Baku, the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, is a city with a unique blend of ancient history and modern architecture, set along the Caspian Sea. For those considering things to do in Baku, exploring the Old City (Icherisheher), a UNESCO World Heritage site with its medieval walls and historic buildings, and visiting the Flame Towers, a trio of skyscrapers that dramatically light up the night sky, are top activities.
The city’s bustling Nizami Street offers a premier shopping and dining experience, with numerous stores, cafes, and restaurants. Nearby, the Baku Boulevard provides a scenic stroll along the Caspian Sea, with parks, fountains, and the Baku Eye Ferris wheel.
Beyond its urban attractions, Baku is also known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries and theaters showcasing Azerbaijani and international art and performances. For those seeking the best places to visit in Azerbaijan, Baku’s blend of ancient history, architectural marvels, and cultural richness makes it a must-visit destination.
Table of Contents
Attractions & Things to Do in Baku, Azerbaijan
1. The Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower
The Walled City of Baku, also known as Icherisheher, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes the ancient Maiden Tower and the splendid Shirvanshah’s Palace. This historic fortress is a maze of alleys, historical buildings, and mosques that date back to the 12th century.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking on cobblestone streets, and be sure to climb the Maiden Tower for a panoramic view of the city.
2. Flame Towers
Dominating the skyline of Baku, the Flame Towers are a trio of skyscrapers that reflect the country’s rich natural gas resources and the fire worship of its Zoroastrian past. At night, LED screens display moving flames, visible across the city.
Travel Tip: For the best photographs, head to the Baku Boulevard at dusk when the towers light up and offer a stunning contrast against the evening sky.
3. Baku Boulevard
Also known as the National Park, this promenade runs parallel to Baku’s seafront. Lined with parks, cafés, and amusement rides, Baku Boulevard is the lifeblood of Baku’s social life.
Travel Tip: Rent a bike to cover more ground along the boulevard and enjoy the breeze coming off the Caspian Sea.
4. Heydar Aliyev Center
Designed by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the Heydar Aliyev Center is a marvel of modern architecture and is one of the most iconic buildings in Baku. The center hosts a variety of cultural events and exhibitions.
Travel Tip: Check the event schedule before your visit; you might catch an exhibition, a concert, or a cultural event during your stay.
5. Azerbaijan Carpet Museum
The Azerbaijan Carpet Museum resembles a rolled carpet and houses an impressive collection of Azerbaijani carpets and rugs from various historical periods.
Travel Tip: Carpets are part of the national heritage, so consider a guided tour to fully appreciate the artistry and history behind each piece.
6. Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape
Just an hour’s drive from Baku, Gobustan is home to more than 6,000 rock engravings that date back to 40,000 years ago. The site also features mud volcanoes and gas-stones.
Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds, and be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for exploring the rocky terrain.
7. Fountain Square
A lively public square in the heart of Baku, Fountain Square is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafes, and is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike.
Travel Tip: The square is particularly vibrant in the evening; try some local Azerbaijani dishes at one of the outdoor terraces.
8. Atashgah Fire Temple
Located on the outskirts of Baku, the Atashgah Fire Temple is a testament to Azerbaijan’s eternal flames and was a place of worship for Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Sikhs at different times in history. The complex includes a museum and several rooms around the fire altar.
Travel Tip: Make sure to attend the live demonstrations and cultural exhibitions often held on-site to better understand the temple’s historical significance.
9. Ateshgah of Baku
Ateshgah, often confused with the Atashgah Fire Temple, is a natural eternal flame burning from the hillside on the Absheron Peninsula – a sight that has been attracting visitors for centuries.
Travel Tip: Visit during the late afternoon or early evening when the flame becomes more visible and the site less crowded.
10. Baku Museum of Modern Art
The Baku Museum of Modern Art showcases a collection of Azerbaijani and international art, with a focus on avant-garde artists. The museum’s open plan and lack of fixed route provide a free-flowing experience.
Travel Tip: Check out the museum café, which is a work of art in itself, for a relaxing break between galleries.
11. Upland Park
Upland Park offers the highest vantage point in Baku and is a perfect place to get panoramic views of the city and the Caspian Sea. It’s especially beautiful at night when the city lights are twinkling below.
Travel Tip: There’s a funicular that can take you up to the park; it’s a scenic ride and easier than walking up the hill.
12. Nizami Street
Named after the famous Persian poet, Nizami Street is one of the main shopping streets in Baku, well-known for its exclusive boutiques. It’s also a great place to experience the hustle and bustle of the city.
Travel Tip: The architecture along the street is worth noting, with beautiful facades that light up impressively at night.
13. Mini Venice in Baku
Inspired by the Italian city, Mini Venice in Baku is a small town built on water, complete with canals and gondolas. It’s an excellent place for families or couples looking for a romantic boat ride.
Travel Tip: Dining at one of the waterside restaurants provides a pleasant view of the canals and the gondolas gliding by.
14. Baku Crystal Hall
Built to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, Baku Crystal Hall is a large sports and concert arena with a dazzling façade of LED lights. It regularly hosts sporting events and concerts by international artists.
Travel Tip: Check the schedule in advance to catch a concert or event during your visit for a memorable experience.
15. National Museum of Azerbaijan Literature
Named after Nizami Ganjavi, this museum honors the country’s literary heroes and is housed in a grand building in central Baku. It contains manuscripts, rare books, and literature spanning centuries of Azerbaijani history.
Travel Tip: Literature enthusiasts should not miss the special exhibits that offer a deeper dive into the works of prominent Azerbaijani poets and authors.
FAQ About Things to Do in Baku, Azerbaijan
What are the must-visit landmarks in Baku?
The must-visit landmarks in Baku include the Flame Towers, the Maiden Tower, and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, all offering a unique blend of historical and modern architecture.
Can I explore the Old City of Baku?
Yes, the Old City, also known as Icherisheher, is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a rich history, and you can explore ancient mosques, bathhouses, the Shirvanshahs’ Palace, and the Maiden Tower.
Are there any cultural experiences specific to Baku?
Certainly, in Baku, you can enjoy traditional Azerbaijani music performances, visit the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature, and explore the vibrant art scene at the various galleries and theaters.
What outdoor activities are available in Baku?
Baku offers outdoor activities like strolling along the Baku Boulevard by the Caspian Sea, visiting the city’s lush parks and gardens, and enjoying boat tours on the Caspian Sea.
Is there a place to learn about Azerbaijan’s history in Baku?
Yes, the National Museum of History of Azerbaijan is an excellent place to learn about the country’s past, with artifacts and exhibits that span the entire history of the region.
Where can I find the best panoramic views of Baku?
For the best panoramic views of Baku, visit the Upland Park, which offers a stunning overlook of the city skyline and the Caspian Sea, especially beautiful at sunset.
Can I experience the local cuisine in Baku?
Absolutely, Baku’s food scene is rich with traditional Azerbaijani cuisine. You can try dishes like plov, kebabs, dolma, and local pastries at various restaurants and cafes throughout the city.
Are there any shopping districts or markets in Baku?
Yes, Baku is known for its shopping, from high-end boutiques at the Port Baku Mall to local handicrafts at the Taza Bazaar. Nizami Street is also a popular destination for both local and international brands.