Best Places to Visit in Azerbaijan

The Flame Towers of Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku

Capital of Azerbaijan, Baku is a city like no other. Set on the boundary line between East and West, it offers a curious mix of old and new. At its centre is the beautiful old city, known as Icheri Seher. Outside of its walls, you'll then find soaring towers that wouldn’t appear out of place in Shanghai. Top sights include a trio of skyscrapers known as the Flame Towers and the 15th century Palace of the Shirvanshahs. There’s also plenty of restaurants and the Tezze Bazaar, which is famous for its cheese and spices.

Rock carvings in Gobustan National Park, Azerbaijan

Gobustan National Park

Just over an hour’s drive from Baku, Gobustan National Park is an otherworldly landscape of bubbling mud volcanoes, giant rocky boulders and ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings). In fact, it’s these rock carvings that in part gained the park UNESCO World Heritage status, with more than 6,000 of them dating back between 5,000 to 40,000 years. They offer a fascinating glimpse into prehistoric life and culture, with images of hunters chasing their prey and women dancing. The park is also home to the remains of settlements, burials and inhabited caves.

Yanar Dag, Azerbaijan

Yanar Dag

One of Azerbaijan’s most unusual attractions, Yanar Dag is a 10-metre-long wall of fire that burns continuously on the edge of a hill. Natural flames such as these used to be found across the region and are caused by vast gas reserves. They were considered to have played a part in the creation of a mystical faith called Zoroastrianism, which was famously followed by Queen’s front man Freddy Mercury. As exploitation of the gas reserves began, many of these flames burnt out. Yanar Dag is by far the most impressive of the remaining fires and is at its most spectacular when viewed at night.

Palace of Khans in Sheki, Azerbaijan

Sheki

One of Azerbaijan’s most picturesque towns, Sheki can be found at the foot of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Set along the famous Silk Road, it was an international centre for silk production by the 19th century. The Sheki Khans ruled here between 1743 and 1819 and their summer palace is Sheki’s biggest drawcard today. Set over two floors, this stunning building combines Ottoman ceramics and Iranian mirror work with Russian wood and French stained glass. Alongside this architectural masterpiece, you can still visit old ‘caravanserais’ or inns and stroll the town’s pretty cobblestone streets.

Famous Bottle House of Ganja, Azerbaijan

Ganja

The second largest city in Azerbaijan, Ganja is considered the literary and cultural centre of the country. It was the birthplace of several great Azerbaijani poets, including the famous 12th century poet Nizami Ganjavi. With a history dating back to 494 BC, the city offers a variety of attractions. Marvel at the Juma Mosque, which boasts a stunning interior, or seek out the brutal soviet architecture of the Ganja City Hall. Search for trinkets at the bazaar or visit the quirky Bottle House – a building made entirely from glass bottles.

Beautiful Lake Gogol in Azerbaijan

Lake Goygol

A popular day trip from the city of Ganja, Lake Goygol is the place to go if you’re looking to experience Azerbaijan’s natural beauty. ‘Goygol’ translates to mean ‘blue lake’ in Azerbaijani and the lake’s deep waters are surrounded by a stunning forest. The lake itself was formed in the 12th century after an earthquake sent rocks crashing down from Mount Kapaz and blocked the river below. Although the area has been a source of inspiration to local artists and writers for centuries, it was only recently opened to the public. In the surrounding forest you may spot native wildlife such as lynx, bears and red deer.

Cobbled street of Lahic Village, Azerbaijan

Lahic

Situated in the Caucasus highlands, the village of Lahic is home to a small community that still follow a very traditional lifestyle. It’s a place famous for its coppersmiths, with local craftsmen handing down their trade from generation to generation. Wander the village’s cobbled streets and meet the locals as they open their wooden doors to show visitors their wares. Although you may want to time your visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds of Bakuvians who flock here at the weekend.

Gate on the Lankaran city entrance, Azerbaijan

Lankaran and the Caspian Sea

A favourite with the locals, the sleepy town of Lankaran offers several resorts for spending some time by the Caspian Sea. Sprawling for 1,200 kilometres from north to south, the Caspian Sea is the world’s largest salt lake with popular activities including fishing and boat cruises. Unfortunately, the water isn’t suitable for swimming at Lankaran and you’ll need to travel a couple of kilometres further south to enjoy the beaches. The town does offer several points of interest though, with landmarks including the lighthouse, Lankaran fortress and Heydar Aliyev Memorial Park.

See Also

Check out these handy travel guide resources for more information about visiting Azerbaijan.

Best Time to Visit – the climate and seasons in Azerbaijan
Top Travel Tips - information about currency, food and souvenirs
Tourist Visas - what you need to know to enter Azerbaijan