers of five hours or longer. Yep, FREE – even if you are flying a different airline! The tours, which are offered at various times throughout the day, takes you to The Pearl, Katara Cultural Village, The Museum of Islamic Art, and Souq Waqif. I am a sucker for good food, beautiful architecture, and world-class spice shopping. Doha ticked all the boxes.
The Souq Waqif is a vibrant epicenter of locals and tourists, offering a mix of restaurants, souvenir shops, food markets, and countless places to enjoy great coffee and hookah. There were intricately designed jewelry, abayas, pashminas, and Persian rugs, but I instantly gravitated towards the colorful assortment spices lined outside of the shop stores. The spices were high quality, fragrant, and relatively inexpensive. Saffron, which is the world’s most expensive spice, was offered at an unbelievably reasonable price.
The people that I encountered in Doha were extremely friendly and eager to help. I was traveling solo and felt completely safe throughout my trip. On my next trip to Doha, I plan to go to a FIFA game, do a desert excursion, spend more time perusing The Pearl, and of course, spice hunting. If it is not already on your travel list, I strongly encourage you to add Doha.