The cuisine of Azerbaijan is one of the ancient, rich and delicious cuisines in the world. Traditional recipes and cooking methods are still prevalent today, followed even in modern restaurants. You will have a chance to try authentic dishes cooked by the locals during visits to different regions of Azerbaijan. Crazy about cooking? Get your notebook ready for the new recipes!
PLACES TO VISIT:
2nd Day: Icherisheher (“Old City”), Fountain Square, Nizami street, Park Boulevard shopping mall
3rd Day: Beshbarmag Mountain, Juma Mosque, Sakina-Khanum mosque, Agbil settlement, Gachresh forest, Khinaliq village
4th Day: Gabala province, authentic bucket bazaar, Nohur Lake, Yeddi Gozel waterfall, “Tufandag” Winter-Summer Tourism Complex, Gabala Shooting Club
5th Day: Sheki city, craftsmen workshops, Sheki Khan’s Summer Palace, Karvansaray
6th Day: “Gala” State Historical Ethnographic Reserve and Open Air Museum, “Ateshgah” Fire Temple, Balakhani village, “Yanardag” State Historical, Cultural and Natural Reserve
1st Day: Arrival to Baku, meeting at the airport. Transfer to the hotel, check in (14:00). Free time.
2nd Day: Breakfast at the hotel. Pick-up at 09:00. Instead of the usual breakfast in the hotel you will have Traditional Azerbaijani breakfast in the restaurant: fried eggs with tomatoes, home made butter, cheese, honey, sour cream and of course, fresh bread baked in ‘tandir’.
Then you will go to explore Icherisheher (Inner City), known as a “Fortress” or “Old City”, 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) and The Palace of Shirvanshahs (13th-16th centuries) 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. Stroll down the paved streets of this ancient city and drop to some of the numerous souvenir shops where you can buy national clothes, kerchiefs, scarves and caps, dishes and handmade carpets.
Lunch time. Main dishes: ‘Dushbara’ is a traditional dumpling soup. It consists of tiny meat dumplings, boiled in a broth with a touch of vinegar and garlic sauce. According to tradition, dushbara dumplings should be small enough to fit ten of them in one tablespoon! Preparing dushbara may be time-consuming, but it’s a great winter warmer!
‘Lulya-kebab’ is made from minced mutton or lamb strung on skewers and then fried on a barbecue using the smoke from burning coal. Usually being served with onions and sumakh (dried flavouring).
After Lunch we will move to the modern downtown, straight to the Fountain Square, the most popular public place with many restaurants and shops, main location for public festivals, shows and celebrations and pedestrian Nizami street, old trading zone with lots of shops and boutiques. You can spend some time in Park Boulevard, first shopping mall in Baku.
Dinner time. Main dish: ‘Plov’ (pilaf) with meat and chestnuts is the signature of Azerbaijani cuisine which will make any table special. The difference from Central Asian pilaf is that meat with dried fruits, chestnuts and aromatic spices is cooked as addition, which is piled on top of the saffron rice on individual serving plates.
3rd Day: Breakfast at the hotel. Pick-up at 09:00 for one-day tour to Guba region (2 hour drive from Baku). Guba is one of the favorite tourist destinations because of its shady woods and gorgeous mountains. Famous for carpets and apples, the town of Guba sits on a cliff top overlooking the Qudiyalchay River.
Our first stop on the way to Guba will be Beshbarmag (Five-Finger) Mountain known for its mythical stories where locals coming to pray for strength and good fortune.
In and around Guba city there are still several significant historical places. Juma (Friday) Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Guba, built from the red bricks in 1802. It has a cylinder shaped structure and the form of regular octagon, typical for Guba mosques. In fact, inside the mosque is larger than it seems from the outside. Another mosque that is worth seeing is Sakina-Khanum mosque, built in 1850 by the wife of Abbasgulu Agha Bakikhanov, in the name of her husband, famous historian and writer, one of the founders of Azerbaijani literature. In Guba’s Agbil settlement you can observe three medieval mausoleums, all belonging to the 16th century. Two of them have traditional rectangular structures, but the third one has the octagonal shape.
In the wonderful shady Gachresh forest you will have lunch in the national authentic restaurant. Main dish: ‘Tskan’ is one of the signature dishes of lezgins, ethnic group which lives in the North part of Azerbaijan. It is a heavy pie usually filled with meat (lamb, beef), potato and local seasonings. However, tskan can be cooked with various fillings, for example, cottage cheese and greens (spinach, horse sorrel) or cheese and potatoes. Guba is also famous for several types of local sweets, like ‘bukme’ and ‘shekerbura’, which can be tried during tea break.
After lunch we will proceed to Khinaliq village located in the middle of Greater Caucasus Mountains, the highest, most remote and isolated village in Azerbaijan. This village has its own language, own traditions and fascinatingly beautiful nature. There are unique local products which are being made in Khinaliq: its wool woven shawls are famous throughout the entire region of Guba and local honey differs by its unforgettable taste and odor. Return to Baku. Free time.
Dinner time. Main dish: ‘Saj Ichi’ is a mix of the meat and vegetables cooked in a special frying pan – ‘saj’ (shaped like wok). It is usually cooked with lamb, but it can be changed for beef or chicken. Any vegetables can be added to the mixture: potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes and onions. Mushrooms also can be added for more variety. All this is seasoned with spices and fresh herbs.
4th Day: Breakfast at the hotel. Pick-up at 08:00 for one day excursion to Gabala (4 hour drive from Baku).
Gabala is one of the most beautiful provinces of Azerbaijan with rich and ancient history. For 600 years the city named Kabala used to be the capital of Caucasian Albania, an ancient state that used to exist on the territory of modern Azerbaijan back in the days. The ruins of the ancient city and the main gate of Caucasian Albania had survived until today.
On the way to Gabala you will pass so called Russian forest, river valleys, the famous Chestnut forest and numerous picturesque villages. Make a stop at authentic bucket bazaar to buy some fruits and vegetables which are measured and sold by bucket, not by scale. The region is rich with natural assets. Nohur Lake has a fabulous location with a spectacular view to the Caucasus Mountains. Here you can enjoy boating or fishing. Yeddi Gozel (Seven Beauties) waterfall is situated near Vandam village in a mountainous area with dense forests. The name of the waterfall comes from the seven cascades falling from the highest peak of the mountain. Wooden stairs are leading to the very top. In spring and summer teahouses dot every mountain road, where you can enjoy tea with traditional types of Gabala jam (for example, walnut or white cherry jam).
Lunch time. Main dish: Local type of kabab called ‘Dasharasi’ (meaning “between the stones”) has a more than 200 year history and was devised by shepherds. The stones are a special sort that has been battered flat over centuries by thunderstorm in the Caucasus Mountains. The stone rests on top of a stove and gradually heats up. Dasharasi kebab is usually made with fresh lamb. All the vitamins and minerals remain in the kebab, making it a healthy dish, probably an important part of the diet of Azerbaijani centenarians!
After lunch we will visit “Tufandag” Winter-Summer Tourism Complex providing skiing in winter, going up to the mountains by cable cars in summer, as well as many other types of entertainment not mentioning breathtaking panoramic views. At Gabala Shooting Club in the village of Bum you can improve your aim and enjoy its beautiful natural surroundings. Return to Baku.
Dinner time. Main dish: ‘Djiz-Biz’ is a specific but delicious and nutritious meal cooked from fried sheep lungs, liver, heart and kidneys with adding of potato, onion and sometimes tomato, seasoned with black pepper. Overnight in the hotel in Gabala.
5th Day: Breakfast at the hotel. Check out. Pick-up at 09:00. Sheki (1 hour drive from Gabala) is one of the most ancient and majestic cities of Transcaucasia, rich with many historical and architectural monuments, considered the country’s capital of handcrafts and an important stop on the Great Silk Route. Sheki has been a major silk producer over the past four centuries, and is famous for its various silk products. Local craftsmen have managed to preserve their secrets till today, passing them from generation to generation. We will visit several workshops to see how they make “shebeke” (handmade frescos), “pakhlava” (special sweet famous in Azerbaijan) and “tekelduz” (a kind of weaving popular in this area).
Sheki Khan’s Summer Palace all covered in amazing miniature paintings from floor to ceiling is the absolute must-see. Thousands of small pieces of glass were used to produce its ‘shebeke’ window mosaics. Our next stop will be Karvansaray, a historical complex of two magnificent Caravanserais: “Yukhary” (“Upper”) and “Ashaghy” (“Lower”).
Lunch time. Main dish: ‘Piti’ is a chunky, aromatic lamb stew. Chickpeas, chestnuts, saffron, local spices and sheep tail fat pack the dish with flavour, but the key element lies in the clay pots in which piti is cooked and served. The traditional way of eating piti is divided into two courses. First, the broth from the pot is poured over small pieces of bread with onions and sumakh. The rest of the piti is then mashed in individual pots and served as a main course.
Return to Baku. Check-in to the hotel.
Dinner time. Main dish: ‘Sabzi plov’ (Herbal/Green Pilaf) is a different type of plov cooked with a mixture of green herbs, such as garlic chives, cilantro, dill, spinach, sorrel and tarragon. Usually made with lamb, but it`s possible to get a vegetarian option as well.
6th Day: Breakfast at the hotel. Pick-up at 10:00. Our excursion will start with visiting Gala village (40 min drive from Baku), which today is the State Historical Ethnographic Reserve and Open Air Museum offering 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 bake bread in ancient oven “tandir”, weave a carpet, smear with clay in a pottery workshop or feed camels and horses.
Lunch time. Main dishes: ‘Kufta Bozbash’ is a soup made with jumbo apple-size meatballs cooked in a simple broth with chickpeas and potatoes. Usually dried sour plums or cherry plums are being put in the middle of the meatballs. ‘Chykhyrtma’ is a stewed chicken with tomatoes, onions and greens in whipped eggs.
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.
Further we will pass through Balakhani village, one of the first places where hundreds of oil wells had been discovered and led to arise of the oil barons in Azerbaijan in 19th century. Virtually, the history of Azerbaijan as an oil country had begun at the moment when the first pipeline Balakhani-Baku was launched. Being an industrial area for more than hundred years has led to a poor environmental situation, but today the village is completely renovated and is ready to tell its story of oil boom in Azerbaijan.
And the final stop of our tour is the 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 mesmerise those who visit the site.
Dinner time. Main dish: Fish (or chicken) ‘lavangi’ is very popular in the south region of Azerbaijan – Lankaran. Lavangi is made from the whole fish stuffed with a scrumptious walnut paste along with raisins, onions, and herbs.
7th Day: Breakfast at the hotel. Check out, transfer to the airport.
Hotel accommodation at 3* hotel on BB basis: in Baku – 5 nights, in Gabala – 1 night
All transportation according to the program, including airport-hotel-airport transfers
Excursions according to the program
1 Traditional Azerbaijani breakfast, 5 lunches and 5 dinners on excursion days
Professional guide (English, Russian, Arabic)
1 bottle of water per person per excursion day
Flight tickets & visa (if required)
Extras at the hotel, tips at the sites and restaurants
Tickets to museums: Sheki Khan’s Palace – 3$ (compulsory), Gala –7$ (compulsory), Ateshgah and Yanardag (combo ticket) – 6,50$ (compulsory)
“Tufandag” Winter-Summer Tourism Complex: cable car – 13$ (compulsory), any entertainments (optional);
Lunches and dinners except the ones included in the program
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.
It`s possible to organize Traditional Azerbaijani breakfast on other days of the tour as well for additional price.
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.