So, you’re planning to spend a few days in the beautiful capital of Azerbaijan – very good! This is a great decision! Baku is a beautiful and interesting city, and tourists are mesmerized by its unique mixture of Western and Eastern cultures.
Today I will walk you through some of the main sights you can visit in a week and the approximate time each one will require. My family has a good experience with sightseeing in Baku, because we often meet guests from abroad and we show them everything the city has to offer. So, you can trust us on that! 🙂
(If you’re local, please, don’t hesitate to add even more interesting places and activities that can be enjoyed in Baku.)
This is the program that we usually use, and it is successful. There’s enough time to see everything without hurry; enough time to feel the unique atmosphere of the city; and enough time to even make some local friends and acquaintances. 🙂 You will quickly understand that the people in Azerbaijan and very friendly and willing to start a conversation. They will ask you of your thoughts about their country and will be interested to find out more about your country as well. It’s a great pleasure to communicate with the locals, so whenever you have a chance – use it! 🙂
Of course, this is just an example (that works for us). You can change it however you like, depending on your time frame and interests.
Arrival. Accommodation. Fountains Square.
After you have checked-in in your hotel and relaxed for a while after the trip, you can head towards downtown Baku, and more specifically – towards Fountains Square (Fəvvarələr meydanı). This is a big public square with many beautiful fountains, shops, restaurants, coffeehouses, etc. It’s always decorated according to the season, and, honestly, in my opinion, this is the best place for an energizing walk in the city – definitely a good place to start your trip with! 🙂
While you’re there you can enjoy some delicious dinner and experience the tastes of the Azerbaijani national cuisine. My family’s favorite restaurant on Fountains Square is Fisincan, followed by Tarhun, Cafe City and Hard Rock Cafe.
Old City (İçərişəhər). National Park.
After you have breakfast, you can head towards the Old City (İçərişəhər)*. This is the historical and most ancient part of Baku. Some of its sites (The Shirvanshahs’ Palace and the Maiden Tower) are classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and are a must visit sights of Azerbaijan. Also, don’t forget to explore the Museum of Miniature Books (fascinating place!). It’s entrance is free and it’s located close to the Shirvanshahs’ Palace. In the Old City of Baku you will find numerous shops for all kinds of interesting and original souvenirs. Also, you can enjoy lunchtime in a wonderful national restaurant. I highly recommend Manqal restaurant. The service is good and the food is perfect!
Use the afternoon to catch your breath and rest a couple of hours. After that you can make your way to the beautiful Baku Boulevard, also known as the National Park. It’s located along the sea and is more than 15 km long. It’s an outstanding pedestrian area full of interesting outdoor exhibitions, tourist attractions, entertainment activities, fountains, restaurants and coffeehouses. Gigantic olive trees, baobabs, cacti, and other rare and interesting vegetation species, brought here from different parts of the world, can also be seen on Baku Boulevard. The Park Bulvar mall is also located here, as well as the Puppet Theatre. You can also enjoy a refreshing ride on a ferry and enjoy a different view of the cityscape.
*If the weather is hot, make sure you grab some sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center. Alley of Martyrs Memorial (Şəhidlər Xiyabanı).
Good morning! Get ready for a museum day! But not any kind of museum! – The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center! You must have already seen this magnificent white building when you were planning your trip to Baku – it’s a signature landmark of modern Baku. Keep in mind that you will spend a good few hours there. Apart from the many beautiful, thoughtful and remarkable exhibitions inside of the building, there’re also outdoor exhibitions and interesting installations outside. Make sure you charge your camera well for that one! 🙂
In the evening, you should go for a walk on the Alley of Martyrs Memorial (Şəhidlər Xiyabanı) and the “Eternal Flame” monument. Apart from all of the history gathered in this place, you can also witness the most breathtaking views of the city. I highly recommend that you visit it at night when all of the city lights are turned on.
Carpet Museum. Little Venice. National Flag Square.
Another day; another adventure. Today I suggest that you pay a visit to the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum and the Little Venice water park located next to it. The museum holds the biggest selection of Azerbaijan carpets in the world, and the water park will take you on a relaxing boat ride around the channels of Little Venice.
In the late afternoon and evening you can head towards the National Flag Square where you can hire a bike and enjoy a beautiful ride along the sea. The Crystal Hall (where the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest was held) is also located there and is a must-see site, especially in the evening when it shines in millions of little lights.
Gobustan National Park. Mud Volcanoes.
Prepare for a big adventure. It’s time to exit the city and visit some of the wonders hiding around it. Gobustan National Park and the mud volcanoes located close to it are an absolute must-visit sights for anyone traveling to Azerbaijan. The distance between Baku and Gobustan is 53 km. You can hire a taxi (costs around 110-120 manats = 50-60 euro) or you can sign-up for an organized trip. In the Old City there are many places that offer organized trips outside of Baku.
The Gobustan National Park is a historical landmark of Azerbaijan where ancient carvings are preserved. Close to it are located the mud volcanoes, which are a very interesting natural site that can be seen in just a few places on Earth. So if you have the chance to see them – see them.
Ateshgah (The Fire Temple). Yanar Dag (The Burning Mountain). “Shirvanshah: Museum-Restaurant.
Another big adventure! Today you can visit Ateshgah (The Fire Temple) and Yanar Dag (The Burning Mountain). They are located in the outskirts of Baku. A taxi to both places (with waiting time while you look around) will cost you around 50 manats =25 euro. Again, if you prefer, you can sign-up for an organized trip and save yourself from bargaining taxi prices. 🙂
And now – I’ve saved the best for last! (or if you don’t want to risk it, just do that earlier in your trip) – Dinner at the “Shirvanshah” Museum Restaurant! Why? – Because national cuisine is just too good, and you need to enjoy as much of it as you can while you’re here. And two – the place is stunning! Seriously! I keep saying that if you only have a day to spend in Baku, this museum-restaurant must be in your top priorities.
Time to say good-bye to The Land of Fire. Hopefully, you are full with good memories from your trip to Azerbaijan which you can’t wait to share with your friends and loved ones. Of course, you can always come back for an even deeper understanding of the Azerbaijani culture and lifestyle!
You might also like: