How to have an inexpensive vacation in Azerbaijan
There is a widespread belief that to have a vacation in Azerbaijan, especially in its capital is not a cheap deal. It is so to a certain extent. There are numerous hotels, restaurants and high-profile entertainment facilities designed to meet the tastes of the most demanding customers. However, to say the least, it is wrong to believe that Baku would be comfortable place for only the thick wallet holders. It’s been already for many years as the State actively develops the Tourism Industry in Azerbaijan and especially in the metropolitan area: the number of hotels of different categories continues to rise; the service infrastructure is improving; the range of offered services gets extended. And please, believe us, you can come to Baku and spend an amazing time with a tiny budget! Let us try to argue that statement.
Savings have always been based around planning. Try to define the timeframe a year before your future trip. The earlier the better. Then you could have significant savings on air tickets. Often during the off-season, especially in January-February, the airline companies carry out discount airfares thanks to which you can purchase the air tickets not only for the specified period but also for the other dates of the current year. Especially the State Air Carrier of Azerbaijan, AZAL often provides such airfares.
Besides that, there is a number of famous low-cost airline companies such as Wizz Air, Flydubai, or Pegasus Airlines that perform flights to Azerbaijan. For instance, Wizz Air Aircrafts conduct two weekly flights between Baku and Budapest. The same Wizz Air with its international flights from Budapest covers 34 destinations around the world and thus can serve to tourists as the logistic gates to Azerbaijan. Regarding ticket prices, they are just unbelievable: the starting price for Wizz Air tickets to Baku is 60 Euro (one way ticket, tax included). Flydubai and Pegasus Airlines rates are a bit higher and their starting price is 160 manat (€151) for flights from Europe to Azerbaijan. There is one common thing among many low-cost airline companies that we should mention here, and it is the absence of additional services that other carriers pamper their customers with (free meals, entertainments on board of aircrafts, etc.) However, for instance, on Flydubai flights you can always for an additional payment order the food or watch a movie on your personal monitor in the aircraft.
And if you’ve got a spontaneous desire to visit Azerbaijan or suddenly an opportunity to have a free week turned up, and yet you don’t want to lose a chance to save money – do not despair, there is always an alternative way available. For instance, you can get to Azerbaijan by train or by bus from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey and some other countries. The train tickets from Moscow to Baku cost starting from €131 (6 189 ruble); from Rostov to Baku – from €68 (3 243 ruble); to get to Baku from Kharkov is possible for €107 (1 685 hrn.) – as starting price, and from Tbilisi for €12 (30 lari).
Travel by bus would be even cheaper. So, a ticket from Moscow to Baku costs €78 (3 700 ruble) (by the way, the route takes you through Rostov). And the bus tickets from Tbilisi to Baku cost the same €12.
If budget allows, of course, you can stay in such hotels as Hilton, JW Marriott Hotel Absheron Baku and etc.: the prices here are almost the same as in other hotels of the same chain worldwide. Nevertheless, there are many other hotels in the capital, though less famous yet offering good service for a quite reasonable price. In particular, you can consider three and four star hotels. Comfort Inn Hotel is one of them and located in Baku International Bus Terminal area. A standard double room with breakfast included costs here 50 manat (€47). And if you make a group reservation with food provided three times a day then it would cost even 30 manat (€28) as starting price per person. If you want to stay closer to the city center then Irshad Hotel would be recommended. A double room here with breakfast included would cost you 90 manat (€85). Another option for you could be Central Park, a four star hotel located in a 5 minute walk distance from Fountains Square and trendy boutiques of the seafront. A standard room with breakfast included would cost here 100 manat (€94). There is a number of small and cozy boutique hotels you can find in Old City, the historical center of Baku which is also known as Inner City. Sultan Inn and Atropat Hotel are just some of them. Now days many people know how to use online reservation systems such as booking.com. Here, not only can you obtain valuable information and get to know features of different hotels around the world, but also make a room reservation for the specified dates. However, we would not recommend you to strictly focus on the prices offered in such websites: very often upon arrival to the facility you can find that the hotel given prices are cheaper then those offered by the websites (taking into account their interest). For sure, you or someone whom you know have friends and relatives living in Azerbaijan. Use this chance and ask their advices: usually local people are aware about good deals and options on accommodation in their own city better. You’ll definitely get helped!
One more advice: if you found your hotel in Azerbaijan by using internet network services then get an email address of the hotel and communicate all your questions and concerns via email. The hotels in Baku mainly use an individual approach to their customers; therefore it is possible that you’re going to be offered a package of services with a price reasonable for you.
Returning to the theme of fashionable hotels, it would be worthy to say that even here you can find a way for savings. For instance, a famous Fairmont chain hotel in Baku is included to The Entertainer Travel 2014 Book of bonuses and you can get a copy of this book from ebay for $3-4 or receive it as a gift if you order a discounts book The Entertainer Dubay 2014 from www.theentertainerrus.com. We should mention that the Voucher inside of the Book will give you “buy one get one free room night” opportunity for Fairmont Baku hotel.
Finally, if you want to stay in Baku for a month or more then rental apartment would be a quite reasonable option for you. There is a pretty wide range of prices for rental apartments in the capital and the prices differ depending on their location, distance from the business center, and in average they cost around 300 manat (€285) per month. More detailed information on rentals in the capital can be obtained from the high-profile real estate agencies of Baku such as New Europe (www.neweurope.az).
There are lots of restaurants and cafés of different class and category one can find in Baku: from fast food chain restaurants like McDonalds and KFC to expensive high-profile establishments like famous Chinar restaurant. Besides that, the city is rich with many small inexpensive restaurants, which offer dishes of both national and European cuisines. So, for sure you won’t stay hungry. The average bill in a prestigious capital restaurant can be about 25 manat (€23). In an average café or restaurant you can easily have lunch or dinner within $8-10.
You should know that many even luxury restaurants during the day time offer business lunch menu, which includes standard set of dishes: soup, main course, salad and drink of your choice. The duration of the offer is usually limited to the interval from 12 a.m. till 3 p.m., and the cost of it varies from 5 to 8 manat (€4,5-7,5). You can have lunch, for example in the decorated in the national style Ud restaurant in the heart of Baku in the building of the International Mugham Center; in the famous Italian restaurant La Strada, which is located behind the building of the State Conservatory; and also in many other similar establishments.
Not many people know that there are many cafés and restaurants in the downtown where you can eat quickly and hearty for a modest sum. Finally, you can purchase food in supermarkets, get salads and so called dishes for heating, semi-finished foods or get groceries and cook something yourself. A little imagination and you are provided with a hearty meal!
Not by the capital alone lives Azerbaijan: there are many interesting opportunities you will find in the countryside areas of the country for a budget and at the same time very substantial vacation. It has to be mentioned that there is a larger variety of low-cost facilities for accommodation and restaurants in the regions of the country than in the capital. Here, far from the bustle of the city, close to nature you can find many motels, boarding houses, sanatoriums and recreation centers. In Sheki, for instance, only for 20 manat (€19) per night you can stay in a single room in a historical hotel “Sheki-Karvansaray”, breakfast is included. It is not just a hotel; it is one of the most famous sights in the city: real karavanserai of 18th century. If you wish to rest near the sea come to the famous resort zone - Nabran. Here you can stay, for instance, in Atlant, the Recreation and Relaxation Center. For 45 manat (€42,5) per person per night you can get accommodation in the hotel, you will be provided with three meals a day and over 50 kinds of entertainments. Besides that, in many resort places of Azerbaijan it is possible to rent a cottage without meals for 30 manat (€28) per day. Usually it is easy to find a café or a restaurant in those places, where they will generously feed you for 5-10 manat (€4,5-9,5). A special treatment is to go on an improvised picnic with kebab and baked potatoes somewhere in a picturesque spot in the woods or in a pavilion near a brook.
Staying in a resort town of Naftalan, famous, unique, the world’s only deposit of medicinal oil could be an excellent choice. There is a luxury and at the same time quite inexpensive complex Chinar Hotel&Spa Naftalan here to provide its services. The cost of staying in the complex begins from 70 manat (€66) and includes not only the full board but also medical procedures. It is interesting that in Naftalan you can find the world’s only Museum of Crutches. Here you can see hundreds of crutches that were signed and left by those who hadn’t been able to move without them before they came to the resort.
Everything is fine in the regions in terms of entertainments as well. In Gusar region you can go skiing in wintertime and horseback riding in summertime. In Mingachevir it is good to go for a boat riding or scooter driving on Kura-river. And Gabala is a center of attraction for complex entertainment lovers; there is the largest in the Caucasus region amusement park here called Gabaland.
So, go ahead, learn, and look for the best options. We are sure that to spend your vacation in Azerbaijan will not cost you much, yet the vacation memories from such trip will be long-lasting!