With its incredible architecture, culture, and cuisine, Baku is a truly unique destination and yet often overlooked by tourists. In this guide, you’ll find out what Baku is known for, and why it’s time to start planning your trip to the Azerbaijan capital.
And if you need another reason to visit Baku, the Azerbaijan visa application from the United States, and several other countries, is online making getting your visa is fast and hassle-free.
Baku boasts some of the world’s most innovative architecture. Modern glass and steel masterpieces are dotted throughout the city alongside much older, traditional buildings. These are just some of the most famous examples of architecture that you, literally, cannot miss when visiting Baku.
The Flame Towers
As the capital of a country known as ‘the land of fire’, Baku’s Flame Towers seem fitting. The Flame Towers are a trio of skyscrapers in the shape of, you guessed it, flames. The tallest of the 3 skyscrapers is an impressive 597 ft tall. The Flame Towers consist of 33 floors including more than 100 residential apartments, a hotel, and offices. They are particularly breathtaking once night falls and the towers are illuminated with colourful lighting.
Heydar Aliyev Center
The Heydar Aliyev Center is one of the most distinctive buildings in Baku. Designed by celebrated architect Zaha Hadid, it is known for its modern, flowing architectural style. The Heydar Aliyev Center houses an auditorium, gallery, and museum. It’s become an important Baku landmark and has even featured on stamps and banknotes. To enjoy the architecture from the inside, check out the exhibitions and events going on during your stay in Baku.
Baku Crystal Hall
Eurovision fans will recognise the Crystal Hall in an instant. Built to host the 2012 Eurovision song contrast, this venue is impressive inside and out. Sports events and concerts are held at the Crystal Palace, which has space for up to 25,000 fans.
Baku Old City
In contrast to Baku’s ultra-modern architecture is Icheri Sheher, the charming old city. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, Baku’s old town offers an insight into Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage. You can spend hours wandering fortressed walls, cobblestone streets, and narrow alleys. There are also plenty of tea shops to recharge your batteries. Also, pick up some unique souvenirs at one of the many boutiques.
Palace of the Shirvanshahs
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is a part of the walled inner city. The palace dates back to the 15th century and is described by UNESCO as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture”. Highlights include the main palace, burial vaults, and the old bathhouse. You can explore on your own but, to find out all about the palace’s history and design, take a guided tour.
Visit the Maiden Tower in Baku Old Town
For the best views of Baku’s old city climb Maiden Tower. Dating back to the 12th century, it’s believed that the building was a Zoroastrian temple before being converted into a watchtower at some point in the 18th century. There’s a spiral staircase to the top, the views are worth the climb!
A Culinary Experience
If you’ve never tried the cuisine of Azerbaijan then you’re in for a treat when visiting Baku. Although it may not be well-known, Azerbaijan food is memorable and varied. With Asian and European influences, it’s a real fusion of flavours. Some of the dishes you won’t want to miss out on when in Baku include:
- Plov—rice and meat, one of the most widely eaten dishes
- Dolma—cabbage or vine leaves stuffed with minced beef or lamb
- Piti—the national soup of Azerbaijan made with mutton
- Qutab—a type of pancake stuffed with meat, cheese, or spinach
There are also some delicious desserts for sweet-toothed travellers. Pastries such as pakhlava and shekerbura are common. You’ll find them on offer at bakeries throughout Baku.
Tea is an important part of Azerbaijan culture and is served hot and strong, traditionally in pear-shaped glasses. If you don’t consider yourself a tea drinker, you will by the time you leave Baku.
Choose from many rooftop Restaurants in Baku
Speaking of food, if you enjoy dinner with a view (and who doesn’t?) in Baku you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are several excellent rooftop restaurants in Baku catering to a wide range of tastes and budgets. Whilst they all have something different to offer, they have one thing in common, amazing views. Favourites include:
- Sky Grill—a prestigious restaurant with a VIP room and terrace
- Terrace Garden Restaurant & Q-Bar—for the best views of the old town and Baku bay
- Telequlle—on the 27th floor of the TV tower
Looking out across the city from above, you can really appreciate the blend of old and new that characterises Baku. You’ll be left asking yourself why you didn’t visit sooner.
** Pics sourced.