I recently had a lengthy layover at the Doha airport, and while there’s a lot of information out there about long layovers, I wanted to consolidate some of the information into one post.
Can you go to the lounge (i.e. clear transit security) before heading out into the city?
Yes! You can use the lounge before heading into the city (e.g., if you want to grab breakfast or a shower in the lounge). To get to immigration once you’re past transit security, there’s an elevator you can take to get back to the transit security level (the escalators only go down). This elevator also goes to the Al Mourjan lounge. Walk to the end of transit security, and people will wave you through so you can get to immigration.
Can you leave your luggage in the lounge?
Yes! There are places to store your luggage in the Al Mourjan and Al Safwa lounges. You can stop by the lounge to drop off your luggage before heading into the city. In the Al Mourjan lounge, the luggage room is to the right after you enter the lounge. In the Al Safwa lounge, the luggage room is straight ahead and to the right after you enter the lounge.
What are my options for getting into the city from the airport?
You can take Uber, a taxi, or a bus. There’s a counter at baggage claim (BEFORE you clear customs) between baggage claims 5 and 6 where you can buy bus tickets. And you can pay for the bus tickets at this counter with a credit card. At the beginning of 2018, 10 riyal (~$2.75 USD) was enough for two one-ways on the bus (20 riyal is enough for unlimited trips in a 24-hour period). Once you clear customs, you need to head to the right to get to the bus stop (it’s a little bit of a walk, but there are lots of signs). The 747 and 777 buses go to the Souq Waqif, with the 777 bus heading all of the way to the Pearl by way of West Bay.
Do I need a visa?
If you’re a US citizen, not anymore! You can now get visa-free entry for 30 days upon arrival.
What about the stopover tours organized by the airport?
I have not been on one of these at the Doha airport, but I have done one at the Changi airport in Singapore. If you just want to take a picture or two of things, these tours are fine, but you usually don’t get to spend much time at any one place, so if you actually want to explore places, you probably want to organize your own stopover tour.
What should I do during my layover?
Depending on the amount of time you have, I might check out the Souq Waqif and the Museum of Islamic Art and then walk along the Corniche.