Doha and the rest of the country are dominated by cars. Everybody drives, and while public transport exists in the form of buses and a brand new Doha Metro system, taxis tend to be the easiest way of getting around, and ensuring that you get exactly where you want, when it is too hot outside to walk far.
How to Ride the Buses
All buses are operated by the state-owned Mowasalat Karwa, who also operate the taxis. There is a quite extensive bus network, covering all corners of Doha as well as the rest of Qatar. Buses are air-conditioned and tend to operate every day between 5 a.m. and midnight, with reduced schedules at the Qatari weekend, Friday and Saturdays. For a map of the bus lines and timetables, please check on Mowasalat’s website.
The best way to pay for bus rides is via the Karwa Smartcard, as bus drivers are not supposed to sell you a ticket, but instead tend to charge you a ‘lost card fee’ set at 10 Qatari riyal. Instead buy a smartcard at the airport, where there are several machines in operation at arrivals. The normal bus fare is 3 to 4 Qatari riyal within Doha’s city limits, and 4 to 9 Qatari riyal outside Doha.
The Karwa Smartcard machines only accept cash, Qatari riyal notes in the denominations 1, 5,10, 50 and 100, and do not give change. There are several choices of smartcards:
- Limited Card (10 Qatari riyal), valid for two journeys within 24 hours
- Classic Card (30 Qatari riyal), comes with 20 Qatari riyal credit and is rechargeable for long term, or repeated use
- Unlimited Card (20 Qatari riyal), valid for unlimited trips within a 24 hours
The card needs to be tapped upon boarding the bus, and tapped when getting off.
Please note that the front of the bus is usually reserved for women and children only.
How to Take a Taxi
There are three types of taxis in Qatar: Karwa, Uber, and Careem. Uber and Careem can only be hailed via their respective apps.
The iconic turquoise Karwa taxis can he hailed at taxi ranks, on the street, or via the Karwa app, available for Android and iOS. There are different sizes of taxis, and if you require a taxi for someone with reduced mobility, please pre-order one by telephoning +974 4458 8888.
Karwa taxis are all metered and, apart from a standard hailing fee from the airport of 20 Qatari riyal, and a standard hailing fee anywhere else of 4 Qatari riyal, charge a rate per kilometer.
- Rate / km within Doha between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.: 1.6 Qatari riyal
- Rate / km within Doha between 9pm and 5am: 1.9 Qatari riyal
- Rate / km outside Doha day / night: 1.9 Qatari riyal
- There is a waiting rate of 8 Qatari riyal per 15 minutes
- The minimum taxi fare is 10 Qatari riyal.
Careem and Uber taxis allow you to book, check the fares, and track the cars online via the apps, and both offer cashless payments.
How to Ride the Doha Metro
Anticipated to be fully operational in time for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, the Doha Metro will be fully automated and driverless, made up of three lines, Red, Gold, and Green. The Metro will cover 46.6 miles (75 kilometers) of track and have 37 stations.
A preview service has opened on the Red Line, between Al Wakhra south of Doha to Al Qasser in the north, during weekdays, Sunday to Thursday, but not at the weekend, Friday and Saturday. Between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. trains run every six minutes. The branch to Hamad International Airport has not opened yet, but is anticipated to be operational by the end of 2019.
There are three classes on the metro: One carriage is for Gold (16 seats) and Family Class (26 seats), and two wagons are for Standard Class (88 seats), with each having a different payment structure:
- A single ticket in Standard Class costs QAR2
- An unlimited day pass in Standard Class costs QAR6
- A single ticket in Gold Class is QAR10, and a day pass QAR30
- Tickets for Family Class are the same as Standard, but only available to women with children.
- Prices still subject to change
- Tickets are available from the machines in each station, and re-chargeable cards are being planned.
Hiring a Chauffeur-Driven Limousine
Limousine hire is very common in Doha, and there are plenty of companies to choose from. You can hire anything from a stretch- to a Hummer-limousine, but most common are the comfortable, clean, air-conditioned sedans or SUVs, that can take you around the city and wait for you outside shops or museums, taking away the time and effort connected with finding suitable public transport or a taxi right at the moment you need it. One example of limousine hire is Mowasalat, the company that also runs the public buses, metro and taxis in Doha. The hourly rate ranges from US$60 to US$200, the daily rate from around US$600 to US$2,000, plus tips, all depending on how many people are traveling and what type of car you require.
How to Rent a Bicycle
First, a word of warning. Cycling in Doha is not the best way to get around. The traffic can be chaotic, and cycle lanes either do not exist or are ignored and not safe. However, it is a great way to explore the Corniche and the various parks, and there are dedicated and safe cycle tracks along parks such as Aspire Park, Al Bidda and (Sheraton) Hotel Park. The parks have bike-hire outlets, such as Berg Arabia, which not only rent bicycles, but also go-karts and four-wheel bicycles for the entire family. Costs start from 25 Qatari riyal per hour.
Walking From Point A to B
In the cooler months, it is perfectly feasible to walk around Doha. But it is not a common or the best way to get around, as the city simply has not evolved around pedestrians, and the roads often don’t have many crossings, or even sidewalks.
That said, a walk along the Corniche is one of the best ways to see the bay, the city’s museums and dip into the older quarters around Souq Waqif. All the various parks and the Pearl are fantastic to walk in and around, but in general, unlike in European or American cities, walking is not the most comfortable or easy option of exploration.