The Republic of Azerbaijan is a country in the Caucasian Mountains. It borders Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Iran and Nakhchivan exclave shares its border with Turkey. On the east, the country is washed by the Caspian Sea. The capital city is Baku.
In the lowland, the climate is subtropical and in the mountains, it is temperate alpine. The best time for visiting the country is from April to August.
The official language is Azerbaijani but a lot of people can speak Russian well. The main religion is Shia Islam. Among the minorities, the Christianity and the Armenian Church are predominant.
Azerbaijan attracts the tourists with its ancient monuments of civilisation. The mountains attract the climbers and those who love biking and trekking. Beach tourism is not that good as in Georgia and Turkey but still some people come here to spend time on the Caspian Sea.
The most popular sea resorts are Lankaran and Nabran. Diving is gaining popularity in Azerbaijan and it is no wonder. In the Caspian Sea, there are many sunken ships of various periods.
The most interesting excursions are arranged in Baku, Nakhchivan, Quba, Ganja, Lankaran, and Shamakhi.
Some tourists come to Azerbaijan to improve their health in the wellness resorts. The mineral springs in Lankaran and medicinal crude oil in Naftalan are very popular.
The city of Qabala in the foothills of the Caucasus is the destination for ecological tourists. In the country, there are ski resorts such as Shahdag Mountain Resort and Tufandag Winter-Summer Mountain Resort.
There are regular flights from many CIS countries and European capitals to Azerbaijan.
One can get to Azerbaijan by car or by bus from the territory of the neighbouring countries except Armenia.
There is training running from Russia and Georgia to Azerbaijan.
The tourists can take a train in Iran running to Azerbaijan and from Turkey one can get to Azerbaijan by car.
There are regular ferry routes between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
The CIS citizens can stay in Azerbaijan for 90 days visa-free. The citizens of the EU and other European countries must obtain a visa at the Embassy of Azerbaijan or online on the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.
The citizens of Armenia are not allowed to visit Azerbaijan. People who have earlier visited Armenia and have marks in their passport may be not allowed to enter Azerbaijan. Foreigners who will acknowledge that they were born in Armenia or have Armenian roots may also be not allowed to come to Azerbaijan even though they are not the citizens of Armenia. If the tourists have ever visited Nagorny Karabakh, they can be arrested at the Customs or even after they pass the border.
The citizens of Azerbaijan are entitled to import and export foreign and national currency. There are no restrictions concerning the import of foreign currency, but any sum of money must be declared. The export of the currency is limited to the sum indicated on the declaration form.
The tourists can bring in Azerbaijan the following goods duty-free:
- some alcohol and tobacco;
- perfume for personal use;
- personal belongings and other goods (the total cost should not exceed 10.000 US dollars).
It is prohibited to bring in:
- fresh fruits and vegetables;
- informational materials that undermine the constitutional order.
It is not allowed to export from Azerbaijan:
- items with historical or artistic value;
- more than 600g of black caviar per person;
- animals (except cats and dogs);
- fine wood;
- precious metals and unprocessed gemstones;
- rare plants;
- horns of roe deer and Siberian red deer.
Crafts and carpets that were made until 1960 are subject to an export duty.
Azerbaijan cuisine is considered original. It combines local cooking traditions with influences of Georgian, Armenian, Persian, and Arab cuisines. The staple food here is mutton, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
The tourists should try such local dishes as Kebab and Gyzyrtma (roasted mutton with spices and greens), Gees-byz (fired lamb giblets), and pilaf with mutton.
Poultry is the main ingredient for Chykhyrtma (pot roast), Toyug plov (chicken pilaf), and Obrishta (roasted chicken with cornelian cherry sauce).
We recommend trying Turshu-syyig (green soup), Ovdukh (a local version of the Russian okroshka), and Balva (rice soup with flour and eggs).
Black caviar is the main fish delicacy in all the Caspian countries and the foreigners should not miss the chance to try it. From sea and freshwater fish, the locals cook Levengi (fried fish with lemon and spices), Khazar (salmon and sturgeon salad), and Buglama (fish and vegetable stew).
Do not leave Azerbaijan without trying vegetable dishes such as Kyukyu (scrambled eggs with a lot of greens), and Bahar (boiled beans with nuts and greens). A side dish which is served with any meals is usually a salad.
For a dessert, treat yourself to famous cookies Kurabye, Shekrebura (pies with fillings) and Turkish Delight.
The drink number one in Azerbaijan is tea. Berry and herbal infusion Sorbet are also very popular here.
Azerbaijani wines, cognac and brandies gained worldwide recognition.
The official currency is the Azerbaijani manat (AZN) which is equal to 100 qəpiks. The bank notes from 1 to 100 manats and 1 to 50 qəpik coins are in circulation.
The tourists can exchange currency at banks, in exchange offices and hotels. In many places, US dollars are willingly accepted. On the markets, the people can accept Russian rubles, but the exchange rate is very high.
You can pay with credit cards only in large stores and in some hotels. In small towns, credit cards are not accepted.
Some banks and hotels accept traveller’s checks.
There are many ATMs, especially in large cities.
Be aware that now in Azerbaijan de facto is a war with neighbouring Armenia so do not come close to the Azerbaijani-Armenian border or the wartime boundary line in Nagorny Karabakh to avoid suspicions in espionage. Try not to discuss politics with the locals.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Azerbaijan
In Azerbaijan, there are two sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- The Old City Baku, which still preserved part of the fortress wall of the 12th century and such ancient monuments as the Maiden Tower and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
- The Gobustan Rock Art is the cultural landscape of the Mesolithic Era. It is a unique collection of 6.000 petroglyphs showing 4.000 years evolution of rock art.
Being in Azerbaijan, the tourists should visit, at least, one of the UNESCO candidate sites.
- Mausoleums in Nakhchivan. These are the outstanding examples of Medieval Oriental architecture.
- The Hyrkan State Reservation on the south of the country was founded to protect humid tropics, in particular, relict and endemic plants.
- The Binagadi asphalt lake is a large is the ancient flora and fauna deposit to the north of Baku.
- The Ateshgah Fire Temple near Baku is one of the oldest sacral places in Azerbaijan and very popular among the tourists.
- The Lok-Batan Mud Volcano is the largest in the world, it is situated to the south-west of Baku;
- The Baku Stage Mountain is the natural monument of geological nature.
- The Caspian Shore Defensive Constructions. They contain numerous castles, towers and other buildings of the 5th - 14th centuries.
- The historical city of Ordubad preserved the urban design almost untouched and many old buildings.
- The historical city of Sheki is famous for its Sheki Khan’s Palace and Sheki Fortress of the 18th century.
In Azerbaijan, there are many other places which are of great touristic interest:
- The Shah Abbas Mosque in Gamja.
- The Lankaran fortress.
- The archaeological monuments in Mingachevir.
- The Yeddi Gumbaz Mausoleum in Shamakhi.
In Azerbaijan, the tourists usually buy:
- headwear, clothes and textile with Azerbaijan embroidery;
- cognacs and wines;
- painted pottery;
- spices and sauces;
- black caviar.