Azerbaijan today is a unique blend of the many cultures and empires that have passed, as well as its hometown of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Caucasus. Whether you want to explore the most modern areas of cities or escape to mountains or beaches, Azerbaijan has something to offer.
Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan and its largest city, built around the fortified Icheri-Sheher Temple. Walk through the narrow alleys, discover many attractions around every corner, or enjoy the extensive parks and world-class facilities in the most up-to-date parts of the city. You will find yourself that Baku is a charming city on par with many other global cities. Explore the history of Azerbaijan at the Shirvanshahs Palace, and climb the Virgo to see the entire Baku. To do something outside the tourist spots, try some shopping through the pedestrian streets of Baku or have a meal at one of the fine restaurants around the city, which serves traditional Azerbaijani food and classic international dishes.
Diversity in landscapes and climatic zones make the Land of Fire an alluring destination at any time of the year. Here’s the best time to visit Azerbaijan for sightseeing in the lowlands, enjoying the seasonal migratory birds, hiking in the Caucasus Mountains and having cultural experiences.
When Christmas is out of the way, most tourists head to warmer climates rather than the cold and icy Caucasus. But the braver tourists who do can experience an exceptional New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebration in Baku. Baku itself is full of lights and color decorating the streets, and endless parties in the bars, hotels, and restaurants entertain tourists. New Year’s celebrations take place in other parts of the country, but Baku is by far the most active. Stick around the capital until the end of the month for Martyrs Day. The holiday on January 20 commemorates the loss of 130 Azerbaijani lives when Soviet tanks stormed the city during protests on January 20, 1990.
The average temperature in Baku: 2-7°C (36-44°F). Rainy days: 6. Snowy days: 4.
Winters in Azerbaijan tend to be relatively mild along the Caspian Sea and cold in the interior. Snowfall is frequent in some parts of the country towards the Caucasus Mountains. If the weather feels dreary, head to one of Azerbaijan’s skiing resorts at either Shahdag or Tufandag. Fewer tourists visit Azerbaijan in the winter and accommodation can be snapped up for just a few dollars.
The average temperature at Mount Shahdag: -20°C (-4°F). Snowy days: 15+.
Novruz Bayrami, the Persian New Year, takes place towards the end of March. The Zoroastrian celebration is a national holiday in Azerbaijan to honor spring’s arrival. Locals host regular events and festivals with endless supplies of traditional food and drinks. Tourists visiting in late spring should aim to be in Azerbaijan to experience this unique and once-in-a-lifetime cultural event. As the spring starts, green foliage starts to fill the landscapes with colour before the summer’s parched brown.
The average temperature in Baku: 4-10°C (39-50°C). Rainy days: 5.
Sheki, an ancient town dating back more than 2000 years, sits in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. With an abundance of history and culture in this destination near the Georgian border, visiting Sheki often rates as a top activity in Azerbaijan. Winters tend to be cold and harsh. Given the location near the mountains, head to Sheki in spring and experience the rebirth of the leaves and flowers.
The average temperature in Sheki: 5-19°C (41-66°F). Rainy days: 12.
Walk around the streets of many towns and cities in Azerbaijan and be greeted with the name May 28. The date refers to Republic Day, which marks the day the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was formed in 1918. For a brief two years until 1920, the nation was independent. Expect celebrations and limited opening times in shops along with potential travel disruptions. Baku is the best place to experience Republic Day celebrations in Azerbaijan.
The average temperature in Baku: 15-22°C (59-72°F). Rainy days: 3.
Summers in Azerbaijan are hot. By hot, expect temperatures to sometimes reach 40°C (104°F) in Baku. Combine the heat with humidity from the Caspian Sea, and it makes an uncomfortable place for sightseeing in June. That being said, most of Baku’s population seems to take long siestas in the afternoon and emerge again after nightfall, when the temperatures are more tolerable. Consider heading to one of the beach resorts or head south to Lankaran.
The average temperature in Lankaran: 28-34°C (84-93°F). Rainy days: 1
While summer might be hot in the lowlands, the highlands experience more pleasant temperatures making it an ideal time for hiking. Head to either Sheki or Quba and expect more comfortable temperatures. For this reason, July is the best time for hiking in the Caucasus Mountains. Xinaliq’s snow only melts in July. In the Azerbaijan lowlands, expect temperatures to hover around the lows 30s (86-95°F).
The average temperature in Xinaliq: 10-20°C (50-68°F). Rainy days: 6.
Visiting Baku in summer isn’t a problem for those who don’t mind the hot sunny weather. Local tends to head to the beaches along the Absheron Peninsula. Strong winds tend to blow across the Caspian Sea, cooling the air slightly. Consider visiting Quba to escape the coastal heat. The small cultural town nestled in the foothill of the Caucasus Mountains is enshrined in history and traditions. From the world’s only all-Jewish settlement outside Israel, to ancient mountain villages and a variety of languages, Quba makes an intriguing place to visit in Azerbaijan’s summer.
The average temperature in Quba: 18-28°C (64-82°F). Rainy days: 1.
Lake Goygol near Ganja in Central Azerbaijan ranks among the most beautiful spots in the country. With its deep blue colors and surrounding forests, the mountainous lake attracts hordes of local tourists each year. Visiting Lake Goygol on a day trip from Ganja is a common activity. But arguably one of the best times to visit Azerbaijan to see the lake is towards the end of summer. The green leaves change to orange, browns, and auburn blanketing the perimeter of the lake.
The average temperature in Lake Goygol: 7-18°C (45-65°F). Rainy days: 6
The transition between summer and autumn is abrupt. Clouds roll over Baku in October and the capital experiences more drizzle. Temperatures hover in the mid-20s with cooler evenings. According to locals, the best time to visit Azerbaijan is during October after the oppressive summer heat and before the onset of winter. Sightseeing in Baku and taking day trips to visit Ateshgah, Yanar Dag (Baku’s ‘Burning Mountain’) and Gobustan National Park will be much more comfortable. Heading to the highlands and hiking in the Caucasus might not be such a good idea. Independence Day celebrations take place on October 18 throughout the country too.
The average temperature in Baku: 14-20°C (57-68°F). Rainy days: 6.
Few take the time to visit Azerbaijan towards the end of the year when temperatures plummet. But those with a passion for wildlife and the outdoors might appreciate the bird migration. Amateur twitters and experienced ornithologists can observe a variety of birds in Azerbaijan at all times of the year in the national parks. Seasonal birds fly from the harsh Russian winter, making bird-watching an activity to be enjoyed as autumn transitions to winter. Many of the national parks are located along the coast.
Average temperature along the Southern Coast of Azerbaijan: 7-14°C (45-57°C). Rainy days: 4-10.
Despite Azerbaijan having a majority Muslim population, the locals still embrace Christmas celebrations throughout the country. From Christmas markets to themed nights at bars and restaurants, tourists will get a taste of the festival spirit in Azerbaijan.
The average temperature in Baku: 5-10°C (41-50°F). Rainy days: 6. Snow days: 3.
Christmas is still celebrated in Azerbaijan despite having a Muslim majority
When not to go to Azerbaijan?
The best time to visit Azerbaijan depends on the specific itinerary and travel plans. Locals suggest avoiding the middle of both summer and winter when temperatures soar to 40°C (104°F) or plummet to below freezing. Spring and early autumn experience more pleasant temperatures for sightseeing while hiking in the Caucasus Mountains should only be attempted in summer.
With the majority of people identifying as Muslim in Azerbaijan, it might be easy to assume travel difficulties during the fasting month of Ramadan. But, unlike other Islamic nations further south in the Middle East, Azerbaijan is secular. Everything goes on as usual. Restaurants, cafés, and bars open and will be full. Traveling to Azerbaijan in Ramadan shouldn’t pose any problems. The Islamic Eid al Adha or ‘Festival of Sacrifice’ is celebrated in Azerbaijan too.
Source: By Sam Bedford