PLACES TO VISIT
1st Day: Icherisheher (“Old City”); Philharmonic Park; Baku Boulevard; Little Venice
2nd Day: Gobustan Historical-Artistic Preserve & Museum; “Citrus Valley” farm with lunch & tea break; Lankaran city: Lankaran Fortress, Kichik-Bazar mosque, The Palace of Mirakhmad Khan; Hirkan National Park, Lake Khanbulan
3rd Day:Shamakhi, Diri Baba mausoleum in Maraza village; “Yeddi Gumbaz” (“Seven Domes”) mausoleum, Juma mosque, AzGranata Winery + degustation, Ismayilli, Lahij village.
4th Day: “Gala” State Historical Ethnographic Reserve and Open Air Museum; “Ateshgah” Fire Temple, “Yanardag” State Historical Cultural and Natural Reserve; Heydar Aliyev Centre
5th Day: Baku | Free time
1st Day: BAKU
Arrival to Baku, meeting at the airport. Transfer to the hotel, check-in.
Walking Baku city tour: “Black Gold of Caspian Sea & Mysterious Tales of Old City”: Our excursion will start at “Icherisheher” metro station to guide you down the street and get acquainted with the stories and legends of the historical mansions built by Azerbaijani oil barons in the very beginning of the 20th century. And the first one on the way is a beautiful City Hall, which is nowadays hosting Baku Mayor’s Office, designed by Polish architect Joseph V. Goslavski in the Baroque style (1900-1904). He had also built the Empress Alexandra Russian Muslim School for Girls (1901), first school for Muslim girls in the Caucasus, sponsored by the Azeri oil baron and philanthropist Zeynalabdin Taghiyev. You will make a stop at gorgeous Palace of Happiness (Wedding Palace) to listen to the touching story of its owner, oil baron Murtuza Mukhtarov. It was built in Neo-Gothic style by famous architect Joseph Ploshko in 1912. Same architect had created the next pearl of Baku architecture, Ismailiyya Palace (1908-1913) which was ordered by Musa Naghiyev, yet another oil baron, in commemoration of his deceased son Ismayil. The building currently serves as the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan.
Next to it is Gosha Gala Gapysy (Paired Fortress Gates), the entrance in the fortress walls, a portal which will take us from the Baku of the beginning of the 20th century to the Baku of the 12th century. Icherisheher (Inner City), known as a “Fortress” or “Old City”, is a unique historical and architectural conservation area in the center of Baku. This is one of the most ancient places of the country where archaeological excavations revealed burial vaults of the Bronze Age. Maiden Tower (12th century) (without entering) and The Palace of Shirvanshahs (13th-16th centuries) (without entering) are the best-known historical monuments located in the Old City. Besides them there are a lot of other unique monuments such as mosques, minarets, the remnants of caravanserais “Multani” and “Bukhara”, ancient baths, etc. Here you will also visit Miniature Book Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to miniature editions of books. Some of the books are no bigger than a thumb. The studio of the freelance artist Ali Shamsi is also worth seeing.
You will have a walk through the Philharmonic Park, formerly known as the Governor´s Garden, towards the Azerbaijan State Academic Philharmonic Hall (1910-1912) built in Italian Renaissance (exterior) and German Rococo (interior) styles. You can make nice photos next to a French-style Baroque fountain while listening to the classic music.
Cross the street and walk down to Baku Boulevard to view the International Mugham Center (without entering) created in order to widely promote Azerbaijani ‘mugham’ (folk musical composition) in the world and shaped as the national musical instrument – ‘tar’. Here you will also see Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum (without entering), designed by Austrian architect Franz Janz and looking like a rolled carpet.
Wander between the decorative stone bridges of so-called Little Venice, a small town on the water and one of the jewels of Baku. It has two large and several small islands and its gondolas are travelling in the channels full of still and clean water. Free time. Overnight in Baku.
2nd Day: BAKU – GOBUSTAN – LANKARAN (Southern route map link)
Breakfast at the hotel. Pick up from hotel at 9:00 for excursion to Gobustan and Hirkan National Park in Lankaran region, visiting “Citrus Valley” farm.
Want to have a close look at the Baku`s most popular landmark? Baku business and hotel complex Flame Towers Baku is composed of 3 buildings. The surface of the Towers is fully covered with LED screens reflecting different visual characters in motion, easily visible from the far corners of the city in the evening. Walk along the Alley of Martyrs which is usually being included in the protocol visits of the foreign officials. Enjoy the panoramic view of the city and its bay from Baku’s Highland Park (also called Upland Park), the highest point in the Azerbaijani capital.
On the way to Gobustan you will visit Bibi Heybat Mosque. Built in the 13th century by Shirvanshah Farrukhzad II Ibn Ahsitan II, which was completely destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1936 and restored later in the end of the 20th century. The Bibi-Heybat Mosque includes the shrine of Ukeyma Khanum (a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad), and today is the spiritual center for the Muslims of the region and one of the major monuments of Islamic architecture in Azerbaijan.
Have you ever seen where civilization has started? Seek no more, because Gobustan Historical-Artistic Preserve is exactly what you need! Included in the UNESCO heritage list, being one of the cradles of human civilization, Gobustan located barely one hour drive from Baku. It has an astonishing collection of over 6,000 ancient petroglyphs depicting the ways of life dating back as far as 40,000 years. Innovative technology will help you to get closer to the prehistoric times in Gobustan State Historical-Artistic Museum using its touch screens provided with special multimedia programs, educational and entertaining games, interactive displays, 3D video, etc.
Ideally nestled between the Caspian Sea and the Talysh Mountains, Lankaran is in a very beautiful part of Azerbaijan situated on the south of the country. It is the land of adorable nature and different tastes. This area is also a home to numerous hot springs called Istisu (literally “hot water”), where local long-livers have been healing themselves for centuries. Enjoy citruses, tea, mountains and lake views!
We will stop over at “Citrus Valley” plantation located in Istisu district. While showing around the owner of this 18-hectare farm will give a brief view of citrus gardening; you can also take an active part in fruit picking (Oct.-Dec.) or just try (and buy) local oranges, lemons, mandarins, kiwis or feijoa as well as the jams made from these fruits. Excursion will be followed by lunch & tea break with local jams.
Finally, we will reach Hirkan National Park, one of the pearls of Azerbaijani nature located in the south of the country, in the heart of the Talysh Mountains. Here, you won’t find any camping areas, cafes, bars, restaurants and other delights of modern tourism because this area is home to a natural wilderness dating back 60 million years with its own truly unique flora and fauna. This region has existed since the Ice Age and could easily be called a botanical garden. The Hirkan Forest is home to another natural gem – Lake Khanbulan, and while tigers used to inhabit the area until the late 1930s, today it is one of the last habitats of the Caucasian leopard.
Driving back to Baku. Overnight in hotel.
3rd Day: SHAMAKHI, AZGRANATA WINERY & LAHIJ (North Western route map link)
Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out at 8:00 to drive to Sheki city with the tour around Shamakhi region (2-2,5 hour drive from Baku), stop at AzGranata Winery and visiting Lahij villages on the way.
Shamakhi is an astonishing place with ultra-extraordinary nature and incredible architecture, culture and unique history, interesting customs and traditions.
Your first stop on the way to Shamakhi will be at Diri Baba mausoleum, a two-story monument of the 15th century in Maraza village. Peculiarity of the construction is that it was embed in the cliff and it creates an impression that it is suspended in the air. The monument is considered to be a sacred place. Legend says that a saint named Diri Baba (living, immortal old man) was buried here and remained incorrupt for more than 300 years.
Then we keep moving to Shamakhi, an ancient city of Azerbaijan which was the capital of Shirvan Dynasty during 9th-16th century and the center of Shamakhi Khanate in 18th century. Not far from Shahmakhi city you will see “Yeddi Gumbaz“ (“Seven Domes”) mausoleum, the 18th century mausoleum of the khans of Shamakhi.
In the city you will visit Juma Mosque, one of the oldest Muslim temples in Azerbaijan, as well as in the South Caucasus and the Middle East and the biggest mosque of the Caucasus.
After leaving Shamakhi we will visit AZGRANATA Winery. So, well-known for its excellent winery with a wide range of products AZGRANATA is a great choice to uncork the mysteries of the Shirvan region and its unique wines. Indigenous grape varieties Madrasa, Bayanshira and Shirvanshahi create harmony with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Saperavi and Muscat. Azgranata company has grape and pomegranate gardens with an area of 850 hectares.
You will relax at AZGRANATA`s peculiar degustation hall and enjoy the picturesque view from terrace with a glass of wine. During winetasting (5 types of wine with snacks), as you try different wines including pomegranate one, the masters of wine will teach you how to pair them with food. It`s an event that will challenge all your senses!
After lunch, we are on the way to Ismayilli. Located on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus, surrounded by dense forests and majestic mountains, Ismayilli region is one of the most beautiful regions of Azerbaijan. A large number of ancient monuments of various periods have been preserved here. The colorful authentic villages deserve special attention and we will visit one of them this time. Beautiful Lahij village built on the canyon of Girdimanchay river. This small village is considered a cultural reserve and a popular touristic destination of the Great Silk Road. It is known for its production of copper items, decorated with carved ornaments. Traditional appearance & production processes remain the same till today, as they used to be throughout the centuries. In the numerous souvenir shops, you can buy hand-made copper, knitted and weaved goods, wood and leather ware, souvenir knives and many more.
Driving back to Baku. Overnight in hotel.
4th Day: BAKU – ABSHERON (Absheron peninsula map link)
Breakfast at the hotel. Pick up from hotel at 09:30 for Absheron Peninsula tour that covers three historical places.
Let`s begin our interesting tour around “Land of Fire”! Our excursion will start with visiting Gala village, which today is the State Historical Ethnographic Reserve and Open Air Museum offering the opportunity to see the original lifestyle of Azerbaijani people dated back to 10th-19th centuries. It is a unique place where you can not only make a tour into the past, but also try to do interactive mini master-classes – pottery, carpet weaving and making lavash. Anyway, the “Gala” museum complex is a wonderful place for exploring the lifestyle of ancient Azerbaijani settlers, familiarizing with all kinds of master classes and tasting local cuisine, and having excellent time.
Our next stop is Ateshgah Fire Temple in the village of Surakhani that for centuries has been attracting crowds of thrill seekers. Built in the 17th–18th centuries around naturally burning flames which were previously worshipped by Zoroastrians, the site then had become an important place of pilgrimage for fire-worshipping Hindus until the 1880s. Today it houses a well-designed open air museum.
And the final stop of our “fiery tour” is State Historical, Cultural and Natural Reserve “Yanardag” (literary “Burning Mountain”), a complex built around the hill located on the top of the natural gas pocket causing continuous flame eruption. Most probably the fire has been burning in Yanardag for over 20,000 years. These natural flames were described by Marco Polo in the 13th century and continue to mesmerize those who visit the site.
On the way back to Baku, visiting Heydar Aliyev Centre (without entering) designed by world-famous architect Zaha Hadid. It is vast and jaw-dropping majestic statement of fluid 21st-century architecture forming abstract waves and peaks that seem to melt together. The real delight is simply pondering and photographing the extraordinary exterior from ever-changing angles. Make a stop next to the popular “I love Baku” sign to take some photos.
5th Day: BAKU. Breakfast at the hotel. Check out, transfer to the airport.
4 night accommodation in 4* hotel in the center of Baku
Breakfasts at the hotel
Transfers: airport-hotel-airport and intercity
Excursions & transportation according to the program
Professional English speaking guide during excursion days
Entrance to “Citrus Valley” farm
1 lunch with tea break with local jams in “Citrus Valley” farm
Entrance to “AzGranata Winery” in Shamakhi
Wine degustation (5 wines) with snacks at “AzGranata Winery”
Making lavash, pottery & weaving carpet master-classes in Gala Ethnographic Museum
Entrance tickets: Gobustan Museum, Gala Ethnographic Museum, Ateshgah, Yanardag
Entrance to Hirkan Park in Lankaran region
1 bottle of 0.5L water per day
Flight tickets & visa (if required)
Extras at the hotel, tips at the sites
Lunches that are not mentioned in the Inclusions / Dinners
Entrance tickets to museums/ entertainment places not mentioned in the Inclusions
The organizer reserves the right to change the hotel to the different one of the same category.
The organizer reserves the right to change the order of excursions in case of necessity.
Check-in to the hotels: 14:00 (can be 15:00 in some cases).
Early check-in before 06:00 in the morning is subject to 100% of the room rate, early check-in between 06:00 and 14:00 is subject to 50% of the room rate (please confirm with our reservation managers before booking).
You can extend your stay, add more excursions and/or change the hotel category for additional payment (please confirm with our reservation managers before booking).
Comfortable shoes are strongly recommended during excursions.