Ever wondered what 2020 has smacked on us! For me, it is ‘my independent solo travel’. But unfortunately, travelling came to a halt because of the pandemic, COVID 19. As referring to news, the trains and domestic flights have been started for more than a month now across the nation. But International Tourism is yet to pave way for it.
As we have seen over the last few years, solo travel is becoming more and more popular with people wishing to escape everyday reality and experience something new. Azerbaijan is ready to welcome and surprise all categories of tourists, including those preferring to travel alone.
Azerbaijan offers many options for spending a vacation here, starting from Baku with its modern landmarks and ancient heritage. Alone or not, the city has something for everyone, be it strolling along the Caspian promenade – the Boulevard, visiting the UNESCO-listed Old City or enjoying the unique architectural blend of East and West. History lovers should take a walking tour of Baku’s Oil-Boom architecture that led to Baku’s former nickname of the ‘Paris of the Caucasus’. Meanwhile, culture vultures should browse the magnificent Carpet Museum and immerse themselves in the mesmerising world of Azerbaijani carpet weaving. Then hop in a taxi to the eye-catching Heydar Aliyev Centre – a world-class exhibition and museum complex with curations exploring the best of local and global art and culture.
Beyond the city centre, there is much more to explore. Solo travellers should visit the Ateshgah Fire Temple, built around natural flames previously worshipped by ancient Zoroastrians. Couple this with a trip to nearby Yanardag, the Burning Mountain, where a 10-metre wall of flames blazes day and night at the base of a hillside. After a day of discovery in the capital, a great way to unwind would be to take a wine bar crawl to discover a wide array of tantalising flavours, from worldwide classics to unique Azerbaijani wines, while socialising with locals as well.
After exploring the capital, definitely take a trip out to Azerbaijan’s regions, where one of the best experiences is hiking into the magnificent mountains between rural villages. One such village is Khinalig, a potential UNESCO World Heritage site due to its unique historical, ethnographical and architectural features. Another great place to visit is charming Sheki, a former Silk Road city located in north-west Azerbaijan whose historic centre is Azerbaijan’s latest UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you’ll feel the spirit of the past as you admire monuments like the Sheki Khan’s Palace and explore the city’s craft shops, cobblestone streets and colourful sweet shops.
Azerbaijan is home to 9 out of 11 climate zones with almost every kind of geography imaginable, from mountains and forests to steppes and hundreds of kilometres of coastline – ideal for exploring the outdoors! Solo travellers looking for an adventure can go rafting, off-roading or mountain biking, or get involved in thrilling high-altitude sports at the mountain resorts of Shahdag in Gusar and Tufandag in Gabala, offering high-class hotels, spas, and restaurants.
Lastly, it should be stressed that Azerbaijan is a very safe country with tolerant and welcoming people. There is not much to worry about here even if travelling alone, because as a saying here goes – “a guest is sacred”. If ever you need something or are in trouble, all you need to do is ask a local.