Example Itinerary

Cultural and Natural Wonders of Azerbaijan

Duration
10 days / 9 nights
Price Per Person
From $6,700
Interests
Heritage, National Parks
Destinations
Azerbaijan

Nicknamed the ‘Land of Fire’, Azerbaijan is famous for its rich gas and oil reserves. This abundant natural resource is directly liked to many of its enigmatic natural wonders, from ever-burning flames from the ground, craters of erupting mud, and flammable water. This 10-day journey explores these fascinating sites and more, as well as cultural highlights from the handicrafts of Lahij and ornate Palace of the Sheki Khans to ancient petroglyphs and the all-important tea culture.  

This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.

Highlights

  • Land of Fire: Azerbaijan has for centuries beckoned Zoroastrian fire worshippers to its shores where mystical eternal flames danced across the lands. Though these phenomena can now be attributed to the country’s oil rich reserves, seeing flames from the ground, mud volcanoes, and ignitable water is still a fascinating sight to any visitor. 
  • Diverse Landscapes: From the capital on an eastern peninsula that juts into the Caspian Sea and villages in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus to a lunar landscape of rocks, followed by lush fertile lowlands covered in tea and citrus, watch the landscapes of Azerbaijan shift as you travel around different parts of the country. 
  • Minority Culture: Get to know the Talysh, one of Azerbaijan’s ethnic minorities who live in the southwest Caspian Sea region for thousands of years. A traditional and conservative people with their own language who mostly farm and specialize in crafts, meet a local family to learn about their culture and lifestyle. 

Day-by-Day

Day 1

Map

Baku »

Arrive in Baku, the capital and commercial hub of Azerbaijan which sits in the east with a coastline built along the Caspian Sea. You will be met by your guide and driver and taken to your hotel via private luxury transfer. Check in and spend the rest of the evening at leisure, resting up for your journey ahead.

Hotel Options

Day 2

Map

Baku »

Your exploration of Azerbaijan begins with a walking tour through Baku’s medieval walled Inner City, Icheri Cheher. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this well-preserved old city is still a vibrant, living city that tells the history of Baku’s development over the past nine centuries within its narrow cobblestoned alleyways, historic caravanserais, hammams, mosques and hidden courtyards. The most ancient monument is the Maiden Tower, the symbol of the city which dates back as early as the 7th-6th centuries BC.  Another must-see is Shirvanshah’s Palace, located at the highest point in the city, and  described by UNESCO as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture.” Then, head out to the Absheron Peninsula to visit the Ateshgah Fire Temple, a pilgrimage site dedicated to its ‘eternal flame’. This area is known for its burning natural gas outlets which has long attracted Zoroastrian fire worshippers since its construction in the 17-18th centuries. Not far away is Yanar Dag, which translates to Fire Mountain. Also known for its eternal flame, it is a hill with natural gas burning on its slope. Finally see the Quadrangular Tower, one of the ancient Absheron towers located in Mardakan village before returning to Baku. 

Baku

Day 3

Map

Sheki »

Leave Baku behind as you travel to the west through Azerbaijan’s midlands. The first stop is at Maraza village, known for a two-storied 15-century mausoleum-mosque called Diri-Baba. Continue to Shamakhi, one of the country’s most historic cities. Though invaders and earthquakes have left little history intact, the Juma Mosque still stands in its current iteration. It was one of the first to be founded in the Caucasus as Islam began spreading around Azerbaijan. Next, make a detour up to the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus to the small village of Lahij, one of the oldest settlements in Azerbaijan. Lahij is known as a center of craftsmanship, a living open-air museum, where visitors can stroll along the cobblestone streets and observe craftsman at work in various studios, workshops, and shops. Unique quality souvenirs such as carpets, plates, cups, glasses, swords, knives and more are on offer. The most famous craft from Lahij is copper work, some of which have made their way into museums across the Caucasus, Russia, and Europe. Arrive in Sheki in the late afternoon and relax for the rest of the day. 

Hotel Options

Day 4

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Sheki »

Sheki is one of the oldest cities in the country and once a vital hub for silk trade along the Silk Route. Today this bucolic city in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountain remains one of Azerbaijan’s picturesque towns, with its traditional architectural ensemble of houses with high gabled roofs, notably influenced by foreign powers throughout the centuries. Begin at the Sheki Bazaar, located within the historic center along the main shopping street with its public buildings, shops, bathhouses, and residential houses. Then, visit the Palace of Sheki Khans, the former summer residence of the royals who were once the most powerful of a series of Khanates in the Caucasus. The building itself is notable for its intricate decorations and design, particularly its stained-glass work and cooling elements. Also visit Sheki’s historic caravanserai, a roadside inn where merchants and travelers sought shelter as they journeyed along the trade routes. Today part of the caravanserai has been refitted to house a working contemporary hotel, while the rest remains open as a museum. Then, travel a few miles north to the town of Kish to visit the Caucasian Albanian church, one of the oldest churches in the Caucasus, founded in the 1st century. Return to Sheki for the evening.

Sheki

Day 5

Map

Ganja »

After breakfast, leave for Ganja, one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan with a population of over a million people. It has been a historic and cultural center throughout most of its existence, and was part of several different empires before it finally became a part of Azerbaijan after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Culturally notable, Ganja is the birthplace of the famous Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. Explore the city today, including the 17th-century Shah Abbas Mosque, Javadkhan Mausoleum, the Orthodox church, Nizami’s Mausoleum, and the unique ‘Bottle House’ which is decorated with over 50,000 glass bottles. 

Hotel Options

Day 6

Map

Baku »

Return to Baku today with a detour to visit Gobustan Historical Reserve. The expansive archaeological park is an alien desert-scape pock-marked with boulders, man-made caves, and mud volcanoes. The collection of rock carvings at Gobustan is the largest of its kind in the world and date back over 40,000 years to the ice age. As you explore the rocks and caves, you can observe the petroglyphs which depict scenes of prehistoric life such as tribal dances and hunting. There is also a small museum at the entrance which exhibits a collection of weapons, carving tools, and artifacts recovered from the area. Also within the area is another sight to behold - the mud volcano, a natural phenomenon where gases below the surface expel mud to the surface. There are only about 850 mud volcanoes in the world, with 300 of them found in Azerbaijan alone. You may notice locals collecting the mud in jars to take home or slathering it on their skin; it is believed the mud has healing properties. Also of interest is the Gaval Dash, a naturally-formed musical stone that makes a sound comparable with a tambourine when stricken. After arriving in Baku, spend the remaining late afternoon exploring the city as you wish, whether enjoying the modern shops and restaurants, or another look around the ancient inner city. 

Hotel Options
Baku

Day 7

Map

Lankaran »

Depart again after breakfast for warmer climes down south; your destination today is Lankaran, a coastal city near the border with Iran. On the way, stop at Shirvan National Park, home to several species of indigenous flora and fauna including the largest population of goitered gazelles in the region. As you continue to the southern region, observe how the landscape shifts from barren plains into lush forested lands, as the climate becomes more humid and subtropical. Upon reaching Lankaran, meet a local family to learn about the customs and traditions of the Talysh people, an ethnic group indigenous to the region shared between southern Azerbaijan and norther Iran. They have their own language, largely follow Shia Islam, and are mostly farmers. In this area of fertile lowlands near the Caspian Sea, the Talysh cultivate citrus fruit and tea. Lankaran is the premiere tea-growing region in the country, home to many plantations. Take a tour around a plantation and get an introduction to Azerbaijani’s avid tea culture. Traditional tea is served with lemon, cube sugar, sweets and fruit desserts. 

Hotel Options

Day 8

Map

Lankaran »

After breakfast, make your way back to Baku. Along the way, make a stop at Yanar Bulag in Astara, a small spring fed through a metal pipe inside a small pavilion. The seemingly unremarkable spring water actually has a special property - it is ignitable. Made possible by the abundance of methane in the water, it is yet another natural phenomenon resulting from the country’s high gas and oil reserves.

Lankaran

Day 9

Map

Baku »

This morning, begin at the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, an iconic Baku landmark designed by star-chitect Zaha Hadid. The complex encompasses an auditorium, museum, exhibition halls, and offices. Then, visit Villa Petrolea, the former residence of the Nobel brothers which is now a museum. The Nobel brothers, Swedish businessmen, established the first foreign business in Baku and transformed the country into one of the world’s oldest oil producers, tapping into its rich reserves. spend the rest of the day how you wish. For traditional culture, try out a hammam, chat with locals at a teahouse, and browse for textiles and carpets. For a more modern take, Baku fosters a thriving creative scene that see art galleries featuring avant-garde local artists and street art works, boutiques, concept stores, theaters, and cutting-edge international sports arenas. Don’t miss a stroll along Baku Boulevard, a scenic promenade along the coastline of the Caspian Sea.  

Hotel Options

Day 10

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Departure

On your last day, spend your morning at leisure. When ready, a private car will take you to the airport for your flight onward. 

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With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

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