Don't Leave Here Without...
Bathing in black gold
Rub shoulders with Russian millionaires at a Naftalan spa. The baths of black oil are said to rejuvenate skin and calm nerves. Bond girls need not apply.
Going potty over pomegranates
Join countless grinning Azeris in October as they celebrate one of their favourite fruit at Goychay's annual Pomegranate Festival. The speed-eating competitions are a sight to behold.
Climbing the fair Maiden Tower
Paris has the Eiffel Tower; London, Big Ben. Admire views of the enchanting old city from the top of the Maiden Tower, Baku's mystery-shrouded landmark.
Feeling the heat
Worship fire - the locals have for centuries. Ateshgah in Surakhany is famed for its 'eternal' flame - a pocket of natural gas - and is one of the country's best-preserved fire temples.
Getting cosy in a caravanserai
As soon as you set foot in Sheki's former Silk Road caravan and camel shelters you're immersed in centuries of history. You won't have to dodge camel spit, just enjoy some shut-eye or a hot meal - they're now preserved as hotels and restaurants.
Capital City: Baku
Currency: Azerbaijanian Manat, AZN
Time Zone: +4 GMT
Dialling Code: +994
Islam, Christianity (Orthodox)
86,000 square kilometres
Voltage and Plug Info:
220 V. European style plug with two round metal pins.
You must obtain a visa before you arrive in Azerbaijan, or you could be refused entry. The process can take a while, so be sure to apply well in advance.
For the most part, Azerbaijan is a safe country to visit. There is a risk of mugging at night – particularly in Baku – so be sure not to wander around on your own and don't flash expensive possessions. You should not travel to the border region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is under dispute with neighbouring Armenia.
Vaccinations and Health:
Be aware that medical facilities outside of Baku are limited, so make sure you have decent travel insurance and a well-stocked first aid kit for minor injuries. You'll need to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis A so be sure to book an appointment with your doctor before you go.
Best Time to Visit?
The best times to visit Azerbaijan are spring and autumn (March-April or September-October).
Getting There and Away
There are plenty of flights to Azerbaijan from Europe and Russia (London, Amsterdam, Kiev, Moscow and St Petersburg to name a few). You could also catch an overnight train from Tibilisi, Georgia or brave the journey on a bus from Istanbul (though this route is best avoided, as there are ongoing troubles at the borders).
Public transport is slow and inefficient; if you want to get out and about taxis and shared minibuses are cheap and relatively safe (the drivers can be a little reckless, though).