For those looking towards Souq Waqif for a family outing, here is your guide. One helpful tip—arrive early to dine at 5 or 6 pm so you can sit outside and avoid the shisha and cigarette smoke. Once your family has full tummies, then you are ready for shopping and discovering.
Kid-Friendly Souq Waqif
Where to eat
Most people don’t consider Souq Waqif when selecting a brunch location, but La Piazza Restaurant in Al Bidda Boutique Hotel is one of the best-kept secrets for families. Their breakfast buffet includes a delicious, freshly prepared array of international and continental cuisine along with an impressive selection of freshly squeezed juices, hot chocolate and of course, a state-of-the-art espresso bar for parents in need of a dose (or two!) of caffeine. There is something for everyone—fresh fruit, yogurts, cereals, pastries and donuts (prepared daily just around the corner at their French bakery, La Patissérie), as well an omelette/egg station for custom orders. The buffet also has an array of mezze—hummus, moutabel, foul and beef sausages. The high-ceiling and spacious dining area has plenty of room for families, a play space for kids with small tables, crayons for colouring and balloons. Topped off with free Wi-Fi and easy seating (no reservations required), this is great deal.
Kids will love: The made-to-order pancake and crêpe station. Where you can select anything to add your delicious crêpe from Petit-Beurre French cookies and fresh fruit to Nutella and caramel or chocolate sauce.
Parents will love: The play space and activities to keep kids busy while mum and dad finish their meals
La Piazza Restaurant
Location: Inside Al Bidda Boutique Hotel
Price: Promotional price until 29th February, QR 49 per person. Normal price (beginning 1 March, 2016), QR 99. Children 4 and under free, 6-11 years half-price and 12 and over full price.
Hours: Sunday–Saturday 07:00-10:30
Nestled behind the hustle and bustle of the main restaurant strip of the souq and directly behind Café Tasse, you will find the family-run Italia Mia restaurant. Italia Mia’s staff is extremely warm and friendly and the menu is simple and fresh—perfect for picky eaters. Everything on their menu is homemade down to their pastas and their delicious, thick blended lemon-mint juices. My daughter gave a huge thumb’s up to the pizza. As she put it, “The pizza was not too crusty and there was a lot of yummy cheese.” There is even a family-sized (45 cm/17 inches) for healthy appetites! Don’t forget to try their homemade desserts.
Kids will love: The Semifreddo al Croccantino, a delectable ice cream with crushed Italian cookies and homemade caramel sauce on top.
Parents will love: The quick, professional service.
Location: Behind Café Tasse
Price: Main dishes range from QR 50-80 and pizzas from QR 30-60
Hours: Monday 18:00-23:00, Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday 12:30-15:30 and 18:00-23:00, Friday 12:30-15:00 and 18:00-23:00
For ice cream-loving children, peek inside Village Restaurant, located right on the corner and in the heart of the main Souq Waqif restaurant area. Directly inside the reception area of the Village restaurant, you will find a selection of delicious, homemade Italian gelato. You can take your gelato and walk around the market with your family or sit on the lovely veranda of the Village restaurant and watch the hustle and bustle of the market outside as this restaurant is entirely smoke and shisha-free.
Kids will love: All the delicious, colourful choices of gelato.
Parents will love: That the restaurant is entirely smoke and shisha-free
The Village Restaurant
Location: Main corner of the “restaurant row”
Price: QR 15/large scoop
Al Bandar is a centrally located restaurant (on the main culinary stretch) with an Arab/Mediterranean-themed seafood cuisine that will be sure to please your family. I tried the hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh and olives that come with fresh, warm pita bread prepared. Your children may enjoy the homemade breaded fish fingers, calamari rings with homemade tartar sauce and freshly-prepared beef sausages stuffed with coriander called “Makanek.” Don’t miss the puff pastries with nuts or Umm Ali, an Arab dessert similar to bread pudding.
Kids will love: The nice selection of mezze (Arab-inspired finger food).
Parents will love: The wide choice of menu options for picky eaters.
Location: A few doors down and opposite from the Souq Waqif Art Centre
Price: QR 15-25 for appetizers, QR 35-110 for main courses and QR 15-30 for desserts.
If you love Thai food, consider taking your family to Jasmine Thai Restaurant. Kids will enjoy their spring rolls and pan-fried pad thai noodles with beef, chicken or prawns. Don’t miss their yummy desserts—coconut ice cream, mango with sweet sticky rice or even fresh-fruit smoothies (yum!).
Kids will love: Scrumptious chicken or beef satay and homemade peanut dipping sauce.
Parents will love: Gorgeously spicy (can be prepared mild) and flavourful curries and the generous portions for taking leftovers home!
Jasmine Thai Restaurant
Location: Next to Arumalia Boutique Hotel, walk up the cobbled stairs from the outside the ladies waiting room
Price: QR 25-40 for appetizers and QR 50-70 for main courses.
Hours: 15:00-midnight daily, last orders at 23:00
Update: As of July 2016, Shay Al Shoomos is closed for renovations.
Shay Al Shoomos Qatari Restaurant, just inside the Al Qatari Restaurant, just inside the Al Bidda Boutique Hotel, is the pinnacle of simple, yet tasty Qatari food. It is known for being the one true Qatari-food restaurant in Souq Waqif. The rolled-up Qatari pancakes filled with honey and cheese are excellent. Try their balaleet, delicate noodles topped with light, scrambled eggs and sweetened with crunchy sugar.
Kids will love: The Qatari bread—a freshly made crêpe-like delicacy that is rolled up into a pyramid-shaped cone, fun to look at and fun to eat.
Parents will love: Trying real Qatari food.
Location: Inside Al Bidda Boutique Hotel
Price: QR 10-50
Hours: 08:00-13:00 for breakfast and 18:30-23:30 for dinner
A two-minute walk from Italia Mia, families with little ones will be happy to find the Souq’s best Lebanese family restaurant, Zaatar W Zeit. In the cooler months, enjoy an early lunch or dinner outside for a view of the bustling souq streets. Try the Lebanese pizzas called “Manakeesh”—ideal for kids and conveniently folded and cut into mess-free slices. A steal for only QR 10! Lastly, if all else fails, the dessert list is sure to please your children.
Kids will love: The breaded halloumi, similar to mozzarella sticks with a homemade remoulade.
Parents will love: The friendly staff and ample, comfy booth seating and high chairs.
Zaatar W Zeit
Location: Along the main restaurant strip, next to the ATM machine
Price: QR 8-36, a real STEAL!
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
If your children crave freshly squeezed juice smoothies or milkshakes, then Al Ghaarayah Coffee Shop is the perfect place for your family. The juice drinks are fresh and tasty and the prices are extremely reasonable. The café will make a delicious smoothie from whatever fruits you choose from strawberry-banana to pineapple-mango. Seating (albeit a small space) is available outside.
Kids will love: Their simple, yet delightful fruit smoothies
Parents will love: Quick service and cheap prices
Al Ghaarayah Coffee Shop
Location: Al Jassra Street (main café + souvenir strip)
Price: QR 10-30
No phone number listed
Al Khariss Café & Restaurant is an agreeable, centrally located spot on your possible kid-tour of the Souq Waqif. This Armenian-Lebanese inspired café makes everything from scratch from the hot chocolate to the delicious homemade tiramisu as well as an array of other desserts. And for sleepy parents, there is an espresso machine and a large selection of hot teas, green and black.
Kids will love: The homemade hot chocolate
Parents will love: The Turkish coffee for a quick wake-up
Al Khariss Café & Restaurant
Location: Al Jassra Street
Price: QR 10-15 for hot drinks and QR 15-20 for desserts
Hours: Friday-Wednesday 10:00-midnight and Thursdays 10:00-01:00
In need of some yummy Arab pastries? Then Al Aker Sweets is just the place. Al Aker has a wide selection of delectable treats. Their sweets are displayed on huge platters inside the café. A favourite choice for children and families is the awaama, a tiny, sweet donut-like snack or warbat, a cream-filled pastry similar to baklava. Al Aker Sweets also offers espresso and tea for adults.
Kids will love: Awaama, a tiny, sweet donut-like treat
Parents will love: The sweets, too!
Al Aker Sweets
Location: Next to the main police station
Price: QR 50-70/kg
Where to shop
Handicrafts and Souvenirs
Once your mini-shoppers have full tummies and are ready to do a little shopping, head over to the Handicraft Centre. Everything in this area is made on the premise. Children will be fascinated watching these tradesmen hone their crafts. Check out Mahmoud Azab’s Art Qatari Glass and his gorgeous blown-glass ornaments and decorations. Azab has been creating his unique art for 25 years and has been at the heart of the Handicraft Centre for the past three years. Prices range from QR 30-750. Your family may request anything custom-made as long as you have a photo. Azab has a wide range of lovely decorations and ornaments and each piece is delicately made and beautifully blown with quality glass. Hummingbirds, butterflies, camels, as well as holiday-inspired ornaments such as snowmen, Christmas trees and stars are available. Email email@example.com
Al Rubin Ruby Handcrafts and Gifts is just a few shops down from Art Qatari Glass in the Handicraft Centre. For QR 50-300, your kids can make their own fun (very simple, cheap) bracelets, necklaces and anklets out of vibrantly coloured beads. They can also make decorative boxes, mirrors and frames. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.
At the very end of the Handicraft Centre, you will find the rustic, yet ideal shop for kids called Al Sendan, where you can choose from a selection of traditional bracelets or necklaces to have personally engraved (takes only three minutes or so). Prices are very low at QR 15-40.
Handicraft Centre Hours: 8:30-12:00 and 16:00-22:00 daily.
Closer to the main restaurant area of the souq, you will find the souvenir area of the market. In particular, your kids might want to check out Qahtani & Khelaifi Antique and Gift Shop. You can find a wide selection of fun, reasonably priced gifts and trinkets with relatively little hassle.
Clothes, shoes and accessories
If you are searching for Arab-inspired clothing for children, look towards Souq Hareem. It’s a covered market located behind Jasmine Thai restaurant and the under-construction main parking lot. It can be a bit tricky to find, but it’s the perfect spot for boys’ and girls’ clothing for festivals, parties and dress-up. There are lots of sparkly, brightly coloured fabric and ribbons, hair bands and accessories for every occasion. For mums searching for that perfect last-minute quality gift, check out April Textile Qatar at the back of Souq Hareem for gorgeous Turkish beach towels and cotton robes in bright colours. Prices range from QR 50-300. This little boutique has a lovely selection of vibrant hand-made gifts. Their Instagram account provides photos of their products: instagram.com/apriltextileqatar
Right behind Souq Hareem, you can find cheap shoes for any school festival or party—great if you’re in a scramble. You will also see a row of tailor shops that showcase hand-made traditional, Arab wear for little ones. You may choose from a selection of already-tailored clothes or order something specific. Allow 7-10 days for orders. In and around Souq Hareem, your mini-shoppers can find mini-boutiques with fun, temporary decorative tattoos and cheap jewellery for last-minute, inexpensive birthday goody bags.
Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital
Hours: February-August 07:00-14:00, September-January 08:00-13:00 and 17:30-19:30
Private tours for families are available but must be reserved.
Things to do
One cannot go to the Souq Waqif without a visit to the Falcon Souq and the famed Souk Waqif Falcon Hospital. Visit the shops where these birds are majestically displayed and sold. Then, walk across the street to the falcon hospital and witness these incredible creatures waiting for their doctor’s appointments—just check out the waiting room! Alhakam Ali Taymoor, the hospital’s very helpful medical coordinator says that many schools come through the hospital for their interesting and engaging tours for kids. Learn about falcons and their importance to Qatari culture. Training and hunting season for falcons is from September through January. Molting (shedding of feathers) season is February through August.
Al Rayyan Theatre is a gem of a theatre located in Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel next to the Handicraft Centre. They occasionally have fun, vibrant theatre productions for kids. Check out their website at alrayyantheatre.com for details. Their calendar is often last minute, though.
Right next to Jasmine Thai restaurant, you will find an open space outside where you can discover delicious, quick and cheap Arab and Asian-inspired street food. Ladies doing henna artwork are also available in this area. The average price is QR 10-15 for a brief sitting.
You might also catch a glimpse of the “donkey man”—a man and his donkey offering rides to children, ideal for your cranky wee ones who need a bit of a distraction. QR 10 for a quick ride back and forth down the cobbled street. All of these activities begin around 6 pm (or at dusk) every evening.
Little ones will love feeding (crumbs) and jumping around the large flock of pigeons that hang out near the underground parking elevator on the ground floor level. Walk out of the elevator area and across to the souq and the pigeons will be to your left. You can’t miss them. It’s also a fun photo opportunity.
The Souq Waqif Art Centre near the restaurant strip is a lovely building with locally made art exhibited along its main walkway. The building also is an impressive backdrop for artist’s work. One bonus for parents—ask at their information desk about free art classes offered for adults.
Your kids will want to discover the horse stables located in the heart of the souq. Walking though the stables, you can see the horses that are used by soldiers patrolling the souq, as well as pet the friendly ones (ask for help from the staff). You may even see some horses gallop around the enclosed pen.
The camel market (albeit a bit smelly!) is a huge draw for children. The camel market is located just behind Al Bidda Hotel.
- Public bathrooms in the underground garage are nice and clean. And convenient!
- The main Souq Waqif police station is right across from the Information Centre in the heart of the restaurant area of the market.
- The Information Centre is a nice, air-conditioned room with seating for tired mini-shoppers. And they give out free water if needed. +974 4441-8534.
- We recommend avoiding the pet souq (within souq Waqif) is possible. The animals are often cramped and uncomfortable and are not always in the healthiest condition.
- Some of the souq restaurants, like Tagine Moroccan Restaurant, have outdoor heaters for the chilly winter months.
- There is an ATM next door to Jasmine Thai and another one just down from Zaatar w Zeit.
- Dr. Bahia Al Baker Pharmacy is located just across the street from the main information centre of Souq Waqif.
And lastly, have fun shopping and eating with your children!