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Mecca Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 1-2 Days

Best Time: November to December Read More

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Also Refered As:


"The Holy Capital"

Mecca Tourism

Mecca, or Makkah, is the holiest city in Islam and is located in the Red sea region of western Saudi Arabia about 45 miles east of Jeddah. It only allows muslims to visit as tourists or pilgrims. The city is known to be the birthplace of the founder of Islam, Prophet Mohammed. Mecca is also believed to be the place where first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet by angel Zibrael. Masjid al-Haram, the great mosque of Mecca surrounding Kaaba (centre of the mosque) is considered to be the most sacred in Islam.

Mecca is the third largest city, population-wise, in Saudi Arabia and visited by millions of muslims all year round for the hajj pilgrimage (obligatory for all physically and financially capable muslims) and the Umrah (a minor pilgrimage not mandatory but encouraged). Al Haram, Mina and Arafat have religious significance and hence staying in these areas can be expensive. Al Aziziya and Jeddah offer budget accommodation but are a bit far from Makkah.

At the centre of Mecca city is Haram Mosque or the great mosque. The Kaaba and holy well of Zamzam is located inside the mosque. Every muslim, wherever they are, perform their daily prayer called namaz, facing the Kaaba. And according to muslims Zamzam is the holiest water on the earth. The building of the mosque consists of the old old city. The great mosque extends to north and south west but is restricted in east and west due to the presence of mountains. There are several skyscraper hotels that are built around the mosque, making the city more hospitable.

Must Know Before You Travel to Mecca

  • Only Muslims are allowed to enter Mecca. Several checkpoints on the entrance check for the traveller’s religion. They are redirected towards the nearest highway, if they turn out to be non-muslims.
  • Separate visas are issued by the Saudi Government for hajj aspirants. Most pilgrims hire specialist travel agencies to delegate the workload of paperwork.
  • Women under 45, travelling to hajj or umrah, must be accompanied by a male guardian or travel in a group having their male guardian’s signed consent.
  • Men and women are needed to follow a strict dress code while on hajj or umrah.
  • Streets around the Great mosque may get crowded just before the daily prayers as every muslim wants to pray at the sacred mosque.
  • Slip-on and comfortable footwear helps as pilgrims may have to slow walk for a longer time and remove footwear several times.
  • Women are forbidden to drive in Saudi Arabia.
  • Consumption of alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia.
  • Receive meningococcal meningitis and cholera vaccinations, which is a criteria set by the Saudi government.
  • Partner with reputed travel agencies that are approved by the Saudi government, to avoid scams.
  • Pilgrims should stay alert towards pickpocketing and stampede due to overcrowding.
  • Shops open by 10:00 AM to close by 11:00 PM except on Fridays when they open by 4:00 PM to close by 11:00 PM.
  • Taxis, local buses and micro-buses are inexpensive medium of transportation in Mecca. Prefer taxis over buses as they may take more than double the time to reach a destination, especially during hajj months.
  • Several local buses outside the Great mosque make short trips to local attractions.

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