Khinalug, Azerbaijan might not be the easiest of the day trips from Baku but it’s worth all the effort.
The picturesque village located high in the Caucasus mountains is probably the most beautiful place you can find in Azerbaijan. With the preserved traditions, culture and language Khinalug is also such a fascinating place to visit.
I don’t remember how or when I learned about Khinalug but I knew I want to visit it really badly, even if just for the stunning views of Caucasus mountains that I simply adore but so far saw them only in Georgia.
Before visiting Azerbaijan I wasn’t sure if a day trip from Baku to Khinalug is even an option as the village seemed so remote and difficult to get to.
But as soon as I learned that one of the local companies offer Khinalug tours I booked it right after arriving in Baku and on the next day I was already on my way to this mountainous beauty.
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Where is Khinalug, Azerbaijan
Khinalug is a small village with some 2.000 inhabitants in the Caucasus mountains in the north-east part of Azerbaijan, around 220 km by road from Baku, the capital city.
The village is located 2250 m above sea level and by many, it is considered the highest located settlement in Europe and in the Caucasus region (other sources say it’s Ushguli in Svaneti, Georgia).
How to get to Khinalug
Since Khinalug is a very remote place getting there might be a challenge. If you have a few extra days in Azerbaijan you should visit Khinalug for a bit longer to enjoy the area to the fullest.
Then you can also travel to Khinalug independently – first, you need to get from Baku to Quba where you should change for the shared taxi to Khinalug. If you don’t want to wait for the taxi to fill up you can hire a taxi to take you all the way to the village.
If, like me, you have only a few days in Azerbaijan, you can go for a day trip from Baku to Khinalug. You will spend long hours – around 4 hours one way – in the minibus on the very bumpy mountainous road but it will be worth it. And the views along the way and in Khinalug are splendid!
Just keep in mind that the upper parts of the road to Khinalug are very bumpy, with no tarmac. If you have a sensitive stomach better take some medication against the motion sickness.
Why is it worth to visit Khinalug
While Caucasus mountains are breathtaking there are more reasons to visit Khinalug than just the views.
This is one of the oldest villages in Azerbaijan, with around 5000 years of history. Due to its remote location, the place was isolated for centuries. That’s why in Khinalug you can hear their own language, which is a bit similar to Lezgic languages present in the Northeast Caucasus region.
The village is also known for its unique culture, traditions, and customs. You can learn more about them in the local Historical-Ethnographic Museum. If you decide to stay overnight in Khinalug you can also have a good peek into the local customs in one of the local homestays that offer accommodation for tourists.
Local people are also very religious, that’s why you can find in and around the village mosques, a few cemeteries, and graves of saints.
One of the legends says this is where Noah’s Ark has stopped everyone on board could disembark (although the more popular theory links Noah’s Ark to Mount Ararat – the Holy Mountain of Armenians that is now located in Turkey).
The houses in Khinalug aren’t super pretty, built from the grey stones, but the way they were built is peculiar too. It looks like one house is standing on top of another, like some kind of the stairways.
There are around 360 of them and each is some 200-300 years old. The views from the upper parts of the village are just magnificent!
And of course, there is hiking. Khinalug can be a great base to explore the area, you can set off for short hikes as well as multiday ones. The views are really remarkable and I bet you will enjoy hiking and wild areas here.
Day trip from Baku to Khinalug
If you only have a few days in Azerbaijan and would like to visit Khinalug you can do it as a day trip from Baku – that’s what I did too.
The day was long and tiring, most of it was spent in the car (like 8 out of 12 hours) and the closer to Khinalug the worse the road was but I don’t regret a single moment. Those views were worth all the efforts!
The first brief stop of the tour was in Quba, to see the Qirmizi Qasaba village and the Six Dome Synagogue from the end of the 19th century.
I must admit I was a bit surprised as I never associated the Jewish community with Azerbaijan but apparently this very place is the only all-Jewish village outside of Israel and the United States. It was so interesting to learn more about Qirmizi Qasaba and the local community there.
From Quba the rough part of the journey starts and it gets more and more difficult the closer it gets to Khinalug. But the views along the way make you forget about all the difficulties. You will also stop along the way at viewpoints to take some pictures, breathe the fresh air and sigh with delight.
We arrived to Khinalug right on time for lunch at the local house – the food was simple but super delicious thanks to the fresh produce from the area.
Afterward, it was time to see the village, visit the museum and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, the weather has changed and the sky was a bit moody but that just added up to the atmosphere of this remote place. It truly felt like at the end of the world.
And then it was time to return to Baku.
My impressions from visiting Khinalug
Even if I could have chosen a place closer to the capital for the day trip or I just could have stayed in Baku I didn’t regret for a single moment that I’ve decided to go to Khinalug.
Yes, it was a long and tiring day, especially in July when the air was stiff, but the trip was definitely worth it.
Khinalug and the very green Caucasus mountains are among the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The feeling of space and the fresh air were buzzing in your head and I wanted to keep in my memory every single view I’ve seen on that day.
If you like beautiful places and high mountains then Khinalug, Azerbaijan is definitely a place you should visit.
I took way too many pictures during my trip to Khinalug. Many of them were taken from the moving car through the window so they are not the best but they can give you the idea of the landscape you can expect there.
Words can’t describe how stunning part of Azerbaijan this is!
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