Azerbaijan has been my biggest travel surprise, so far. To be honest, I did not even know, where Azerbaijan was. Special flight deals from Budapest to Baku for only 30 EUR came in handy and I started with planning my trip. Even tho, this flight was cancelled later. Azerbaijan is the country of contrasts and surprises, the country, where you will find rich districts right next to the poor ones. The capital, Baku can be compared to Dubai. Read five reasons why go to Azerbaijan, but first, check where it is! I did not know before I went there.
The visit of Azerbaijan wouldn’t be complete without going to Baku
The capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, is the real pride of country and the biggest surprise. Baku is pretty big city and right over here, I felt the differences among the social groups the most. The old town of Baku is full of locals and you barely meet there any tourists. Azerbaijan is not popular country for visitors because of visa. If you want to enter Azerbaijan, you will need visa. Azerbaijan tourist visa can be obtained in different Azerbaijan embassies around the world. The most interesting thing was, that locals look very stylish and are well dressed. On some moments, I felt like I was in the Paris. The dominant building of Baku are Flame towers standing high above the town, on the hill. Why Falme? If you have a look on Azerbaijan flag, you will find there three flames, which are the symbol of the country. There is the Fermint hotel in Flame towers and the price for a night is around EUR 300. Baku is very modern city with promenades, plenty of parks and shops and I felt very comfortable there. Even the airport is brand new and you can fly there with the national airline. Read my Azerbaijan airlines review to see, what is it like to fly with them.
Arid Azerbaijan landscape hides rich ancient history
The landscape of Azerbaijan is arid and mostly flat. Long deserts from Iran to Russia, that surround Baku are outstanding. Traveling across Azerbaijan can be pretty boring and long, since the countryside looks all the same. Like the moon country. In some parts, there are not even roads build and everywhere is very dusty. I visited Azerbaijan in April and the weather was still quite cold and very windy. Azerbaijan countryside hides many treasures from the history, like the UNESCO heritage, Gobustan national park. In Gobustan you can see old ancient paintings and very close from there, there is mud volcano. Just be careful and do not step to one ;)
Traveling to Azerbaijan and surrounding countires
Azerbaijan is not big country and you can visit countries around, too. Like Georgia, Armenia, Iran or Russia. But mind, that traveling to Armenia with Azerbaijan visa in passport can be though. Borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia are closed for many years because of the area called „Nagorny Karabach“. It is piece of land and both countries want to make it the part of their area. Traveling to Armenia from Azerbaijan can be done only via Georgia, which takes more than one day. I was tempted by Iran, too. Overnight train from Baku to Teheran departs regulary, but I did not have time to do that. One day. On my travels I have visited all three countries, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia and I must say, that Azerbaijan was the biggest surprise. I had very good feeling from this country and the reason for it might be, that there were no other tourists. Can you even imagine, how difficult was to find a magnet for my mom? :) Awesome!
How much money should I take to Azerbaijan?
Even tho, Azerbaijan is wealthy country, I did not spend much. If you avoid dining in the old town, where the dinner could cost more than 20 EUR, you will find yourself in cheap country with many opportunities. The Baku public transport is reliable and covers whole city and cities around. One ride ticket costs around 0,20 EUR and you pay to the driver, as you leave the bus. Just use front door and put money next to him, as the others do. This is different, when you want to use metro. Everyone, who wants to use metro should have a valid card, but why? All you need to do is ask people around you to use their card. You give them money for a one ride and they let you use their card to cross the tourniquet. Simple. Baku people are very kind and none had a problem with this procedure. My daily budget in Baku was around EUR 20 and it was enough.
Azerbaijan is multicultural country
Interesting is, how many nationalities can be found in Azerbaijan. It is a very liberal Muslim country and one of less, where you can buy alcohol. Muslim people can not drink any alcohol at any times, not even in Azerbaijan. Many Muslim countries, like Maldives forbia visitors to bring alcohol to the country. In Dubai you need an alcohol licence, for example. Around the half of people, who live in Azerbaijan are from Muslim countries and the other half is from Russia. Two different nationalities meet there and can respect each other. In Azerbaijan you can speak Arabic, Russian and very little English. You will meet many Muslim women walking around streets, but you can order beer in any pub, too.
Azerbaijan was my biggest travel surprise so far and I must say, I have really underestimate it. Countries around, like Georgia and Armenia are completely different and when I left Azerbaijan for Georgia, I felt the difference. Azerbaijan is not in Europe, it is Asia already. But if you asking yourself why to go to Azerbaijan, consider what you read above and go to see the place with no tourists. One day I will come back again.
Milan Bardún – bringing the world to your homes since 2013