How to get around in Makkah: the best transport options for you

Are you planning a visit to Makkah and wondering how to get around? Here is an easy overview of the city’s excellent transport network, which covers all areas of the holy city and beyond.

Public transport is continually improving thanks to government initiatives. This makes it easier and quicker for visitors to access the Grand Mosque and other central areas and holy sites in Makkah, even during busy times like Ramadan and the Hajj season

Public buses: clean and efficient

Clean, regular public buses operated by the Saudi Public Transport Company, Saptco, run on specific routes within Makkah. Intercity buses also run between all cities in Saudi Arabia. You can check bus timetables here.

A more extensive network of bus routes into and around the city is planned as part of the Makkah Public Transportation Program.

Metro: ideal for Hajj

Opened in 2010, Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro line only runs during Hajj, transporting thousands of pilgrims quickly and easily between Makkah and Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. The metro system is set to be expanded with new lines to serve residents and pilgrims all year round.

General Syndicate of Cars buses: a good Hajj option

Operating during the Hajj only, the General Syndicate of Cars runs several thousand buses transporting pilgrims between the various holy sites.

Al Haramain high-speed train

Also known as the Makkah-Medina high-speed railway, the brand new Al Haramain train starts operating in early 2018. It will shorten the journey from Makkah to Medina from 6 hours to 2.5 hours. The train runs via the cities of Jeddah and Rabigh.

Tickets are divided into three categories: business class, first class and tourist class.

Hail a taxi

You can hail taxis anywhere in Makkah. Drivers usually don’t use the meter, so the fare is negotiable. During the last ten days of Ramadan and the Hajj season, the fare may be three times higher due to the high demand and traffic congestion.

Private buses for pilgrims

High-quality, air-conditioned buses run by private companies (such as Dallah and Rawahel) operate specific routes during the Umrah and Hajj seasons.

Chauffeur and car-booking services

Uber and Careem provide private chauffeur services inside Makkah. You can order a car by calling the company or using a mobile app linked to a credit card. The price is higher than a regular taxi.

Renting a car in Makkah

GCC nationals and visitors with international driving licenses, as well as expatriates residing in the Kingdom, can rent cars from various rental offices in Makkah.

Walking: the best way to avoid congestion

Despite great improvements in Makkah transport options, walking is still the best way to get around the city during Ramadan and the Hajj season. This helps you avoid traffic congestion and overcrowding, as well as higher prices for taxi fares.

Saudi buses - SAPTCO

SAPTO buses are clean, modern and efficient.


Private Hire Car at the Swissotel Makkah

For chauffeur service in Makkah, simply ask the hotel concierge.

Essential Umrah or Hajj packing list

Your pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so don’t ruin it by forgetting an essential item! To help you pack for your Hajj or Umrah experience, here is a quick guide of things you’ll need.

Clothes for traveling and ihram

Take enough clothes for the length of your journey, bearing in mind that you may need to change several times in one day. The weather in Makkah is extremely hot and the rituals often require great physical exertion. Loose clothes are recommended.

Be sure to pack your ihram clothing in your hand luggage, along with pins to fasten it. Again, you may need to change your ihram clothes if they become dirty or torn. A small bag to hang around your neck will be useful for storing your money, phone and documents.

Stay clean and healthy

Cleanliness is extremely important, so carry enough wash towels for the duration of your stay in Makkah. Check you have your toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb and nail clippers. Remember, antiperspirant should not contain perfume. Women should take a small pair of scissors to cut off some hair after leaving the state of ihram.

It is a good idea to take simple medicines such as painkillers and tablets for stomach problems and colds. A small first aid kit is useful and sunscreen is extremely important.

If you have a specific condition such as diabetes or a heart problem, pack a sufficient supply of medicine, along with any devices you use to measure blood pressure and sugar.

Don’t forget your documents!

When your mind is focused on the spiritual side of the pilgrimage, it’s easy to forget important documents: passport, flight tickets, flight schedule, hotel address in Makkah or Madinah, etc.

Last-minute items that are often forgotten include your phone and charger, glasses and contact lenses, sunglasses and a small notebook. Of course, remember to pack a Koran and a booklet of the adhkaar (invocations), plus a guide to Hajj or a guide to Umrah.

It’s a good idea to take sandwiches or other snacks with you in case of a flight delay. Carry anything essential in your hand luggage in case your suitcase is lost or delayed.

How to change into ihram on the plane

Remember that you have to enter ihram before entering the miqat area, even in the air. If you are traveling in normal clothes, keep your ihram clothes in your hand luggage and check at what time you will enter the miqat zone. Plan to change into your ihram clothes at least half an hour before this.

If you forget something…

If you are staying at a 5-star hotel in Makkah and realize you have forgotten something, please ask at reception. With their local knowledge and experience, the staff will help you find a replacement.

Arabic businessman walking with a suitcase

Pack carefully to enjoy stress-free travel to Makkah


Arabic Muslim holy book Koran background

Carry valuable items with you in your hand luggage

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