Baku is a shining pearl of Azerbaijan. This mysterious capital tangled with various legends counts centuries of history. Despite many assumptions there is no known real evidence when and why Baku was founded, and what is the real origins of it's name. Many years it was a small town closed behind huge fortifications near the Caspian Sea. The fortress consisted of three walls with water and oil between them. When enemies attacked the city, they first encountered the water later the ditch filled with oil which used to be set on fire. So it is said, that if you want to enter the city, you must cross water and fire.

Nowadays it is known as Old City or “Icharishahar” - UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a unique, historical part of Azerbaijan located within the heart of Baku with cobblestone streets, ancient walls, narrow corridors and intricate art on the doors. The Old City of Baku has a lot to offer starting from aged buildings, a palace complex, mosques and the iconic Maiden Tower. It’s a great place to get lost in! However, we would also recommend going on a walking tour with local guide that will reveal you all the secrets hiding behind the walls of The Old City.

Oil discovery in 19th century significantly changed the face of Baku. The city grew rapidly: large boulevards and Parisian-style neighborhoods. The subsequent world wars and Soviet rule pushed it off the world stage. However, now the capital of Azerbaijan is the most economically developed and luxurious city in the Caucasus, often compared with Dubai. The Flame Towers are a marvel of modern architecture and stands along with buildings and mosques from the 12th century.

For a very long time Baku was a real off the beaten track destination only known by the most intrepid travelers. However, it's eccentric composition and the chaotic mix of European, Eastern, and the Soviet cultures and stories is so exciting, which makes Baku a must visit destination!

Helpful tips

Beaches around Baku. Azerbaijan has more than 500 kilometers of coastline along the western Caspian Sea. Most of the beaches in Baku are highly polluted by oil. However you can find some clean and nice beaches outside the city in the. The closest one is in the South not so far from Bibi Heybat Mosque. However, the cleanest ones are in the North. We did a small day trip to Amburan beach, around 45 kilometers North from Baku. The sandy beach was nice and the water was clean, however there is a plenty of space for improvement. We were bit disappointed by huge amount garbage left near the beach right behind a high fence of luxury villas. Nevertheless, we where happy to unlock the new sea!

Restaurants. Baku has plenty of bars and restaurants located in the city center, Nizami street is the main place to go out in the evening. However, we always look for cheap and nice place to try local food, so we went to Xazar Cafe as it was recommend to us by local tour guide. A cozy restaurant placed in a basement serves like a canteen, where locals come to have a lunch. We loved it, the service is fast and nice, very cheap, simple, but delicious food. There you can try most of local dishes like Pilaf (Plov) and many other.

Markets. In Baku as in every other location on the world enjoyed by tourists you will have a chance to buy overpriced souvenirs. However prices in grocery shops are similar as in all country.

Transportation. To get to Baku you can use car, bus, train, plane or which ever you think is more convenient for you. We decided to take a night train from Tblisi. It was a nice experience as we never did this kind of trip before. The train was old, but clean. The best thing is that one way ticket costs only around 12 euros and is probably the cheapest way to travel to Azerbaijan. So don't get surprised by mass of people. However, tickets Tbilisi - Baku are sold only in main train station and you need to pay in cash. While Baku - Tbilisi tickets can be bought online in Azerbaijan Railways website, but we decided to buy them in the station after we arrived Baku. We recommend to buy tickets couple days ahead in order to get a better places. When buying a ticket cashier will ask your passport, so make sure you have it! Also don't forget to get a visa before!

To get around the city is best with subway, local buses, sometimes taxi might be a quick option as well. However, if you live near center it is best to do it on foot!

Best of luck planning your holidays in Baku!

Is there anything else you would like to visit while in Azerbaijan?

If you have anything in mind, please let us know and let’s discuss it.

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