Neither Europe nor Asia, Azerbaijan is an incredible tangle of contradictions and contrasts. It’s a fascinating nexus of ancient historical empires. Azerbaijan has for centuries been regarded as the threshold of Western civilisation and Eastern tradition. It is a country in which people with diverse backgrounds, religions and languages have struggled to live together, forging a national identity that is always somewhere in between East and West. Azerbaijan is probably where the Vikings came from, and definitely has the most mud volcanoes in the world. Sundry Nobels and Rothschilds made their fortunes on Baku oil and helped to found the world's first oil and gas industry here. Azerbaijan was, in 1918, the world's first Islamic democracy.
Fascinating Azerbaijan has an incredible wealth of scenic contrasts, is famous for caviar and carpets and has curiosities from bizarre mud volcanoes to perpetually-burning fire temples. With amazingly varied landscapes that encompass painted deserts, vineyards, orchards, oak woodlands, snow-capped peaks, iron-wood forests, hilltop castles and magnificent canyons Azerbaijan clearly has a bright tourist potential. But as yet just a few westerners seem to ever heard about the country and can vaguely imagine its approximate location.
Visiting Azerbaijan without doubt will be an absolutely new experience to you. Explore Azerbaijan - the Europe's last tourist dark territory and make the most of this beautiful, varied and under-estimated land.
Day 1. Baku
Arrival to Baku. Check-in at the hotel (check in time starts after 14:00). Free time. Overnight in Baku
Day 2. Exploring Baku
09:00 Breakfast at the hotel
09:30 Start of Baku City Tour
Firstly, you will be taken to Upland Park located on a hill in the western part of the city. This is the best place to see the city and the Baku Bay. You can take a little tram ride up the side of the hill to reach this spot. The views from the height of the Upland Park will demonstrate the contrasts and scale of the city built in in the shape of an amphitheater descending down to the horseshoe-form Caspian Sea bay. The tour will take you then through the modern part of the city with its most outstanding historical and architectural sites, as well as visiting a favorite strolling place for residents and guests - Baku Boulevard.
Then you will be guided to the Old Town - 'Icheri Sheher'. You will see the highlights of Icheri Sheher including the Palace of the Shirvans (the most striking example of the medieval palace structures in Azerbaijan, dating to the middle of 15th century); Maiden's Tower (the ancient, eight storey fortress originally built as a fire beacon); visit Friday (Juma) Mosque, antiques and carpet shops. For extra fee lunch can be arranged in the national cuisine restaurant.
14:00-18:30 We continue our tour by bus to the central part of Baku to see the major highlights of the city. Our today's tour ends with a visit to Heydar Aliyev Center - a cultural center that includes the Auditorium (convention center), a museum, exhibition halls, administrative offices. The project center has been designed by renowned British architect Zaha Hadid. He interesting feature of the construction is that no single straight line was used in its construction. The complex has several exhibition halls that can be visited separately at the choice of the tourist (each hall small surcharge applies).
18:30 Return to the hotel. Overnight in Baku.
Day 3. Gobustan reserve – Ateshgah fire temple – Gala open-air museum
09:30 Excursion to Gobustan
Departure for excursion to the nature reserve "Gobustan". This is an open-air museum littered with Neolithic rock drawings. Just 65km south of Baku, Gobustan has some 4000 inscriptions that go back 12,000 years (with some 2000 year old Latin graffiti to boot). The well-preserved sketches display ancient populations travelling on reed boats; men hunt antelope and wild bulls, women dance. The famed Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl returned many times to Azerbaijan between 1961 and his death in 2002 to study the site, which he argued to be evidence that modern-day Scandinavians migrated north through the Caucasus in prehistoric times. He found similarities in the drawings to those found in Scandinavia, particularly some in Alta, Norway. According to Icelandic Sagas, written in the 13th century, the Norse God Odin (Wotan) migrated from the Caucasus in the first century AD. The museum at Gobustan is especially good with interactive displays showing how the surrounding area would have looked over the millennia.
14:00- 15:30 After lunch you will visit Ateshgah - the Fire Worshippers' Temple located in the village of Surakhany. It was built on land where natural gas burned eternally by Zoroastrian believers who travelled from as far as the province of Multan in India to worship. These ancient fires are believed to have given Azerbaijan its name, which is thought by some researchers to mean the 'Land of Fires'.
The temple and its cells, where pilgrims from all over the world used to stayed is converted to the museum with some unique exhibits on display.
16:00- 18:00 Excursion to the national reserve Gala
The tour will finish with 2-3 hours excursion to ethnographic Open-Air Museum "Gala" that is about a 40-minute drive from Baku. The museum is created on an archaeological site. The village is five thousand years, nevertheless there are still some neighborhoods that have survived to the present day. During the tour you will get acquainted with the ancient dwellings, with the life of that time, traditions, with methods of farming. Participants will be told about the way of living of people who lived here many centuries ago, you will see the real objects of that time.
18:30 Return to the hotel. Overnight in Baku.
Day 4. Going outside Baku - Lahij - Sheki (400 km)
08:30 Breakfast in the hotel. Check out.
09:30 Drive in North-West direction. The road to the city of Sheki will pass on one of the most beautiful corners of Azerbaijan at the foot of the Great Caucasus. The route passes through the village of Lahij, which is known for its handicraft workshops, it is inhabited by various craft masters that pass on their knowledge from generation to generation. Strolling through the narrow and quiet streets of Lahij, we will get acquainted with the masters of carpet weaving, leather, carvers, potters, blacksmiths, engravers on metal and wood.
18:00 Arrival to Sheki, check-in. Rest. Overnight.
Day 5. Exploring Sheki
09:30 -18:00 Sheki is one of the most famous and ancient places in Azerbaijan. Situated 700 m (2297 ft.) above sea level the city, like an amphitheater, is surrounded by the mountains and forests of oak trees, this ancient city was long famed as a silk Centre and an important stop on the Great Silk Route.
We’ll start our Sheki tour from visiting the 18th century Khan's summer palace with magnificent frescos and exquisite stained glass work. We will visit “Shebeke” workshop where the tourists will meet with local craftsman who will tell about stained glass production process. After we will also visit the production factory of Sheki baklava – a sweet popular all over Azerbaijan.
Our explorations of Sheki continues with a visit to the Albanian church, which is located in Kish village. As the legend says, this church is the first Christian church built not only on the territory of the Caucasian Albania but in a whole Transcaucasia. This place is also remarkable because the burials of people whose constitution is somehow different from the present inhabitants of the region at the temple. Scientists and researchers who have studied skeletons found at the temple have come to conclusion that they belonged to tall people, with blond hair and blue eyes. The famous Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who visited these lands, came to the conclusion that the Albanians were the ancestors of the Vikings who immigrated from these area to the north. In 2003, the church was restored with money donated by Norwegian government thanks to personal efforts of Thor Heyerdahl. Here, near the territory of the church you can see a memorial bust in honor of the famous researcher posed as a token of appreciation from the local people and the state.
18:30 Return to the hotel, rest. Overnight in Sheki.
Day 6. Return to Baku
09:30 After breakfast we will visit Sheki Bazaar where you will be able to buy fruits and souvenirs and see how local people trade and deal. Return to Baku. Overnight.
Day 7. Departure from Baku
Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out.
Costs: only $495 USD per person in 3* hotel in DBL/TWN accommodation
13.02.2017 – 19.02.2017
13.03.2017 – 19.03.2017
13.04.2017 – 19.04.2017
05.05.2017 – 11.05.2017
13.06.2017 – 19.06.2017
13.07.2017 – 16.07.2017
13.08.2017 – 16.08.2017
Tour cost includes:
- Accommodation in 3* hotel with breakfast
- Comfortable transport during the tour
- English-speaking guide
- Entry fees to the museums
- A bottle of water per person per day
Cost of tour doesn't include:
- Air ticket
- Medical insurance
- Extras in the hotel and during the excursions
- Lunches and dinners
- Alcohol beverages
*Supplement for a Single Standard room occupancy for the whole tour is 125 USD
* Cost of the tour includes accommodation in comfortable 3* hotels. For additional payment, depending on customer’s wish the category of the hotel can be changed to a higher one. Cost of the tour is designed for 3 and 4-star hotels in Baku and regions. Hotel category can be upgraded to 4 * and 5 * at the request of tourists. Breakfast is included into the price of all the hotels. Laundry facilities are available for an additional fee. Internet in the regions is limited and is not available in some hotels. Check in at the hotel - 14:00 departure time - 12:00.
Reservation and cancellation policy
- The company reserves the right to change the order of excursions and sights’ visits, preserving their amount.
- The company reserves the right to change the hotels pre-declared in the tour on similar ones or the hotels of higher category.
Attention to customers!
The tour requires a minimum number of participants to avoid cancellation.
The final confirmation of the tour will be announced 30 days prior to tour date!
All purchases are subject to re-confirmation within 30 business day after purchase, customers will be fully refunded if the orders cannot be confirmed.
We reserve the right to cancel the tour and fully refund affected customers although tour company will make every effort to maintain the normal operation.
İn case of insufficient number of tourists (a group considered to be cost-effective starts from four persons), the tour agency has the right to cancel the tour no later than prior 30 days to the start of the tour.
Payment for the tour is carried out after the final confirmation of the tour and no later than 15 days before the planned arrival.
Cancellation and penalties:
* All modifications and cancellations of confirmed orders must be made in written form.
* Cancellation of confirmed applications earlier than 7 days prior to arrival is not subject to penalties (except visa fee).
* Cancellation of confirmed applications later than 7 days and more than 3 days before the planned arrival: a penalty of 50% of the total cost of the tour.
* Cancellation of confirmed applications later than 3 days, or after the date of the planned arrival: penalty is 100% of the full cost of the tour.