Baku is a most rich and luxurious city in the Caucasus.
The architecture of Baku is striking from the moment of arrival to the airport named after Heydar Aliyev, which though small in size, but still for several consecutive years takes the first place as the most comfortable airport in the world. Whether the center or outskirts of city has good and wide roads, many expensive cars and fashion boutiques and restored facades of buildings fascinates the visitors.
Let us to tell you 10 things that must be done in Baku.
Take a walk on the waterfront
Baku is located in the natural bay of the Caspian Sea. One of the best places in this windy city is the embankment, designed for recreation and entertainment. The seaside park and its wide pedestrian embankment, called the Baku seaside boulevard, runs along the bay. Here you can sunbathe, run, ride a bike, walk dogs and roller-skate. Along the embankment you can see the Baku Eye(Ferris Wheel), the Park Bulvar shopping center and the building of another Caspian Waterfront shopping center, inspired by the Sydney Opera House. Going to the end, you will be able to see the State Flag Square, the flagpole of which is one of the largest in the world. The nearby “Baku Crystal Hall” was built for Eurovision song contest 2012.
Get in love carpets
If you did not fall in love with Azerbaijani carpets and did not want to buy one for yourself, consider that you were not in Azerbaijan! Baku is an ancient carpet weaving center, so you have to purchase a carpet. Walk past the street vendors of the Old City to the store of the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum, where employees will tell you about the origin, history and meaning of the materials and design of each carpet. Prices for large carpets start from 1000 manats (£ 460), but bargaining is always encouraged, especially if you want to buy a few. The museum stores carpets of wool and silk with cotton, and only those that were made by hand in Azerbaijan using traditional methods and themes. Sellers of the Old City can offer cheaper carpets made in Pakistan, but issued for Azerbaijani, and then you have to wait a day or two of export certificates. The museum can issue a certificate on the same day.
Take a ride on the funicular to the “Flame Tower”
In just 10 manat you can buy a ticket for a trip in the Baku cable car from the sea to three modern buildings known as the “Flame Towers”. In one of them there are offices, in the other – living quarters, and in the third – Fairmont Baku hotel. Although none of them have a viewing platform. You just have to make a selfie: from the funicular you go straight to the Mountain Park, with terraces which offer a picturesque view of the bay of Baku and the whole city. Take a picture of the sunset at the foot of the “Flaming Towers”, then walk along the park back to the sea to the square next to the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum: this is the best place to look at the night lights of the “Flaming Towers”.
Drink million liters tea
A good Azerbaijani leaf tea in the country is called “black gold”. By the way, you can buy a good one at the Yashyl Bazaar in Baku. Azeris brew tea in teapots, with a capacity of at least 500 ml and pour it over crystal curved glasses, which are called armuads. Everything is rather prosaic, except for a special presentation. Be sure to order a couple of small pialas with different jam: from white cherry to fig. Even in the bite to tea served interesting pastries, for example, shekerburs, baklava or mutaki. In all these products the filling is a walnut
It is best to drink tea with a view of the sea and the city, for example, in the tea Çay Bağı 145, which is located next to the Maiden Tower.
Try shish kebab
On a good night, thousands of local residents finish their day with a walk through the pedestrian zone of Baku, surrounded by embassies, headquarters and palace-like buildings built in various architectural styles. Nizami Street, called the “shopping street” because of the large number of shops that work late, is an excellent place for night snacks. You can go to any of the numerous doner restaurant or any restaurant to eat Azerbaijani shish kebab. Point to the thin bread, called lavash, and choose the meat. Shish kebabs are made from lamb, beef, chicken, fish or vegetables, but always come with onions and special spices.
Try Azerbaijani plov
Azerbaijani pilav in its variations is prepared with lamb and with additives of dried fruits, nuts and chestnuts. As flavored spices are saffron and turmeric. Ideally, the most delicious pilav you can get only on a visit. Arrange a quest for the best national plov in Baku. Most of the restaurants of the national cuisine are within Ichari-sheher, but we can recommend one outside the city – with a special design, a huge territory, live music called Gala Bazaar.
Swim in the Caspian sea
Local people do not swim in the city, nevertheless Baku accepts merchant ships to its port, oil is produced near the sea, from which the water off the coast, is not the cleanest. To enjoy the waters of the Caspian Sea, you need to spend an hour on the road. The best beach is in the village of Bilgah (35 km from Baku). You can get there in two ways: to use the services of transfers or any other taxi or on your own (from Icheri-Sheher metro station go to Korogly station, go to Kyoroglu bus stop and catch bus number 171 and drive to the final station. You can find the route of the trip by clicking on the link.
Visit Heydar Aliyev center
This masterpiece of architecture, which was designed by the famous architect Zaha Hadid, once won the first place in the ranking of the most beautiful buildings of the world in the near 2014 and was named in honor of the third President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. The former ruler is the key figure of Azerbaijani history. About the historical details of the country can be found inside the building, where the museum and numerous exhibitions are located: from folk musical instruments and clothes to the personal collection of Aliyev cars. You definitely need to enter. The entrance costs 15 AZN (£ 6.90), and for an additional fee you can get to the exhibition of Heydar Aliyev. The Center presents models of the most important architectural works of Azerbaijan and a small museum showing the history of Azerbaijani crafts, customs and culture. Finish the visit by walking through the gardens of sculptures of modern art, flower fields and waterfalls, making a few hundred photos of the building.
Try Azerbaijani cuisine
In the menu of the restaurant Sehrli Təndir in the Old Town you will find a list of everything that you should try before leaving. Be sure to try dolma (eggplant, linden leaves, grape leaves stuffed with meat, onions, rice, greens and mint), plov (rice with meat, chestnut and fruits) and a magnificent shish kebab. However, the star of the show will be an open tandyr oven at the entrance, where the baker of the restaurant bakes bread.
Look at the cats in the Old Town
UNESCO added Old Baku to the list of World Heritage sites in 2000, but its roots as a social center date back to at least the 12th century. Within its walls there are many sights that can take a whole day to visit, including the Maiden Tower, the Juma Mosque, public baths or hammams and the Shirvanshah Palace. But its most photogenic inhabitants are local cats who sit around on balconies and stone streets when they do not chase mice.