“Baku is in which country?” was a common question I got asked before I visited this spectacular city nestled between Europe and Asia. While it’s mostly stayed out of the international spotlight, Baku — the stunning capital of Azerbaijan — definitely deserves more tourism attention. With a population of 2.2 million and a beautiful 20 km (65,616 ft) long coastline, this unique city has so much to offer to travelers; from beaches and volcanoes to a cityscape where the ancient meets the new. In this article, you’ll find out all about the best places to visit in Baku as well as what to do in Baku depending on your interests. I hope the information will inspire you and help you prepare the perfect trip to this amazing hidden gem of Europe!
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Planning the Perfect Trip to Baku, Azerbaijan
- Find the best flights to Baku with Expedia
- Get your Azerbaijan e-Visa through iVisa if you don’t want to fill out the forms yourself
- Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
- Book your private transfer from the airport to your hotel with Expedia or Get Your Guide
- Find the best accommodations on Booking.com, Expedia, or Airbnb
- If you’d like a tour guide, here’s an amazing full-day Baku city tour
- If you’re a big foodie, here’s a 5-day Baku culinary & wine tour
- To rent a car to visit places outside Baku, get great deals on Rentalcars.com
- Pack a pair of durable hiking shoes, a universal adapter, and a power bank
- If you’d like to combine your Azerbaijan trip with Georgia, here’s an awesome 10-day tour and 20-day tour with Intrepid Travel
- Read Ali and Nino: A Love Story and the Lonely Planet guide on Azerbaijan to fuel your anticipation!
27 Best Places to Visit in Baku, Azerbaijan
1. Highland Park
Of all the Baku tourist attractions, Highland Park is, in my opinion, the most spectacular one. Located on top of a long and wide flight of stairs, this park is also known as the “Viewing Square” because it truly offers the most breathtaking and magnificent views of the Caspian Sea, the iconic Flame Towers, and the entire city. There are also benches all around the large viewing platform, and the atmosphere there is super peaceful and relaxing. You can sit down, chill, and chat with some friendly locals before moving on to other parts of the park.
Highland Park is huge, and there’s also a section where you can see the iconic Flame Towers rising behind the minarets of Mosque of the Martyrs. This unique view of “old meets new” is truly something remarkable, and it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with Baku. I recommend allotting a few hours to relax in this park and soak in the beautiful panorama there — the views really can’t get better than that. Better yet, get there before sunset to watch the entire city light up at dusk and to see the Flame Towers put on a stunning light show at night. It’s a sight you won’t forget!
Opening hours: 24/7 How to get there: It's a pleasant 25-minute stroll from the Old City of Baku
2. Heydar Mosque
Another one of Baku’s must-see places is the gorgeous Heydar Mosque. Although it’s a bit out of the way (a 20-minute drive from the Old City), its striking architecture is absolutely worth seeing. This mosque is huge, and you can walk around the complex to see its magnificent architecture from different angles. What I loved about it the most is that I didn’t see any other tourists there. The vibe was very quiet and peaceful, and I heard it gets even more calming at night, when the mosque is spectacularly lit up! Unfortunately, the inside of the mosque isn’t open to the public, but its exterior facade alone is one of the most impressive sights of Baku.
Opening hours: The inside of the mosque isn't open to the public How to get there: It's a 20-minute taxi ride from the Old City of Baku
3. Maiden Tower
Of all of Baku’s famous places, the one I found the most fascinating is the mysterious UNESCO World Heritage Site of Maiden Tower. Located in the heart of Icherisheher (the Old City), this monument has been the subject of debate among scientists for centuries. The interesting thing is that no one knows for sure when the tower was built, what it was built for, or even how it gots its name. Some scientists claim it was built for fortification, others believe that it was actually a Zoroastrian temple, and other experts think it was used as an observatory. It’s also commonly speculated that this structure dates back to the 12th century, although, again — no one knows that for certain.
Despite all these uncertainties, this tower remains a symbol of Baku and is even found on the Azerbaijani banknote! The great thing is that there are tons of interesting historical facts displayed inside this tower, and you can decide for yourself what it was built for during your visit. In fact, the tower is a museum today with an engaging historical exhibition on each floor. On the top floor, there’s also a viewing terrace where you can get a brilliant view of the city!
Right outside the Maiden Tower, you’ll get a fantastic view of the Flame Towers rising behind the buildings of the Old City. This is one of the most iconic views of Baku; it represents exactly what makes this city so special and unique — the “old meets new” atmosphere! This is hands down one of the best photo spots in town, and I also recommend going there in the early morning if you want some shots without other tourists around. I shoot with the Sony A6400 as well as the Nikon D610 + Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8.
Opening hours: 9 am - 6 pm daily Entrance fees: 10 manat (~$5.50 USD) How to get there: It's inside the Old City, around a 10-minute walk from the Icherisheher metro station
4. Heydar Aliyev Center
If you’re interested in learning about the history and culture of Azerbaijan, then visiting the Heydar Aliyev Center should absolutely be on your list of top things to do in Baku. Azerbaijan has seen a lot of cultural and artistic developments over the last centuries, and the visual exhibitions in this museum do them great justice. Hundreds of years of history are broken down into beautiful charts and videos that are engaging and easy to follow. It was genuinely interesting to learn, and I think you’d enjoy it even if you’re not a museum person! Walking around, you’ll also find out more about the life of Heydar Aliyev, the former president of the country.
This cultural hub isn’t just visually pleasing from the inside; its exterior facade is also an amazingly unique piece of modern architecture. I recommend walking around this structure to see its fascinating curves from different angles. You’ll also see lots of chances to get creative with photography! Of all the Baku tourist spots, the Heydar Aliyev Center is definitely the most educational and visually striking one.
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Fridays: 11 am - 7 pm / Saturdays & Sundays: 11 am - 6 pm / Closed on Mondays Entrance fees: 15 manat (~$8.50 USD) How to get there: It's a 20-minute taxi ride from the Old City of Baku
5. Icherisheher Fortress Walls
Icherisheher, the Old City of Baku, is enclosed by some majestic Fortress Walls built in the 12th century. The fortress itself is actually the biggest one in the Absheron Peninsula and is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage! While these walls used to stretch for 1,500 meters (4,921 ft) back in the days, they’re 500 meters (1,640 ft) long today. I highly recommend taking a scenic stroll along these fortress walls, especially in the morning when it’s extra peaceful. Why? You will see a spectacular view of the Flame Towers rising out of these old walls, and this mix of ancient and modern architecture is truly unique and breathtaking!
Top tip: For the best views of the Flame Towers and the fortress walls, head over to this spot!
How to get there: It's a 3-minute walk from the Icherisheher metro station
6. Palace of the Shirvanshahs
The ancient Palace of the Shirvanshahs is one of the most famous places in Baku for a good reason: UNESCO named it a pearl of Azerbaijani architecture! Built in the 15th century and restored in 2003, this palace is home to a pavilion named Divankhana, a mausoleum, a mosque that the shah used to visit, burial vaults, and the ruins of a bathhouse. Don’t forget to visit the terrace of the palace too — from there, you’ll be able to see the futuristic Flame Towers rising behind the palace’s mosque and ancient monuments. As you can tell, you’ll be able to see this blend of the old and the new a lot in Baku, but this view from the terrace is definitely one of the most fantastic ones!
The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is located in the heart of Icherisheher. I highly recommend taking a stroll around this entire Old City; you’ll come across lots of friendly vendors, beautiful ancient monuments, and will also find tons of splendid viewpoints of the Flame Tower hovering in the background!
Opening hours: 10 am - 6 pm daily Entrance fees: 15 manat (~$8.50 USD) How to get there: It's inside the Old City, around a 5-minute walk from the Icherisheher metro station
7. Museum of Miniature Books
Right next to the Palace of the Shirvanshahs is one of the most unique things to see in Baku: the Museum of Miniature Books, the only one of its kind in the entire world! This museum displays over 6,500 tiny books personally collected by Zarifa Salahova over the last 30+ years. You can find books from over 60 countries in this museum, including a miniature version of the Quran, and a Russian book which can only be read with a magnifying glass, and the Constitution of Azerbaijan (published by Salahova herself!).
This museum has also been awarded a Guinness Book of Records certificate as the largest collection miniature books. Make sure to not miss it when you’re wandering around the Old City!
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday - Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm / Closed on Mondays and Thursdays Entrance fees: Free (donations are accepted) How to get there: It's inside the Old City, right next to the Palace of the Shirvanshahs
8. Fountain Square & Nizami Street
Another thing you’ll love about the capital of Azerbaijan is that it’s got a very relaxing and upbeat vibe to it. In fact, one of the unmissable activities in Baku is to visit Fountain Square. Home to tons of restaurants, shops, cafés, and bars, this square is definitely one of the most vibrant places to see in Baku. Things to do there are endless, from shopping for souvenirs to people-watching. The good news is that some of the best restaurants in town are also located around this square, so make sure to sample the best of the local cuisine while you’re there! To make your experience even more special, take a stroll from Nizami Street to Fountain Square in the evening; that entire area is beautifully lit up at night and the atmosphere there can’t get any livelier!
How to get there: Fountain Square is located right outside the Old City; a 10-minute walk from the Sahil metro station
9. Baku Boulevard
Baku is not just a walkable city; it’s an incredibly gorgeous city to walk in! This is in large part thanks to Baku Boulevard, a beautiful seafront promenade that offers incredible views of the cityscape. In fact, one of the best things to do in Baku is to take a walk along this breathtaking and deeply soothing boulevard. A cool sea breeze accompanies you the whole way, and if you want to take some breaks, you can sit on the many benches along the way, grab a drink in one of the many cafés nearby, or relax on some steps right by the shore of the Caspian Sea (I highly recommend the latter!).
Stretching 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) long, this boulevard is also one of the best places to visit in Baku at night. This is mainly because you can watch the Flame Towers light up into multiple different colors from there, and this light show is undoubtedly one of the coolest things to see in the city! The atmosphere is also extra peaceful in the evening, and you can head over to some of the many bars and nightclubs near Nizami Street and Fountain Square afterwards to continue the fun.
How to get there: This promenade is very long. I recommend either joining from the Old City (simply walk towards the seafront from there — it's hard to miss) or start somewhere around Park Bulvar Mall if you want to walk a bit more.
10. Azerbaijan Carpet Museum
One place you shouldn’t miss while strolling the Baku Boulevard is the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, which houses the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world! This unique building is actually shaped like a carpet, so it’s very hard to miss when you’re passing by. Carpet weaving is a big part of Azerbaijan’s history and culture, and it’s also one of the symbols of the country. Founded in 1967, this museum showcases many different types of carpets dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries. You’ll learn about how carpet weaving in this country has evolved from simple methods to more complex techniques. There are also tons of other items displayed here, such as ceramics, jewelry, and embroideries!
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Fridays: 10 am - 6 pm / Saturdays & Sundays: 10 am - 8 pm / Closed on Mondays Entrance fees: 7 manat (~$4 USD) for adults / 3 manat (~$1.70 USD) for students / Free for children under 6 How to get there: It's a pleasant 10-15 minute stroll from the Old City
11. Little Venice
Right next to the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum is Little Venice, a charming and relaxing space made of several waterways and bridges. You can rent a boat and row past the surrounding restaurants and green areas, or simply walk around and soak in the laid back atmosphere. To be honest, while this is a great spot to visit if you have some time to kill while strolling the Baku Boulevard, it’s not really worth a dedicated visit on its own. With that said, it is quite a refreshing experience to be rowing in the water next to the Caspian Sea! The boat ride typically lasts around 10 minutes, and I recommend doing that during the day because you won’t be able to see much at night.
Opening hours: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm daily Boat ride fees: 3 manat (~$1.70 USD) How to get there: It's a pleasant 10-15 minute stroll from the Old City
12. Ateshgah of Baku
If you’re interested in a bit of a mystery, then don’t miss the historical Fire Temple of Ateshgah, one of the most interesting Baku tourist places. Built in the 17th and 18th centuries, this temple was the site of many fire rituals back in the days. In fact, it lies on top of a natural gas vent. There has been quite a lot of debate about whether it was a place of worship for Zoroastrians or Hindus. The most popular theory is that it started off as a Zoroastrian worship site and was then taken over by the Hindus until the late 19th century, when the temple was abandoned.
I highly recommend visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site with a tour guide who will not only take care of getting you there but also provide you with lots of interesting information about this place. Plus, you’ll get to learn more about the culture of this country directly from a local!
Opening hours: 10 am - 6 pm daily Entrance fees: 4 manat (~$2.30 USD) How to get there: It's a 30-minute taxi ride from the Old City
13. Taza Pir Mosque
A pleasant 20-minute walk from the Old City gets you to Taza Pir Mosque, one of the most peaceful places to visit in Baku, Azerbaijan. This mosque is located on top of a hill, and the ascent is well worth it because you’ll pass by some old parts of the city that feel very authentic and untouched by tourism. The mosque itself is fairly modern (completed in 1914) and is beautiful inside and out. When I was taking pictures outside the mosque, a friendly elderly lady came up to me and offered me some homemade snacks. It was super heartwarming!
Please note: There are separate sections for men and women in this mosque. The women’s section is smaller and less ornate, but you can get a little peek into the men’s section from there (it looks really gorgeous!). Please cover your entire body before entering the mosque. Women need to wear headscarves too.
Opening hours: 4 am - 9 pm daily Entrance fees: Free How to get there: It's a lovely 20-minute stroll from the Old City
14. Yasil Bazar (Green Market)
If you want to get a more insightful glimpse into local life, then make sure to not miss the bustling Yasil Bazar. This is one of the best places to go in Baku if you want to buy some fresh produce or sweets as the prices are very affordable. Most importantly, this green market is also where the locals like to do their shopping. It has a very authentic vibe to it and is a great place to people-watch and learn more about local life in Baku! The fruits and vegetables sold here are very fresh and organic, and there are also a variety of spices and sweets that you can try too. The vendors are super friendly and welcome bargaining (it’s a part of the culture there), so be sure to do that before buying anything!
Opening hours: 24/7 How to get there: From the Old City, take bus no. 5 to Puppet Theatre. The market is a 10-minute walk from there and the entire journey should take around 35 mins. Alternatively, a taxi from the Old City should get you there in 15 mins.
15. Muhammad Mosque
Located in the heart of the Old City, Muhammad Mosque is one of the most ancient monuments in town. Built in the 11th century, it has a minaret that was damaged during the Russo-Persian War of the 1720s. Unfortunately, the mosque isn’t open to the public, so you can’t go inside. However, I recommend seeing it from the outside regardless because you’ll not only witness one of the most ancient structures still standing in the city today, but there’s also a really cool view of the Flame Towers sandwiched between the Old City buildings from there!
Opening hours: This mosque is closed to the public but still great to see from the outside How to get there: It's inside the Old City, around a 5-minute walk from the Icherisheher metro station
16. Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall
If you’re a big concert person, then consider watching a performance inside the beautiful Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall in Baku. In Azerbaijan, classical and folk music play big cultural roles, and you can get a good glimpse of them inside this marvelous concert hall! Built in 1912, there are two main halls inside this building: the Summer Hall and the Winter Hall. There’s also an open-air concert space inside a gorgeous garden!
I happened to walk past this building on my way to the Old City from Highland Park and was immediately drawn to its beautiful yellow facade. I later found out that its architecture was actually inspired by the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, a building inside the Monte-Carlo Casino!
How to get there: It's inside the Old City, around a 5-minute walk from the Icherisheher metro station
17. Yanar Dag
When Marco Polo first visited Baku back in the 13th century, he noted seeing mysterious flames all around this region. Many say that these flames even played a big role in the birth of Zoroastrianism, a religion that involves a lot of fire rituals. It was later discovered that the cause of these mystical fires is due to Azerbaijan’s large gas reserves. Yanar Dag is one of the most remarkable natural gas fires in Azerbaijan that is still burning today. Its name translates to “burning mountain” because this 10-meter (32 ft) long wall of fire is burning on the side of a hill. The locals there will tell you that these fires were accidentally started by a shepherd who threw out a cigarette in the 1950s and that this place hasn’t stopped burning ever since!
Top tip: I recommend visiting Yanar Dag at night for better visibility of the fires. Because this place is hard to reach on your own (it’s a 1-hour drive from the Old City), I also highly suggest getting a tour guide! A great option is to see this place on a splendid night tour of Baku or on a full-day Baku city tour which also includes a traditional Azerbaijani meal.
Opening hours: 9 am - 6 pm daily Entrance fees: 3 manat (~$1.70 USD) How to get there: It's around a 1-hour drive from the Old City; I recommend going with a tour guide
18. Bibi-Heybat Mosque
At the southern tip of Baku lies the stunning Bibi-Heybat Mosque. Built in the 1990s, it’s a highly-visited spiritual hub today and houses the tomb of Ukeyma Khanum, a descendant of Muhammad. From the outside, this mosque might not seem like anything special, but the interior is absolutely splendid — especially the green dome. Please remember to cover yourself from wrist to ankle before entering this mosque. Women need to wear headscarves too.
Opening hours: 6 am - 8 pm daily How to get there: It's a 20-minute taxi ride from the Old City
The Best Day Trips From Baku, Azerbaijan
You’ll be glad to know that while there are tons of beautiful gems in Baku, places to visit outside this city don’t fade in comparison at all! From remote mountain villages to bubbling mud volcanoes, there are plenty of things to see near Baku if you want a change of scenery.
19. Gobustan Rock Art
Taking a day trip from Baku to see the nearby Gobustan Rock Art is an absolute must during your time in the city. Over 6,000 petroglyphs (prehistoric rock carvings) can be found inside Gobustan National Park, and they date back to as far as 40,000 years ago. (Yes, just take a moment for that to sink in!). Most of these carvings depict hunting and worship scenes involving animals, battles, ritual dances, bullfights, and astronomy. They were said to have been a part of pre-worship and pre-hunting rituals.
Walking around this park and seeing the archeological carvings on the rocky boulders all around me was definitely one of the most special experiences I had in Azerbaijan. I also highly recommend getting a tour guide because not only is getting here on your own a bit tricky, there also aren’t any explanation signs around the park, so you won’t be able to understand what you’re seeing unless a tour guide is there to explain it. A day tour to see the Gobustan Rock Art always includes the Gobustan Mud Volcanoes as well, which I’ll talk more about in the section below!
Top tip: The best and most affordable group tour from Baku to Gobustan is offered by Bag Baku Tour. You can pay directly at their office near Fountain Square — the tour costs 55 manat (~$32 USD). If you want a private tour guide, you can book the best private tour of Gobustan here.
Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm daily Entrance fees: 10 manat (~$5.80 USD) How to get there: Getting from Baku to Gobustan takes around 50 minutes by car; I recommend getting a tour guide
20. Gobustan Mud Volcanoes
If someone were to ask “what is Baku famous for?”, one of the answers would definitely be mud volcanoes. In fact, Gobustan National Park isn’t just known for its fascinating rock carvings; it’s also home to a third of all the mud volcanoes in the world! That’s right, around 400 of the 1,000+ mud volcanoes on earth are found in this region of Azerbaijan. For this reason, the Gobustan Mud Volcanoes are not to be missed during your time in Baku and any tour guide would take you here after seeing the Gobustan Rock Art (on the same day trip).
The cool thing about visiting these mud volcanoes is that you can get quite up close and personal with them as they’re quite small. As you approach them, you’ll see that some of them still have mud bubbling inside. This mud is known to contain minerals that are healthy for the skin, so you can even use a bottle to bring some home with you! Getting to this place on your own is tricky unless you have access to a good car. I highly recommend going with a tour guide who can give you all the best tips and interesting information about this place!
Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm daily Entrance fees: 10 manat (~$5.80 USD) (if you paid for the Gobustan Rock Art, you don't need to pay again) How to get there: These mud volcanoes take over an hour to reach by car from the Old City of Baku; I recommend getting a tour guide
21. Quba & Xinaliq
If you have more time in Baku and would like to squeeze in another day trip to see some fantastic natural landscapes, then head over to Quba and the nearby 5,000-year-old village of Xinaliq. Quba has a few historical monuments to check out, such as the Genocide Memorial Complex and Juma Mosque. However, the main attraction is the next stop: the village Xinaliq located in the Caucasus Mountains. The journey from Quba to Xinaliq is absolutely stunning, and you will want to take lots of pictures of the mountains and valleys along the way!
Once you’re in Xinaliq, you’ll be amazed by how remote and different this village is from Baku. Walking around, you can see some incredible mountain sceneries and learn about the very simple local lifestyle. The people in this village live in cobblestone houses and grow their own food. They also retained a lot of their ancient traditions and speak their own language. The village kids are very friendly and will run up to you to say hi! Given Xinaliq’s location, you can also do some stunning hikes there.
How to get there: To reach Xinaliq, you have to get to Quba first. From Baku, you can take a bus to Quba from the International Bus Terminal which will take around 2 hours. Then, you’ll have to grab a taxi to Xinaliq, but a Quba — Xinaliq roundtrip would cost you roughly $60 USD. For this reason, I recommend going with a small tour group; it would cost you the same amount, except your guide will take care of all the transportation for you! It’s much less of a hassle, and you will also learn more about the local history and traditions. You can book your Quba & Xinaliq tour here.
Another great day trip to take from Baku is Gabala, a small town located around 220 km (136 miles) northwest of Baku. Gabala is one of the most ancient cities in Azerbaijan, and while it’s home to tons of temples, mosques, and other historical monuments, it’s mostly known for the beautiful verdant mountains around it. Some of the best things to do in this city include taking a cable car up Mount Tufandag to see the breathtaking valleys underneath. Make sure to also stop by Nohur Lake to soak in the serene atmosphere and the gorgeous emerald waters. Gabala is definitely one of the best places to visit outside Baku if you’re after some incredible landscapes!
How to get there: To reach the natural wonders of Gabala from Baku, you will either need to take a bus or rent a car. The drive will take roughly 3 hours one way, so to avoid driving a total of 6 hours in one day, I highly recommend getting a tour guide who will take you there. This way, you can also easily navigate between the main attractions of Gabala and learn more about the places you’re seeing. A great tour would also stop in Shamakhi on the way so that you can see the oldest mosque in Azerbaijan located there!
The ancient Silk Road town of Sheki is definitely worth seeing during your time in Azerbaijan if you’re into lavish historic palaces and exquisite local food. Filled with cobblestone streets and red brick houses, the city itself is very charming and has a lovely laid back vibe. One of the top things to do there is visiting the Summer Palace and Winter Palace, where the Sheki Khans formerly resided. The architecture of these palaces is absolutely incredible; you’ll see some stunning Persian elements in them, such as colorful stained-glass windows found so commonly in Iran!
Be sure to also visit the Karvansaray, a large caravanserai that was used as a resting spot by travelers of the Silk Road back in the days. Today, it’s a hotel where you can actually stay overnight! Some of the other attractions in Sheki include its unique Old Town and the Church of Kish located just outside the city. Don’t forget to also taste the local cuisine; Piti is a specialty dish of the region, as is the Sheki Halva!
How to get there: Sheki is around a 4-hour drive from Baku, so if you can afford more time in Azerbaijan, I totally recommend staying overnight there rather than visiting it as a day trip from the capital. With that said, if you have just one extra day left and are very drawn to this city, then a day trip is definitely doable. The only way to do this is to either rent a car or go with a tour guide who will drive you there, because a bus would take over 6 hours one way. You can book your private day tour of Sheki here. The tour covers all the main attractions of Sheki and also stops in Gabala (mentioned before)!
The Best Beaches in Baku, Azerbaijan
Lying right on the shore of the Caspian Sea, Baku has a 500 km (310 miles) long coastline. This means that there are plenty of beautiful beaches right by this city, perfect for some fun in the sun. Here are some of the best beaches in Baku to visit when you want a break from the city!
24. Bilgah Beach
The best beach in Baku to go for a swim under the sun is Bilgah Beach, which is around 40 minutes by car from the city center. To get there, you can either take a taxi or rent a car. The great thing about Bilgah Beach is that the water there is very clean and unpolluted, unlike many other beaches in Baku. This beach is also free, with sunbeds and umbrellas that you can rent for a small fee. If you want to enjoy a little staycation at this beach, I recommend checking out the amazing Bilgah Beach Hotel, which has its own private beach, numerous swimming pools, and an excellent spa center!
25. Amburan Beach Club
If you don’t mind paying around $10-15 USD to get access to a private beach with a great atmosphere, then definitely head over to Amburan Beach Club, one of the best beaches near Baku. Getting there takes around 1 hour by car, but it’s well worth it because there are tons of swimming pools, slides, restaurants, bars, and cafés in this resort. The beach itself is also very clean and they even have a DJ playing music. I recommend getting there in time to watch sunset on the beach — it’s quite a spectacular sight!
26. Crescent Beach Hotel
If you’d rather soak up the sun somewhere closer to the Old City of Baku, then head over to Crescent Beach Hotel, which has a 400 meters (1,312 ft) long private beach. The hotel itself also offers an indoor and outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a tennis court. If you do not want to stay there overnight though, I recommend calling them before you go to ask if you can access their beach and how much you’d have to pay. The beach itself has sunbeds, a beach bar, and clean sand. The best part about it is that it’s only a 15-minute drive from the center of Baku, making it a great option if you’re short on time!
27. Shikhov Beach
If you’re looking for a beach close to the center of Baku but don’t necessarily want to swim, then Shikhov Beach is a good option. Located around 20 minutes by car or bus from the Old City, this beach is a good place to go for a stroll by the water but not to swim because the water is not really clean and you can see some oil pollution inside. There’s also an Aqua Park next to it, but it’s a bit run down. That’s why I only recommend visiting this beach if you don’t have enough time to drive to the nicer beaches listed above and don’t want to pay for a private beach. This beach costs 5 manat (~$3 USD) but you can pay 5 manats more to access a pool nearby.
The Best Hotels in Baku, Azerbaijan
One of the best things about traveling in Azerbaijan: Baku hotels are some of the most gorgeous ones in the country as many of them offer beautiful views of the city skyline! The best area to stay in Baku is at the heart of Icherisheher, the Old City. Having your base there means you’ll be within walking distance of most attractions in Baku and just a short taxi ride away from the other ones. There are tons of amazing hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs in this city. My top picks are below.
($$$) Luxury recommendation: Four Seasons Hotel Baku (⭐ 9.4)
In my opinion, this is the best place to stay in Baku for the amazing views it offers over the Old City and the Flame Towers. Perfectly located right next to the Old City, this 5-star luxury hotel also has a splendid indoor swimming pool and a spa center complete with a sauna and a hammam. Their bar and lounge are also spectacular. Click here to see their prices & availability
($$) Comfort recommendation: Da Vinci Hotel (⭐ 9.2)
If you want to soak in some gorgeous views over the city without having to pay for a luxury hotel, then Da Vinci Hotel is the perfect alternative. Comfy, clean, and with a friendly vibe, this hotel is situated right next to the ancient monuments of the Old City. If you get a room with a balcony, you can enjoy a stunning view of the Flame Towers rising behind the Icherisheher Fortress Walls (see picture below)! Click here to see their prices & availability
($) Budget recommendation: Sahil Hostel & Hotel (⭐ 9.0)
For around $9 USD/night, you can stay in a shared room in this very friendly and cozy hostel. They’re situated just a 5-10 minute walk away from the Old City and the famous Nizami Street. They also offer free WiFi and are deemed by many to be the best hostel in Azerbaijan. Click here to see their prices & availability
The Best Restaurants in Baku, Azerbaijan
Baku has an absolutely incredible food scene, and tasting the local cuisine is a must-do during your time in this city. Here are some of my top recommendations for places to try the local specialties. I’ve marked the *vegetarian-friendly restaurants with an asterisk.
- Dolma Restaurant — Dolma is a specialty dish of Azerbaijan and this is one of the best places to try it in! They have a great atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious traditional food.
- Passage 145* — In my opinion, this is the best restaurant in Baku. I will never forget sitting outside listening to the live music they provided (a lovely group of young musicians performing traditional Azerbaijani songs) while enjoying some exquisite food. They offer shisha as well and the atmosphere in the evening is simply magical.
- Nergiz Restaurant* — The interior design of this place is really cool; it feels as though you’re dining inside a cave! Their food is also delicious. Try their plov, kebabs, and dolma. This restaurant is definitely one of the best places to visit in Baku.
- Firuze Restaurant* — The staff in this must-try restaurant was incredibly friendly, and their dolma is one of the best in the city! They also have a variety of other traditional dishes.
- Cay Bagi 145* — The atmosphere there is incredible, with a terrace that offers a gorgeous view of the Maiden Tower. It’s a great place to go for breakfast/brunch as well. In the evenings, they also have shisha and live music!
How to Spend Evenings in Azerbaijan: Baku Nightlife
If you’re looking to explore Azerbaijan’s nightlife, Baku won’t disappoint. Whether it’s chilling at a cocktail bar, partying in a nightclub, or stargazing at an observatory, there’s something to do for everyone. Here are some fun and relaxing ways you can spend your evenings in Baku:
- Grab a drink at Razzmatazz Cocktail Bar & Lounge, one of the best bars in Baku. The atmosphere is incredibly chill, the hosts are super friendly, and the interior decor will amaze you.
- Enjoy live performances at Le Chateau Music Bar, a vibrant underground venue with cheap beer and a fun, laid back atmosphere. They also have a ping pong table somewhere in the back!
- Join a Baku wine crawl walking tour to discover the best wine bars in town with a local guide! You’ll be tasting some of the best wine in the country as you learn more about the culture of Azerbaijan from your guide.
- Dance the night away at Pasifico — restaurant by day, but one of the best nightclubs in Baku by night. The interior is very elegant and there’s a great sea-view from the terrace. They also invite guest artists from around the world to perform every now and then!
- For something a bit quieter, taste organic wine and stargaze at an observatory with a local guide! You’ll be visiting a local winery to drink some wine and have some local cheese. After a traditional dinner, you’ll be taken on a magical stargazing experience on the Great Caucasus Mountains. This tour includes an overnight stay at a 5-star hotel.
The Best Time to Visit Baku, Azerbaijan
The best time to visit Baku is May to June and September to October. The temperatures during these months are the most pleasant, ranging from 13°C (55°F) to 28°C (82°F). If you go in June, you can also enjoy the many beaches near Baku without having to deal with the heatwave that occurs later in the summer. If you visit in October, you can see some beautiful orange foliages in the natural areas close to Baku (such as Gabala)!
With that said, if you’d like to see the biggest local festivity in town, head over to Baku in March for Nowruz! Nowruz is the Persian New Year and takes place on March 20th every year. If you go during this time, you’ll get to witness how the locals celebrate this traditional holiday, learn more about their culture, and of course, enjoy the great festive vibes!
If you don’t mind the cold, Baku in winter is not a bad idea if you want to check out the city’s festive spirit. Fountain Square is especially vibrant during Christmas and New Year, complete with festive lights and a Christmas market. 3 hours by car from the city would also get you to Shahdag Mountain Resort, where you can enjoy skiing in a winter wonderland!
How Many Days Are Enough for Baku?
I recommend a minimum of 3 days to truly enjoy the gems Baku has to offer. If you want to explore more of the city’s surroundings, though, stay for 4 to 7 days depending on the number of day trips or trips to the beach you want to take!
Day 1: Explore the Old City in the morning, which includes the Maiden Tower, Palace of the Shirvanshahs, and the smaller attractions in between mentioned in this guide. Then, head over to Nizami St. and Fountain Square for some food. In the afternoon, head over to Taza Pir Mosque before making your way to Highland Park for a gorgeous sunset and night view.
Day 2: In the morning, visit Heydar Mosque, Heydar Aliyev Center, and Yasil Bazar. In the afternoon/evening, visit Yanar Dag and the Ateshgah of Baku.
Day 3: Take a day trip to Gobustan National Park to see the petroglyphs and mud volcanoes. This should take you around half a day. You can visit Bibi-Heybat Mosque afterwards, and then take a stroll at the Baku Boulevard to see the night lights. Make sure to check out Little Venice and the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum along the way, if you have time!
Day 4 – 7: (Optional) Take some of the other day trips listed in this guide or soak up the sun at some of the many beaches around town!
Travel Insurance for Azerbaijan
I always make sure to buy travel insurance before I go anywhere, and I highly encourage you to do so as well. It’s hard to predict what can happen during a trip and I always appreciate having a peace of mind. The service I use is World Nomads and I love their affordable prices, their amazing coverage, and their 24/7 on-call customer service. They also allow you to book or make claims online when you’re on the road, which I find super convenient!
Getting the Azerbaijan E-Visa
Getting the Azerbaijan eVisa is a simple process. Citizens of 95 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and all of the EU are eligible for the eVisa and can apply via https://evisa.gov.az/.
The e-Visa costs $25 USD, let’s you stay in the country for 30 days, and can take up to 3 days to process, though I received mine in 24 hours.
To apply for the eVisa, you will need to fill out an online form. If you’d rather outsource this task and not spend time dealing with the bureaucratic side of things, you can apply through iVisa and they will take care of all the boring stuff for you for an extra fee. By going through them, you’ll also reduce the chances of your eVisa getting rejected as iVisa’s team of immigration experts will look over all your forms before submitting them.
Some countries are also eligible for a visa on arrival. You can use the box below to find out whether you actually need an eVisa for Azerbaijan. (iVisa will always tell you when you don’t need a visa for a country!).
How to Get to Baku, Azerbaijan
The Heydar Aliyev International Airport (GYD) in Baku has connections with many popular destinations around the world, and the most common way to get into Baku would be to fly Turkish Airlines from your home destination and transit in Istanbul. You’ll likely also find good flight routes with Emirates, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways.
You can find the best flight deals to Baku on Expedia, which lets you compare a lot of different options and choose the one most suited for you!
To go from Baku airport to the city center, you can take the Airport Express bus that runs 24/7. It will take you to the Baku Central Station in 45 mins, and from there, you can use the Bolt app (the local Uber) to get to your hotel. You can find the Airport Express bus schedule here. To pay for the bus, you’ll need to purchase a BakuCard from a machine close to the shuttle stop.
If you prefer a more comfortable and relaxing experience, you can alternatively book a private transfer from the airport to your hotel with Get Your Guide. You’ll get a professional English-speaking driver, free water, and even a newspaper to read!
Getting Around Baku, Azerbaijan
Most of the places listed in this guide (aside from the beaches and day trip destinations, obviously) are within walking distance of each other. Walking in Baku is a very scenic and pleasant experience as you’ll get a deeper glimpse into local life, so I highly recommend it!
There are some places that would require you to take a taxi (I recommend using the Bolt app) or take the Metro to get to (you can do the latter using your BakuCard). Alternatively, Get Your Guide offers plenty of great guided tours around the city, including a Full-Day Baku City Tour and a 5-day Baku Culinary & Wine Tour. By going on their tours, you won’t have to worry about transportation, will get to see more hidden gems in the city, and will learn more about the local culture from the professional guides!
If you’d prefer a shorter tour, then be sure to join the Baku Original Free Walking Tour which meets at 11 AM every day in front of KFC/Pizza Hut in Fountain Square. Because this is a free tour, I highly recommend booking your spot in advance because demand is very high! You can book it here.
Is Baku Safe to Visit?
Baku is honestly one of the safest cities I’ve traveled to. I went there as a solo female and have never once felt threatened or unsafe while wandering alone, including at night and in the early mornings. I also did a lot of solo photoshoots with my tripod, and while I’m usually quite nervous about stepping away from my gigantic camera to pose, I never really felt that way in Baku. The vibe in this city is simply incredibly safe, and the locals I met were very friendly and welcoming. With that said, I recommend taking general safety precautions no matter where you go. Watch your belongings in the touristy areas, avoid narrow alleys if you’re walking alone in the dark, and always go with your gut feeling if something doesn’t feel right. But trust me, you really won’t have to worry much in Baku.
How Much Money Do I Need in Baku?
For budget travelers, the daily cost for traveling in Baku is around $35 USD in total. This means you’d be staying in budget hotels and eating at cheap places. For comfort travelers, the daily spend is likely to be anywhere between $50 USD and $80 USD with accommodation included. If you enjoy luxury travel, you’re likely to spend a minimum of $120 USD per day. Here’s a little breakdown of the costs of travel in Baku:
Accommodations (per night): ~$9 USD budget / $20 – $50 USD comfort / $90 – $350 USD luxury
Food: $6 – $10 USD per meal
Transportation: ~$0.15 USD per metro ride / $2 USD for a 15-min Bolt ride
Entrance tickets to attractions: ~$2 – $8.50 USD depending on the attraction, but many are free
SIM card: ~$5.80 USD for 10GB with Azercell
The currency in Baku is the Azerbaijani manat (AZN), and $1 USD is roughly 1.70 AZN as of August 2020.
Internet in Baku, Azerbaijan
The hotels in Baku are generally well-equipped with WiFi and so is the airport. Consider getting a SIM card if you want to stay connected as you’re wandering around the city; the WiFi situation in restaurants and cafés is a bit of a hit-or-miss. I recommend using Azercell as they have the best coverage. A data plan of 10GB with Azercell would cost you around $5.80 USD.
Top tip: Try not to buy SIM cards at the airport cause they’re more expensive there than in the city. Instead, use the airport WiFi to get a Bolt (the local Uber) into the city, and head over to this Azercell store in Fountain Square to buy one (it’s one of the most central locations).