(CNN) — Qatar connects to 100 different destinations, making it an extremely busy transit spot.
In fact, Hamad International Airport has fast become the global gateway for overseas travelers.
So if you’re scheduled to make a stop and are looking to break up your long-haul flight, why not tack on a few days to your travels and explore this tiny Gulf nation?
It’s not only one of the safest countries in the world, it also offers true Arabian hospitality.
There’s a rich variety of food, adventure, beaches and sand dunes and of course, year-round sunshine.
Here’s a quick guide to 5 of the best things to do in Qatar:
1. Dune bashing
If there’s only one thing you have time for in Qatar, make it a stint in the desert. The sand dunes are as high as they are steep, making the drive across the desert to the sea a spectacular event. You can spend a night in luxury Arabian tents or pitch your own, eat local food and sleep under the stars.
Several operators in the country offer dune bashing, a thrilling ride along the dunes. Experienced drivers will pick you up from your hotel and take you into the desert for a half day, full day or overnight adventure.
Tip: While dune bashing is an extreme sport , kids are usually welcome to come along for the ride. Just ask your driver to take it slow or choose a flatter route. You may even find yourself asking for this yourself after a few runs.
2. Visit Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif — Doha’s “ancient” market.
Visit Doha’s Souq Waqif for a sense of the old world. The “standing market” has been rebuilt to evoke an atmosphere of days gone by.
The iconic souq is a maze of shops bursting with fabric, spices, sweets, household goods (think huge pots) souvenirs and art. Not only will you find wood carvers and tailors working away, you’ll see for yourself how the traditional agals Qatari men wear to keep their head dress in place are made.
There’s an abundance of restaurants, including Syrian and Lebanese eateries, as well as shisha lounges. Head in the direction of the souq’s mosque for a cheap Arabic meal. Beside it is a modest restaurant with Qatari benches filling the passageway.
Here you can sit down for a plate of kebabs and bread made fresh from an open oven.
Tip: The Al Wakrah Souq near the airport is understated and worth a visit. Its beach front restaurants add to its charm.
Souq Waqif; +974 4433 6444
3. Take in Doha’s Corniche and dhows
The waterfront promenade stretches seven kilometers along Doha Bay.
A walk along the Doha Corniche is a gorgeous way to spend a late afternoon. The seven-kilometer promenade stretches across the Persian Gulf in the West Bay from the Sheraton Hotel to the Museum of Islamic Art. You can grab a coffee, fly a kite or take a photo by the iconic pearl shell, a symbol of Qatar’s traditional past.
There are also fitness machines installed along the way for public use.
For an unobstructed view of the city’s skyline, hop on a dhow (you can’t miss them.) At night they’re lit up and have an interesting selection of music blaring out, so feel free to bring your own tunes.
Tip: Don’t be shy, haggle. The boatmen will charge based on how many adults board.
4. See the Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of Islamic Art stands on its very own island.
When architect I.M. Pei designed the Museum of Islamic Art, he suggested it it be built on a standalone island so that no new buildings would obstruct it.
Situated just off the Corniche, the museum looks like it’s floating on water from some angles.
Calligraphy, Islamic patterns, jewelry and textiles from three continents make up its vast collection, with some of the items dating from the 7th to 19th century. The museum also features high profile rotating exhibits year-round.
For an impressive business lunch or a memorable date night, try Idam, French-born chef Alain Ducasse’s first restaurant in the Middle East.
The outdoor terrace on the top floor of the museum offers one of the best views of Doha, haute cuisine and generous service.
Tip: Follow the path around the museum until you reach the outdoor MIA café. Sit in a lounge chair for a chilled out view of the city. You’ll also get a closer look at another landmark, the ‘7’ sculpture, which towers at 80 feet high.
Museum of Islamic Art; +974 4422 4444