Baku is the largest city in the Caucasus and the capital of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus and variously considered part of Europe or Asia. Its capital, Baku, yet a gorgeous city, it’s unfortunately also the most corrupt place I have ever experienced, and I am used to dealing with corrupt police officers and immigration over the years.
Some years ago I got my passport ripped into pieces by Tajikistan immigration officers when I didn’t bribe them, but corruption in Azerbaijan got to a new higher level.
The country was just so corrupt that I decided to leave the country 10 days before I was planning to.
Baku is by far one of the most beautiful cities in “Europe” especially around the waterfront with the Caspian sea. It’s spread with big green areas, water fountains and beautiful marble sidewalks. You can also find the historical old side with UNESCO world heritage sights and the metro stations look like the famous ones in Moscow, Russia.
Sadly I wasn’t able to take many photos around Baku because of the corrupt police. Every time I took out my camera, a police officer either in uniform or civilian came up and demanded a bribe.
So instead of the hassle with the police I took a trip to Gobustan National Park where the UNESCO world heritage Petroglyphs that dates back 10 000BC is located.
Gobustan is very rich with archaeological monuments and the national park has more than 6,000 rock engravings dating back between 5,000 – 40,000 years. There is also a small museum located at the site that covers the history and discovery about the Petroglyphs.
Azerbaijan with its Caspian coastline is home to nearly 400 mud volcanoes, more than half the total mud volcanoes in the world.
Some of which are located around Gobustan.
About every twenty years or so, a mud volcano may explode with great force in Gobustan, shooting flames hundreds of meters into the sky, and throwing tons of mud on the surrounding area.
The last one that is reported to have erupted in the area was back in 2001 so, unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to witness that.
It is easy to visit Gobustan National Park as a day trip from Baku, there are local buses going from Baku to the to village/town of Gobustan, but you will need to hire a car and driver to be able to visit both the Petroglyphs and mud volcanoes.
It´s sad to say, but the best thing about Azerbaijan was to leave the country.
Additional info about Azerbaijan
Important! If your passport shows any evidence of travel to Nagorno-Karabakh, will you be denied entry (even if you already have an Azerbaijani visa)
You need to get your Azerbaijan visa in advance and a letter of invitation (LoI) from a travel agency/contact in Azerbaijan is required
How to get there
A comfortable overnight train between Tbilisi, Georgia and Baku.
Daily buses between Turkey goes trough Georgia. And there´s buses from Teheran in Iran to Baku.
Ferry across the Caspian sea to Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan, more information about that here.
There is NO transportation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Where to Sleep
Located in the old town of Baku, very central, guest kitchen and friendly staff. From 12USD for a dorm bed.
The local currency in Azerbaijan is Azerbaijani manat AZN (Yeni Manat) 1 USD = 1.04 AZN 1 Euro = 1,1AZN
Azerbaijan is by far the most expensive country in the Caucasus region and it´s not far from western Europe prices. A daily budget should be around 40 Usd+
There´s ATM´s available all around Baku
1,5L Bottle of water – 0.54 AZN
0.33L Coke/Pepsi – 0.54 AZN
Meal in a local restaurant – 7 AZN
Meal in a good restaurant – 40 AZN
Big Mac meal at McDonald´s – 6 AZN
Coffee in a coffee chain – 4 AZN
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) – 3 AZN
Beer local 0.5L can – 1.5 AZN
Beer imported 0.33L (Heineken) – 3 AZN
Gasoline (1 liter) – 0,70 AZN