The capital city of Baku in the country of Azerbaijan happens to be the lowest lying capital in the world due to the fact that it is ninety-two feet below sea level. This city has changed immensely over the years, and now, all types of cultures blend together beautifully.
Old fortress walls and stone mansions have been surrounded by architectural marvels, while some of those latter masterpieces have replaced some of the most damaged and run-down buildings from long ago. Visitors can be seen wandering the streets as they stand in awe looking at the unique structures that have recently been constructed.
There are many hotels located in Baku, but there are a few that frequent travelers prefer to stay at. Here are the best of the best:
Boutique 19 Hotel
This quaint and fascinating hotel is just minutes away from some of the most popular attractions within the city of Baku. Guests will love staying in the comfortable rooms complete with private bathrooms, flat screen televisions, and free Wi-Fi. Guests will enjoy the continental or a la carte breakfast that is served each day as well as the international cuisine that is served at the on-site restaurant for lunch and dinner. The staff speaks numerous languages, so everyone will find that they will be understood if they need something during their stay.
Grand Hotel Europe
The Grand Hotel Europe is one of the best five-star hotels in Baku and it has spectacular views of both the city and the Caspian Sea. Every inch of the hotel has a luxurious touch, and guests will love the balcony off their room that overlooks the water. The on-site restaurant offers both hot and cold buffets plus numerous types of international cuisine. Travelers love the Olympus Health Club and Spa at this hotel, as it is the perfect place to grab a quick workout in a high-tech gym, have a massage, or take a long relaxing spa bath. Everyone who stays at the Grand Hotel Europe will find that they are nice and relaxed throughout their entire stay and leave for home healthier and happier.
Seven Boutique Hotel Baku
Some of the rooms at the Seven Boutique Hotel Baku offer amazing views of the city, but guests will love the rooms that do not have that view as well. This hotel is near many of the attractions within Baku, and the staff can help arrange for transportation if it is needed. In fact, the employees will hep all their guests with their plans for the day, and by giving them advice on the best things to do and see while they are visiting the area.
The food in Baku is absolutely delectable, especially for those travelers who take the time to find some of the fabulous local restaurants. Here are the local places that frequent travelers love and recommend:
This restaurant might be a little bit further from all the main attractions, but the extra distance is worthwhile for the delicious traditional cuisine that they serve. As guests are enjoying their meal, they will hear music playing quietly in the background. A few of the more popular dishes at this restaurant include the eggplant rolls, the shah pilaf, and the lula kebab. No one will want to leave without devouring one of their wonderful desserts as they sip on some of the azeri tea.
Everything at Dolma is made to order, so everyone should be prepared to wait a little bit for their meal. The Greek salad is a great option for an appetizer, and while guests may want to order something different, they will need to work through the language barrier first. The atmosphere within Dolma is amazing, but it is not known until guests choose to wander down the stairs that leads to the massive open space of the restaurant.
Cay Bagi is also known as Tea Garden and many people choose to dine there to see the magnificent views from the rooftop terrace. However, the cuisine that the Tea Garden serves for lunch, as well as their sweets and phenomenal tea, keep all guests returning time and time again. The staff is quite friendly and the music that plays in the background makes the entire experience memorable.
Restaurants that are Open Late Along Nizami Street
There are so many restaurants to wander into on this street, although many visitors ignore them during the day as they are shopping in all the high-end shops. However, once those shops close, the best restaurants stay open to serve fantastic kebabs. The kebabs can have any type of meat including beef, chicken, lamb, and fish, or a person can choose one that is comprised of only vegetables. No matter what a diner wants, they will find that their kebab always has chunks of onions as well as multiple special spices, and they are all cooked to perfection.
Things to Do
There is plenty for everyone to do while they are visiting Baku, but some of the attractions definitely should not be missed. Here are a few of the best things that visitors should see when they are in the city:
Old Town in Baku is also known as Icharishahar and it was once a medieval capital city. Visitors will want to take the time to see the Maiden Tower in the middle of this preserved area before stopping to see one of the traditional carpet weavers. The Maiden Tower was constructed more than one thousand years ago and was considered a Zoroastrian temple before it became a watchtower during the 18thcentury. While the views of the tower from the bottom are wonderful, it is the views of the surrounding area from the top of the stairs at ninety-five feet that travelers will appreciate the most.
The Palace of the Shirvan Shahs
This palace is also within Old Town, and it is the number one attraction in the entire city. The palace was constructed during the 15thcentury and includes the palace as well as a mosque, mausoleum, and burial vaults.
Walk the Promenade Along the Caspian Sea
The promenade near Milli Park is well-known and locals can be seen mingling with tourists all throughout the day and evening hours. While strolling along, everyone will want to stop to take a spin in the Baku Eye Ferris wheel or do some shopping at the Park Bulvar Mall. There is plenty of entertainment and recreation to be found in this area of the city, which is why it is so popular with everyone. One of the special sights here is the National Flag Square and it has a flag and flagpole that are considered the largest in the world.
Visit the Cats in the Old City
The Old City has long been known as the social area of Baku, and while people have met up with others here for decades, it is the cats that get the most attention. There are quite a few cats that can be found sitting on balconies and windowsills, but not an overwhelming amount where a person will think that they can’t go anywhere without tripping over one. Visitors are encouraged to stop and give these animals some attention, as they are quite friendly and always wanting to be pet and loved.
Azerbaijan History Museum
This historical museum was founded in 1920 and it is one of the largest museums in the entire country. The exhibits include cultural items, political documents, and items from the lives of the locals from ancient times to today. Visitors will love seeing the house that this museum is located in, because it used to be the home of an oil magnet, Taghiyev, and it is full of luxurious items from when he lived there.
No one can go on vacation and not spend time at the beach, but no traveler is going to want to visit one that is dirty and unappealing. Bilgah Beach is the best beach in the country and people will find that they can easily spend an entire day there. Most people try to arrive early to beat the crowds and everyone will need to be prepared to pay if they want to use the chairs and umbrellas that can be found there.
Fountain Square used to be known as Parapet and it has been turned into a pedestrian loved area. There are numerous fountains to be seen from the eastern walls of Icharishahar all the way to Nizami Street. In between the fountains, visitors will find multiple bars, restaurants, and cafes, and many of them have fabulous outdoor terraces that overlook the beautiful fountains. There is nothing better than enjoying a drink and a bite to eat while listening to the water flowing from any of them.
The Flame Towers
There are three towers within the Flame Towers, and the tallest one reaches five hundred and ninety-seven feet in the air. While these towers are spectacular during the day, the best time to see them is at night when they light up to look like a fire.
Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
This theatre was opened in 1911 by Nikolai Bayev, and watching a performance there is magical. Those who do not care for the ballet or opera should still take the time to visit and see the art nouveau architecture that appeals to everyone.
Do’s and Don’ts While Visiting Baku
- Do register with the State Migration Service – Anyone that is planning on staying in Baku for more than ten days will need to register with the State Migration Service. This used to be a long and time-consuming process, but it is now possible to accomplish this all online. Travelers that forget this step of their trip will find that they will be facing a very large fine when they go to leave the country.
- Don’t litter – The people of Baku love things that are clean and they do their best to not litter. They want visitors to follow their guidelines as well, which is why massive fines can be incurred by those who do not follow the rules.
- Don’t say anything negative – Negative talk is frowned upon in Baku, especially when it is about some of the locals. They all know some of the bad things that go on in their country, but they do not want to hear about it all, especially from someone that doesn’t live there.
- Do be nice to women – The local men in Baku respect the women that live there, and they expect the tourists to do the same. This means that on public transportation, women should be given seats, and whenever a woman is asked out, the man is supposed to pay.
- Don’t use the airport taxis – Taking a taxi from the airport can cost a small fortune, which is why everyone that steps off the plane will want to take the Airport Express Bus. The bus runs every thirty minutes and they do not try to take advantage of the tourists.
- Do take your passport everywhere – Some tourists will lock their passport up in their hotel safe as soon as they check-in, but in Baku it is illegal for travelers to walk around without one. The police do stop travelers and ask to see their passports on occasion, and people can be fined if they do not have theirs with them.
- Don’t make the okay sign – This sign is completely acceptable in many areas of the world, but in Baku and the rest of the country it is considered to be offensive. Visitors should also try not to point at anything either, because that is considered rude as well.
- Do limit public displays of affection – Since Baku and the rest of the country is Muslim, public displays of affection are inappropriate. It is common for locals to scold tourists who do not follow this rule of the country.
- Do remove shoes when entering a home –No one wears shoes inside the houses in Azerbaijan, and all homeowners have a stash of slippers that they offer their guests.
- Don’t whistle inside – It is considered bad luck to whistle inside.
- Do venture out early – Many businesses open late in Baku, which means that the best time to wander around is early in the morning. The streets are empty at that time, which makes it perfect for capturing picturesque shots of anything and everything.
Money Saving Tips for Visiting Baku
Traveling can be expensive, especially in Baku, but there are many tips that people can use to save them quite a bit of cash. Here are the tips that most people use when visiting this city:
- Take the Baku Metro to save a lot of cash while traveling across the city quickly.
- The bus is also cheap, but it will take a person longer to reach their destination.
- Purchasing a Baku Card will allow tourists to save money while seeing numerous sights. Visitors that have these cards will receive discounts and special offers in museums, cafes, restaurants, and shops. The cards will also allow people to utilize public transportation for free.
- Avoid signing up for tours online, as they tend to be five times as expensive as they would be for those that sign up in person. The cheapest prices can be found when people sign up for tours at their hotels or hostels.
- The hotels in Baku are cheaper during the months of September, as it is after peak season. The weather is still beautiful during this time, so no one will need to sacrifice sun and warm temperatures to save some money.
Spending time in Baku in the country of Azerbaijan can be a phenomenal experience, especially if people are able to see all the attractions that are listed above. Unfortunately, it can be expensive to visit this area of the world, but there are so many ways that people can save money during their trip.
While in Baku, visitors should be willing to talk to the locals, as they can be quite helpful in finding obscure attractions that are worthwhile of a visit. This is also a great way to learn about local restaurants that are cheaper than the normal tourist fare.
Everyone who visits Baku will want to plan their trip carefully, as that is the best way to ensure that people do exactly what they want to do. It will also keep tourists from getting fined for doing something that they shouldn’t do during their visit.