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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Azerbaijan

Getting Around Azerbaijan

Air

Azerbaijan Airlines (www.azal.az) operates several flights a day between Baku and the Azeri 'exclave' of Nakhchivan, which is cut off from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenia. There are also connections from Baku to Ganja, Gabala, Yevlakh, Zaqatala and Lankaran.

Although distances appear short on the map, if time is tight air travel knocks several hours off a road journey. Tickets at short notice are widely available throughout the year, except on national holidays when many Baku residents like to visit their family in the country.

Road

Azerbaijan's recent prosperity means that the number of cars on the road is in danger of exceeding the road capacity, although new highways are under construction throughout the country.

Visitors should note that many local drivers do not adhere to traffic regulations; it is estimated that almost half of all drivers have not passed a test but obtained their licence through 'connections'.

Self-drive is only recommended to seasoned motorists, but alert and confident drivers may relish the freedom to visit those out-of-the-way beauty spots. Traffic police are numerous and keen to fine visitors and locals alike for speeding offences.

Side of the road

Right

Road Quality

Road conditions away from Baku are often pretty poor and 4-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for journeys into the mountains. Roads are rarely lit outside major towns.

Road Classification

Dual carriageways are increasingly common on key commercial routes between Baku and major regional towns. Part of the route from Baku to Ganja is classed as motorway but resembles the usual dual carriageways.

Car Hire

International car hire firms including Hertz and Avis are based in downtown Baku, along with many local firms. The legal minimum age to hire a car is 21. To book a car at Baku airport, contact Tipoa Car Hire (tipoa.com) or 3 Click Car Hire (www.3clickcarhire.com).  

Taxi

Taxis are widely available in both cities and rural areas. Agree a fare before setting off; meters are not widely used and the initial fares suggested may be high. It is often possible to hire a taxi for a day's sightseeing at prices comparable to self-drive. Drivers are usually competent but are prone to driving alarmingly fast.

Bike

There are very few push bikes in Baku and local drivers have little experience sharing the roads with bikes. Not recommended.

Coach

Mtrans (tel: +994 12 499 7038; www.mtrans.az) runs regular services between Baku and most major towns. The buses are modern, comfortable and a relatively inexpensive way of travelling around Azerbaijan.

Regulations

U-turns are banned, as is driving while using a mobile phone. Note that left-hand turns across the traffic are forbidden. Seat belts are compulsory. There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of drink. Speed limits are 40-60kph (25-37mph) in residential zones, 90kph on the open road and 110kph (68mph) on highways.

Breakdown services

Your car hire company may be able to help but there is no official organisation.

Documentation

An International Driving Permit or licence issued by an EU country is required. Also carry the vehicle registration document, your passport, proof of insurance and a check-up card that proves the vehicle has passed its annual roadworthiness test.

Urban travel

Baku's metro mainly connects the suburbs to the centre and so most visitors use taxis or private cars for trips within the city centre. Buses to the suburbs are cheap but often overcrowded. Public transport is very safe.

Rail

Rail connections are slow but fares are very reasonable. The main routes from Baku are northwest to the Georgian border and Caucasus Mountains and south to Astara and Iran. Visit www.railway.gov.az for more details.

RailNote

For overnight journeys, S/V is the most comfortable class and provides a private two-berth cabin with bunk beds.

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