Azerbaijan is the Land of Fire, combines the historical, mysterious and exotic side of the place with hospitable locals making one of its own space in the heart of the tourists. By introducing an eVisa, the government recently made it easier to visit Azerbaijan and the country suddenly became a very affordable destination, after oil prices fell, Here are a few reasons to visit this little-explored nation in the Caucasus.
After Azerbaijan’s oil boom, prices soared as the country’s economy skyrocketed. Oil prices dropped, and so did the value of the Manat falling to almost 50% of its value in 2015. Visiting Azerbaijan is now affordable with daily costs of travel rarely exceeding $60 including accommodation, food and drink, admission fees and entertainment. Backpackers should be able to get by on between $30 and $40 per day.
2. The Azerbaijan eVisa
Once the Azerbaijan visa used to take weeks involving trips to embassies and hefty fees. But, the recent eVisa has made the formalities faster, easier and cheaper. Tourists of 100 nationalities can apply for the Azerbaijan tourist visa, which costs $20 plus a $3 service fee taking approximately three business days to process.
3. Mud volcanoes
More than a third of the world’s mud volcanoes are along the Absheron Peninsula. Mud or sedimentary volcanoes by their technical name, erupt plumes of mud after pockets of subterranean gas build pressure forcing it to the surface. Azerbaijan’s Turaghai and Boyuk Khanizadagh at 700 metres (2297 feet), are among the world’s largest.
4. The locals
The culture in Azerbaijan gives the best hospitality possible and makes people open and welcoming. The Airbnb host in Baku, Azerbaijan’s locals help and hospitality will leave you awestruck and they do this without expecting anything in return. Younger Azerbaijanis speak some English and are almost always happy to help.
5. Mountain villages
Azerbaijan and Georgia create a variety of historical and cultural villages, the Caucasus Mountains stretch across parts of northern Azerbaijan and Georgia and in Azerbaijan’s northeast, Quba, is a favourite tourist destination. Few interesting villages to visit to experience a culture almost entirely lost to time are Laza, Xinaliq and Buduq communities. The region is also home to the East Caucasus Mountain Jews. It’s advisable to visit as part of a tour.
6. The Azerbaijan grand prix
The Grand Prix was hosted by Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku for the second time in 2017 as the global superstars of Formula One. In the capital’s long straight streets, The Baku City Circuit covers 51 laps around the 6 km (3.7 miles) track. Fans from around the world came for the occasion.
7. The historical, traditional and modern
The architecture in Azerbaijan is varied. From Baku’s modern Flame Towers and opulent House of Government to medieval palaces and temples dotted here and there. The City of Baku is an amalgamation of elements of medieval and traditional Islamic Azerbaijan styles. Europeans, attracted by Baku’s first oil boom in the 19th-century, designed the Old City with baroque and gothic architecture. And the same as other former socialist republics, like those found in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, you’ll face the endless apartment blocks typical of the 20th-century.
8. Fire, fire, fire
Azer translates to fire. In ancient times, the locals worshipped fire and built temples around the endless flames originating from subterranean gas. Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest religions, originated in Azerbaijan. Ateshgah, a fire temple in the Baku suburbs, was once a significant site. With the 2012 Flame Towers in Baku, Fire is still an essential part of Azerbaijani identity and culture paying respect to their heritage.
9. Azerbaijan tea culture
There exists a very deep relationship with tea and performing ancient ceremonies for guests in Azerbaijan showing warmth, friendliness and excellent hospitality. If you’re invited to someone’s house, hosts serve spiced black tea with a cube of sugar. Traditionally, before sipping, people dip the sugar into the drink and take a bite. According to local lore, the origins date back to medieval times. Rulers were afraid of poison. If the sugar reacted when dipped in tea, they believed someone was trying to kill them.
10. Traditional carpets
Carpet weaving in Azerbaijan dates back to antiquity. Family tradition and techniques passed from one generation to the next by word of mouth. Men sheared the sheep and women dyed and weaved the carpets. Most use wool, a combination of green, red, yellow, cream and blue form complex motifs and patterns, each unique and with its own story.
11. Hiking in the Caucasus
The boundary of eastern Europe and western Asia marks the Caucasus crossing a handful of countries, even more, autonomous republics and five time zones. And it’s one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse places in the world. Within a short distance of Baku, you could be hiking in the Caucasus among steep gorges, ravines and plains stretching far into the distance. The diversity in landscape gives you the chance to explore the vast natural beauty of Azerbaijan and make every hike different.
12. Take an oil bath
The world’s strangest spa treatment: bathing in crude oil is offered at Naftalan, a small Central Azerbaijan town near Ganja, Popularised under the Soviet Union, many claim it treats various illnesses and ailments.
13. See water burn
Another weird and wonderful natural site in Azerbaijan is The oxymoronic phenomenon, Yanar Bulag to the south of Astara near the border with Iran releases methane-infused water from an underground spring. When ignited, the water burns.
14. Visit a mysterious tower
Icheri Sheher, Baku’s old town, has a large cylindrical building called Maiden Tower. The structure looks unusual and out of place. But it has a mysterious side. No one knows its age or purpose.
15. See 40,000-year-old rock art
Tourists can experience ancient human settlements dating back 40,000 years in Gobustan (Qobustan) southwest of Baku, Inside the national park, carvings cover the rocks and cave walls once believed to provide shelter for humans after the ice age.
Azerbaijan is a strange place full of fire, bubbling mud volcanoes, musical rocks and vast amounts of natural reserves. Tourists have several opportunities to experience life-changing moments when they visit the Land of Fire and something new. Check some of the best Azerbaijan holiday packages and plan your vacation now with Pickyourtrail, “leave a Whatsapp inquiry for more options.”