Azerbaijan is not on top of most people’s bucket list and many did not know anything about Azerbaijan until the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku in 2012. Although Azerbaijan is not as popular as a travel destination as many other countries, it has a lot to offer.
Azerbaijan is located in the Caucasus region, bordering Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Russia and the Caspian Sea in the east. It is a former Soviet country. The majority of its population is Azeri and the Azeri culture has most similarities to the Turkish culture, but also has Persian and Russian influences.
Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan. The city centre looks very modern, and very clean. You will find workers sweeping and tidying the streets the whole day. There is a mix of buildings with a modern architecture and sand-coloured buildings that look historical. The contrast between the old town, where it may feel like walking in a well maintained area from a few centuries ago, and the rest of the city centre, where everything looks very modern, is enormous. The city’s vibe is very pleasant and you can spend a few days on sightseeing. Many bars and cheap nice restaurants can be found throughout the city. From Baku you can also take a few daytrips. In Gobustan you can find the mud volcanoes and petroglyphs. Getting there by public transport can be difficult, but your hostel may be able to set you up with a tour. From Baku you can also visit Yanar Dagh where you can witness the only natural gas vents in the world causing continuous hot flames out of the hills. Baku is a nice city and it is worth booking a hostel for at least a few days. There are quite a few hostels to choose from.
Lahic is another great destination in Azerbaijan. It is a small town specialized in producing tin products. The place itself is pretty, but it is a big contrast to Baku and it looks much poorer.
Sheki is a town not to be missed on your trip around Azerbaijan. It is located on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, with a lot of forest , rich in Islamic culture and remaining from the Silk Road can be seen. Sheki is not the only place to visit the Caucasus mountains in Azerbaijan. The Caucasus Mountains are stunning and hiking opportunities are plenty.
Internationally Nagorno Karabakh is a recognized as a region within Azerbaijan, but it is under Armenian control. Visiting Nagorno Karabakh is considered illegal by Azerbaijan and when doing so you risk getting prosecuted and prosecuted. However, if you do want to visit Nagorno Karabakh, the only way to reach the region is from Armenia.
The hostel scene has been growing fast over the last few years in Azerbaijan. Only a few years ago hostels did not exist in Azerbaijan. Now, hostels are popping up quickly all over the country and many are cheap and offer a high level of quality. Anywhere else than Baku, Ganja and Lahic there may not be a lot of choice in hostels yet, so especially if you plan to travel to any other cities it is recommended to book a hostel far in advance. Depending on your citizenship you may have to book a hostel before you can apply for a visa.
Hi, I'm Martin Straatman,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Azerbaijan hostels. Welcome.