Our travels in Azerbaijan
Whilst we were travelling in Azerbaijan, we utilised a number of different modes of transport. Below is a summary of where we went, the mode of transport used, the length of time the journey took, and how far it was.
|Journey||Mode of transport||Distance (miles)||Time taken||Cost per person (Manat)|
|Georgia border to Balaken||Taxi||10||15 mins||4|
|Balaken to Sheki||Marshrutka||68||2 hrs 45 mins||4|
|Sheki to Baku||Marshrutka||190||5 hrs 30 mins||9|
|Baku to Alat||Bus||50||2 hrs 15 mins||3.8|
|Alat to Alat Port||Taxi||3||10 mins||1.5|
Accommodation is available to suit all budgets in Azerbaijan. Our experience is that you get what you pay for. We stayed in Sheki and Baku on our travels throughout the country. Using Booking.com to book the accommodation. From our experience, the hotels we stayed in were completely different.
Then there is a story about both of them. The Guest House in Sheki tried to charge us double the amount our Booking.com confirmation stated. The room was large and clean enough but smelled of cigarette smoke and the bathroom had a pungent odour. Our room was adjacent to the staff room. The member of staff working that night was playing on his mobile phone. It was so loud, we had to ask him to turn it down so we could sleep.
We arrived at the hotel in Baku to be told that they were full. On the production of our Booking.com confirmation, we were advised that the hotel had a “booking system” problem and there was nothing they could do. The receptionist offered us an alternative hotel.
This hotel just happened to be their sister hotel. As it was getting late, we went for it. The receptionist took us the 5 min walk to the hotel. Unfortunately, this alternative hotel wasn’t to our liking. Contacting Booking.com, we advised them of the situation. Booking.com was brilliant. They found us another hotel, which was to our liking.
Don’t expect tea/coffee making facilities in hotels or guest houses. Bathrooms are western style, with bath or shower. Toiletries were provided.
WiFi may be advertised as being available, generally, it is, but the signal strength and quality can be poor in the rooms that aren’t close to the router.
Marshrutkas are the minibuses used throughout Azerbaijan. They are a fast and cheap way to travel in both between cities and in the cities, following fixed routes. They don’t have a fixed timetable. Just flag it down, if there is space they will stop, if they are full they will just keep going. It is not uncommon for 15 people to crowd into a 10 seat minibus.
There is luggage space at the back and under the seats. Expect luggage and local’s bags to be stacked in the aisle. Men will usually sit at the back, women in the front. If there are a few people waiting for a minibus, it will be a free for all when it arrives. Don’t assume there will be any sort of orderly queue.
If getting a marshrutka from one of the terminal stops you may have to wait for it to fill up before it leaves. During this waiting time, if you leave the minibuses to go to the toilet or shop, ensure something is left on your seat to reserve it.
Fares are set and the same price applies for both foreigners and locals.
Tickets are purchased by paying the driver. Be cautious when using these minibuses. The condition of both the vehicle and the driver may not be what you are used to in the west. Should you feel the vehicle is not roadworthy, wait for one that you feel happy with.
They are a safe and quicker way of getting around. We had to use taxis on a couple of occasions. Getting from the Georgian border to Balaken and again from Alat to Alat Port. Be cautious when using taxis. The condition of both the vehicle and the driver may not be what you are used to in the west. Should you feel the vehicle is not roadworthy, get another that you feel happy with.
Our first experience was a modern taxi. The second was an old former Soviet Lada taxi, roadworthy, just uncomfortable. Agree on the price before travel as it will be inflated if you are a foreigner.