Sightseeing, Food, Wine & Nightlife
Duration: 5 days
During this tour you will experience both Baku and surroundings, and also main touristic areas outside Baku, like Gabala and Sheki. Besides you will taste the most delicious and iconic meals from Azerbaijani Cuisine.
Program of the tour
• Icheri Sheher (literally “Inner Town”) or Old City – the historical and architectural reserve includes the Shirvanshah Palace, Synyk kala minaret, Maiden Tower, Medieval Market Square, Icheri Sheher Archaeological Museum, Seyid Yahya Bakuvi mausoleum, caravanserais, Mollahana, numerous mosques, madrassahs, bath-houses, Baku Khans’ House, also numerous rich residences of the ХIХ century.
• Miniature Books Museum - the gigantic collection of teeny and tiny books
• Highland Park (Dagustu Park) - which commands a breathtaking panorama of Baku.
• Flame towers - Completed in 2012, this trio of sinuous blue-glass skyscrapers forms contemporary Baku’s architectural signature. The design was conceived as a set of flames, driven from the ground up one of the main hills of Baku. Fire symbolizes energy and eternity, and also goes back to the ancient worship of this element.
• Shahidlar Xiyabani - The most notable feature of the park that stretches south from the Flame Towers is a somber row of grave-memorials – Bakuvian victims of the Red Army’s 1990 attack along with early martyrs of the Karabakh conflict. The viewpoint beside the eternal flame offers splendid panoramas across the bay
• Baku National Boulevard - the 2nd longest boulevard in the world, which is the favorite resting place of the Baku residents and capital guests, stretching for a long way along the seashore.
• World’s Second-Tallest Flagmast - A gigantic flag flaps above the Bulvar’s southern tip, hoisted on a 162m flagpole that was the world’s tallest when erected in September 2010
• Carpet Museum - Displaying and explaining a superb collection of Azerbaijani rugs, this 2014 museum building is itself designed like a stylised roll of carpet.
• International Mugham Center - Creation of the International Mugham Center in the City of Baku in order to widely promote in the world the Azerbaijani mugham, proclaimed by UNESCO as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity The 7.500 sq.m building reminds of the parts of tar, an ancient musical instrument of Azerbaijan. The 3-storey building includes 350-seat concert hall, club, classrooms, recording studio, 80-seat restaurant “Ud”.
• Fountains Square - Endlessly popular with strollers, this leafy piazza forms Central Baku’s natural focus. The fountains for which it is named include one topped by shiny silvered spheres giving fish-eye reflections of the trees and stone facades. And the beautiful statue-inlayed facade of the Nizami Literature Museum
• Domsoviet (Government House) - Baku’s most striking Soviet-era building is a bulky stone construction fronted by an impressive series of layered stone arches and topped by a series of mini obelisks.
Welcome TEA set
For Azerbaijanis tea is associated with warmth, hospitality, tradition says that one should not allow the guest to leave the house without at least one cup of tea.
Tea in Azerbaijan is served freshly brewed, hot and strong. It typically has a bright colour and is served in crystal or any other glasses or cups. Azerbaijanis often use traditional armudu (pear-shaped) glass. Tea is served continuously when there are guests or when there is an interesting conversation. For Azerbaijanis tea with milk is uncommon.
According to a common belief, drinking tea with lump sugar instead of sand sugar comes from the medieval period, when rulers who were afraid of being poisoned checked their tea by dunking a piece of sugar in a beverage – it was believed that the poison would react to the sugar). Along with aromatic tea huge variety of traditional sweets, dry fruits, nuts and jams are offered.
• Gobustan - The most popular day trip from Baku takes visitors to the petroglyph reserve above Gobustan, 60km south of the capital, and on to the isolated mud volcanoes above Alat. En route you’ll pass Bibi-Heybat Mosque. The UNESCO-listed Gobustan Petroglyph Reserve protects thousands of stick-figure stone engravings dating back up to 12,000 years. Themes include livestock, wild animals and shaman. They were carved into what were probably caves.
• Ateshgah (Suraxani Fire Temple) - "Fire Temple of Baku" is a castle-like religious temple based on Persian and Indian inscriptions, the Zoroastrian place of worship. Although the site was originally a place of worship for Zoroastrians, the fortified complex you see today was built by 18th-century Indian Shiva devotees.
• Yanardagh: Burning Mountain is considered as “eternal fire” and fulfills the trip with unique and interesting experience. In the 13th century Marco Polo mentioned numerous natural-gas flames spurting spontaneously from the Absheron Peninsula. The only one burning today is Yanardagh
• Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre - Vast and jaw-droopingly original, this Zaha Hadid building is a majestic statement of fluid 21st-century architecture forming abstract waves and peaks that seem to melt together.
Qutabs (2 options: with meat or with herbs). Qutabs are original Azerbaijani cakes, filled with minced lamb meat, onion, pepper, salt and pomegranate. Stuffing is wrapped in rags of unleavened dough in the shape of a crescent and fried in a pan in butter. Also, qutabs are made with a pumpkin, greens and camel meat. Qutabs are served with katyk and sumakh.
Saj with lamb for dinner – very tasty and juicy dish that is cooked in a special way. The classic recipe involves the use of a special stand of the same name. Due to vegetables in saj a delicious juice permeates the meat and potatoes.
- Survey of the beautiful environment and natural heritage of the Gabala region.
- The place of archaeological excavations on the medieval "hillfort" of "Kabalak", "Kwe-Bele", "Gabala" near the village of Chukhur-Gabala. - Nurgishlag reservoir in the foothill basin between the mountain ranges of Goydag and Goyburundag, near the village. Nurgishlag.
- A small cascading waterfall "Yeddi Gozal" near the village of Ruskyan, the lake "Nokhur".
- The city of Gabala. Excursion walk and familiarity with historical and cultural monuments. Complex of Summer-Winter Recreation Zone "Tufandag", including Tourist Complex "Tufandag".
Lamb kabab + local cooking experience
One of the oldest dishes of the East is kebab. It is considered a traditional dish of eastern and Caucasian cuisine. During frying the meat absorbs the amazing smell of wood, grilled in the smoke, so it gets amazing aroma and taste. Marinated meat cooked on a wood or charcoal, can rightly be called a real barbecue. While serving the dish is decorated with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and herbs.
It will be great experience, barbecue in beautiful nature of Qemervan village in Qabala with river and mountain views. You will have a chance to witness and participate at local kebab cooking (BETTER in Spring and Summer)
Azerbaijani pilaf with chestnuts and meat
This pilaf is a little different from those which are usually served to all the tourists who visited Central Asia or Turkey.
Pilaf with chestnuts is cooked differently. First, rice is prepared in a special way, then go all the accompanying dishes, which are a kind of additives to the king-dish. On cream melted butter, simmered onion sliced in half rings is being fried with the addition of turmeric. Meat, meanwhile, is cooked separately in salted water, which in the end sprinkled with fried onion oil, dried plum, and then roasted chestnuts.
- Palace of Sheki Khans - This ornate 1762 palace building features vivid murals and dazzling colored light streaming through Shabaka (stained-glass) windows making it Sheki’s foremost ‘sight’ and one of the South Caucasus’ most iconic buildings. It was originally the Sheki Khan’s administrative building, just one of around 40 now-lost royal structures within the fortress compound. Its set in a walled rose garden behind two huge plane trees planted in 1530. The facade combines silvered stalactite vaulting with strong geometric patterns in dark blue, turquoise and ochre. The petite interior is only one-room deep, but lavished with intricate designs. Karavansaray - Swift development of trade in the Middle Ages enhanced importance of caravanserai existing in the territory of Azerbaijan at that time and favored construction of new ones. Generally, caravanserai was built in form of castles with one gate, closing of which made them impregnable during dangerous incidents. “Caravanserai” historical complex in Sheki is two magnificent caravanserais which reached present days and traditionally named “Yukhary” and “Ashaghy” caravanserai, which means “Upper” and “Lower” Caravanserai in translation from Azerbaijani into English. Construction of these caravanserai is dated back to the 18th-19th centuries.
- Kish is a town of 7,000 that is about 5km from Sheki. It is a bumpy ride on the narrow cobblestone roads, but well worth it to visit the beautiful Albanian church and this picturesque mountain town. Kish Albanian Church - The brilliantly renovated round-towered Albanian church in pretty Kish village has been lovingly converted into a very well-presented trilingual museum. In fact, the church site goes back well beyond the Christian era, and glass-covered grave excavations allow visitors to peer down on the bones of possibly Bronze Age skeletons. The church in the village of Kish is one of major Christian architectural monuments of Caucasian Albania. The time of the erecion of the monument is defined as the 6th-7th centuries.
Vegetable dolma: eggplants, tomatoes and sweet pepper (SUMMER meal, in winter DOLMA with grape leaves)
In Azerbaijan dolma is prepared from a combination of three vegetables — eggplants, tomatoes and sweet pepper. The forcemeat of a lamb with plentiful addition of fragrant food grasses and spices are used for stuffing. This kind of eggplant dolma is called — «badimjan dolmasi». For all listed kinds of dolma, except from fish, necessarily submit sour cream or other sour-milk product with addition of garlic or without it.
Azerbaijan lavangi is mostly prepared in the traditional tandoor (ceramic oven). For cooking usually local fish kutum with a gentle, fatty and very tasty meat is used. The main highlight of this dish is the filling, which is made from nuts, pomegranate, special sauce, onions, raisins and spices.
Hotels: 3* Consul Hotel (or better alternative), 3* Issam Hotel (in Sheki)
Note: We recommend to book as earlier as possible before high season. Please also note that prices may vary during events like Formula 1, Novruz Holiday, Europe League final or similar high-level events.