Hear about an itinerary for travel to Azerbaijan as the Amateur Traveler talks to Australian journalist Emily Lush who is based in nearby Kutaisi, Georgia.
Why should you visit Azerbaijan?
Emily says, “It’s really fascinating from a cultural point of view. Being in the Caucasus, it’s got those great mountain areas for hiking. It’s a misunderstood country in a lot of ways. It’s quite young and it has this really Interesting history with all different influences.”
“And then the oil stuff, so maybe people know it’s a wealthy country with really outlandish modern architecture, but then there are also quite a few UNESCO sites that are really, very old and very interesting. It’s a very complicated country with a little bit of everything, like this region.”
We start in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, which is situated on the Caspian Sea, below sea level. Explore the Old Town (Esher Esher) with its historic architecture, including the Shivan Shah Palace. Visit the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid, and other interesting landmarks like the Flame Towers.
Take a day trip to Gobustan, south of Baku, to see the fascinating mud volcanoes and ancient rock carvings, a UNESCO site. Visit the Fire Temple of Ateshgah and the burning mountain of Yanadag.
Consider visiting Nakhchivan, an autonomous republic that can only be accessed by flying from Baku. Explore the Machu Picchu of the Caucasus, Alinjagala Fortress, and other attractions.
Head northwest and visit Kynalik, one of the highest continuously inhabited villages in Europe. Experience the traditional way of life, including homestays, and enjoy hiking in the beautiful mountain setting.
As you head northwest, you can stop at Quba, a small village known for its exquisite carpet workshops. Watching skilled artisans create beautiful carpets is a unique experience. Continue to Lahıc, another mountain town with copper workshops and traditional crafts. Don’t miss the opportunity to buy a samovar, a traditional tea-making instrument.
Next, venture deeper into the mountains to Gabala, a popular ski resort with stunning scenery. Even if you visit in spring, you can still enjoy a cable car ride and savor fresh river fish in nearby restaurants.
Shaki is a highlight of the trip, a charming city with a fascinating history and well-preserved monuments from the Silk Road era. Explore caravanserais, the Palace of the Shekhi Khan with its Persian miniature paintings and unique Shaki glass. Visit Kiş to see the oldest Caucasian Albanian temple, with mysterious origins.
For those with more time, Lankaran in the south offers tea plantations and a unique tea house culture. Also, keep an eye out for vintage Lada cars, as they are still popular in Azerbaijan.
Overall, this trip combines history, culture, natural beauty, and warm hospitality, making Azerbaijan a fantastic destination to explore.
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Quba rugs and carpets
Qafqaz Tufandag Mountain Resort Hotel
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