Skip to Content

Planning An Azerbaijan Travel Itinerary? Your Key Insights for 2024

We may receive a commission if you make purchases through affiliate links (at no extra cost to you). Read why our approach to travel is different.

Share This Article

3 months ago

My first attempt to visit Azerbaijan was back in 2013. After multiple days at the embassy in Beijing trying to convince the consular staff to grant me a visa, I ultimately gave up. On my journey to Visiting Every Country, I have spent many, many hours at embassies – and very few countries tried me like Azerbaijan!

Luckily for you, today, Azerbaijan is very easy to visit. However, before you begin planning your Azerbaijan travel itinerary, there are still a few important things you must know!

Soviet architecture in the center of Baku
Soviet-era architecture in downtown Baku

As a new, up-and-coming destination, it can often be difficult to find clear information on visiting Azerbaijan. In this complete guide, I will cover everything you need to know before visiting Azerbaijan in 2024!

Is it worth visiting Azerbaijan?

Absolutely!

At the historic crossroads of empires, Azerbaijan is squeezed between the cultural powerhouses of Türkiye, Iran and Russia. This former-Soviet, majority-Muslim and extremely wealthy country truly has one foot in Europe and another in Central Asia.

Flame Towers in Baku Old Town
Modern Baku peeking through the alleyways of Baku’s Old Town. With glitzy new hotels and excellent restaurants, you will want to make sure you allocate enough time to enjoy Baku!

Recent years have seen Azerbaijan invest heavily in its tourism industry: new easy e-visa procedures, cheaper flights, and fancier hotels.

Mountain village of Xinaliq
The village of Xinaliq, often-touted as the highest village in Europe

Don’t get me wrong, Azerbaijan is still a little way off its more tourist-friendly Caucasian neighbor Georgia. Yet Azerbaijan easily competes for a star-studded travel itinerary! From the Zaha Hadid-designed Heyder Aliyev Centre to Europe’s highest village in Xinaliq, there are no shortage of beautiful places to visit in Azerbaijan.

Can Americans visit Azerbaijan? 

Yes, Americans can easily visit Azerbaijan.  

Americans are eligible for visa an Azerbaijan e-visa for $25. The e-visa must be obtained online before arrival and will be checked as you board your plane!

Silk Road-era mausoleum in Nakhchivan  -  a must visit site on any azerbaijan travel itinerary
Azerbaijan is famous for its Silk Road-era architecture

There are currently no direct flights from the United States to Azerbaijan. Prior to COVID-19, AZAL operated a heavily subsidized direct flight between New York and Baku – and we are all keeping watch if it will restart. However, there are countless one-stop options via Europe or the Middle East.

For the cheapest flights to Azerbaijan, I recommend using Trip.com.

Do I need a visa for Azerbaijan? Can I get a tourist visa upon arrival in Azerbaijan?

Most travelers, including British, European and Australian passport holders, can obtain an e-visa for $25.

For Americans, I’ve set out above how Americans can visit Azerbaijan.  

Make sure you apply for your e-visa at least 3 weeks prior to visiting Azerbaijan. Processing time normally takes at least 3 days and you will need to show the e-visa before getting your boarding pass!

Modern interior of Baku International Airport - where your azerbaijan travel itinerary begins
The new and modern Baku International Airport

Urgent visa applicants are available for $55 and are processed within 3 hours.

How do I get to Azerbaijan?

By plane

Baku Airport (Airport Code: GYD) is well connected to major European and Gulf transport hubs, including Istanbul, Dubai, Doha, London, Warsaw and Frankfurt. For American travelers to Azerbaijan, you will need to pass through one of these hubs.

European travelers, I have a hot tip for you. At the time of writing, Wizz Air are offering very cheap flights from Baku to Budapest and Rome. These can often be as low as €20!

By land

Regular buses and minivans run daily between major cities in Azerbaijan and Georgia, Russia, Türkiye and Iran. There is currently no overland travel to Armenia.

historic Khodaafarin Bridge which connects azerbaijan to iran
The historic Khodaafarin Bridge which connects Iran to Azerbaijan and the Karabakh region

Rail enthusiasts will be excited by the daily overnight train from Baku to Tbilisi. I’ll be honest, I personally wouldn’t recommend this option unless you are in a rush.

The mountains of Karabakh
Traveling overland often allows for unparalleled vista of the Caucasus Mountains

Many of the top highlights of the Caucasus, such as Sheki or Davit Gareja, lie on the overland path between Baku and Tbilisi. And if you are in a rush, the direct flights are generally quite affordable (often less than $100).

What is the most beautiful place to visit in Azerbaijan? 

Each city in Azerbaijan really has a different atmosphere and a unique character. 

heyder aliyav centre in baku, azerbaijan - a must visit site on any azerbaijan travel itinerary
The modern face of Baku

Baku is the modern face of Azerbaijan. The UNESCO heritage listed Old Town (or İçərişəhər) is completely walled-off. In my opinion, the Old Town of Baku offers an opportunity to see all sides of Azerbaijan. Traditional teahouses dating back to Silk Road days give way to views over Baku’s modern skyline, while excellent new restaurants and roof terraces offer the best of Azeri cuisine.

With Silk Road caravanserais, a mountainous terrain and the Palace of the Sheki Khans, the northwestern city of Sheki is a favorite on most Azerbaijan travel itineraries.

Alinja-Gala fortress in Nakchivan, Azerbaijan - a must visit on any Azerbaijan travel itinerary
The Alinja-Gala Fortress – one of the top things to do in Nakhchivan

If you’re a geography nerd like me, you will probably be aware of the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan. With so many things to do, including the big ticket Alinja-Gala fortress (or the Machu Picchu of Azerbaijan), little Silk Road towns and some excellent food, I am firmly of the opinion that Nakhchivan should be on every Azerbaijan travel itinerary.

Is Azerbaijan safe?

Azerbaijan is an extremely safe country, with very low rates of crime.  

What is the best time of year to visit Azerbaijan? 

In my opinion, March to November is the best time to visit Azerbaijan, with pleasant and warm daytime temperatures and crisp evenings (particularly around April and May).  

mountain village of Xinaliq -  a must visit site on any azerbaijan travel itinerary
The mountain village of Xinaliq

Do I need to carry my passport around?

Yes. I would advise you to always carry your passport around in Azerbaijan.

Can women travel solo?

Yes. Azerbaijan is a very safe country and you will meet female solo travelers.

Outside of Baku, you will see that certain spaces appear to be male-only spaces (for example, teahouses or cafes). These spaces are not segregated by law and rather stem from cultural norms. This means you are obviously free to sit down and order a cup of tea, but you may get one or two curious stares (most likely the friendly type).

traditional teahouse in Azerbaijan

Do women need to wear headscarves in Azerbaijan?  

No. Azerbaijan is a very secular country and you will unlikely see many women with their hair covered. There are no rules governing how a woman dresses in Azerbaijan.  

Zaha Hadid architecture in Baku at heyder aliyav centre -  a must visit site on any azerbaijan travel itinerary
The Zaha Hadid Heyder Aliyev Centre in Baku

Can unmarried couples, same-sex couples or friends share a room? 

Yes! No questions asked.  

fresh pomegranates on the streets of Baku
Fresh pomegranates on the streets of Baku

Can Jews visit Azerbaijan? 

Yes, there are no restrictions on Jewish people visiting Azerbaijan.

Jewish travelers will find the Mountain Jewish community of Krasnaya Sloboda particularly fascinating. It’s an easy stop on the road up to Xinaliq (which should be on every Azerbaijan travel itinerary).

Can I visit Azerbaijan if I have an Israeli stamp or visa in my passport? 

No problems at all.

Despite being a Shia Muslim-majority country, Azerbaijan enjoys close relations with Israel. You can even fly directly from Baku to Tel Aviv.

Silk road era tomb in Nakchivan Azerbaijan  -  a must visit site on any azerbaijan travel itinerary

Can I buy alcohol in Azerbaijan? 

Yes. Drinking alcohol is legal in Azerbaijan. The availability of alcohol will differ between the major cities and small towns.

But generally speaking, alcohol is readily available!

mosque in old baku
Despite being a Muslim-majority country, Azerbaijan is extremely secular in both outlook and culture

Can I visit Azerbaijan after visiting Armenia?

During my first trip to the Caucasus in 2016, travelers were strongly advised to avoid visiting Armenia prior to visiting Azerbaijan. Back then, Armenian passport stamps would bring much hassle to travelers.

ruined homes in Karabakh
Relics from the First Karabakh War

However, this has changed since the 2023 Karabakh War. With Azerbaijan’s victory, travelers have reported no questions being asked about Armenian passport stamps.

I visited Nagorno-Karabakh prior to 2023, do I need to declare this?

You will need to declare this on your Azerbaijan e-visa application. Since 2023, travelers have been asked to supply an ‘apology letter’ which sincerely apologises for visiting the region when it was under Armenian control.

ruins of Karabakh village
Ruins from the First Karabakh War

If you aren’t familiar with the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, now is probably the time to get reading! The Caucasus can get very sensitive…

Can I ask people about Nagorno-Karabakh, Artsakh or Armenia? 

Azerbaijan often makes news for all the wrong reasons. At Travel Insighter, we are firm believers that visiting yourself is the only way to truly understand a destination, a people and a culture – no matter the politics.

Statues in Susa, Karabakh - cultural capital on the azerbaijan travel itinerary
Statues of cultural figures with visible bullet holes in Susa, Karabakh

Like most post-Soviet states, Azeris are an extremely nationalist bunch. Many have heart-breaking stories of immense tragedy from the various Karabakh wars. Rather than asking provocative questions ‘what should happen to the Armenians in Karabakh?‘, take a moment to consider your objectives in having these conversations.

Do you want to learn about the Azeri narrative? Are you keen to understand whether Armenian sensitivities are understood in Azerbaijan?

azeri children dressed as national flag

I recommend: 

1. Listening: let the people with whom you speak offer information. Avoid interrupting or judging their narratives. For example, for many Azeris, the conquest of Karabakh was a period of immense nationalistic pride. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to agree with the war aims, but rather, that you should take the opportunity to learn how and why this is so.

2. Showing empathy: acknowledge the hardships and challenges.

3. Avoiding political discussions: war often involves complex political and historical narratives. No matter how much you have read, as the visitor this is not your story to tell. For many Azeris, the presence of Armenians in Karabakh was an affront to their national dignity. Again, think about wording your questions to understand why this was.

azeri flag on door
It is very common to see Azeri flags everywhere in the country

4. Respecting privacy: some individuals may not want to discuss their wartime experiences. Don’t push them.

5. Asking open-ended questions: this will encourage them to guide the conversation as they wish. For example, ‘Do you remember the end of the Soviet Union?’ rather than ‘did any of your friends or family die in the First Karabakh War?’ You will very quickly get an idea of whether the person is willing to share their experiences.

Can I visit Karabakh?

At the time of writing, Karabakh remains closed to foreign visitors. I was very fortunate to visit Karabakh recently with an official delegation and can report that there is a huge investment of capital in Karabakh, including the building of a number of new airports.

Mountain pass in Karabakh
Karabakh is full of magnificent mountain passes

I expect the ‘newly liberatedKarabakh will open for visitors soon – watch this space!


Share This Article

Looking for the best comprehensive travel insurance? SafetyWing has you covered.
And for your eSIM in every country, there is only one option we recommend: Airalo.


Read more of our best insights from around the world