Travel and Tours

Discover the hidden gems of Azerbaijan: Travel guide from UAE

Why Visit Azerbaijan from the UAE

Azerbaijan may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a trip from the UAE, but it is a hidden gem that should not be missed. Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, this beautiful country offers a unique blend of cultures, landscapes, and history. From the UAE, Azerbaijan is just a short flight away, making it an easily accessible destination for a quick getaway or a longer vacation.

One of the main reasons to visit Azerbaijan from the UAE is its rich history and cultural heritage. The country is home to ancient ruins, medieval castles, and UNESCO-listed sites that will take you back in time. Explore the narrow streets of the Old City in Baku, where you can admire the well-preserved medieval architecture and visit the iconic Maiden Tower. Discover the ancient wonders of Sheki, a picturesque city known for its historic caravanserais and stunning Palace of Sheki Khans. And don’t miss the chance to visit the Gobustan National Park, where you can see rock carvings dating back thousands of years.

Another reason to visit Azerbaijan is its diverse landscapes. From the Caspian Sea coastline to the mountains of the Greater Caucasus, the country offers a range of outdoor activities for nature lovers. Explore the mud volcanoes of Gobustan, where you can witness the unique phenomenon of mud eruptions. Hike through the picturesque valleys of the Sheki region, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of lush green landscapes and crystal-clear rivers. And if you’re feeling adventurous, head to the Tufandag Ski Resort in Gabala, where you can hit the slopes and indulge in winter sports.

In addition to its history and landscapes, Azerbaijan is also known for its warm hospitality and friendly locals. The people of Azerbaijan take pride in their culture and traditions, and they are always eager to share them with visitors. Whether you’re invited to a traditional tea ceremony, a wedding celebration, or a local festival, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and treated like family. So, if you’re looking for a destination where you can not only explore beautiful landscapes and learn about history but also connect with the local culture, Azerbaijan is the perfect choice.

Travel Requirements and Visa Information

Before planning your trip to Azerbaijan from the UAE, it’s important to be aware of the travel requirements and visa information. UAE citizens (expats also) are eligible for visa-free entry to Azerbaijan, which means you can stay in the country for up to 30 days without a visa. However, it’s always a good idea to check the latest travel advisories and requirements before your trip, as they may change.

To enter Azerbaijan, you will need a valid passport with at least six months’ validity remaining. You may also be required to provide proof of accommodation, travel insurance, and a return or onward ticket. It’s recommended to have a copy of these documents with you, as well as any necessary vaccinations.

If you’re planning to stay in Azerbaijan for more than 30 days, you will need to apply for a visa. The easiest way to do this is through the e-visa system, which allows you to apply online and receive your visa electronically. The process is straightforward and can be done from the comfort of your home or office. Simply fill out the application form, pay the visa fee, and upload the required documents. Once your application is approved, you will receive your e-visa via email, which you can print and present upon arrival in Azerbaijan.

Best Time to Visit Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan experiences a diverse climate, with hot summers, mild winters, and significant regional variations. The best time to visit Azerbaijan depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to do. Generally, the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) months are considered the best times to visit, as the weather is pleasant and temperatures are moderate.

During the spring, Azerbaijan comes alive with vibrant colors as the flowers bloom and the landscapes transform. This is a great time to explore the countryside, visit the national parks, and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and picnicking. The temperatures are comfortable, ranging from around 15 to 25 degrees Celsius, making it ideal for sightseeing and exploring the cities.

The autumn months in Azerbaijan are equally beautiful, with mild temperatures and stunning foliage. This is a great time to visit the wine regions of Azerbaijan, as the grape harvest takes place during this season. You can participate in grape picking, wine tasting, and traditional harvest festivals. It’s also a good time to visit the mountainous regions, where you can enjoy panoramic views of colorful landscapes and take part in outdoor activities such as paragliding and horseback riding.

If you’re a fan of winter sports, the winter months (December to February) offer excellent skiing conditions in the mountains of Azerbaijan. The Tufandag Ski Resort in Gabala is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts, with a range of slopes suitable for all skill levels. The temperatures can drop below freezing, so make sure to pack warm clothing and gear.

The summer months (June to August) can be hot and humid in Azerbaijan, especially in the lowland regions. However, if you’re planning to visit the Caspian Sea coastline or relax in one of the country’s many resorts, this is the perfect time to do so. The coastal areas offer a refreshing escape from the heat, with cool sea breezes and beautiful sandy beaches.

Best way to get around in Azerbaijan

The best way to get around in Azerbaijan depends on your preferences, budget, and the places you plan to visit. Here are some options:

  1. Public Transportation: Baku, the capital city, has a well-developed public transportation system including buses, metro, and trams. This is usually the most affordable option and can be quite efficient.
  2. Taxi: Taxis are readily available in major cities like Baku. You can either hail one on the street or use ride-hailing apps like Bolt or Yandex.Taxi for convenience and transparency in pricing.
  3. Car Rental: If you prefer flexibility and independence, renting a car is a good option. However, be aware that traffic in Baku can be congested, and driving habits might be different from what you’re used to.
  4. Bicycle: Some cities, particularly Baku, have started to promote cycling with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing programs. This can be a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the city, especially if you’re staying within urban areas.
  5. Walking: Many of Azerbaijan’s cities, especially Baku, have pedestrian-friendly areas where you can explore on foot. This is a great way to soak in the atmosphere and discover hidden gems.
  6. Domestic Flights: If you’re traveling between cities or regions, domestic flights can save you time, especially for longer distances. Azerbaijan Airlines and Buta Airways operate flights between major cities.

Our Recommendation: Rent a car in Azerbaijan until your stay. This will give you the flexibility to move around with ease and you will enjoy much more. If you have a UAE / GCC driving license it is straight forward. Approach a rent a car agency, sign a deed, give them some cash and there you go. Azerbaijan follows a right-hand driving system, where vehicles drive on the right side of the road and the steering wheel is positioned on the left side of the car. We have provided the directions for travelling to different locations below, just use these and enjoy your trip.

Top Attractions in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is home to a wealth of attractions that will captivate and inspire you. From ancient ruins to modern architectural marvels, the country offers a diverse range of sights and experiences. Here are some of the top attractions in Azerbaijan that you shouldn’t miss:

1. Baku, the Capital City: Start your journey in Baku, the vibrant capital city of Azerbaijan. Explore the UNESCO-listed Old City, a maze of narrow streets and historic buildings that will transport you back in time. Visit the iconic Maiden Tower, a symbol of the city, and climb to the top for panoramic views of Baku. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the modern architectural marvels of the Flame Towers, a trio of skyscrapers that light up the city skyline at night.

2. Gobustan National Park: Embark on a journey through time at the Gobustan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can see ancient rock carvings, known as petroglyphs, that depict scenes of hunting, dancing, and everyday life from thousands of years ago. Take a guided tour to learn about the history and significance of these fascinating artworks, and explore the surrounding mud volcanoes, which are a unique geological phenomenon.

3. Sheki, the City of Caravanserais: Step into a fairytale in the city of Sheki, located in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Known for its rich history and stunning architecture, Sheki is home to the impressive Palace of Sheki Khans, a masterpiece of 18th-century Azerbaijani architecture. Explore the narrow streets of the Old Town, visit the medieval caravanserais, and sample the local sweets and pastries, such as baklava and pakhlava.

4. Mud Volcanoes of Qobustan: Experience the otherworldly landscapes of the Qobustan mud volcanoes, located on the outskirts of Baku. These natural wonders are the result of underground gas and oil deposits, which push the mud to the surface, creating small volcanoes. Take a guided tour to explore the mud volcanoes, learn about their formation, and even have a mud bath for a unique spa experience.

5. Yanar Dag, the Burning Mountain: Witness a natural phenomenon at Yanar Dag, also known as the Burning Mountain. Located near Baku, this hillside is constantly burning due to the presence of natural gas reserves. The flames can reach up to three meters high and have been burning for centuries. Visit at night to see the hillside lit up by the flames, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.

6. Ateshgah, the Fire Temple: Discover the spiritual side of Azerbaijan at Ateshgah, a unique fire temple located on the outskirts of Baku. Built in the 17th century, this temple was a place of worship for Zoroastrians, who believed in the power of fire. Explore the complex, which includes a central altar, small chapels, and a museum, and learn about the history and significance of this sacred site.

7. Gabala, the Winter Wonderland: Escape to the mountains of Gabala, a popular winter sports destination in Azerbaijan. The Tufandag Ski Resort offers a range of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you can enjoy the thrill of gliding down the slopes surrounded by breathtaking mountain views. In the summer months, Gabala transforms into a green paradise, with hiking trails, cable car rides, and picturesque lakes.

8. Lahic, the Village of Craftsmen: Immerse yourself in the traditional way of life in the village of Lahic, nestled in the mountains of Azerbaijan. Known for its skilled craftsmen, Lahic is a hub of traditional arts and crafts, including copperware, carpet weaving, and pottery. Explore the cobbled streets, visit the workshops, and witness the artisans at work. Don’t forget to pick up a unique souvenir to take home with you.

These are just a few of the many attractions that Azerbaijan has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, architecture, or culture, you’ll find something to suit your interests in this diverse and fascinating country.

Cultural Experiences in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a country rich in culture and traditions, and there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local way of life. From attending traditional festivals to learning traditional crafts, here are some cultural experiences you can have in Azerbaijan:

1. Azerbaijani Tea Ceremony: Tea is an integral part of Azerbaijani culture, and the tea ceremony is a social ritual that is deeply ingrained in the daily life of the locals. Join a traditional tea ceremony to learn about the customs and etiquette associated with tea drinking in Azerbaijan. You’ll have the chance to taste different types of tea, such as black tea with jam or herbal tea with local herbs, and enjoy traditional sweets and pastries.

2. Carpet Weaving: Carpets have a special place in Azerbaijani culture and are considered works of art. Visit a carpet workshop to learn about the intricate process of carpet weaving, from spinning the wool to dyeing the threads and creating intricate patterns. You can even try your hand at weaving a small carpet under the guidance of experienced artisans. Don’t miss the opportunity to purchase a beautiful Azerbaijani carpet as a unique souvenir.

3. Traditional Music and Dance: Azerbaijani music is known for its soulful melodies and poetic lyrics. Attend a traditional music concert to experience the beauty and richness of Azerbaijani music. From classical mugham performances to lively folk dances, you’ll be captivated by the talent and passion of the musicians and dancers. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to participate in a dance workshop and learn some traditional moves.

4. Local Festivals: Azerbaijan celebrates a number of traditional festivals throughout the year, which offer a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage. One of the most popular festivals is Novruz, the Persian New Year, which marks the arrival of spring. During Novruz, the streets come alive with music, dance, and colorful decorations. You can witness traditional rituals, such as jumping over bonfires to ward off evil spirits, and taste traditional dishes associated with the festival.

5. Traditional Crafts: Azerbaijan has a long tradition of craftsmanship, and you can learn about and participate in various traditional crafts during your visit. Visit a pottery workshop to learn the art of pottery making, from shaping the clay to glazing and firing the finished products. You can also try your hand at copperware, embroidery, and wood carving. These workshops offer a unique opportunity to learn from skilled artisans and create your own handmade souvenirs.

Food and Drink in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani cuisine is a true reflection of the country’s cultural diversity and history. Influenced by Persian, Turkish, and Russian cuisines, Azerbaijani food offers a unique blend of flavors and ingredients. From savory kebabs to aromatic pilaf and sweet pastries, here are some traditional dishes you must try during your visit to Azerbaijan:

1. Plov: Plov, or pilaf, is a staple dish in Azerbaijani cuisine. Made with rice, meat, and various vegetables, plov is a flavorful and hearty dish that is often served on special occasions and celebrations. The rice is cooked with saffron, which gives it a vibrant yellow color and a fragrant aroma. Plov can be made with different types of meat, such as lamb, beef, or chicken, and is often garnished with dried fruits and nuts.

2. Dolma: Dolma is a traditional Azerbaijani dish made with stuffed vegetables, such as grape leaves, bell peppers, and eggplants. The filling is usually a mixture of ground meat, rice, and herbs, seasoned with spices and cooked until tender. Dolma is often served as a main course or as an appetizer, and is best enjoyed with a dollop of yogurt on the side.

3. Kebabs: Kebabs are a popular dish in Azerbaijan, and you’ll find various types of kebabs on the menu of local restaurants. From juicy lamb kebabs to succulent chicken kebabs, there’s something to suit every taste. The meat is marinated with spices and grilled to perfection, resulting in a smoky and delicious flavor. Kebabs are often served with a side of grilled vegetables and lavash, a thin and soft bread.

4. Dushbara: Dushbara is a traditional Azerbaijani dumpling soup that is often enjoyed during the winter months. The dumplings are filled with a mixture of ground meat, onions, and herbs, and are cooked in a flavorful broth. Dushbara is a comfort food that will warm you up on a cold day and is often served with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a dollop of sour cream.

5. Pakhlava: Pakhlava is a sweet pastry that is popular in Azerbaijan and other countries in the region. Made with layers of thin pastry dough

Final thoughts

Embark on a captivating journey from the UAE to Azerbaijan, where rich history meets stunning landscapes. Explore the vibrant streets of Baku, indulge in delicious cuisine, and uncover the treasures of this enchanting destination. With convenient travel options and warm hospitality, your adventure awaits in Azerbaijan.