Top 6 Reasons To Visit Azerbaijan

Top 6 Reasons To Visit Azerbaijan
| 8 min read

I have repeatedly witnessed how my friends from different countries of the world, when visiting Azerbaijan, called this place unique. Perhaps the reason for this is that Azerbaijan is located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, which allows this country to mix the diverse cultural features of the two continents. In any case, the warmth, comfort, beauty, open-minded people, and many places you can go to will help you fall in love with this country. I will take on the role of a guide and advise you about the reasons to visit Azerbaijan so that you can fully immerse yourself in its culture.

1. Food

Azerbaijani cuisine is very diverse and dishes sourced from meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products can be found here. The abundance of all kinds of spices and herbs gives these dishes a unique flavor that always excites the appetite.

One of the favorite dishes of Azerbaijanis, including me, is Baku pilaf. The main difference between Azerbaijani pilaf and other types of pilaf is that the preparation of important ingredients is done separately. Rice, meat, and additives such as dried fruits are cooked in different vessels and mixed when served. This dish is the foundation of any festive meal.

As soon as you arrive in Azerbaijan, be sure to try the freshest Azerbaijani bread - tandir. This bread is baked in special ovens dug into the ground. Thanks to this, the flatbread has soft insides and a hot crispy crust. Make sure to eat a piece while it’s just out of the oven for the best taste. Of the baked goods, kutabs are also famous and are basically flapjacks with cheese, meat, or herb fillings with pomegranate and sumac (a traditional spice) sprinkled on top. They are often sold in cafes by the seaside, and local housewives skillfully prepare such flapjacks at home.

A strange combination, which often surprises my foreign friends, is having tandir with salty cheese and cold watermelon. All Azerbaijanis adore such a breakfast and often bring all the necessary ingredients to the beach with them to prepare it. The heat, the beach, and cold watermelon with cheese and bread offer a taste of paradise.

Well, of course, how can you do without sweets with how Azerbaijanis are very fond of them? Traditional and popular sweet options include shakarbura and baklava. Shakarbura is a pastry filled with peeled sweet almonds or roasted nuts mixed with sugar. The filling is placed on circles of dough that are pinched closed from the edges. Various patterns are applied to the surface of the shakarbura. Azerbaijanis prepare baklava from the same dough and fillings that are needed for shakarbura. Lots of nuts, sweets, and dough make this a hearty treat and an absolute favorite among everyone.

2. People

Have you heard the theory that the most responsive and open people live in warm countries? It seems that in the case of Azerbaijan, the theory works. Having visited many countries, I’ve been sure of this more than once: the sun is doing its job!

The first thing that catches the eye of a traveler is the emotionality of Azerbaijanis, their curiosity, friendliness, and generosity. Originality and openness have made this country interesting as a civilizational bridge between Europe and the East, which often attract tourists. People in Azerbaijan are very fond of making new acquaintances. They will be interested in you, your loved ones, your interests, your work, and everything that surrounds you. Do not be surprised if at some point you are asked a lot of questions. It’s a result of the responsiveness and openness of people. There are no big secrets between friends, relatives, and even neighbors. Perhaps when walking around the city you will feel a lot of eyes on you because you can easily be interesting to people passing by.

In addition, Azerbaijanis are always happy to help people around them, no matter if they are strangers. Sounds a little weird to the newcomers, but it’s true. If you need help, advice, or support, sometimes you won’t even have to ask for it. Azerbaijanis, with pleasure, will share with you everything that is in their house: they will invite you to visit, set a rich table, and will not let you go until they make sure that you feel good. They share their stories and secrets with you and will accept you as a good friend.

3. Traditions and Holidays

Source: Medina Rzayeva

Azerbaijanis adore holidays and greatly honor their traditions and culture. Fun, music, and dancing: all this can be seen at any local celebration where everyone will participate, be it children or adults.

One of the most important holidays in Azerbaijan is Novruz, the holiday of spring, the renewal of nature, and the arrival of everything new. Even though Azerbaijan is now a predominantly Muslim country, the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism initially dominated its culture. In this religion, a separate place was accorded to the worship of fire, and Novruz is exactly the holiday that traces its source to Zoroastrianism.

Novruz is celebrated at the end of March every year, so if you are planning your trip in the spring, you better time it to make sure you can participate in this holiday. On Novruz, locals cook many traditional dishes, among which the most important is the Azerbaijani pilaf. The tables and counters of shops are filled with traditional sweets such as baklava, shakarbura, and gogal. People visit each other’s homes, distribute sweets and nuts, give gifts, and spend evenings together.

Children love this holiday the most. On Novruz, both adults and children gather in the streets, kindle bonfires, and jump over them. Such fun symbolizes the cleansing, by fire, of everything negative that happened during the year. Children run from house to house, knock on doors, and leave their hats so that those who live in these houses leave sweets for them. Each year I start to love this holiday more and more.

Another ideal option to experience local culture is to attend a traditional Azeri wedding. Weddings are a very serious affair and people prepare for it over a long period, and guests usually number about 300. You can listen to music and dance, eat a lot, and have fun at weddings. Do not be confused if you are invited to a wedding by unfamiliar people. This practice is quite common in Azerbaijan because people like to share their happiness with everyone.

4. Wine

Wine production in Azerbaijan goes back to ancient history. During the famous Shomutepe excavations, ancient settlements dating back to the fifth millennium BC were discovered, and wine production seems to have been an integral part of the culture. Both white and red wines are produced in Azerbaijan. the best white, red, and rosé wines are exported to Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Poland, France, Spain, Turkey, and China.

Azeri wine has always been, and to this day remains, an exclusive and rare drink produced in modest batches. Today, Azerbaijani wines are known for their high quality, and offer a delicate aroma and a velvety, deep taste with a dominant fruit and berry flavor. Moreover, the wine isn’t that expensive, and for little money, you are guaranteed to receive world-class quality, which, by the way, has been repeatedly confirmed by jury members at international wine competitions. If you’re heading to Azerbaijan, be sure to taste the special wine that is made here.

By the way, my favorite wine that I always bring to my friends from Europe to surprise them is pomegranate wine, which is considered a symbol of Azerbaijan. Pomegranate wine can be sweet, semi-sweet, and even sparkling. If the option interests you, you should try “Az-Granata Pearl”. In addition to pomegranate wine in Azerbaijan, you can choose any other wine according to your taste. I have classified Azerbaijani wines as follows:

• Dry white (“Gabala”, “Agsu”, "Qebele”)
• Semi-dry white (“Gabala”, “Goldenes Baku”, “Agsu”, “Qebele”)
• Dry rose (“Absheron Sharab”)
• Dry red (“Madrasa”, “Sabiel”)
• Semi-dry red (“Agsu”, “Yeddi Gozel”, “Qebele”)
• Semi-sweet white (“Leyli”, “Agsu”)
• Semi-sweet red (“Agsu”, “Ivanovka 1954”, “Qebele”)

5. Sea

It is no secret that one of the most favorite places for both tourists and locals is the Azerbaijani Sea - the Caspian Sea. All Azerbaijanis are proud of the location of their country and do not miss the chance to go to the beach in the summer and winter. In the summer, you can meet a huge number of people all over the Absheron Peninsula, because the favorite pastime of Azerbaijanis, especially on a hot summer day, is a trip to the sea.

The beach season starts in May and concludes at the end of October. By the end of spring, sea water warms up to 19°C (66°F), in June up to 24°C (75°F), and in the second half of summer, up to 28°C (82°F). The sea does not immediately cool down with the onset of autumn. In September its temperature reaches 26°C (78°F), and by the end of October, the water temperature in the Caspian is 21-22°C (69-71°F). The most comfortable period for swimming is from the beginning of June to the end of September.

In summer, you can meet very different contingents on the beach: boys who have gathered from the yard, large families with children and close relatives, cute couples, or groups of friends. Azerbaijanis like to bring a lot of food, and they savor food and tea by lying on the soft warm sand and spending almost the whole day on the shore.

It is surprising that even in winter, you can meet many people who are not afraid of the strong winds on the shores of the Caspian. People come to take a walk, relax, breathe fresh air, and even swim in the cold water of the sea. I especially adore being here in the autumn or winter so that I can just walk by the sea and enjoy the local winds.

Transportation infrastructure is well developed throughout the Absheron Peninsula, so you can easily get to the sea. And of course, it is worth considering that as I was born by the sea, I always miss him dearly.

6. Architecture

Ancient Baku has always been adorned with remarkable historic buildings. Over time, more magnificent and incomparable monuments were added to this list. Currently, Baku is considered one of the most beautiful and modern cities in the country. It is interesting that in addition to Baku, Azerbaijan has preserved many other cities with elegant historic buildings. If you are hunting for such a city, I would advise you to visit Sheki, Ganja, Shamakhi, Lahic, or Lankaran.

The history of architecture in the region can be traced back to natural caves in which primitive people lived. Cities, defensive structures, and powerful fortress walls were built on the territory during the 9th-7th centuries BC.

Architecture in Azerbaijan, as a rule, combines elements of East and West. Many ancient architectural treasures have been preserved in modern Azerbaijan, such as the Maiden Tower and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs in the fortified city of Baku. If you walk around Baku, it is easy to notice that in addition to weaving East and West into architecture, there is a shift between traditions and modernity in the buildings.

Behind Azeri warmth lies goodness

Azerbaijani culture is quite specific and sometimes can scare you with its attractiveness and warmth. Be open to new people and experiences, do not expect bad things from strangers, and take advantage of the opportunities offered here and your vacation is sure to be wonderful. You should keep in mind that people in Azerbaijan are very fond of giving and receiving gifts, so prepare small souvenirs for those who you’ll be fated to meet on your trip.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Being from Azerbaijan and residing in Poland, Medina is a freelance copywriter. Having visited 17 countries, she found herself sharing her experience and feelings with those who also share her...Read more

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