Cities of Azerbaijan: Combining the Best Aspects of Leisure

To open up the unexplored world of Azerbaijan, one must start with the capital city, Baku – prominent for its historical and modern landmarks. Sheki, Ganja and Shusha are other cities in the country, which are a must-visit for the tourists.

Azerbaijan is a country boasting cities with very distinctive features, from natural wonders to mouth-watering dishes. To open up the unexplored world of Azerbaijan, one must start with the capital city, Baku – prominent for its historical and modern landmarks, world-class accommodation options suitable to every budget, and restaurants offering many exclusive foods from both national and international cuisine.

The traditional breakfasts in the UNESCO-protected Old City, the carpet and wave-shaped museums and cultural centres, the Seaside Boulevard with its light breezes and panoramic views with the Flame Towers in the background, the largest shopping mall of the Caucasus region, and many more sides of this city continue to mesmerise its visitors. Moreover, Baku is hosting the 6th Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix on its spectacular Baku City Circuit on 10-12 June, which promises to be yet another memorable race for those who make it here to see it.

Moving towards the north-western route, Sheki is another must-visit city in Azerbaijan. While its UNESCO-listed 18th-century Sheki Khan’s Palace and historic centre are important landmarks for history lovers, this place is also a food paradise where masterclasses for sweet and savoury delicacies of the local cuisine can be arranged.

On the other hand, Sheki was once an important stop on the legendary Silk Road, and you can still feel that ancient vibe in its cobblestone streets lined with crafts and sweets shops and caravanserais. Also, a 97-km hiking trail that has recently been added to the Transcaucasian Trail, passes through Sheki and continues up to Zagatala.

Travel to the west and you will find another historical city – Ganja. With its monuments such as the 14th-century Imamzadeh Mausoleum as well as a variety of delicious dishes, this city is a perfect location to feed the body and soul. Only a one-hour drive from Ganja is Naftalan – a resort town famous for its healing oil, which has been used here to cure many ailments for centuries.

The subtropical southern route of Azerbaijan is home to a city bordered by the Caspian Sea on one side and the Talysh Mountains on the other. The city itself is an old port that used to be surrounded by fortifications and it is ideally placed between some of Azerbaijan’s best nature reserves. Overall, this region’s abundant natural resources and climate have paved the way for fantastic health and wellness experiences and outdoor activities, in addition to a flavoursome local cuisine as the region is also known for its citrus, rice and tea plantations. This is why Slow Food Travel, a concept first developed in the north-western route, is planned to be expanded to the south as well.

Another very prominent city is Shusha in the Karabakh region. Having recently hosted the inaugural International Culinary Festival, with the participation of international experts, this city is known as the cultural capital of the country as it was home to many inspiring composers, musicians and poets. With major restoration works and infrastructure upgrades, Shusha is set to become one of the most magnificent travel destinations in Azerbaijan.

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