Example Itinerary

Two Weeks Across Azerbaijan

Duration
14 days / 13 nights
Price Per Person
From $8,100
Interests
Architecture, Heritage
Destinations
Azerbaijan

Discover Azerbaijan’s highlights, hidden gems, and more on this in-depth 14-day journey across the country. Begin in the capital and it’s greatest hits, both ancient and modern. In the northern mountains, discover the history and culture of an entirely Jewish settlement, and pay a visit to the highest and most remote village in the country. Travel south where barren landscapes dotted with rocks and mud volcanoes shift into lush fertile lowlands where citrus and tea grow, and national parks are abundant with natural life. Then traverse the heartlands, swathes of plains, on roads well-traveled by traders of the Silk Route to visit historic cities full of living tradition. Finally, a plane ride is necessary to reach an enigmatic region that is wholly separated from the rest of the country. 

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

  • Natural Wonders: A salt mine said to treat asthma, an ever-burning wall of fire, ignitable water, national parks with old growth forests, a lunar landscape of mud volcanoes and rock paintings - see Azerbaijan’s wonderful natural wonders and more. 
  • Regional Cuisine: Azerbaijanis around the country share a love of plov and kebabs, washed down with a cup of tea, which you will find ubiquitously. As you travel around, you will also be introduced to beloved regional dishes such as chicken stuffed with walnuts and prunes in Lankaran and Sheki’s decadent sweets.
  • Local Hospitality: Hospitality in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus is second to none, where guests are plied with generous amounts of tea and refreshments, or a spread of traditional dishes. You will be warmly welcomed as treasured guests in local homes to share and break bread.

Day-by-Day

Day 1

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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

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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.”  Round out the day with a visit the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum, a research-training and cultural educational center dedicated to the important traditional art which has been registered as an UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. The museum has the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world; each of Azerbaijan’s ten regions has its indigenous weaving techniques and designs which is passed down within the family through practice. Also stop by 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. 

Baku

Day 3

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Baku »

Today’s excursion takes you north towards the Caucasus to the Quba highlands area to visit Red Town, the only entirely Jewish settlement outside of Israel and the US. In 1742, the Khan of Quba gave permission to the local Jewish population to settle opposite his town, saving them from persecution by Islamic fundamentalists. Here, visit the local synagogue and meet the rabbi. Also stop in at the Museum of the History and Culture of Mountain Jews. Then, make your way further into the mountains to Khinaliq village, the highest and most remote and isolated village in the country. This ancient settlement has been around since the Caucasian Albanian period and has a population of around 2,000 people who live a mostly pastoral lifestyle that has little changed over the years. Stroll through the ancient town, visit the nearby fire temple, meet the locals and enjoy the scenery. The alpine landscape here, at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level, is simply breathtaking. Return to Baku for the evening. 

Day 4

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Lankaran »

Leave Baku for warmer climes down south; your destination today is Lankaran, a coastal city near the border with Iran. On the way, first stop to visit Gobustan Historical Reserve. The expansive archaeological park is an lunar desert-scape pock-marked with boulders, man-made caves, and mud volcanoes. The collection of rock carvings date back over 40,000 years to the ice age and depict scenes of prehistoric life such as tribal dances and hunting. 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. Make another 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, check in and relax for the evening.

Hotel Options

Day 5

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Lankaran »

This morning, go on a city tour of Lankaran. As one of the oldest settlements in Azerbaijan in addition to being a major stopover point for caravan routes, Lankaran has a long history with a colorful culture. Start with the local museum of history for an overview before heading to one of the city’s highlights, Zindan Tower. This is reportedly where Joseph Stalin was imprisoned in his early years before he escaped through a tunnel leading to the lighthouse and sailed away across the Caspian Sea. Next, visit the local Singing Grandmas and enjoy a performance of some traditional songs, along with tea from the local plantations around Lankaran. Then, have a masterclass on preparing a special national dish called lavangi, chicken breast stuffed with walnut and plum preserve. This dish is typically cooked on special occasions and found most prevalently in regions from the Absheron peninsula and south along the coast. Enjoy the lavangi along with other traditional dishes and have an authentic homemade meal with your local hosts. Experience the warm hospitality and generosity of the local people, a hallmark of their culture.

Lankaran

Day 6

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Lankaran »

Venture around the southern provinces today. First, visit 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. Take a stroll around the small town before moving on to Hirkan National Park. A more lush and green landscape than Shirvan with its humid temperate deciduous and virgin forests, Hirkan was once home to the now-extinct Caspian tiger. Today it is still sheltering other large mammals including the Persian leopard, lynx, brown bear, wild boar, roe deer, and golden jackal. Locals and tourists can meander along the walking trails and picnic lakeside. Return to Lankaran for the evening.

Day 7

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Sheki »

Depart early this morning as you retrace the journey back north before setting off on the trail across the heartlands to the western regions. Enroute, make a stop at 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. Also visit the Seven Domes Royal cemetery before meeting a local family who will invite you into their home for tea and refreshments. They will also demonstrate the traditional methods of preparing butter and yogurt, followed by a tasting of the fresh products served alongside classic dishes. Arrive in Sheki by late afternoon and relax at your hotel. Tonight, you’ll be treated to dinner at a restaurant where you can sample the local regional dishes and enjoy traditional live music. 

Hotel Options

Day 8

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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. After freshening up at your hotel, pay an evening visit to a local family that specializes in making a local sweet called Sheki halva. This decadent dessert of syrupy baked pastry layered with chopped nuts and spices is native to Sheki and beckons visitors from all around the country. See how this treat is made before an indulging tasting served with tea. 

Sheki

Day 9

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Baku »

After breakfast, get back on the road as you return to Baku today. On the way, make a small 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. Stop at another village along the way named Basqal, where you will visit a workshop to learn how to make a kelagayi, the beautiful silk shawls that Azerbaijani women traditionally wear. The last stop before arriving in Baku is at Maraza to admire the mausoleum of Diri Baba. 

Hotel Options

Day 10

Map

Baku »

This morning, 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. The natural gas yield ceased in the mid 19th-century, ending worship, and the temple is today open for visitors to see the flame which is fed from Baku’s main gas supply. 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. Some say it has been lit since ancient days, while others speculate it may have only been ignited in the 1950s. Back in Baku, 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.

Day 11

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Nakhchivan »

To visit this next region of Azerbaijan, you will need to take a quick flight. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is an enclave of Azerbaijan that is separated from the rest of the country, sandwiched to the west between Armenia and Iran. A territory marked by a long history of war and conflict that reached into the early 1990’s, Nakhchivan today is insular, isolated, and an almost surreal destination for travelers. Upon arrival, delve straight into exploring the eponymous capital and its immaculate streets. It is home to a towering mausoleum that claims to house the prophet Noah’s remains, several ornately decorated monuments and tombs that jut out of the ground, gold-domed mosques, Soviet apartment blocks, a Khan’s palace, and a Carpet Museum. In the afternoon, drive out to Garabaghlar village to see a 12th-century monument. Surrounding it are ruins scattered across the plains, evidence of the 10,000 houses, 70 mosques and mausoleums that used to exist. Then, visit Duzdug Salt Cave, a sanitarium built deep inside a former Soviet salt mine that is believed to cure a whole range of respiratory illnesses. Visitors can descend into the mines and see some public areas of the facility. 

Hotel Options
Nakhchivan

Day 12

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Nakhchivan »

Drive into Nakchivan’s arid semi-desert landscape and discover more of the surrounds to the south. Near the small town of Julfa on the border with Iran is Daridagh spring which is rich with carbonate minerals such as boron, iodine, bromine, and lithium elements. Locals believe this spring water has medicinal properties and can treat gastric-bowel diseases. While in the south, travel a short distance to the town of Ordubad, the second largest in the republic. Its city layout resembles a flower garden, with the town divided into several quarters, each with its own square, mosque and spring. In the very center of town is Djuma mosque which dates back to the medieval times. Finally, round out the day with a visit to the Ashabi-Kahf cave. Widely believed to be the caves from the ‘Seven Sleepers’ story mentioned in the Quran, the caves are considered a sacred site and many make pilgrimages here. 

Day 13

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Baku »

Fly back to Baku and 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 14

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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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