Azerbaijan an exotic travel destination is located in Caucasus region and is popularly known as “Land of Fire”. It is located in Eastern Europe and western Asia and therefore you will find a cultural amalgamation of Asian and European cultures. Located on the Caspian Sea, you will find subtropical sea resorts too, with many varieties of hillside towns in Caucasus mountains, ancient mosques and minarets, impressive modern architectures, flaming mountain, mud volcano and much more wonderful and interesting places. I have compiled a list of Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan for planning your trip with many tips, suggestions, hotel stays recommendations, itineraries from my fellow travel bloggers who have traveled all around the world.
Recommendations for Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan by Experienced Travel Bloggers.
BAKU by Megan Starr | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan is the capital city of the country in the Caucasus and its most economically important city. Located right on the Caspian Sea, Baku is a mixture of Soviet modernism combined with a new flair. It truly is one of the most unique cities in its region and more and more people are beginning to discover all it has to offer now that the Azerbaijan visa regime has simplified for several countries.
There are a plethora of things to do in Baku, including visiting the Old Town, hanging out around Fountain Square, walking the Caspian Sea promenade, or checking out the marvelous, modern buildings that dot the city’s skyline. The city is relatively clean in the city center and delicious smells fill the air, satiating all senses. There are several restaurants where you can find hearty Azerbaijani fare, including a couple of my favorites- Nargiz, Muzey Shirvanshah, and Nakhchivan. The menus are extensive and offer an array of food that showcases Azerbaijan’s rich culinary scene. Produce is also exceptional in Azerbaijan and you will have a chance to see this front and center in Baku. Read more about the visit to Baku.
GOBUSTAN NATIONAL PARK by Vanessa Ball | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan’s largest city, has a unique and varied ambiance and style. Many travelers will visit here on a trip to the country to experience the vibrant and beautiful architecture. However, 65km away, a mere hour’s drive along the Caspian coast, lies Gobustan National Park with rock art and mud volcanoes, a day trip that just can’t be missed.
Gobustan is astonishing. You will find there a vista of craters, slowly oozing mud, miniature volcanoes, and arid black earth which cracks before your eyes. Alighting from the bus is like stepping off a space-craft onto another planet.
The Petroglyphs found at Gobustan and the brilliant museum which explain them are the main reason that travelers visit the site. These pictures and symbols carved into the rock with crude tools depict life as it was when they were created and show the development of human thinking over many thousands of years. Some petroglyphs are 40,000 years old and are arguably the most comprehensive examples of early human history in the world.
How to get to Gobustan – Gobustan is an hour’s drive along the coast from Baku and has good transport links due to the local town. A taxi from Baku is an option but is expensive and organizing a return journey is difficult. Bus travel is probably the most cost-effective way of getting to Gobustan. There are many options available out of Baku and it’s a good idea to do a bit of research to make sure the guide is knowledgeable as this will make your day so much more enjoyable.
MARDAKAN by Ellis Veen | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan was one of my favorite countries I visited last year. Even though Azerbaijan itself is an off the beaten path destination it is full of secret gems that very few people know about. One of them is the little city of Mardakan. It is one of the oldest villages in the Absheron peninsula with an old castle from the 13th century. The castle is a bit hard to find, but locals are glad to tell you where it is. They see few tourists coming their way, so people are extremely friendly and curious.
Another reason to visit Mardakan is to visit the Mir Movsun Agha shrine and the Hassan pir shrine. At the Hassan pir shrine people come to have bottles smashed above their head to cure anxiety and the Mir Movsun Agha shrine is believed to cure any disease for those who are sincere in their wishes. Both are active places of worship that give an interesting look into Azerbaijani culture.
Mardakan is easy to visit and makes a perfect half-day trip from Baku. There are frequent public buses to Mardakan taking 45 minutes. It is a nice place to wander a bit around for an hour or two. There are not many restaurants so it is best to bring some snacks with you. You can also combine this trip easily with a visit to the fire temple in Suratxani. Read more about Mardakan and nearby areas.
KHINALUG by Kamila | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
Khinalug, the ancient village located up in the Caucasus mountains, is the must when visiting Azerbaijan. With the elevation of 2350 meters above sea level, it is often considered the highest located village in Europe. Due to the altitude, the place is rather isolated and the local community of around 2 thousand people speaks their own language – Khinalug, they are also known for their unique customs and traditional way of living. The architecture of the village is rather distinctive too – the cobblestone houses are glued to the hills, looking like they are built one on top of another. But the main reason to visit Khinalug is the breathtaking scenery around. The journey to the village is already the adventure itself as the road is in a terrible condition (you can expect to remove big rocks from in front of the car), twisting and turning, going up and down but with amazing scenery all over the way. Unfortunately getting to Khinalug isn’t so easy. If you’re limited in time you can go for the organized tour from Baku – they take around 12 hours as it’s a long way to the mountains. The other option is to go to Quba first (a city located north from Baku, easily reachable by public transport) and there you shouldn’t have problems with finding 4WD that would take you to Khinalug. You can stay overnight in the village too and go for numerous hikes around in the Caucasus.
SHEKI by Emily Lush | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
Located in the country’s northwest, around 300 km from Baku towards the border with Georgia, Sheki (Şəki) is my favorite place in Azerbaijan. Once a stop on the famous Silk Road trading route that connected east and west, Sheki is a town of caravanserais, silk factories, ornate palaces, and pretty cobbled streets.
Of all the things to do in Sheki, the Palace of the Sheki Khans tops the list. Built-in 1797 as a summer residence for the Caucasian khanate, it’s an incredible example of craftsmanship. Wall-to-ceiling miniatures, mirrored roofs, and shebeki—a special kind of stained glass found only in Sheki—have all been meticulously restored, earning the complex a coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination. Another must-do is the equally impressive but lesser-known Sheki Khans Winter Palace. Tucked away in a residential area, it was only recently re-discovered after years of abandonment.
Sheki’s Silk Road legacy is a big part of the town’s charm. A few stone caravanserais (trader’s inns) remain. The Sheki Karvansaray Hotel is housed in a converted caravanserai, complete with original stone arches, cozy sleeping chambers, and a gorgeous internal courtyard. The Sheki Silk Factory still uses its original Soviet-era machinery and has a small gift boutique attached.
Another highlight of Sheki is the cuisine. Piti, an aromatic meat stew eaten with bread, is a traditional Azeri dish that’s served at most restaurants in town. Piti House and Restaurant Gargarin both do an excellent rendition. Depending on your preference, cap off a meal with a cocktail at Buta Bar—an uber-trendy lounge located in the lobby of the Sheki Saray Hotel—or head to the local market to purchase a slab of Sheki halva (halvasi), a syrup-drenched sweet treat.
To get to Sheki from Baku, take a marshrutka from the main bus station (4-5 hours’ travel time; approximately 7 AZN per person).
GANJA by Stephanie Craig | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
Ganja is Azerbaijan’s second largest city, but it often gets skipped by people traveling Azerbaijan in favor of more touristy locations. However, this is a shame since it’s an awesome city with some of the country’s most important historic sites nearby. Just a four-hour bus ride from Baku, Ganja is a very different city from the capital.
Highlights in the city include visits to Heydar Aliev Square, the Juma Mosque, and the folk art Bottle House. Great day trips include the Imamzadeh pilgrimage site and the mountainside Lake Goygol. One of my favorite hidden gems in Ganja is the Armenian Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky. Just make sure to bring a headscarf, ladies, if you want to go inside. I didn’t realize I needed one, and I got kicked out after a few minutes.
For a real bit of Soviet nostalgia, book a stay at the Ganja Hotel. This was the old Soviet hotel in Ganja when Azerbaijan was part of the USSR. Between the building’s Soviet classical architecture and the look of the lobby, it’s easy to tell the place is connected to the Soviet Union.
You can easily get to and from Ganja from either Baku or Sheki, making this a great stop on any Azerbaijan itinerary.
Baku has many worthy places to stay, but if you’re on a budget, don’t look past Sahil Hostel near the promenade and city center. It is an exceptionally clean place to crash for the night and the staff and owners are lovely.
NAKHCHIVAN by Allison Green | Interesting Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
If you’re looking for an interesting and off the beaten path destination in Azerbaijan you should consider visiting the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan. This part of Azerbaijan is geographically distinct from the rest of the country as it is an exclave that doesn’t share any land borders with the rest of Azerbaijan. The only way to get there without leaving Azerbaijan is to fly from Baku, which is considered a domestic flight. Nakhchivan is separated from Azerbaijan by Armenia, with whom the border is closed, which is why you can only fly. That said, traveling Nakhchivan is definitely worth the effort
The main sights in Nakhchivan are the Islamic funerary mausoleums in the country. Momina Khan is the most known but in my opinion, the Qarabaglar mausoleum is the most beautiful. It is also a burgeoning wellness destination. Mount Duzdag is made of salt and the salt sanatorium there is excellent for healing chronic respiratory problems. There is also the beautiful Lake Batabat located near the Armenian border. You can stay at the 4* hotel in town, Hotel Tebriz, or you can look for a budget homestay.
To get around Nakhchivan, it is best to hire a driver for the day. Gas prices are low, and as a result, you can hire a taxi for the day for around for about $80-90 USD. I recommend trying the local soups like dushbara and dovgha which are delicious and full of flavor. The best meal I had in Nakhchivan was at Batabat Restaurant near Lake Batabat but the food at Hotel Tabriz is also quite nice.
RECOMMENDED ITINERARY FOR INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT IN AZERBAIJAN | AZERBAIJAN ITINERARY
DAY 1 – After landing at Baku’s International Airport – Heydar Aliyev International Airport, go for a Baku city tour.
DAY 2 – BAKU OLD CITY TOUR AND MANY MORE ATTRACTIONS
DAY 3 – Nearby attractions / Day trips from Baku to MUD VOLCANOES and MARDAKAN. Click here to book your trip to Mud Volcanoes.
DAY 4 – LAHIJ ( 3 hours bus trip to this place from Baku). It is a very scenic road – route. OVERNIGHT STAY IN LAHIJ
DAY 5 – SMALL CITY TOUR IN LAHIJ AND THEN PROCEED to KHINALUG OR QABALA (GABALA) – beautiful small hillside town. All the attractions are very close so you can see all in one day.
DAY 6 – PROCEED TO TO SHEKI through scenic Silk Road. OVERNIGHT STAY IN SHEKI
DAY 7 – VISIT TO GANJA – Azerbaijan’s second biggest city has a history dating back to 6th century. OVERNIGHT STAY AT GANJA.
DAY 8 – RETURN BACK TO BAKU. Check this official website of Azerbaijan – applying for an online visa as this country offers an online visa to many countries by clicking here.
DAY 8 ( FOR EXTENDED ITINERARY) – Take a flight to NAKHCHIVAN FROM BAKU and book Overnight stay there.
DAY 9 – NAKHCHIVAN CITY TOUR AND RETURN BACK TO BAKU.
HOTEL STAY RECOMMENDATIONS IN BAKU
Apartments near Old Town in Baku. Click here to book them.
Book for Hyatt Regency in Baku by clicking here.
Click to book for Holiday Inn Baku
Book for Sapphire Hotel in Baku.
And check this Boutique Hotel in Baku
SOME USEFUL TIPS FOR BAKU – AZERBAIJAN | INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT IN AZERBAIJAN
HOW TO GET AROUND IN BAKU – TAXIS – Local Taxis start from minimum AZN 3-5 or 2-4 USD for a ride.
BUSES – Buses is also an effective method for local commuting in the city. Your hotel staff will help you with planning on bus routes.
METRO – Baku also has a Metro station and it links to old city and can take you to suburbans.
WHAT TO EAT IN BAKU – Food is an important part of Azerbaijan lifestyle and it is greatly influenced by Central Asia, Georgia, Iran, and Turkey. Main dishes are Govurma, Lyula Kebab, Plov (an Azeri styled rice Plov(dish), Saj Ichi, Levenghi and many more. After meals enjoy special Azeri Black Tea laced with cinnamon & cardamom with a small serving of Baklava or Halva.
SHOPPING IN BAKU – Wander around Taza Bazaar and you can smell the fresh farm produce of fruits, vegetables, nuts & spices. Also, check for delicious pomegranates which are famous for Azerbaijan. Shop for authentic tea and in the old city, go along the narrow streets for many local craft items.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING AZERBAIJAN –
- Best time to travel in April to June with clear blue skies and lush green meadows. Hottest months are July & August with an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. October is the most beautiful month to see Baku. Ski season is from January to February.
- Currency is Azerbaijani Manat
- Azerbaijan is safe and with low crime rate with normal precautions to be taken while traveling.
- Buses and minibusses (Marshrutkas) run between Baku at reasonable pricing.
- This country is inexpensive and budget travelers or backpackers can do this trip for about 70USD per day approximately.
- Local SIM cards providers are Azercell and Bakcell.
- Check Visa formalities on their online Visa portal.
- Many people club Azerbaijan and Georgia tours together and there are overnight trains connecting both the countries.
So, until then KEEP TRAVELING……………… KEEP EXPLORING……………………………………………………
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