Visiting Nakhchivan Sign

But Nakhchivan is a perfect example of an off-beaten destination that will please visitors searching for something unique and authentic.

So whether you wish to learn more about this unique exclave or prefer to get some insider tips for visiting Nakhchivan, this article will help.

Where is Nakhchivan?

Let’s start with putting Nakhchivan on the map. Located in the southern Caucasus and jammed between Iran, Armenia and Turkey, this autonomous republic of Azerbaijan is one of the most isolated regions of the former Soviet Union.

Although it remains isolated, it doesn’t mean that visiting Nakhchivan is too tricky. Here is a helpful map so you can place Nakhchivan on the map.

Nakhchivan on the map

Today, the autonomous republic enjoys a high level of autonomy from Azerbaijan boasting its own parliament, prime minister and universities, something the locals seem to be really proud of.

There is a plan to connect Nakhchivan with the rest of Azerbaijan with a road and rail that will follow the Iranian border across Armenian territory.

Nakhchivan airport

How do you get to Nakhchivan?

The easiest way is to fly to the capital of Azerbaijan Baku and from Baku take a domestic flight to Nakhchivan.

There is also a flight from Istanbul to Nakhchivan, or you could enter overland from Eastern Turkey.

The domestic flight from Baku, however is the best option.

To book your flight from Baku to Azerbaijan online, visit Azerbaijan Airlines Official Website. The cost of a flight ticket between Baku and Nakhchivan City is around 70 Euro return.

6 Best Things to see in Nakhchivan

1. Visit the Azerbaijani Machu Picchu – Alinja Fortress

Visiting Nakhchivan fortress

This is definitely the highlight of my trip to Nakhchivan. To reach the top of the hill you need to walk up around 3000 steps, but the views from the top are worth it. 

Alinja Fortress is a medieval fortress sitting atop a cragged mountaintop in the Julfa region originally built here in the 12th century. What you see today has been completely rebuilt and it has many similarities with the Inca’s lost city of Machu Picchu in Peru.

The landscapes are surreal, whether you visit during the winter or summer months.

2. Mausoleum of Momine Khatun

Momine Khatun Visiting Nakhchivan
Beautiful Momine Khatun Mausoleum at sunset

There are plenty of architectural delights in Nakhchivan, including the Mausoleum of Momine Khatun. 

It dates to the 12th century and the mixture of red bricks, turquoise tiles, and geometric patterns will remind travellers of buildings along the Silk Road in Central Asia.

It was built by the acclaimed architect Ajemi Nakhchivani to honour the beloved wife of powerful local ruler Shamsaddin Eldeniz. And it leans a little bit.

3. Duzdag (Salt Mountain) Therapy Center

Visiting Nakhchivan Salt Hotel
Inside the Duzdag Salt Therapy Center – a great reason for visiting Nakhchivan for those with asthma.

Only 12kms away from Nakhchivan City is Duzdag, famous for its former Salt mine underground tunnels which have been converted into a leading salt therapy centre. The mountain is believed to contain some 130 million tons of pure natural salt!

You can also soak up the salt and silence while spending the night in one of the centre’s underground caverns, it helps with asthma and bronchitis.

During summer, many domestic tourists travel here to spend the night.

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4. Yezidabad Castle

Yezidabad Castle in Nakhchivan
Yezidabad Castle in Nakhchivan is the biggest attraction

Yezidabad Castle is one of the largest attractions in Nakhchivan, yet we were the only tourists here.

The original fortress dates back to the 9th century, but it has been completely rebuilt. It was named after Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid Empire.

From the walls of the Yezidabad Castle, you can also see a huge mosque that was almost completed when we visited in February 2022. It will be the second-biggest mosque in Azerbaijan. 

From here, you will also see Noah’s Mausoleum. Locals believe this is the resting place of Noah.

5. Qarabaghlar Mausoleum

Nakhchivan drone
If you are visiting Nakhchivan, don’t miss the Qarabaghlar Mausoleum

Another incredible structure just outside the capital has a strong Central Asian feel.

This 14th-century cylindrical mausoleum is 30m high, with 2 minarets connected by a portal.

You enter both buildings, and a small museum is inside, but only in the Azeri language.

6. Eat some traditional food in Nakhchivan

Visiting Nakhchivan for food
Visiting Nakhchivan can include some delicious food.

If you haven’t tried a lot of Azerbaijani food, I recommend reading our blog on the 10 Most Popular Azeri Foods.

Nakhchivan is unique when it comes to sustainability. It happens to use local produce that is free of pesticides.

Due to the remote location, essentially cut from the mainland of Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan has learned how to prosper and grow food.

The highlight of our stay was a dinner at One Baikal Restaurant. The dolma here is fantastic!

Where to stay when visiting Nakhchivan?

We have stayed at Saat Meydani Nakhchivan Hotel, and I highly recommend staying here. Brand new spacious rooms, and restaurants are right in the square below. 

VIEW ALL Accommodation in Nakhchivan

Emil has arranged our travel on the ground from Nakhchivan Travel. He is a knowledgeable guide, and if you are planning on visiting Nakhchivan, we recommend you to arrange a tour with him.

Also, if you visit Nakhchivan and the Caucasus region, check out our Ultimate Georgia Armenia and Azerbaijan Itinerary.

You might also enjoy learning more about the food in Georgia.

If you are unsure if Azerbaijan is part of Europe or Asia, you can read the explanation in our blog about how many countries in Europe are there.