Discover with Odyssey
Small group tours to places of interest in Azerbaijan. For mature & senior travellers who like to learn and explore in small escorted groups.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Buses are widely available, with regular services running between Baku and most major towns. Taxis are also commonplace, and are fairly cheap. Train services can be somewhat slow, though they are relatively inexpensive.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Azerbaijan covers an area of 86,600 square kilometres. Azerbaijan is a mountainous country, with the Caucasus and the Less Caucasus mountain ranges dominating the northern and western areas of the country respectively. The south-central and eastern portions of the country flatten out into flood plain, ending at the Caspian Sea.
Azerbaijan experiences hot summers and cold winters, with the mountainous regions experiencing especially cold temperatures during winter. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World Heritage sites
Azerbaijan has 2 properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List, with another 10 on the Tentative List. You can view the official list of the sites here (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/az). The current World Heritage Sites in Azerbaijan include:
Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, featuring thousands of elaborate rock carvings dating back millenia
Walled City of Baku, filled with historic buildings and monuments including the Maiden Tower, a 12th-century monument of national significance
Festivals & Events
As a Muslim majority country, important occasions on the Islamic calendar are observed and commemorated with several festivals across the year. Ramazan Bayram (Ramadan) is a month of fasting, the end of which is observed with prayers at mosques and donations to charities, then celebrated with families gathering to exchange gifts and sweets. Secular occasions include National Salvation Day, commemorating the 1993 election of former president Heydar Aliyev, and Republic Day, which celebrates the founding of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918. If you’re a jazz enthusiast, be sure to check out the International Baku Jazz Festival, which brings jazz musicians from all over the country and across the world for a week of live jazz performances.
Splendid Azerbaijan: The History and Culture of the Land, by Glen Alberto Salazar
Solar Plexus: A Baku Saga in Four Parts, by Rustam Ibragimbekov
Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter’s Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic, by Thomas Goltz
Classic Poetry of Azerbaijan: An Anthology
Book, by Paul Smith
Eating & Drinking
The culinary traditions of the Caucasus region carry over into the food of Azerbaijan. Like elsewhere in the Caucasus, dolma (minced meat, herbs and spices wrapped up in cabbage leaves) and plov (a dish made of rice, meat, vegetables, and herbs) are widely popular in Azerbaijan. Nuts and herbs are commonly used to add flavour and texture to many Azerbaijani dishes, such as lavangi (chicken stuffed with walnuts and herbs) and kufta bozbash (a soup made from meatballs, potatoes, peas, saffron and tumeric). Nuts are especially used in desserts, with healthy amounts used in making shekerbura (a sweet patty filled with ground nuts mixed with sugar) and pakhlava (a pastry made with alternating layers of filo and chopped nuts and honey).
Black tea is commonly served after a meal, and is often served with sugar, lemon, or honey as a sweetener. Other traditional beverages in Azerbaijan include sherbet (made from sugar, lemon, saffron, mint, basil, and fruit) and aryan (a savoury drink made from yogurt mixed with salt and water).
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Azerbaijan is a safe country to travel in; however, it is advised to avoid travelling to the either the Nagorno-Karabakh region or the Armenia-Azerbaijan border due to the risk of armed conflict in these areas.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Azerbaijan’s electricity supply runs at 220V and 50Hz. Azerbaijan uses Type C and Type F electric plugs, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Ateshgah Fire Temple
Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Azerbaijan has a single time zone, Azerbaijan Standard Time (UTC+4). Daylight savings are not observed in Azerbaijan.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not customary in Azerbaijan, with service charges often included with restaurant bills. If you do feel the need to tip, a tip of around 5-10% would be about par.
Wifi should be available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants when travelling in Azerbaijan.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Azerbaijan. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Azerbaijan
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing on your trip, contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of manat in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.