I visited Azerbaijan in September 2017 with my husband during Eid ul Azha holidays. I had recently moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and we had heard Azerbaijan is a good place to visit from here. We planned to add Georgia in our trip as people usually do but were advised against it by the Georgian Consulate in Riyadh who said there is some strictness going on for visas on arrivals and we might not be allowed entry. Just our luck! We did however add a short Dubai trip with it.
Azerbaijan was a nine-day trip and we visited five cities: Baku, Quba, Qabala, Sheki and Oguz. It starts to get cold around October so September was actually a nice time to visit as the weather was really pleasant. Following is my city-wise itinerary to this ex-Soviet country.
In Baku, we visited Nizami Street the first night and then three more nights because it is that good. A vibrant place full of people. There are many food places, clubs, bars and shopping places there. It’s also the best place to get souvenirs. I loved Nizami Street!
Next day we visited Icherishehar (Old City Baku) where there is Shervanshah’s Palace, Museum of Miniature books, a vibrant, cobbled street where you can walk, have lunch, buy souvenirs etc. There’s Maiden Tower and Jumma Mosque also. Across the road you can see the Caspian Sea!
The same day we visited Azerbaijan Carpet Museum and Little Venice as it is all in the same area. At night we went clubbing. Baku has good night life.
Next day we went to Amburan Beach Resort which is one of the many beach clubs there. In the evening we visited Dugustu Park where you can have panoramic view of Baku and Flame Towers. Its beautiful at night but you can visit during the day also. We had dinner at Shirvanshah Muzey Restaurant which is a must visit, for its interior more than the food (but also a good place to try out local food). Next day we went to Heyder Aliyev Center which is Azerbaijan’s famous museum slash cultural center. We also visited Yanar Dag and Atesh Gah. Yanar Dag is a place a little outside the city which is a natural gas fire burning constantly for centuries and Atesh Gah is a ruin of a fire temple known to be a place of worship from Zoroastrian times.
Quba (pronounced Guba) was a day trip from Baku where we had lunch beside a small lake, visited a couple waterfalls and another lake a little outside Quba.
We travelled to Qabala (pronounced Gabala) by bus and stayed in an Airbnb. Qedim Qabala and Qebele Xanlar are two famous restaurants there which are mini tourist spots on their own. Having lunch or dinner there is a nice experience. The next day we went to a shooting range, tried out the Tufandag cable car and visited a lake nearby.
Sheki was a day trip from Gabala where we visited Sheki Khan Palace and Karvansaray Hotel which is a historic carvansarai turned into a hotel and a small tourist site. A cobbled street leading from Sheki Khan Palace is lined with souvenir shops and some famous sweet shops selling Azeri sweets.
We travelled to Oguz from Sheki for lunch near a waterfall and headed back to Gabala from where we had our flight back.
And now here are my two cents for anyone planning to visit Azerbaijan: one should only go to Baku and 4-5 days is just enough for that. Baku is amazing, rest of the cities are not of that level of course. They have tourist sites but the additional travel is maybe not worth it. What you can add in your Baku itinerary is a day trip to Gobustan where there are mud volcanoes also (we couldn’t go there as we ran out of time). However, Qabala can be worth visiting in winters as it’s a popular ski spot.
Azerbaijan Visa: For visa, you can easily apply online on the official website of Azerbaijan visa and you should get it in a couple days.
Author’s Bio: Hi, I’m Asma and I’m the owner of Holiday Done Right. I’m also a writer/blogger and a Communications professional. I’m from Pakistan, currently settled in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Follow me on Twitter @AsmAbbas