Nicolas Bouliane

Driving in Azerbaijan Posted on

Scenic route in Azerbaijan

I spent a few days driving in Azerbaijan during my motorcycle trip from Germany to Kazakhstan. I learned a few things along the way that might help fellow travellers. Most of what I learned while driving in Georgia also applies to Azerbaijan. I will only cover things that I didn’t cover before.


Every vehicle in Azerbaijan must have liability insurance. You should bring a Green Card from your car insurance company.

You do not need a Carnet de Passage or an International Driving Permit to drive in Azerbaijan. My German driving licence was enough.

Road conditions

You can travel everywhere in Azerbaijan with a regular car. The roads between cities and the roads to other countries are all paved. In small villages, the roads are often rough and unpaved.

The M1 between Baku and Quba is in terrible condition. When going north, the road is smoothly paved, but there are large rectangle holes in the road. Those holes are not well indicated, so you must drive carefully. When going south, you can only drive at half the speed limit because the road is too bad. There are giant bumps in the road. Other drivers often swerve between lanes to avoid them.

The E60/M2 from the Georgian border to Baku is in excellent condition. From Ganja to Baku, there are two lanes on each side, and the limit is usually 90 to 110 km/h. This is the fastest way to go across Azerbaijan, but it’s not a very scenic route.

The northern route from the Georgian border to Baku is in good condition. It’s a slower route on single lane roads, but it takes you through many nice landscapes.

The R2 from Gilesi to Khesi is in good condition. You can drive on it with a regular car. You will see some very nice landscapes there.

The mountain pass west of Quba is in good condition. You can drive on it with a regular car.

Driving standards

The driving standards in Azerbaijan are worse than in Georgia or Armenia. In Baku, drivers push into your lane, and get angry at you for being there. The drivers are more aggressive when changing lanes. You will frequently see cars driving in the opposite direction in the emergency lane. Trucks and cars do not always secure their load properly, so be careful when following loaded vehicles.


The fuel in Azerbaijan is very good, and very cheap. Gas stations are very easy to find if you stay on the main roads. They are usually less than 100 kilometres apart. You can choose between regular (92 octane) and premium (95 octane) fuel.

Azeri fuel stations are not self-service. You park in front of the pump and an employee will come. Point at the type of fuel you want, and tell them how much fuel you want. You give money to the employee after fuelling up. Some gas stations accept credit cards, but not all of them.

Scenic routes

When driving from Georgia to Baku, take the northern route. The southern route on the M2 is not as nice. There are two mountain passes along the northern coast that are really worth seeing: one in Gilesi, and one in Quba.

The M4 between Samaxi and Baku takes you through a hilly desert. I thoroughly enjoyed driving down this road.

Police and photo radars

The photo radars in Azerbaijan are really easy to see. They look like surveillance cameras, and they are suspended on metal poles above the road. They are always announced with a sign. Expect everyone else to slow down when they go under a speed radar. I drive past many radars on my motorcycle. I was exceeding the speed limit, but I never received a fine.

The police in Azerbaijan expect a bribe if they stop you. Don’t carry too much money in your wallet, because they set the “fine” based on what you have. I only had one police encounter, and the bribe was around 30 manat.