Few things are nicer than a dose of winter sun when it’s cold and dark at home – but choosing a place that offers a warm climate and the best hotels while offering great value for money can be difficult. .
Luckily, Qatar offers all of this and more, with reliable year-round sunshine and an alluring blend of Bedouin heritage and modern elegance epitomized by its world-class capital, Doha.
With a heady mix of ancient cultural sites, vibrant natural wonders, idyllic beaches and exciting desert adventures, it’s the perfect place for a New Year’s family getaway.
Hospitality is an integral part of Qatari culture, so you are sure to be well received, while good air connections make it particularly suitable for a stopover or as a stopover on a holiday in the Indian Ocean or 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 Persian Gulf coast that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Where the past meets the present
While Qatar is generally associated with cutting-edge modernity, it is also a land steeped in history, blessed with a rich culture shaped by thousands of years of history.
There are few better places to peek 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 important element of the wider archaeological site of Al Zubarah – which enjoys a UNESCO World Heritage List.
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An immaculate example of a typical Arab fort, its meter-thick walls kept invaders away while helping to keep the rooms cool in the hot summer.
Today, visitors will find a multitude of historical sites, including palaces, mosques, courtyard houses, fishermen’s huts, cemeteries and an ancient port.
History buffs should also visit the Katara Cultural Village north of Doha, where you can visit a reconstructed amphitheater and a range of fascinating exhibits.
The capital itself embodies Qatar’s potent blend of tradition and modernism, with soaring skyscrapers and gleaming shopping malls rubbing shoulders with traditional souks and plenty of fascinating cultural attractions.
In a way, visiting Doha is like stepping into the future, with the state-of-the-art waterfront promenade, Doha Corniche, with its spectacular views of spectacular skyscrapers and sparkling architectural designs.
Yet the town’s maritime past is also on full display, especially in the traditional dhows that cruise up and down the bay.
A cruise aboard one of these distinctive wooden boats is a fantastic way to experience Qatar’s heritage while admiring its beautiful cityscape, which is especially magical at dusk.
Qatar’s traditional souks have been centers of commerce, socializing and the exchange of ideas for centuries and remain central to the national culture.
Best known is the Souq Waqif, a tangle of alleyways flanked by mud-covered shops and exposed wooden beams that give visitors a real sense of what life was like hundreds of years ago.
You can visit stalls selling local jewelry and traditional Bedouin fabrics or just sit and people watch while sipping coffee.
Picking up locally made souvenirs from a traditional souk is an essential part of a trip to Qatar
To discover more of Doha’s cultural gems, a visit to the impressive Museum of Islamic Art is a must, with over 13 centuries of art and artefacts from the Islamic world, including paintings, textiles and manuscripts.
Culture vultures will find many more museums and galleries, including the National Museum of Qatar and the National Library of Qatar – home to two million remarkable books.
The Pearl-Qatar is another must-see attraction. Known as the “Arabian Riviera,” the man-made island is packed with Mediterranean-style architecture, gourmet restaurants, and gleaming superyachts.
The Italian-inspired Qanat Quartier features a bespoke replica of Venice’s Rialto Bridge.
And once you’ve enjoyed a busy day, you can sample the city’s sophisticated food scene, with authentic flavors from the Middle East, 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 is the best time to visit?
Visitors to Qatar can enjoy pleasant temperatures in their 20s and 30s during the winter until March.
This provides the perfect conditions for exploring, as well as relaxing in the sun.
There are also many national events and holidays during this time as people seek to take advantage of the milder temperatures.
Qatar has an impressive variety of natural landscapes, with vast desert skies, vast sand dunes and dramatic limestone rock formations.
The otherworldly cave Dah Al Misfir, west of Doha, plunges more than 130 feet deep into the ground but is accessible to hikers, who come to witness its famous moonlight caused by gypsum deposits.
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 4×4 safari – you’ll also find more surprising sights like the Al Thakira mangrove forest, verdant wilderness teeming with flamingos that you can explore by kayak.
Qatar is also a paradise for sports lovers, with championship golf courses, water sports centers and plenty of play areas for children.
You can also experience traditional sports like falconry and camel racing.
Qatar has miles of gorgeous beaches – one of the many reasons why there are few better places for a winter sun holiday
A culture of hospitality
Qatar has a large number of luxury hotels, three-quarters of which are rated four or five stars, meaning there is a fantastic choice of places to stay offering world-class service.
Travelbag offers many packages, including 5 nights bed and breakfast at the Hilton Doha, including direct flights, for just £1,189.*
The 5-star hotel is located at the northern end of the Doha Corniche, close to some of the city’s most popular attractions as well as a host of upscale shops and restaurants.
You’ll soak up a luxurious atmosphere from the moment you arrive, with spacious rooms offering panoramic sea views and access to a private beach, spa and live entertainment at Trader Vic’s restaurant.
Each room has a spacious bath and walk-in shower, while families will soon be able to book a connecting suite with a studio.
*For the latest prices and offers contact Travelbag on 020 3733 1036 or click here.
Off-roading in 4x4s through the desert – an activity known as Dune Bashing – is one of the most popular tourist activities in Qatar
 – Customers must pay the difference in price if the cost of the stay is higher or if third party charges are added. A maximum of 2 changes per reservation applies.