Solo Travel in Azerbaijan
Types of Girl about the Globes – Skiing GatG, Sightseeing GatG, History GatG
Solo travel in Azerbaijan is as comfortable as you want it to be. Instead of finding your way around the country by bus there are tours which operate from Baku, the capital. If you can’t speak Azerbaijani? or Russian you may prefer to take the tours depending on how adventurous you want to be. I used the local buses to get around which was an adventure but I was also able to see and learn more from combining this way with tours.
Azerbaijan feels more like the Middle East than an Asian country with a culture that is similar to Turkey. Azerbaijanis are very hospitable and similar to the Turkish culture, they like to drink tea. Don't be surprised if a family invites you to sample their jam tea and home-made cuisine.
The country is relatively safe. Just be careful with your belongings as you would anywhere else and don’t walk around at night.
Don’t venture into Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory which is in conflict with Armenia and occupied by Armenian troops. You may want to avoid asking about the conflict which resulted in a loss of land for Azerbaijan and hundreds killed. Many are still internally displaced by the conflict.
Below is our guide to how to travel solo in Azerbaijan as well as lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour company to use and how to get around. Find out how to get from the airports and what to do in each place. All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article.
- Places To Visit in Azerbaijan
- Hotels in Azerbaijan
- Tours To Azerbaijan
- Travelling in Azerbaijan
- Azerbaijan Itinerary
- Best Time to Visit Azerbaijan
- Azerbaijan Airports
- Travelling Onwards
- Frequently Asked Questions About Azerbaijan
- Map of Azerbaijan
- Related Posts
Places To Visit in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan may not be a country that you’ve ever heard of, let alone considered travelling to. Located in Asia on the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan was once part of the former Soviet republic. Located in the southern Caucasus Mountains, the country borders Russia, Georgia, Iran, and Armenia.
It is often overlooked by visitors to Georgia but this oil-rich country known as “The Land of Fire” has redefined itself since its Soviet days and is now a fascinating country to visit. If you’ve ever wanted to see mud volcanoes, cave drawings and futuristic buildings then Azerbaijan should be your next tourist visa.
The capital Baku is the lowest lying national capital in the world being located below sea level. From Baku you can easily reach most of the country’s main attractions and the best thing about visiting an emerging destination is that you don’t get the crowds of tourists.
Baku seems to be the most modern place in the country and something that Baku definitely knows how to do is architecture. This cool city is a unique blend of old and new modern designs, many of which are futuristic with their own unique style.
Baku’s most famous buildings have to be the Flame Towers: three skyscrapers designed as giant flames – a symbol of the country. And an iconic image. These towers are visible from Baku’s Old City where you can take the iconic photographic image of the old and the new Baku.
See the curvy award-winning Heydar Aliyev Centre and learn more about the history and cultural heritage of the country, from costumes and weaving processes to the country’s musical instruments. The carpet museum also needs to be on your itinerary. Seeing a building designed as a giant rolled-up carpet is definitely a first.
Baku’s Old City is a gorgeous walled city truly deserving of its UNESCO Heritage status. As well as shops and restaurants, you can wander around the 15th century masterpiece that is Shirvanshahs' Palace. Inside is a blend of Arabic, Persian and Ottoman architecture. Climb the steps of the Maiden Tower for a great view of the city before visiting the museum of Baku’s evolution inside.
From the Old City you can stroll along the boulevard and watch the city’s skyline as it lights up after dusk. Chess is popular here so don’t be surprised if you see men playing on giant chess boards near the promenade.
Fountains Square is one of my favourite areas. This public square is aptly named because of its many fountains. It’s a safe area to walk around at night. There are a number of restaurants from international brands to Indians and of course the local food. You may even hear some live music coming from one of the bars when you’re there. If you prefer some company at night, join a Baku Lights night tour to see the city at it’s illuminated best.
Something unique that Azerbaijan has is Yanar Dag. This small hillside of fire 25 kms from Baku is a burning mountain of natural gas which continues to blaze. Unless you want to get a taxi there and back it’s recommended to take a tour.
But this isn't the only reason that Azerbaijan is called ‘The Land of Fire.' Ateshgah, the Fire Temple is another fiery sight to see. This religious temple which looks like tiny castles is located in a suburb of Baku. People from the country used to worship fire and the shrine was built on top of a natural flame.
Step outside of the city and you’ll see the real Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has some breathtaking scenery especially in the Guba region. Remote villages such as Khinalig and Griz are perfect for the Eco GatG who can learn more about the ethnic minorities who live in these villages. This area is ideal for hiking too and you can find hiking and ecotourism tours here.
History and nature GatGs will love Gobustan National Park. A historic and UNESCO site of thousands of rock carvings (petroglyphs). The onsite museum provides history about this open-ai museum.
From here you can see another of the country’s natural spots – the mud volcanoes. It honestly feels as though you have landed on another planet with the bubbling mud surrounding you.
If you only see one mosque in the country, make it Juma Mosque in Shamakhi. The intrinsic interior of this mosque is just beautiful. A ninety minute drive from here brings you to the Seven Beauties Waterfall (known as Yeddi Gozel Waterfall). Although there are seven waterfalls here only two of them are accessible).
If you are an adrenalin GatG then Azerbaijan is ideal for rock climbing. Five Finger Mountain (Besh Barmag Mountain) is popular with rock climbers but if you prefer to stand on flat ground, you can just pay a visit to this holy mountain in the Siazan District instead. Guba has a very cool ice cave to explore.
Ganja is in the west of the country and is Azerbaijan’s second largest city. If you are travelling to or from Georgia it’s worth a quick stop to see the archaeological site with old fort ruins otherwise it’s a long journey from Baku.
From Ganja it is an hour’s drive to Goygol National Park and one of the best sites in the west of Azerbaijan. Lake Goygol (also known as “Blue Lake”) is at the foot of Mount Kapaz. This area is really untouched with just a few teahouses to rest your weary self in after hours of hiking. If you are on a budget just do a day trip here from Ganja where the accommodation is cheaper. Even the journey to get here offers dramatic views.
Azerbaijan was on the path of the old Silk Road, from China to Europe. The country exported its carpets, spices and silk fabrics along this famous route with great success. Sheki is one of these former Silk Road cities. Here, at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of the country is where you can still see the traditional silk and handicraft traditions. Don’t forget to visit the Sheki Fortress too.
Azerbaijan produces it’s own wine and you can visit a winery in Ismayilli for an insight into its wine-making methods (as well as tasting some of course).
If you are a skiing GatG head to the snowy hills of Qabala. Once the ancient capital of Caucasian Albania, Gabala is the country’s most ancient city. Nowadays it is one of Azerbaijan’s most popular ski resorts. Even if you don’t ski, you can still take the teleferic (the cable car) to experience this stunning scenery for yourself. Apparently this is the longest teleferic in the world! Skiing only lasts from mid-December to February.
Other places to visit in Azerbaijan are: Nakchivan – an important biblical destination which can be reached by air from Baku. Ivanovka – a centre of Russian culture with some of the country’s best honey, and the Absheron Peninsula where you'll find locals frequenting at the city’s beach.
Hotels in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has many hotels including four and five star hotels in Baku if you prefer to travel in comfort. You can rent an apartment if self-catering is more your style. If you are on a budget, there is budget accommodation such as guest houses as well as hostels.
Sheki has the design hotels, resorts and spas as well as budget hotels, guest houses and hostels. You can find hostels, villas and hotels in Ganja: the west of the country. In the foothills of the Greater Caucasus you can stay in resorts and guest houses too.
In local villages such as Xinaliq and Vandam you can stay in a Bed&Breakfast, guesthouses, villas or family homes. They even have a five star hotel in Xinaliq. Gabala has cottages and villas to stay in. Qusar has a mix of guest houses, apartments, cottages, resorts, villas and hotels. You can find any type of accommodation here depending on what you prefer.
Airbnb connects you to staying with locals whether you choose to just book a room or a whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link. Due to the country’s boom in tourism it is better to book ahead to ensure that you have a room to stay in.
This hostel is really solo friendly. It’s in a great place and only a few minutes walk from the gorgeous Fountain Square with bars, restaurants, and cafes. If you like running the boulevard is nearby too, as well as the metro. The dorm rooms are large and you have your own personal space with a curtain for your bed, as well as big lockers for your things. If you visit in the hotter months there is air conditioning.
The hostel is sociable, and clean with a great atmosphere. You don’t have to worry about arriving late as there is a 24 hour front desk, and they can arrange an airport shuttle for you too. They also serve breakfast for an additional cost. Choose from a bed in a 6, 8 or 10 bed mixed dormitory room. There is a 6 bed female-only dorm room as well as a double room with a balcony.
- Prices from £5 per night for a bed in a 10 bed mixed dorm
- To book, check prices or availability for Sahil Hostel & Hotel
If you prefer more comfort on your trip, the Winter Park Hotel is a 4 star hotel in a great location just 500 metres away from Fountains Square. There’s a lovely park to relax in by the hotel and a gym if you want to work out (you may need to check when women can use it though). Reception is open 24 hours and the staff can’t do enough for you.
You can hire bikes to get around the city and they offer car hire too. The rooms come with some comfy slippers, a bathrobe and a hairdryer so you can really unwind in your room. There’s also cable TV for some entertainment at night. Choose from a standard or deluxe double room or upgrade to a superior king room if you are feeling really flush.
- Prices start from £80 for a standard double room
- To book, check prices or availability for Winter Park Hotel
There’s a reason that this hostel is called ‘Grand’ because it literally is. Located in Ganja, the hostel is decorated in a distinct style. There’s a restaurant and a cafe and you may even meet others in the communal lounge and bar. Some of the rooms come with climate control, a desk and a TV.
There’s an ATM in case you need to take some cash out, a currency exchange and also a 24 hour desk in case you arrive late. This hostel is great value for money and they also provide breakfast at an additional cost. Choose from a bed in a dormitory room with a shared bathroom or a double room.
- Prices from £9 for a bed in a dormitory room
- To book, check prices or availability for Grand Qafqaz Hostel
The Marxal Resort & Spa offers a 5 star experience with everything that you would expect. There’s a gym to work out in as well as an outdoor pool and sauna for when you need to relax.
Reception is open 24 hours which is ideal if you are arriving late at night. A continental breakfast is included too. The resort is in a quiet area surrounded by nature. It is perfect if you are looking for an escape in the Caucasus Mountains. You may even find yourself in the villa next to the waterfall. Choose from a standard or deluxe double room (or twin), a suite or a villa.
- Prices from £70 per night for a standard double room
- To book, check prices or availability for Marxal Resort & Spa
Tours To Azerbaijan
Intrepid Travel – If you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration Intrepid Travel is a responsible tour company that travels to Azerbaijan. Over 50% of people using their trips are solo travellers. You share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room. Adventures start from a 10 or 20 day Highlights of Azerbaijan and Georgia tour to an epic 80 day Xi'an to Istanbul tour.
Tes Tour – Tes Tour is a local company who run tours all over Azerbaijan. The tours can be up to 12 hours long depending on the destinations you are travelling to. They offer day tours in Baku or you can explore outside the city. They use minibuses for their tours and take you to restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine for lunch (lunch is not included). I have personally used these tours and like the fact that the tours run frequently because of their popularity.
Travelling in Azerbaijan
Baku has a few transport options. You can walk around the capital but make sure that you use the underpasses as crossing the roads can be a bit dangerous. The city has a metro with signs in both Azerbaijani and English. The metro runs from 06:00 to 24:00 with trains running every few minutes.
The buses in Baku are modern and clean. You need to buy a card at the machines at the bus stops and load it with money to use on the bus. This isn’t that easy though so ask a local to help you. The station outside of the city will take you onto places such as Gobastan National Park. These buses are more rickety and not the modern ones that you find in the city. You pay the driver onboard.
From Baku you can hire a car to see the sights outside of the city. The roads are a mix of paved and gravel roads so you may prefer to take public transport if you don’t feel comfortable driving on poor infrastructure especially in the rain.
Travelling outside of Baku you'll find minibuses which connect most of the cities (they are called marshrutkas). You pay your fare on the bus. Check with the driver where you need to get off too.
Taxi drivers don’t really speak English so unless you know some phrases of Azerbaijani or Russian it’s an adventure to take one. Agree the price upfront to avoid any confusion. You may prefer to download a taxi app instead.
You can easily spend 5 days here just seeing Baku and doing day trips from the capital. To see more of the country a week to 10 days is ideal.
One week's itinerary – Baku (5 nights) Three days exploring the city, the museums and the Old City. Day four – day trip to the Fire Temple and Burning Mountain. Day five – Gobustan and the mud volcanoes. Ganga (2 nights).
Ten day's itinerary – Baku (6 nights), Ganja (2 nights), Sheki (2 nights).
Best Time to Visit Azerbaijan
If you visit the country in the winter months expect snow and lots of it in the mountain regions. Even in March it may be difficult to navigate some of the mountain passes and remote villages due to bad weather. Azerbaijan can get hot during the summer months. Although Baku is known as being a windy city you may prefer to travel to the country during April to June or September/October.
This chart shows the average maximum day temperatures for Baku (from January to December).
Azerbaijan has several international airports as well as domestic airports. Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku is the main airport. There is also Ganja Airport, Lankaran Airport, Nakhchivan Airport and Qabala International Airport.
Baku Airport – Taxis operate from the main entrance of Heydar Aliyev International Airport and cost approximately £8 to the city. The Aero Express bus takes 30 minutes from the airport to 28 May station: the main train and bus terminal in the city. This is the cheapest option at just £1 for a single ticket. Paying in cash isn’t possible on the bus as you need to purchase a BakuCard from one of the BakuCard Terminals before you board. Check timetables and payments here.
Ganja Airport – Taxis cost approx £5 from the airport and take 10 minutes into the city.
Lankaran Airport – Taxis take 20 minutes from the airport to Lankaran and cost £3.
Use Rome2Rio to help plan your journeys.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
Travelling Onwards (check visas before you travel)
Although Azerbaijan borders Armenia, it is not possible to cross the border due to the conflict. Flying from Azerbaijan to Armenia isn’t direct. You generally have to stop in Russia meaning that the flight can take up to 10 hours. Instead travel back to Tbilisi in Georgia and either take the overnight train from Tbilisi Central Railway Station to Yerevan or the minivan which departs from the same station every 2 hours from 9am in the morning. Just ask for “Erevan” outside the station and a local will point you to the bus.
Overnight trains run from Baku to Tbilisi. These are old Soviet trains and are definitely an adventure. If you buy a second class ticket the carriages have 4 bunks and come with a mattress, sheets and a pillow. The train stops at each border so you don’t even need to disembark. Trains depart Baku at 21.59 and arrive into Tbilisi at 10.39 the next morning. Choose a second or first class sleeper if you can. Prices cost approx £17.00 for a second class ticket. Check here for more info.
Where can I go from here?
Georgia – 1 hour 10 mins
Turkey – 3 hours (to Istanbul)
Russia – 3 hours 5 mins
Frequently Asked Questions About Azerbaijan
- Can I drink the water? Yes.
- Is tipping expected? A service charge is usually added to your bill.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes in both the large and smaller cities.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? They make fantastic lentil soup and tomato salads but apart from that vegetarian dishes can be hard to find as the typical cuisine is meat and kebabs.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No but the mud volcanoes are definitely a wonder.
Map of Azerbaijan
- Things to Do in Baku
- Solo Travel in Georgia
- Is Turkey Safe For Women Travelling Alone?
- Expert Interview: Turkey