As with most infrastructure in the country, transport in Azerbaijan has undergone much development in recent years. Azerbaijan boasts a clean and modern transport network consisting of trains, buses, taxis and a metro system in Baku, the capital city.
It's relatively easy to get around central Baku without owning a vehicle by either walking or taking taxis and the metro. It’s worth getting a car for those living further out of the city centre though.
Public transport in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has an established rail network connecting Baku to other main towns and regional neighbours, including Kars in Turkey and Tbilisi in Georgia.
While rail services may not be known for their efficiency, they are undergoing major reconstruction. Baku Central Station is the focal point of rail transport in Azerbaijan and has been recently renovated and offers modern facilities, including a shopping and dining area.
There is also a commuter rail around Baku which helps connect the central areas to surrounding neighbourhoods and suburbs.
Baku Metro connects the city centre to the suburbs and is reasonably well maintained, clean and efficient. It offers the least expensive option for getting around Baku and tickets are managed via a smart card system, known as BakıKART or BakuCard. Expats can buy metro cards at counters at metro stations. Otherwise, tokens are required to ride the metro and these can be purchased from ticket windows at metro stations.
Security is usually quite tight in and around railway stations, and it’s not unusual for security guards to check bags.
Buses, coaches and minibuses connect most cities within Azerbaijan as well as with cities in neighbouring Georgia, Turkey, Iran and Russia.
Both public and private buses operate in Baku. Buses to the suburbs are relatively cheap but overcrowded, while private services are more expensive but also more comfortable. Tickets can generally be bought directly from the driver on the bus.
Taxis in Azerbaijan
Taxis are widely available in major urban centres. They are not normally metered, so we suggest negotiating the fare before embarking on a journey. In Baku, the state-owned Baku Taxi Service has a fleet of taxi cabs that are metered.
Expats can also get a taxi by using a ride-hailing or ride-sharing app. Note that while Uber is available, expats must download and use a specific Uber Azerbaijan app.
Driving in Azerbaijan
It's easy to get around central Baku without a car. Still, access to a vehicle is beneficial to expats living elsewhere in Azerbaijan as well as expat families or those who frequently need to travel for work purposes.
It’s possible to drive in Azerbaijan with an International Driving Permit for up to one month. EU driver’s permits are also accepted. Expats staying in Azerbaijan for over one month need to get a local driving license through the ASAN Service Offices.
Expats can find several car rental agencies in Azerbaijan, though expats should check the requirements for renting a vehicle. Expats under the age of 21 cannot normally hire a car.
Driving is on the right side of the road.
New freeways are under construction and the country’s oil wealth has meant many new cars are on the roads. While most roads in Baku are paved and maintained, travel outside of the city may require a four-wheel-drive vehicle due to the poor quality of the roads.
Traffic accidents are common in Azerbaijan as local drivers have a reputation for disobeying the rules of the road. Expats driving in Azerbaijan should exercise defensive driving techniques. It may be worth attending an advanced driving course before arriving in the country to be better prepared for the poor driving conditions.
Air travel in Azerbaijan
Heydar Aliyev International Airport, located just outside Baku, is the main air hub in Azerbaijan, along with five additional international airports. The airport connects Baku to cities throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia via numerous international carriers, including the country’s national airline, Azerbaijan Airlines.