Travel diary: Whisk your kids away to Azerbaijan for a late summer getaway
Already palpitating at the thought of a brood of energetic toddlers at home this season?
Hit pause on the daily routine and sweep them away for a holiday of a lifetime at a destination that can be a treat for you and an unforgettable experience for them.
Azerbaijan is nestled between Europe and Asia and rich in culture, attractions, delicious food and music.
One can easily spend 10 days across the nation from experiencing the amalgamation of the old and new in Baku to the natural untouched greenery of the Western region.
With temperatures dropping to 6-19 °C, the season in Azerbaijan is sunny and bright with a cool breeze; the perfect weather to partake in exhilarating activities for the little ones.
Here are the top ten Instagram-worthy excursions and sights we recommend across Azerbaijan:
Fly into Baku to:
See Baku Boulevard - a haven for kid’s activities
Breathe in the salty fresh air of the Caspian ocean while you stroll the pleasant town of Baku Boulevard.
Within it, you will find a small Venetian dream made up of a myriad of islands with gondolas sailing through the canals and restaurants dotted across the shore.
Beyond that, Baku Boulevard is the centre of entertainment: from offering eye-catching Instagram story photo opportunities near ancient trains to panoramic views of the city upon its hypnotic Baku Ferris Wheel (Baku Eye), there is so much to see before the day ends.
Don’t forget to check out the Yarat Modern Art Space that offers world-class master classes and phenomenal performances for whole family. End the day by the Mirvari ship that has its own restaurant to truly relish the Caspian seaside experience.
See Baku Boulevard at its best with a half-marathon taking place on 5th May starting from the Boulevard until the Baku Olympic Stadium.
Soak in the history of the city at Icherisheher
The walls of Icherisheher whisper the ancient mysteries of the city. Known as old town or inner city, it is located in the heart of Baku and is a maze of narrow roads spotted with limestone buildings.
A sight that’s difficult to miss is the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower, both listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites List.
The Palace itself is known as the Pearl of Azerbaijani architecture as it is made up of several different structures built throughout the ages with each adding a beautiful amalgamation of medieval, Asian and Islamic influences.
Another mystery is the Maiden Tower. This cylindrical stark tower has baffled historians and to date has theories aplenty about its origins and the exact date of construction.
Despite that, it is one of the most iconic structures in the city housing a museum covering the history of Baku and marked around it are beautiful scriptures that hint at the possible roots of this historical feat.
It is also home to the International Festival of Arts and regularly showcasing work from innovative artists against its mystic backdrop.
Besides that, Icheri Sheher offers some of the most eccentric and outstanding feats.
The Museum of Miniature Books, a Guinness Book record-holder, open to all for free, houses the largest number of miniature books at 5,600 and don’t forget to spot your national flag to find books from your home country.
Another place to stop by is the Ali Shamsi Studio, a wonderland of paintings that transport you to another dimension of reality and mind-boggling installations.
You will often find the artist and philosopher Ali Shamsi there who can talk you through the burgeoning art scene in the city.
View the fiery temple of Ateshgah and the Burning mountain at Yanar Dag
The Eternal Fire Temple amazes visitors with its enrapturing flames and features 16 inscriptions that harbour centuries-old secrets.
This Zoroastrian-Hindu temple in Surakhani dates to the 19th century and is a melting pot of the Western and Eastern cultures. This mystic temple is sure to leave you and the kids in awe.
Still got time before you head back to the city? A short 45-minute drive away in Mehemmedi is the scorching gas-rich mountain – Yanar Dag that is known as the burning mountain.
This will definitely keep the children gawking in delight.
Surakhani and Mehemmedi are both a 35-minute drive from Baku.
Gaze through the galaxy at Tusi-Bohm Planetarium and double down on entertainment at the Megafun centre
Journey through the planets and across the galaxy with Tusi-Bohm’s state of the art planetarium in the heart of Baku.
Powered by a phenomenal 4K projector, the Planetarium offers scores of movies, cartoons, enlightening documentaries and special exhibits – it is a stargazer’s dream.
After that go visit Europe’s largest indoor entertainment centre housing over 200 games, a gigantic ice skating rink, mind-blowing rollercoasters, largest bowling centre and 5D and 6D cinemas.
Megafun will delight the whole family with its massive number of activities for all ages.
The Tusi-Bohm Planetarium is at 1 Neftchilar avenue, “Park Bulvar” Shopping Centre, 4th floor, Baku. A 30-minute walk or 3-minute drive away from the planetarium is the Megafun Entertainment Centre.
Indulge in iconic work at the Heydar Aliyev Centre
Designed by the illustrious architect, Zaha Hadid, it is notably one of the most iconic landmarks in the city of Baku.
Besides the building’s magnificent architecture, it houses some of the best art curations in the city and right in the front of the centre you cannot miss the plethora of free masterclasses from tango, chess to capoeira reaffirming that the Heydar Aliyev Centre is the place to be.
There are four massive floors dedicated to modern and classic art and culture including a colossal collection of vintage cars, several salivating and decedent fashion exhibits alongside a full-fledged museum to add to the mix.
At 1 Heydar Aliyev prospekti, Baku.
Check out the primitive petroglyphs of Gobustan and the Mud Volcanoes
Rising out of the semi-desert Gobustan is a UNESCO Cultural Landscape of more than 6,000 rock engravings, which go back 40,000 years.
You can also see graffiti by a Roman legionary - the furthest east it has ever been found. The Petroglyphs of Gobustan are artistic chronicles of the past.
They bear great importance both for the study of the pre-history of humanity and for the study of lots of spheres of primitive art.
Gobustan’s monuments cover a period of approximately 20 thousand years beginning from the end of Upper Palaeolith till the beginning of our era.
Besides that, did you know that about 350 out of the 800 mud volcanoes known in the World are located in Azerbaijan? Most of them are situated in the Gobustan region.
Some of the volcanoes are considered natural monuments and natural national resources of Azerbaijan.
One hour drive from Baku.
Get pampered at a wellness haven in Gabala
If you are fed up of the concrete jungle, Gabala is the perfect getaway. Surrounded by the silence and tranquillity of the magical pine woods, and overlooking the peaceful Nohur lake, Gabala is a peaceful sanctuary.
With its magnificent forests and cooling mountain waterfalls, you can spend a day (or 2) taking part in outdoor activities from quad biking to horse riding.
It is also a haven for wellness resorts to help detox and refresh your mind. You can find some of the most luxurious spa treatments alongside advanced medical aesthetic treatments including cryo and altitude chambers.
The new Chenot Palace Hotel in Gabala represents a new class of health and wellness retreats in the heart of a breath-taking forest. Nohurgishlag village, Gabala 3600, Azerbaijan. Gabala is a 3.5-hour drive from Baku.
An adrenaline rush and extraordinary elevations await at Gabala
For a spine chilling and thrilling experience, there is no better amusement park that Gabaland.
This “Azerbaijani Disneyland” is located in one of the most picturesque regions of Azerbaijan and is equipped with 6D attractions, roller coasts and a 1000 sqm Laser Maxx playground.
Surrounded by world-class restaurants and the marvellous landscapes of Gabala it is a fun-filled adventure for all.
While Gabala is known as a skier’s paradise in the winter, in the spring, the bird-eye view of the mountains you get from the Tufandag cable cars are unparalleled.
Working year round, the cable car can take you for a round trip or you can stop off close to the peak of the Caucasus mountains is visit the quaint lodges sprinkled between the forests.
Gabala is a 3.5-hour drive from Baku and Gabaland and the Tunfandag cable car is a five-minute drive from Gabala’s city centre. Fly over to the Western region of Azerbaijan to experience…
The idyllic Goygol District
From the rubbles of an earthquake in the Caucasus mountains the 1100s came out some of the most stunning natural feats including Goygol and Maralgol – the country’s best-loved mountain lakes.
Both lakes set beneath the dramatic rocky peak of Mount Kepez and ringed by thick green forests that turn vibrant and green in spring. Celebrated in Azerbaijani poetry, paintings and songs, it is the perfect spot to stop and enjoy a picnic at the meadow.
One-hour drive from Goygol city.
Shamkir’s astonishing city park
Shamkir today is not only a city with its great history; it is also a new town that opens up the whole range of opportunities to its visitors.
Shamkir’s City Park has more than 150 breath-taking amusement rides and Shamkir’s "Zaka" Intellectual Youth Centre’s Library is connected to Follett International, the world’s largest educational library network to spend the day with the family.
Two-hour drive from Goygol.
The Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) is a national promotion body established under the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Its main objectives are to support the growth of Azerbaijan’s tourism industry and encourage visitors to explore the country’s rich cultural offering and experience its ancient heritage. For more information visit the official Azerbaijan travel website and follow them on social media.