Azerbaijan is an incredibly underrated country. Many people think that the economy is weak and that they do not have what to enjoy in Azerbaijan, but they could not be more wrong. Just a little bit of research will entirely change your opinion about this country and the moment you see footage of Baku, which is the country's capital, you will be under the impression that it looks like a mini Dubai. The modern buildings, the streets, the lights, and everything else in Baku screams glamour, which is why you should definitely go and check it out.
As for how to get there, documentation-wise, you should know that there are several methods to obtain what you need. Plus, Azerbaijan has a pretty lenient visa policy, so you should not worry about getting your visa. In fact, we can help with that, but it depends on your nationality. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to an online application system at the moment, but surely the list of eligible nationalities will expand further in the future.
Apart from the required documents, there are several other things that we think you should know about Azerbaijan. One of them is arrival. First of all, you can get to Azerbaijan by plane. If you are from Europe, you can fly from pretty much all over, but direct flights can be taken from Frankfurt, London, Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona. You can either use Lufthansa or AZAL, the latter also being known as Azerbaijan airlines.
From the United States, on the other hand, you can take a flight from New York with Azerbaijan Airlines. Turkish Airlines also provide a flight, but it connects to Istanbul. There are other planes as well, but none of them are direct. They connect with Berlin or Frankfurt, Moscow, Paris, or Qatar, depending on the airline you are taking.
Azerbaijan can also be reached by train. However, you can take the train only from Georgia. So, if you are ever in Georgia, which is also a beautiful country, by the way, you can go straight to Azerbaijan from there.
Another thing that you should know before going to Azerbaijan is the means of communication. Azerbaijan has gained its independence from the Soviet Union, but Russian is still spoken in Baku and other regions. The official language now is Azerbaijani, also called Azeris Turkic. It is related to the Ottoman Turkish. Even so, you can still use English to communicate, but only with the younger generations. As you can imagine, English is spoken in hotels or other such establishments, but if you want to visit a remote village where the population is relatively old, you do not stand a chance with English.
The best time to travel to Azerbaijan depends on what you want to visit. You should know that Azerbaijan is geographically diverse. It has everything from high mountains to the sea. The Caspian Sea. The lowlands should be visited ideally from April to June because it can get very hot in July and August. But the latter period is perfect to see the high mountains because they are pretty inaccessible in the winter. If you want to go just to Baku, you would better do so in October. It is not too hot or too cold, and people have a lot of fun there.
The official currency of Azerbaijan is the Manat from 1992. After the inflation of 2006, the government introduces a new manta. Even so, it is best if you take US Dollars or Euros when you go there and change them at the bank, exchange bureaus, and so on. You can also use your credit or debit card to pay for your hotel or restaurant, but not all of them accept this means of payment. If you pay cash, it is recommended that you pay the exact amount so that you do not lose your change. When you are out of cash, you can withdraw money from an ATM. Most international cards work. However, not all ATMs take EC, Cirrus or Maestro. You cannot fail with a Visa.
You should not worry about accommodation and safety. The standard and hygiene for any given service have knows a lot of improvement in the recent years. You have private hotels such as Marriott and Hyatt. However, do not expect to find accommodation cheaper than 30 Euros. As for safety, there is low criminality in Azerbaijan, but you should be careful nonetheless. Especially at night.
When it comes to religion, you have nothing to worry about either. The citizens of Azerbaijan are mostly Muslim but their lives are not very affected by it. They have a strict separation between state and religion. They do not practice their religion like most Muslim countries, except maybe for the Ramadan, which they keep. Other than that, they live in peaceful coexistence with Christians and Jews.
Azerbaijan also has a pretty efficient health care system. Medical attention is free even for tourists, but it is probably the best not to rely on it outside Baku. You should always carry a copy of your international health insurance, just in case. At the same time, avoid drinking tap water just to be on the safe side.
We reached one of the people's favorite section, and that is food. Azerbaijan is very rich in culture, but when it comes to food, you may get back 5 pounds heavier. The diet there is influenced by Turkey, Georgia, Iran, and Central Asia. As you can imagine, it is diverse, and most of the spices and vegetables are homegrown. Of course, the food depends on which region you decide to visit. You will find a lot of fish near the Caspian Sea and a lot of mutton in all the other areas. Lamb and mutton are the most popular, but beef and poultry are also consumed. Either way, the food is exquisite and you will have the best kebabs ever. Make sure to check them out. Plus, you will receive a nice cup of black tea that may be flavored with cardamom and cinnamon with every meal. You will also get a piece of baklava or halva, which are both delicious.
Azerbaijan is a country worth visiting despite the common misconception that may be out there. Even so, you know how the saying goes. When in Rome, do as Romans do. That is why it is best if you do some research on every single destination that you plan to visit. Hence this piece.