Petroglyphs and Petro-dollars

The epicenter of a 21st century oil boom, Azerbaijan sits on the western Caspian Sea shore and lays claim to vast reserves of oil and gas.  Here, travelers can stay in a glass-and-steel luxury hotel, yet still experience the classic vividness of Azerbaijani hand loomed carpets and the mesmerizing music of mugham, its chanting melodies passed from ear to ear over centuries.

Why Travel with MIR to Azerbaijan
  • 30 years of Azerbaijan travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Harvard and the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia have chosen MIR to guide them to Azerbaijan
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
Signature Why end mights

We regularly garner raves from our travelers for the inspired opportunities we provide to help them get to know the distinctive art, architecture and accomplishments of the age-old country of Azerbaijan.  Below is just a sampling of the Azerbaijan experiences MIR has designed to take our clients far from the familiar.

  • Dazzle your eyes with the vivid colors and bold designs of Azeri carpets
    Admire the vivid colors and bold designs of Azeri, Caucasian and Persian carpets at the Museum of Azerbaijani Carpets and Applied Folk Art....
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    Dazzle your eyes with the vivid colors and bold designs of Azeri carpets

    Azerbaijan

    Baku, Azerbaijan

    Admire the vivid colors and bold designs of Azeri, Caucasian and Persian carpets at the Museum of Azerbaijani Carpets and Applied Folk Art.

    Journeys with this Signature Why end might

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  • Learn about Neolithic artists through their ancient rock carvings
    Visit Azerbaijan’s UNESCO-listed ancient petroglyphs on the Caspian Sea, discovered by accident in the 1930s....
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    Learn about Neolithic artists through their ancient rock carvings

    Azerbaijan

    Gobustan, Azerbaijan

    Visit Azerbaijan’s UNESCO-listed ancient petroglyphs on the Caspian Sea, discovered by accident in the 1930s.

    Journeys with this Signature Why end might

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  • Spend some time in the Villa Petrolea Nobel Brothers’ Museum
    Explore the Villa Petrolea Nobel Brothers’ Museum; the history of Baku’s oil boom is inextricably bound up with the Nobel family, including Alfred, the man who...
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    Spend some time in the Villa Petrolea Nobel Brothers’ Museum

    Azerbaijan

    Baku, Azerbaijan

    Explore the Villa Petrolea Nobel Brothers’ Museum; the history of Baku’s oil boom is inextricably bound up with the Nobel family, including Alfred, the man who established the Nobel Prizes.

    Journeys with this Signature Why end might

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  • Explore an 18th century caravanserai
    Imagine yourself a Silk Route merchant as you explore an 18th century caravanserai in Sheki, Azerbaijan....
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    Explore an 18th century caravanserai

    Azerbaijan

    Sheki, Azerbaijan

    Imagine yourself a Silk Route merchant as you explore an 18th century caravanserai in Sheki, Azerbaijan.

    Journeys with this Signature Why end might

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Ways to Travel to Azerbaijan with MIR

We love the hustle and bustle of Baku, but would also like to take you out in the countryside to appreciate the ancient culture, village life and Zoroastrian heritage found more readily away from the capital.  MIR gets you out of the box and into peoples’ lives.

Take a look at your options, from small group escorted tours to independent trips, from luxury rail journeys to custom and private travel:

Small Group Tours
Treasures of the South Caucasus

Treasures of the South Caucasus

Classic Survey of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia

Travels to: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Caucasus

15 Days / Departures in April, September 2018

Small Group land tour from $7,395

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Village Traditions of the South Caucasus

Village Traditions of the South Caucasus

Local Life & Landscapes of Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan

Travels to: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Caucasus

21 Days / Departures in July 2018

Small Group land tour from $7,995

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Rail Journeys by Private Train
Caspian Odyssey by Private Train: Eastbound

Caspian Odyssey by Private Train: Eastbound

South Caucasus to Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, South Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

16 Days / Departures in October, September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $21,495

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Custom and private travel is our specialty. We’ve been designing unforgettable custom itineraries from the coast to the mountains of Azerbaijan for 30 years; a majority of our guests travel on custom itineraries.

For ideas, peruse one of our Regional Travel Planners, a roundup of the must-sees from our savvy staff.

Take a look at our suggested Private Journey, Essential Caucasus, or read more about how to design your own trip.  Also, consider this: You can customize our Treasures of the South-Caucasus or other small group South Caucasus tours to match your preferred dates of travel.

Design Your Own Custom Trip

Traveling privately on a custom program means flexibility:

  • You set the dates, the focus and the level of accommodations.
  • You are met on arrival and seen off at the end of your trip.
  • Your in-country transportation is pre-arranged hassle-free.
  • Your own expert local guides ensure that you get the most out of your visit.
  • And the best part? You travel at your own pace on an itinerary exclusive to you.

Check out just a handful of our Azerbaijan signature experiences below and then get in touch with a MIR Private Journey Specialist to craft an itinerary that suits your travel goals, budget and style.  Or get started planning now.

Suggested Itineraries for Private Travel

Whether you’re looking for a compact trip with all the highlights or something a little roomier with some of the extras, MIR offers itineraries that are available on a private departure basis with your choice of dates. They can also serve as inspiration for your own custom itinerary.

Our itinerary, your dates – great for solo travelers, couples or small groups.

Essential Caucasus

Essential Caucasus

Highlights of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

Travels to: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Caucasus

Departures in April, May, June, July, August, September, October 2018

This itinerary available as a private journey

See Trip

Weather
Our Favorite Places in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan

Baku

Baku’s Old Town, or Icheri Sheher, was once the whole city, and it is the best place to picture Baku’s history.  It is completely encircled by the old city walls with their medieval gates.  The winding streets and alleyways are home to private residences, mosques and madrassahs, carpet merchants and tiny shops. The aura of the past that permeates the town rewards exploration and careful investigation with surprising glimpses of a bygone era.  One of its mysteries is the Maiden Tower, overlooking the sea on one side and the Old Town on the other.  Historical researchers have a difficult time firmly fixing the date of its construction, and suggestions as to its function range from watchtower to a place for Zoroastrian sky burial.

Baku’s inhabitants stayed behind the 14th century walls of their town almost until the 19th century, when the Russian empire began exploiting in earnest the great oil reserves under the waters of the Caspian.  An oil boom that lasted from 1880 to 1915 left a region of beaux arts mansions built by the newly-rich. Today Baku is experiencing a second oil boom and modern buildings are appearing all over town.

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Azerbaijan

Shemakha

A renowned grape growing and winemaking district, Shemakha through most of its history was the major commercial center of western Azerbaijan.  Present-day Shemakha is known for its sweet wines and its finely woven carpets.

Explore the town, including the recreated 10th century Djuma Mosque, the oldest mosque in the Caucasus.  Across the valley is the Yeddi Gumbaz royal mausoleum where the Shirvan khans were buried; from here one can look back at the twin hills overlooking Shemakha where the 12th century Golestan Fortress and the citadel stood during its years as a capital.

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Journeys that travel to Shemakha

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Azerbaijan

Sheki

Sheki is one of the oldest towns in Azerbaijan, claiming to have been founded some 2,700 years ago.  Set in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by beech and oak forests, Sheki was moved in 1772 after a terrible mudslide destroyed the original town.  Having chased out Persian rule, Sheki was an independent khanate until the 1820s when Russia finally got a grip on it.  It is home to a well-preserved khan’s palace with 500-year-old trees in its rose garden.  The town is renowned for its carpets and its special type of sweet halvah.  Visit the mosaic-covered khan’s palace with its brilliant stained glass work, called shebeke, and the fortress that surrounds the palace, with its History and Crafts museums.

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Journeys that travel to Sheki

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Azerbaijan

Gobustan

Just thirty miles from Baku lies an important site of ancient petroglyphs, Gobustan, added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007.  Quarry workers discovered the rock carvings here by accident in the 1930s.  Since then, the carvings depicting men, women, animals and artifacts have been the focus of much study and speculation.

Thor Heyerdahl famously proposed that the carvings of boats show that the Scandic people of Norway descended from the prehistoric residents of this area, though his theory hasn’t been proven.  The record left by these ancient people does attest to a far vaster Caspian Sea, and gives insight into details of daily life such as hunting and recreation, culture and economy.

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Journeys that travel to Gobustan

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When to Travel to Azerbaijan

Navruz, throughout Azerbaijan (March)

Baku Victory Day

Navruz is a feast of spring and the coming of the new year, originating in Persia. The celebration is marked by general housecleaning, concerts in parks and squares, and trade fairs. Unlike the western New Year, Navruz is celebrated during daytime hours and lasts for 13 days, during which time it is common practice to visit friends and relatives, buy and plant seedlings of fruit trees, have outdoor gatherings and exchange gifts.