What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Azerbaijan

What is Azerbaijan? It is the sea and the mountains, pulsing modernity and the wisdom of history — and all this is worth seeing!

Are you planning a trip to Azerbaijan? Find out all the necessary details: flights, visa, currency; where to stay, the must-see sights, what food to taste and where to buy souvenirs.

How to get to Azerbaijan from Russia: flight, visa, passport, currency

Azerbaijan is a state in Transcaucasia with an ancient and inspiring history. This destination annually attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists; in 2022, 1 million 602.3 thousand people visited the country.

You can get to Baku in just a few hours, for example, a flight from Moscow will last 3.5 hours and cost from 12 thousand rubles. Do you need a visa? No. A valid international passport is enough (at least 3 months from the end of the trip), and you can stay in the country for up to 90 days.

The official currency of the Republic of Azerbaijan is manat, which is equal to 100 qyapiks and, in turn, 0.59 US dollars. The MIR payment system does not work in the country, but exchange offices operate, the services of which can be used at the airport, shopping centers, train stations, etc.

How to get to the center of Baku from the airport

You can comfortably get from the airport to the city center by taxi, and in order to completely save yourself from the hassle, it is better to use the help of Caspian Private Leisure and book a car using our service.

How to choose a hotel in Baku

The choice of a hotel in Baku depends on which view from the window you like best: it is a modern building area (“Flame Towers”), the Old City or a sea view (the embankment in the capital of Azerbaijan is 25 km long). Four- and five-star hotels will accommodate you with the usual comfort: in order to choose what you like best, we recommend you pay attention to guest reviews. There are many chain hotels in the city, the level of service of which is well known all over the world — and Baku is no exception.

Top objects of interest in Baku

Old City
Baku is an incredibly picturesque city in which modernity is closely intertwined with centuries of history. It is obligatory to visit Icherisheher, or fortress (it is better to spend two days on its inspection). Dating back to the 5th century, this landmark is hundreds of years old and today is still inhabited, right in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the Old City you will find former caravanserais, mosques, baths and other historical buildings. Some of them have been converted into hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops or foreign embassies. Icherisheher is focused primarily on tourists. At the same time, people still live in the houses inside the fortress, and you can also try a traditional Azerbaijani breakfast there.

Another part of Icherisheher is the Maiden Tower, which was used as a lighthouse in ancient times. Today, there is a museum there, where you will be introduced with pleasure both to the legends and to the facts of the founding and construction of Azerbaijan.

Shirvanshahs’ Palace
Shirvanshahs’ Palace is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is an open-air museum, surprising with multifaceted and cubic architectural dimensions, its walls are covered with skillful carved ornaments. The complex of buildings is a mosque with a minaret, tombs, and a “dervish mausoleum”. The palace began to be built in the 15th century; it repeatedly passed from hand to hand; having been partly destroyed, then rebuilt. Today in the palace you can see not only art and household items throughout its long history, but also look at the maquette of the Old City.

Seaside Boulevard Embankment
Seaside Boulevard Embankment is another attraction of Baku. It began to be built at the beginning of the 20th century, since then it has looked different (and even changed its location due to the rise in the level of the Caspian Sea). The embankment took on its modern look a hundred years later. Today there you can admire the musical fountain, take a boat ride along the canals of Little Venice, ride the funicular, visit the amusement park and the Seaside Park with a ferris “Baku Eye” (the wheel is 60 meters high).

Highland Park
From Highland Park you will have a view of both the Maiden Tower and the Icherisheher quarter; of Seaside Boulevard, and the entire Baku Bay. It is worth visiting in the evening to fully appreciate the illumination of evening Baku.

Flame Towers
182 steps of the Highland Park will lead you to the Eternal Light, from where you can walk to the Flame Towers, a modern quarter whose buildings are shaped like three flames. Completed in 2012, urban forum Skyscrapercity.com considers the towers' lighting to be "the best in the world".

White City
Well-known from history and literature, the Black City in Baku in the 21st century became the White City — this is the name of one of the large-scale urban development projects in Azerbaijan. In the place of the heritage of the first oil boom, 10 districts will be built, and the architectural bureau of the famous Norman Foster is also working on changing the appearance. The White City will meet all modern requirements of urban planning, and take into account environmental and economic components. Its territory will exceed the size of Icherisheher (11 times!) and even the territory of the state of Monaco.

Nobel Brothers Museum
Another interesting point on the map of Baku is the house of the Nobel brothers "Villa Petrolea". This is a museum of the founders of the oil industry, Robert and Ludwig Nobel, brothers of Alfred, the famous inventor of dynamite and the founder of the Nobel Prize. This is the only Nobel museum outside of Sweden that recreates the spirit of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here you can see the personal belongings of the brothers and other artifacts of that time. The house was designed by the Swedish-Russian architect Fyodor Lidval, who built many famous buildings in the Northern Modern style in St. Petersburg, Stockholm and other cities.

Baku Architecture
The architecture of Baku is emphatically eclectic, the city is proud of the fact that incredible buildings built by world-famous architects have been erected. It is impossible not to mention the Heydar Aliyev Center, built according to the project of Zaha Hadid. The Carpet Museum in the capital of Azerbaijan was created by the Austrian architect Franz Jans, giving the building the shape of a rolled carpet, and the walls of the Baku Crystal Hall, built specifically for the Eurovision festival, are made up of luminous crystals with thousands of light panels, allowing you to create more than 40,000 color shades.

Heydar Aliyev Center
The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is one of the hallmarks of modern Baku, created in the postmodernism style. It is considered as one of the most daring engineering projects and was recognized as the best architectural project of the year 2014 in the world. In this construction Zaha Hadid — the "queen of the curve" — "liberated the architectural geometry", leaving no room for angles and straight lines. The "waves" of the building symbolize the connection of the past with the future; it houses a congress center, a museum, exhibition halls, and offices.

In the exhibition hall "Masterpieces of Azerbaijan" you can learn about the history and cultural heritage — one can look at rock paintings from Gobustan, ancient coins and jewelry, and medieval artifacts. The “Mini-Azerbaijan” hall displays models of 45 places worth seeing in the capital and other regions of the country; photo exhibitions and international congresses are also held in the center.

Azerbaijani cuisine: what and where to eat

The peculiarity of the national cuisine is a combination of natural products, the magic of an open fire, fresh vegetables and fruits. Each region of the country has its own recipes for spices and herbs.

Pilaf, meat, fish, herbs and vegetables, sweets — these are the five pillars of the country's national cuisine. In total, there are more than 200 varieties of pilaf in Azerbaijan, each region is proud of its own. Each cafe will offer you their own recipes — make an effort to try as many dishes as possible, focusing on your taste and the reviews of previous guests. According to the traditions of the country, food should not only saturate the body, but also please the eye: this is how it happens in this country.

Beach vacation in Azerbaijan

At a distance of 12-35 km from Baku there are several recreation areas by the sea. These are the villages of Mardakan, Novkhany and Shikh. You will find a gentle entry into the sea, clear water and soft sand. As well as the whole range of beach holidays: equipped beaches, water parks, swimming pools and other marine pleasures. But the beaches of Lankaran will surprise you with black sand. The city has its own airport, the pleasure dome has the status of a balneological resort and offers treatment by mineral waters.

What to bring from Baku

You can bring real oriental souvenirs from Azerbaijan, including silk scarves (they are made at the silk-spinning factory in Sheki), as well as glass cups for tea “with a waist”, armuda — many drinking tea traditions are associated with them. If the budget allows, you can choose souvenirs in the Old City, but no less high-quality baklava, jam, tea, pomegranate wine can be found at the Green Market or in the supermarkets.

What not to do in Azerbaijan

The traditions of welcoming guests in Azerbaijan are thousands of years old. Do not fear for your life or wallet in this country. By the way, swimming in the Caspian Sea is better within the boundaries of equipped places, in other cases it may be unsafe (after all, the sea is a force of nature, and not always as hospitable as the inhabitants of the country).

Don't chase high prices — you should not choose exclusively expensive or famous places to relax or dine. Allow yourself an adventure and you will see — Azerbaijan knows how to surprise!