By Contributor / 10/09/2018

AZERBAIJAN POINTS OF INTEREST:
What to do, see, and eat

Azerbaijan is definitely not the first place you will think of for travelling or holiday. This article will change your mind. Azerbaijan is bidding to host the 2025 World Expo, where they will show off not just the beauty of their country but also how their culture, history, and people represent the values of World Expo. 

They aim to bring people from all over the world how we can be powerful and do great things together as long as we work together and passionate about our goals to make the world a better place. Azerbaijan is ready to welcome every tourist and curious traveller to understand how tourism can contribute in many aspects of humanity and the welfare of the world. If you don' t know much about this beautiful country, check out these interesting facts about Azerbaijan.

In this article, nine travel bloggers who have been to Azerbaijan collaborate together and tell their own story about the thing they love during their visit.

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

We will talk about places that you can visit in Azerbaijan, food to try, and activities to experience. If you are either down for an adventure, a foodie traveller, or simply a history geek, this post will help you see the beauty of Azerbaijan.

Mud Volcanoes

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

Photo Credit: thehotflashpacker.com with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

The mud volcanoes are one of the most unique sites in Azerbaijan. They are located about 2 hours southwest of Baku, in the area of Gobustan which is also the home to rock art. The areas is home to several dozen mud volcanoes, none are over 4 meters high. Some are dried, but others spew mud that looks like flowing lava. But this lava isn’t extra hot – it’s cold to the touch. It feels really nice to walk around in your bare feet.

Other volcanoes are blowing gas bubbles that inflates the mud and then pops, only for the mud bubbles to start growing again. The bubbles form due to the high oil content in the mud. To get to the mud volcanoes, you must have a tour or private driver who knows where he’s going. The mud volcanoes are free and it’s possible to bush camp in the vicinity of the mud volcanoes.

Recommended by Lisa of TheHotFlashPacker

Where to Eat in Baku

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

Photo Credit: meganstarr.com with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

One of the best things to do in Azerbaijan, especially Baku is.... eat! There are so many places to eat Azerbaijani food in the city that it will blow visitors' minds, but not every place is created equal even if they are all serving similar types of traditional Azeri food. One thing to note about traditional restaurants in Baku is that they are often below ground. What appears to be a small underground cafe from the outside will be a large, thriving restaurant once inside! There is often live music, a smoking section, and a friendly atmosphere waiting for you.

My favorite restaurant was Sirvansah Musey restaurant which was situated a bit outside of the city center. The atmosphere was far from tacky and the dolma were to die for! Closer to the city center, I liked Nargiz and Dolma. Dolma may be known for its dolma but it was the soft and pillowy dushbara (dumpling soup) that captured my heart. On the hill, the restaurant Nakhchivan was also a great place to eat, offering customers an insight into the food of Nakhchivan, a region far removed from the rest of Azerbaijan.

While the country of Azerbaijan may have several things for tourists to do, I definitely recommend eating traditional food in Baku as there is a variety for everyone to enjoy.

Recommended by Megan of Megan Starr

Visit a Carpet Weaving Workshop in Quba

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

Photo Credit: wander-lush.org with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

As well as being one of the country’s most profitable industries, carpet weaving is an important part of Azeri identity and a source of great national pride. From the illustrious Carpet Museum in Baku—the first of its kind in the world when it opened—to homespun workshops in small villages, seeing and learning about carpet weaving is a must-do when in Azerbaijan.

Located 170km northwest of Baku, the city of Quba is home to one of the country’s seven classical carpet weaving schools. There are many workshops still operating in Quba, making it the perfect place to see tapestry and soumak carpets being made by hand.

Qadim Quba, located on the town’s main street, is one of the most popular carpet weaving workshops to visit in Azerbaijan. Walk-in visitors are welcome to wander through the open, airy workroom and observe the master weavers who work on giant tandem looms. There is no entry fee, and the women are generally happy to be photographed (although it is polite to ask first before pulling your camera out).

Quba carpets are traditionally woven from wool and bare geometric patterns and zoomorphic motifs. At Qadim Quba, women weave everything from huge floor rugs, to small prayer mats and contemporary house rugs. When we visited in 2017, we were surprised to see so many young women working the looms. It’s wonderful to see that carpet weaving is a skill being passed down to the next generation.

There is a small gift shop attached to the workshop where you can purchase examples of the women’s handiwork.

How to get there: Quba can easily be visited as a day or overnight trip from Baku. To get there, take a marshrutka from Baku’s main bus terminal. The journey takes just over 2 hours, and a ticket costs 4 AZN.

Recommend by Emily of Wander-Lush

​Sheki and the Caravanserai of the Silk Road

Azerbaijan points of interest - Sheki Caravanserai

Photo Credit: asocialnomad.com with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

Sheki is a key stopping point on the ancient Silk Road – the overland route from Europe to Asia. It’s located on the main route between the Tbilisi, stunning capital of Georgia and the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. Caravanserais were built early in the 19th century in order to house travellers on the Silk Road. They’re what we would think of as large guest houses or hostels that would accommodate travelling merchants, their goods and supporting animals that transported them.

All in a safe secure environment. They became places to trade, exchanges not just goods and services but ideas and cultures too. Usually positioned within a day’s journey of each other, they were designed to provide safety and security to the travellers and their goods.
The design of private rooms, with storage areas underneath reached by ladders around a central courtyard where the merchants would set up business to buy, sell and barter is evident in the gorgeous example of a caravanserai in Sheki. The Hotel Karavansaray is now a place where you can rest your head in safety and security again, staying in the same rooms the merchants used, with, perhaps somewhat more comfort and luxury!

Sheki is a lovely place to start your trip to Azerbaijan if you’ve come from Tbilisi like we did, it’s worth also checking out the Sheki Xan Saravai, the Sheki Khan’s summer palace, which is stunning.

How to Get to Sheki:

  • From Tbilis via Qax take a Marshrutka: it will probably take all day starting at 0800 including waiting. Or take a taxi from Tbilisi to the border, then walk across and take another taxi.
  • By Train via Balakan and then taxi
  • From Baku to Balakan by train then taxi

No fees charged for looking in the Caravanserai (Hotel Karavansaray) – rooms from 50 AZN

RELATED POST: Best Hostels in Georgia and Georgia Visa Guide

Recommended by Sarah of A Social Nomad

Explore the Old Town in Baku

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

Photo Credit: mywanderlust.pl with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is such a diverse and interesting city. While I loved the place in total the area that stole my heart the most was the old town. For me it was one of the highlights of visiting Azerbaijan. Hidden behind the city walls it's like a different world, taken straight from "One Thousand and One Nights" where the time has stopped. Wandering around really feels like walking in the fairy tale, with exotic architecture and Islamic details everywhere.

Only the Flame Towers you can see in the background remind you that it's the heart of the busy and modern capital. For me the best time to visit the old town of Baku was in the morning where all the businesses were still closed, there were very few people around and I could enjoy the place to the fullest. One of the biggest attractions of the area is Maiden Tower, dating back to the 12th century. Together with the rest of the old town it became part of UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001.

You can and should visit the tower - not only it hosts an interesting museum inside but from the top you can admire probably the best view of the old town, with winding lanes, minaret towers and more. In July 2018 the entrance fee was 12 manats. Baku Old Town is located only few minutes away from the central Fountains Square and the seaside promenade. You can also get here by metro - the station İçərişəhər on the red line is located just outside the old town walls.

Recommended by Kamila of My Wanderlust 

Be Amused by Zahhak Castle

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

Perhaps the main reason to visit this castle is the historical significance it has to the East Azerbaijan Province. It is named after a figure in Persian mythology, and at the time of this writing, no fee for coming to see this amazing landmark.

It is situated at an altitude of 2300 meters, and it requires a one-hour hike to the castle from the place you park your car. The castle was first discovered by a British army officer by name of Monteith in 1830, and later excavated by British archaeologists during that same time period.

He noted the architecture, which included a square shaped hall made of bricks-a great design feat of the Parthian period. The four Zoroastrianism elements are referenced in the 4-Arches hall-it features and 11 by 11-meter square shaped hall with four entrances to four corridors all built with bricks. Zoroastrianism was the religion of the ruling kings at the time. It is likely that the kings of the time also used this place as a fire temple.

Unfortunately, Monteith ordered the destruction of the beautiful castle. He believed there was treasure underneath the columns of Chaghar Taghi, or the four-arches hall. Thankfully he stopped after not finding any treasures in the first destroyed column

The view from the castle is simply stunning. You can look out of one of the archways out at the tall mountains nearby. It makes for a great photo opportunity, too. Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization is studying this landmark as time goes on.

Recommended by Kaila of NomList

Visit Nakchivan

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

Photo Credit: eternalarrival.com with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

Not many people visit the autonomous republic of Nakhchivan when they are in Azerbaijan, perhaps because it seems too difficult or (more likely) because they haven’t heard of it. Nakhchivan is a province of Azerbaijan that is cut off from the rest of the country, what is technically called an “exclave.” To get to Nakhchivan, you have to fly from Baku, which takes about 1.5 hours and costs 70 manat (about 35 euros) each way. It’s considered a domestic flight so you don’t have to worry about passport control.

Nakhchivan is a beautiful province well worth spending a few days in. Nakhchivan City is very interesting, with unique architecture and a seriously empty vibe. People in Nakhchivan are extremely friendly and curious to meet foreigners so it is a very welcoming place to be. You shouldn’t miss the Momima Khan monument or Noah’s mausoleum, both located inside Nakhchivan City. But you should definitely hire a driver and see some of Nakhchivan’s other sites. I highly recommend seeing Alinja Fortress, the city of Ordubad, the beautiful Lake Batabat, Duzdag Sanatorium, and the mausoleum in Qarabaglar.

Hiring a driver costs about 150 manat for a full-day excursion but it depends on your negotiation skills, of course. However, most sights in Nakhchivan have no entry fee so besides the cost of a driver you will not be spending much money. To learn more about this region, check out my extensive Nakhchivan travel guide.

Recommended by Allison of Eternal Arrival

See the The Petroglyphs of Qobustan

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

Photo Credit: Kit Yeng Chan with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

This UNESCO Heritage Site encompasses a few hills set in a rocky and desolated part of the country. The collection and density of primitive rock art, or petroglyphs, available here makes it one of the must-see places in Azerbaijan. I have been to other lesser known archaeological UNESCO sites in Asia, such as the Lenggong Valley in Malaysia, and the Qobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape is one of my favorites: visitors enter the park and climb up a narrow path to the first rocks.

The clusters of human figures are clearly marked and stunningly preserved: it is believed that, given the density of the artworks — which include, besides the classic stick figures of men, also hunting scenes, and boats, which made archaeologists believe there was once a sea here — Qobustan was once a gathering place of sorts, where ancient men performed community rituals. True or not, coming here today still is a powerful experience: the rocks, set high above a barren expanse, retain a somewhat magical feel. And the petroglyphs are some of the most stunningly preserved in the whole world.

It is very recommended to visit the excellent Qobustan Museum, whose ticket is included in the admission price, before going to the rocks. The exhibit explains the local history with great care and detail, using an impressive play of projections to highlight the changes in the carving styles.

How to get there: The Park is roughly 65km from Baku. Take public bus 125 from the Maiden’s Tower and get off at the last stop (0.20 Manat). Here, change to bus 195 bound to Alat (0.80 Manat) and alight at the town of Qobustan. The national park is about 4km from the bus stop, and it’s fairly easy to hail a local taxi. Taxis come here from Baku, too — make sure to haggle hard.

Entry fee: 4 Manat per adult

Recommended by  Marco of Penang-Insider

Experi​ence the Xinaliq

Azerbaijan Points of Interest

Photo Credit: againstthecompass.com with permission to use

Why is this one of the Azerbaijan points of interest?

Located at 2,350 meters above sea level, if you counted Azerbaijan as part of Europe, Xinaliq would be one of the highest villages in the continent.

A real Caucasian village, located at the very north of Azerbaijan, bordering the Russian and conflictive Chechenia, Xinaliq is also home to the most breathtaking landscape in the country, composed of snow-capped peaks and velvet-smooth green rolling hills, which gives endless trekking opportunities.

Moreover, the people from Xinaliq have a distinct language and belong to a different ethnicity, most people being blonde and blue-eyed, very different from the rest of Azerbaijan.

Today, the village is finally opening to tourism and the inhabitants himself have opened quite a few guest houses where you can experience the traditional, rural life of the region.

How to get there

In Baku, take the metro to Avtogavzal, which is the main bus station. Take a bus to Quba, which costs around 5AZN. The journey takes around 3:30 hrs.

Once in Quba, during high season, you can take a shared local taxi to Xinaliq but, if you come out of season, you will have to get a private taxi, with prices ranging from 30 to 50AZN. You can also check out this Azerbaijan itinerary.

Recommended by Joan of Against The Compass

Explore Ganja

Azerbaijan Points of Interest - Imamzadeh

Photo Credit: historyfangirl.com with permission to use

Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, is a gem that few tourists venture to. A four hour bus ride from Baku, a visit to Ganja is a visit to an Azeri city sans the bustle and foreigners in Baku. Not the precious town or Sheki or a a quiet village like Quba, Ganja is a true city with the same population as Pittsburg. However, because it’s slightly out of the way, you’ll have wide Soviet boulevards, important Islamic pilgrimage sites, and gorgeous mountain lakes all to yourself. 

While there, you can stay at the old soviet Ganja hotel, which is a Wes Anderson’s lover’s dream. While it’s been redone since the fall of the Soviet Union, the style has remained much the same. Across the street might be the best sushi restaurant in Azerbaijan, Epikur Bagi. Spend one or two days exploring the unique sites here, like the folk art Bottle House and Alexander Nevsky, the Armenian Orthodox Church, and you’ll see a side of Azerbaijan you won’t find anywhere else.

You’ll also want to dedicate one or two days to day trips. You can easily see Lake Goygol, the Imamzadeh, and Nizami’s Mausoleum in one inexpensive and easy day trip. You might choose to spend another day visiting Naftalan, an old soviet sanatorium where visitor’s bathe in crude oil.

Make sure to visit Heydar Aliev park, which might be the most Instagrammable spot in all of Ganja!

Recommend by Stephanie of History Fan Girl

I would like to send my thank you to all nine travel bloggers who contributed on this round up article. Thank you so much!

If you have any questions, you can drop them in the comment section below.

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Check out the Azerbaijan points of interest. From things to do in Azerbaijan, what to see, and what to eat during your visit in Azerbaijan from travel bloggers who explored and enjoy this country. #azerbaijanpointsofinterest #azerbaijanwhattodo
Check out the Azerbaijan points of interest. From things to do in Azerbaijan, what to see, and what to eat during your visit in Azerbaijan from travel bloggers who explored and enjoy this country. #azerbaijanpointsofinterest #azerbaijanwhattodo
About the author

Contributor

A Mary Road welcomes all writers and journalists who would want to contribute to this blog site. We welcome all types of articles as long as it covers the same general niche as A Mary Road, which is travelling. If you want to send over your piece, please email us with your topic proposal to collabs (at) amaryroad (dot) com

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