The best stress-free ways to travel to Makkah
Looking forward to your trip to Makkah? Of course – there’s nothing more awe-inspiring for Muslims than visiting the holy city. If you are traveling to Saudi Arabia independently, there are several options for how to get to Makkah.
Most direct route: Jeddah to Makkah
Makkah has no airport, so most people fly into the huge King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah. South Terminal serves mainly domestic flights and Saudi Arabia’s national airline, Saudia. Most other international flights arrive at North Terminal, 19 km away.
The most convenient option for the 104 km journey from Jeddah Airport to Makkah is a private limousine arranged by your hotel in Makkah.
You can also take a licensed taxi from the terminal, or book a ride with Uber or Careem. Be ready for a long wait during busy times. There are regular SAPTCO buses from Jeddah Airport to Makkah. Since the bus station is 7 km from Makkah city center, this option is stressful if you’re traveling with heavy luggage.
Coming soon: When fully operational in late 2018 or early 2019, the Haramain high-speed train will offer fast, comfortable travel between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.
Alternative route: Madinah to Makkah
The other main entry point for Umrah and Hajj pilgrims is the smaller, usually quieter airport of Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport (MED) in Madinah.
For the 456 km journey from Madinah to Makkah along Route 15, many choose to travel by VIP SAPTCO bus. The air-conditioned service offers several direct trips per day, stopping at a miqat point before entering Makkah. It has a shorter travel time and greater comfort, including WiFi and refreshments, than regular buses. VIP tickets sell out quickly, so book well in advance.
Your hotel concierge can advise on a private hotel-to-hotel transfer between Madinah and Makkah. This is advisable if you are traveling as a family or have lots of luggage.
Travel to Makkah – questions to ask
- What are my visa restrictions? Most pilgrims must arrange their trip via an agent certified by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Hajj and Umrah visa holders are restricted to travel between Jeddah, Madinah and Makkah. Those with another type of visa may consider flying to the quieter Ta’if International Airport (TIF), 70 km from Makkah.
- When am I traveling to Makkah? Airport formalities can take many hours during busy holiday periods such as Ramadan. Consider traveling to Makkah at quieter times of the year and arranging private transfers to skip long queues for taxis and buses.
- Where else am I going in Saudi Arabia? It may be possible to save travel time by flying into Madinah, for example, and departing via Jeddah.
- Am I traveling with children or elderly relatives? To make the journey easier, travel with hand luggage only and book hotel-to-hotel transfers. Also avoid late-night flights.
Visiting Makkah is a trip of a lifetime. For a stress-free experience, consider your travel options carefully and make sure you have the most up-to-date visa information.
Hajj and Umrah visa information
How to get around in Makkah: the best transport options for you