10 Must-Visit Attractions in Azerbaijan for First-Time Backpackers

10 Must-Visit Attractions in Azerbaijan for First-Time Backpackers

Azerbaijan, known as the “Land of Fire,” is an enthralling country that seamlessly blends modern marvels with ancient history. Tucked between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, this fascinating nation offers an array of experiences for first-time backpackers. From bustling bazaars and architectural wonders to serene landscapes and remote villages, Azerbaijan is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Here are ten must-visit attractions that should be on every backpacker’s itinerary.

1. Baku: The City of Contrasts

The capital city, Baku, is often the starting point for many travelers. Dominated by the Flame Towers, the cityscape is a delightful juxtaposition of the old and the new. The UNESCO-listed Old City (Icherisheher) is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, ancient mosques, and historic landmarks like the Maiden Tower and Shirvanshah’s Palace. Don’t miss the modern architectural marvels such as the Heydar Aliyev Center and the Baku Boulevard, which offer stunning views of the Caspian Sea.


  • Stay in a hostel in the Old City for a budget-friendly option.
  • Wander through the Nizami Street for shopping and street food.

2. Gobustan National Park

Gobustan National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its ancient rock carvings, mud volcanoes, and gas-stones. Located about an hour’s drive from Baku, this archaeological reserve offers a glimpse into prehistoric life with over 6,000 rock engravings dating back to the Stone Age.


  • Take a guided tour to fully appreciate the historical significance.
  • Wear sturdy shoes for hiking through rocky terrains.

3. Sheki: The Silk Road Gem

The charming town of Sheki is famed for its rich history and unique architecture. The Sheki Khan’s Palace, with its stunning stained glass windows and intricate frescoes, is a must-visit. Wander through the cobbled streets and visit the local markets to experience authentic Azerbaijani culture.


  • Try local delicacies like Sheki halva.
  • Stay in a traditional caravanserai for an immersive experience.

4. Lahij: The Craft Village

Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains, Lahij is a picturesque village known for its copper craftsmanship and cobbled streets. This ancient settlement offers a peek into traditional Azerbaijani life. Visit local workshops to see artisans at work and shop for unique souvenirs.


  • Wear comfortable walking shoes for exploring the village.
  • Visit during the summer months for pleasant weather.

5. Ganja: The Cultural Hub

Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, is rich in history and culture. Visit the Nizami Mausoleum, dedicated to the famous poet Nizami Ganjavi, and explore the beautiful Javad Khan Street. Don’t miss the Bottle House, an architectural curiosity made from tens of thousands of glass bottles.


  • Plan a visit to the nearby Lake Goygol for a serene day trip.
  • Explore the local cuisine at traditional eateries.

6. Khinalug: The Ancient Village

Perched high in the Caucasus Mountains, Khinalug is one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in the world. The village is known for its unique language, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Hike through the surrounding mountains for stunning views and interact with the hospitable locals.


  • Pack warm clothing as it can get chilly in the mountains.
  • Consider hiring a local guide for a more informative experience.

7. Quba: The Gateway to the Caucasus

Quba is a delightful town offering a blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Visit the Qechresh Forest, the Tangaalti Canyon, and the historic Qechresh Mosque. The town is also known for its apple orchards and traditional carpets.


  • Visit the local carpet workshops to see the intricate weaving process.
  • Take a day trip to nearby villages like Krasnaya Sloboda.

8. Nakhchivan: The Enclave of History

Nakhchivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan, is steeped in history and legend. Visit the Mausoleum of Momine Khatun, the Ashabi-Kahf Cave, and the Alinja Castle. The region is also home to stunning landscapes and ancient ruins.


  • Obtain a special permit to visit Nakhchivan.
  • Plan your trip carefully as transportation options are limited.

9. Gabala: The Outdoor Paradise

Gabala is a haven for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. The region offers activities such as hiking, skiing, and paragliding. Visit the Tufandag Mountain Resort, the Gabala Archaeological Center, and the Yeddi Gozel Waterfall for a blend of adventure and history.


  • Check the weather conditions before planning outdoor activities.
  • Pack appropriate gear for hiking and adventure sports.

10. Lankaran: The Coastal Retreat

Lankaran, located on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, is known for its lush greenery and historical sites. Visit the Lankaran Fortress, the Hirkan National Park, and the ancient city of Masalli. The region is also famous for its tea plantations and citrus orchards.


  • Take a guided tour of the tea plantations for an informative experience.
  • Enjoy fresh seafood at local eateries.

FAQ: Planning Your Backpacking Trip to Azerbaijan

1. Is Azerbaijan safe for backpackers?

Azerbaijan is generally safe for travelers. However, it’s always wise to stay informed about local news and follow common travel safety tips, such as avoiding isolated areas at night and keeping an eye on your belongings.

2. What is the best time to visit Azerbaijan?

The best time to visit Azerbaijan is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities.

3. Do I need a visa to visit Azerbaijan?

Many nationalities can obtain an e-visa to Azerbaijan. Check the official e-visa portal or consult your local Azerbaijani consulate for specific requirements.

4. How can I get around Azerbaijan?

Public transportation in Azerbaijan includes buses, trains, and taxis. For remote areas, consider renting a car or hiring a local driver. Domestic flights are also available for traveling between major cities.

5. What should I pack for my trip to Azerbaijan?

Pack comfortable clothing suitable for varying weather conditions, sturdy walking shoes, and any necessary medications. Don’t forget essentials like a travel adapter, a water bottle, and a camera to capture your adventures.

6. Are there any cultural norms I should be aware of?

Azerbaijan is a predominantly Muslim country, so it’s respectful to dress modestly, especially in rural areas and religious sites. Learning a few basic phrases in Azerbaijani or Russian can also be helpful and appreciated by locals.

7. What is the local currency and how can I access money?

The local currency is the Azerbaijani Manat (AZN). ATMs are widely available in cities, and credit cards are accepted in most hotels and restaurants. However, carry some cash for transactions in rural areas.

8. Can I drink the tap water in Azerbaijan?

It’s advisable to drink bottled or filtered water, especially in rural areas, to avoid any potential health issues.

9. What are some must-try Azerbaijani dishes?

Don’t miss trying dishes like plov (rice with saffron and meat), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), and kebabs. Enjoy local pastries like pakhlava and shekerbura, and savor the unique flavors of Azerbaijani tea.

10. How can I stay connected while traveling in Azerbaijan?

Local SIM cards are affordable and provide good coverage. You can purchase a SIM card at the airport or from local mobile service providers in the cities.

By following these tips and exploring the must-visit attractions, first-time backpackers can experience the diverse culture, rich history, and stunning landscapes that make Azerbaijan a unique and unforgettable destination. Happy travels!

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