Because of this country’s positioning, it is considered by people as being part of Europe and sometimes a part of Asia as well. The country of Azerbaijan can be found on the shore of the Caspian Sea, having as neighbors the countries of Iran, in the south, Armenia, in the west, and Georgia and Russia, in the north.
Azerbaijan also was a Soviet republic. The culture here is very similar to that in Turkey as the population, mainly composed of Azeris, have been influenced by it. There have also been Persian and Russian influences throughout the time.
Among the minorities that can be found in Azerbaijan, we have the Georgians, Tatars, Avars, Ukrainians, Turks, Russians, and Lezghins. Therefore, we can consider Azerbaijan as being a small oasis that shelters quite some cultures.
In terms of climate, a great part of the country has a temperate climate for the entire year, with the average national temperature standing at around 14 – 15 degrees Celsius. During the winter, the average temperature usually stands above 0 degrees Celsius, the average being of 0 – 15 degrees Celsius.
On the other hand, during summers, which are usually warm to hot, the temperatures stand at around 20-40 degrees Celsius.
The country of Azerbaijan is composed out of eight regions, including the Nakhchivan exclave – a part of the country that is not inside its borders; this is also the region where the temperatures are much lower in the winter and much, much hotter in the summer.
Worth mentioning are Northeast Azerbaijan and the Sheki Region. The first one can be found in the Greater Caucasus Mountains and is an ethnically diverse region with plenty of green forests, as well.
The Sheki Region is a green mountainous area that can be found near the border with Georgia and Russia. This region is also home to one of the countries loveliest city, Sheki.
Of course, given the recent conflicts that have occurred in and around the country, one must first ask him or herself if is Azerbaijan safe to visit. One of the neighboring countries, Armenia, has seen conflicts with Azerbaijan and with other close European countries as well – so, this must be taken into account as well.
As we always like to keep you informed and up to date with the latest news around the world – in terms of countries, destinations for you to visit -, we have come up with an Azerbaijan safety guide, as well.
Without any further ado, let’s see what the status of Azerbaijan is.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Azerbaijan
Overall Risks in Azerbaijan: MEDIUM
As it can be seen here, a great part of the country is deemed as safe to travel – even though it is recommended that you seek travel advice before venturing into Azerbaijan.
The only region that should be out of your agenda is the Nagorno-Karabakh Region, which is found at the borders with Armenia and Iran – this is because of the conflicts that may arise between these three countries.
This area, as well as the areas surrounding it, is currently occupied by the military and, therefore, it is advised that you don’t get too close to this area – more specific, within 5 km of the border with Armenia and within 5 km of the line of contact that defines the Nagorno-Karabakh Region.
When it comes to crime, the levels are pretty low in Azerbaijan. Naturally, the one that’s most common is petty crime, and it usually occurs in the capital of the country, Baku, and late during the night as well.
However, due to diverse past conflicts, it is recommended that you maintain a heightened level of awareness when visiting Azerbaijan, as terror attacks can’t be entirely excluded – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Azerbaijan: LOW to MEDIUM
How safe is Azerbaijan for tourists that find themselves in the capital city? Well, as mentioned before, the capital city, Baku has the highest level of petty crime throughout Azerbaijan. However, the rates are still generally low.
The British Government reported that around 7,000 British people visit the country of Azerbaijan every year, most of the times for business travel, and that the visits were generally trouble-free, with no major incidents occurring.
A tourist is more likely to be pickpocketed if he or she is anywhere near the western clubs and bars that can be found in a large number in Baku.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Azerbaijan?
We start our list of Azerbaijan safety travel tips with the things you have to do in order to avoid being mugged in this country. First of all, you should try your best to avoid poorly lit areas and buildings that have dimly lit entrances.
Walking during the night is highly advised against. Moreover, you should never carry large sums of money with you – take with you only what’s necessary for your travels. This does not include jewelry or any other vanity items that you may wish to wear.
You should also appoint a private driver or a reputed taxi firm to drop you off to your hotel when you return from your travels. Clearly, do not hail taxis on the street as there have been cases when the drivers themselves robbed their passengers.
Scam Risk in Azerbaijan: LOW
There are no statistics or reports when it comes to scams and fraud schemes that may occur in the country of Azerbaijan. However, this does not mean that you should not worry about them happening.
When asking yourself if is Azerbaijan safe to visit, you have to take into account anything that may pose a danger to you while traveling. Therefore, scams are not out of the picture.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Azerbaijan?
One of the most common tips we have for our travelers is that they should completely avoid withdrawing money from ATMs that are found outside of buildings. While they may look secure, they are easily tampered with and rendered unsafe.
It is always a better idea to withdraw money from within the bank and, therefore, keep you in the safe zone.
When it comes to taxis, their official color is purple – now, the trick here is that, occasionally, drivers will take multiple different passengers that have a similar destination. Of course, all of the passengers that don’t know each other will be taxed separately so that the driver can double or triple its profit.
First of all, you should not share your taxi with any locals/ strangers – as we have mentioned before, they might work hand in hand with the driver and eventually mug you. Then, as corruption is common throughout Azerbaijan, it is recommended that you avoid paying any bribes, to anyone, as they might be used just like a scam.
Kidnapping Risk in Azerbaijan: LOW
You may have noticed so far that the only considerable level of crime in Azerbaijan is that of the petty crime. This being said, more serious crime rarely occurs and does not usually target tourists.
Therefore, while visiting Azerbaijan, you can consider yourself generally safe. However, one of our Azerbaijan safety travel tips states that you should always be on your toes – and also wear a good pair of shoes, as the roads in some areas might be in poor condition.
While there have been no kidnapping reports in the last years, you still have to be cautious about this.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Azerbaijan?
As a rule of thumb, stay inside your accommodation during the night. Our Azerbaijan safety guide recommends you that, in the evening, you should just enjoy a cup of tea – or your beverage of choice -, and plan the next day.
Then, you should avoid traveling alone – if you are a solo traveler and are not in the company of your friends, then you should keep yourself out of remote and unpopulated areas. This includes slums and shady alleys – stay in the places that are recommended for tourists and explore the country safely.
In case anything happens, the local authorities can be contacted by dialing 102 – you can expect English speaking staff on the phone, but if you make a report in person, at a police station, it is recommended that you have someone to interpret for you.
Terrorism Risk in Azerbaijan: LOW to MEDIUM
The terrorism threat in Azerbaijan is relatively low, however, it is reported that it is likely that attacks are carried out. Moreover, on the 31st of January 2018, 4 persons that were suspected of terrorist activity have been killed by the Azerbaijan Security Forces.
More information about this incident has not been made available to the public due to the strict control over Azerbaijan – not even the location of the incident has been reported/ confirmed.
However, the threat still remains low. But this doesn’t mean you should completely rule out terrorism – especially given the situation of the neighboring countries, Armenia and Iran, and the past conflicts between the latter and Azerbaijan.
- How to avoid terrorism in Azerbaijan?
It is best that you avoid the border areas and any large crowds, as well. As a rule of thumb in the case of terrorism, you should avoid official buildings – as they are likely to be targeted – as well as any protests or demonstrations.
The most recent protest took place in early 2016 – it was heavily policed and incidents rose on both sides of the protection fences; namely, both protestors and the police usually turn violent if things seem to get out of control.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Azerbaijan: MEDIUM
If you’re wondering if is Azerbaijan safe for solo women travelers, then we can tell you that it’s generally safe – of course, this level of safety is applied only when you are being extremely cautious.
Naturally, you will most likely be targeted by muggers and robbers – but there is a chance that such a situation might escalate if the attackers see that no one is coming to rescue you.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Azerbaijan?
As you know, our Azerbaijan safety guide has mentioned a couple of times so far that you should avoid walking through poorly lit areas or without any company. This being said, if you are a woman traveling alone, then you should be extremely careful when walking the streets of Azerbaijan.
Therefore, you should dress appropriately and avoid displaying any valuables – but, most important, keep yourself on the beaten path and visit only the places that are meant for tourists.
Rape Risk in Azerbaijan: LOW
It is worth mentioning that westerners are usually friendly and welcoming towards tourists. Common people don’t usually go out of their way in order to harass or attack any foreigners that visit their country.
As proof, we have the rape rate for Azerbaijan in the year of 2014 – only 0.3 cases per 100,000 population. Of course, this is barely significant. Moreover, reportedly, the rape rate has been decreasing ever since, as there have been no major incidents of this type within the country.
- How to avoid getting raped in Azerbaijan?
Therefore, you can rest assured when visiting Azerbaijan – still, remember that this Azerbaijan safety guide recommends you to always be cautious. This is why, we recommend you to be aware of your surroundings and don’t travel during the night, especially not alone.
Of course, you should also not display any valuables, such as large amounts of money and jewelry – as a robbery might always escalate into more unpleasant situations.
Risks for People Traveling With Children in Azerbaijan: LOW
Of course, if you are traveling with your children, then you should clearly not be the only adult on the trip. You can’t always keep an eye on the little ones and, if you want to avoid any unpleasant incidents, it is best if you have someone else accompany you.
The little ones can get lost very easy, especially in the big crowds of the local markets – you really don’t want to deal with finding them in a market that’s probably filled with other tourists and their children and the locals and their children, as well.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Since Azerbaijan is a generally safe country, the only thing you should worry about when traveling with your children is them being under constant surveillance. If you can’t keep an eye on them, then make sure to have someone with you that can do that.
Natural Disaster Risks in Azerbaijan: LOW to MEDIUM
When it comes to natural disasters, the flood has the highest occurrence – of 38.9%. Then, with an occurrence of only 5.6% each, we have storm, drought, landslide, earthquake, and extreme temperature – especially in the Nakhchivan exclave, where both the highest and the lowest temperatures of Azerbaijan have been recorded.
Even if the flood has the highest occurrence, the deadliest natural disaster is represented by landslides, which come with a mortality rate of 27.1%. Then, we have floods with a rate of 17.8%, earthquakes with 9.3%, and extreme temperatures – 4.7%.
Transportation Risks in Azerbaijan: MEDIUM to HIGH
In terms of local travel and transportation, be aware of the fact that travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the military occupied area that surrounds it is highly advised against - if you travel inside these locations without the authorities' permission, you might be charged with criminal offense. We advise you to stay away from the aforementioned regions.
When it comes to road travel, keep in mind that right hand drive cars are not allowed in Azerbaijan - moreover, most cars for rent that you will come across here are usually poorly maintained. Furthermore, driving standards are known to be erratic and accidents to be quite common. In most cases, this is due to reckless driving and no enforcement of the traffic rules.
Road diversions and closures are usually not marked, traffic signs are ignored, and traffic lights are switched to flashing amber during the night. In some areas, the traffic lights might be the only things you can see on the roads, as these are usually badly lit - and, on top of all that, they are in poor condition as well.
There have also been several issues regarding taxis, namely those that overcharge or don't have their taxi meter switched one - in this respect, when entering a taxi, it is recommended that you agree a fare up front with the driver or check that their meter is on. Naturally, you should only get into licensed taxis.
If you plan on traveling in Azerbaijan in winter, keep in mind that snowfall does occur - you should always have a blanket, snacks, and torch in your car. Grab an old carpet as well, since it can be very helpful if you get stuck in the snow. Also, always keep an eye on the weather reports so that you know exactly what to prepare for.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Azerbaijan: MEDIUM
There have been no reports of drink spiking or drugged tourists in recent years in Azerbaijan. However, it is known that, usually after sunset, muggers patrol, so to say, the center of towns and around the western clubs and bars in search for prey. Even if your accommodation is close to the night-club, pub, or bar you are in, we still recommend you to have a taxi get you there rather than walking on foot.
Even though drink spiking doesn't seem to be a thing in this country, we still advise you to keep an eye on your drink and to make sure that it is prepared under your sight - naturally, you should not be accepting any drink from strangers. Still, the risks increase once you leave such facilities, as you are prone to being approached/ assaulted by drunkards or thieves.
You should not go alone to night-clubs and such, as locals might not fully agree with your presence there - the crime rates might be low, but people might still harass you. Try to draw as little attention to you as possible in order to keep out of trouble.
Health Risks in Azerbaijan
If you plan to travel outside Baku, it is recommended that you have a first aid kit with you, as medical facilities outside the aforementioned region are very limited. However, in case of serious injury or illness, the medical facilities in Baku may still not be able to provide you with proper medical care - you might have to be evacuated to Western Europe or Turkey for Treatment.
In this respect, make sure that you have proper travel health insurance and enough funds to cover any treatment, medicine, or medical evacuation - keep a first aid kit close to you at all times if you travel to remote areas, as well as common pills and such.
List of Vaccines You Need in Azerbaijan
Before boarding your place to Azerbaijan, it is recommended that you check which immunizations you need in this country – this includes MMR boosters and other vaccines, as follows:
- Routine Vaccines – Varicella, Polio, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, MMR.
- Hepatitis A and B.
Most Dangerous Areas in Azerbaijan
- Within 5km of the border with Armenia
- Within 5km of the Line of Contact
Concluding Remarks: Is Azerbaijan Safe to Visit?
Well, as you have seen so far, you can safely explore the wonder of this western country without facing too many issues. Naturally, there are some protection measurements you do have to take in order to ensure your safety while you are in the country, but incidents are unlikely to occur.
Therefore, feel free to discover the beauty of the Greater Caucasus Mountains and of the Sheki city – but keep the tips included inside our Azerbaijan safety guide in the back of your mind at all times, as well.
And, as always, good travels!