Azerbaijan Caucasus

A Journey Through the Land of Fire: 32 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Azerbaijan

© Emily Lush 2018 | Azerbaijan photography

A gallery of my favourite Baku photos and rural Azerbaijan photography to inspire you to visit the Land of Fire.

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Azerbaijan might not be at the top of everyone’s bucket list, but the former Soviet Republic and ‘odd one out’ of the three Caucasus countries certainly has a lot to offer.

Travelling overland through the Land of Fire might not be the smoothest of journeys, but it’s an unforgettable experience full of contrasts and contradictions.

Of course, it helps that Azerbaijan is incredibly pretty and its smaller rural towns a street photographer’s dream.

Essential reading: 12 things you should know before visiting the Caucasus.

You’d be forgiven for mistaking the oil-rich metropolis of Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital city, for Paris in the spring.

Wide boulevards, perfectly manicured gardens, Belle Epoque architecture and gigantic fountains characterise downtown Baku. The iconic Flame Towers loom in the distance; a constant reminder of where you are and just how Baku’s fortunes were made.

The Heydar Aliyev Center, a true architectural masterpiece, is one of the most incredible buildings you’ll ever see or have the privilege of photographing.

Baku’s Old City, Icherisheher, is a maze of ancient Zoroastrian towers, converted Silk Road caravanserais, mosques and carpet shops.

It backs onto the Bulvar, a vast boulevard that’s counted among the largest parks in the world, which in turn unfolds onto the satiny Caspian Sea.

You don’t have to venture too far from Baku before the scenery changes dramatically.

Oil rigs line the coast on the drive down to eerie Gobustan, a landscape of oozing mud volcanoes that is positively otherworldly. The Azerbaijan landscape beyond Baku is like nothing else I’ve seen before.

Small towns like Quba – with their friendly locals, carpet workshops and Soviet relics – are a paradise for street photographers.

I challenge you to come away with a shot that doesn’t feature either a Lada or a colourfully painted cigarette stand. Sheki – with its divine Summer and Winter palaces, caravanserai hotel, and charming backstreets – is the gem of Azerbaijan and a place that stole my heart.

My best Azerbaijan photography

Here are 32 of my favourite photos of Azerbaijan to inspire your visit.

Stone buildings in Baku, Azerbaijan.
A stone building with trees and two modern skyscrapers in the background.
A woman walks through a stone alleyway.
Modern skyscrapers and old stone buildings in Baku.
A stone Islamic monument in Baku, Azerbaijan.
A man hangs colourful rugs outside his shop in Baku.
A tray of golden baklava.
A woman sits behind a loom weaving a carpet.
A fountain and two old buildings.
A group of people walk in front of a white curved building.
An old city wall in Baku.
Looking down through the trees on dining tables with printed tablecloths.
A white taxi sits in a landscape of grey mud volcanoes.
Three white cars in the mud landscape of Gobustan.
Oozing mud volcanoes in Gobustan.
A carpet depicting a lion hangs on a stone wall in Baku Old City.
A group of men in suits walk along the grey sidewalk along the Caspian Sea in Baku.
A leafy street with shops and the sign for a barber.
Four men in Azerbaijan smile and wave for the camera.
A old Soviet-era sign in Cyrillic language with a picture of a rocket.
A richly decorated building with motifs in blue, pink and black.
A huge stone building with multiple arches and a central courtyard.
Three boys stand outside the doors of the Sheki Caravanserai Hotel.
Old cigarette stands in Sheki, Azerbaijan.
Three pairs of beautifully embroidered shoes.
A white car in an alleyway.

Azerbaijan essentials

Here are some of the websites and services I use when I’m planning a trip to Azerbaijan and the Caucasus. Remember to check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.

– Find affordable flights to Baku on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).

– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Azerbaijan and apply for an expedited visa online.

– Pre-book a private transfer from Baku Airport to your hotel.

– Short on time? Get to know Baku on this Old City walking tour, or join this panoramic night tour to see Baku in her best light.

– Buy your tickets for the Tbilisi to Baku sleeper train online in advance through my partners at Geotrend (get a discount when you use the code in this post).

– Find the best Azerbaijan hotel deals on Booking.com, book a Baku hostel, or find a unique Airbnb (use this link to sign up and get $55 AUD off your first Airbnb booking).

– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Azerbaijan.

– Pre-order the new Lonely Planet Caucasus guidebook (coming out in June 2020).

– Pick up a copy of Ali and Nino, Azerbaijan’s national novel. I can guarantee that Kurban Said’s evocative descriptions of Baku will get you excited for your trip!

7 things to pack for Azerbaijan

  • An anti-theft backpack. As a general rule, Azerbaijan is a very safe place and petty crime against tourists isn’t really an issue. Still, a good anti-theft day pack is worth having to keep your valuables safe in the city. If you’re having trouble deciding, here are a few of my favourite minimalist backpack designs.
  • A scarf for visiting mosques (women). A lightweight cotton scarf is my number one travel item. In Azerbaijan, it will come in extra handy for covering your hair when entering a mosque or for draping over your shoulders when visiting a market or a rural area. This neutral travel scarf goes with anything, and it even has a hidden pocket. Remember the dress code in Azerbaijan is quite conservative – women and men alike should avoid shorts and wear pants or a skirt that covers the knees.
  • Walking shoes. From the cobbled streets of Sheki to the hills of Baku and the muddy landscape around Gobustan, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time on your feet in Azerbaijan. Comfy walking shoes are absolutely essential. I love these ones for women, while my partner lives in these waterproof shoes.

More Azerbaijan travel resources


Baku photography & Azerbaijan photos: Save it on Pinterest

6 Comments Add New Comment

  1. René De Meyer says:

    Hi Emily,
    I have just returned from a 4 weeks trip in Azerbaijan. It is a great country with incredible nice people .I had a fantastic time there.
    You beautiful pictures give a correct impression of the country . Love them !!
    Greets !
    René

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Hello René!

      How wonderful! I’m so glad to hear that. Four weeks is a great amount of time to spend anywhere—lucky you! I suppose you made it to many corners of the country that I missed. I do hope I get to return some day.

      Thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to leave a note!

      Kindest,
      Emily

  2. kami says:

    Perfect timing, now I’m looking forward to my trip to Azerbaijan even more! 🙂 Amazing pictures, as always 🙂

    1. Emily Lush says:

      Thanks so much, Kami! That means a lot coming from you!

      I didn’t know you were heading to AZ! Have a wonderful trip, I’m sure you’re going to love it 🙂

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