While visiting Katara pre Covid 19 I discovered their exercise trail. Nestled up high, with the distant Pearl development to one side and the Lusail Highway on the other. It really is a great place to run or walk. Or just chill out and enjoy the green space if you are not feeling energetic.
There are several ways to the exercise trail. However the easiest is to approach from the Al Qassar Doha Metro station. Just follow the Katara exit signs and when you reach ground level simply cross the road near the security. Continue walking and take the first left after passing the ornate street light (photo below left). Its quite a big road – see photo below right.
The whole area is reminiscent of an English park due to its many trees, huge grassy expanses and park benches. Not to mention picnicking families and kids enjoying themselves playing or running up and down the hills.
If you want some peace and quiet it’s a great place to come and read a book or listen to some music.
Katara Exercise Trail distance markers
The trail itself is purple colour and made of that bouncy rubbery stuff. So that makes it easier on your knees if running. Furthermore it features distance markers so you know how far you have gone. In total, the length of the Katara circuit is around 2km.
Its rewarding to come early in the morning. Or late in the afternoon. Consider combining an afternoon walk with dinner from Al Fanar food truck. So just order your food, sit on the beach and rest your legs as the sun goes down.
All things considered, when the COVID 19 restrictions have come to an end where better to go and exercise than the Katara exercise trail.
Coffee shops in Doha are easy to find. There are many types here, from global franchises to quirky locally owned places. You will certainly not miss out! However the price of your favourite coffee in Doha may seem expensive. Especially compared with other cities. So if you fancy a reasonably priced cuppa where do you go?
Fear not Qatar Quick has the answer. Read on.
Only five minutes walk from DECC metro station, opposite the Tornado Tower – you will see Monoprix supermarket. Monoprix is a French supermarket with several branches in Qatar. In my opinion, they also sell the best croissants.
Just next to the entrance, look left and you will see a red Volkswagen camper van with no roof. Might sound strange, but this is a coffee shop. They sell a range of their own Monoprix coffee from QAR 12 upwards. Not only that, they also sell tea, soft drinks and water as well as snacks.
There is a range of seating to choose from and if you go at night the lighting is awesome. Drinking coffee sitting among the skyscrapers is cool, but admittedly the street view is not amazing.
However its well worth checking out if you are in the area.
From here, its a short walk to the awesome Qatar Corniche. So why not visit at night and enjoy a stroll after.
Did you visit Monoprix Coffee Shop? Why not share your experience below.
Turkish Airlines fly to more countries than any other airline. Most of their flights connect through the recently opened Istanbul (IST) airport. They are a great full service option to fly from England to Qatar at a reasonable price. To inform Qatar Quick readers and to save money myself in the process, I decided to check them out.
In this post I will review my first experience of Turkish Airlines from Birmingham, England to Doha, Qatar. So, how was it? Read on to find out…..
In this article, I will review my first experience of Turkish Airlines from Birmingham, England to Doha, Qatar. So, how was my experience? Read on to find out…..
Turkish Airlines Air Fare
Getting to Qatar can be a costly experience, but I booked an extremely competitively priced return ticket from Birmingham, England (BHX) to Doha, Qatar (DOH) for just £332.29. Admittedly this may have been cheaper than usual as I was travelling mid March as the Covid 19 virus was reaching the Middle East and Europe. More about this later.
The Covid 19 Impact
As the Covid 19 virus spread across the world, Turkish Airlines announced that passengers who had booked flights within a certain time frame could enjoy changes to their tickets free of charge. As a result of this, I took advantage and found the entire process very simple. I contacted their call centre who explained my options and rebooked my flights without fuss. This policy is in place until the end 2020. Great start!
On the day before my flight, I checked in online finding this process simple. Upon arrival at Birmingham airport I proceeded to the fast bag drop counter and checked in my bags. Turkish Airlines offer a very generous 30kg on their economy flights to Doha – learn all about their baggage policies here.
On Board With Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines operate a zonal boarding process and I boarded from the rear of the plane. Subsequently this worked well and I received a friendly welcome from the hostess.
As a consequence of the covid 19 virus ALL passengers were asked to fill in a document stating their seat number and contact details which would be used for contact tracing if necessary.
A tasty brunch was provided and drinks – both non alcoholic and alcoholic were available. Moreover, the flight entertainment system offered a choice of films, tv shows, music and games and the Turkish Airlines crew distributed individually wrapped disposable earphones.
The 3.5 hour flight was soon over and we landed early into Istanbul (IST). I was keen to get off and stretch my legs. I soon realised this would be easy due to the size of the airport. It was HUGE!
Transiting at Istanbul Airport
Having shown my onward boarding pass to Doha, I passed through security which completed the transfer process. Very easy.
In the airport terminal there are loads of TV screens detailing departure gates and clear signage directing you.
I had 3 hours to look around so went to the central area of the terminal. There I found everything. It is hard to explain the size of this new airport. The space is so vast it took around 20 minutes walking through the shopping area. Please note there are limited travellators and no connecting trains. However there is a buggy service for passengers in need.
I felt like I was in a mall. All kinds of shops and restaurants including competitively priced duty free were available. There was a cosy looking bar if you fancied a beer and various restaurants and coffee shops too. All great for passing the time people watching.
Also available is an airport hotel, a sleep pod (€6/9 per hour depending on time of day) prayer rooms, ATMs, several paid lounges, lost and found and an airport assist centre. They even have two exhibition areas displaying photos and the history of the airport. You will not definitely not get bored!
A top tip is to leave plenty of time to get to your gate for your onward flight to Doha. It took me 30 minutes and I was alone walking reasonably quickly.
Unfortunately the boarding gate was a bit too small for the amount of passengers but you can sit opposite the gate and enter last minute.
Istanbul to Doha
Once onboard, this Turkish Airlines plane was newer and as it was now evening, pillows and blankets were available. The crew were relatively accommodating but it did feel as though you had to ask for something rather than be offered it. Service onboard went relatively smoothly but was continually interrupted by frequent turbulence. Again non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks were available and many passengers enjoyed a glass of wine or a beer. Their food offering was excellent with ample choice.
The flight entertainment system was much the same as the earlier flight and thankfully touch down at Hamad International Airport was smooth. Exiting the plane was relatively speedy and after connecting to the free wi-fi I headed to arrivals and immigration.
All in all my virgin experience of Turkish Airlines was excellent. If you want to visit Qatar and enjoy the sights, experience and culture as well as save money then I would not hesitate to recommend them.
Fancy an experience and need a haircut while on holiday in Qatar? There are loads of options in most of the malls. These can be quite pricey but generally good quality. However….
For an authentic experience, why not visit one of Qatars many mens salons or saloons.
Bin Mahmoud Metro Station Qatar
Basically, there are loads of places to get a haircut in the area surrounding Bin Mahmoud metro station. To find them alight at the Bin Mahmoud station on the Gold Line and head for the Ibn Mahmoud West exit.
At the top of the escalators be sure to turn left and left again. Exit using the door pictured below – Bin Mahmoud West exit. Check out this visitors guide to Doha Metro Stations if its your first time in Qatar using Doha Metro
Turn left again and walk straight. Cross Qatari Bin Al Fujaah Street and continue. Along the way you will see restaurants and shops on your left including several salons. Select one here if you like the look of a place.
Alternatively continue along the street until you reach Al
Jazeera Street, then turn left.
Walk along this road and you will find more salons as well
as a plethora of restaurants and shops. There is an astounding variety of
cuisines and choice here. Select from Indian, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Nepali, Filipino
or Arabic – including Egyptian and Lebanese.
One very important tip. BEFORE you sit down in the barbers chair agree a price. Some Qatar salons display prices while others do not. Generally a haircut should cost around 10 Qatari Riyals. If you want your beard trimming – cut throat razor style – this will cost more. Consider having a photo of your preferred hairstyle on your phone to show the barber as their English can be limited. Please make sure you are open minded when choosing to have your haircut here as the standard may not be what you are used to. The barbers are certified by the relevant Qatar ministry and certificates should be displayed inside. Depending on the salon you may even get a head massage using Ayurveda oils. All in all a memorable experience and hopefully a great haircut.
If you fancy a beer drop into the Centro Hotel where there is a very basic bar with reasonable – for Qatar – prices. Check out the area using google maps…..
Once you are done exploring you can choose to return to Bin Mahmoud station or walk all the way to the end of Al Jazeera street until you reach C Ring Road, then turn left. A short walk will bring you to Al Saad Metro station – also on the Gold Line. Continue past Al Saad station and you will find the 5 star La Cigale Hotel which is another neat place for a tipple.
Happy exploring and please share your experiences with us
So, you can now use Doha Metro to and from Hamad International Airport. Awesome news but how exactly do you do this? In short, continue reading.
First of all, collect your bags and after clearing customs, be sure to turn right to exit. The entrance to the metro is only 7 – 10 minutes away. There are now two options.
Use lifts if you have heavy luggage
Firstly, after exiting right, turn left and walk straight past the Flight Information screens, as a result behind them you will find the lifts. Alight at level 1 then turn left and follow metro signage.
This route is recommended if you have heavy luggage. It is permitted to take a baggage trolley in the lift and all the way to the metro entrance if you wish to.
Most noteworthy is that the moving travellators start
automatically and might take a few seconds to start.
In a while (in the corner) you will see the Vodafone local SIM counter and another sign directing you left to use the travelators going up (not recommended with lots or heavy luggage) upon reaching the top turn right and follow the metro signs.
Continue straight to reach the metro, meanwhile if you want to pray there is a public mosque on the way, just follow the sign. The shape of a water droplet inspires Hamad International Airport mosque’s architecture and is very unique.
Once you reach the end, take the escalator or lift and most importantly at the bottom turn left – do not turn right for the reason that it will lead you to a one way escalator (up not down) and steps.
Select from local currency (ATMs and money changers are easy to find before you exit the arrivals hall) or if you rather pay by card then foreign cards are accepted too.
Screens display expected train arrival times. Another point to note is that to enter the train, the doors will only open if the class of carriage is shown above the door.
Finally, jump on the train. Consider using luggage racks (if travelling standard class) but stay aware if your luggage has wheels.
For Al Wakra and Free Zone stations you must get out at Oqba Ibn Nafie station and simply cross the platform to change direction. To continue towards Lusail on the Red line stay on the train. In contrast if you want to use the Gold or Green lines you must change at Msheireb.
All stations have lifts so make your journey easier by using them.
Continuing your journey after arriving at your desired station
Most noteworthy is that certain stations are connected to a (currently) free bus service within their local vicinity. To clarify your route use the excellent journey planner function on the Doha Metro website or ask the staff. https://www.qr.com.qa/home
Alternatively use a metered green Karwa taxi if you spot one (minimum fare QAR10) or try Uber/Careem if you are familiar with them. On the other hand simply walk to your destination if close by.
Use the Metro to return to Hamad International Airport
Similarly you can return to the airport on the metro and after tapping out at the ticket barriers you will see luggage trolleys. In addition there is airline check in counter information and public conveniences.
Remember if you are heading to the airport from Al Wakra or Free Zone stations you will have to change at Oqba Ibn Nafie and board the train for the airport. If using the Gold or Green lines change at Msheireb and choose the train to Hamad International Airport.
In conclusion using the Metro is very simple due to the excellent signage and helpful staff.
Happy travelling and let us your experiences below……….
The Doha Metro green line is known as the Education line due to its links with Education City. The line consists of 11 stations. It starts in Al Mansoura and terminates at Al Riffa – home to Mall of Qatar and the refurbished Al Rayyan football stadium (one of the World Cup 2020 stadiums)
Several stations on the green line have little interest to visitors because they are in residential areas. However if you feel like exploring then who knows, you may find something for you. Consequently, only the most interesting stations are detailed below. Lets take a look!
Go to Al Bidda Park – a great place to exercise!
As well as exercising, Al Bidda park has many attractions, activities and events, read more in Brians article:
Lets hope you don`t need medical assistance during your visit. But if you do, the White Palace and Hamad Hospital stations connect you to the superb Hamad Medical Corporation and its various hospitals and facilities. https://www.hamad.qa/EN/Pages/default.aspx
The final three stations are where the BLOCKBUSTER sights are! So continue reading if you want to see or experience something out of the ordinary!
Qatar National Library Station
So, to access the library simply exit the station using the escalator on the right and cross the road. The other exit leads to Qatar National Convention Centre which you will read about later!
Qatar National Library is Qatar`s public library which contrasts state of the art technology with ancient artifacts and manuscripts.
There is so much to see and do – visit the outstanding Heritage Library in the basement which showcases ancient manuscripts, books, maps and texts.
Furthermore enjoy their temporary exhibitions, attend a public lecture, workshop, guided tour or music performances.
The library also boasts two cafés as well as a vast array
of seating – perfect for reading or studying.
To find the park, firstly exit the library, turn left and follow the pathway. Opposite the huge white Education City Mosque you will see an entrance to Oxygen park on your right. Some of this area is partly under construction to extend the Education City tram – more of which later…
The park features historic buildings in the centre and boasts 130,000 square metres of gorgeous green space perfect for exercise, chilling out or picnics.
Take a stroll through the Qur`anic Botanic Garden……
…….or see the small but cute Botanical Museum
Various seasonal events are held in the park and include food festivals and sports for instance. On the other hand you could just relax under the shade of the “balloon lights” and enjoy your surroundings.
It is impossible to miss the Education City Mosque due to its sheer size and outrageous design. Some see resemblance to an aircraft tail while others don’t realise it’s a mosque at all!
Enter the building using the door at the bottom of the staircase and experience the mind blowing architecture inside.
After registering turn right and go to the 1st floor, as a result you will find the public facilities. There are several “I am here” maps for reference.
Consequently, the mosque prayer hall is easy to find. Please, please remember this is a place for worship so respect the rules posted at the entrance. Above all DO NOT forget to remove your shoes!!
Exit the building into the exquisitely beautiful mosque courtyard. Most noteworthy is the Arabic calligraphy and quiet garden area – perfect for contemplating.
Finally, enter into the building opposite where there is a small coffee shop. Close by is the auditorium and a library.
Why not read some books in the library?
The library stocks books, magazines and newspapers in Arabic and English. There is also a section of French books.
Because the selection of books is huge, you can read about womens roles in Islam, Arabic history, Islamic finance, art and architecture and religion. Likewise, choose from politics and political Islam, human rights and policy making and loads more.
There are a number of work stations to sit and study or read. While upstairs, you will find a more relaxed area with big, comfy seats.
See Education City Mosque twitter account for recent news and events
Meanwhile, to access QNCC use the Qatar National Library station exit signposted Khalifa Boulevard (North)
(Also exit this way to see an incredible art installation – Damien Hirst`s “The Miraculous Journey” – more later!)
After exiting the station follow the path towards the huge building with a Sidra tree supporting it.
In Qatari culture, the Sidra tree is the iconic symbol of the country’s heritage. The tree has grown in Qatar`s desert for generations with roots that reach deep into the earth. Likewise, the tree was a beacon of comfort in the harsh desert environment and provided shade to travelers and scholars. Above all, they could escape the desert heat, gather together and share knowledge.
As a result, these principles are the modern base of Qatar Foundation and the Sidra tree is their official logo.
Check their website for details of the many exhibitions and trade shows hosted throughout the year. https://www.qncc.qa/
Catch a Concert or Performance
QNCC is also home to the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra which offers a diverse range of concerts and shows. They also perform at The Opera House at Katara Cultural Village, Qatar National Library and the Museum of Islamic Art. http://qatarphilharmonicorchestra.org/
Enjoy a coffee or snack
If shows, exhibitions or concerts are not for you then QNCC is still worth a visit just for coffee at the “Spider Cafe”
The entrance area is ‘guarded’ by ‘Maman’ – a famous spider sculpture created by Louise Bourgeois and gifted by the Qatar Museums Authority.
Do NOT miss “The Miraculous Journey” by Renowned Artist Damien Hirst
If you exit the station and turn left (the opposite direction than for QNCC) the huge white building you see is Sidra Hospital. This is another public hospital exclusively for women and children.
Follow the footpath towards the hospital and you will see 14 huge bronze sculptures which chronicle conception to birth. Therefore the final sculpture is a statue of a 46 foot tall anatomically correct baby boy.
There are loads of landscaped areas around so take some time to sit, relax and enjoy “The Miraculous Journey”
Education City Station
This station provides an alternative way to access MATHAF – Qatars modern art museum due to its link with the Education City tram. Ask the helpful staff where to exit the metro station and then look for the Tram stop. Tip – its impossible to miss as its directly in front of you!
The photo above shows the current stations. Hop on the tram and in minutes you will be at MATHAF. Finally make sure you press the green button to open the doors – they DO NOT open automatically!! http://mathaf.org.qa/en/
This tram in the future will also provide access to the under construction Education City Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums.
Several of the individual Universities also have their own museums. Check out the links below if interested (list not extensive)
This article features several of my favourite places to eat within walking distance of a Doha Metro station (definitely) and a tourist attraction (mostly) The cuisine and prices vary but most are budget friendly.
Most restaurants below can be found on google maps.
Katara Cultural Village
Katara is a cultural destination featuring an ampitheatre, concert halls, exhibition galleries, a planetarium, shopping mall, park and beach areas plus a variety of restaurants. http://www.katara.net/en/
Take the red line to Al Qassar and follow the signs to Katara.
(Please note Al Qassar is the closest metro stop to Al Fanar Food Truck – for the ampitheatre/planetarium and other attractions use the Katara metro stop)
Signs will direct you through an underpass and you will emerge near the beach. Look to your right and you will see the Al Fanar Food Truck.
Select from fresh juices, hot and cold drinks and from chapatis, sandwiches and mutabaq – a type of lightly fried pancake with savoury or sweet fillings. Enjoy your food (preferably at night) on the beach with a beautiful view over Katara and the distant Pearl development.
Ask the helpful metro staff for the park exit (shown below) and follow the signs to the Fire Station. The park is gorgeous and has a number of features along the way. Its around a 20 minute walk so best done in winter or at night.
The original fire station was built in 1982 but moved to more modern premises in 2012.
The building was then handed over to the Qatar Museums Authority and redesigned as an art space cleverly incorporating many of the original features.
Enjoy the current exhibition and visit the artist in residence and garage gallery – featuring (you guessed it) the original fire engine garages. http://firestation.org.qa/
Facilities also include the best art supplies shop in Qatar and the 999 Café. The café serves a variety of light bites, cakes, hot and cold drinks. At night the atmosphere is beautiful with water features, trees and clever lighting. A must visit while in Doha!
Doha Al Jadeeda
Exiting the metro using the Al Matar South exit you might
wonder where you are!
Turn right however and within a few minutes walk you will find the trendy Meesh Café which is well worth a visit. Attached to the Crowne Plaza hotel and situated on the main road the café is very modern and has a selection of hot and cold light bites – either healthy or not so….It has free wifi too.
If you fancy watching sport then continue past Meesh Cafe to the Holiday Inn and the Stock Burger restaurant. Open from noon it sells a range of burgers/wings/salads and desserts. They also serve alcoholic drinks.
Oqba Al Nafie
This station is not in a touristy area whatsoever but if you feel like an authentic Indian meal it is well worth the adventure. The Biriyani Corner restaurant is a 10 minute walk from the Metro station (use the Al Matar St West exit then turn right, keep walking and cross the big road, then continue past Ansar Gallery until you see the restaurant on the right)
Upon entering turn left and go upstairs. The layout is simple but do not be put off – the food is excellent and very budget friendly. Choose from curries, vegetarian dishes, rice and a multitude of different breads. Western and other Asian dishes are also available. Wash your food down with tea, coffee, water or a soft drink.
The following restaurants are on the newly opened (Nov 2019) Gold Line and mainly within Souq Waqif – one of Qatars best and well known tourist attractions.
Opposite the Cornice is where the original settlement of Doha used to be a century or so ago. Rebuilt after falling into decay it now offers a sensory overload with a variety of spices, saffron, local perfumes as well as fishing equipment, tools, fabric and clothes and huge pots and pans. Within the same area you will also find a pet souq, the falcon souq, camel and horse pens. A modern gold souq has been built and traditional arts and crafts can be found throughout.
Souq Waqif is also well known as a dining destination and showcases a true variety of food.
I have selected four of my favourites here which are all budget friendly and offer a local authentic experience.
Shujaa Restaurant is extremely simple, the menu is tasty meat skewers, arabic bread, salads and a variety of middle eastern dips. Soft and hot drinks are also available.
The seating is traditional Arabic style and under the cover of a rattan roof. Sit and watch people pass through the souq and enjoy the authentic atmosphere. This place opens for breakfast and dinner and can get very busy so be prepared to wait for a table.
Al Marouf Bakery is right next to Shujaa and offers tasty bread takeaway snacks. A very budget friendly place, simply select your preference from the menu in the window and wait as your food is cooked to order. There is limited seating but eating your food as you walk through the souq is a great experience.
Ali Al Naama Coffee is a small place towards the end of the main drag. A menu in the window tells you whats available which includes a variety of chapatis and hot and cold drinks.
The price is super low and seating is available opposite. Take your time and watch the world go by as a mixture of locals, tourists and traders wander along.
Al Enna Restaurant is in the Falcon Souq and serves traditional Qatari food as well as a mixture of other Arabic cuisines. They offer indoor (air conditioned and traditionally decorated) and outdoor seating where shisha is available if you wish to try. Food is good value here and service is excellent. Another must visit!
If you find any hidden budget restaurants on your visit to Qatar, then please leave us a comment below…..