Azerbaijan Travel Guide

Travel Team
By Travel Team 17 Min Read

After many years spent rebuilding its reputation, Azerbaijan is emerging as an elite tourist destination and the perfect meeting ground for business travel.


Set on the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is widely considered a part of both Europe and Asia. Azerbaijan is known as the ‘Land of Fire’ and includes ancient historical empires intertwined with the modernity of a nation that is undergoing a rapid transformation. 

The capital city, Baku provides an eclectic mixture of architectural phenomena from the likes of Paris and Dubai and is rapidly changing. Surrounding the old city centre are beautiful mansions and pedestrian streets lined with trees and exclusive boutiques, all of which adds to the unique feel that the city holds. 

The country’s capital has developed a reputation for its romance in the past, however, recently business travel has boomed with thanks to numerous new developments. In the past decade in particular vast numbers of new and modern towers are beginning to dominate the skyline, bringing forth a new wave of architectural masterpieces. 

Tourism remains an important part of the economy in Azerbaijan, despite war and the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s causing some damage to the country’s reputation as a tourist hotspot. Over the past few years the Government of Azerbaijan has set out to develop a reputation as an elite tourist destination, with the aim of making it a top contributing factor to the economy.

This focus on tourism has provided excellent opportunities for business in the country and looking forward, it will likely be a huge part of the future of Azerbaijan.


Since the Country gained independence in 1991, it has gone onto become  a member of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank. 

With thanks to the push from spending in 2007 and the subsequent demand growth, inflation rates reached 16.6 percent and incomes climbed up to 29 percent. Despite the positive growth experienced in terms of income, Azerbaijan demonstrated signs of ‘Dutch Disease’, due to the fast-growth of its energy sector that caused inflation that would make non-energy related exports more expensive.

The country’s chronically high inflation was controlled by the end of the 2000s though, leading to the exciting launch of the new Azerbaijani manat which proceeded to cement the economic reforms that had been put in place in the country. This combined effort towards building stability led to Azerbaijan being named one of the top 10 reformers in the Doing Business Report by the World Bank in 2008. 

Azerbaijan’s number one export is oil, and despite a decline in 1997, the country’s supplies have grown year-on-year since that point in time, adding to the economic strength of the country.


The National Tourism Promotion Bureau is a subordinate of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Azerbaijan, established by the President of Azerbaijan in December, 2016. 

The organisation was formed with the aim of creating an international image for Baku, achieved through coordinating a tourism marketing strategy and enhancing the satisfaction of tourists, as well as the country-wide tourism potential. 

Fuad Naghiyev, Director of the National Tourism Promotion Bureau, discusses how his team of professionals are creating new partnerships and tapping into promotional opportunities worldwide.


How would you say Azerbaijan has developed in recent years as a new tourist destination? What are the key reasons behind its growing appeal?

Fuad Naghiyev (FN): Azerbaijan is a country located at the crossroads between east and west with its capital Baku having modern infrastructure and ancient rich historical sites and with regions encompassing fascinating nature and national parks. 

It is partly because of this exposure that Baku has received the lion’s share of Azerbaijan’s global tourism recognition, with an analysis of recent trends showing that Azerbaijan’s tourism sector as a whole is on the rise. 

Azerbaijan has simplified the visa regime for more than 90 countries, and now you can apply for an e-visa and get it online in just under three hours. Alongside that, the prices for hotels and hostels have become even more attractive for the foreign visitors due to the devaluation of the national currency. 

What are the future plans of the Bureau in terms of the development of the tourism industry in the country? 

FN: By 2020 the main bulk of the Bureau’s activity will be focused on the capital city Baku; at present – jointly with local and foreign companies – we are working on the Baku city branding to make it more recognisable all over the world and develop it as a tourist destination that would be interesting travelling and learning more about. 

Azerbaijan’s strategic vision for 2020 is to develop Baku into a major tourist destination, realising the tourist potential for the entire country, establishing a favourable environment and infrastructure for the development of tourism industry, as well as increasing the level of satisfaction among tourists.

By 2025, the country aims to be one of the most preferred 20 tourist locations and increase the number of indicators of effective use of our existing tourism resources. For this purpose, Azerbaijan will launch highly targeted and well-governed branding campaigns in key demand cities and countries and popular online platforms. 

What makes Azerbaijan especially interesting for tourists?

FN: Azerbaijan is one of the cradles of the modern civilization that unifies the east and the west, Europe and Asia, a place where ancient traditions and modern values meet. Baku is a roaring capital city reflecting in the blurry waters of the Caspian Sea and is a completely new destination for tourists, which will definitely conquer their hearts.

Baku is a city of contrasts and always has something new to discover, and increasingly, Baku is becoming known as a tourist destination. Mature travellers and young backpackers are coming to explore Baku in greater numbers.

Over the last decade, Baku has expanded tremendously with a number of skyscrapers, shopping malls, restaurants and hotels. Tourism in Baku is booming so much that it’s becoming a popular destination for many neighbouring and remote tourists to get away for a weekend.

Lastly, what would you say your main tactics are when it comes to attracting the attention of tourists to the country?  

FN: Every traveller can find something close to their heart in Azerbaijan. First, the rich historical, cultural and natural heritage of the country attracts visitors from all over the world. Our historical monuments, ancient culture attract tourists. On the other hand, Azerbaijan is a modern country and the tourism infrastructure has developed very well here. Our excellent cuisine, beautiful climate, and hospitable people make it very appealing to tourists. 

The country also offers both climactic and terrain diversity with thanks to its mountains, warm sea and medicinal hot springs to name a few. Tourism is definitely a priority a present for state policy, and holds great promise for economic development moving forward. 


With thanks to its historical and cultural heritage, Azerbaijan has remained incredibly popular as a tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. With thanks to its untouched nature and ancient architecture, the country has always been a firm favourite amongst worldly travellers, however, now it is moving into a new era with a focus on business. 

Not only is the hospitality of a globally high standard, Azerbaijan’s unique cultural offerings, cuisine and infrastructure offer the perfect backdrop for a buzzing business hub. Between 2010 and 2016, the country was in the top 10 for growth in visitor exports, showing the potential it has to offer moving forward in terms of growth. 

With the introduction of Fairmont and the Absheron Hotel Group, the country is able to provide top class hospitality to business travellers and tourists alike. Alongside the numerous appealing offerings available for  modern business-related needs, Azerbaijan also offers a spectacular array of activities that will give you a feeling of the old country. Its selection of monuments, museums and preserved natural areas such as Sirvan National Park and the Mud Volcanoes that remain incredibly popular at all times of year and for every type of tourist. 


“If you’ve never been to Azerbaijan, prepare to be astounded.” – Azerbaijan Convention Bureau


Absheron Hotel Group

Absheron Hotel Group (AHG) is a young hotel management company operating in Azerbaijan, establishing a world-class portfolio of hotels with the aspiration to become the market leader. AHG is building upon the remarkable tourism development in the Republic of Azerbaijan. 

At present the Company manages two five-star deluxe hotels located in the resort area of the Shahdag Mountain Resort, named Pik Palace Shahdag and Park Chalet Shahdag. AHG has three hotels located in the capital, Baku, named Boulevard Hotel Baku, Intourist Hotel Baku and the Bilgah Beach Hotel. The Company’s newest boutique, Dinamo Hotel, in Baku is currently under development, and will open its doors mid 2018.  

With its exceptional hotel portfolio, the Group aims to exemplify a unique selection of diversified hotel concepts where each property has its own distinctive positioning, spirit and audience with a strong emphasis on personal touch and authentic Azerbaijani hospitality.

Fairmont Flame Hotel

Fairmont’s hospitality has been extended to Baku with its five-star luxury hotel, Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers. Guests will be treated to the some of the city’s most exquisite dining experiences, ranging from a chic bistro, to juice bars and fine dining. 

The hotel also provides more than 2,500 square metres of function space, making it the perfect host for business travel in the region. Surrounded by the latest technology, service that is second to none and luxury transportation through the business district, you will find your stay both convenient and extremely enjoyable.  

Excelsior Hotel and Spa Baku


Da Massimo Baku


Nargiz Restaurant


Park Bulvar

28 Mall

Port Baku Mall


Heydar Әliyev Cultural Centre

Yarat Contemporary Art Centre



Şirvan National ParkM

Mud Volcanoes

Fountains Square

Transport within Baku in particular is very advanced and accessible; for the majority of services you will pay cash as you depart. A recent introduction to the capital city is the new red buses that accept prepaid BakiKart credit for usage. 

Brought into action in September, 2015, BakiKart is available for purchase from metro stations and bus stops spread throughout the city. At present there are two versions of the card available, dependent on the amount of time you will be spending in the city during your visit. The plastic coated card is available for reuse and the disposable paper option is available for up to four journeys. At present the system is only available for use on either the metro or newer red buses, however, looking forward towards the development of tourism in the country, it is looking likely that the system will be extended in the future. 

During your stay if you find yourself with some spare time for exploring, the metro provides the perfect link between the old city and suburban areas. With reasonable fares and the ability to use BakiKart, the metro provides a quick and easy way to see more of Azerbaijan on your travels. 

Taxis also provide a relatively easy mode of transport when it comes to finding your way around the city with speed and ease. The vast majority of taxis are not metered and will often demand a minimum fare, so bear that in mind when planning your journeys.


Palace of the Shirvanshahs

“While looking for information about Baku sightseeing, one of the first attractions that will draw your attention will surely be Shirvanshahs’ Palace… Shirvanhahs’ Palace was built in 15th century by Shirvanshah kingdom who ruled mostly in the current territory of Azerbaijan in 861 – 1538. Shirvanshahs literally means “the kings of Shirvan”. Shirvan was the main territory and the first capital’s name of the kingdom. After frequent earthquakes happening in Shamakha – second capital – the capital was moved to Baku.” –

Fazil Labarynth

“Over a dozen close-packed grave sites from the 2nd to 7th centuries BC have been excavated but left exactly as they were found with pots, talismen and the bones of sacrificed animals in situ. One can almost ‘feel’ the evolution of humanity in the space of 70m as you walk through the little brick-vaulted catacomb created for the site’s protection… This place has been a lifetime endeavour for two local archaeologists, who open the site by appointment, best arranged through the Şəki tourist office.” – Lonely Planet

Maiden’s Tower

“The Maiden Tower is a Baku landmark, a much loved symbol of the city and of Azerbaijan. It looms dark and enigmatic, looking out to sea from the southern edge of Baku´s old, walled city, the Icheri Sheher. The origins of the tower are shrouded in mystery – no-one knows for certain when it was built or what it was built for or even how it acquired its name Maiden Tower (Qiz qalasi).” –

Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine