Backpacking Azerbaijan

Hello to all experienced and aspiring backpackers! Do you want to visit a country full of exciting contrasts? Somewhere off the beaten track, away from mass tourism and package holidays? Azerbaijan has everything a backpacker’s heart desires – from affordable accommodation and good infrastructure to a diverse cuisine and friendly people.



Discover the Land of Fire with all its surprises and contrasts – we’ve already put together the perfect itinerary for you.


Important Basics

Language ( Azerbaijani )
EnglishAzerbaijani
helloSalam!
goodbyesag-ol
thank youschok-sag-ol
yesbali
noyoks
Capital City

Baku

Form of Government

Presidential Republic

Best Time to Visit

April to June, September, and October

Fun Facts
  • There are more than 8,000 rivers in Azerbaijan.
  • Azerbaijan has nine climate zones.
  • The Azerbaijani enjoy black tea with some jam.
  • The Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku was designed by the legendary architect Zaha Hadid.
  • The official language of Azerbaijan is Azerbaijani, but many people also speak Russian.

Cities

Baku

Salam! The first stop on your trip is Baku. In Azerbaijan’s capital, historical buildings from the Middle Ages meet mirrored glass palaces and futuristic skyscrapers. The Old City of Baku is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has narrow, winding streets and is almost completely surrounded by a 12th-century city wall. Contrasted by modern architectural structures, such as the Flame Towers or the Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku's cityscape is truly unique. You can also find the Maiden Tower, Baku's landmark, here, which gives you a beautiful view over the Old City. It stands at the highest point of the Old City and is one of the most impressive monuments from Baku's past. Why not experience the city’s authentic flair and visit Bazar Square, the lively Fountain Square, the Museum of Modern Art, and the legendary Palace of the Shirvanshahs? In addition, you can take a boat trip from the Bay of Baku and get a panoramic view of the capital from an entirely new perspective. In the evening, we highly recommend walking along the waterfront or going to a beach party. Cheap hostels in central locations charge as little as €8 for a night in an 8-bed dorm.

While you're in Baku, don't miss out on a Stone Age tour to the Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve. One highlight here is the Mud Volcanoes, a crater landscape that makes you feel like you're standing on Mars. After you’ve seen these active volcanoes, the tour continues to the Petroglyph Museum in Gobustan, where you can admire some prehistoric rock paintings. The tour also includes a visit to the famous Bibi-Heybat Mosque, the spiritual center of the region. This five-hour day trip costs €35 per person, including transportation, a guide, entrance fees, and drinks.

Quba

For about €3, you can take the bus to Quba. This charming little town is a perfect stopover destination to get an idea of the unique atmosphere in northern Azerbaijan.

Quba is known for its "Red Town", a village called Krasnaya Sloboda, where a community of Mountain Jews live. There are rows of synagogues and traditional mosques here. The Quba Mosque, the Sakina Khanum Mosque, and the lively bazaar are definitely worth a visit. At Qadim Quba, a carpet factory, you can marvel at the production of the colorful carpets that this part of Azerbaijan is famous for. An overnight stay in a single room in a nearby hostel will cost you €10.

Khinaliq

Your next stop is Khinaliq. A €10 taxi ride is the quickest way to get to this 5,000-year-old mountain village. It’s Azerbaijan’s highest settlement and one of its most beautiful places. At an altitude of 2,350 m, Khinaliq lies isolated in the Caucasus Mountains, and – despite the impressive scenery – you’re unlikely to see other tourists here.

The village consists of terraced mud houses that are arranged like stairs along the mountain slope and connected by stepped terraces. This system gives Khinaliq’s architecture its unique look. While you’re here, we recommend visiting the Lezgin village of Laza or hiking to the summit of the 4,142 m-high Shahdagh. From here, you have an impressive panoramic view of the imposing mountain landscape with its steep gorges and waterfalls.

There are hostels available near the center of Khinaliq, where you can sleep comfortably. For as little as €7 you can get a single bed in a 6-bed dormitory.

Lahic

Next, you’ll take a taxi back to Quba, and then the bus from Quba to Lahic (approx. €25 in total). The town lies on the slopes of the Greater Caucasus and was founded in the 5th century BC.

A walk through the narrow cobblestone streets will take you past traditional Caucasian fieldstone houses with wooden balconies and countless workshops. Lahic is Azerbaijan’s capital of craftsmanship, particularly when it comes to copper work. You can watch the whole production process in one of the town’s traditional workshops. Don’t forget to buy a souvenir! We also recommend a hike in the picturesque surroundings of Lahic, a trip to Shamakhi, and a visit to the mausoleums of Diri Baba and Yeddi Gumbaz. During your stay, you can stay in a single room in one of the nearby hostels for about €15 per night.

Sheki

The final stop on your trip around Azerbaijan is Sheki. To get here, take a bus for around €6. Sheki is located further west and is also known as the Pearl of Azerbaijan. The city lies on the southern foothills of the Great Caucasus and is surrounded by beautiful green mountains and forests. As a former stop on the Silk Road, Sheki is of great importance, both historically and with regard to the production of silk.

The architectural highlight of the city is the Palace of Sheki Khans, built in the 18th century and decorated with Persian-style paintings and carvings. In addition, you’ll find lots of parks, theaters, and museums as well as Islamic buildings, churches, and quaint teahouses in the 2000-year-old city. Stroll through the traditional market, visit the art gallery and the ethnographic museum, and enjoy the oriental atmosphere of Sheki.

We also highly recommend visiting the picturesque mountain village of Kish. Its church, St. Elishe, was built in the 1st century and is said to be the oldest one in the whole Caucasus. This monument of Azerbaijani-Albanian architecture was recently restored with the support of the Norwegian government.

During your time in Sheki, you can stay in an 8-bed dorm, where a night will cost you around €5. The bus ticket back to Baku, from where you’ll be heading home, is around €18.


Baku

Baku

Salam! The first stop on your trip is Baku. In Azerbaijan’s capital, historical buildings from the Middle Ages meet mirrored glass palaces and futuristic skyscrapers. The Old City of Baku is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has narrow, winding streets and is almost completely surrounded by a 12th-century city wall. Contrasted by modern architectural structures, such as the Flame Towers or the Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku's cityscape is truly unique. You can also find the Maiden Tower, Baku's landmark, here, which gives you a beautiful view over the Old City. It stands at the highest point of the Old City and is one of the most impressive monuments from Baku's past. Why not experience the city’s authentic flair and visit Bazar Square, the lively Fountain Square, the Museum of Modern Art, and the legendary Palace of the Shirvanshahs? In addition, you can take a boat trip from the Bay of Baku and get a panoramic view of the capital from an entirely new perspective. In the evening, we highly recommend walking along the waterfront or going to a beach party. Cheap hostels in central locations charge as little as €8 for a night in an 8-bed dorm.

While you're in Baku, don't miss out on a Stone Age tour to the Gobustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve. One highlight here is the Mud Volcanoes, a crater landscape that makes you feel like you're standing on Mars. After you’ve seen these active volcanoes, the tour continues to the Petroglyph Museum in Gobustan, where you can admire some prehistoric rock paintings. The tour also includes a visit to the famous Bibi-Heybat Mosque, the spiritual center of the region. This five-hour day trip costs €35 per person, including transportation, a guide, entrance fees, and drinks.

Quba

Quba

For about €3, you can take the bus to Quba. This charming little town is a perfect stopover destination to get an idea of the unique atmosphere in northern Azerbaijan.

Quba is known for its "Red Town", a village called Krasnaya Sloboda, where a community of Mountain Jews live. There are rows of synagogues and traditional mosques here. The Quba Mosque, the Sakina Khanum Mosque, and the lively bazaar are definitely worth a visit. At Qadim Quba, a carpet factory, you can marvel at the production of the colorful carpets that this part of Azerbaijan is famous for. An overnight stay in a single room in a nearby hostel will cost you €10.

Khinaliq

Khinaliq

Your next stop is Khinaliq. A €10 taxi ride is the quickest way to get to this 5,000-year-old mountain village. It’s Azerbaijan’s highest settlement and one of its most beautiful places. At an altitude of 2,350 m, Khinaliq lies isolated in the Caucasus Mountains, and – despite the impressive scenery – you’re unlikely to see other tourists here.

The village consists of terraced mud houses that are arranged like stairs along the mountain slope and connected by stepped terraces. This system gives Khinaliq’s architecture its unique look. While you’re here, we recommend visiting the Lezgin village of Laza or hiking to the summit of the 4,142 m-high Shahdagh. From here, you have an impressive panoramic view of the imposing mountain landscape with its steep gorges and waterfalls.

There are hostels available near the center of Khinaliq, where you can sleep comfortably. For as little as €7 you can get a single bed in a 6-bed dormitory.

Lahic

Lahic

Next, you’ll take a taxi back to Quba, and then the bus from Quba to Lahic (approx. €25 in total). The town lies on the slopes of the Greater Caucasus and was founded in the 5th century BC.

A walk through the narrow cobblestone streets will take you past traditional Caucasian fieldstone houses with wooden balconies and countless workshops. Lahic is Azerbaijan’s capital of craftsmanship, particularly when it comes to copper work. You can watch the whole production process in one of the town’s traditional workshops. Don’t forget to buy a souvenir! We also recommend a hike in the picturesque surroundings of Lahic, a trip to Shamakhi, and a visit to the mausoleums of Diri Baba and Yeddi Gumbaz. During your stay, you can stay in a single room in one of the nearby hostels for about €15 per night.

Sheki

Sheki

The final stop on your trip around Azerbaijan is Sheki. To get here, take a bus for around €6. Sheki is located further west and is also known as the Pearl of Azerbaijan. The city lies on the southern foothills of the Great Caucasus and is surrounded by beautiful green mountains and forests. As a former stop on the Silk Road, Sheki is of great importance, both historically and with regard to the production of silk.

The architectural highlight of the city is the Palace of Sheki Khans, built in the 18th century and decorated with Persian-style paintings and carvings. In addition, you’ll find lots of parks, theaters, and museums as well as Islamic buildings, churches, and quaint teahouses in the 2000-year-old city. Stroll through the traditional market, visit the art gallery and the ethnographic museum, and enjoy the oriental atmosphere of Sheki.

We also highly recommend visiting the picturesque mountain village of Kish. Its church, St. Elishe, was built in the 1st century and is said to be the oldest one in the whole Caucasus. This monument of Azerbaijani-Albanian architecture was recently restored with the support of the Norwegian government.

During your time in Sheki, you can stay in an 8-bed dorm, where a night will cost you around €5. The bus ticket back to Baku, from where you’ll be heading home, is around €18.

Azerbaijan Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Baku
Home – Baku
Flight
125
8-bed dorm
8
2. Baku
Baku
-
8-bed dorm
8
3. Baku
Baku
-
8-bed dorm
8
4. Baku – Quba
Baku – Quba
Bus
3
Private room
10
5. Quba – Khinaliq
Quba – Khinaliq
Taxi
10
6-bed dorm
7
6. Khinaliq
Khinaliq
-
6-bed dorm
7
7. Khinaliq – Quba – Lahic
Khinaliq – Quba – Lahic
Taxi and Bus
25
Private room
15
8. Lahic
Lahic
-
Private room
15
9. Lahic – Sheki
Lahic – Sheki
Bus
6
8-bed dorm
5
10. Sheki
Sheki
-
8-bed dorm
5
11. Sheki
Sheki
-
8-bed dorm
5
12. Sheki
Sheki
-
8-bed dorm
5
13. Sheki- Baku
Sheki- Baku
Bus
18
8-bed dorm
8
14. Baku – Home
Baku – Home
Flight
125

Total price.

Flights 250,00
Transportation 62,00
Tours 35,00
Accommodation 106,00
Total453,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Kuku: this herb omelette is a typical Azerbaijani breakfast dish. It’s usually garnished with coriander.

Soups

Piti: this soup is made in a traditional pot and consists of vegetables and various types of meat.

Main Courses

Plov: this famous rice dish is made from cooked rice, vegetables, and spices. It often also includes dates or other dried fruit.

Kebab:  the tikka kebab is made from lamb meat and is fried with roasted peppers and vegetable skewers. Don’t miss out on this delicious dish while you’re in Azerbaijan!

Dolma: this dish consists of ground meat wrapped in vine leaves, which is then cooked and served with a yogurt sauce.

Kutab: kutab are filled dumplings, which usually contain ground meat and pomegranate seeds.

Ajvar: this dip is made from cooked eggplant and mixed with a hot chili paste. It goes really well with rice.

Drinks

Black tea: this is Azerbaijan’s national drink and you’ll probably be offered it with every meal.

Sharbat: an Azerbaijani sharbat is made from mixed fruit juices blended with seeds.

Azerbaijan

The exchange rate for 1 Azerbaijan Manat (₼) is around €0.54 (as of February 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below.

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Keeping the cities clean: you’ll immediately notice that Azerbaijanis keep their cities very clean. You should follow their example and always dispose of your garbage properly.

Turning down a gift once or twice before accepting it: in Azerbaijan, this is the polite way to receive a gift. Even if you’d like to accept it right away, it’s a good idea to decline it a few times first.

Taking care of your appearance: especially in the cities, you’ll notice that everyone takes care of their appearance and wears carefully planned outfits. This is normal in Azerbaijan, and you should also follow this custom to avoid standing out.

Sharing your food: you’ll often get offered food because sharing is very important in Azerbaijan. Of course, you’re expected to do the same, so when you’re eating ask around if anyone else would like to try your food.

Don'ts

Talking about Armenia: there’s an ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the two countries are not on good terms. The best thing to do is to avoid the subject altogether.

Talking ill of a woman: although this might seem obvious, respectful treatment of women is extremely important in Azerbaijan. Even a joke or an ironic comment is therefore taboo.

Being reserved: many locals will chat with you, and they might ask you some more private questions. Just be open and enjoy the conversation!

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for three months beyond the end of the visa’s validity. You won’t be allowed to enter Azerbaijan if any pages of your documents are torn or missing. Please also find out about the current entry regulations regarding COVID. You can find further information at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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