Visiting Makkah – A City Guide
Makkah is Islam’s holiest city, where the Prophet Muhammad and the faith itself were born. Surrounded by mountains, this desert city in western Saudi Arabia is a spiritual oasis that’s home to Islam’s most significant pilgrimage sites, as well as a modern area offering world-class hotels and infrastructure.
Makkah: City Layout & Top Attractions
The focal point of Makkah is Al-Haram district. Here you’ll find the Great Mosque
(Masjid Al-Haram), a vast complex with the sacred Kaaba building in its central courtyard, the Zamzam Well
and Mount Safa
and Mount Marwah
Luxury Makkah hotels ring the southern border of Al-Haram. For stunning views of Al-Haram and use of a private entrance to the Great Mosque, redeem your IHG® Rewards Club points for a stay at InterContinental® Dar Al Tawhid Makkah.
Overlooking the Great Mosque, the Abraj Al-Bait Complex is a cluster of skyscrapers with a massive clock tower, extensive shopping and dining facilities.
East of the city centre lies the neighbourhood of Mina
, with the three stone Jamarat pillars
, and the Arafat plain, with Mount Arafat
. Visiting both is an essential part of the Haj pilgrimage ritual.
Nearby, Mount Thawr
has a cave where Prophet Muhammad is said to have taken refuge. Just north of Al-Haram district is Mount Hira
. At the top, the Cave of Hira is another spiritual pilgrimage site.
Eating Out in Makkah
Dining in Makkah is largely concentrated in the hotels of Makkah, many of which have stylish restaurants serving global cuisine, from traditional Saudi fare to steak, dim sum and South Asian food.
Booking your Makkah hotel directly through the IHG® website, app or calling and joining IHG® Rewards Club gives members access to affordable “YOUR RATE” offers at InterContinental® Dar Al Tawhid Makkah and its cosmopolitan restaurant overlooking the Great Mosque.
For a quick bite, the large food court at the Abraj Al-Bait Complex is home to fast-food restaurants selling shawarmas, pizzas and burgers, as well as Western chain eateries and coffee shops.
Shopping in Makkah
Makkah’s roads and lanes are lined with small shops selling prayer mats, souvenirs, clothes and perfumes.
The Abraj Al-Bait Complex
has a huge, upscale mall with thousands of stores, including luxury international brands. For a more mainstream shopping experience, Makkah City Centre, west of the Al-Haram district, and Makkah Mall
, near the Mina area, have clothes, jewellery and home furnishings.
On the Makkah-Jeddah highway, Al Hijaz Mall
is popular with families, offering local and international fashion, a bookstore and an entertainment centre.
Culture & Nightlife in Makkah
explores the origins and development of Islam through photos, manuscripts and antiquities. Exhibits include models of the Grand Mosque and Kaaba, and the rim of the Zamzam Well.
Nightlife in the traditional sense is nonexistent, as alcohol is forbidden throughout Saudi Arabia. Evening coffee and nonalcoholic drinks are served at the best hotels in Makkah.
Leisure in Makkah
In the Mina district, the ancient Bay’ah Mosque
stands on the site where a group of followers pledged allegiance to Prophet Muhammad.
North of the Al-Haram area, Jannat Mu’alla Cemetery
has the graves of many of the Prophet’s relatives, as well as famous clerics.
Makkah’s mountains, such as Mount Thawr and Mount Hira, also offer hiking opportunities.