Travel to Azerbaijan in 2024 – Everything you must know

By Joan Torres 30 Comments Last updated on March 22, 2024

travel azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a weird, fascinating country. 

Located on the border between Asia and Europe, Azerbaijan has one of those cultures which is particularly difficult to define, as it is a Caucasian country with a large Turkish and Iranian influence, that used to be part of the Soviet Union, so the end result is such a strange mix of opposed cultures that leaves the traveler very confused. 

I traveled to Azerbaijan twice.

During this period of time, they introduced an e-visa system so, in only two years, tourism has grown exponentially and the country has started to get significant international exposure.

The weirdness of Azerbaijan is what makes it a particularly interesting country and, in this guide, I have compiled everything you need to know for traveling to Azerbaijan

For places to visit, don’t forget to check my complete Azerbaijan travel itinerary

travel to Azerbaijan

eSIM card for browsing when traveling in Azerbaijan

With Holafly, you can now get an electronic SIM card for Azerbaijan from home with just 2 clicks.

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😷 COVID travel bans and restrictions for Azerbaijan

According to the official Azerbaijan travel advisory, all travelers wishing to enter Azerbaijan must be fully vaccinated, 2 doses at least.

Travel Insurance for Azerbaijan with COVID-19 coverage

IATI Insurance is one of the few providers that offers full Coronavirus coverage, not only when it comes to treatment, but also cancellations costs in case you tested positive before departure. 

Readers of Against the Compass can get an exclusive 5% discount.

πŸͺͺ How to get a tourist visa for Azerbaijan

e-visa is available for traveling to in Azerbaijan

Since January 2017, you can apply for an e-visa to travel to Azerbaijan and this is the official Governmental portal.

It costs 25USD and takes 3 working days to proceed. If you want an urgent visa, it costs 50USD. 

Who can apply for a tourist visa for Azerbaijan?

All countries from this list, which includes all Western nationalities and many more.

How long is the Azerbaijan visa valid for?

The single visa is valid for 30 days within a 90 days window – note that there is no double entry visa.

Registration in Azerbaijan

If you are traveling in Azerbaijan for more than 15 days, you will need to register. You can do it in your hotel or at the police station itself.

For more information, I recommend you read this article from Caravanistan

Important – Registration is no joke! In 2016, I skipped this registration (at that time, there was not much information about it and the limit was 10 days), so when the police found out, they made me choose between paying a $300 fine or being deported and banned from entering Azerbaijan within 1 year. After 11 months, I tried to apply for the e-visa and it got instantly rejected. In 2019, I managed to get in without any problem.

visa for Azerbaijan
My visa for Azerbaijan from 2016 – By that time, e-visa wasn’t available, so you had to go through the embassy

β›… Best time to visit Azerbaijan

In Azerbaijan, you find 9 out of the 11 climate zones.

From glaciers to vast, hot deserts, the landscape in Azerbaijan is full of contrasts. This means that the climate is also very varied so, depending on where you want to go, Azerbaijan can be a year-round destination. 

For example, the mountains are good to visit from April to October but, if you want to do some trekking, summer would be the ideal season. 

The region around Baku has a continental climate, which means that summer is extremely hot and winter very cold, but it can be visited all year round. 

However, I would say that mid-spring and mid-autumn would be the ideal time to travel to Azerbaijan. 

Read: Things to do in Baku in 3 days

traveling to Azerbaijan
The Caucasian mountains from northern Azerbaijan

πŸš‘ Travel Insurance for Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is an adventurous destination, so go there with the proper travel insurance.

I recommend IATI Insurance because:

  • It has all types of plans, from families to backpackers
  • One of the few providers with full COVID-19 coverage
  • Readers of this blog can get a 5% exclusive discount

πŸ“š A book for traveling to Azerbaijan

Travel guide to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia by Lonely Planet

There is no guidebook focusing exclusively on Azerbaijan, not even from Bradt, but you need to get the LP guide to the region. 

πŸ•Œ The country, the people and the culture

Azerbaijan today

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet Republic that got its independence in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Since 1993, it has been ruled by a political party named the New Azerbaijan Party, a party founded by Heydar Aliyev, who ruled from 1993 to 2003. After his death, his son Ilham Aliyev took over and he still rules today. 

It is said that this political party doesn’t really have an ideology but it is based on nationalism and a personality cult centered on Heydar Aliyev, who is believed to be the first person to make Azerbaijan great and whose name is seen in numerous streets, museums, and places around the country. 

On the other hand, Azerbaijan is one of those fake democracies where the ruling party has been accused of several human rights abuses and authoritarianism but it seems their citizens don’t complain much about it. 

When you arrive in Baku, you will feel that you are in an extremely developed country, as the majesty of its impeccable streets is perfectly comparable to many European cities. 

Traveling to Georgia? Here’s my ultimate guide to travel to Georgia!

Fancy Baku

However, as soon as you step out of the capital, things change and you will suddenly find yourself in a third-world country. This huge contrast is explained by the fact that Baku is what it is thanks to the petrol and, due to obvious corruption, this growth has been exclusively focused on the capital. 

This kind of fake development is also explained by the fact that, whereas Baku feels much more developed than Tbilisi for example, the capital of Georgia is much more socially developed than Baku, a city where sometimes it is even difficult to see mixed groups of men and women. 

Read: 80 Useful tips for traveling to Iran

Religion in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a supposedly Islamic country, 85% of the population being Shia Muslims and the rest Sunni. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan was the first Islamic country to ever declare itself a democratic and secular Republic (in 1918).

This means that many people in the country are atheist, similar to their brothers and sisters from Central Asia, so religion isn’t really a big deal here, especially in Baku. In fact, there are very few functional mosques. 

Azerbaijan travel tips
A very beautiful ancient mosque in Ordubad, Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan

The personal story of my local friend
During my journey, I met a local, young guy from Baku who turned out to be very religious. In fact, he has a Muslim beard and his wife wears a hijab, something not very commonly seen in Azerbaijan. Anyways, he told me that her wife got a job in a public TV channel but they told her that she had to remove her hijab to come to the office. She obviously refused to do so and, apparently, it was not an option, so she couldn’t get the job in the end. Probably, this is the only Muslim country where these things happen. 

The people: The Azerbaijanis

Physically, most Azerbaijanis look kind of Iranian but a bit different. From a cultural point of view, like I said in the beginning, it is difficult to define them as a single culture. Definitely, they have similarities with their neighbors from Georgia, even Armenia, but they also have many customs from the Iranians.

Outside of Baku, everything is so traditional

For example, they are heavy drinkers of tea, and they drink it in the same way Iranians do, using the same sort of glasses and the same amount of sugar.

However, you are likely to see them drinking a shot of vodka right after the tea and, when you go to the rural areas, it really feels like you are in Georgia, as people look kind of the same and the houses have a very similar architecture.

To make it even more surreal, they speak Turkish and you can still see great Russian influence. 

It’s just weird and, no matter how hard you try, you can’t really define their culture as a whole. 


Azerbaijanis are hospitable, not as much as my friends from Iran obviously, but they were all right, perhaps more than in other Caucasian countries. Is it because they are Musli

I don’t know, maybe. In my case, random tea invitations were common and I still keep in touch with 1 or 2 friends who never allowed me to pay for a meal. 

Check out my off-beat guide to Tbilisi

Having some beers & food with some local friends from Baku

Language in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani is the official language in the country, which is a Turkish dialect. Out of all the Turkic spoken languages, from Kyrgyzstan to Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani is the closest one to Turkish.

Most people will also speak Russian but, apparently, not as well as their Central Asian neighbors. As for English, in Baku, some young people can speak it but that’s it. 

Read: 75 Useful tips for traveling to Kyrgyzstan

People Azerbaijan
A funny Azerbaijani selling fish

Is Azerbaijan an off the beaten track destination?

Glad you asked. 

Like I said in the beginning, after introducing the e-visa system in January 2017, tourism has grown exponentially. 

You will see that today, Baku is actually filled with loads of backpacker hostels and tour groups abound. Destinations such as Sheki or Lahic also see a fair amount of tourists and, in remote villages such as Xinaliq, you can already find a wide range of official homestays. 

Nevertheless, Azerbaijan is still an emerging tourist destination, and the number of tourists is not even comparable to any country in Europe. In fact, outside of the main touristic towns, you are likely to be the only tourist hanging around. 

Places like the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, Ivanovka and the towns and villages around Ganja are really unspoiled destinations, which you don’t want to miss. 

If you want to experience the real Azerbaijan, I strongly encourage you to check those destinations out. In my Azerbaijan itinerary, you can find more information about these places.

Read: Tips for traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan

This is Alinja castle, located in the Republic of Nakhchivan and one of the most off the beaten track places in the country

πŸ›« How to get to Azerbaijan

Traveling to Azerbaijan is very easy. 

Travel to Azerbaijan by air

The international airport of Baku has many connections to Europe and many other countries in Asia and the Middle East

Travel to Azerbaijan by land

Georgia – There are two very friendly open borders with Georgia, one linking Zaqatala with Sighnaghi and other one linking Ganja with Tbilisi. The second one can be crossed by train and, in fact, there is a direct night train from Tbilisi to Baku.

Iran – The border with Iran is also open and very friendly but remember that, if you are going to Iran, you will need to be in possession of an Iranian visa.

I also recommend you read my 80 Tips for traveling to Iran

Russia – This border is currently closed to foreigners. 

What happens with Armenia?
Armenia and Azerbaijan are technically at war, mainly due to the dispute of Nagorno-Karabakh, so the border with Armenia is definitely closed. Nevertheless, you should know that having an Armenian visa on your passport does not ban you from traveling to Azerbaijan (and vice-versa), so you should not worry at all about that, other than getting some standard questioning. 
However, if there is any evidence that you have traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh, which is only accessible from Armenia, you will be banned from entering Azerbaijan for the rest of your life. Please note that for entering Nagorno-Karabakh you get a different passport stamp but, apparently, nowadays you can ask them to stamp it on a separate piece of paper. 

Travel to Azerbaijan by sea

Kazakhstan – You can travel to Azerbaijan by boat over the Caspian Sea from a Kazakh city named Aktau. It takes 24 hours and you need a dose of patience because it departs every few days, randomly. Read my 35 Useful tips for traveling to Kazakhstan

Turkmenistan – If you are lucky to be in possession of a Turkmen visa, you can also take the boat from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. 

how to get to Azerbaijan
During my second visit, I came from Tbilisi by train

πŸ’» Internet and connectivity in Azerbaijan

Wi-Fi – It works surprisingly well all over the country. 

SIM Card – I recommend Azercell. You can buy a SIM Card in many mobile stores but you should go to the official store of Azercell, as you will be charged the real price. There is a big one in Fountain Square and, for a couple of manats, you get loads of data. 

eSIM for browsing, calling and traveling in Azerbaijan

Basically, an eSIM is a regular SIM card with a digital format that works like a normal physical SIM card, with the added benefit that you can buy it from home before the beginning of your trip, hence avoiding the hassle of buying it at your destination. 

With Holafly, you can get a SIM Card for a wide range of destinations, including Azerbaijan

Moreover, you can benefit from a 5% discount with the following code: AGAINSTTHECOMPASS

Get a VPN for traveling in Azerbaijan

You should always use a VPN when you travel, especially when you connect to public Wi-Fi networks.

Your connection will be much safer. 

Moreover, you will be able to access content which is typically censored in Azerbaijan. 

I recommend ExpressVPN – Extremely easy to use, fast and cheap. 

If you want to learn more about VPN, check: Why you need a VPN for traveling.

πŸ’° Money in Azerbaijan

In Azerbaijan, they use the Azerbaijani manat (ANZ) and, approximately:

1 USD = 1.70 AZN

ATM and credit cards

In Baku, you can use your credit card pretty much anywhere and ATMs abound. However, once you leave the capital, it is better to bring cash with you. You may find some ATMs in smaller towns but you can’t really pay by card.

Exchanging money in Azerbiajan

There many exchange offices around the country. 

How much does it cost to travel to Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan is really cheap. In fact, leaving the fancy Baku aside, this is one of the cheapest countries I have ever been to. These are the costs of the most typical things:

Backpacking Budget for Azerbaijan
From 30€ – 40€ a day

travel to Azerbaijan safety
In Xinaliq, north Azerbaijan

🍲 Food & cuisine in Azerbaijan

Like its people, the food of Azerbaijan is a real blend of cultures and flavors, with influences from all over the region, from Turkey to Russia, Iran and even Greece. 

From plenty of kebabs to the tzatziki Greek yogurt, Uzbek plov, Turkish dolma, and Iranian dizi, during my journey, I tasted something different every day. 

The majority of Azerbaijanis have never left their country, so they will always tell you that those dishes are originally from Azerbaijan and, depending on the way you look at it, they may be right, as all their dishes are local variations on the original dish. 

Azerbaijan travel tip – Baku is definitely more expensive than the rest of the country but, from Monday to Friday, most restaurants have a lunch deal in which, for only 2 or 3€, you will get a full set menu.

My favorite dishes of Azerbaijan

Piti – One of the most typical dishes consists of vegetables, lamb and chickpeas, all cooked in a clay pot and covered by lamb fat. Once served, you smash it like if they were mashed potatoes. You can also find a variation of this dish in Iran called dizi

food in Azerbaijan

Yarpak Xangal – It consists of layers of pasta, meat, caramelized onion and yogurt. A very heavy dish. In Central Asia, there is a similar thing called beshbarmak

Azerbaijani food
Yarpak Xangal

Dushbara – A dumpling soup typical of the northern-western part of the country. You can also find it in Kazakhstan and it is called pelmeni

food of Azerbaijan

Drinking alcohol in Azerbaijan

As in other beloved ex-Soviet Muslim country, alcohol is not really haram (things which are forbidden in Islam), so beer and vodka are available all over the country, even in small villages.

Actually, many cafΓ©s in rural areas do have a barrel of draft beer but it is really, really bad, as it has little gas and is really badly served. 

Drinking vodka with locals

If you are lucky, you may be able to drink vodka with some Azerbaijanis but remember that, if you agree to it, you need to finish the whole bottle. When I was in Nakhchivan, I went for dinner with my host’s family and, when we ordered drinks, his father asked me if I wanted to drink some vodka.

Having some vodka with my host’s father

I said OK, thinking that everybody in the table would drink, so we would have 1 or 2 shots per person.

However, apparently, everybody said no but me, so his father forced me to drink half of the bottle before even finishing my food. I was the drunkest person in the restaurant and the next day I felt so embarrassed but, fortunately, in Soviet countries, they are used to people being drunk, so everybody just laughed on the day after. 

Just be aware that, if you aren’t really into drinking, it is better to say no from the very beginning. Otherwise, if you have just one or two shots you will be considered a pussy. 

Beer snacks

If you are having beers with Azerbaijani people, you will see that they always need to order something called beer snacks, which range from smoked cheese to fried meat balls. If you want to do what the locals do, order them whenever you get a beer in a bar. 

beer snacks Azerbaijan
Beer snacks

πŸ›Ί Transportation: how to move around Azerbaijan

Moving around Baku

Metro – In Baku, there is a pretty cool metro and one single ride costs 0.30AZN. You need, however, to buy a 4AZN metro card first. 

Uber – Get this app to move around Baku by taxi. 

For more information on transportation in Baku, read my Baku city guide

Moving around Azerbaijan

Marshrutka – Locals move around the country by marshrutkas, which is what public mini-vans are called in the former Soviet Republics. They are really cheap, leave once they are full and they are connected to pretty much any town and city in the country. 

Train – The train goes from Baku to Ganja and then continues until Tbilisi. However, it doesn’t follow the main touristic trail, so you will have to rely on marshrutkas. 

Domestic flights – I took a domestic flight from Baku to the exclave of Nakhchivan, which is the only way to get there. I flew with Azerbaijan Airlines

Car rental – Traveling around Azerbaijan by a rental car is safe, feasible and effective, especially around Quba, as you will be able to go to places that are a bit hard to reach by public transportation.

Azerbaijan travel advice
A shared taxi station, somewhere near Quba

🏨 Accommodation: where to stay in Azerbaijan

There is a wide range of accommodation all over the country, from hostels to guesthouses, homestays and regular hotels, including plenty of 5-star hotels in Baku. 

In my Azerbaijan itinerary, I recommend several hotels in each city. 

A homestay in Xinaliq

❗ More information for traveling in Azerbaijan

πŸ“’ In my Travel Resources Page you can find the list of all the sites and services I use to book hotels, tours, travel insurance and more.

All guides and articles for traveling in Azerbaijan destination

Travel guides to former Soviet countries

travel Azerbaijan



This is a wonderful write-up to provide potential travellers with an estimate budget. I just wanted to ask, minus accommodation if I estimate 50AZN per day to roam around the city, maybe go to sheki by bus and stay a night there – is it enough? Accommodation is not included in the 50AZN per day budget. I have budgeted accommodation separately.

Amazing article about Azerbaijan. I love that you added personal stories of your friends. It’s really devastating how women aren’t always seen as individuals who are entitled to their opinion and choices on some parts of the world.

Hi, I am completing a visa application for Azerbaijan. On the visa application it asks for hotel accommodation details. I will be backpacking starting in Turkey, Georgia etc and I don’t have a definite date I will arrive In Azerbaijan. Can I book a hotel for my last 3 days in Baku before I fly home and include those details in the visa application or do I need to book and detail all the time I expect to be there? By the way I went to Iran in March this year based on your travel blog and then onto Turkey and the Balkans. I had a great time. Your help on the visa would be appreciated.

Hey Michael! The evisa for Azerbaijan only takes a couple of days to proceed, so you could apply during your last days in Georgia. In any case, the accommodation details are for just reference, so you could just make a booking in any random hotel in Azerbaijan, and it should be fine.

Hi Joan, Thanks for your response. My visa came through in 36 hours. As I have already booked my flight leaving from Baku I wanted to ensure I had a visa for Azerbaijan well in advance. I tend to avoid countries which make it difficult to get a visa. I understand in Azerbaijan I will need to register as I will be staying longer than 10 days. I will look at your Pakistan report when I return as I intend to start in southern India and do 3 months and then into Pakistan. The visa for Pakistan looks complicated with letters etc required while India have recently increased the time for Australians to 3 months which is much better for my style of travelling. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

It was really enjoyable to read your review! Azerbaijan is definitely worth to visit. But i don’t really understand why you can’t define Azerbaijanin culture and cousine as a whole. I don’t see any point of comparing Azerbaijanis with any other nation, since they are unique. Coming to cousine, pelmeni are being cooked not only in Kazakhstan. There are many interpretations of this dish in various cousines, but i find Dushbara completely different and unique, as well as other national dishes of Azerbaijan. Ptrobably you’ve never tried levengi, turshkabab, fisincan, which i believe you hardly find anywhere else in the world, but in Azerbaijan. Cheers!!

Hi Joan,

Thanks for the great information.

I am based in Denmark and my International Driving License from here states that it doesnt cover Azerbaijan – What is the situation to drive there? What do I need to do / have?

Thanks very much πŸ™‚

Hi Brenda, as far as I know, any EU driving license should be enough to drive around Azerbaijan, as long as you are on a tourist visa. If your Danish license has different requirements, that’s something I can’t know

I like to go to hil quasar to see the village in country life vlog in you tube. Is that possible?

Thanks so much for this write up on Azerbijan, the best uptodate information I’ve read. I am travelling to Nakhichevan from UK with my son in a weeks time as he is in a chess tournament. I just wanted to ask as a women in this area, how will it be regarding what I wear etc. I also want to swim and wondering if I need to buy a special swimsuit? We are also vegan, any advice there?! Thanks Zoe

Hi Zoe, Azerbaijan is generally pretty relaxed, compared to any other Muslim countries. You can dress as you like, within modesty, of course.
Regarding vegan food, it’s not the best place for that, but azari cuisine has some pretty elaborated salads

I’m glad that you gave your point of view, Baku seems a very interesting place to go as a tourist but is way better if you can see the city in a whole different point of view.

This is Mr Murad from Sialkot Pakistan..
I would like to tour for azirbahijan..I want to marketing about appare
How can I apply visa..
Regards Mr Murad Ali

Hi Joan. Thank you for the itinerary and the article about Azerbaijan. I’m going to be in Azerbaijan for a week and interested in visiting the South (either hirkan national park or talysh mountains. Do you have any advice about travel there? And if 3 nights are enough (, for one of them only).

Hello, I read your post and I think it’s great how you described and explained everything.. iv But I have a question. Yesterday I wanted to apply for an e-visa on the official website of Azerbaijan. They refused my payment. So I wanted to apply for the visa at β€œIvisa”. But it says that you can only fly to Azerbaijan and that’s the only way you can apply for a visa. But your post says that the entry by sea is possible. Is entry by ferry via sea really allowed, or could my entry into the country be rejected? I would be happy if you would answer

Just FYI to fill out bank forms before you go. I’m in country right now and all of my cards (from 3 separate banks) were suddenly cut off on Day 3 because Azerbaijan apparently is in a “red zone” that my pre trip research hadn’t uncovered. Aargh. Spending the evening arguing with the banks wasn’t on my bingo card.

Hi there! Thank you for a very informative article about Azerbaijan.
We are planning a car trip with kids driving from Greece to Turkey to Georgia and reaching our final destination Azerbaijan. Maybe you could share any update on land borders with Georgia and land border crossing permit for those entering by car; What requirements i need in order to get it? Flying from Greece to Baku is super pricey and not really convenient connection flights either. .. thank you.!!

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