10 ways to enjoy a layover at Doha Airport

The Middle East is home to several major airports that play crucial roles in international travel and connectivity. Airports like the Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) and Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) contribute significantly to the connectivity and accessibility of the Middle East in the global aviation network. 

Qatar’s Hamad International Airport

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Located in Doha, Qatar, Hamad International Airport is a major transit point for flights connecting Asia, Europe and Africa. Qatar Airways, the national carrier of Qatar, operates numerous connecting flights through Doha. On our recent travel from Birmingham to Hyderabad, we travelled by Qatar Airways and had a layover at Doha's Hamad International Airport. The airport is well-equipped with facilities for passengers during layovers, including lounges, dining options and shopping.

Hamad International Airport in Doha

Hamad International Airport in Doha Qatar

Hamad International Airport in Doha Qatar

Your layover experience will depend on the duration of your layover.  

Based on our experience, here are some of the ways you can make the most of your layover (long or short) at the Doha Airport. Have a read.

Indulge in Duty Free Shopping

One of the easiest way to pass time during a layover is to engage in retail therapy. Like all major airports, Doha Airport's duty-free stores offer a wide range of products including cosmetics, fragrances, electronics, fashion items and spirits.

Adidas, Al Jazeera Perfumes, Hamleus, Harrods, Tag Geuer, Samsung, Tissot, Omega, Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Dior are some of the brands that add to the world-class duty-free shopping experience at the Doha Airport. In addition to all these brands, you will find the Qatar Core Duty Free walkthrough store offering an exciting range of duty-free favourites like liquor, perfume and cosmetics, sunglasses and watches, confectionery and tobacco. There is also a great selection of local food & drinks and souvenirs to pick up as well.

Arabic Sweets

Duty Free Shopping in Doha Airport

Overall, a fun shopping experience awaits you at Doha Airport but please be aware of the duty-free allowances and restrictions to ensure compliance with customs regulations in your destination country.

Go for Gold

Most airports in the Middle East have designated duty-free zones where gold purchases may be exempt from certain taxes. Doha Airport is no different. There's 'Gold' in the airport's south node where you will find an exquisite selection of traditional and modern gold jewellery. You will also find gold coins and gold bars.

Gold Shop in Doha Airport

Look for information on the purity of the gold and any accompanying certifications and warranty. Keep in mind that the selection and pricing of gold items in airport duty-free shops can vary, so it's advisable to do some research and compare options before making a purchase. Also, be aware of any restrictions or regulations related to carrying gold items across borders.

Refresh and Recharge Yourself at one of the Airport Lounges

Are you the one who likes travelling but don't like being in an airport? Then an airport lounge is the perfect hideaway for you. With comfy spacious seating, a quiet ambience, wi-fi, business facilities, entertainment options and food & beverage counters, airport lounges are the perfect place to relax, work, or enjoy amenities in a more comfortable and private environment.

The Hamad International Airport in Doha has several lounges for traveller's convenience. There's the Al Safwa First Lounge and Al Mourjan Business Lounge (both on the third level Duty Free Plaza South), Platinum, Gold & Silver Loounges (all on the second level Duty Free Plaza South), First and Business Class Arrivals Lounges (located before and after immigration counters), Al Maha and Oryx Lounges and the beautiful Al Mourjan Business Lounge – The Garden (in the Northern expansion).

Did you know that the Priority Pass program is the world's largest independent airport lounge access program with more than 1,400 lounges in over 600 cities acros 148 countries. Check out all the benefits of the Priority Pass here.

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Relax in The Orchard

During our transit at Doha, much of our layover time was spent in The Orchard. What a stunning indoor tropical garden it is! I loved it.

Spread over 6,000 square meters, the Orchard offers a major chunk of the airport’s retail and dining experiences – all harmoniously set against a soothing lush green environment. I was amazed by the selection of plants & trees and water features dotted throughout the indoor garden.

The Orchard was opened in 2022 during the FIFA World Cup. It has been a year since the opening and the flora seems to have adjusted well to a life inside the airport. The plants and trees were thriving and have created a calming and serene ambience right in the middle of the hustle & bustle of the airport.

I will let the photos talk for themselves. Take a look below.

Indoor garden at Doha Airport

Indoor garden at Doha Airport

Indoor garden at Doha Airport

Indoor garden at Doha Airport

Take in the Art

For art lovers, the art displayed at Hamad International Airport can be a great way to pass time. The airport works in collaboration with Qatar Museums to display art work by local and international artists at different locales across the airport.

Art installation at Hamad International Airport

Although I am not sure of the count, there are quite a few bronze sculptures dotted across the airport. I found these interesting. They are a part of a series of interactive sculptures by American sculptor Tom Otterness. Titled 'Other Worlds' these large sculptures are playgrounds for children. I found some inquisitive adults enjoying them too.

Bronze Sculpture by Tom Otterness at Doha Airport

The COSMOS by Jean-Michel Othoniel is also an interesting installation. Golden in colour, the artwork takes on different interpretations depending on where you view it from. From some angles it appears light a globe of stars while from some angles it takes on the appearance of calligraphy floating in space.

Art by Jean-Michel Othoniel at Doha Airport

And then there's the very popular (you might have seen it in innumerable airport selfies) Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. Cheery and playful, this artwork is placed in the middle of the airport terminal to welcome all travellers at the airport.

Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer

There are many other art pieces scattered throughout the airport and you can easily spend a couple of hours taking them all in.

Get some Shut-eye

Getting some sleep during an airport layover can be crucial for your well-being, especially if you're facing a long journey with multiple flights. Luckily Doha Airport offers different options to get some rest and sleep. Centrally located within the airport's transit and duty free areas is sleep ’n fly Sleep Lounges which operate on a pay-by-the-hour basis with flexible check-in/out times around the clock. You can book this for an hour to get a power nap or you could book it to stay a full night.

If you prefer a traditional hotel set up, then the Oryx Airport Hotel located close to Concourse B is a great bet. With a choice of six room types and a range of convenient packages and attractive rates, you can book these hotel rooms for different lengths of stay.

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Head to a Fitness Center or Pamper Yourself at a Spa

Airports can at times be stressful environments with long queues, security checks, and the overall hustle and bustle. Add to it travel on long-haul flights and it call all take a toll on the body. And that is why many airports have Spa services. Some airport spas offer services specifically designed to help combat jet lag, such as aromatherapy, massage, and light therapy, promoting relaxation and aiding in the adjustment to a new time zone. Plus there are traditional short massages, express facials, and other fast spa services catering to the time constraints of busy travelers.

At the Hamad International Airport, 'Be Relax' have two outlets. The one in Concourse C offers chair massage, lounger massage, manicure & pedicure and facials. The spa in Concourse A offers all the services availble in Concourse A plus shower facilities.

Be Relax Spa at Doha Airport

The spas are open 24/7 and travelers don't have to make advance reservation. You can just walk in and avail their services.

If you prefer to head to a wellbeing/fitness centre to relax and unwind, then you could go to the Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre that is located on the fourth floor of Oryx Airport Hotel. It has a pool, a gym, hydrotherapy tubs and shower rooms all of which can be accessed at a price.

Grab a Bite to Eat

Whether it is a pre-flight ritual for you, a way to sample popular global food & beverage brands, exploring local cuisine without leaving the airport or simply a practical necessity during a long layover, I am sure all of us would have dined at the airport at some point of time.

Airports typically offer a variety of dining options, ranging from fast food joints to sit-down restaurants. Some airports also have local or specialty cuisine that can provide a unique dining experience. And Doha Airport is no different. It offers a taste of everything from Arabic sandwiches & meals (at Baladna Express) to South Indian dishes (at Dosa Factory) and from wholesome Greek cuisine (at EatGreek Kouzina) to hearty Italian fare (at La Terracotta Italian Kitchen) and many more.

For those with a sweet tooth, there's wide choice including Venchi (for fine chocolates and artisan gelato), Oreo Cafe (serving a selection of OREO milkshakes, muffins, cheesecakes etc.), Maia Coffee & Chocolate (for a fab range of pastries, bespoke cakes tec.) and the Harrods Tea Room where you can sample a traditional British Afternoon Tea including delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and picture-perfect delicious patisserie.

Harrods Tea Room at Doha Airport

Experience the Glass-roofed trains in the Airport

Sleek, futuristic, silent and efficient - these are some of the words that describe the shuttle train that links the airport's two main hubs (North node and South node). Since we had ample time on hand, we decided to hop on for a ride on these glass-roofed shuttle trains.

Hamad International Airport Transit Shuttle

Hamad International Airport Transit Shuttle

Made of five cars, these trains can hold around 190 passengers per train and are ideal for travelling from one terminal to the other. We loved the futuristic design of the train and also how low-noise they were.

Take a tour of Doha

Depending on the number of hours you have on hand during your layover at Doha Airport, you can choose to explore Doha on a guided tour. There are several tours on offer that give you the perfect introduction to the beautiful city of Doha. Usually included in these guided tours are a drive along the Doha Corniche and West Bay area, a visit to a local Souq (market), a visit to the cultural village of Katara and more.

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Please ensure you have the stipulated time on hand while booking these tours, so that you don't miss your connecting flight!


If you have any tips on how to spend time during a layover, let us know via the comments section below.


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