From exploring the 12th century fortifications of Old City to enjoying the sight of the world famous Flame Towers, these are just some of the best things to do in Baku.
Azerbaijan’s capital, dubbed by Lonely Planet as “the architectural love child of Paris and Dubai”, is one of the fastest changing cities in the world.
Dilapidated alleyways are now bustling with hipster cafes and international restaurants. The Flame Towers are a marvel of modern architecture. Millennials wander the streets dressed in the latest high-end fashion. Yet Baku is not without its charm either. At the centre of Baku lies the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surrounding this time capsule are stone mansions and luxury boutiques. The blend of the old and new works effortlessly. There are a lot of tourist attractions around the city. The city is rapidly expanding and you will find many things to do in Baku to keep yourself busy and entertained.
Old City or “Icharishahar”, is one of Azerbaijan’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s truly a unique, historical part of Azerbaijan and is located within the heart of Baku. The Old City is very clean and recently renovated. It’s a very beautiful and very artful town, surrounded by fortressed walls, adding to the character. Walk through its cobblestone streets, see and touch the stones of the ancient walls, zigzag through narrow corridors and admire the intricate art on the doors. The Old City of Baku has a lot to offer. The town has a lot of aged buildings, a palace complex, mosques and the iconic Maiden Tower. Across from the Maiden Tower you can book an audio tour that will elaborate on the main sightseeing points of Old City. We always suggest a guided tour because we prefer to ask locals questions and hear the story of their hometown through their eyes. It’s a great place to wander around. There are a lot of souvenir vendors, great tea shops and restaurants. With a beautiful view of the boulevard, picturesque moments of merchants playing chess or backgammon, interesting trinkets being sold – you won’t get tired even after hours of exploring. It’s truly a place where time seems to have stopped.
In Azerbaijan and nearby Central Asia, carpet weaving occupies a special place in the history of its national culture.
Definitively the most widespread folk art is carpet weaving. It was a part of everyday life of Azerbaijanis and turned into a national symbol. The carpets have a high aesthetic and historic importance, so they’re also used to cover the walls and floors of homes, nomads’ tents, mosques and government buildings as well. The Azerbaijan Carpet Museum was set up in 1967. Besides the obvious carpets, it also holds in possession over 10,000 objects such as ceramics, metal works, and jewellery dating from the Bronze Age etc. The museum is primarily used for research, keeping and displaying carpets and carpet items, as well as applied art works.
While in Baku you cannot miss climbing on top of Azerbaijan’s most recognised landmark, and the centre of the city’s historical importance.
The Maiden Tower, or as locals call it Giz Galasi, is located in the Old City and is constantly surrounded by a hive of activity from locals and tourists alike. It was built in the 12th century as part of the walled city of Baku. The name Giz Galasi is better translated as “Virgin Tower”, so named because of its impenetrability. The Maiden Tower is part of UNESCO’s world heritage listing, looped in with the Old City and the Shirvanshahs’ Palace. Climb the Maiden’s Tower just before sunset and enjoy the view over Baku and its Old City.
The other of Azerbaijan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the Gobustan National Park, that attracts thousands of tourists annually.
This otherworldly site is a sprawling field speckled with bubbling mud volcanos, anthropological sites and sizzling lakes.
In Azerbaijan there are around 300 mud volcanoes to be found at the shore, in the sea and on islands. That’s about 30% of the world’s total, and is a main reason people choose to visit Azerbaijan. Grab the opportunity to visit the Gobustan National Museum and learn all about the history of petroglyphs, see ancient human bones or work tools from the Mesolithic period. To get to Gobustan National Park from Baku head to the Maiden Tower and take bus number 88 or 120 to the ‘Field of 20’ stop, then change for bus number 195 the rest of the way. Alternatively you can book a day tour with Viator, which is actually quite a good way to see the the mud volcanos.