Azerbaijan Travel Tips & Useful Info

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs in the Inner City of Baku, Azerbaijan

If you’re planning to visit Azerbaijan and its fascinating capital Baku, there’s a few things you’ll need to know before you go. Here we have the answers to all your questions on vaccinations, currency and much more, to help you best prepare for your trip.

What vaccinations do I need for Azerbaijan?

It’s best to visit your local health practitioner around four to six weeks before travelling to Azerbaijan in order to check what vaccinations you may need. As a guide, you should be up to date with all routine vaccinations such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus. You may also wish to get vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Rabies. Visit the NHS Fit to Travel page or the CDC Traveler’s Health Page for more information.

Can I take medication into Azerbaijan?

As of 2014, all medications containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine, opiates or any containing similar constituent components are illegal in Azerbaijan. This includes many over-the-counter medications such as Nurofen that are commonly available elsewhere.

Do not bring any medications containing these components into Azerbaijan, even if you are just in transit. Customs agents will treat this as though you are bringing illegal narcotics into the country and it makes no difference if you have a prescription or doctors note. Do not bring these medications into Azerbaijan under any circumstance. It can have huge consequences not only for yourself but, if travelling on an Overland Adventure, for your tour leaders and local guides as well.

If you have any prescription medications that don’t come under the list above, bring the prescription along and declare these on any customs declaration forms.

Is it safe to drink the tap water in Azerbaijan?

While travellers have been known to drink the tap water in Azerbaijan and have no problems, in Baku and the lowland areas you’re better off with purified water. This is readily available, however we recommend taking your own reusable bottle rather than buying bottled water. Choose one with a built-in filter and you'll save both money and plastic waste. Alternatively, you can always boil the tap water or use water purification tablets.

Dolma, traditional dish of Azerbaijan

What's the food like in Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan’s cuisine blends influences from Turkey, Iran and the Mediterranean. Dishes tend to be meat-based, with a focus on mutton, meaning that it can be a struggle to find options for vegetarian or vegan travellers. In rural areas outside of the capital Baku, restaurants rarely serve any other dishes besides flame-grilled kebabs.

Azerbaijani breakfast foods include bread, butter and cheese, perhaps with honey or sour cream. This is accompanied with sweet tea known as cay, which is the country’s national drink. While Azerbaijan’s leading fast food is the doner kebab, classic non-kebab dishes include dolma. This consists of baked vegetables such as tomato, aubergine and pepper stuffed with a mixture of rice, minced lamb and herbs.

Other common dishes in Azerbaijan include plov or pilaf, which features saffron-flavoured rice, fried meat and vegetables. If you’re looking for something sweet, try a pakhlava – also known as baklava. This middle eastern sweet pastry is stuffed with layers of nuts and syrup. It’s traditionally eaten to celebrate the Iranian New Year in March, but is often enjoyed throughout the year.

Safe eating while travelling in Azerbaijan

Food and water-borne illnesses can occur in any destination, so we recommend following basic food safety precautions whilst travelling in Azerbaijan. Check that fruits and vegetables are washed before eating and avoid anything that looks under-cooked, particularly meats, fish and eggs.

Is it standard to tip in Azerbaijan?

Tipping is an unusual practice in Azerbaijan and not expected outside of tourist hotspots such as Baku. If you do want to tip for good service, 10% is considered a fair amount in a restaurant if the service charge is not already included on your bill. Tour guides can be tipped 5 manats and hotel porters 5 to 10 manats. If you have negotiated a fare with a taxi driver, that amount should be considered enough.

Carpets for sale in Azerbaijan

What souvenirs are good to shop for in Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan is famous for its tradition of carpet weaving, with seven different carpet producing regions. Each region has its own patterns, colours and technologies, however the best place to buy a carpet is in Icheri Seher, the old city of Baku. There you’ll find some of the best shops and, as a general rule, the older the carpet looks – the more valuable it is.

Another common souvenir is Armudu glass. Tea drinking is an important part of Azerbaijani culture and this traditional drinking glass is specially designed for this. Its pear-like shape has a wider top to allow the tea to cool. It then gets narrower in the middle before widening again at the base to keep the bottom half of the tea hot. You can buy Armudu glass in a range of materials such as stained glass, silver and porcelain. Other souvenirs include jewellery, ceramics and white cherry jam.

Is bargaining acceptable in Azerbaijan?

Similarly to much of the rest of Central Asia, bargaining is an acceptable practice in Azerbaijan. Simply be polite and always approach transactions with a friendly manner.

What is the duty free allowance for Azerbaijan?

The following goods may be imported into Azerbaijan by persons over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty.

  • 600 cigarettes
  • 3L of alcohol
  • Goods up to the value of $1,500
  • 10kg of food products
  • 125g caviar

Banned imports include weapons and ammunition, narcotics, and material inciting violence or terrorism. Plants, animals and their products must be accompanied by the appropriate import certificate from the State Sanitary Service or State Veterinary Service.

What is the currency in Azerbaijan?

The currency of Azerbaijan is the Azerbaijan Manat. Most major towns and cities have ATMs and sterling, US dollars and Euros can easily be exchanged. In the capital city Baku, you’ll find that major supermarkets, restaurants and hotels tend to accept credit cards.

What do things cost in Azerbaijan?

While Azerbaijan isn’t as cheap as other destinations in Asia, it’s still possible to travel on a budget. Whereas resorts or a boutique hotel can cost up to several hundred dollars per night, you can find a bed in a hostel dorm for as little as $10.

If you’re eating out at a local restaurant, you can expect to pay around $10 for a filling meal with a beer or other beverage. Both the metro and bus cost just $0.12 for a one-way journey within Baku. Longer journeys to other destinations rarely cost more than $8, so public transport is very affordable.

What sort of plugs do I need for Azerbaijan and what is the voltage?

The standard voltage in Azerbaijan is 220V, with a frequency of 50hz. The country uses European-style two pin plugs and this adapter is also known as type C.

Is WiFi widely available in Azerbaijan?

You’ll find fast, wireless internet in accommodation in Baku and hostels across much of the rest of the country. However, it’s well worth considering purchasing a SIM card with data for your phone. These are cheap and ensure that you can stay connected while travelling.

What time zone is Azerbaijan on?

Azerbaijan is 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT). This is observed throughout the year, with no Daylight Savings changes.

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
Best Places to Visit – our pick of Azerbaijan’s top destinations
Tourist Visas - what you need to know to enter Azerbaijan