Wide beaches present Astara with a semblance of seaside resort potential but travellers mostly use the town as a transit point for Iran. The pedestrian border crossing (open 9am-1pm & 2.30-6pm) is an intimidating, unmarked series of grey metal gratings, five minutes’ walk along Azərbaycan küç from Astara’s central square, where you’ll find a 24-hour ATM and the semi-smart Hotel Şindan. Nearby Hotel Xəzər is a simple, budget alternative with shared but clean squat toilet and shower.
Marshrutky to Lənkəran (AZN1, 50 minutes) depart regularly till 3pm from beside Azərbaycan küç 36, two minutes’ walk north of Hotel Şindan. Taxis cost AZN12. Ask them to stop en route at Yanar Bulağ (Burning Spring) where ‘water burns’ at a roadside standpipe 9km north. Bring your own matches.
A sleeper train departing Astara at 7.30pm (platskart/kupe AZN6/8) arrives in Baku 6.25am. However, Astara’s station is inconveniently located so you might prefer to board in Lənkəran.