Nicknamed the “City of Winds”, Baku features a medieval walled city that stands juxtaposed against modern skyscrapers emblazoned with LED screens. It’s a vital sea trade port along the Caspian Sea and serves as the cultural and commercial hub of Azerbaijan.
Things to do in Baku
The cobblestone streets of Baku’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old City lie at its heart, with the labyrinth of alleyways best viewed from the 12th-century Maiden Tower. Wander the elaborate royal Palace of the Shirvanshahs complex that is home to the mausoleum of philosopher Seyid Yahya Bakuvi, and witness the towering mosque minarets which dot this historic area.
You can soak up the sea breezes along the European-inspired Baku Boulevard, lined with unique art installations as it hugs the waterfront. It stretches from the Old City to Freedom Square and features mansions built by Baku’s oil barons more than 100 years ago.
Baku was an important trade hub on the Silk Road and there’s no better place to uncover this history than at the giant, rug-shaped Azerbaijan Carpet Museum on Baku Boulevard. See carpets and rugs woven using different techniques from the 17th to 20th centuries, together with Bronze Age jewellery and Azerbaijani ceramics.
For a unique after-dark experience, travel into the hills behind Baku where Yanar Dag, or “Burning Mountain”, illuminates the night. This unique phenomenon of continually burning flames results from gas seeping through the subsurface and was reportedly witnessed by Marco Polo during his 13th-century travels.
Getting around Baku
Baku is served by the Heydar Aliyev International Airport that lies around 30 minutes’ drive east of the city centre. It’s connected to Turkey, Georgia and destinations across Azerbaijan by train, while funicular trams and a metro system allow access to all corners of the city.