Rent a Car for Travel in Mecca

Mecca is the holiest city in Islam and a pilgrimage site for millions of Muslims. Renting a car can provide more flexibility to fully experience your Umrah or Hajj pilgrimage. Here are some tips for renting and driving a car in Mecca:

Finding a Rental Car Company

There are many car rental options available in Mecca, including international chains and local Saudi companies. When choosing a provider, consider:

  • Companies operating near the airport or your hotel for convenience
  • Companies that allow reservations online for faster booking
  • Rental rates, insurance fees, and other costs
  • Company reputation and reviews from other pilgrims

Some rental companies in Mecca include Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Avis, Al Tayyar, Al-Muqeem, and Uhaul. Book 1-2 months ahead for the best rates.

Finding a Rental Car Company

To rent a car in Saudi Arabia, you will typically need:

  • Valid driver’s license from your home country
  • Passport
  • Credit card to pay for rental costs
  • Proof of insurance

Some rental companies may require an International Driving Permit as well. Ensure you have all necessary paperwork ready.

Navigating Roads and Customs

Driving in Mecca has some unique considerations:

  • An Ihram (pilgrim’s garment) must be worn while driving until you complete Umrah/Hajj
  • Be alert for large crowds, especially near holy sites
  • Do not drive on highways during prayer times
  • Always carry your identification
  • Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia as of 2022
  • Avoid prohibited areas like Empty Quarter desert region

Following local driving laws is critical for a safe trip. Using a GPS can help navigate Mecca’s complex road system.

Top Sites to Visit by Car

Having a rental car makes visiting these key sites in Mecca more flexible:

Masjid al-Haram

The Great Mosque surrounds the Kaaba and is the focal point of Hajj rituals. Driving allows quick access.

Mount Arafat

Mount Arafat is the hill where the Prophet Muhammad gave his Farewell Sermon during his pilgrimage.


Mina is where pilgrims camp and perform rituals during Hajj. Having a car makes traveling to Mina easier.


Muzdalifah is where pilgrims gather pebbles and spend the night during Hajj before moving on to Mina.

Jannat al-Mu’alla

This cemetery is home to famous graves like those of Khadijah and Abu Talib, relatives of the Prophet Muhammad.

A rental car allows you to visit these significant sites with fewer restrictions.

Parking Tips

Finding parking in Mecca’s crowded areas can be challenging. Here are some tips:

  • Many hotels offer private parking for guests – inquire when booking
  • There are large parking lots near holy sites to accommodate crowds
  • Street parking is limited, so be ready to pay for parking lots
  • Illegally parked cars are prone to fines or towing
  • Allow extra time to find parking – it can take patience!
  • Consider hiring a driver who knows the area if uncomfortable navigating Mecca’s roads

With some preparation, you can find legal parking to fully experience Mecca.

FAQ About Renting a Car in Mecca

What side of the road do Saudis drive on?

Traffic in Saudi Arabia keeps to the right side of the road, as is common in many places worldwide.

Are manual or automatic transmissions more readily available?

Automatics tend to be the most prevalent rental option. Reserve early if you require a manual transmission.

Are there tolls or fees to drive on certain roads?

Yes, there are tolls on some major highways and tunnels around Mecca. Keep cash on hand for any toll fees required.

Are there tolls or fees to drive on certain roads?

Yes, there are tolls on some major highways and tunnels around Mecca. Keep cash on hand for any toll fees required.


Renting a car for your pilgrimage to Mecca can provide more freedom and flexibility during your important journey. Carefully select a reputable company, have all required documents ready, and follow local driving laws closely. Use caution near large crowds and make ample time for parking. With smart preparation, driving yourself in Mecca can enhance your sacred experience.


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