TOURISM IN AZERBAIJAN

Why Azerbaijan?

The World Travel & Tourism Council named Azerbaijan as one of the four hottest tourist destinations, accordingly to its report based on tourism revenues in 2016.

Recently, the Azerbaijani Government has prioritised tourism as part of its drive to diversify the country’s economy, which has been predominantly based on hydrocarbons. The country has introduced new investments in infrastructure and greatly enhanced the efficiency of the visa system, enabling visitors to obtain their visa online in just three easy steps (https://evisa.gov.az).

baku

The strengths of Azerbaijan:

Combining European and Eastern influences, Azerbaijan, a key stage on the ancient Silk Road, encompasses multiple cultural influences and has a history dating back more than 2000 years to Zoroastrianism. With two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Azerbaijan features cities that harmoniously blend ancient and modern architecture, such as the capital Baku, located on the Caspian Sea, or towns nestled in the green heart of the mountains, such as Gabala, Sheki, Guba or Ganja, acknowledged for their culinary and artisanal traditions. Lovers of art and history will be able to discover the local treasures, such as the petroglyphs (rock paintings) in Gobustan, near Baku. Winter sport enthusiasts will also enjoy visiting Gabala, nestled in the Caucasus Mountains and the winter sports capital of Azerbaijan, whereas the beach fans may take advantage of Spring and Summer to enjoy the Caspian Sea, luxury Spa resorts or Naftalan mud bath therapies.

lahij

Baku, the pearl of the Caucasus:

Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, is the cultural, economic and artistic hub of the country. The heart of the city – a fortified town dating from the Middle Ages, known as Icheri Sheher (Baku Old City) – is located in the midst of unique ultra-modern architecture, including the Flame Towers, the iconic Heydar Aliyev Centre, an outstanding structure designed by the legendary Zaha Hadid, and an extensive promenade along the Caspian Sea. Numerous museums dot the capital, favourably located in walking distance from the centre. The large avenues also host numerous shops, bars and restaurants featuring top-quality Azerbaijani and Western goods and cuisine.

Icheri Sheher contains some of the main historical attractions in Baku, including Qiz Qalasi (Maiden Tower) and the Shirvanshahs’ Palace, both of which date from the 11th century, together with the Caravansaray and numerous hammams and mosques. Other areas of interest to tourists include the Gobustan National Park, home to an amazing range of petroglyphs and the largest concentration of mud volcanoes in the world; Ateshgah (Zoroastrian fire temple), the archaeological-ethnographic museum of Qala; Yanardag (the burning mountain); and the mountain of Besh Barmaq with its sanctuary.

Baku Bolulvard

Rising regions:

The northern and north-western regions of Azerbaijan, spanning the Caspian Sea to the Great Caucasus mountain range, offer majestic landscapes, only broken by shepherds’ villages, where plenitude and serenity reign supreme. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy treks in the unspoilt trails leading to mountain peaks and isolated villages, together with experiencing the legendary hospitality of locals who usually invite visitors to drink cay tea, accompanied by typical paklava pastries. The region is also home to such charming towns and villages as Sheki, with its Caravansaray and the Khan’s Palace, notable for its murals and amazing shebeke tessellating glass windows, as mentioned in the Trip to the Caucasus by Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers). Sheki is also known as the Caucasian Lyon due to its historical role in the development of the silk industry; whereas Lahij and its copper handicrafts have been included as part of the UNSECO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; Kish and Nij, which host Caucasian Albanian churches dating back many centuries; Guba with its Krasnaya sloboda (Red Village), home to the Mountain Jews for over 3000 years; Gabala with its Hazra Mausoleum, ancient city ruins, Yeddi Gozel (Seven Beauties) waterfall; and the high-altitude villages of Khinalug, Griz Galaykhudat, Laza, and Kuzun, which are ideal for mountain hiking fans.

Visit http://azerbaijan.travel for further information on Azerbaijani tourist opportunities.

Albanian Church

VISAS

Visas for Azerbaijan can be obtained just in three steps at www.evisa.gov.az. Prior to applying for visa, please check the list of countries eligible for e-visas. Many countries now enjoy visa-free relations with Azerbaijan.

Please note that foreigners and stateless persons temporarily staying in Azerbaijan for a period of more than 10 days should register immediately. Please visit www.migration.gov.az for more information.

Important note:

Foreign nationals are strictly advised against travelling to Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions, which are under ongoing illegal Armenian occupation. Those who still want to visit Nagorno-Karabakh must firstly contact the Azerbaijani authorities for official permission. Should non-authorised travel to Nagorno-Karabakh be undertaken, this will regarded as supporting the occupation and result in a permanent ban on entry to Azerbaijan.

Goy Gol

GETTING THERE

Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport (GYD) is one of the six international airports serving Azerbaijan, hosting 20 airlines offering comfortable connections.

It is located within 20 minutes’ drive from the centre of Baku, and offers full comfort for arriving and departing passengers. Visit www.airport.az for further information.

Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) is the Azerbaijani national carrier, serving 40 destinations in 25 countries, and has one of the newest fleets in the world, comprising 23 aeroplanes. Visit www.azal.az for more information or to book tickets.

Khinalig

ACCOMMODATION

Baku and other cities offer a wide range of accommodation, ranging from five-star hotels from the world’s leading chains, through to small, yet charming, guesthouses.

We recommend Qafqaz hotels, which offer modern facilities at affordable price in Baku city centre and the regions. Visit www.qafqazhotels.com for more information or to book your room.

Mud Volcanos

GETTING AROUND

Buses, minibuses, metro and taxis are the most common transportation forms in Azerbaijan.

You can use the Uber service, easily-recognised (purple) London taxis or the 189 taxi service, which are metered, thereby negating any risk of overcharging.

Tea House

TRAVEL PARTNERS

We recommend the following travel agencies and tour operators:

 

SKY STAR TRAVEL

Sky Star Travel offers a range of services tailored for business and leisure travellers. It includes incoming and MICE services both in Azerbaijan and across the world, Visa and E-support, hotel reservations, air tickets, holiday packages, guided tours, transfers and Rent-a-Car services.

www.skystar.az

  

SILK WAY TRAVEL

Silk Way Travel is the exclusive agent of Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), with international offices in Paris, New York, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Seoul, and other cities. Services provided include ticket bookings and sales, hotel reservations, car rentals, visa and invitation services, and recreational tours.

www.swtravel.az

 

NOMADE AVENTURE

Nomade Aventure is the right choice if you are looking for trips away from hordes of tourists, including attractions off the beaten track; authentic accommodation in homestays; adventures for small groups, families or individuals; itineraries on foot or by local transport; and visits organised under the criteria of  ‘nature’, ‘culture’ or ‘encounters’.

www.nomade-aventure.com/pays/voyage/azerbaidjan

 

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

January 1 New Year's Day
January 20 Black January Commemoration
February 26 Khojaly Massacre Commemoration
March 8 International Women’s Day (Observed)
March 20–24 Novruz Bayrami
May 9 Victory Day
May 29 Republic Day (Observed)
June 15 National Salvation Day
June 26 Armed Forces Day
June 26–27 Ramazan Bayrami (Ramadan)
September 1–3 Gurban Bayrami (Eid El-Adha)
October 18 National Independence Day
November 9 State Flag Day
November 12 Constitution Day
December 31 Azerbaijani Solidarity Day