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Azerbaijan Travel Guide

Azerbaijan is a land of many extraordinary revelations. Combining the charms of both Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan’s contrasts are beautifully intertwined and evident throughout the country.

Language: Azerbaijani
Currency: Azerbaijani manat
Capital City: Baku
Population: 10 million


An Eastern country with a Western outlook, Azerbaijan has been at the crossroads of cultures for millennia and boasts a history woven together by the fascinating tales of travellers passing along the Great Silk Road.

The country’s ancient history dates back over 5,000 years: Azerbaijan is among the earliest human settlements, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Paleolithic age at Gobustan, which rises out of the semi-desert and is home to a UNESCO Cultural Landscape of more than 6,000 rock engravings.

Gobustan State Reserve is a national historical landmark of Azerbaijan. It has more than 6,000 rock carvings, on the average dating back to 5,000-20,000 years. It is part of the UNESCO World Social Legacy List.

Even the capital Baku’s core, Icherisheher (the Inner City), is a historical monument with UNESCO World Heritage status due to its 12th century walls and labyrinth of narrow streets.

The Maiden Tower in the Icherisheher (the Old City or Inner City) is part of the historical core of Baku, which is surrounded by walls which were easily defended.

Azerbaijan invites travellers to visit a variety of historic landmarks, from the ancient Zoroastrian fire-worshipping temple of Ateshgah to a charming church in Kish village dating back to Caucasian Albania.

The Baku Ateshgah, often called the “Fire Temple of Baku” is a religious temple in Surakhani town. It was nominated for List of World Heritage Sites, UNESCO in 1998.

Geography and Nature

Azerbaijan has the perfect landscape for every kind of holiday one can think of. Home to 9 of the world’s 11 climate zones, its landscape is a mix of mountains, forests, beaches and steppes, allowing tourists to enjoy the most diverse and authentic experiences.

With mountains accounting for over 60% of Azerbaijan’s total area, visitors can enjoy memorable moments hiking through the stunning landscapes and timeless villages in untouched areas of the Caucasus Mountains.

Azerbaijan has more than 500 kilometres of coastline along the Caspian Sea, offering great beach experiences in summer. In winter, meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s mountains are irresistible for skiing enthusiasts.

Breathtakingly beautiful, they are home to state-of-the-art ski resorts such as Shahdag and Tufandag with well-prepared slopes and first-class amenities. Moreover, Azerbaijan boasts an amazing diversity of wildlife, much of it rare and endemic, as well as natural wonders including mud volcanoes, salt lakes and healing Naftalan oil.


The oil and gas sector accounts for the major part of Azerbaijan’s exports as the petroleum industry plays a significant role in contributing to the country’s GDP.

As a non-petroleum sector, the tourism industry has long been recognised as one of the priority fields for diversification of the national economy. This means expanding the scope of tourist services and increasing the country’s global competitiveness.

Azerbaijan is currently on the cusp of a tourism boom as it welcomed a record number of inbound visitors in 2019, making it one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world.

A number of initiatives have been implemented that are expected to improve Azerbaijan’s ranking among countries with a high tourism contribution towards national GDP.

People and Culture

Azerbaijan boasts rich cultural heritage shaped over centuries by the intertwining of different traditions and cultures. This has transformed the country into a multicultural hub and formed the tolerant and hospitable society of today that is proud to welcome visitors from all over the world and showcase the beauty of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan Traditional Dance

The rich culture, history and traditions of the country have helped to mould Azerbaijan’s unique brand of multiculturalism and turn it into a melting pot of peoples, religions and cultures.

Chovgan is a sporting team game with horses played in Republic of Azerbaijan, Iran, and among Tajiks and Uzbeks. Named after a type of curved stick traditionally used to catch sheep, Chovgan is played on Karabakh horses.

Polish, Jewish and German heritage sites, along with other experiences like wine tours, hiking and trekking, health and wellness resorts and the magnificent fusion of flavours of Azerbaijani cuisine attract tourists from all over the world.

Combine it with the unparalleled hospitality of the local people, and you’ll find a truly unique collection of hidden gems and curated tourism experiences in Azerbaijan.

Important Dates

  • January 1-2 – New Year holiday
  • January 20 – National Mourning Day
  • March 8 – International Women’s Day
  • March 20-24 – Novruz holiday
  • May 9 – Victory Day
  • May 28 – Republic Day
  • June 15 – National Salvation Day
  • June 26 – Armed Forces Day
  • September 27 – Memorial Day
  • October 18 – Independence Day
  • November 8 – Victory Day
  • November 9 – National Flag Day
  • November 12 – Constitution Day
  • November 17 – National Revival Day
  • December 31 – World Azerbaijanis Solidarity Day Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (Gurban) holidays – different dates each year

Azerbaijan offers great flight connectivity with the main air transport hubs in the region, while the constantly developing network of railroads and highways along the main tourism corridors provides easy access not only to the different regions of Azerbaijan, but also to neighbouring countries.

By Plane

Arriving in Azerbaijan is very comfortable thanks to the state-of-the-art Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which was given a 5-star rating by Skytrax.

Other small international airports exist in Gabala, Ganja, Lankaran, and Nakhchivan. Two more international airports are expected to be built in the Karabakh region as well.

Azerbaijan has a well-established flight connection with the main air transport hubs in the region, such as Istanbul, Moscow, Frankfurt, Dubai, Doha, etc. In addition to the local Azerbaijan Airlines and Buta Airways (low-cost), the major airlines travelling to Azerbaijan include Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, FlyDubai, Qatar Airways, Aeroflot, WizzAir, Air France, China Southern Airlines and others.

By Train

Rail transport in Azerbaijan is operated by the state-owned company Azerbaijan Railways (ADY). Tickets can be purchased online via the official sales platform:

The current railway network connects with neighbouring countries – Russia via the Baku-Moscow and Baku-Rostov routes, Georgia via the Baku-Tbilisi route and Ukraine via the Baku-Kiev route. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway connecting Azerbaijan to Turkey through Georgia started operating in 2017. Railway connection is also available between Nakhchivan and Iran.

All trains stop at border control checkpoints for passport and security checks. Several railroad projects, including ones focusing on the Azerbaijan-Iran connection through Astara and improvement of regional railway infrastructure in Karabakh region, are currently in the pipeline.

By Car

Azerbaijan is connected to Russia, Iran and Georgia via the main international highways. A network of interregional roads and highways allows you to travel by car to different parts of Azerbaijan along the main tourism corridors. There are accommodation and catering facilities for travellers along main highways.

Travellers visiting Azerbaijan by car are required to stop at border control checkpoints for passport and security checks. Entry is allowed only after receiving vehicle permission at the border and paying for mandatory insurance of the vehicle. The driver is required to have a valid international driver’s license.

By Bus

Long-distance bus services are available at the Baku International Bus Terminal complex, connecting Azerbaijan to different cities of neighbouring countries, such as Russia, Turkey, Georgia and Iran.

Buses also operate between Baku and different regions of Azerbaijan, including Nakhchivan. Tickets can be purchased at the bus terminal. All buses stop at border control checkpoints for passport and security checks.

By Boat and Cruises

Passenger cabins are available on the ships sailing from Kazakhstan (Aktau port) and Turkmenistan (Turkmenbashi port) to the port of Baku in Alat.

Additional information regarding ticket purchase and regulations is available on the official website of Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping CJSC:

Azerbaijan has mainly hot summers and mild, dry winters. 9 out of 11 climate patterns as per the Köppen climate classification can be found in the country, from a subtropical warm climate with dry summers in the south to a cold alpine climate in areas of the Greater Caucasus in the north.

Such climate diversity allows Azerbaijan to offer tourism experiences throughout the year, from skiing in winter to autumn festivals, to witnessing Novruz holiday in spring, and feeling the Caspian vibe in summer.


Discover Azerbaijan’s best Destinations on each Season

Travelling to Azerbaijan requires a visa, unless there is an agreement on visa-free travel. Most nationalities can apply for an electronic visa. For all others, tourist visas can be obtained by applying at the nearest Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

An e-visa can be obtained via and is sent directly to the applicant’s email. The standard e-visa is issued within 3 working days and is valid for a period of 90 days with permission to stay in the country for 30 days on a single entry basis.

For detailed information about visa application procedures and countries eligible for the e-visa, please visit

All travellers are recommended to be up-to-date on their routine immunisations.

You can find more information on the website of the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers.

Driving licenses issued by the competent authorities of foreign countries in accordance with international standards and not expired are valid in Azerbaijan. However, if you are temporarily or permanently resident in Azerbaijan, after one month of your residence permit being issued you will only be able to drive with an Azerbaijan-issued driving licence.

Driving licences are issued through ASAN Service Offices.

In Azerbaijan, traffic moves on the right side of the road. Speed is measured in kilometres per hour (km/h). The state registration number of the car must be well seen. It is not permitted to drive a vehicle while sick or tired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The alcohol limit for drivers is zero. The driver and passengers must wear seat belts, while children under 12 and pregnant women are permitted not to fasten safety belts. Children under 12 cannot sit in the front seat.

For more information about traffic rules and updates, please visit

Travellers can find a wide range of transport types to navigate Azerbaijan. The available options are include:


The Baku metro, which started operating in 1967, is a public underground railway in the capital city of Azerbaijan. The current metro lines consist of 25 stations on 3 lines.

Bus and Taxi

In order to travel to other parts of the country, Baku International Bus Station provides buses regularly to almost every region and city within the country. Taxis and shared cars are also available. 


Travelling by train is also possible. The Baku-Rostov railway line runs through the northern region with multiple stations in this area, while the railway line that links Baku and Tbilisi passes through the western part of the country. An express train also operates daily between Baku and Ganja.


Among the domestic flight routes, the most popular one is to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic as air transport is the main means of connection for Nakhchivan with the rest of the country. Further domestic flights are available to Ganja, Gabala, Lankaran, and Zagatala.


Azerbaijan’s country code is +994. Mobile phones not purchased in Azerbaijan can be used for 30 days but after that you’ll need to register the phone’s IMEI code at or at a post office. The cost varies between 5-90 AZN depending on the phone’s value.

There are three major mobile phone operators here: Azercell, Bakcell and Nar (Brand of Azerfon). All three networks are reliable with shops located in major cities and towns where you can purchase a SIM card or get assistance. Roaming is also available.


Wi-Fi is widespread and available in virtually all hotels and numerous cafes and restaurants. Free wifi zones in a dozen or so public areas are also available. For more information, visit


Azerpost LLC is the national postal operator in Azerbaijan. It operates every day of the week, including weekends and holidays. Find out more about about the postal services here.

Accommodation options are available for all types of travellers and budgets.

While the majority of hotels and other types of accommodation are located in the capital city Baku, other prominent regions of Azerbaijan offer a good variety of options to make visitors’ stay unforgettable.

For those wishing to take a rest from the busy city life, large resorts and spas offering numerous health treatments await them in picturesque surroundings. There is also a growing range of hostels and homestays available throughout the country.

Those travelling to Azerbaijan can find plenty of places to get a great taste of the local traditional cuisine, as well as a growing mix of popular international franchises, contemporary cafes, caravanserais, and steakhouses where a usual 5-10% tipping is welcomed.

Azerbaijani cuisine is one of the most delicious in the world thanks to the country’s mix of people of different ethnicities and 9 climate zones that make it possible to grow and develop many types of food.

Visitors can try the diverse tastes of different regions of the country. For example, Lankaran in the south is famous for dishes like lavangi, lentil and pumpkin pilafs, turshu kebab. Meanwhile, in the north-western region the local cuisine features special dishes like surhullu, made from dough and dried meat, and mouth-watering sweets like halva, a local variation of pakhlava made of layers of rice dough lattices stuffed with ground nuts, syrup, spices and saffron.

Currency and Exchange Rates

The national currency of Azerbaijan is the Manat (AZN). For current exchange rates, please check with the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.

Credit Cards

In Baku, credit cards are accepted at hotels, stores, cafes and restaurants, but it’s always a good idea to ask beforehand. The most common credit card types in Baku are VISA, Visa Electron, Master Card but you should have no problem finding ATM cash machines that also accept Maestro and American Express.


Tax-free shopping is available for foreign visitors allowing a full or partial refund of Value-Added Tax (VAT) paid purchasing selected goods from shops displaying Tax-Free signage.

Business hours

Banks are typically open from 9:00-9:30am to 5pm. They do not operate on official holidays and days-off. Large malls and other types of shops usually work from 10am to 10pm. Others are usually open till 8:00pm, including on weekends.

Shopping Experiences in Azerbaijan

Together with the luxury brands offered by many malls, boutiques and showrooms, Azerbaijan offers authentic shopping experiences at local bazaars, while the oldest part of the city – Icherisheher (Old City) – is scattered with antiques and souvenir shops.

Shopping in Baku Old City

The same uniqueness can be found in Sheki where incredible craftsmanship is displayed in shebeke stained-glass mosaics, traditional kelaghayi headscarves, etc.  


Located at the crossroads of East and West, Azerbaijan is a multicultural and tolerant country. While the majority of people are Muslim, it is a secular country where other religious beliefs are highly respected and religious sites are preserved.

Dress code

There is no strict rule about what to wear. Western-style clothes are more and more observed, especially in the capital. Outfits related to different religions are also welcomed.


Tipping in restaurants and cafes is quite widespread now. Occasionally, a service charge will be included in the bill. If not, it is welcomed to add a  5-10% tip.


Alcohol: You can buy alcoholic drinks in nearly all supermarkets and order such drinks in most restaurants and all pubs/clubs. There might be some places that won’t offer alcohol during Ramadan.

Smoking: Smoking is forbidden in public buildings and private businesses, including restaurants, pubs, shops, public transport, entertainment venues, and workplaces. The only exception is for small establishments which do not serve fresh food. Likewise, if you visit a local home, it is polite to go outside if you wish to smoke.

Photo & Video: Photography is not allowed in the metro, airports, bus stations, oil refineries, factories and other guarded buildings. Military bases, equipment and installations are considered sensitive areas, and visitors are advised not to visit or photograph them.

It is recommended to be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing mosques, churches and other religious sites too. Also, some places need special permission from authorities to take photos or videos.

Azerbaijan is the safest country in the region and has a low level of crime. Common practices to stay aware of your belongings in crowded places are recommended. Travel insurance is recommended as in most travel planning.

The emergency line for the police in Azerbaijan is 102.

There are both public and private medical facilities with adequate services. The ambulance service can be reached via 103 in case of medical emergencies.

The Ministry of Emergency Situations responds to natural disasters, industrial accidents, fires, and collapsed structures. It is also responsible for other public safety responses and accident prevention. Its call centre is available at 112.

In case of Emergency

Fire: 101
Police: 102
Ambulance: 103
Gas: 104
Electricity: 199
State Migration Service: 919
The Ministry of Emergency Situations: 112