Azerbaijan Travel

Azerbaijan Travel Panorama of Baku

 

Azerbaijan Travel invites you on a journey across the Caucasian leg of the Silk Road. Dreamy semi-desert landscape brings together history and modernity. Follow the traces of ancient Zoroastrian pilgrims, walk the cobbled streets of artisan villages, and take a closer look at ancient petroglyphs. From the ultra-modern skyscrapers, through never-sleeping mud volcanos, to medieval caravanserais, Azerbaijan surprises travelers on every step.

In case Azerbaijan has already captured your imagination, and you are only looking for practical details on how to prepare for your upcoming trip, we recommend you to check out our Azerbaijan Travel Tips.

Your Guide to Azerbaijan by a Local Travel Expert

Contents

Is Azerbaijan Worth Visiting?

  • Azerbaijan is full of contrasts, with nine climate zones stretching across the country. Snow-capped Caucasian Mountains border hot, dry deserts. Green meadows merge with the Caspian Sea coasts. But Azerbaijan’s contrasts go beyond nature. Here ultra-modern skyscrapers of Baku tower over medieval caravanserais and soviet design meet Islamic architecture.
  • Azerbaijan is the land of fire known since antiquity. With one of the wealthiest gas and oil-fields, the country is home to about 45% of the world’s mud volcanoes. It is also home to cultural site the Ateshgah Temple and a nature phenomenon eternally burning fire or the unextinguished flames of Yanar Dag.
  • Azerbaijan is affordable. Even thrifty travelers will find exploring the country satisfying. With delectable yet cheap food to cozy hotels and guesthouses, Azerbaijan travel is a very competitive holiday destination.
  • Azerbaijan brings Europe and Asia together. At the crossroad of civilizations, Azerbaijan truly reflects the nature of the Silk Road. The flavor of oriental spices wafts over local bazaars. Cozy tea houses hide in the shade of glass office buildings, and old soviet buildings neighbor the medieval Icheri Sheher or Inner City.

Your Dream Vacation

Taste the arid air of the Caucasian semi-desert, pray in the ancient temple of fire, stroll the corridor of oriental palaces, and rest in the shadow of medieval caravanserais. Let Azerbaijan bewitch you with its delicious plov, tea served in pear-shaped glasses, and the bustling bazaar. Craft your tour around the fine-tuned artistic traditions, intricate petroglyphs, and bubbling mud volcanos.

Our Azerbaijan travel packages are as diverse as the clients we serve. Whether you are into history, outdoor adventures, or cultural immersion, chances are we have a tour that perfectly suits your interests. Our offer includes quick jaunts to Azerbaijan’s major sites, and extensive multi-country expeditions. We are also happy to design a personalized Azerbaijan travel itinerary tailored to your specific needs and passions. Just drop us a message, and we will start working on it.

Top Historical Experiences:
Top Cultural Experiences:
Top Outdoor Experiences:

Visa Matters

In recent years, Azerbaijan visa policy has been gradually becoming more and more relaxed. Currently, citizens of over 90 countries such as Australia, EU members, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, UAE, and the U.S., can apply for e-visa processing which barely takes 3 days. Passport holders of another 12 countries, including China, Japan, Israel, and South Korea, can get a visa on arrival. Besides, citizens of 10 countries, including Russia, can enter Azerbaijan visa-free.

Is Azerbaijan Safe for Travel?

Overall, Azerbaijan is a very safe country to explore. Azerbaijanis are kind, hospitable people who will go an extra mile to accommodate travelers. However, as in any other country around the Globe, crime exists also here. Stay vigilant to avoid pickpockets. Do not flash your belongings in crowded places such as bus or train stations or public transport. Negotiate prices with taxi drivers and street vendors in advance to avoid being overcharged. Besides, if you decide to drive around the country on your own, do it during the daytime. Some roads, especially in the mountains, are full of potholes and bumps, so driving at night can be dangerous. Also pay extra attention when crossing the street. Azerbaijani drivers tend to drive recklessly, and accidents are common.

Choose Your Transport

A number of direct international flights connect Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, with global travel hubs such as Beijing, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Moscow, New York, Paris, Tbilisi, Tel Aviv, and others. Other routes connect Baku with Almaty, Ashgabat, Nursultan, Tashkent, and Tbilisi. A convenient railway connection links Azerbaijan with Georgia, as well as Russia and Ukraine.

Once in Azerbaijan, you can explore the country in private vehicles or utilize domestic flights for several longer routes, such as Ganja or Nakhichavan.

Best Time to Visit Azerbaijan

With nine climate zones stretching across the country, Azerbaijan is a worthy travel destination year-round. Spring and autumn draw the most crowds with their pleasant temps and vibrant landscapes. But summer and winter also have their own perks:

Winter: Winter changes the high peaks of Azerbaijan into a snow paradise. Ski resorts at Shahdag and Tufandag work at full speed. It is time to slow down and relax over delectable Azerbaijani food. In addition, since Azerbaijan’s winter is usually mild, many of local highlights are still accessible to the travelers. With fewer tourists around, you can count on a much more individual experience. It does not also hurt that many places offer low season discounts.

Spring: The season starts with the Persian New Year – the country’s most important holiday celebrated in the end of March. It’s the perfect time to be around if you wish to explore local culture and traditional customs. In addition, as spring moves forward, the weather gradually gets warmer. Flowers and green foliage start to dominate the landscape. Nature lovers find this period best to enjoy Azerbaijan’s nature.

Autumn: Towards September, the summer heat decreases, while fruit and vegetables ripen in gardens and farms. Travelers flock to admire the autumn forests surrounding Lake Goygol in Ganja or to observe bird migrations in local, national parks.

Summer: Summers in Azerbaijan are hot, with temperatures occasionally reaching 40°C (104°F) in Baku. It’s a perfect time to explore Caspian Sea beaches or, if you want to escape the coastal heat, to hike in the Caucasus Mountains.

Azerbaijan Travel Map

Use the Azerbaijan Map to locate the country’s main cities and find out what each one has to offer:

Azerbaijan Travel Map

 

How Many Days Do You Need in Azerbaijan?

  • Baku – Metropolitan capital of Azerbaijan where ultra-modern skyscrapers mix with historical sites galore. A perfect getaway to explore the Absheron Peninsula and the nearby Gobustan.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Icheri Sheher, Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku Boulevard, Nizami Street, Azerbaijan Carpet Museum
    How to get off the beaten path: Explore the bustling alleys of Green Market (Yashil Bazaar) or visit the Modern Art Museum.
     
  • Greater Baku – This large area surrounding the capital encompasses almost the entire Absheron Peninsula as well as a number of islands. Befitting its size, Greater Baku spoils for choice with a variety of attractions, from natural phenomena to manmade architectural and historical wonders.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Ateshgah Temple, Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, Gobustan mud volcanos, Yanar Dag
    How to get off the beaten path: Visit Gala State Historical Ethnographic Reserve to explore the history of Absheron Peninsula.
     
  • Sheki – This fascinating city is a real cultural and architectural gem of Azerbaijan. Sheki boasts rich in Islamic architecture, delectable regional food, and great Silk Road-related history.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Sheki Khan Palace, Juma Mosque, Sheki caravanserais, the 19th-century hammam
    How to get off the beaten path: Dedicate some time to explore Gelersen-Gerersen Fortress, or visit Christian Church in Kish.
     
  • Ganja – One of the oldest cities in the Caucasus, Ganja boasts a variety of historical and cultural monuments. The town prides itself on being the birthplace of the famous Persian poet Nizami. His tomb is a popular site for visitors.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Imam-zade Mausoleum, Old Ganja Fortress, Nizami Ganjavi Mausoleum, Sheikh Bahauddin Complex, and the bottle house
    How to get off the beaten path: Slow down to enjoy the beauty of Goygol National Park with its alpine landscape, crystal clear lakes, and pristine forests.
     
  • Quba – Set on the north-eastern slopes of Shahdag mountain, Quba spoils summer vacationers with a cool climate and spectacular mountain scenery. You can also taste here the best apples in Azerbaijan.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Chirag-Kala Fortress, Gilgilchay Fortress, Juma Mosque, Sakina-Khanum Mosque
    How to get off the beaten path: Experience the unique culture of Khinalug, the oldest village in Azerbaijan, or visit the elusive Jewish community at Red Town (Red Sloboda).
     
  • Shamakhi – Home to a sizeable astrophysical observatory, Shamakhi is the former capital of the Shirvan Empire and was one of the largest trade centers of the Caucasian section of the Silk Road. Today, the city is famous for silk production, carpet weaving, and an impressive number of well-preserved architectural and historical monuments. It is also one of the best places to try local Azerbaijani wine.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Juma Mosque, Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum, Village of Lahij, Diri-Baba Mausoleum-Mosque, Gulistan Fortress
    How to get off the beaten path: Explore local wineries to sample young local wine.
     
  • Nakhichevan (Nakhchivan) – The oldest among Azerbaijan’s cities is also the capital of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. Local tradition states Noah founded the city after the Flood, and it was his place of death and burial. To reach Nakhichevan, you must catch a domestic flight from Baku.
    How long should I stay? 2-3 days
    Major Sites: Gulistan Mausoleum, Momine Khatun Mausoleum
    How to get off the beaten path: Leave the city behind and step into the ruins of the magnificent Alinja Fortress, visit the spectacular Karabaglar Mausoleum, or explore the ancient Gemigaia Petroglyphs.
     
  • Gabala – An ancient city with a history dating back to the 4th century BC. The city boasts a high number of historical monuments and is a perfect destination for history buffs.
    How long should I stay? 1 day
    Major Sites: Ruins and excavations of the ancient capital of Caucasian Albania called the Old Gabala
    How to get off the beaten path: Visit a unique architectural monument of Caucasian Albania – the Udin Temple.
     
  • Lankaran – A subtropical paradise in the southeast of Azerbaijan, near the border with Iran. The city’s landscape harmoniously combines high mountain tops, fertile lowlands, and pebbly sea coasts.
    How long should I stay? 1 day
    Major Sites: Lankaran Fortress, Pir Hussein Mosque and Mausoleum
    How to get off the beaten path: Immerse yourself in Khanega, a sophisticated complex of mausoleums and mosques on the banks of Pirsagat river.
     
  • Naftalan – This small city located at the foothill of Lesser Caucasus Mountains attests to how important oil is to Azerbaijan’s economy and culture. In Naftalan, local oil is regarded to have therapeutic effects and used for treatments in unique oil spas.
    How long should I stay? As long as you want to stay at a spa resort, usually at least a week
    Major Sites: Naftalan oil spa resort and the treatments it offers
    How to get off the beaten path: Enjoy a visit to the quirky Museum of Crutches, where you can admire a collection of crutches left behind by patients said to be successfully treated in Naftalan.
     
  • Nabran – This popular Caspian Sea resort spoil with subtropical forestland and a long, lovely beach.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Nabran beach and affiliated resort facilities
    How to get off the beaten path: Leave the beach behind and hike in the Nabran forests rich with unique trees particular to this area.

At Your Service

Whether you would like to join a group tour, arrange a day trip, or simply get a little help with domestic transport, we would love to make your trip smooth and memorable.

Our Azerbaijan Travel services include:

Train Ticket Concierge Service
Local train ticket purchases.
Hotel Reservations
Selecting and booking Uzbekistan hotels has never been easier!
Join a Group Tour
See our upcoming small-group tours with guaranteed departure dates.
Plan a Private Tour
Browse our Azerbaijan private tour packages or contact us to design a personalized Azerbaijan travel itinerary.

Azerbaijan Holidays and Festivals

Azerbaijan is the only Muslim country in the South Caucasus. The country’s culture and customs often widely vary from the rest of the region, which is predominantly Christian. The difference is also visible when it comes to festivities. As Muslims, Azerbaijanis celebrate Ramadan Bayrami and Gurban Bayrami (Eid al-Adha) but omit Christmas or Easter. Persian New Year Novruz is also widely celebrated in the country.

Most celebrations in Azerbaijan are loud, colorful, and cheerful. This hospitable nation is always happy to welcome guests during the festivities. Try to take advantage of that and arrange your Azerbaijan travels around one of these celebrations:

New Year (1st-2nd January) – New Year is one of the most popular festivities in the country. It is a joyful time spent with relatives and friends. It starts on the evening of 31st December with a splendid feast. Once the clock hits midnight, spectacular firework shows begin all over the country. The best ones take place in Baku, particularly at Baku Boulevard.
Best place to celebrate: Baku

Novruz (20th-25th March) – Novruz celebrates the lunar new year, which starts according to Persian traditions with the arrival of spring. The festival is celebrated with song, dance, games and copious amounts of food.
Best place to celebrate: Baku, Sheki

Republic Day (28th May) – Republic Day commemorates the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic established on 28th May 1918. The Republic was the first secular democratic country in the Islamic World, which the Azerbaijan people are very proud of. Usual celebrations include the highest Azerbaijan officials laying a wreath at the Republic Monument in Baku. Concerts and parades celebrating Azerbaijan’s history and culture are also held across the country.
Best place to celebrate: Baku

Gabala Music Festival (July-August) – Gabala Festival starts at the end of July and lasts for a week. This open-air festival combines classical piano concerts with jazz improvisations and an evening of traditional mugham music.
Best place to celebrate: Gabala

Baku International Jazz Festival (October) – This fantastic musical event has been taking place in Baku since 2005. Rather than a one-day event, it’s a series of concerts stretched over several days. The festivity brings together jazz musicians and jazz lovers from all around the Globe.
Best place to celebrate: Baku

Goychay Pomegranate Festival (November) – The “Pomegranate Festival” is an annual cultural festival featuring a fair, and an exhibition dedicated to different varieties of pomegranates and pomegranate products. Visitors can also enjoy concerts of traditional Azerbaijani music, performances of various folklore groups, and competitions.
Best place to celebrate: Goychay

Check out our list of Azerbaijan holidays to learn more about other events you can incorporate into your Azerbaijan travel plans.

Curious about Azerbaijani Cuisine?

Our list of Top Best Dishes to taste while in the country:

  • Dolma – This delicious dish, widely popular across the whole South Caucasus, consists of minced meat, rice, spices, and herbs mixed, wrapped in vine or cabbage leaves, and cooked. Some chefs wrap dolma in the leaves of sour-sweet cabbage or put it inside an eggplant, tomato, or any other vegetable that can serve as a container for the filling. In 2017, the Azerbaijani tradition of making and sharing dolma was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Kebab – Pieces of seasoned meat, usually mutton, places on skewers and fried over a coal barbecue called mangal (manqal). The dish frequently comes with lavash – a thin, unleavened flatbread. Kebab often comes with various vegetables.
  • Ovdukh – A yogurt-based soup served cold. Yogurt is mixed with water and poured over sliced boiled meat, hard-boiled eggs, sliced cucumber, and herbs.
  • Qovurma – It’s a simple yet delicious dish featuring mutton spiced with saffron and stewed with onions and tomatoes. Qovurma can also include chicken and fruit.
  • Kufta (kofta) – Delectable meatballs made of mutton or beef in tomato sauce. The meal is flavored with onions, salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar.
  • Lavangi – This complete opposition of kufta features a whole baked fish, chicken, or duck filled with walnuts, onions, spices, and baked. Lavangi is most popular in the coastal regions.
  • Piti – A highly popular soup made of tail fat and vegetables cooked in an aromatic mutton bone broth.
  • Plov – The sumptuously seasoned rice-based meal comes in over forty variants that differ in ingredients and cooking techniques. Traditionally, Azerbaijani plov features warm rice, fried pieces of beef or chicken mixed with onions, nuts, dry fruits, and spices. In some areas, wheat is used instead of rice.
  • Qutab – A thinly rolled dough pancake with filling, folded in a cylindrical shape, and fried. Qutab’s filling usually features meat, green vegetables, and squash. The ready dish is cut into smaller triangular pieces and served with a glass of yogurt.
  • Baklava (Pakhlava) – The most renowned Azerbaijani dessert, which typically comprises layers of thinly rolled wheat or rice dough mixed with honey and nuts. The desert has many variations that differ depending on the region. Particularly popular is the classic Baku pakhlava, with a nut on top of each piece. Sheki halva (not pakhlava) is a local special to try.

Check out our Azerbaijan Travel Guidebook for Food for an in-depth look at

Dos and Don’ts in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijanis are gracious people, easily forgiving any mistakes committed by foreigners unfamiliar with local customs. Still, knowing a bit about the host culture is treated as a sign of respect and helps a lot in forging friendships as you travel:

DO:
  • Take off your shoes before walking into a mosque or home
  • Show respect for those elderly by giving them the best seats on buses, dinner tables, and near tourist sites
  • Bring a gift if you will be joining a local family for a meal or an overnight stay
  • Confirm prices with taxi drivers before getting into the car to avoid being overcharged
  • Be prepared to answer personal questions. People in Azerbaijan will be interested in your personal life and will not hesitate to ask about your age, marital status, children, etc. It is seen as a sign of interest and concern.
DON’T:
  • Throw away bread to the rubbish bin or leave it on the ground. Azerbaijanis consider it offensive
  • Avoid discussing politics
  • Accept gifts straightaway. If someone offers a present, it is polite to refuse twice and accept on the third time
  • Make the OK sign. It is offensive in Azerbaijan
  • Blow your nose in public. Azerbaijanis see it as rude.

Speak the Language

Knowing a few basic phrases in the local language is the best way to make local friends and connections during your Azerbaijan travels.

Here are some phrases that may come in handy:

Phrase Azerbaijani
Hello Salam (Sah-lahm)
How are you? / I am fine, thank you. Necesən? Sağolun yaxşıyam. (Ne-je-san / Sah-o-lun yak-shi-yam)
Good-Bye Hələlik (Ha-la-lich)
Thank You! Sağol (Sah-ol)
You are welcome Dəyməz (Dai-maz)
Yes/No Bəli / Xeyr (Ba-li / Keyr)
Where is the... (airport)? (Hava limanı)... haradadır? (Ha-va li-ma-no…ha-ra-da-dor)
How much is it? Bu neçəyədir? (Bu na-cha-ya-dir)
My name is… Mənim adım... (Ma-nim a-dom)
I don’t understand Başa düşmədim (Ba-sha dyu-shma-dim)
Excuse me Bağışlayın (Bah-o-shla-yon)
Nice to meet you Məmnun oldum (Ma-mnun ol-dum)
Cheers! Sizin sağlığınıza! (Si-zin sah-loh-no-za)

Virtual Travel Guide to Azerbaijan: Further Reading

Did You Know That...

Azerbaijan may be unfamiliar to many, but the country harbors many fascinating stories and facts:

  • Ever heard of the Nobel Prize? Well, Azerbaijan was where the Nobel Family made its fortune through digging and exporting oil to Europe. You can visit house-museum of Noble Brothers in Baku.
  • Azerbaijan was where the crude oil excavations began. The first well was drilled there in 1848, a decade before the drilling started in the United States.
  • The first oil pipeline in the world was built in 1906 to transfer the “black gold” from Baku to Batumi seaport (519 miles/834 km).
  • About 45% of the world’s mud volcanoes are in Azerbaijan.
  • Neft Daşları is a settlement entirely built on stilts. It started as an oil rig and developed into an entire town situated on elevated walkways in the Caspian Sea.
  • Baku is the birthplace of Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion.