Combine mountains and semi-arid plains stretching endlessly towards the horizon with historic towns. Now add in wildlife, fire and hundreds of kilometres of coastline to get an idea of the real beauty of Azerbaijan. Here’s our roundup of the most beautiful spots in the Land of Fire.
Baku is one of the most beautiful places in Azerbaijan on account of its modern city centre and historical old town. The Flame Towers form the focal point of the capital and light up after sundown. Icheri Sheher, the medieval core, exhibits Islamic styles of architecture, while lavish European facades line the Old City. The most beautiful attractions are along Baku Boulevard, a long promenade near the Caspian Sea, and there are superb views from the hill near Martyrs’ Lane.
According to locals, historical Astara tops the list of beautiful places in Azerbaijan. Mountains surround the town, which sits on the border with Iran, while lush green virgin rainforest and a variety of plant and animal life – including the Caucasus leopard – live in the nearby Hirkan National Park.
The Caspian Sea, the largest lake in the world, makes for one of the best places to visit in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani coastline stretches for more than 500km (310mi) from the southern border with Iran to Dagestan in the north. Despite some of the coast and beaches near Baku suffering from pollution, you can find beautiful resorts in Sumgait in the northern part of the Absheron Peninsula. Lankaran, four hours south of Baku, near the Iranian border, has some nice resorts too.
This semi-desert national park, just over 100km (62mi) southwest of Baku, combines wildlife, dunes and a short stretch of coastline. Visitors can enjoy landscapes and a diversity of fauna with large populations of gazelles, jungle cats and turtles. More than 200 species of birds also live inside Shirvan National Park, including flamingos and 32 rare species. Bungalows and camping sites are available for overnight stays.
Lake Aggol, the second-largest lake in Azerbaijan, sits inside the Agh Gol National Park in the Kur-Araz lowlands. The arid landscape creates a nesting spot for migratory birds, while the lake is full of fish. And the views are spectacular. Imagine a blue-green lake surrounded by a band of trees with mountains in the distance. Despite the beauty, travelling can be challenging because of language barriers. Learn a few phrases of Azerbaijani first.
Nestled at the foot of the southern Greater Caucasus Mountains is a place called Sheki. The town of 60,000 people dates back 2,500 years, making it one of the oldest Caucasus settlements. Sheki’s claim to fame for millennia was silk, textiles and embroidery, which made it a significant point on the Silk Road. Today, the historical region with ancient mosques, castles and the 18th-century Palace of Sheki Khans forms the foreground against the majestic green mountains.
The former capital of the Caucasus Albanians in northern Azerbaijan blends historical and natural beauty. Nearby archaeological sites dating back almost 2,500 years sit near the craggy Caucasus Mountains to the north. Valleys, canyons and waterfalls, as well as ski resorts, make Qabala one of the top places in Azerbaijan.
A short distance to the northwest of Qazakh District in northern Azerbaijan stands the 857m (2,812ft) Goyazan Mountain. Goyazan stands alone against a flat background of rolling fields and plains, giving it a prominent appearance in the landscape. The strange beauty of the mountain ensures its inclusion on the list of places to visit in Azerbaijan. Check out the nearby reservoir for views of the villages and border with Armenia too.
Lake Goygol is one of the most beautiful places in Azerbaijan. The name means the Blue Lake, and it sits in the Murovdag foothills. Formed after an earthquake almost 1,000 years ago, Goygol has become a favourite tourist destination near Ganja. A total of 19 lakes lie in the Greater Goygol region, with eight at an altitude of more than 1,500m (4,921ft). The hour-long journey from Ganja passes through the mountains, providing plenty of spots for photographs.
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