Balkanabad, Turkmenistan
| Turkmenistan Travel

Balkanabad is the capital city of Balkan province in Turkmenistan.


Introduction to Balkanabad
Balkanabad Background
What to Do in Balkanabad
Balkanabad Accommodation 
How to Get to Balkanabad
Balkanabad Interesting Facts

Updated March, 2024. 


Introduction to Balkanabad

Balkanabad is the capital city of the Balkan province in Turkmenistan. Note: This is not to be confused with the Balkan mountains in Europe.

Nevertheless, (to be extra confusing), ‘Balkan’ is the name of the local mountain range in this case.

As with many modern cities in Turkmenistan, it has been known by other names previously.

Previous Names of Balkanabad

From its foundation in 1933, Balkanabad was called Neftedag. This combined the Russian word for oil with the Turkmen word for mountain. 

Balkanabad was then renamed Nebit-dag. This had the same meaning; ‘Oil Mountain’, just all in Turkmen this time.

It got its present name of 'Balkanabad' in 2001. This simply uses the Turkmen words for ‘Balkan City’.

Balkanabad Background

Balkanabad is a small city. It's to get around, and pleasant enough in terms of climate in spring and summer. 

As with every provincial capital in Turkmenistan, Balkanabad has a select number of marble-clad buildings. You will find a city hall, hospital, library, and hippodrome. Plus, the street names are almost all the same as you would find anywhere in the country.

Streets are named mostly for national figures and icons such as Magtymguly, a national poet, and Gurbansoltan. The mother of the Turkmenbashi, the first president.

As you may have suspected, the main industry of this settlement when it was established was the extraction of oil from underground.

This contrasts with the main fossil fuel of Turkmenistan which is natural gas. To this day there are still derricks to be seen nodding their way through the days in this part of the country.

Balkanabad remains a centre of oil production.

While there is a range of different ethnic groups to be found in this city, the dominant tribe of Turkmens here are known as the Yomut. This is one of the 5 major tribes, and thus one of the guls on the national flag is their own.

What to Do in Balkanabad

To be completely honest, there isn’t a huge amount to do in Balkanabad.

Balkanabad is mainly a stopping point between Ashgabat and the amazing Yangykala Canyon. This lies about 2 hours drive away. 

We recommend a quick tour of the city centre on foot. There are some cafes and small squares where people sit and chat. There is also a local bazaar which is worth a look with some friendly sellers and merchants.

There is a very well-done statue of a camel and a mix of Turkmen and Russian oil prospectors pushing their way through the desert sands. This is the “Monument to Desert Explorers”. 

It’s worth an overnight in Balkanabad to break a longer journey.

Balkanabad Accommodation

There is really only one hotel in Balkanabad. 

it is a good one though!

Hotel Nebitçi is shaped like a giant yurt. It has a great open atrium taking up the majority of space inside the building.

The rooms are around a circular second floor, and it has a bar and restaurant in the lobby. Plus, there are nice grounds too. 

It is well worth a visit - even though the Wi-Fi is terrible. Best to assume you will be offline here.

How to Get to Balkanabad


There is a local airport (Nebitdag Airport) which receives flights from Ashgabat and some other Turkmen Cities.


There is also a train line. Balkanabad was once an important stop on the Trans-Caspian railway. 

But the main way is by road. 


Balkanabad is about a 4.5-hour drive from Ashgabat on the recently upgraded M37 highway.

It is 2 hours from Yangykala Canyons. You'll need a 4x4 for this drive.

From the coastal city of Turkmenbashi, it is around 2 hours.


Balkanabad Bonus Info!

  • Often in Turkmenistan, photos are not allowed in bazaars. In the Balkanabad Bazaar, however, they usually don’t bother enforcing this ban.
  • The city is home to the Turkmenistan Higher League (the top level) football team; Balkan Balkanabad FC.
  • They have won the Turkmen League on several occasions. If a game is on when you’re in town then it will only cost a few pennies to see them. 
  • Don’t go expecting La Liga quality, but do wear red to support the local boys!

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