Lankaran has a population of about 227,000, with about half comprised of ethnic Talish. The area is noted for a high concentration of Shia Islam adherents, like its neighbor to the south, Iran.
Lankaran is one of the oldest settlements in Azerbaijan. Facts confirmed by archeologists state that the area was inhabited from the Bronze Age. Because of the linkages between the East and the West such as the silk route, Lankaran continued to grow as a major stopover point for caravan routes. In 1742, the Talish Khanate moved its capital to Lankaran. From antiquity, people throughout Lankaran have been involved in animal husbandry, horticulture, aquaculture, and sericulture. Trades such as blacksmithing, coppersmithing, pottery, and weaving are key cultural traditions throughout Lankaran. Blacksmith, copper-smith, pottery and other trades were widely spread in Lankaran. Since the Khanate established its capitol in Lankaran, there was a great surge in trade relations between Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia. With the signing of the "Gulustan Treaty" in 1829 between Russia and Persia, Northern Azerbaijan was occupied by Russia. With the Russian occupation, people took the lead in the development of several new industries in Lankaran such as viniculture, ceramics, and brick making, and aided in creating trade ties between Lankaran and Russia. Through this exchange, Lankran strengthened its cultural roots, and its scientific, educational, health, and industrial bases.
Lankaran is in a very beautiful part of Azerbaijan. It lies in the South-East of the country. Lankaran is in one of the five natural geographical regions of Azerbaijan. The territory of Lankaran region borders on the Kur-Araz lowland in the North and the Caspian Sea in the South-East. It is surrounded by the Astara, Masalli and Lerik rayons. According to the relief, the territory consists mainly of plains and partly mountainous and it becomes narrow to the South. The highest point in Lankaran is 200 meters in the foothills and the lowest point in Lankaran is 28 meters below sea level by the Caspian coast. The distance between Lankaran and Baku is 268 km.
- Winter - The winters are cool, but there is not very much precipitation from December to March.
- Spring - The spring in Lankaran is beautiful allowing people to take a long neglected walk along the seaside.
- Summer - The summer in Lankaran is hot, but it is quite beautiful during the morning and the evening.
- Fall - The fall stay quite warm during the day, but at night it gets a bit cool.
Until the airport begins operating again, the fastest between Baku and Lankaran is by taxi - it takes about 3.5 hours. Going from Baku to Lankaran costs 10 manat per seat (4 people). The “Lavangi” Avtovagzal (Auto Station) services the transport to/from Baku for taxis, buses, and marshrutka. The Lankaran Avtovagzal # is 0171-45928.
The train station is located in the city center. There is an electric and night train service that runs between Baku and Lankaran. The electric train ticket cost around 2.5 manat and leaves Baku at 08:00 and returns to Baku at 17:00. The night train costs between 3.20-5.40 manat and leaves Baku at 23:30 and returns at 21:00.
By bus or marshrutka
Buses are a comfortable option, but take longer than taxis or marshrutkas.
From specific destinations:
- Baku – 11:50, 16:00, 15:00. 5-6 hr. 5 manat. Buses and marshrutkas depart from Baku's 20th January terminal every other hour starting at 8. They also leave about every hour from the “Lavangi” Avtovaqzal outside of the city center.
- Baku Airport via Baku – 17:00
- Yevlakh – 08:30
- Ganja – 08:00, 09:00
- Qazakh – 08:50
- Sumqayit – 08:30
- 1 Lankaran International Airport (LLK IATA) (located in the eastern part of the city). Because it is close to the Iranian border, it is a good option to enter Iran through Astara or Baikal from here.
Taxis are quite convenient if you know where you want to go within the city. Addresses are quite useless, so it would be better to get a landmark that you know of and direct the taxi driver there. It costs 1 manat per ride in a taxi.
By bus or marshrutka
All Intra-City buses depart and return from the Big Bazaar in Lankaran city.
- 1 Dairavi Circle Route A: Big Bazaar, Tofig Ismayilov Street, Azriba district, Diagnostic Center, Lavangi Bus Station, Shahidlar Khiyabani Sh/Kh, Small Bazaar Mosque, Big Bazaar
- 2 Dairavi Circle Route B: Big Bazaar, Small Bazaar Mosque, Shahidlar Khiyabani Sh/Kh, Lavangi Bus Station, Tofig Ismayilov Street, Big Bazaar
- 3 and 4 Digah-Shilavar Route: Big Bazaar, School #5, Shilavar, Digah, Hanifa Abdullayev Street (Turkish Lyceum), Sattarkhan Street, Koroglu Street (near the Gala Hotel), Big Bazaar.
- 5 Lankaran-Microrayon Route A: Big Bazaar, H. Aslanov Street (near the Gala Hotel, in front of the Department Store), Heydar Aliyev Street, Shahidlar Khiyabani Sh/Kh, Tofig Ismayilov, Ali Mammadov Street, 2nd Microrayon Wedding Palace (Shadliq Evi), Z. Aliyeva Street, Heydar Aliyev Street, Mir Mustafakhan Street, Big Bazaar
- 6 Lankaran-Microrayon Route B: Big Bazaar, H. Aslanov Street, Heydar Aliyev Street, Z. Aliyeva, Ali Mammadov Street, 2nd Microrayon Wedding Palace (Shadliq Evi), Hanifa Abdullayev Street, Heydar Aliyev Street, Shahidlar Khiyabani Sh/Kh Circle, Heydar Aliyev Street, Mir Mustafakhan Street, Big Bazaar
In spite of the different tourist venues in Lankaran, English is not widely spoken so it would be wise to either bring an Azeri phrase book or brush up on your Russian/Azeri/Turkish before arriving. Talish is also widely spoken in Lankaran.
- See also: Azerbaijani phrasebook
- See also: Turkish phrasebook
- See also: Russian phrasebook
The accent of Lankaran is different than standard Azeri. Often, Farsi and Talish words are interspersed in the residents’ vernacular.
There are a few historical museums in Lankaran that are both culturally informative as well as historically significant.
- There is a memorial house-museum for major-general Hazi Aslanov in the Lenkaran region that was constructed in 1969. There is also a monument constructed in the city center for General Aslanov in 1983.
- There is a historical-local lore museum containing memorabilia of Mir Akhmed of Talysh Khan in his former apartment house built in 1913.
- Old Prison and Lighthouse. There is a very famous and historical prison in Lankaran where Joseph Stalin was kept for a period of time. The then M. Rasulzadeh, founder of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, helped Stalin escape through a secret underground tunnel to the famous Mayak Lighthouse (a central figure and source of pride within Lankaran) and then onto the Caspian Sea.
- Tomb of Seyid Khalifa. The 19th century tomb of Seyid Khalifa is located in the village of Jil. Here exist tomb stones the height of which reaches 1m 40cm. The tomb stones are contrasted by engravings and a footprint. In the tomb can be seen the samples belonging to Islam and fire-worshipers. The tomb of Seyid Khalifa is guarded by state as a historical cultural monument.
- House of Isa Khan. This was constructed in the early 20th century and the structure has notable architecture.
Public Baths (Hamamlar)
- The Khaji Mirze and the Khaji Gurban baths (hamamlar) are located near the small bazaar. A European styled public bath is located in Lankaran.
- There are two major mosques within the city of Lankaran. One by the small bazaar and one by the large bazaar.
- Located in the Sutamurdov settlement outside of Lankaran, there is an old mosque that was constructed in the 19th century by the name “Khajy Novruzali”.
- Located in the Shikhakeren settlement there is a mosque constructed in the 19th century.
- Located in the Jil settlement, there is a mosque constructed in 1906.
- There are some Russian Orthodox churches scattered throughout the region of Lankaran.
- Theater and cinema. There is a Drama Theater in the city centre. There are scheduled plays or other events that take place in the theatre.
- Azeri toys (weddings). A must-see cultural experience is an Azeri wedding party held at one of a handful Shadlig Evi (Wedding Palaces). At the weddings, delicious food and drinks are abundant, national music and dancing are showcased, grand toasts are non-stop, and the video camera is always rolling. The weddings are invitation-only, but ask any local person about upcoming 'toys' and you're bound to get an invite to one. Azeris are renowned for their hospitality and you'll be welcomed with open arms.
- 1 Beaches. South of town, the beaches are cleaner and isolated. There is a beach access by the Kanarmesha area where there are some restaurants.
- 2 Istisu Hot Springs. Some hot springs (istisu) near east of Lankaran of the same name as the sanatorium further away. Situated in a natural area with oak and iron-wood trees and a small stream.
- 3 Heydar Aliyev Park. At the city centre is a sprawling park where the people congregate. It's a great place to people-watch and here you can also see a museum, monuments, and water fountains with accompanying lights/music. Plans are ongoing to expand the park all the way to the sea.
- 4 Xanbulan Lake / Khanbulan Reservoir (Xanbulan su anbarı) (This lake is located southeast of the city of Lankaran.). It is a wooded reservoir in the lower foothills, which is wonderful for a picnic lunch and a relaxing nature hike.
- Aurora Tea Factory, ☏ (for appointments). Near Xanbulan Lake, tourists can go to one of Lankaran’s famous tea factories and sample the widely known tea in a rose garden of the Aurora Tea Factory. At this factory, people can also tour and see the tea-making process.
- 5 Ballabur Castle. East of the city of Lankaran near a small hill by the Ballabur village is a place claimed to be the site of the ancient Bazz Castle. It was here, where the Khuramid chief, Babek, defended the castle against the Arab invasion. After the execution of Babek at the hands of the Arabs, the occupiers demolished the castle, but remnants of the castle can still be seen.
- 6 Khazar (Caspian) Lankaran Football Stadium. There is a football stadium outside the city center where professional football is played. The team owner is a wealthy Lankaran native. The team is the 2007 national champion.
- Zirva Physical Fitness Center, 80, Nizami Street, ☏ (appointments). This is a new health centre located in a 10-minute walk from the town centre. This centre has a massage room, sauna, steam bath, weight lifting area, mini soccer, boxing, martial arts, swimming, barber shop, and entertainment area.
Go on an adventure such as a tour of the "pirs" which are mystical holy places that are scattered around the southern region.
- Arrive in the evening, check in to a hotel
- Go to a local restaurant and try the Lavangi chicken with plov (rice)
- Drink Lankaran tea at nearby chay hana (teahouse) and chat/play dominoes with locals
- Buy freshly-baked tendir bread for breakfast and eat with butter and honey/cheese
- Walk through the bazaar and look at the various local handicrafts
- Buy a picnic lunch for trip to Istisu (make sure to also bring a towel)
- Take the bus to Istisu from big bazaar and get off at the Sanitorium (last stop; 0.20 manat)
- Hike up the Talish hills behind the Sanitorium and have a picnic at the top
- Go down to Sanitorium and take a dip in hot spring spa (ask for large private room; 1 manat/person)
- Return to town by taxi for 2 manat.
- Eat dinner at a local restaurant and try the various BBQ meat or fish (kabab) dishes
- Walk around the city to see the places of interest
- Try some gutab (flat pancake) and a refreshing kokteyl (like milkshake) for a snack
- Take a refreshing walk on the beach by the Caspian Sea
- Depart for your next destination
- Big Bazaar – Stroll through the interconnected outdoor and indoor bazaar for a shopping extravaganza of anything and everything. Exploring and discovering is half the fun!
- Zanbil – Zanbil is a weaved basket that comes in different sizes. Large baskets are used in bazar shopping. Small baskets can be sometimes used as purses.
- Talish Knitted Socks (Tohuma Jorab) – Talish women traditionally wear colorful clothes (red is a favorite) and Jorab knitted socks are worn in the cold season. Prices range from 1-6 manat depending on length of the socks.
- Lankaran Tea (Chay) – Lankaran is well-known throughout Azerbaijan for producing the best tea in the country. Lankaran Tea is a very popular gift purchase by visitors from Baku and other regions. Tea is sold in 100g and 0.5kg bags and prices range from 8-16 manat per kilo.
- Kalosh – Kalosh is a rubber boot that is used by the Talish people in the rainy season.
International Bank of Azerbaijan
- Digah (Azpetrol)
- 18 Sh. Akhundov street
- H. Aslanov avenue (Central department store)
- Lavangi Chicken – When going to restaurants or households in Lankaran, you will probably be offered this dish. This dish is cooked with a special nut and onion stuffing inside. You can also get Fish (Balig) Lavangi.
- Tendir Bread – The tendir is a traditional clay oven where this special bread is made. Hot tendir bread with cheese and butter is a real treat. Lavangi chicken is also traditionally cooked in a tendir.
- Plov – In Lankaran, there are many different types of rice dishes by the name of plov. These include dill plov, potato plov, pea plov, and fish plov.
- Gutab – Gutab is a crunchy, fried dough with fillings inside. Try it with potato (kartov) or stomach meat (qarin) fillings and make sure to sprinkle lots of sumac spice with its astringent-acidic flavour.
- kokteyl – A refreshing, milkshake-like drink.
- Cookies – Make sure you eat the Lankaran cookies. They are very famous and well-known, as well as the traditional lunch or lunchiness of this city.
- Other foods – Lankaran has a great deal of subtropical foods such as feyhoa, quince, cumquat, pomegranate, lemon, mandarin oranges, and tea. If you have a chance, make sure to try some of these regional foods.
- Dalga Restaurant. This is the best restaurant in Lankaran with great dishes such as Balig (Fish) Lavangi and Entrikot (Lamb Chops). Make sure to ask for prices before ordering to avoid being overcharged.
- Sahil Restaurant. This restaurant is located south of the Heydar Aliyev Park just by the iron-bridge and the Lankaran river.
- Titanic Restaurant. This is a newly-built restaurant that is shaped like a ship. It is in the outskirts of town by the sea and the Olympic Complex. Enjoy the view of the sea while you eat here.
- Uzbek Restaurant. This restaurant is next to the library and is very popular with the locals. There is no signage, so just ask the locals.
- Istanbul Lahmacun (On Haydar Eliyev meydan terefi, near the Beynexalq Bank), ☏ , . This is the newest restaurant in Lankaran. It has the normal Turkish fare at prices that are not too expensive. 2-5 manat..
Çay Xana often serve local piva (beer)- draft at 50 qapick/glass or bottles at 70 qapick/bottle or araq (vodka) at 2 manat per bottle. These can be found in almost any area throughout Azerbaijan. Lankaran has its own brew of beer on tap, so it may be interesting to try something different. If you desire anything exotic (e.g. Tiquella, Gin, Rum), you have to go to a modern hotel or restaurant.
Tea houses (Çay Xanalar)
Lankaran tea – in this city of large tea fields – is recommended along with the above mentioned cookies.
A nice place for men to drink tea, play dominoes, and catch up on the local gossip or talk about the best things to see in the area. This may be a great experience if you have language ability in Turkish, Russian, or Azerbaijani. Please look at the above mentioned cultural note under the “bars” subheading.
Cafés in Lankaran are really small restaurants. If you are looking for coffee, go to the Gala hotel in town.
- Gala Hotel, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ Admin@abqala.com. The Gala Hotel is considered a 4-star hotel and offers western-standard accommodations. It has conference, business center, laundry service, restaurant, and bar facilities. A swimming pool is under construction. There are 56 rooms. (single 40 manat, double 50 manat, twin 70 manat, and lux 120 manat) plus city tax of 1.10 manat in this four story building. 40-120 manat/night.
- Hotel Xazar, ☏ (mobile), , fax: , ✉ Hotelxazar@yahoo.com. The Hotel Xazar enjoys a quiet but central location (next to Drama Theatre) affording the guests both tranquillity and easy access to the bustling city of Lankaran. It has conference, internet kiosk, laundry service, restaurant, and bar facilities. Room options range from single to super lux and breakfast is included in the price. 31-104 manat/night.
- Dalga Hotel, ☏ , . The Dalga Hotel is the least expensive hotel in Lankaran. There is satellite television located in the rooms and there is a restaurant in this hotel. There are 5 rooms in this hotel (economy 24 manat, normal 36 manat, deluxe 50 manat).
- Gizil Tac (Gizil Tajh), ☏ (Land Line), (Mobile). This is a 8 room hotel with satellite televisions in every room. With the less expensive rooms you must share toilets, but with the deluxe rooms there is a bathroom in the room. There is a café in this hotel but there is no menu so the tourist should order the entrée de-jour. 30-50 manat/night.
- Lankaran Olympic Sports Complex (south of the city center). It has hotel, sports, and conference facilities. US$45/night.
- 1 [dead link] Palmalife Lankaran Resort, Sütəmurdov kəndi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are some homestays in Lankaran city and Burjeli (next to Hirkan Milli Park). Price per person is around 10 manat/night (including meals).
- Internet cafes are available around the city center and are called "internet clubs". There is a good internet cafe located near the Post Office. Cost is typically 0.40 manat per hour.
- Azerbaijan Post Office is located by the Heydar Aliyev Park. A typical international letter/stamp combination costs 0.80 manat.
The security in Lankaran is very high and nothing to worry about.
Pack a flashlight (especially in fall-spring) as the streets are not always well lit and power cuts are common.
Emergency contact numbers
- Fire: 0171-101
- Police: 0171-102
- Ambulance: 0171-103
- City hospital: 0171-479-32
The city hospital is located north of the city center.
You must speak in Azeri, Russian, or Turkish to communicate your needs. It would be a good idea to memorize key phrases before coming to Azerbaijan - see the Talk section for phrasebooks.