Nestled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan offers a tapestry of experiences, from its rich historical heritage to its lush natural wonders and vibrant cultural gems.
Whether you're drawn to the lively festivals of Baku in spring, the sun-kissed beaches of the Caspian Sea in summer, the charming cobbled streets of Sheki in autumn or the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus in winter, Azerbaijan beckons with a diversity that ensures every moment is a new adventure. Currently, Azerbaijan Tourism and Azerbaijan Airlines are offering direct comfortable flights as part of a joint campaign to welcome international tourists.
Travellers from Austria, the UAE and Israel can now book three flight tickets for the price of two until 20 December 2023 to be used before 31 January 2024. Visitors flying from Germany, meanwhile, will get 30 per cent off flights booked and redeemed across the same dates. All offers exclude flights between 25 December and 5 January.
As flowers bloom and temperatures rise, let Azerbaijan Airlines transport you to Baku’s medieval core as its labyrinthine streets come to life with locals and visitors alike. Cocooned by 12th-century walls and brimming with Oriental architecture, Icheri Sheher – or the Old Quarter – boasts museums, monuments, art galleries and traditional restaurants.
Don’t miss the ancient Maiden Tower for a glimpse into Baku’s mysterious past or explore the 15th century Shirvanshahs' Palace, whose sandstone walls and towering domes tell the story of Azerbaijan’s ruling dynasty during the Middle Ages.
Make the most of the glorious sunshine during a visit to Gobustan National Park where you can marvel at more than 6,000 rock engravings bearing testimony to 40,000 years of rock art or wander among the bubbling mud volcanoes that date back millions of years.
Spring visitors can also soak up the magic of the Novruz Festival celebrating the equinox with traditional music, dances and vibrant public displays.
When it comes to cuisine, spring is the perfect time to sample locally grown vegetables like asparagus, fresh herbs and tender greens. Yarpaq dolmasi is an authentic Azeri dish of vine leaves stuffed with ground beef or lamb, rice, onions and herbs, served with yoghurt and garlic.
Cool down with a glass of traditional sharbat, a refreshing local beverage available in pomegranate, cherry, mint and lemon flavours.
In summer, locals and tourists alike flock to the Caspian Sea’s gleaming shoreline for sun-soaked days by the water’s edge.
Despite its name, the Caspian is in fact a vast lake, which explains Baku’s position so far below sea level. Here, you’ll find excellent beach clubs and perfect kitesurfing conditions. For a more secluded spot, make your way to Bilgah or Mardakan beaches for a slice of tranquillity amid the bustle.
Just three hours from Baku, the picturesque village of Lahij is also worth a visit in summer when the cool mountain air breezes through the antique cobbled streets. The historic village is known for its unique crafts heritage and its copperware can be found in museums around the world. Once you’ve finished exploring the village, venture up to the peaks for a scenic hike through unspoilt nature.
In Azerbaijan, the kebab is king, and summer is the perfect time to sample the lyulya variety. Comprised of ground lamb mixed with finely chopped onions, the meat is seasoned and skewered before being grilled over open coals. Rehydrate after the day’s activities with a refreshing glass of ayran, a salty yoghurt drink served up ice cold.
With cooler temperatures but plenty of sunshine, Autumn is the perfect season for jumping on an Azerbaijan Airlines flight and exploring city gems.
Once an important stop on the legendary Silk Road, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan’s most charming cities. The UNESCO World Heritage site features a historic centre packed with craft shops and caravanserais, cobblestone streets and colourful sweet shops.
Xan Sarayi is one of Sheki’s most famous buildings. Built in 1762, the ornate palace dazzles with vibrant murals as kaleidoscopic light streams through stained glass windows.
Evenings can be a little cooler during the autumn months dropping to around 6°C, though the chillier chimes are an excellent excuse for a steaming bowl of piti. The hearty stew is made in a traditional clay pot called a dopu and was once considered a “worker’s dish” with one serving providing enough nourishment for an entire day.
The stew is made with lamb, chickpeas, chestnuts, dried plums, onions and saffron and is cooked over the course of several hours. Traditionally, the broth from the piti is served first, followed by the mashed-up remains from the pot. Wash it down with a glass of sherbet, a sweet fruit juice mixed with boiled sugar, rose water and herbs.
Hit the snowy slopes of Shahdag Mountain for skiing in one of Azerbaijan’s most breathtaking resorts. Located just 29km from Gusar city, Shahdag Mountain Resort takes its name from the majestic mount Shahdag, towering 4,243 meters above sea level.
The colder months are also the perfect time to explore Quba’s quaint villages, and with year-round Azerbaijan Airlines flights, uncovering scenic winterscapes has never been easier. Wrap up and head to Qachrash Forest to wander amongst natural springs and apple orchards or stop by Khinalug Village to discover a 5,000-year history that is thought to be the nation’s oldest inhabited village.
After a full day of exploring, warm up with a nourishing bowl of dushbara, a traditional lamb broth infused with saffron and swimming with miniature meat-filled dumplings. For dessert, nothing beats pakhlava, a sweet pastry packed with nuts and drenched in honey served with steaming sweet black tea.
Azerbaijan Airlines is the country’s national air carrier, transporting travellers to an ever-expanding list of destinations including Istanbul, Barcelona, Paris and New Delhi.
For an elevated experience, upgrade to Business class for benefits including extra leg room seats with wide angle recline, lounge access and world-class inflight entertainment, plus a 42kg total luggage allowance.
Regardless of flight time, a delicious hot dish is the order of the day, made with carefully selected ingredients with special meals available free of charge.
The Azal-Miles frequent flyer programme, meanwhile, rewards members with travel and status points that can be redeemed on reward tickets for future Azerbaijan Airlines flights.
In 2023, new destinations include Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek) and Pakistan, with flights to Geneva resuming in September.
With Azerbaijan Tourism and Azerbaijan Airlines, the possibilities for adventure are endless, no matter what the season. For more information go to www.azal.az