I wondered the same when I was in the region, did a little research, and eventually did visit Azerbaijan after Armenia. Here are the answers you seek.
Yes, you can visit both Azerbaijan and Armenia on the same trip with a few caveats. First, between the two states there are no open border crossings, so you must go through Georgia or Iran. Second, you must not have visited Nagorno-Karabakh while in Armenia.
The third caveat is implied – you will be asked questions at the border and you must be prepared to answer them truthfully and confidently.
The Complicated Geopolitical Situation
Long story short, Armenia and Azerbaijan are the worst neighbors. They’ve had two full-scale wars and a dozen skirmishes over the past three decades and there’s no lasting peace in sight.
The main point of contention is the region of Nagorno-Karabakh (as known in Azerbaijan and internationally) or Artsakh (as known in Armenia), which is de jure part of Azerbaijan, but de facto controlled and governed by the Republic of Artsakh, a satellite state of Armenia.
The region’s inhabitants are culturally Armenians, but they are geographically isolated inside the territory of Azerbaijan, making the conflict all the more complicated.
The First Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994) ended in an Armenian victory and created the disputed Republic of Artsakh.
The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in the fall of 2020 ended in Azeri Victory but did not create any stable conditions for lasting peace.
This situation changed dramatically in September 2023 when Azerbaijan seized the initiative and regained full control over Nagorno-Karabakh, which in turn forced thousands of ethnic Armenians to flee in order to avoid persecution and ethnic cleansing.
Not much in this guide has changed due to this.
Visiting Azerbaijan after Armenia
That’s what I did in the Fall of 2022.
I was in Armenia between 8.10 and 16.10. I entered Georgia through the Bagratashen – Sadakhlo border crossing and stayed in Georgia until 21.10 when I flew to Baku.
Upon landing at Heydar Aliyev International Airport and giving my passport to the immigration officer, she quickly discovered the Armenian stamp from less than a week ago.
Yes, it was that easy!
It’s important to note that you’ll likely have the least trouble at Baku Airport as compared to any other land border.
Most other travelers share experiences from crossing the land borders between Georgia and Azerbaijan and always being asked about their stay in Armenia. The border guards are reputedly not always nice and polite about it. Some have even been asked to produce their hotel receipts to prove they haven’t been to Nagorno-Karabakh!
However, visiting Nagorno-Karabakh during your stay in Armenia and then trying to enter Azerbaijan is incredibly dangerous!
Even if your visa is separate from your passport, it might still lead to interrogation and in not-so-extreme cases – deportation or even jail time.
Nevertheless, some have managed to do it. Read this forum thread from the Bible on all things Silk Road, Caravanistan, to get an idea, and proceed at your own risk.
Visiting Armenia after Azerbaijan
According to various travelers on online forums, Armenia is just as strict about visiting Azerbaijan as the other way around. With one exception: they don’t really care about Nagorno-Karabakh, as they consider it Armenian territory anyway.
You should have no problems flying into Yerevan. A few questions are to be expected, but nothing extraordinary – why, where, when, the usual stuff.
Crossing the land borders should also be pretty straightforward, but prepare to answer questions about your stay in Azerbaijan.
I traveled by train from Tbilisi to Yerevan and a fellow backpacker in the coupe had visited Azerbaijan prior. The immigration officer that came on board only asked him why he’d been to Azerbaijan and promptly stamped him.
Nothing to be afraid of, just have your story straight and be cool.
Armenia also has a complicated relationship with Turkey to the West. There have been talks for decades, but as it stands, there are no border crossings open between Turkey and Armenia.
There are 4 border crossings between Armenia in Georgia. From West to East, they are:
- Bavra (ARM) – Ninotsminda (GEO)
- Gogavan (ARM) – Guguti (GEO)
- Privolnoye (ARM) – Akhkerpi (GEO)
- Bagratashen (ARM) – Sadakhlo (GEO)
The last one is the most commonly used by marshrutkas, buses, and the international train between Tbilisi and Yerevan.
To the South Armenia borders Iran. There is only one border crossing at Agarak (ARM) – Nurduz (IRA). Check out this article for a report on crossing overland from Armenia into Iran.
There are no border crossings between the two warring states.
As of August 2023, Azerbaijan’s land borders are still closed. Officially it’s due to Covid, even though all other measures have been long dropped. The opening date has been continuously pushed forward. For now, the only option is to fly in.
To the north lies Russia with its Republic of Dagestan. There are 4 border crossings, from West to East:
- Zuxul (AZE) – Garakh (RUS) (only open to Azeris and Russians)
- Samur (AZE) – Yarag-Kazmalyar (RUS) (the main border crossing for buses)
- Şirvanovka (AZE) – Novo-Filya (RUS)
- Yalama (AZE)- Tagirkent-Kazmalyar (RUS) (the train goes through this one)
To the Northwest is Georgia. There are 4 border crossings, from West to East:
- İkinci Şıxlı (AZE) – Tsiteli (GEO) (Going to Ganja, then Baku)
- Sadıqlı, Agstafa (AZE) – Vakhtangisi “Mtkvari” (GEO)
- Muğanlı, Zaqatala (AZE) – Samtatskaro (GEO)
- Balakən (AZE) – Lagodekhi (GEO) (The main road for buses from Tbilisi, passing through Sheki to Baku)
South of Azerbaijan is Iran. While these two countries are not always on the best terms, border crossings are generally easy and trouble-free. There are 2 border crossings, from West to East:
- Bilasuvar (AZE) – Bileh Savar (IRA)
- Astara (AZE) – Astara (IRA) (This one is the main one for buses to Tehran)
Don’t forget about the Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan! It borders Armenia to the East and Turkey to the West. There’s only one border crossing with Turkey at Dilucu (TR) – Sədərək (AZE).
Keep in mind that if you go to Nakhchivan, the only way to reach Azerbaijan proper is to fly. There are daily flights from Nakhchivan to Baku.
The border between Azerbaijan and Armenia is closed and there are no border crossings.
There’s nothing to worry about on your trip to the Caucasus. While the borders and the entry requirements can be confusing, frustrating, and daunting at times, they are a necessary evil of traveling around the world.
If you decide to visit Azerbaijan after Armenia, be ready to answer a few questions about your stay and have absolutely no evidence of any travel to Nagorno-Karabakh.
If you are going to Armenia after Azerbaijan, just have your story straight about where you were and why.
You’ll be fine.