Traveling by plane can sometimes become a bit too exhausting. Some people find it particularly irritating to be scheduled for layovers, where they spend hours with nothing to do in-between connecting flights.
While a lot of layovers can be short (around an hour or so), some can last for more than half a day. During this time, you may find yourself wandering aimlessly with nothing to do, annoyed and wondering why time seems to go by very slowly.
The good news is that some airlines put in the effort to help travelers spend their layovers in a more worthwhile manner. For example, in Doha, Qatar, layovers have been transformed from a tiresome period of delay to time spent experiencing something much more fulfilling.
Wondering what you can do on your next layover in Doha? Below are six meaningful ways you can spend your limited time there:
1. Bask in the beauty of airport art.
If your layover lasts for just three hours or less, your best bet at being on time for your connecting flight is to stay inside the airport. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just let yourself become bored to death.
Instead, try looking for art decorations within the building.
If you happen to land in Hamad International Airport (HIA), you can immerse yourself in the Qatari culture through their unique collection of artworks. With the help of Qatar Museums, the airport has curated some of the most interesting creations from international and local artists that seamlessly blend into the architecture and interior design.
For example, if you stroll around the passenger terminal, you could see the Lamp Bear art installation from Urs Fischer, slouching on one side right at the heart of the terminal. In fact, the yellow teddy bear has become a sort of celebrity among tourists and is considered one of the most popular photo-op areas in the airport.
2. Take a free tour of the city.
If your layover lasts more than three hours, you might want to consider getting out of the airport to see the city. Even if it’s just for four to five hours, you can head to the center of Doha to visit new museums and their interesting architecture or just take a stroll along the Corniche waterfront.
The best part is that you may be able to tour the city for free.
In collaboration with the Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar Airways offers a free three-hour tour of Doha for passengers with layovers lasting more than five hours.
This is your chance to visit the following key destinations in the Qatari capital:
- Katara Cultural Village
- Souq Waqif
- The Museum of Islamic Art
If you intend to take advantage of this service for your layover, you might want to bring some pocket money. While you may not be paying for the tour itself, you would need cash for the souvenirs you’ll be enticed to bring home to your loved ones.
3. Sample a few Arabian dishes.
Even if your layover is quite short, it may just be enough time for you to sample authentic Qatari cuisine.
At the Hamad International Airport, you’ll find Qataf Café that serves Arabic dishes in mezze-style platters. If you’re not looking to indulge in a massive meal before your connecting flight, you can enjoy some Arabic sweets and traditional tea instead.
Of course, if your next flight isn’t for another eight hours or more, you’ll have more time to explore the best restaurants in Doha.
In addition to Doha Festival City, any traveler staying in Qatar for a short time should visit Souq Waqif. This popular haunt run by Qatari locals offers some of the best aspects of the local culture, flavors included.
4. Go shopping for unique finds.
Besides snacks, you may also find vendors at Souq Waqif selling jewelry and other things you can bring home as unique souvenirs.
Even if your layover is so short that leaving the airport is out of the question, you can still shop for some souvenirs to remind you of your stay in Doha. As you wait for your connecting flight at HIA, consider browsing through the shops inside the airport that offer the famous luxury brands below:
- Coach Hermes
- Hugo Boss
5. Keep your kids entertained.
Are you traveling with your family? Instead of spending your layover stressing over a cranky kid, consider bringing them to one of those activity nodes inside the airport. These areas offer entertainment amenities like televisions and Internet access, as well as family rooms to give you more privacy.
But if your waiting time is much longer, consider venturing out and exploring some of the establishments in the city.
Head over to Doha Festival City, where your children can enjoy some of the most exciting kids’ activities in Doha. Inside, you’ll find:
- Angry Birds World
- Spark Sense and Play
- Snow Dunes
- VOX Cinemas
6. Get some shuteye.
If you’ve been traveling non-stop for work, you might want to spend your layover time getting some shuteye. Unfortunately, sitting in the airport lobby is nowhere near restful.
The good news is that some airports in Doha have airport hotels that let guests book short-time stays that can be as short as five hours. A good example of this is Hamad International Airport’s The Airport Hotel.
Reserve a room for five hours, and you’ll have somewhere to relax and refresh in. Get a quick nap, take a shower, or use the gym. You’ll be able to do all that without having to pay for a whole night’s stay.
Of course, if you don’t want to spend any money to get good-quality rest, you can also head to one of the airport’s Quiet Rooms that are equipped with comfortable recliners.
Make Your Layover in Doha More Enjoyable
Layovers in Doha don’t have to be excruciatingly dull. You can use this time to enjoy art, taste delicious cuisine, shop around, or even get some much-needed rest. All it takes is a little bit of planning.