There is so much to see of Qatar beyond the city and a day trip to Northern Qatar is perfect for the intrepid explorer. Many villages and towns in Qatar have remained mostly untouched for decades while the nation’s capital has developed in leaps and bounds. Some were even abandoned within the last century, and the ruins of homes, mosques and forts tell the story of a nation with a rich history. Northern Qatar offers some off-beat and exciting opportunities away from the city to discover the real beauty of Qatar.
My friends & I headed out of Doha for a day trip to Northern Qatar and our keen sense of adventure took us to the 3 spots mentioned in this blog post.
Please note: I recommend having your own vehicle to explore out of Doha as public transportation outside of Doha is scant. All destinations below can be accessed by any vehicle but drive carefully if going off the road.
Stop 1: Al Jemail Fishing Village (Ghost Town)
If you’re a fan of visiting deserted places, then Al Jemail is definitely one to add to your list. It is known as Qatar’s ghost town but don’t be afraid. The village was once a successful pearl diving and fishing village along Qatar’s coast in the middle of Al Arish and Al Ruwais. It’s name is derived from the Arabic word ‘Jameel’ which means beautiful. Built somewhere between the 19th century to the 20th century, all that is currently left are parts of houses, shards of pottery, beads and different remnants from the past. Its mosque, particularly the minaret, still stands tall today and you can even climb inside.
The property is not secured and is therefore, easily accessible at all times of day. To visit includes 150m of off-road driving but the ground is firm. You can easily walk it.
A good place for photos and to explore the biodiversity in the sea when the tide is out.
Google Maps Link
Stop 2: Arsan Cafe in Al Ruwais
About 15 minutes away from the fishing village is Qatar’s northernmost cafe. Built in 1955, the Al Ruwais Old Police Station has been revamped by Qatar Museums and is now a picturesque cafe. You can read more about the cafe & its history as a police station at the cafe itself.
Overlooking the Arabian Sea, this cafe- although small- offers a surprising number of items for consumption. We enjoyed delicious mango, coconut & passionfruit drinks while reading our books and enjoying a cool breeze for a few hours.
If you go with young children, be aware that the cafe leads directly towards the sea by a short platform. Children need to be minded to not hurt themselves on the adjacent rocks.
Google Maps Link
Stop 3: Al Mafjar Beach (Old Ruins Beach)
We wanted to end our day in the water so I headed to MamaInTransit’s blog and followed her recommendation for the best beach in Qatar. We weren’t disappointed by the beach which was clean, deserted and actually had waves ( a rarity for a beach in Qatar). Sadly we did not see the famed ruins; we did see signs that said ‘Qatar Museums’ so not sure if they were blocked off or under construction. Alternatively we may have gone to the wrong place altogether but that’s nothing new when exploring in Qatar.
The sand leading to this beach gets soft in places; I recommend driving carefully if you don’t have 4WD and trying to stay on the firm ground. Alternatively you can park and walk to the beach.
Google Maps Link
Overall, it was a wonderful day exploring Northern Qatar and I would happily return to any of the places mentioned in this post. There are many tours offering excursions to these places as part of a package so if you don’t have a vehicle, it might be worth seeking them out. However, if you are hiring or own a car in Qatar, I urge you to get out of Doha and explore Northern Qatar by yourself. Day trips out of Doha are the perfect way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy metropolis.
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Would you consider visiting Northern Qatar? Or have I just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!