Top Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

About Tourism in Azerbaijan

Discover some of the best places to visit in Azerbaijan. From the stunning capital Baku on the shores of the Caspian Sea to mud volcanoes and fiery hills, this unique country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia is a must visit for adventurous travellers!

A Note about Azerbaijan Tourism in 2021

September 2021: Azerbaijan is partially open for tourism. All land and sea borders remain closed, however it is possible to fly to and within the country.

Current Entry Requirements: Anyone wishing to enter Azerbaijan must have proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You must take a PCR test no more than 72 hours before your arrival time. You will also be tested on arrival.

More information can be found here.

Quick Summary of the Best Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

  • Absheron Peninsula – an area of beautiful, sandy beaches on the Capsian.
  • Baku – Azerbaijan’s charming capital. Be sure to visit the old town and the palace of Shirvan Shahs.
  • Gobustan National Park – unique rock formations and petroglyphs.
  • Khachmaz – Azerbaijan’s hottest tourist destination and home to many beautiful beaches.
  • Mud volcanoes – Azerbaijan is home to over 300 mud volcanoes.
  • Sheki – a beautiful city surrounded by forest in the Caucasus region.
  • Yanar Dag – a flaming hillside that has been burning since the times of Marco Polo!

Top Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

Absheron National Park

 

  • Entrance Cost: 2 Manat ($1.20)
  • How to get there: the only way to get to the national park is by car or taxi. Journey time is around 90 minutes from central Baku.
  • Reasons to visit: wildlife, beautiful coastline and empty beaches.

The Absheron peninsula is a region of Azerbaijan on the Caspian coast. A national park was established here in 2005 to protect the habitat of gazelles, Caspian seals, and local birdlife. The park covers an area of 783 hectares and is easily accessible from nearby Baku by taxi.

The park comprises a coastal area, sandy beaches and grassland. In years gone by the area was home to to the Caspian tiger, but the species has unfortunately been declared extinct since 2003.

Abscheron makes a great day trip from Baku for nature lovers, birdwatchers and those wishing to find a quiet stretch of coast, and the perfect place for a picnic lunch!

Absheron Peninsula, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Carpet Museum

 

  • Entrance Cost: 7 Manat ($4.10)
  • Address: 28 Mikayıl Hüseynov Prospekti, Bakı 1000, Azerbaijan
  • How to get there: the museum is located in the centre of the city n Baku Boulevard. Nearest metro: Icherisheher.
  • Reasons to visit: the largest collection of Azeri carpets in the world. Unique architecture.

The National Carpet Museum of Azerbaijan holds a large collection of Azeri carpets (the world’s largest), embroidery, national dress, jewels and relics from the bronze age to the modern day.

The building was designed by architect Franz Janz and resembles a rolled-up carpet, making it one of the top “instagramable” places in Baku!

Opening Hours

Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 – 18:00
Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 – 2000
Monday: Closed

National Carpet Museum of Azerbaijan

Baku Old City (the Old Town)

 

  • Entrance Cost: free (fees apply to some museums and tourist attractions).
  • How to get there: take the metro to Icherisheher and walk.
  • Reasons to visit: Maiden Tower, Palace of Shirvan Shahs, city walls, cafes, restaurants and much more!

The capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, is a charming and thriving city on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The ancient old city is juxtaposed with shiny new skyscrapers built thanks to the country’s oil wealth from deposits in the Caspian.

There is plenty to keep visitors occupied in the old city thanks to its wealth of archaeology, ancient buildings, walls and cobbled streets. Climb Maiden Tower for fantastic views across the city and out to sea. Or marvel at the regal Palace of Shirvan Shahs.

One of the nicest things about the old town is the number of cafes and restaurants serving mouthwatering Azeri delicacies such as dovga )yoghurt with rice and chickpeas).

Baku, Azerbaijan

Gobustan National Park

 

  • Entrance Cost: 10 Manat ($5.90)
  • How to get there: there is no public transport to Gobustan. The best way to visit is to take a tour (Bag Baku is a good option with prices around $30).
  • Reasons to visit: petroglyphs and rock art dating 5,000 to 20,000 years, mud volcanoes and otherworldly landscapes!

Gobustan State Reserve, located around 40km south of Baku, is a national park containing 300 of the world’s 700 mud volcanoes. The otherworldly landscapes on this stretch of coastline must be seen to be believed and are one of the best places to visit in Azerbaijan!

But that’s not all; Gobustan is also home to over 6,000 rock carvings and cave paintings depicting people, animals, battle scenes, boats and more. These excellently preserved petroglyphs date as far back as 20,000BC!

Gobustan is one of the must-see places on any trip to Azerbaijan and the best way to get there (there is no public transport, unfortunately) is to take a tour.

See this post for more information and some fantastic pictures.

Gobustan National Park

“James Bond” Oil Fields

 

  • Entrance Cost: free
  • How to get there: bus number 20 or taxi
  • Reasons to visit: famous oil field scene from James Bond movie The World was not Enough!

On the outskirts of Baku and running along the shore of the Capsian is a large oil field covered with thousands of “nodding donkeys” signifying the oil wells.

It was here that Piers Brosnan shot part of the 1999 blockbuster James Bond film The World was not Enough.

Fans of the film will remember the scene with Bond driving through the post-apocalyptic landscape with the oil fields on one side and the coast on the other.

The oil fields are not a tourist attraction, so there isn’t anything else to see and do other than take a few photographs, but it’s worth the short taxi ride for film fans, and another of Baku’s super “instagramable” spots!.

Palace of Shirvan Shahs

 

  • Entrance Cost: 15 Manat ($8.90)
  • How to get there: Baku old city, nearest metro Icherisheher.
  • Reasons to visit: beautiful palace complex, mausoleum and courtyards.

The Palace of Shirvan Shahs is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Baku’s centre and is considered one of the “pearls of Azerbaijan”!

The Shirvan Shahs were the ruling dynasty of “Shirvan” (which encompassed modern-day Azerbaijan and Iran) from the 9th to the 16th Centuries, making it one of the longest-ruling Islamic dynasties in history.

The palace complex was constructed in the 15th century as a memorial to a Sufi saint named Seyyid Yaxya Bakuvi.

The Palace of Shirvanshas is one of the top places to visit in Azerbaijan thanks to its beautiful architecture and shadowed courtyards. 

Palace of Shirvan Shahs

Yanar Dag

 

  • Entrance Cost: 3 Manat ($1.75)
  • How to get there: take bus 217 from Koroglu Metro Station to the last stop.
  • Reasons to visit: the hill is on fire!

Yanar Dag is an ancient burning hillside on the Absheron Peninsula not far from Baku. This unique phenomenon has been aflame since the thirteenth century and was even witnessed by Marco Polo when he passed through this way.

The phenomenon is a result of natural gas escaping through the ground (Azerbaijan is the “Land of Fire” after all)! As you can imagine, there are many legends surrounding how the hillside came to be lit, with the most recent one being that a careless farmer’s cigarette set the hill ablaze!

Yanar Dag

Azerbaijan Visas

Visa Free

Citizens of the following 11 countries can enter Azerbaijan visa-free for up to 90 days:

Belarus, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Visa on Arrival

Citizens of the following countries and territories can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival:

Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Macau, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America*.

For USA passport holders, a visa on arrival is only possible on direct flights from New York City with Azerbaijan Airways.  

E-visa

Citizens of 95 countries can apply for an Azerbaijan e-visa online. The process is quick and easy and the visa costs just $20 (plus a $3 service fee). 

Persons Banned from Entering Azerbaijan

Citizens of Armenia are banned from entering Azerbaijan. This policy even extends to anyone of Armenian descent (if you have an Armenian surname you will be refused entry). Non-Armenians with any Armenian books, products, or evidence of visiting Armenia will also be denied entry.

Anyone having evidence of visiting the disputed (and war-torn) Nagorno-Karabakh region will be barred from entering Azerbaijan for life (as happened to the late writer, chef and journalist Anthony Bourdain in 2017).

How to get to Azerbiajan

There are three ways to reach Azerbaijan; by air, land and sea. Below we will outline each in more detail.

Azerbaijan by air: Azerbaijan’s primary international airport, Heydar Aliyev, is located close to the city of Baku. There are direct flights from many destinations across Europe, Asia and the USA. Check Trip.com for the best prices on flights to Azerbaijan!

Azerbaijan by sea: there is a weekly ferry/cargo service to Baku from Aktau in Kazakhstan and Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. You can read all about how to make this trip in the Caspian Sea Ferry article.

Azerbaijan by land: Azerbaijan shares land borders with Armenia (closed), Iran, Georgia, Russia and Turkey. There is a daily overnight train between Tbilisi and Baku. There are twice weekly trains between Moscow and Baku. 

Getting Around Azerbaijan

There are three ways to reach Azerbaijan; by air, land and sea. Below we will outline each in more detail.

Bus: Azerbaijan’s primary international airport, Heydar Aliyev, is located close to the city of Baku. There are direct flights from many destinations across Europe, Asia and the USA. Check Trip.com for the best prices on flights to Azerbaijan!

Train: there is a weekly ferry/cargo service to Baku from Aktau in Kazakhstan and Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. You can read all about how to make this trip in the Caspian Sea Ferry article.

Taxi: Azerbaijan shares land borders with Armenia (closed), Iran, Georgia, Russia and Turkey. There is a daily overnight train between Tbilisi and Baku. There are twice weekly trains between Moscow and Baku.

Places to Stay in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has as good a selection of accommodation options as you would find anywhere. From hostel dorms and homestays to 5* hotels and resorts, there is something to suit every budget. 

Hostels: See Hostelworld.com for the best selection of hostels in Azerbaijan. 

Hotels: For hotels and apartments check out Booking.com or Trip.com

Azerbaijan Weather

Azerbaijan’s climate is tempered by the Caucasus Mountains to the north and the Caspian Sea to the east. Summers are hot and sunny with the occasional thundery downpour. 

Winters are cold, but the temperature rarely drops below freezing thanks to the Caucasus Mountains stopping the worst of the cold fronts coming from Siberia. Snow is possible inland and at higher elevations. 

 

What is the Best Time to Visit Azerbaijan?

Summer is the perfect time to visit Azerbaijan thanks to long sunny days and hot weather, with minimal rainfall. Temperatures hover around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius.

Spring and autumn are also great times if you want to avoid the heat. 

Food in Azerbaijan

Food and Drink in Azerbaijan?

One of the highlights of any trip to Azerbaijan is the delicious food and drink to be found across the country.

The cuisine is influenced by nearby countries such as Turkey, Iran and Central Asia, with dishes such as plov and kebab. Rice is the staple and lamb is the preferred meat. You will also find a lot of fish given the proximity to the Caspian Sea.

Some local specialties to try:

Dolma – minced lamb and rice wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves.
Dovga – yogurt with rice, chickpeas and herbs
Kebab – chunks of grilled meat on skewers, usually lamb.
Plov – safron-infused rice with meat and carrots.

Is Azerbaijan Safe to Visit?

Overall Azerbaijan is a very safe country will low levels of crime. Corruption is still a problem as with many former Soviet countries, but as a tourist, this should not affect you.

In 2020 and 2021 Azerbaijan has been involved in hostilities with its neighbour, and sworn enemy, Armenia. This largely stems from the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region which both countries lay claims to.

Avoid border areas with Armenia and keep an eye on the local news about outbreaks of violence. 

Travel Insurance for Azerbaijan

A good travel insurance policy is a must for any trip, and Azerbaijan should be no different. Our partners at World Nomads provide excellent cover for adventurous tourists and specialize in covering destinations and activities many “standard” insurers don’t cover. You can get a no-obligation quote here.  

Conclusion

Azerbaijan is a fantastic destination for adventurous travellers. From beautiful beaches to fiery mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes, this really is the land of fire and should be on the itinerary of any serious traveller!