The Essential Tips for Your First Visit to Azerbaijan

Situated in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, Azerbaijan offers a unique blend of history, rich culture, and natural beauty. Despite that, it's also one of the off-the-beaten-path travel destinations in the Eurasian region.

Bordered by the Caspian Sea to the east and Armenia to the west, you can find all kinds of destinations in Azerbaijan. From mountains and forests to historical sites from their glory in the Middle Ages, Azerbaijan has something for all types of travelers! 

The capital city of Baku is a vibrant metropolis known for its modern architecture and historic Old City, and it's a good starting point to explore the rest of the country. 

Planning for your first visit to Azerbaijan? Here's everything you need to know! 

Tips to Visit Azerbaijan for the First Time

Best Time to Visit Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan.
Source: Unsplash.

The weather in Azerbaijan varies depending on the region and time of year. There is no fit-for-all, but generally the best time to visit Azerbaijan is during the shoulder seasons in the spring (April to June) or autumn (September to November).

During these periods, the temperatures are typically mild with a minimum rainfall, making it a great time to make the most of your trip to Azerbaijan. You can enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking in the mountains or exploring the national parks in Azerbaijan. 

During summer, the weather can be strikingly hot and humid in Azerbaijan, especially if you visit the lowland areas like Kura and Araz. But if you plan to go to the beaches around the Caspian Sea Coast, it's a perfect time whether you want to swim and dip into the sea or just go sunbathing!

If you plan to visit Azerbaijan in the winter, keep in mind that temperatures can drop below freezing in some parts of the country. However, it's also a great time to visit some of the best ski resorts in Azerbaijan, like the one in Shahdag or Tufandag. 

Compared to the neighboring countries, winter sports like skiing or snowboarding are quite affordable in Azerbaijan so you can definitely consider it if you're looking for a cheap place to visit during the winter!

Visa Requirements to Visit Azerbaijan

Depending on your nationality, Azerbaijan allows citizens of various countries like Turkey, Russia, and Iran to enter the country without a visa for tourism purposes for a limited period. 

As an Indonesian citizen, I can't enter Azerbaijan without a visa but applying for an e-visa to Azerbaijan is pretty easy and straightforward through the official website here

For only $25 USD, I can apply for an e-visa online to Azerbaijan. However, one thing to note about traveling to Azerbaijan is also the political situation between them and Armenia

When I was planning to visit Azerbaijan from Georgia, my Georgian friend told me that Azerbaijan immigration may refuse your entry if you have an Armenian immigration stamp on your passport. So if you plan to go on a tour through the Caucasus, I would suggest going to Azerbaijan first instead of the other way around. 

How to Get Around Azerbaijan

Public transportation in Azerbaijan is relatively affordable and efficient. Buses and minibuses, known as marshrutkas, are the most common form of public transportation in cities and towns. 

They're not the most convenient transport option, but they're cheap, with a few stops around the city if you're looking for the most budget-friendly option to travel between cities in Azerbaijan. 

If you're traveling to Baku, it has a decent metro system in most areas so it's pretty convenient if you want to explore the capital city without breaking the bank. 

Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Bolt are widely available in Azerbaijan, especially in the big cities like Baku or Ganja. 

Ganja, Azerbaijan.
Source: Unsplash.

Regular taxis can also be hailed on the street, but I definitely recommend negotiating the fare before getting into a taxi to avoid getting scammed in Azerbaijan. 

Renting a car is another option for getting around Azerbaijan, especially if you plan to explore the countryside or visit remote areas. However, driving in Azerbaijan can be challenging due to the country's mountainous terrain and sometimes unpredictable road conditions. 

Top Tourist Attractions in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is home to numerous historical and cultural landmarks that are worth visiting.

The UNESCO-listed Old City of Baku is a must-see attraction, with its narrow streets, ancient buildings, and historic sites such as the Maiden Tower and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs. 

The Flame Towers, a trio of skyscrapers that dominate the city's skyline, are also worth a visit. If you're not sure what to do in the capital city, you can also join this full-day city tour to explore the best of Baku.

Outside of Baku, there are several natural wonders and outdoor activities to enjoy. The Gobustan National Park is known for its ancient rock carvings and mud volcanoes, which is one of the most popular destinations for day trips from Baku.

If you're looking for a beach getaway, you can consider going to the Absheron Peninsula. During your trip to the peninsula, don't forget to include the Ateshgah Fire Temple and the Yanar Dag (Burning Mountain) in your itinerary! 

The last but not least, the Caucasus Mountains in the northern part of Azerbaijan is definitely a must-visit. Whether you're into hiking or just want to explore the Azerbaijan countryside, the Caucasus is definitely the highlight of this region!

Baku Old City in Azerbaijan.
Source: Unsplash.

Exploring Azerbaijan's Culture and Cuisine

My first impression about Azerbaijani cuisine is that it reminds me a lot of Turkish and Bulgarian food. You can find traditional dishes similar to the latter with pretty much the same name; to name a few, there are plov/pilav (rice), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), and kebab. 

In addition to its cuisine, Azerbaijan offers a range of cultural experiences and festivals. The Novruz holiday, which marks the arrival of spring, is celebrated with music, dancing, and traditional rituals. 

If you want to explore Azerbaijani music, you can also check out the International Mugham Festival to appreciate the local artists' masterpieces. 

Source: Unsplash.

Accommodation in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. 

In Baku, you can find luxury hotels with modern amenities and stunning views of the city. One of the most unique accommodations you can book in Baku is Passaje Old, a 4-star hotel situated not too far from the city's main attractions like the Maiden Tower or the Shirvanshahs Palace.

The Old City also has a number of boutique hotels and guesthouses that offer a more traditional and intimate experience.

Outside of Baku, there are plenty of guesthouses, homestays, and budget hotels in the smaller towns and rural areas. These options provide an opportunity to experience the local culture and hospitality. 

As lots of travelers going to Azerbaijan have the Caucasus Mountains as their main destination in the country, camping is also a popular option during the area. You can find several campsites in the national parks and along the Caspian Sea coast for a fraction of the lodgings. 

Tips for a Secure Trip in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is generally a safe country to visit, with low levels of crime and political stability. However, it is always important to take precautions to ensure a secure trip. 

It is advisable to avoid displaying wealth or valuables in public, especially in crowded areas. Keep your belongings secure and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Common scams in Azerbaijan include overcharging for goods or services, fake police officers asking for identification or bribes, and pickpocketing in crowded areas. 

While gambling is technically illegal in Azerbaijan, you can still buy some state-run lotteries at kiosks or during sports events like equestrian or football matches. Another common practice is through an online casino like

Azerbaijan in the winter
Source: Unsplash.

Budgeting for Your Trip to Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is generally an affordable destination, especially if you compare it with the neighboring countries. The cost of living there is relatively lower than Georgia, but still slightly higher if you compare Baku to Yerevan in Armenia. 

The currency of Azerbaijan is the Azerbaijani manat (AZN), but some landlords in Baku seem to prefer charging in Euro or USD if you plan to rent an apartment in Azerbaijan. 

Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas, but it is always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments or in more remote areas.

Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan.
Source: Unsplash.


Overall, Azerbaijan is definitely a country worth visiting if you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path destinations that won't break the bank to explore. Whether you love to indulge in the traditional Azerbaijani food, or you want to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Caucasus, Azerbaijan has so much to offer!

The only caution that you need to pay attention to is the political situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia, especially if you plan to travel around the Caucasus region.

If you plan to go on a Caucasus trip, I'd recommend starting your trip in Azerbaijan first. From Azerbaijan, it's practically easy to travel to Georgia, whether you want to start your trip to the capital city in Tbilisi or explore other cities first like Kutaisi or Batumi.

From Georgia, it's relatively easy to travel by train or bus to Yerevan in Armenia. This route is more tourist-friendly, as the Azerbaijani government seems to be pretty strict for tourist entry if they have proof to have traveled to Armenia before entering Azerbaijan.

Nonetheless, Azerbaijan is definitely a must-visit country in the Caucasus, so I hope you'll have a safe trip with these tips when traveling around the region!


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