From what I’ve seen, Baku nightlife is not very interesting for a single guy. The main problem is that middle-class Azerbaijani women do not frequent nightclubs or bars. They often live in conservative families that do not allow them to party or even to hang out with friends late at night.
As a result, most nightclubs are populated by only men and prostitutes. Many can be found in the shabby basements of buildings around the city center. Girls are often Russians, getting money from either dancing, companionship or sex.
Some upper-class Azerbaijani women are more liberal, though. You will rarely see one in those basements. They hang out in elite nightspots (restaurants, lounges, hookah bars, live music cafes, etc) that can be quite expensive. These venues are not really interesting for single guys since customers stay between groups of friends. If you are alone, you may even be refused entry if you are not accompanied by a woman (for instance in Pasifico or in Buddha Bar).
The center of Baku nightlife is around Merchant’s Street (called Torgovaya), a small pedestrian area east of the Old City. The most distinguishable landmark there is the Fountain’s Square. From there, you will be within 5 minutes walking distance from most the venues listed below. A 5-minute walk away, there is a small red light district with discreet massage parlors and hostess clubs (the famous basement clubs mentioned earlier). The highest concentration is at the crossroad between Bulbul Avenue and Dilara Aliyeva Street. Some of the notable venues are Status, Coral, Grotta, Blackbird, Leo etc. All of them have sexy dancers and prostitutes. Entrance is free but drinks may be overpriced. Beware of scams.
Finally, the area around National Flag Square is also interesting for eating out and partying. It is a renovated industrial area with hipster restaurants (El Portalon, Atelye 61, Maya Mexican) and bars (La Vida Tequila Bar and Enerji nightclub)
Still, I’m listing those places below due to the lack of alternatives. Please leave me a comment below if you think I should add/remove one!
One of the most happening night spots in Baku, it is owned by the Saffron group. It was recommended to me unanimously by all the Azerbaijanies I met.
On my first night, I was unable to get in because I was not accompanied by a girl. On my second attempt, I brought a date for dinner (note that there is a 50 Manats minimum spend).
It is a mid-sized lounge, sandwiched between the Caspian Sea and the Boulevard. Pleasant views, especially from the terrace.
The food was overpriced, as expected, but the taste was decent. Louder dance music starts around midnight. Most guests are groups of friends or couples. Some girls looked like prostitutes.
More information: Pasifico Baku
Also part of the Saffron group, Enerji is one of the few proper nightclubs in Baku. It is located less than 10 minutes by taxi from the city center, near the National Flag Square. It is built on two floors: A semi-open terrace with a dance floor and sofas, and a mezzanine for dining. Bouncers may allow single males to enter but you can book a dinner in advance to make sure of that.
Don’t expect large crowds during weekdays. Weekends are normally much better. Commercial music. A lot of girls but they are usually accompanied.
More information: Enerji Baku
High-end nightclub and lounge on the 11th floor of the Park Inn By Radisson Hotel. You need a girl to get in unless you are a hotel guest. Nice view of the Caspian Sea. Few people are dancing. Most are just eating and smoking shisha with their group of friends. Many Russians. As a single foreign guy, you are most likely to be ignored by everyone (if you manage to get in). 10 Manats for a beer. Commercial music. It closes at 4 AM on weekends.
More information: Eleven Baku
Otto Club is conveniently located in the city center, 300 meters from Fountain Square. 10 Manats entrance fee (they might ask you to be accompanied by a girl). Laid-back atmosphere and crowd (Turkish guests). Live music followed by a DJ every day. Pool tables. Some nice girls.
More information: Otto Baku
More information: Barrel Playground
Dark and loud, Sintetik is the best after-hour club in the city. Open on weekends only until 8 AM, it is as underground as it can be. Techno music.
Another property owned by the Saffron Group. As usual, a nice setting (maybe the most beautiful bar in Baku) but a rather snobbish atmosphere. It can be difficult to enter without a girl unless you make a reservation for dinner. Average, expensive food. 14 Manats for a cocktail. Not too busy.
More information: Buddha Bar Baku
A high-end lounge for the Azeri elite. Free shisha every day for girls. Tiny dancefloor. Not recommended if you are claustrophobic. Some girls may be prostitutes.
More information: 26 Lounge Baku
A restaurant more than a club, High Boost has a great view on Baku (23rd floor). On weekends, they have live bands and DJs. Strict door policy.
More information: High Boost Baku
Alternatively, if you are looking for another restaurant high up in the air, you can check Gate 25, on the 25th floor of the Demirchi Tower.
Since Baku has a sizable number of foreign residents (principally working in the oil industry), you can find many expat pubs. Most are located within a few streets from the Fountain Square.
Most of the pubs I visited were very quiet apart from a handful of customers. Some that had a decent crowd were (in that order) Castle Pub, Clansmen, Shakespeare, Red Lion, Hops, Shamrock, Beer Station, London Pub, Hairy Lemon and Finnegan’s.
You can bar-hop from one another in a single evening as they are walking distance from each other. Just start in Abdulkarim Alizada street or in Tarlan Abdullayev street.
They all serve Western food (sometimes Indian and Mexican too). You can expect sports channels to be turned on and a live band to play on weekends. On average, a beer costs 6 Manats and a cocktail 10 Manats.
There were two pubs I enjoyed more than the others:
A crowded bar, full of tourists and expats (especially after work). Outdoor terrace, sports on TV. Live music on weekends. They serve expensive Indian food. Owned by the Saffron Group.
More information: Harbour
This tiny pub is one of the cheapest I’ve been to in Baku (local beers costing less than 1 Manat). It is also one of the most crowded, particularly with students. It is not very comfortable, nor pretty, and the service can take forever. That said, I recommended it if you are interested in socializing with young Azeris.
More information: Bukowski Pub
Le Chateau Music Bar
This live music bar was lively both nights I visited it. It has a mixed crowd of young Azeris, expats and backpackers. It’s a perfect place to meet other people, especially if you are alone. Some pretty girls. The music schedule is eclectic, from rock to jazz. Check their Facebook for the updated schedule. Cheap prices (starting 1 Manat for a beer and 3 Manats for a whisky coke).
More information: Le Chateau
Hard Rock Café
More information: Hard Rock Café Baku
Small, laid-back café with live local bands (Jazz, folk, blues). Cheap prices (1-2 Manats for a beer, 6 Manats for a cocktail). Near from Le Chateau.
More information: Gramophone Café
Live music bar in a basement. Relaxed crowd, inexpensive drinks.
More information: Etud
Oxen could be a decent bar, but unfortunately, it is empty during week days. Located near from Otto Club/Fountain Square, it is worth checking out if you enjoy listening to non-commercial music (live or DJs). Affordable prices and free entrance.
More information: Oxen
This homey wine lounge is popular with expatriates and their wives. Reasonable prices and friendly service. Buffet on Wednesday, Wine Tasting on Thursday. DJ on weekends. Live Jazz occasionally.
More information: Room Baku
Similar to Room (but smaller), it also attracts expatriates and trendy locals. Minimalist design. Wide selection of local wines.
More information: Kelfi