European Games add sparkle to Azerbaijan this summer.
Capital city Baku, with its history, culture, music and great food, makes a great vacation spot this year. The European Games will be held in Baku from June 12 to 28 this year, and will feature more than 6,000 athletes competing in 20 sports. The social events planned around the European Games top the list of things to do at Baku this summer and include a light festival every night of the games.
The capital city
Baku sports some stunning summer sunsets at its beautiful beaches, number two on the list of reasons to visit Azerbaijan. An abundance of warm, sunny days makes Azerbaijan a beach tourism destination of choice. Beach season opens at the Absheron seaside in May and lasts till the end of September.
Another hotspot on the list is Park Boulevard, a retail and entertainment centre with comfortable cafes and restaurants, a yacht club and amusement arcades for both children and adults. The unique national cuisine of Azerbaijan is characterised by plenty of different meat, fish and vegetable dishes supplemented by flavoured herbs and spices. Saffron enjoys special popularity in Azerbaijan: this spice is used in over 50 national dishes.
Built on a site inhabited by man since the Palaeolithic period, the Walled City of Baku is shaped by Zoroastrian, Sasanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman and Russian civilisations. For this cultural richness, it is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Shrouded in mystery and history, Qabala is the most ancient city of Azerbaijan
The Inner City has still preserved much of its 12th century fortifications: the defensive walls and the legendary Maiden Tower exist to date. Among other architectural attractions are the opera houses, certain branded boutiques, magnificent gardens, art galleries and museums.
Another reason for to spend summer at Azerbaijan is for its unique climate and pleasant weather, as 9 out of 11 world climatic zones are found in Azerbaijan. However, most of the country's territory is in the subtropical zone, so oranges, tangerines, lemons, feijoa, kiwi and other fruits flourish on its soils. Interestingly, tropical banana trees are a common sight in the southern regions of Lankaran and Masally.
Take a break from the city and head towards Naftalan, only 20km away from the city of Ganja. The area is home to petroleum spas or oil spas, once popular vacation spots of the Soviet Union, slowly regaining their popularity. Oil from these spas claims to treat psoriasis, arthritis and rheumatism.
At the height of their Soviet-era popularity, the spas in Naftalan had 75,000 visitors a year. The late 1980s saw a great decline in this industry due to political conflicts, when all but one of the older spas were converted into refugee housing.
The next on the must-visit list are the curious mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan. The country has the most and largest mud volcanoes in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Underground and submarine mud volcanoes are also famous in Azerbaijan. Eight islands in the Baku archipelago are mud volcanoes by origin.
Atlantis Holidays in Dubai is the representative office of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the GCC Countries. It assists travel agents as well as individual travellers with air tickets, passes for the European Games, visa and ground handling support, excursions, city tours and tourist guides in Azerbaijan.
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