Year-round sunshine, luxury hotels and world class service: Why Qatar is the ultimate winter sun destination
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Few things are more enjoyable than a dose of winter sun when it’s cold and dark back home – but choosing somewhere that offers a warm climate and the best hotels while still being great value for money can be difficult.
Thankfully, Qatar offers all this and more, with reliable sunshine all year round and an alluring blend of Bedouin heritage and modern elegance that is epitomised by its world-class capital city, Doha.
With an intoxicating mix of ancient cultural sites, vibrant natural wonders, idyllic beaches and exciting desert adventures, it’s the perfect place for a New Year family getaway.
Hospitality is an integral part of Qatari culture so you’re guaranteed a big welcome, while good flight connections make it particularly suitable for a stop-over visit or as one leg of a holiday to the Indian Ocean or onwards to Asia.
Here’s why Qatar is the ultimate destination for adventures in the winter sun.
Al Zubarah Fort is an imposing 20th-century citadel on the Arabian Gulf coast which forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Where past meets present
While Qatar is usually associated with cutting-edge modernity, it’s also a storied land boasting a rich culture shaped by thousands of years of history.
There are few better places to take a glimpse into Qatar’s past than at Al Zubarah Fort, an imposing 20th-century citadel on the Arabian Gulf coast.
It forms the youngest and most prominent feature of the wider Al Zubarah Archaeological Site – which enjoys a UNESCO World Heritage listing.
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A pristine example of a typical Arab fort, its one-metre-thick walls warded off invaders while also helping to keep rooms cool during the hot summer.
Today visitors will find a wealth of historical sites, including palaces, mosques, courtyard houses, fishermen’s huts, cemeteries and an ancient harbour.
History lovers should also visit Katara Cultural Village in the north of Doha, where you can visit a reconstructed amphitheatre and a range of fascinating exhibitions.
The capital itself embodies Qatar’s potent mix of tradition and modernism, with soaring skyscrapers and glittering shopping malls sitting side by side with traditional souks and plenty of fascinating cultural attractions.
In one sense visiting Doha is like stepping into the future, with the ultra-modern seafront promenade, Doha Corniche, with its spectacular views of dramatic skyscrapers and gleaming architectural designs.
Yet the city’s seafaring past is also on full display, not least in the traditional dhows that bob up and down along the bay.
A cruise onboard one of these distinctive wooden boats is a fantastic way to experience Qatar’s heritage while also taking in its magnificent cityscape, which is particularly magical at dusk.
Qatar’s traditional souks have been centres for trading, socialising and exchanging ideas for centuries, and remain at the heart of the nation’s culture.
The best known is Souq Waqif, a tangle of alleyways flanked by mud-rendered shops and exposed timber beams that provide visitors with a genuine sense of what life must have been like hundreds of years ago.
You can visit stalls selling local jewellery and traditional Bedouin fabrics or simply sit back and people watch while enjoying a coffee.
Picking up some locally made souvenirs at a traditional souk is an essential part of a Qatar trip
To discover more of Doha’s cultural gems, a visit to the impressive Museum of Islamic Art is a must, with more than 13 centuries’ worth of art and artefacts from across the Islamic world, including paintings, textiles and manuscripts.
Culture vultures will find lots more museums and galleries, including the National Museum of Qatar and the Qatar National Library – which houses a remarkable two million books.
The Pearl-Qatar is another must-visit attraction. Known as the ‘Arabian Riviera’, the man-made island is filled with Mediterranean-style architecture, gourmet restaurants and glittering superyachts.
The Italian-inspired Qanat Quartier includes a made-to-measure replica of Venice’s Rialto Bridge.
And once you’ve enjoyed an action-packed day, you can sample the city’s sophisticated restaurant scene, with authentic tastes from the Middle East, to North Africa, India, and beyond.
The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, which houses one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in the world
When’s the best time to visit?
Visitors to Qatar can enjoy pleasant temperatures in the high twenties and low thirties over the winter until March.
This provides the perfect conditions for exploring, as well as relaxing in the sunshine.
There are also lots of events and national holidays during this time, as people look to take advantage of the milder temperatures.
Qatar has an impressive variety of natural landscapes, with wide desert skies, sweeping sand dunes, and dramatic limestone rock formations.
The otherworldly Dah Al Misfir cave, west of Doha, plunges more than 130ft deep into the ground but is accessible to hikers, who come to witness its famous moon-like glow caused by deposits of gypsum.
Equally magical is Khor Al Adaid (the Inland Sea), an ever-changing landscape of shallow, salty water inhabited by turtles, ospreys and cormorants.
Away from the familiar desert landscape – best enjoyed on a safari tour in a 4×4 – you’ll also find more surprising sites like the Al Thakira Mangrove Forest, a green wilderness teeming with flamingos that you can explore on a kayak.
Qatar is also a haven for sports enthusiasts, with championship golf courses, watersports centres and plenty of play areas for children.
You can also experience traditional sports like falconry and camel racing.
Qatar has miles of stunning beaches – one of the many reasons there are few places better for a holiday in the winter sun
A culture of hospitality
Qatar possesses a vast number of luxury hotels, three-quarters of which are rated as four or five stars, meaning there is a fantastic choice of places to stay offering world class service.
Travelbag has lots of packages on offer, including 5 nights bed and breakfast at the Hilton Doha, including direct flights, for just £1,189.*
The 5-star hotel sits on the north end of the Doha Corniche, within easy reach of some of the city’s most popular attractions as well as a wealth of high-end shops and eateries.
You’ll soak up a luxurious atmosphere from the moment you arrive, with spacious rooms featuring panoramic seaside views and access to a private beach, spa and live entertainment at Trader Vic’s restaurant.
Every room features a spacious bathtub and walk-in shower, while families will soon be able to book an inter-connecting suite with a studio.
*For the latest prices and offers, contact Travelbag on 020 3733 1036 or click here.
Off-roading in a 4×4 through the desert – an activity known as Dune Bashing – is one of the most popular tourist activities in Qatar
 – Customers must pay the price difference if the cost of the holiday is higher or third party costs are added. Maximum of 2 amendments per booking apply.
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