Azerbaijan Tourism markets the country as the ‘Land of Fire’ rightfully. This ancient land straddles the Caucasus region and has seen the rise and fall of several empires throughout the ages. Today, Azerbaijan is rapidly transforming into an attractive Eurasian destination. An economy based on oil and petroleum production has heralded a construction boom of commercial buildings, new hotels and glitzy golf and ski resorts.
Once part of the now-defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), Azerbaijan still has a mix of soviet-era architecture. Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku is an exciting city with UNESCO-listed historic neighbourhood, effectively mingling with contemporary architecture. However, leave the capital city and you will have quaint Caspian Sea resorts, semi-desert landscapes with mud volcanoes and interesting fire phenomena, timeless rural villages, lush green farms, and orchards, and the stunning backdrop of the Great Caucasus mountain range. Still considered as an offbeat tourist destination in Europe, Azerbaijan is a delightful tourist destination blessed with a rich culture, delectable food, historic cities, and town and plenty of adventure activities. Holidayme curates a list of 5 awesome places to visit in Azerbaijan.
1. Ganja – Top places to visit in Azerbaijan
The second largest city in the country, and one of the best Azerbaijan tourism places, Ganja has a rich cultural, natural, and historical heritage with a history that goes back to 494 BC and is of great interest for tourists. The top tourist attractions of Ganja includes vineyards, eclectic forests, rivers, picturesque lakes, and mountains. The city is also famous for many mineral springs and Nafatlan oil- unique medicinal oil. Ganja is a delightful tourism destination of Azerbaijan.
Things to do in Ganja
- There is no better way to experience the beauty of Azerbaijan’s culture and tradition than being a part of the famed Novruz Festival celebrations.
- There is a two-storied building in the city of Ganja, named the “Bottle House”. This quirky house is decorated with nearly 50,000 bottles of glass and is a sight to behold. A visit to this house is one of the top things to do in Azerbaijan.
- Visit Ganja market, where you can buy and taste the local natural foods.
- Get acquainted with the unique monuments of Ganja city, namely the Tomb of Nizami, Juma Mosque of Ganja among others.
- Boasting of hornbeam forests and dense oak; visit the steep banks of Lake Goygol which are ideal for family picnics, swimming and general sightseeing.
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2. Baku – Best Places to Visit in Azerbaijan
Baku, also known as ‘City on the Hills’ is the capital city of Azerbaijan, is one of the popular Caucasian capital city troikas (Tbilisi in Georgia and Yerevan in Armenia) located at the juncture of Europe and Asia. This surreal city, where the intriguing past and the cosmopolitan present, creates an evocative mix that attracts tourists from all over the world. Baku is also a major technical and scientific, cultural, and industrial center of Azerbaijan and a great spot for shopping, dining and nightlife. When in the city, don’t forget to try out the delicious food and drinks. Halal food is also widely available everywhere in Azerbaijan. Baku’s glittering skyscrapers and heritage sites are quickly turning the city into a premier tourist destination in the Caucasus region. Baku is certainly among the top places to visit in Azerbaijan.
Things to do in Baku, Azerbaijan
- Take a walking tour of Baku’s Old Town and discover the top attractions of Baku including the likes of Maiden Tower, Divankhana, the Palace of Shirvanshahs and mosques and minarets.
- Take a stroll in the city center and roam around the Teze Bazar, the local bazar bustling with local and seasonal produces.
- Marvel at one of the legendary modern-day architectural gems of the city, the Flame Tower, standing in Baku’s downtown seafront.
- Head to Fire Mountain Yanar Dag, a mysterious hillside just outside Baku, renowned for its continuously burning natural fire. One of the top things to do in Azerbaijan.
- Just outside the city, you will find several hundred mud volcanoes, thus giving Azerbaijan the sobriquet of ‘the land of mud volcanoes.’ One of the important places to visit in Baku.
READ MORE: Top Things to do in Baku
3. Sheki – Must-see places in Azerbaijan
Surrounded by spectacular mountains, Sheki is one of the most beautiful and interesting rural areas of Azerbaijan. One of the ancient Azerbaijan cities, Sheki is situated on the picturesque hillsides of the Caucasus Mountains in the background of the snowy Alps. There are many things to do in Sheki, as the city is noted for its architectural, cultural, and historical sites. The city is also renowned for its artisans, mouth-watering baklava, hand-made souvenirs, and friendly people. A tour to Sheki is the best opportunity to learn about the 15th to 18th-century history of Azerbaijan by visiting caravanserais (buildings and palaces built as guest houses on trade routes), the palace of Sheki Khans and other monuments. Sheki is a delightful destination, one of the best places to visit in Azerbaijan.
Things to do in Sheki
- Get insights of the rich history and culture of Azerbaijan by visiting a medieval fortress, Sheki Khans’ Palace and local history museum.
- Enjoy the panoramic views of the town and explore the local mosques, madrasas, handcraft workshops and local bazaars.
- Enjoy the stunning beauty of the medieval tower Shinaz, fortress Gelersen-Geresen, ancient Albanian churches and many other outstanding monuments of architecture.
- Wander around the enchanting streets of Sheki and discover its stunning murals, ornamental Persian gardens, stained glass works and learn a great deal about the once thriving Silk Road.
READ MORE: Why You Should Visit Azerbaijan
4. Lankaran – Best place for Azerbaijan travel
Situated in the south-eastern part of the country and washed by the waters of Caspian Sea, Lankaran is a subtropical paradise resort, and one of the beautiful places to see in Azerbaijan. With its exquisite architecture, wonderful climate, and beautiful natural landscapes, Lankaran is a treat for sore eyes. The nature of Lankaran pleasantly combines fertile lowlands with high mountain tops and pebbly sea coasts. Lankaran Fortress and Kichik-Bazar mosque are the hallmarks of the city and must-see Azerbaijan tourism places. Located 100 kms from the city is Khanege – one of the most beautiful medieval cities, where you can see the fortifications from 12th and 14th centuries. You will also see the tomb of Pir Hussein, a minaret and other ancient structures. Lankaran and Khanege are among the best places to visit in Azerbaijan.
Things to do in Lankaran
- Make your way to the town bazaar to buy some local souvenirs and to experience the authentic outdoor dining opportunities.
- Drive along the well-preserved Hirkan Natural Park, which is home to a number of endangered and endemic animals. Here, you will get a chance to come close to the Front-Asian Leopard, Persian Leopard and Lynx among others.
- Walk along the narrow winding streets of city centre, and explore the beautiful Lankaran Fortress, one of the most important fortifications from the 14th
- Do visit the Mirakhmad Khan House, one of the top things to do in Azerbaijan. It is truly an architectural marvel, right in the heart of the city.
- Take a dip into natural hot springs found at the Azerbaijan-Iran border.
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5. Gabala – Top Azerbaijan Destination
Located among deep canyons and tall mountains, Gabala is one of Azerbaijan cities that surprises tourists with its numerous cultural and historical monuments, its ancient history, and marvellous nature. Spring is the best time to travel along its lush landscapes, admire the blossoming of trees, and enjoy the awakening of nature. Gabala has abundance of attractions including XD theatres, an ice rink, carting, sports fields, and great food that attracts thousands of tourists to the city every year. The top tourist attractions of Gabala include river valleys, famous chestnut forest, Russian forests, and numerous picturesque villages. The town is home to various annual musical festivals and events such as jazz and mugham, and International Music Festival among others. A visit to Gabala is must during your stay in the country. Gabala is certainly among the top places to visit in Azerbaijan.
Things to do in Gabala
- Learn about the ancient history from 4th until 19th centuries by exploring the History Museum, home to amazing artifacts found in excavations across the country.
- Discover the local beauty spots of the city including Russian Forest, river valleys, the mountain village of Laza, and its numerous picturesque villages.
- When in the city, be part of the biggest musical festivals of the country – the Annual International Music Festival of classical music. It is definitely one of the must things to do in Azerbaijan.
- Gabala is an interesting cultural centre boasting of a large war memorial, beautiful Soviet mosaics and numerous ancient stone houses.
- Get mesmerised by the great natural beauty of the city by visiting the Seven Beauties Waterfall, the neighbouring Kohmurad Mountain, the Nohur Reservoir and small green villages of Laza and Durja.