Not sure what the Azerbaijani capital has to offer but keen to explore? Let Skyscanner help. It’s actually a fascinating city filled with a stack of culture, history, food, architecture and contemporary art.
Here’s our picks of the best things to do in Baku:
1. Heydar Aliyev Center
This stunning building was designed by renowned Iraqi-British architect Dame Zaha Hadid, who also designed Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Bridge and the London Olympics Aquatics Centre. It took six years of planning and design before the conference and cultural center was complete and well and truly put Baku architecture on the map. It has eight levels and houses an auditorium that can hold 1,000 people, as well as a museum, workshop and exhibition space. Hadid designed the structure without using a single straight line, giving the exterior its famous fluid appearance. Even if you don’t go inside the Heydar Aliyev Center, it’s worth taking a walk around the outside to admire the work of one of the world’s most loved and respected architects.
Address: 1 Heydar Aliyev prospekti, Bakı AZ1033, Azerbaijan
2. Maiden’s Tower
This somewhat peculiar looking tower is the source of much mystery and legend, as no-one really know what it’s real purpose once was. It’s also not known exactly when it was built but some people believe it’s millennia old. It’s official name in Azeri is Qiz Qalasi which translates in English to Maiden’s Tower. It stands at 29 meters high and has a small museum inside. You can also climb the spiral staircase to get incredible views of Baku Old City and Baku Bay.
Address: Baku, Azerbaijan
3. Visit Baku Old City (Icheri Sheher)
This is where to go to see just how historical Baku is. It’s believed this part of the modern city was a social gathering point from around the 12th century. Inside the walls you’ll find the oldest hamam in Baku, the Hamam Mehellesi public baths which has separate days for men and women, as well as the Palace of Shirvanshahs and the Maiden’s Tower. As far as historical cities go, Baku Old City is one of the most beautiful because much of its architecture has been preserved. The best thing to do here is just to wander around and take it all in, stopping for a bite to eat or coffee. If you find the street hawkers and souvenir sellers a little annoying, a firm but polite “no” will go a long way to stopping the interruptions.
4. Palace of the Shirvanshahs
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is one of the best and most important things to see in the Baku Old City. It dates back to the 15th century and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. It was built by the Shirvan people who ruled parts of the land up until the 16th century. It fell into serious disrepair over the years but was heavily restored in 2003. You can explore the castle and see a few artifacts that have been added to make it more interesting for visitors.
Address: Qəsr 76, Baku, Azerbaijan
Opening times: Daily 10am – 6pm
5. Sip tea at the Old Baku Tea House
You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled in Baku Old City to find this delightful and atmospheric tea room come shisha cafe. It’s decorated and kitted out in traditional Azeri style with carpets, screens and curtains. Just ask your waiter for a pot of the house tea and enjoy the sweet pakhlava treat that should be delivered with it.
Address: Near the Shah Palace Hotel, Baku Old CIty. Ask a local for directions
6. Baku Museum of Miniature Books
This is one of the more unusual things to do in Baku, but a fun way to spend a free hour or two. Possibly unsurprisingly it’s the only museum in the world dedicated solely to tiny books (6,500 tiny books to be precise!). They were collected by private collector Zarifa Salahova from more than 60 countries over 30 years. Some of the most prized pieces include a 17th-century miniature version of the Quran and the three smallest books in existence that measure an astonishing 2mm x 2mm.
Address: 67, Baku AZ1000, Azerbaijan
Opening times: Daily 11am – 5pm. Closed Mondays and Thursdays
7. Fountains Square
As with most city center squares, Fountain’s Square in Baku attracts lot of people and as such, there’s a healthy selection of hotels, shops, restaurants and cafes. There are dozens of fountains in the square, hence the name, and it’s an especially nice place to be in summer. One of the most beautiful buildings at the square is the Nizami Literature Museum which is lit up at night.
Address: Baku 1005, Azerbaijan
8. Stroll the Baku Corniche/Baku Boulevard
As well as beautiful buildings and lots of history, Baku also has a fantastic seafront which runs for around 3.5km along the Caspian Sea. The corniche runs from Baku’s House of Government to Flag Square, and there’s dozens of cafes, restaurants and shops as well as cycling and running tracks. Walking from one end to the other is a really pleasant way to spend an evening and you’ll see attractions such as the huge Baku Eye Ferris wheel. The wheel takes around 30 minutes per ride and reaches 60 meters. Other attractions along Baku Boulevard include the Park Bulvar Mall and the distinctive Caspian Waterfront Mall.
9. Ride the Baku Funicular
Pay as little as Dh1 and ride up the Baku Funicular from the corniche to Baku’s three most most striking modern buildings (the tall pointed buildings which you’ll spot in almost any photograph of Baku!). The buildings themselves aren’t particularly special in terms of attractions – one’s a hotel, one is offices and the third is residential – but the funicular station is next to Dağüstü Park which has great views over the city.
This museum is actually becoming one of the region’s best contemporary galleries and has already made a name for itself on an international stage through its work with Paris’s Louvre Museum. It opened in 2009 and has displayed some of the most prominent local artists including Faig Ahmad, who does incredible things with carpets, and painter Ashraf Murad. Make sure the museum is on your list of things to do in Baku if you’re visiting.
Address: 5 Yusuph Safarov, Baku, AZ1025
Opening times: Tuesday through Sunday 11am – 9pm. Closed Mondays
Entry: Adult tickets cost 5AZN (Dh11), children go free
*Content published in June 2018. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.
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