The Republic of Azerbaijan is a historic country on the coast of the Caspian Sea. Located in the Caucasus region between Asia and Europe, Azerbaijan (40º30´ latitude and 47º30´ longitude) is bordered by Russia (north), Georgia (northwest) Armenia (west) and Iran (south). The great Caucasus Mountains are located to the north. Tourists regularly come to experience ancient Azeri culture, historic structures and interesting natural resources. The best route getting to Azerbaijan is through Europe. Below are a few travel tips on how to begin your Azerbaijan adventure.
When getting to Azerbaijan by air, you can take the national carrier, Azerbaijan Airlines, which regularly brings in passengers from Paris, London, Milan, Kiev, Moscow, Dubai, Tehran, and Tel Aviv. Other international airlines also serve travelers from Frankfurt, Amsterdam, St. Petersburg, and Zurich. Also, a few smaller aircrafts travel once a week to several cities in Russia and the Middle East. Azerbaijan’s international airport, the Heydar Aliyev International Airport is about 9 miles from the capital city of Baku, the largest city in the country and in the Caucasus region.
You can also travel by rail since the country has railway systems going to Georgia and several cities in Russia including Moscow and Makhachkala in the Russian Republic of Dagestan, as well as other major CIS cities. However, if you are a foreigner, traveling by train from Russia to Baku is out of the question since this route is open only to CIS citizens. (CIS member-states are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrzygistan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.)
The line from Tbilisi, Georgia to Baku is fine for international travelers. The trip is an overnight train ride that costs around US$50 first class and US$25. The train usually leaves Tbilisi at 5:00 p.m. and arrives at Baku, 8:00 a.m. the next day. You should reach the Georgia-Azerbaijan at around 7:00 p.m. Have your passport and visa ready for inspection.
You need visa to enter Azerbaijan if you are from the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and other EU countries. Travelers from Asia and other parts of the world need to get in touch with the embassy to ask about travel requirements.
Foreign tourists must not stay in Azerbaijan for more than 48 hours after their visa has expired. A single or double entry visa is good for 90 days, while multiple entry is good for a year. But all foreigners who intend to stay for more than 30 days must first register with the police.
Traveling by car from Georgia is possible. However, customs officers at the border could demand so many documents and thousands of dollars just to let you through in your car.
There are also land routes from Iran but it is better to take the bus from Tehran to Baku. A foreigner traveling alone across the rural Azerbaijan areas is not a very good idea.
Meanwhile, getting to Azerbaijan by sea is not ideal since most boats crossing the Caspian Sea are cargo vessels or freighters. Since these are not regular passenger ferryboats, there are neither fixed fare rates nor times of departure or arrival. A number of these ships travel from Baku to Turkmenistan and Iran across the Caspian.
Getting to Azerbaijan by train, car or boat may have its challenges, but traveling by plane is convenient and hassle-free. This is a captivating country with so much history and culture. International tourism is steadily picking up; holiday in this picturesque ancient city will surely be memorable.