Updated April 10, 2019
Most tourists visit Doha during the long stopover of their flight, in my case, between Madrid and Kathmandu. Qatar Airways is considered one of the best airlines in the world. I agree, my experience is excellent and also offers very competitive prices, so Doha International Hamad Airport is one of the busiest ones with more than 37 million passengers in 2016.
Opened in 2014 to replace the old International Airport (located immediately west of the new), which remained small for the immense air traffic that the city supported due to the expansion of Qatar Airways. It is the only commercial airport in the country. I stopped at the previous airport, so I do not know firsthand the facilities of the new one. If the former being small was already well prepared and organized, this should be much better, in fact it is the 6th airport to get the designation of “5 stars airport” after Hong Kong, Seoul-Incheon, Tokyo Haneda, Singapore and Munich.
To go from Doha airport to the center, we have the following options:
- They are new, punctual, with air conditioning and clean.
- You must buy a Karwa Smartcard to use them, which can be purchased at Mowasalat counters at the airport, next to the luggage tapes 5 and 6, or on automatic machines in the Bus Pavilion, ground floor, at Arrivals. The machines do not give change, and they only accept 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Riyales tickets. There are 3 types:
- QR10: $ 3, allows two trips in 24 hours.
- QR20: $ 5, unlimited trips throughout Qatar for 24 hours.
- QAR30: 8 $, rechargeable, for long stays.
- Interesting for tourists:
- Line 777, from the airport passes through the Museum of Islamic Art and The Corniche. Since relatively recently it reaches the Pearl. It works from 5 a.m. to midnight, one every 20 minutes; To see the official map with schedules and stops, click on this link.
- Line 747 is preferable to go to Al Ghanim Bus Station; it also arrives at the Museum of Islamic Art. From 4:42 to 23:42, every 20 minutes.
- You have to put the card on a sensor when boarding and leaving the bus.
- Official light blue / turquoise taxis are taken at the Taxi Pavilion, and are easy to use, modern and clean but the possibility of them trying to rip us off exists. All of them must use the meter; The minimum fare from the airport is 25 QAR and it increases 1.20 QAR per kilometer from 5 am to 9 pm and 1.80 QAR per kilometer from 9 pm to 5 am. They only accept cash; in case we did not have, several ATMs have been located in the Taxi Pavilion.
- In this pavilion you can also hire limousines.
- If we do not take a taxi in this area, we have the risk of ending up in an unofficial taxi, which as always we advise against.
- Uber is safer and has been operating in Qatar since 2013. A trip to the center should cost around 40 QAR.
- Rental car: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Sixt and Hertz, as well as many local companies, have offices at the airport. In Qatar, the international driving license is mandatory.
- Many hotels provide free transfer to and from the airport.
- There’s a metro line under construction, that should be ready before the Soccer World Cup in 2022.
A mandatory visa is required to enter Qatar. It seems clear that the World Soccer Cup is just around the corner, because the requirements are increasingly simple, and as of April 2019 are the following:
- Visa-free or Visa Waiver: it is not really a visa, but a free permit, which does not require any prior request, and is delivered to visitors from 83 countries upon arrival showing a passport with a minimum validity of 6 months and a departure ticket from the country:
- 180 days from delivery, allows to stay uninterrupted up to 90 days in Qatar, and allows multiple entries and exits. It is awarded to the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
- 30 days, allows one or multiple entries and exits: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Georgia, Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, The Vatican and Venezuela.
- Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA): those citizens from countries not eligible for entry with a simple free visa, but with a residence permit or a visa to visit the Schengen area, Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or New Zealand can request the ETA in advance on this website. It is free and allows 30 days of stay, but only serves for one entry, if we leave the country, we must ask for another one.
- Those who do not meet the prerequisites must request an Online Tourist Visa. It is requested in the same website indicated in the previous paragraph and it is not free, it costs 100 QAR, it allows a stay of 30 days without re-entry. It is true that for once it’s OK, but I would not pay € 20 again, which cost in 2011 for an afternoon walk in Doha.
- For Qatar Airways travelers, you can still apply for the transit visa for short stopovers, although given the simplification of procedures, visitors from the 83 countries mentioned above do not need it, but it can be useful for those who do not comply with the requirements:
- It is free for scales between 5 and 96 hours.
- It must be requested at least 7 days in advance on the web of Qatar Airways, our flight must be of the company. The Qatar Tourist Authority is also expected to process it, but its website send us to Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, where it is not mentioned.
- Once approved it is valid until 90 days after the date of issue.
The Qatar Airways Doha City Tour includes the free visa and a 3-hour city tour for 75 QAR. For details, check the post GETTING AROUND IN DOHA.