Gems of azerbaijan’s north-western tourism route
One of the main travel routes in Azerbaijan lies in the north-western part of the country. Blessed with amazing nature, breath-taking landscapes as well as fascinating historical heritage, destinations on this route is a perfect choice filled with family-friendly activities and wide selection of accommodation options surrounded by spectacular views.
The very first stop along the north-western route is Shamakhi. This is a historical city located about 1.5-hour drive from the capital Baku, where you can find the oldest mosque in Azerbaijan, Juma mosque, built in 743 AD. Shamakhi is also a great destination for a family holiday – alpaca farm will entertain kids with a nice playground while a real safari in the picturesque Caucasus Mountains will do the same for adults. Another interesting activity here would be stargazing at Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory with the largest telescope in the region. Stop at the Abgora restaurant for traditional lunch with the view to majestic Caucasus and vast grape plantations.
Located an hour’s drive from Shamakhi, Ismayilli is known for its authentic villages and towns. One of them is Basgal, where you can still feel the traces of the ancient Silk Road. This place is considered to be home to “kelaghayi” making – a silk headscarf for women, which is included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Another interesting village here is Lahij, known for the art of hat making, leather production, blacksmithing and carpet weaving. You can also find nice cabin houses in Ismayilli to be in peaceful harmony with the wonders of the nature and sooth your mind.
Ismayilli is followed by Gabala with amazing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Tufandagh Mountain Resort operates in summer as well as in winter with its luxury hotels and different activities for all ages. Gabala is also home to a high-class shooting centre against the backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains. With cottages and an excellent onsite restaurant, the centre is also a nice choice for those who wish to simply relax in fabulous natural surroundings. You can also treat yourself to various healing procedures at the first-rate health centres where modern treatment methods are applied.
Located about 1.5-hour drive from Gabala is the historical city Sheki. Once located on the ancient Silk Road, this city is one of the country’s true travel jewels. If you’ve come this far, it is recommended that you enjoy exploring the handicraft shops and caravanserais, cobblestone streets and colourful sweet shops. It is also home to the latest addition to UNESCO World Heritage List in the country – Sheki Khan’s Palace together with the historic centre of the city. While here, make sure you try delightful dishes from local cuisine, such as the hearty dish piti and halva.
This iconic route ends with Gakh and Zagatala, both famous for spectacular views, historical spots as well as delicious produce. From learning ancient beekeeping methods and tasting organic honey in Gakh to trying delicious trout fish at a local farm, these two cities will be cherry on top of your adventurous vacation.
Thus, you can return from your next trip to Azerbaijan with unforgettable memories, enjoying all the experiences of the north-western route surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains, where natural wonders, historical and cultural heritage as well as delicious food are topped with warm hospitality.