Step out of the airport terminal and start driving towards the downtown Baku when the sun is setting with its all soft orangish gleam, drive along the highway and the illuminating buildings rimming the highway will welcome you to this beautiful medieval old town with its open arms. Baku, Azerbaijan is a blazing example of a true mix of ancient and ultramodern architecture, many cultures, and of course deep spirituality. Its glowing buildings, lit-up skyline, and absolutely modern city set up will surprise you to the core. On the other hand, the UNESCO-listed fortified historic old city, Icheri Sheher holds the cultural evidence of Zoroastrian, Sasanian, Persian, Arabic, and Ottoman presence. The best way to explore the best places in Baku, Azerbaijan is to enrolling for an organized tour. There are so many gobsmacking things to do here that you will feel a shortage of time.
Although having primarily Shia population, Azerbaijan is a lovely secular country where any of your preconceived idea of a Muslim majority country will be contradicted. The largest city on the Caspian Sea, Baku, Azerbaijan is often compared to both Dubai and Paris for flaunting extraordinary blend of these two places’ architecture and vibe. Great wine, the exuberance of sunny beaches, trendy cafes, and night clubs – setting a trip to Baku, Azerbaijan is an absolutely lifetime experience. Let’s go through the list of the best things to do in the capital and largest city in Azerbaijan.
Best Things To Do In Baku, Azerbaijan – The Land Of Sacred Fire:
Get Awestruck In Baku’s Old City (Icheri Sheher):
The 12th-century defensive walls are well preserved in Icheri Sheher, the Inner City. You will see the 12th century Maiden Tower and the 15th-century Shirvanshah’s Palace sitting at the highest point of the Old Town. These are proud components of Azerbaijan’s architecture. Locating at the western edge of the Caspian Sea, the city boasts of other historical monuments of the medieval era. caravanserais, hamams (bath-houses), and other residential buildings are a few among them. Icheri Sheher is the historic core of Baku and was the first place in Azerbijan that got the honor of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Revisit the antiquity when you explore the winding lanes. Also stop at places like Bukhara Caravanserai, Multani Caravanserai, and the many mosques that are very famous for their decorative splendor.
Visit National History Museum Of Azerbaijan:
The largest museum in Azerbaijan, National History Museum holds over 300,000 artifacts that cover weapons to important documents, clothing, jewelry, old books, and handmade carpets. The museum building itself is an exquisite palace that was a building built in the 19th-century by Gaji Zeynalabdin Tagiev. In this museum, some of the most intriguing things include items that were found during the archaeological digs and from the floor of the Caspian Sea! The museum is the best place to peep into the past ancestry of Azerbaijan as well as to understand the modern culture of the same. There are professional guides there who will explain everything in detail.
Have fun At Fountain Square:
Baku’s public places are huge, clean, and phenomenal. And Fountain Square, formerly known as Parapet, is one of the best among them. This public square in downtown Baku got its name owing to the presence of dozens of fountains throughout the square. Tourists and locals flock here during the weekend and the place becomes a merry land. Couples walk hand-in-hand here. There are many boutiques, cafes, shops, restaurants in this place and a special salad ‘Fountains Square’ has also been named after this place. Many of the former storage basements have been converted into commercial areas.
All the public festivals, events, and celebrations are also held at this square. Enjoy, frolic, and have fun at this beautiful Fountain Square whilst in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Feel The Spirituality at Atashgah, The Fire Temple:
In Surakhani town, a suburb in Baku, just 30 km from the center of Baku is the Baku Atashgah or the ‘Fire Temple of Baku’. It was a pure worship place of the Hindus and Zoroastrians where they worshipped the eternal flame of the fire. Later they built the Fire Temple during the 17th and 18th centuries. In this context, let us tell you that, “Atash” is the Persian word for fire.
The beautiful pentagonal complex, the courtyard, the altar in the middle with a flame – this place has remained the main worship place of various religions. The natural eternal flame that was worshipped here was due to the presence of natural gas that made its way to the surface. The natural flame went out in 1969 and now the flame is ignited using gas pipes coming from the nearby city. If you want to sink in the spirituality, deep emptiness that will transcend you from nothing to everything, you have to come to Atashgarh, Baku, Azerbaijan.
Admire The Beauty Of Yanar Dag, The Burning Mountain:
A few kilometers outside Baku, Azerbaijan is the mountain where a part of the hillside blazes nonstop with flames going up to 9ft in the air. Contextually, Azerbaijan is also known as the “Land of Sacred Fire“. This constantly burning natural fire is again due to the enormous gas reserve of the country. And Yanar Dag is one of the finest sites where this rare phenomenon happens.
The place is of huge tourist interest and tourists flock to see the burning flame during the night. To get the view, you have to go to a nearby teahouse. There is even folklore about how this never extinguishing flame first started to burn. Now, Yanar Dag is also a protected National Heritage Site.
The Flame Towers:
These trio skyscrapers are Baku’s most recognizable buildings in the city’s skyline. In the nighttime, when more than 10,000 high-powdered LED lights are all lit, the glass facades of the buildings look as stunning as burning flames. The lights rise and fall rhythmically along the structure that makes the resemblance of these buildings with the fire flames more accurate.
The three towers symbolize the element of fire and there are residential apartments, a hotel tower as well as office blocks in these three towers: East, South, and West. These Flame Towers have gathered massive appreciation all over the world.
Stroll On Baku Boulevard:
Baku Boulevard, the city’s seafront walkway that runs for about 3 km fringing the Caspian Sea from National Flag to azadliq is a perfect destination for a post-dinner short hangout. It is clean, refreshing, spacious, and gets the maximum amount of sea breeze coming from the Caspian Sea. This sea breeze has a beautiful name, ‘Galivar‘.
This artificially built promenade dates back to more than 110 years and is a great place to enjoy the prolific view of the Caspian Sea sitting in a café, restaurant, or sitting on the park benches. There is also a bike path along the boulevard.
Dig In Baku’s Food Restaurants:
Food in Baku, Azerbaijan is also awesome. The food here gets influence from Turkish and Central Asian cuisines. There are places to get authentic Azeri food that starts with tandir, a flatbread, fruits, and fresh green herbs. Then you get dovga, a yogurt-based soup. They love kebabs and plovs are one of the most prominent characteristic dishes of Azeri cuisine.
Azerbaijani people love rice, veggies, and fresh herbs. Usage of lamb, beef, and poultry meat is also abundant. Do not forget to taste the preparation of white sturgeon fish in Baku. They also love desserts and dry fruits. Black tea is the country’s national drink and you will get that typical Azeri chaykhana everywhere in Baku. Cold sherbet prepared with saffron, mint, basil is very refreshing during the summer months. Aryan is also another refreshing cool drink that they make with yogurt, water, and salt.
Some of the best restaurants in Baku, Azerbaijan includes:
- Shirvanshah Museum Restaurant
- Dərya Fish House
- Shah Restaurant
- Salam Baku
- Nergiz Restaurant
Don’t forget to taste some Azerbaijani wine.
If you want to have a feeling of spirituality in a city where old and new go hand in hand, Baku is the place for you. Although the city sees low levels of crime here and there, a vigilant traveler would enjoy traveling to here for sure.
Early September to early November is probably the best time to visit Baku, Azerbaijan. But you can really fly down to this amazing city in any month of the year. Summer must be avoided as it is very hot and humid. Getting a direct flight to Baku can also be an issue and you need to apply for prior eVisa too. Traveling to Baku is not at all expensive and travelers with every budget can set a trip to the city depending on their budget. So, come visit Baku and you will get back to your home with a sensation of fulfillment and spiritual enlightenment.