The Land of Fire, as Azerbaijan is often known, has so much to dazzle tourists. From explosive landscapes to beautiful historic towns and fascinating museums, there is certainly no shortage of tourist attractions on offer here.
This growing tourist destination is a must-visit for travellers who love exploring off the beaten track locations.
Discover more about some of the main points of interest in this captivating country. From temples to towers, Caspian coastlines to carpet museums; we cover the main things to do in Azerbaijan.
Need to arrange a visa for your trip? Head over to our Azerbaijan visa page to find out everything you need to know and apply in advance.
- 1 Azerbaijan Points of Interest for Travellers
- 2 Things to Do in Baku
- 3 Azerbaijan Landmarks That Are Not to Be Missed
- 4 Museums in Baku and Other Cultural Sights
- 5 Best Baku Attractions (Outside the City Centre)
- 6 Things to Do in Azerbaijan (Outside of Baku)
- 7 Baku Beaches and Other Beaches in Azerbaijan
- 8 Azerbaijan Nightlife
- 9 Inspired to Visit?
Azerbaijan Points of Interest for Travellers
The main airport in Azerbaijan is Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport (airport code: GYD) so, if this is the starting point for your trip, visiting Baku city centre should be top of your itinerary.
The old city of Baku is one of the main attractions that the country has to offer. But Azerbaijan is far more than just ancient architecture. With its fusion of the old and new, it wows all types of travellers regardless of your interests.
This country also has many natural wonders to lure nature lovers. The Caspian Sea which borders the country to the east is actually the largest lake in the world and the country has waterfalls and rivers in abundance.
Another unique tourist attraction in Azerbaijan that brings visitors here is its mud volcanoes. 350 of the 700 mud volcanoes of the world are found here!
As well as this, Azerbaijan is home to one of the oldest human settlements in the region: Sheki City. Located west of Baku, this was once a major stop off on the Silk Road, famous for its splendid silks and other textiles.
Things to Do in Baku
Baku is definitely worth visiting if you’re in Azerbaijan. Not only is it the capital, but it also has many interesting things to see and do.
The old city (Icheri Seher) has UNESCO World Heritage status and it is where you will find many of the country’s most famous sights. This includes architectural gems like the 15th-century Palace of the Shirvanshahs.
Baku blends ancient city walls with modern skyscrapers, which is why some travellers compare it to Dubai. It is a place where modernity meets tradition.
As well as being the historic heart of the nation, the capital has a lively bar and restaurant scene. If you need some stamina, you can fill up on some traditional local dishes such as the most famous Azeri food, Plov (saffron-flavoured rice cooked with meat, vegetables and aromatic herbs).
There is lots to keep you busy in Baku, while there are also plenty of sights to encourage you to explore beyond it too. It really depends on how long you have set aside to visit this destination.
In this article, we will look at some of the landmarks in the city centre, the main museums and cultural attractions and also the beaches of Baku and other places nearby that are well worth visiting while on holiday here.
Azerbaijan Landmarks That Are Not to Be Missed
One of the most emblematic symbols of Azerbaijan is the Flame Towers. These 3 skyscrapers tower over the city casting a striking bronze light across the Baku skyline. Known as the “Land of Fire”, the flames have important historical significance for Azerbaijan and also relate to the country’s fiery landscape.
Another important Azerbaijan landmark is The Maiden Tower. Found in the old city of Baku, this 12th-century monument even appears on the back of the Azerbaijani 10 manat banknote.
If you want to get views across the city, you can take a ride on the Baku Funicular and enjoy panoramic vistas over the city and the Caspian sea.
Museums in Baku and Other Cultural Sights
Moving on to museums. Here are some of the top ones that the city has to offer:
- Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum
The iconic Azerbaijan carpet museum is designed in the shape of a rolled-up carpet. It is an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the country’s carpet-weaving tradition and its important cultural significance.
- Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre
The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre is number 1 on TripAdvisor for Azerbaijan and once you see it, you’ll understand why.
At 57,500 m² ((619,000 sq ft), it is one of the most impressive buildings in the area. It was built by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and has a distinctive curvy neo-futuristic design.
It is the type of building that needs to be seen up close to fully appreciate its scale!
- Museum of Modern Art
The Baku modern art museum has an engaging collection of paintings and sculptures from Azeri artists as well as pieces from European masters like Picasso.
If you want to learn more about the country’s Soviet past, the National Museum of History is also well worth a visit. Located in a former mansion, it is the biggest museum in the country and has been welcoming visitors since 1921.
Best Baku Attractions (Outside the City Centre)
Aside from the museums and galleries, there is plenty else to see and do in Baku and the surrounding area.
Many visitors (as well as residents!) enjoy a stroll along the Baku Boulevard which runs along the seafront. Dating back to 1909, it is now one of the world’s longest promenades and is a great place to soak in the city’s unique atmosphere and surroundings.
On the outskirts of the city, you can find Ateshgah, a ‘fire temple’ that was used as a Hindu and Zoroastrian place of worship and today houses an eternal flame.
Close to the capital, you can also find beautiful national parks such as Absheron National Park. Just a 1-hour drive from the city, this national park on the southeastern tip of the Absheron Peninsula is home to more than 50 types of birds and mammals.
Also around a 1-hour drive away (towards the south) is Shirvan National Park. It is approximately 100 km south of the capital Baku. This reserve is home to the Goitered gazelle population as well as much other flora and fauna.
Below we will also look at some of the country’s beaches for those travellers who love the feeling of sand beneath their toes!
Things to Do in Azerbaijan (Outside of Baku)
Close to the border with Iran, some travellers say that the city of Astara is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Located just over 3 hours from Baku in a car, the main tourist attraction here is the incredible ‘burning spring’.
If you visit here, be sure to fill your water bottle with water from the spring as it is said to have healing properties!
And let’s not forget Gobustan. The ‘land of ravines’ UNESCO World Heritage Site is often referred to as the Azerbaijan version of Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. Located a 50-minute train journey from Baku, gaze back in time at 6,000 rock engravings, some dating back to the Stone Age at this open-air museum. Around 50% of the world’s mud volcanoes are found here!
Baku Beaches and Other Beaches in Azerbaijan
Do you enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea after seeing the sights? Well, you’ll be spoilt in Azerbaijan. The country boasts more than 500 km of coastline along the western Caspian Sea.
The coastlines are stunning and it is an underrated beach destination for international tourists.
Many travellers say that the best beaches aren’t found in Baku owing to the issue of oil pollution. However, there are some very beautiful ones just a stone’s throw away from the city.
- Bilgah Beach
A 30-minute journey northeast of the capital will get you to Bilgah. Here, you’ll find a clean, sandy beach – the ideal spot to take a dip in the Caspian Sea.
Looking for a more secluded beach? Nabran, close to the border with Russia has some of the cleanest waters in the country. In the summer locals and national tourists flock to this seaside resort to enjoy the sandy beaches and refreshing waters as well as the intertwining forested areas.
After dark, the country has a lively social scene, particularly in the capital. Baku prides itself on being a former Eurovision host city and the old town is the hub of the city’s nightlife. If you head out to one of the pubs or bars for a night on the town, you are sure to have a night to remember. There is a cosmopolitan vibe that captivates tourists.
Inspired to Visit?
We hope you have enjoyed reading this compilation of some of the best things to see and do while visiting Azerbaijan. Since the country introduced the eVisa it is so much easier to plan a trip to this exciting destination. A trip to this Caucasian country will open your eyes to a land defined by diversity and where the old and the new live side by side. If you are lucky, you may even get to experience a traditional Azeri festival!