Capital of Azerbaijan, Baku is a city like no other. Set on the boundary line between East and West, it offers a curious mix of old and new. At its Centre is the beautiful old city, known as Icheri Seher. Outside of its walls, you’ll then find soaring towers that wouldn’t appear out of place in Shanghai. Top sights include a trio of skyscrapers known as the Flame Towers and the 15th century Palace of the Shirvanshahs. There’s also plenty of restaurants and the Tezze Bazaar, which is famous for its cheese and spices.
2. Gobustan National Park
Just over an hour’s drive from Baku, Gobustan National Park is an otherworldly landscape of bubbling mud volcanoes, giant rocky boulders and ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings). In fact, it’s these rock carvings that in part gained the park UNESCO World Heritage status, with more than 6,000 of them dating back between 5,000 to 40,000 years. They offer a fascinating glimpse into prehistoric life and culture, with images of hunters chasing their prey and women dancing. The park is also home to the remains of settlements, burials and inhabited caves.
3. Yanar Dag
One of Azerbaijan’s most unusual attractions, Yanar Dag is a 10-metre-long wall of fire that burns continuously on the edge of a hill. Natural flames such as these used to be found across the region and are caused by vast gas reserves. They were considered to have played a part in the creation of a mystical faith called Zoroastrianism, which was famously followed by Queen’s front man Freddy Mercury. As exploitation of the gas reserves began, many of these flames burnt out. Yanar Dag is by far the most impressive of the remaining fires and is at its most spectacular when viewed at night.
One of Azerbaijan’s most picturesque towns, Sheki can be found at the foot of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Set along the famous Silk Road, it was an international center for silk production by the 19th century. The Sheki Khans ruled here between 1743 and 1819 and their summer palace is Sheki’s biggest drawcard today. Set over two floors, this stunning building combines Ottoman ceramics and Iranian mirror work with Russian wood and French stained glass. Alongside this architectural masterpiece, you can still visit old ‘caravanserais’ or inns and stroll the town’s pretty cobblestone streets.
The second largest city in Azerbaijan, Ganja is considered the literary and cultural center of the country. It was the birthplace of several great Azerbaijani poets, including the famous 12th century poet Nizami Ganjavi. With a history dating back to 494 BC, the city offers a variety of attractions. Marvel at the Juma Mosque, which boasts a stunning interior, or seek out the brutal soviet architecture of the Ganja City Hall. Search for trinkets at the bazaar or visit the quirky Bottle House – a building made entirely from glass bottles.
6. Lake Goygol
A popular day trip from the city of Ganja, Lake Goygol is the place to go if you’re looking to experience Azerbaijan’s natural beauty. ‘Goygol’ translates to mean ‘blue lake’ in Azerbaijani and the lake’s deep waters are surrounded by a stunning forest. The lake itself was formed in the 12th century after an earthquake sent rocks crashing down from Mount Kapaz and blocked the river below. Although the area has been a source of inspiration to local artists and writers for centuries, it was only recently opened to the public. In the surrounding forest you may spot native wildlife such as lynx, bears and red deer.
Situated in the Caucasus highlands, the village of Lahic is home to a small community that still follow a very traditional lifestyle. It’s a place famous for its coppersmiths, with local craftsmen handing down their trade from generation to generation. Wander the village’s cobbled streets and meet the locals as they open their wooden doors to show visitors their wares. Although you may want to time your visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds of Bakuvians who flock here at the weekend.
8. Lankaran and the Caspian Sea
A favorite with the locals, the sleepy town of Lankaran offers several resorts for spending some time by the Caspian Sea. Sprawling for 1,200 kilometers from north to south, the Caspian Sea is the world’s largest salt lake with popular activities including fishing and boat cruises. Unfortunately, the water isn’t suitable for swimming at Lankaran and you’ll need to travel a couple of kilometers further south to enjoy the beaches. The town does offer several points of interest though, with landmarks including the lighthouse, Lankaran fortress and Heydar Aliyev Memorial Park.
Famous for its hazelnuts and walnuts, Zaqatala is a city in northwest Azerbaijan which has a population of 31,300 inhabitants. It is an amazing travel destination, especially for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Zaqatala is blessed with beautiful nature and surrounded by mountains where you’ll find an array of stunning scenery, ancient monuments, natural paradise and much more. Also, with its wooded mountainsides and beautiful waterfalls, Zaqatala offers great hiking opportunities. So, don’t miss a chance to visit Zaqatala as its sublime natural scenery, architectural wonders, and magical atmosphere await travelers that also has many amazing sights to offer to its travelers.
Oghuz is a city and municipality in, and the capital of, the Oghuz Rayon of the Azerbaijan Republic allocated on the southern slopes of Big Caucasus and is bounded with Russia in the north which is one of the best places to visit in Azerbaijan. Its beautiful mountain slopes, forests, river valleys, waterfalls, hot fountains and medicinal mineral sulfur springs, sharp rocks attracts tourists here. Oghuz nature is distinctively charming and beautiful at any time of the year, especially during spring. Oghuz is often called as “Azerbaijan Swiss”.