The name Mecca breathes sanctity, spirituality, and awe. This ancient place is beloved by practitioners of Islam, said to be the birthplace of both the Prophet Muhammed and the religion that he preached.
It’s the holiest place in Muslim belief, centered on the Kaaba, a shrine to which the Al Shaibi family has held the keys for 15 centuries.
If that alone isn’t enough mysticism and holiness, the region also boasts sites such as Mount Arafat, Jabal Al Nour, and mosques galore. The city – as well as the land around it – is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for any Muslim.
Some people ask, Can anyone go to Mecca? And the answer is no, not just anyone can get into Mecca. The government restricts access to Muslims only, and they carefully check documentation upon entry.
If you’re simply a tourist and not a practicing member of the religion, don’t plan to go there because you will not get in.
However, you can go there as an American, so long as you’re Muslim. The same is true of anyone born and bred in a Western country: you can go so long as you’re a practicing member of Islam and everyone in your party is as well.
If you wish to travel there with a spouse who’s not Muslim, they will unfortunately be denied.
Assuming everyone is in the clear regarding religion, you’ll still need to make sure you can cover the cost of your trip. Let’s take a look at how to do that below!
Average Trip to Mecca Cost in 2023
An average one-week trip to Mecca for two people will cost around $3,900:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $100 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $1,100 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $50 per person, per day
- Transportation: $300 total
- Total Cost: $3,900
Saudi Arabia has a lower cost of living than many other international destinations, which means that the necessities are often cheaper than at home or other places abroad.
However, since so many people are going to Mecca during Hajj – the annual holy pilgrimage – this changes the discussion about prices.
Accordingly, we’re going to start our conversation about costs there. Our discussion of flights, accommodations, activities, and transportation will all account for the fact that you might consider traveling during this holy week.
This will dramatically increase the cost as compared to the other 51 weeks of the year, however, and chances are you’re not going at that time.
Many Muslims choose to go to Mecca to visit family, make a non-Hajj pilgrimage, or simply see this most sacred of places. Our overall estimates will assume this latter case to make budgeting easier for the majority of travelers.
Mecca Trip Cost: Average by Item
The average cost of any trip will vary depending on a number of factors. Who you’re going with, how long you’re staying, what activities you’ll do, and when you’re going (especially important for Mecca) all weigh in.
In the following sections, we will offer some approximations for your consideration.
Before we talk about accommodations, let’s talk about Hajj. Hajj is the mandatory pilgrimage required by one of Islam’s Five Pillars, and each practicing Muslim person is supposed to take it once in their lifetime.
Specifically, the Hajj is a pilgrimage that happens during Hajj, a one-week period whose dates change every year. This is different from Umrah, which is also a pilgrimage, but can happen at any time.
If you are planning to go to Mecca during Hajj to fulfill a religious obligation, then you are doubtless willing to spend quite a bit. However, you should be aware that hotel rates skyrocket during this time … sometimes as much as 10 times their non-Hajj rates.
With this in mind, you’ll want to budget well in advance. If you are going for Umrah, then it’s wise to make your pilgrimage outside Hajj, because then you’ll save money.
However, if you’re only going to go to Mecca once in your life and the duty of Hajj is important to you, then it makes sense to budget well and go. Hotels typically cost between $50 and $125 for nice accommodations, so during a normal visit, you won’t have to pay that much.
We will assume that you are not going during Hajj and use these rates for our budget. On average, plan to spend about $100 a night. (If you’re going during Hajj, then hike that rate up accordingly.)
Flights to Saudi Arabia in general – and to airports near Mecca in particular, the closest of which is Jeddah at about 45 miles away – are costly from the United States, but prices aren’t insane for an international trip.
A round-trip ticket from Los Angeles to Jeddah costs about $1,000 on average, while from New York City you should plan on paying about $900.
You can keep prices down in multiple ways. For one thing, make sure to book ahead. International flights almost always increase in price as you get closer to the departure date.
(The same is not true for domestic flights, which are often cheaper if you hold off until the weeks before you leave. If you have to make a domestic hop, this strategy is worth considering.
For another, you can add flexibility to your dates. By checking ticket prices in a set window of time (say, a week) but without set departure days, you may find flights that are cheaper by hundreds of dollars.
This is not uncommon, so add in that flexibility if you can. Also, browse for flights in incognito mode. This prevents cookies from saving to your browser, so it doesn’t “know” you’re interested in these flights.
That will prevent it from returning continually higher prices on subsequent searches. Also be sure to read our guide on “how to get cheap flights.”
Note that flight costs are also likely to be higher during Hajj. However, many airlines do cap them to prevent exorbitant air travel costs. Airlines that travel to airports near Mecca include Flynas, Air Arabia, Emirates, and Turkish Airlines.
You can check their websites for specific information about the cost of travel if you’re going during the yearly week of pilgrimage.
Assuming you don’t live near a US hub and will have to make a small hop to get to one, which will add $100 or so, then budget about $1,100 per ticket, per person.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
Food and drink are inexpensive in Saudi Arabia. For instance, a decent meal will cost around $6, while a three-course meal for two people at a nice restaurant will cost about $100. Activities are also reasonably priced.
A half-day historical tour of Mecca’s holy sites will cost about $50 for a group of three, while a desert quad-biking adventure costs about the same.
Overall, plan to spend about $50 a day if you’re just there to tour. As always, if you want to do Hajj, prices will likely be higher.
Transportation is pretty affordable in Mecca. If you want to take a taxi from Jeddah to the city, for instance, expect to pay about $65. While the city doesn’t have public rail or tram transportation, you can get around easily by taxi.
Between cities, you have options from buses to airports to water transport. Overall, budget about $300 to accommodate taxis, so you have the freedom to go wherever you need.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip to Mecca:
- Travel to Umrah can happen at any time, so you can easily set your dates for a cheaper time of year. The low season in Saudi Arabia is March through May, when crowds are less dense and everything is cheaper.
- There is no public transport inside Mecca, but many areas are very walkable. Make sure to bring good shoes.
- Nearby Jabal al-Nur plays host to the Hira cave, where Muslims believe Muhammed received the Quran. It’s worth a visit for anyone who wants to take in the main holy sites.
- Mecca is also home to the world’s largest mosque, Masjid al-Haram. It is 88 acres and can fit up to 2.5 million people according to some estimates, 4 million according to others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about budgeting your trip to Mecca:
When is the cheapest time to visit Mecca?
Spring is the least popular time to visit Mecca. If your travel dates are flexible, opt for March through May.
Is Mecca expensive?
Mecca is not necessarily an expensive city, but it can get very expensive if you travel during the holy pilgrimage of Hajj, during Muslim high holidays, or during winter – when the weather is cooler and travel is more enjoyable.
Is it safe in Mecca?
The United States government recommends you exercise extreme caution when traveling to Saudi Arabia and reconsider travel if you can.
Per the State Department’s website, “U.S. government personnel must adhere to the above travel restrictions. As such, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these locations.”
They explain that “Terrorists attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, large gatherings, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.”
Moreover, “Terrorists are also known to time attacks around major holidays and/or in response to military operations,” so avoid large gatherings in such situations if you can, even if you are of Muslim faith and dressed appropriately.
That said, Mecca itself is typically very safe. Because it is such a holy city for the Islamic faith and only Muslims are allowed there, you probably won’t have to worry about drone and rocket attacks from Islamic fundamentalists.
Note that if you are Muslim but raised in a Western society, make sure to still obey the rules regarding public comportment.
What are the rules when traveling to Mecca?
Typically, we don’t spend much time covering the rules for travel to a country. However, Saudi Arabia is a strict Muslim country and their laws reflect their beliefs.
Note that it is illegal to be gay or trans in Saudi Arabia, to have sex outside of marriage, or to display affection in public.
If you are in a homosexual or otherwise “nontraditional” relationship, are trans, or aren’t married, you might want to reconsider travel to Saudi Arabia. As a practicing member of the Muslim faith, these are unlikely to apply to you in any case.
Even if you are a same-sex married couple or a group of people traveling in a non-romantic capacity, there are still a number of restrictions of which you should be aware. To wit:
1. Swearing and rude gestures are illegal and you may be arrested
2. Drinking or taking drugs is a serious offense and can result in lengthy jail sentences (without guarantee of extradition), fines, or public flogging
3. Touching, hugging, or kissing even between married people is illegal and punishable in serious ways
Government and religious rules extend to the items in your suitcase as well.
What should I know before packing?
The Saudi government has very strict laws about what you can bring into the country. Per the UK government, “Saudi law prohibits the importation of weapons, alcohol, narcotics, pork and pork products, pornographic materials, distillery equipment, re-treaded or used tyres, used clothing and certain sculptures.”
Moreover, “Personal videos, books, and magazines may be subjected to scrutiny and be censored on arrival. In addition, electronic devices may be screened by customs officials on arrival and departure.”
Do I need a visa to travel to Mecca?
Yes, you will need a visa to travel to Mecca. More accurately, you’ll need one to travel to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Tourism Authority can answer your questions on their website.
Wrapping It Up: Over to You!
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$100 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$1,100 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$50 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$300 total|
|💲 Total Cost||$3,900|
The average cost of a one-week trip to Mecca is around $3,900 for two people, assuming you travel outside the holy pilgrimage week of Hajj. It’s the trip of a lifetime for any Muslim, so don’t wait to plan your trip now.