Check out the latest attractions in Germany at this roadshow in Doha, 11 Oct 2019 03:11:11 +0400The best part about living in Doha is the amazing opportunity to travel almost anywhere we want to.Qatar Airways is constantly revealing new destinations with direct flights and travel is now easier and more efficient than ever.

Finding a new spot to visit can be harrowing but we’ve sorted out your next vacation.

The German National Tourist Office- Gulf countries (GNTO) is hosting a roadshow in Doha on October 20 in partnership with Qatar Airways.

Hosted by the German Ambassador to Qatar, His Excellency Hans-Udo Muzel, the roadshow aims to introduce Qatari travel trade professionals, key opinion leaders and media to the latest tourism attractions, which make Germany a preferred destination for Qatari travellers.

Ten key GNTO partners will join the road show introducing the Qatari market to vibrant local destinations, tour operators, deluxe hotels, medical tourism institutions and luxury shopping outlets.

The high-end shopping complexes feature Breuninger Department Store; OutletCity Metzingen and Ingolstadt & Wertheim Village, while the hotel operators cover Excelsior Hotel Ernst and Hotel Bayerischer Hof Munich.

The medical tourism providers cover Sana Hospital Group and Schoen Clinic.

The Cologne Tourist Board will also be present promote the biggest city on the Rhine to the roadshow attendees.
Free. October 20. To attend, email Nicole Zaspel on

Three must-visit destinations in Oman, 29 Aug 2019 09:00:34 +0400Jebel Akhdar, Oman
The so-called Green Mountain is one of the most spectacular destinations in the entire Gulf region, especially when viewed from the summit. Oman’s highest point offers some fantastic trekking, giving you the chance to discover ancient villages and plenty of local flora and fauna, which both thrive thanks to the relatively high level of rainfall in the area. Peer down Oman’s equivalent of the Grand Canyon – this is certainly not one for the vertiginous among you, though…
GPS location: 23.067741, 57.670114
Driving time: 5hrs 16mins (483km)

Muscat, Oman
The Omani capital is the epitome of hospitality, and is swiftly becoming a hugely popular tourist destination for those seeking traditional splendour in a country as laid-back as they come. Culture vultures will have a packed itinerary here, starting with visits to some of the many museums. While not the largest, the Bait Al Zubair Museum ( is arguably the most intriguing. Funded by the family whose names it bears, this restored traditional home contains a brilliantly curated collection, including a stunning selection of jewellery and wedding garments. Other must-visits are the stunning Royal Opera House Muscat (, especially for those aficionados of the more old-school styles of music.
GPS location: 23.601755, 58.399049
Driving time: 5hrs (446km).

Salalah, Oman
By far the longest trip on our list, you’ll definitely want to make a weekend of it down in sunny Salalah. For those brave enough to tackle this trek (you might want a co-driver or two for this one), the rewards here are immense, as this coastal city is as wonderfully welcoming as it is abundant with nature. Twitchers should pack their binoculars and head for the coastal wetlands, where you’ll find an array of terns, waders, raptors and passerines, in a lovely location set against the backdrop of the stunning Dhofar Mountains.
GPS location: 17.050713, 54.106418
Driving time: 11hrs 30mins (1,236km).

Quick guide to Doha Metro, 02 Jun 2019 10:00:11 +0400If we’re being completely honest, we had totally forgotten about the Doha Metro altogether – that’s how long it was taking. The first train was slated to run in 2018. But suddenly last month, the news that the Metro would be open to the public dropped two days prior and an entire country of fast drivers, taxi takers and slow walkers were all equally ecstatic. There are still plenty of crinkles that need ironing out but for now, this might be the best thing that’s happened to the country in a long while.
We’ve pulled together this quick guide for everything you need to know whether you’re taking your first train ride or you’ve tried it a couple of times already and still haven’t figured out how to top up your card. No thanks necessary.

Doha Metro
Recently launched by Qatar Rail, the Doha Metro features 13 stations running (mostly underground) across 40km all the way from Al Qassar to Al Wakra (total travel time 30 minutes) and Hamad International Airport. As the citizens breathe a sigh of relief from Doha’s ever-increasing traffic jams and travel times, the metro promises to provide a much needed facelift to Doha’s transportation system. All the stations are easily accessible, there is clear and legible signage everywhere, travel cards that make this a superior economical experience and even an app to facilitate ease and convenience.

Red Line
The Qatar Rail network consists of the Red Line, Green Line and Gold Line with a total of 37 stations and an expected completion date in 2020. Red Line is the very first to launch on the network and covers some of Doha’s most important stations and heavy traffic areas like Al Bidda, Souq Waqif, Doha Jadeeda and many more. With 18 stations in operation, the inspiration behind the design of each station is inspired by Qatar’s cultural history.

If you visit, you’ll notice an architectural identity that’s reminiscent of the traditional Bedouin tents. The interiors also pay homage to the country’s heritage through ornaments that shed lights with pearl effects and other aesthetic elements such as the ventilation systems among others.

Doha Metro stations operate five days a week from Sunday to Thursday between 8am and 11pm (due to change soon). Trains arrive every six minutes and the commute between stations lasts for approximately three minutes. Doha Metro will remain closed on weekends to facilitate completion of pending work with other rail lines. Download the Qatar Rail mobile application for more details on routes, timings and everything else.

Metro cards and rates
All users of Doha Metro must have metro cards with them. The cards are divided into three categories: Standard, Gold Club and Limited Use. Limited Use cards are appropriate for occasional travellers or tourists for any one-time use. The journey costs QR2 and the cost of a full day pass is QR6 for standard or family-class travel. To use the Gold Class, the journey cost is QR10 and a full day pass costs QR30.

Rechargeable Cards come in Standard and Gold options and can be recharged and used repeatedly. It has to be topped up before usage and is valid for five years. While this card can be purchased from Travel Card Vending Machines available at all metro stations, they can also be purchased at retailers like Al Meera, Lulu, Jumbo and Carrefour. The cards will be priced at QR30 with a travel credit of QR20. Licensed retailers will, however, not be able to top-up your travel credit. This can be done at Doha Metro stations only.

In true Doha style, luxury travel seekers can opt for the Gold Club Card for QR100. A single journey in the gold class costs QR10 and a day pass costs QR30. These cards can only be purchased at the Gold Club offices at the metro stations.

Reaching the station
To ensure convenient reach for the public and accessibility from all areas surrounding the metro station, Qatar Rail has collaborated with the Ministry of Transport and Communication to integrate various modes of public transport. Metrolink feeder buses are available for customers to use to and from the stations. Information about these shuttle buses and their pick-up points can be found on the Qatar Rail mobile app. While the feeder buses are free, the passengers can also take advantage of reduced prices through other modes of public transport. Karwa app users can avail a flat QR8 fee through the promo code RAIL on any journey within 3km to and from the metro stations. Some stations such as Al Bidda and Corniche do not offer the feeder buses, but the stations are very conveniently located in main areas.

While some stations do have ample parking spaces, some of them are very limited or non-existent. The whole idea is to reduce public dependence on motor vehicles. There will be 300 free parking facilities at Al Wakra station. There are, however, drop off and pick up points at all stations, so this might be a good time to hitch a ride with a friend.

Kids below the age of four do not require a travel card. They must, however, be accompanied by a fare paying adult. Children over five will require a metro card in order to travel. Younger kids must be accompanied by someone older than 16 years of age. Fares for children and adults will remain the same.

The Qatar Rail application can be downloaded for iOS and Android. Once you register, you can link it to your metro card. The app will keep track of all your journeys while enabling access to a network map of current operational trips. Real time information is also available on the app besides a journey planner that can help you manage your trips.

Red Line

18 stations 40km north to south

Green Line
11 stations 22km east to west

Gold Line
11 stations 14km east to west

Flying with kids, 02 Jun 2019 08:32:57 +0400Picture this scene: your treasured little bundle of joy cries so loud on a flight that windows could shatter. Other passengers give you cold stares as you walk (with shame) over to your seat. Flying with young children can be a stressful and unpredictable experience. If you want to avert disaster, here are a few tips to make your trip as smooth as possible.

Ask for preferential treatment in advance
Most airlines will be very understanding of your situation, especially with a young child. You can request front row seats (with the extra legroom) so you don’t need to disturb other passengers. Baby bassinets and airline approved car seats are also available on request. Just make sure to request these well in advance so proper arrangements can be made on the day.

Load your luggage with distractions for the little one. Download as many Netflix cartoons as you can and bring some lightweight toys and games for the journey, too. You can also never have enough wet wipes for all kinds of ‘accidents’. You might want to consider pull-up diapers just as a precaution.

Use the stroller service or terminal transport
There are plenty of reasons to love Hamad International Airport (which also snagged the Best Airport in the World title for 2019). Ask at the information desk near the big teddy bear (Lamp Bear by Urs Fischer) to provide you with a stroller to take up to your departure gate. You could also use the terminal transport (the little golf carts) to speed up your journey. The little one will probably even enjoy the ride.

Bring snacks and BUY water
Make sure to buy more water than you need before you board the plane. Sometimes it can be a long wait (especially as an economy passenger) and your child’s grumpiness could be eased if they are well-hydrated. Similarly, have lots of bite-sized snacks like small cheeses, grapes, chips and biscuits on hand so you don’t have to wait until after your plane departs. Invest in a tupperware box with separate compartments to save on space and packaging.

Schedule your vaccinations
If you’re travelling to any destination where vaccinations are required, then it’s probably best to check with your doctor when the best time to vaccinate your child would be. It’s best to avoid situations where the child might suffer from side effects such as fever, diarrhoea and other aches during your flight.

Pack lollipops and DUMMIES
Infant ears are particularly sensitive to the air pressure changes that come with altitude. Consider packing something for them to suck on, which will ease their pains and as a consequence, yours too.

Prepare some goodie bags
If you have a particularly boisterous child, your biggest worry might be the looks you get from fellow passengers. Launch a pre-prepared charm offensive by offering up some goodie bags and a “Thank you for your patience” note. It’s a nice, unexpected gesture and something that will definitely help if your child is having a mid-flight meltdown.

Use the bathroom before you board
This should go without saying but make sure you all have several bathroom breaks before you board the plane. Minimise that tiny percentage of risk of the bathroom being out of order for an hour just when your dear little one needs to go.

Prepare for the unexpected
You might be concerned about what your child will do on the flight and that’s a common concern. Just make sure in the midst of packing for your trip, and on the day, that you’ve got everything you need, too. Anything can happen on a flight, especially when you least expect it. It’s the safest bet to always be prepared for the unexpected.

Cairo, Egypt, 02 Jun 2019 08:27:12 +0400Are there any more historically significant and architecturally fascinating cities than Egypt’s capital? A window through time, there are few better places around the world that you can visit for a short escape than this magnificent ancient city, steeped – from the tips of the pyramids to the depths of the River Nile – in some of the world’s most wonderful civilisational history.

But, of course, over the millennia, Cairo has become about significantly more than the pyramids or the sphinx. This north African city is a thriving hub of culture, and plays host to some truly stunning riverside resorts, if you happen to be after a relaxing weekend. If you’re looking something equally picturesque yet, perhaps, next to one of the seven wonders of the world, you can expect to find some exquisite resorts in the shadows of the Great Pyramids of Giza. And, just a couple of hours away by car if you’re heading to the coast, is the historical city of Alexandria.

Surely, if you’re thinking of visiting Cairo, there’s only one thing that comes to mind? Start your adventure at the pyramids of Giza – because we’ll be making a beeline the second we’re off the plane. Dating back more than 4,500 years, the Pyramids were created as tombs for the country’s pharaohs during the Old and Middle Kingdoms’ rule over Egypt. While more than 100 pyramids in total are estimated to have been completed, only the three biggest still exist: the Pyramid of Menkaure, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Pyramid of Khufu – the latter of which is the tallest, standing at 138.8m. Having taken 85 years to build, you’d need your head looking at if you swerved these incredible constructs.

Neighbouring the pyramids you’ll also find the Great Sphinx of Giza. No-one truly knows why the Ancient Egyptians created sphinxes, although it is believed that the Great Sphinx was created for Pharaoh Khafre around 4,500 years ago. You’ll find an absolute wealth of tour guides and operators serving up packages to go see these constructs.

Further towards the centre of Cairo, there’s tonnes for you to go and see or do. Head to Al Muizz Street’s Egyptian Textile Museum (+20 2 2786 5227) where you’ll be able to see textiles from the ancient worlds, including the Egyptian, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras. Also pay a visit to Mosque Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, which is one of the oldest mosques in the region and is as impressive as it is large.

Elsewhere, head to Tahrir Square where you’ll also find the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, housing more than 120,000 items from the reign of Tutenkhamen and beyond.

The Khan El Khalili Souk (+20 2 2589 7443) is one of the oldest souks in the region and home to countless traders of exotic items – like spices, jewellery, textiles and more.

If you’re in the mood for some regional grub, then the Fayruz Lebanese Restaurant (+20 2 2480 0009) is one of the highest rated in town. Here you’ll be able to enjoy traditional dishes (like hummus, kibbeh and more), while also finding live belly dancers. It can be on the pricey side, though, so if you’re looking for something a little bit easier on the wallet, head to Bab Al Qasr (+20 2 2389 9000).

In the district of Heliopolis, you’ll also find the charming little Italian eatery Maestro Italian Restaurant (+20 2 2480 0100). This place dishes up everything you’d expect from an international restaurant including pizzas, pastas, risottos and more. Finally, for a splash of Far Eastern flavour, MIRAI (+20 2 2735 0014) serves a whole host of sushi, noodles and pan-Asian dishes.

If you’re looking for views, then the aptly named Stage One (+20 2 2580 8420), offers magnificent vistas from the banks of the River Nile. As far as sundowners spots go, this is a must.

Elsewhere, The Garden (+20 100 826 3000) is a funky and lively, intimate bar with a wide selection of mixed drinks, DJs and a screen showing the latest kick-off.

For something a bit more refined, you should go and spend a quiet night, living the sophisticated life at 1897 The Bar & Cigar Lounge (+20 109 711 1151). With hard wood floors and furnishings, plush red seating and a wide range of hand rolls, this is a chilled spot with a classy touch.

Many of the leading hotel brands and resorts you’d recognise from the shores of Qatar have a presence in Cairo. From Hilton and Marriott to Four Seasons, Kempinski and more, if you want luxurious surroundings, you’re spoilt for choice.

Neighbouring the pyramids, if you’re looking to stay inland, is the Marriott Mena House Hotel (+20 2 3377 3222), a hotel resort that boasts some of the most stunning vistas around. Sitting in the shadow of the great pyramids, rates start from around QR250 per room per night, depending on the time of year and availability, of course.

Among other top hotels, you’ll also find the Four Seasons Cairo Nile Plaza (+20 2 3377 3222), set on the banks of the famous river, with rates starting from roughly QR1,100 per room per night.

If you want to do it like a local, check out the river bus – which will take you down the Nile from the Corniche in Downtown Cairo all the way to Giza. It’ll take you about 30 minutes, and will cost you a matter of a couple of riyals to make the trip. You might also want to avoid the city’s famous traffic congestion and opt for the metro, which runs across three lines, and also stops at Cairo International Airport. Outside of rush hour, you’ll find this to be an easy, inexpensive and relaxed way to get around town. Street taxis, female-only cabs, Careem and Uber are also all readily available, if four wheels is your thing. It’s time get your bags packed and get exploring this historic capital city.

From Qatar, there are no direct flights to Cairo but you could take Oman Air via Muscat for QR2,370 approximately with an average travel time of seven hours. Prices are, of course, season dependent.

Jazeera Airways flies via Kuwait to Cairo and this is a much shorter trip for almost the same price. For QR2,645, you could arrive at Cairo International Airport in less than six hours.

Royal Jordanian also has flights via Amman and takes barely five hours. This is the fastest way to get to Cairo but costs slightly more at roughly QR3,700. Qatar Airways and Middle Eastern Airlines offer combination flights.

Summer escapes, 02 Jun 2019 07:56:59 +0400Amsterdam
It’s the city of bicycles, canals, gabled buildings, vintage shops, hops and dining – and while it’s not a new destination to grace the flight path from Doha, five flights per day on Qatar Airways make it all the more accessible. Choose a flight that arrives at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in time for breakfast, allowing you to make the most of your day in the city – and there’s plenty to see and do. Hit Amsterdam’s history-packed museums, vintage-filled shops and appreciate the city’s hyper-creative design.
From QR4,073 (return).


The city of Belgrade is an increasingly popular and historic tourist destination thanks to its varying architecture, typical of a central European city, and more modern architecture and spacious layout of New Belgrade. Loud, adventurous, proud and audacious: Belgrade (‘White City’) is by no means an attractive capital in the aesthetic sense, but its gritty flamboyance makes it one of Europe’s most lively cities. Buildings range from socialist blocks to art-nouveau masterpieces, making it a must-visit for architecture fans. Venture deeper into Belgrade and you’ll discover museums guarding the cultural and military heritage of the country. Some of the best food can be found in this city, especially if you’re a meat lover.
From QR3,250 (return).

Set along the banks of the Dnipro River, this Ukrainian city is a place of big statements with glittering golden church spires and gargantuan tower blocks. There’s plenty to see, and you’d do well to take a trip to the Pyrohovo Museum of Folk Architecture, which sits out in the open air. The Chernobyl Museum is also interesting (and harrowing) while Pinchuk Art Centre is a world-class gallery featuring contemporary art and design from Ukraine and beyond.
From QR2,652 (return).


Chittagong is Bangladesh’s second largest city. It’s a gritty and congested one and there’s no getting away from that, but as the gateway to the Chittagong Hill Tracts – one of the most beautiful and fascinating corners of the country – it’s somewhere that many visitors pass through at some point.
Flights to Chittagong in Bangladesh take an average of six hours. You can fly from Doha via Muscat with Oman Air and Biman Bangladesh Airlines or opt for a cheaper option and slightly higher travel time with Qatar Airways. Time to head for those hills.
From QR2,290 (return).,


The Scottish capital is the second most-visited city in the UK by tourists, and for good reason. Take a stroll in its medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town, and of course see Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny. Scotland’s social scene is also a treasure, with plenty of hidden cafés and brilliant pubs to sit back and enjoy some Scottish banter. British Airways and Qatar Airways both fly directly to the Scottish capital. Estimated travel time between Qatar and Edinburgh is approximately seven hours and 30 minutes with economy class prices currently going from around QR4,400. There are more economical flights (QR3,850 return) available via Royal Jordanian and Turkish Airlines.
From QR4,400.


Ready to check out Glasgow? This former European City of Culture has plenty to see and do, with loads of museums as well as being home to the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet and National Theatre of Scotland. With a gritty yet friendly vibe it’s a fun place to explore and it also has a cracking nightlife scene, if that’s your vibe. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Glasgow and depending on your appetite for layovers, you can opt for flights with one or two stops. British Airways and Flybe, operated by Qatar Airways, offer a route via Manchester and London (on the way back) with an average travel time of ten hours. This costs approximately QR4,500. A cheaper option with two stops in Amman and London is available for QR3,700 on Royal Jordanian. Qatar Airways flies through Birmingham and Cardiff on the way back (there’s a direct flight to Cardiff on QR) for QR5,400. Now pass us that deep-fried Mars bar.
From QR3,700 (return).


How would you fancy a long weekend in a seaside city surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful scenic islands? It sounds thousands of miles away from Doha – and it is – but with Qatar Airways’ new service it’s easy to do. Finland’s flag carrier Finnair also flies directly from Doha to Helsinki with year-round service between Hamad International Airport and Helsink-Vantaa Airport with a flight that takes less than six hours each way. Helsinki is a city packed with wondrous architecture. The Finnish capital winds around Baltic bays and islands – and even has its own sea fortress. The bustling market town is awash with modern culture and design and the food scene is bursting with northern European flavours.
From QR3,331 (return). QR3,605 (return).


You might not have thought about a holiday in Kazakhstan, but the world’s ninth-biggest country is the most economically advanced of the ‘Stans’, thanks to its abundant reserves of oil. That means generally better standards of accommodation, restaurants and transport than elsewhere in Central Asia. Look past the cities and you’ll find gorgeous mountains, valleys and wildlife, making it well worth a visit. While there are no direct flights currently from Doha, Qatar Airways, Belavia and Air Astana are now operating joint flights to Almaty and Nur-Sultan. Nur-Sultan, previously known as Astana, is the capital city in the north of the country.
From QR3,700 (return).

Fancy escaping somewhere green and leaving the desert behind you? Kerala in South India is defined by its 600km of coastline and spice and tea covered hills of the Western Ghats. Relax on a houseboat in Alleppey or luxuriate in the lush greenery of Munnar. Choose from dozens of yoga and ayurveda retreats. It feels a million miles away from Doha, but the great news is you can get there in under four hours. With four international airports, there are several flights travelling directly including Indigo and Air India Express.
From QR2,354 (return).

A hub of culture, art and trading, this Polish city is a modern destination which still manages to perfectly retain its rich history.
Take in the impressive Wawel Royal Castle, visit Rynek Glowny, Krakow’s central square, or enjoy a fascinating day trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. With a place on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List, this eerie subterranean site is definitely worth a visit. There are no direct flights to Krakow, but Qatar Airways and Lufthansa can get you there via Frankfurt in an average of ten hours. There are other options as well via Austrian Airlines and British Airways.
From QR3,612.


Naples is one of the largest cities in Italy and is home to a tonne of cultural attractions and the beautiful Amalfi coastline. Hire a car and explore the area, including the pretty surrounding town of Sorrento and take a trip up Mount Vesuvius. Looking for top-notch pizza? You know where to go.
From QR4,416.


Riga may look a bit domineering with its Gothic spires, but delve a bit deeper and you’ll find a vibrant cosmopolitan city full of cool bars, modern art galleries and some pretty experimental restaurants. The largest of the Baltic capitals has a vibrant spirit and you can get there in around ten hours with Air Baltic or Finnair and Qatar Airways. Standing next to a gulf named after itself, Rīga is a short drive from jet-setting sea resort, Jūrmala, which comes with a stunning white-sand beach.
From QR3,887.


Fancy travelling to China but don’t want with the additional stress of indirect flights? Well, worry no more as Qatar Airways are offering daily non-stop flights between Shanghai and Hamad International Airport (HIA). The non-stop route is a game changer for anyone fearing a weary layover. The new journey makes travelling easier and provides a greater number of flight options between the two destinations. It’s quite a lengthy flight, though, with a travel time of nine-and-a-half hours one way, so breaking up the flight with a layover may also not be the worst idea. Shanghai is famous for its architecture (it’s home to the world’s second-tallest tower), its cuisine, shopping and arts scene, and it’s definitely up there on our list.
QR4,384 (return).

Head to the lovely Thessaloniki for history and culture by the bucket-load, beauty at every turn and just the right amount of chaos. Greece’s second city is full of life, and you can get amongst the action direct from Doha. The profoundly historic city is both the gateway to some fascinating parts of northern Greece, but still a worthwhile destination in its own right. The city sprawls around an arc of coastline at the top of the Thermaic Gulf. The main area of interest to visitors is along the shore between the ferry port and the White Tower, and in the area that rises inland from here to the ancient city walls. With this newest addition to Qatar Airways’ direct routes, we’re ready for some tzatziki and plate smashing.
From QR3,543 (return).


Zagreb in Croatia is a gorgeous maze of red roofs and cobblestones, baroque and art deco. It’s best explored on foot, to enjoy that mish mash of architecture and a load of truly brilliant street art. Delve straight into the city’s historical core or have a late lunch of Croatian cuisine. Walk around the old town to get a closer look at the authentic heritage in the tiny alleys. Stop by Grandfather’s Dream restaurant if you’re around for some of the city’s best Dalmatian cuisine in a really cosy setting. There’s more good news - the incredible Plitvice National Park is just under three hours away by road. Don’t miss it. We’re submitting our holiday forms to HR as we speak.
From QR3,571 (return).

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut is filled with brilliant restaurants, steeped in history and packed with lively nightlife. It’s both a city and beach destination and also a great short-distance place to fly for a skiing holiday in winter.
From QR2,239 (direct, return). Numerous airlines including MEA, Royal Jordanian and Qatar Airways.

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Renowned for its ancient ruins and deeply hospitable welcome, Sri Lanka is a must-visit, whatever kind of break you’re looking for. With history and sightseeing, wildlife and adventure, or incredible food and clean sandy beaches, you’ll find it on this charming island on the Indian Ocean.
From QR1,808 (direct, return). Numerous airlines including SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Goa, India
Set your sights East and head to Goa for a wondrous blend of Indian and Portugese cultures. Lined with golden beaches, peppered with stunning architecture, and simmering with wonderful street food, it’s no surprise that the city is becoming ever more popular with tourists
From QR3,004 (direct, return). Airlines include Air India, Indigo and Qatar Airways.

Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu is a charming place with loads of nature and history to explore. There are certainly prettier, cleaner places in Asia, but you’ll struggle to find any friendlier or quite so packed with quirks.
From QR1,613 (direct, return). Airlines include Oman Air, Nepal AIrlines and Qatar Airways.

Tbilisi, Georgia
Tbilisi’s transformation into a bustling, modern city – and the welcoming Georgian lifestyle – have been key to the influx of visitors to one of Europe’s most eternally charming capitals. Expect mesmerising picturesque architecture and a fast-paced lifestyle strinking the perfect balance between traditional and metropolitan.
From QR3,718 (direct, return). Airlines include Qatar Airways, Pegasus, Turkish Airlines and S7 Airlines.

If, like us, one of your favourite things to do while flying is skipping the whole process by falling asleep, then you’ll know, like us, how frustrating it is when you can’t nod off.

Well, we’ve rounded up five brilliant steps from Fitness First health guru Fernanda Baisch to help ensure you get some shut eye in the sky, as well as places you can unwind in Hamad International Airport beforehand.

Sleep routine
“If your flight is at night, try doing all of your evening rituals to help your body get used to its environment. Brush your teeth, change clothes and avoid touching electronic devices. The low light of the aeroplane will help you to fall asleep.”
Visit one of the several luxury lounges, most of which are in areas surrounding the giant teddy bear. You can shower, change and kick-start your bed-time routine well before boarding.
Al Maha, Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Oryx Lounge, Al Safwa Lounge.

Buy a travel pillow
“These are great for those who will face long hours sleeping and sitting. The ideal pillow would keep your head and neck in neutral alignment with your spine, so you are not too far forward, or backward, or too far to one side or the other.”
If you’ve forgotten yours, or never owned one in the first place, you can purchase one at WHSmith which is located at almost every two or three gates. WHSmith also has a bunch of other travel accessories.

Cover your eyes
“Have a mask for the eyes – many airlines provide it as complimentary – and put it on even if you are not sleepy. The dark makes the body produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone.” Grab yours from the accessories section of WHSmith.

“Stretching is important. Since we spend a long time sitting in one of the least uncomfortbale positions while flying, it is very important to take a moment to stand up and stretch our legs. It makes the blood circulate and stretches our muscles. Focus on stretching and moving your calves, hamstrings and pelvic muscle. This will make you feel better and more comfortable.”
Why not limber up in the comfort of a gym beforehand at the Vitality Wellbeing and Fitness Centre. You can even take a dip in the pool or soak in the hot tub.
From QR175 (entrance fee). Oryx Airport Hotel, Hamad International Airport (4010 8204).

Eat right to sleep tight
“On the day of the flight, it is best to hold off the urge to drink coffee, soda or energy drinks and even abstain from eating chocolate. Meals should be as light and healthy as possible. It is equally important to hydrate yourself with lots of water, juices and soothing teas, like chamomile or fennel. Always try to consume lots of water. Another tip is to minimise the consumption of sodium and salty foods as they can leave you thirstier and lead you to consume liquids faster.” The airport isn’t bursting with places to grab a light meal beforehand but there are quite a few spots that can prepare a healthy meal for you. Some of our favourites include Camden Food Co., Marche, Harvest Market, L’eto Caffe and Le Grand Comptoir where there are plenty of healthy and nutritious meals to choose from. Happy dozzzing.
Various locations throughout HIA.

Thinking of a holiday in Istanbul? Here’s the lowdown on Turkey’s star city, 28 Apr 2019 05:02:19 +0400There’s an old Turkish proverb, “Ruzgar eken firtina bicer”, which the people of Istanbul live and die by. “It’s not disgraceful to ask, it is disgraceful not to know.”

It takes a lot to get under the skin of Turkey’s most beguiling city and it’s okay to need a bit of help.

Straddling both Europe and Asia, it’s a city of contradictions.

It’s where east meets west, sweet meets savoury and where ancient and modern worlds collide.

It’s a city of luxury, decadence, natural beauty and rustic charm and, at night, the jewel in the crown, the Bosphorus river, lights up a city with a string of differences but one distinct identity.

As you would expect from somewhere that has served as Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capitals, Istanbul is a mish-mash of cultures.

But far from being in the throes of an identity crisis, the mainly Muslim residents of Turkey’s largest city live and work in harmony.

In terms of sights, if you visit the city without exploring the Grand Bazaar (, +90 212 519 12 48), then you haven’t seen the best of the city.

The city’s hectic shopping hub, one of the world’s largest indoor markets, attracts up to 400,000 people per day, both tourists and locals. Surely so many people can’t be wrong.

The plus 400-year-old Blue Mosque ( is as stunning as it is historical and is still a functional place of worship.

Nearby Topkapi Palace ( , +90 212 512 0480), the former headquarters of the ruling Ottoman sultans, also joins that list of ancient treasures held dear in modern Istanbul.

You’ll definitely want to explore Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s historical old town area. It’s full of history and character, and there are plenty of markets for you to pick up a unique souvenir to remember your trip.

For a more up-to-date flavour, try the Istanbul Modern Art Museum (, +90 212 334 7300) and drink in the spectacular array of enchanting showpieces.

The Karaköy neighbourhood is one of the city’s trendiest areas.

Browse a stylish boutique, sip coffee in a hipster café or grab a bite to eat in one of the many gorgeous eateries. We recommend Karabarak (, +90 212 243 6993), a slick coffee house converted from an old warehouse.

For a more stripped-back approach, simply grab a chair in one of the many restaurants or cafés that line the Bosphorus and watch a sunset like no other consume the city.

It would be remiss to explain Istanbul’s foodie scene without mentioning Turkish delights or Turkish tea. But the culinary offerings are so much more than that.

Baklava, for instance, is a Turkish institution in its own right, with roots tracing back to the Ottoman empire. The delicate, sweet pastry comes filled with nuts and syrup for a delicious little bite.

Doner kebabs and Turkish eggs (shakshuka) are two more tasty dishes that have transcended Turkey and have thrilled diners across the globe.

If it’s fine dining you’re looking for, you could do a lot worse than to take a trip to culinary kingpin Can Oba’s hole in the wall restaurant (, +90 212 522 1215) near Sirkeci train station. Expect a winning combination of traditional Turkish fare and modern European favourites.

Istanbul, with 15 million residents and ten million tourists annually has an incredibly busy nightlife scene.

The district of Beyoglu is often hailed as Istanbul’s party capital and it’s hard to disagree. Herein lies a wealth of cool venues, from nightclubs and bars to cabaret joints and outdoor terraces.

The Mekan (, +90 212 547 16 47), a downtown Istanbul favourite, is home to a series of cool performance venues.

Meanwhile the trendy Asmalimescit district is the city’s newest and hippest place to be seen. It’s popular with the locals, so it’s good for getting away from fellow tourists.

Legendary club Indigo (, +90 212 437 8740) is the place to go for electronic music.

Few places do luxury as well as the incredibly extravagant Çırağan Palace Kempinski hotel (, +90 212 326 4646), which sits adjacent to the Bosphorus. Built on the site of a former palace it oozes five-star appeal. It’s a hotspot for the city’s rich and famous.

For a hotel easier on your wallet, but not lacking in style, go for the plush Hilton Bomonti (, +90 212 375 30 00). It boasts grandstand views of the city and has everything you need for an elegant stay.

If you want to save your cash for the shopping and nightlife, Nabu Hotel Karaköy (, +90 212 245 11 00) is an absolute bargain. It’s within ten minutes’ walking distance of two tourist hotspots – Galata Tower and St. Anthony of Padua Church – and is a stylish and affordable place to stay.

Traffic can be a bit of an issue in Istanbul. It’s a city highly reliant on private transport, but increasing efforts are being made to get Istanbul moving.

Taxis are relatively affordable, but they’re not immune to traffic so it might be best to explore public transport.

Metro buses are a popular inexpensive option. They have their own lane to manoeuvre through traffic and are fairly reliable, though often crowded.

The ferry is a good way to jam in a little sightseeing while you’re at it, too.

Crossings are regular and you can flit between Europe and Asia in less than an hour – and it’s a pretty cheap trip as well.

Istanbul is probably a bit too big for you to explore on foot, but you’ll definitely want to walk across the Galata Bridge to soak in some stunning views of the city.

There are daily flights from Doha to Istanbul, with journey times of around four-and-a half hours. Pegasus, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways are among the big carriers. You can get return flights for as low as QR990 on Pegasus if you book in advance.

Amman, Jordan, 31 Mar 2019 10:20:52 +0400Amman is one of the easiest places to soak up some Middle Eastern culture. The capital of Jordan is peppered with ancient ruins, yet there’s plenty of modern flavours to keep your interest during your short escape.

The hilly city is the most populated in Jordan. In the east, the more traditional old city sits in the Downtown area, overlooked by the magisterial citadel. The spectacular Roman ruins stand next to a maze of mosques, souks and cafés, while on the western side of the city you’ll find stately villas, modern malls and art galleries among leafy residential districts.

Flights are a mere two and a half hours from Doha and temperatures are far more forgiving, with highs of around 32 degrees in the summer months.

As far as Middle Eastern cities go, Amman isn’t particularly long in the tooth, emerging largely during the 20th century, but what it lacks in history it more than makes up for in personality and charm.

The top attraction in Amman is without doubt the sprawling ruins that make up the citadel. The site is perched on Jabal Al Qal’a – the highest hill in the city – which stands 850m above sea level. You could literally lose yourself among these ruins, but to miss the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace would be criminal. Two giant standing pillars are nearly all that is left of the Roman Temple of Hercules, which was built in AD 161-180, but they are a spectacle in themselves. The Umayyad Palace is an historical set of buildings believed to be inhabited by royals and governors in around AD 720, although it was never rebuilt after an earthquake just 29 years later.
If you want to get a little more contemporary with your culture, then check out Darat Al Funun ( +962 6 4643251/2) for arts and artists from the Arab world, located just a few minutes from Downtown Amman’s King Faisal Street, and from Jabal al Weibdeh’s Paris Circle.

Also worth a visit is the Royal Automobile Museum (+962 6 541 1392) regardless of whether you’re a car fan or not, to see more than 70 classic cars and motorbikes from the personal collection of late ruler King Hussein.
Alternatively, if you like a bit of a head-scratcher, you might want to explore Qasr Al Abad, a pre-Roman palace that was never completed and remains shrouded in mystery to this day. What remains stands on the outskirts of Iraq Al Amir village, about 10km west of Wadi As Seer and is best accessed by public transport.

While you’re in Jordan it’s only right that you sample some of the local cuisine. Head to Sufra ( +962 6 4611468) for homemade dishes in an elegant traditional setting. The restaurant is housed in a lovely old villa with an outdoor terrace that is the perfect sanctuary for lazy summer nights.

Another good spot for local cuisine is laid-back café Shams El Balad (+962 6 465 1150), especially if you’re trying to reign it in calorie-wise while you’re away. The meat-free menu is fresh and fragrant without being too heavy and the dishes are packed with flavoursome veggies.

If you fancy a treat, then head to Cantaloupe ( +962 6 465 6561) for a high-end international menu and a rooftop terrace with views over downtown Amman that will take your breath away.

Head to Jabal Al Weibdeh, one of Amman’s oldest neighbourhoods to learn how to whip up an Arabic feast of your own, before sitting down to devour it. Beit Sitti ( +962 7 77557744) is a cook-and-dine experience established by sisters Maria, Dina and Tania who teach their grandmother’s recipes in her old villa.

The sessions are held sporadically so you’ll do well to book in advance, but if you can get into a class then it’s not to be missed While you’re in this beautiful city, you’d be foolish to miss the stunning sunset from one of the city’s many rooftop bars. Head to Ghoroob (+962 6 560 7100) in the Landmark Hotel for gorgeous views from Amman’s longest bar, before mosying down to Copas on the sprawling outdoor terrace.

Check out Off The Record (+962 7 7840 5888) for 1920s jazz and expertly-crafted mixed drinks, or swing by the grungier Corner’s Pub for a laid-back musical vibe (+962 7 9587 7970).

Don’t forget to pass by Rainbow Street, too.

The pleasant jumble of old and new extends to the hotels in Amman. You can enjoy the luxury that we’re accustomed to in Qatar or do it on a shoe-string.

If you’re travelling on a budget then Jordan Tower Hotel ( +962 6 4614161) is a good option. The hostel has been newly refurbished and has both dorms and private rooms for you to get your head down. The location is ideal, snuggled among the hills of Downtown Amman in the thick of all the action.

For something a bit more upmarket, head to the Grand Hyatt Amman ( +962 06 465 1234) for an enormous hotel complex with hundreds of rooms, suites, restaurants, bars and even its own shopping mall. The five-star hotel has a luxury spa and swimming pools and is located in the centre of the business and diplomatic district of the Jabal Amman neighbourhood.

If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then Hisham Hotel ( +962 06 464 4028) is a good option. The rooms are comfortable and modern, also located in the district of Jabel Amman, where you can enjoy a bit of leafy suburbia while still being in easy reach of the Downtown area.

The best way to get around Amman is by taxi. Private taxis are painted yellow and are pretty much the same as Karwa in Qatar. Cars are abundant and fares are cheap and calculated by the metre. You can also use Careem ( in Amman, which makes it easier if your driver doesn’t speak English.

There are also shared taxis that are white in colour and stick to a specific route. Fares cost around 400 fils per seat, but the service can get busy at rush hour.

Royal Jordanian flies directly to Amman and cost approximately QR1,490 for a return flight. Qatar Airways also directly flies to Amman for QR1,700. The average travel time is around two and a half hours.

Muscat, Oman, 14 Mar 2019 07:15:39 +0400Across the Arabian Peninsula, cities vie for world records and USPs through which to differentiate themselves. And though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and each city can justifiably argue its own merits, for travellers, glimmering Muscat feels most like the Arabian idyll they’ve been dreaming of. Nestled into its craggy coastline, the Omani capital has huge mosques, labyrinthine souks, and a bustling port. More than anything, it has a sense of history, which is perhaps no surprise given it’s been a home of human habitation for at least 8,000 years, and was documented by Greek geographer Ptolemy 1,900 years ago.

There are, of course, times thorough the year when the vast Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (+968 24 505170) reaches capacity. But 20,000 is an awful lot of people, so more commonly it’s a hugely popular tourist attraction, where excellent guided tours explain the architectural quirks as well as the principals of Islam to the uninitiated. Opened in 2001, this imposing building looks and feels altogether more ancient.

It’s true that little is quite as old as it appears in Muscat’s harbour district, but the bay has been used for centuries and has almost always been at the heart of the city. To that end, Bait Al Zubair (, +968 22 084700) aims to gather some the key elements of Muscat and wider Omani history in a beautiful museum.

If you want to be outside soaking up some sun, then skip the museums in favour of a seaside stroll. Though not technically a beach, Mutrah’s Corniche is probably the most impressive part of Muscat’s coast. A rocky headland fringed by clifftop forts and crashing waves, it’s as dramatic as it is beautiful. While the exposed headland doesn’t have any sand, there are a number of scenic picnic spots.

When night falls, you could head to the seven-year-old Royal Opera House Muscat (, +968 2440 3332), which hosts short-but-sweet runs of various productions and operas, often as part of international tours. As well as opera, this grand space holds ballet, jazz, musicals and concerts of almost every kind.

Separating Omani food from wider Arabian cuisine isn’t easy, but Ubhar (, +968 24 699 826) does its best with what it describes as Omani-fusion food. This consists of classic dishes, such as hummus, with a regional twist, in this case camel meat. You can be as adventurous or conservative as you like – the menu is huge.

If money is no object then head to The Chedi and try its fine dining option The Restaurant (, +968 24 524400). It has lavish brunches every Friday, but every day the service and setting are spectacular. Menu highlights include Fine De Claire oysters served with Omani lime.

Located in the Marina Bandar Al Rowdha (, +968 24 740038), Blue Marlin makes the most of its proximity to the Indian Ocean with a menu heavy on locally caught treats. From fish and chips to lobster thermidor, if it comes from the ocean, there’s a chance you’ll find it.


With a large expat community and every luxury hotel brand represented, there’s a huge number of bars, pubs and clubs.

Qatari fans of low-rent, high-octane fun will be glad to know there’s a Muscat franchise of the irrepressible Rock Bottom Café in the Ramee Guestline Hotel (, +968 24 564443). Another name you might recognise is Trader Vic’s (,
+968 24 680080
) and while there’s not yet a Muscat branch of McGettigan’s, there are no shortage of other Irish pubs. The pick of them is probably O’Malley’s inside the Radisson Blu (, +968 2448 7777).

Public transport doesn’t exist in any practical way for tourists so, best to stick to licensed taxis or Uber.

Oman Air is the best and cheapest way to get to Muscat. There are at least two flights daily from Hamad International Airport. With an average flight time of an hour and a half, a return ticket costs around QR850 on Oman Air ( Qatar Airways and Salam Air also have direct flights to Muscat.

Salalah, Oman, 14 Mar 2019 06:59:41 +0400A Middle Eastern city that’s known for rainfall and lush greenery? It can’t be true, can it? Well, yes, it can actually. And that place is Salalah. On the southern coast of Oman you’ll find the Dhofar region. Every summer it has a monsoon season, known as the khareef, locally. It transforms the more recognisable sandy, desert landscape into a verdant oasis. The sights and lower temperatures also bring in tourists from across the region, and lots of them.

You don’t need to visit in the khareef season to make the most of Salalah, though. In the hotter months it’s still possible to explore the beaches, mountains and wadis and sample the local culture and traditions.

The city centre is perfunctory and doesn’t really require a visit, it’s in the sub-tropical surrounding coastal spots and more rural areas that you’ll find a real taste of Omani life.

There are plenty of things to see in the wider Dhofar region, and a road trip with a guide is probably the best way to do it.

In Salalah itself, however, we recommend Al Baleed Archeological Park (+968 2495 5500) The open-air historical site is a UNESCO World Heritage site and opens from 8am to 8pm every day. Inside you’ll find ruins of Al Baleed mosque, which dates back to the 4th century. The roof of the mosque was held aloft by 144 columns, some of which are still in good condition.

As well as the outdoor area there’s a museum, The Museum of Frankincense Land (+968 2320 2566), which references Dhofar region’s main export.

Inside the small museum you’ll find artefacts that have been excavated from this and other archeological sites in the area and models of Omani boats going back thousands of years. Nearby is the Al Husn Palace a palace belonging to the country’s leader, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said (he was born in Salalah). While you can’t go inside, it’s worth passing by on your way to Al Haffa Souk, otherwise known as Al Husn Souk. Here you’ll find narrow alleyways filled with shops and market stalls selling tea, snacks, fruit, materials, clothing and plenty of frankincense. There are various types available with slightly different smells. You can buy it in rock form for burning, or you could pick up some perfume scented with the aromatic.

If you head east along the coast you’ll find some of Dhofar’s most spectacular sights. Wadi Darbat has a spectacular waterfall in khareef season and Mirbat is an enchanting fishing town with traditional old houses.

Closer to Salalah itself is Mughsayl Beach, a beautiful place to visit and stay for a picnic or have a bite in the casual café overlooking the sands and sea. You’ll also see the awe-inspiring blow-holes here, which shoot deafening bursts of water through the rocks and into the sky. It really is a must-see.

If you’re around during khareef season then you’ll probably see Salalah Festival ( It’s a time when, among other things, locals sell traditional foods roadside. Check out muthbe (salted mutton or chicken seared on white-hot stones), kak bread (crispy and flavoured with nigella seeds) and the local chai, flavoured with thyme and cardamom.

In The Salalah Rotana Resort you’ll find Silk Road (+968 2327 5700), a smart venue with a lovely rooftop area serving dishes from the Middle East, India, Japan and South East Asia. Service is great and the food, despite covering a fair few bases, is delicious. Try the kung pao prawns and Thai green curry for two top mains.

The city’s other big resort, the Anantara also serves some mean Asian food, in keeping with its Thai heritage. At Mekong (+968 2322 8222) you’ll be wowed by the super-sleek venue itself, quite unlike anywhere else in the area, and that’s before you get to the food.

Be sure to try the Vietnamese dishes (especially the pho) and the dim sum. Service is ace, too.

A moderate city, nightlife is not what you’re coming to Salalah for. Your best bet is staying inside the hotel and checking out whatever’s happening in the bar there.

Qatar Airways and Oman Air both have direct flights to Salalah and Muscat. Qatar Airways costs around QR1,660 for a return ticket. Oman Air is slightly more expensive. Average travel time is two hours and forty minutes.