Travel Guide

Baku Travel Guide

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Travel Guide

The culture in Baku, Azerbaijan, is similar to the rest of the country. Evolved over several centuries, the culture of Baku has Turkish, Persian and Russian influences. Majority of the population of Baku are Shia Muslims; however, along with the Islamic influences, you can also still see the remnants of early Zoroastrian influences in Baku and everywhere else in Azerbaijan.

Although Islam is the main religion followed by the people of the city, there are many who have liberal views about religion and consider themselves as non-believers. Moreover, you would also find Jews and Christians in Baku. In short, the city of Baku has diverse culture.

When it comes to language, Azerbaijani is the local language. However, as Baku is a prime touristic location, most people in the city speak English. Russian is also one of the common languages spoken in Baku.

Baku is also quite liberal when it comes to cultural activities. It was the first Islamic city in the East that introduced opera, national theatre, newspaper and library. Today, you would find 7 theatres, 30 museums, cinema theatres, an opera theatre, a film studio, 11 higher educational institutions, and several libraries in the city.

The unique culture of Baku is one of the main reasons that people visit the city. Also, the hospitality and warmth of the locals ensure that you cannot resist the chance to visit this Azerbaijan city again.

The currency of Baku is the same as the rest of the country, and that is the Azerbaijani Manat, which is divided into 100 qəpik. US $1 is equivalent to 1.6 Azerbaijani Manat.

Petroleum Industry

When it comes to economy, petroleum is the biggest industry in Baku. The petroleum industry of the city is a large contributor to the country's economy as well. Petroleum was discovered in Baku somewhere around the 8th century. Both white oil and black oil were produced naturally in Baku. By 20th century, Baku has the largest oil fields in the world and almost half of the world's oil requirement was produced in the city.

However, by the end of the century, petroleum at onshore sites were exhausted, and the extraction of petroleum was moved to sea offshore. The city was home to over 3000 oil wells during the 1900. Although the petroleum industry suffered during the world wars, especially the second world war, currently the oil economy is pretty strong in Baku.

Tourism

Another major contributor to Baku's economy is tourism. It is one of the most modern and developed cities in the world. Apart from inspiring and innovative modern architecture, Baku also offers an interesting history (dating back to the Stone age) and culture that attract people from all around the world. Apart from sightseeing, Baku also offers an amazing nightlife and several avenues for shopping, right from chain stores to high end boutiques, each of them adding up to the economy of the city.

Archaeologists have found evidence of human life existence in Baku since the Stone Age, some 100,000 years ago. It is believed that the present day old city was built on the foundation of the structures built in the ancient times.

During the Middle Ages, the city of Baku was under the rule of Shirvanshah dynasty, which was Persian-Arabic in origin. It was during their rule (between the 12th and 14th centuries) that the present day old city, including the major attractions like the Maiden Tower was built. It was also during the Middle Ages that oil was discovered in Baku.

Safavid Shah Islamil I captured Baku in the sixteenth century, but the city was recaptured by Safavid troops few decades later.

During the 19th century, the Russians captured the city of Baku, and it was during this time it became the major cultural and industrial centre of the Caucasus region. With the oil boom, the industrial development was rapid and businessmen from all over the world established their offices and invested their capital in Baku. Baku was a major oil provider during World War I and produced 28,683,000 tons of oil during the war.

1917 saw the Bolshveki massacre in Baku, where thousands of Muslims and Azeris were killed. In 1920 Baku came under the rile of Azerbaijan Soviet Social Republic and was also the administrative, cultural and industrial capital of the rule. During this time, the first tramline as well as the electric railway was introduced in Baku.

During World War II, Baku was again the major oil contributor. It is said that the workers were able to extract 23,482 million tonnes of oil during this period. Efforts were taken to destroy the Baku oil fields by the Allied generals to weaken the Soviet Union. Wars were also raged to obtain control of the oil fields of Baku.In 1990, the Soviet Union troops invaded the city to put a stop to the anti-Soviet riots, killing several people including women, children and the elderly who tried to stop them. Still, the rule of the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Baku because an independent city.

Today, Baku is the capital of the Republic Government of Azerbaijan. It is also a flourishing social, cultural and economic centre not just in Azerbaijan but also in the whole of Southern Caucasus region.

Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan. Here are some popular facts about the city of Baku.

  • • Apart from being the capital of Azerbaijan, it is also the largest city not just in the country but also in the Caucasus region.
  • • Baku is located along the Caspian Sea. It is also called the City of Winds, because of the cold (khazri) and warm (khazri) winds that blow throughout the year.
  • • Baku is located 28 meters below sea level, making it the lowest-lying national capital in the world.
  • • It is also the commercial centre of Azerbaijan.
  • • The residents of Baku are called Bakuvian.
  • • Aside from being the national capital, Baku is also Azerbaijan's political, cultural and industrial capital.
  • • The city is made of 11 administrative districts and 5 townships.
  • • One of the landmarks of the city is the Flame Towers, which is dedicated to the long history of fire worshipping in Azerbaijan.
  • • There are several mud volcanoes around the city of Baku. These volcanoes release gases like methane and occasionally erupt too.
  • • Petroleum is the largest industry in Baku.
  • • It is one of the best places for nightlife partying in the world.
  • • Baku is home to some unique museums including the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum and the Baku Museum of Miniature Books.
  • • Baku is located near Yanar Dag, the fire that continues to burn on the Absheron Peninsula due to the unlimited supply of natural gas found under the ground.

Baku enjoys two main climates, i.e. the winter season and the summer season. Although the weather of the city cannot be called extreme, Baku faces strong winds from the Caspian Sea throughout the year.

Winter Season

Winter in Baku is from November to March. The temperature during these months can range between 4oC to 13oC. January is the coldest month of the year and you can expect snowfall too. Rains are common between October and December, especially during the month of November. The harsh, cold northern wind, khazri, makes the weather chillier.

Summer Season

Summer in Baku falls between June and September, July and August being the warmest. The temperature during the summer season falls between 20oC to 30oC. Summers in Baku are not just hot but humid too. The city also receives warm southern wind gilavar, making the climate warmer.

Spring and Autumn Seasons

Spring in Baku falls in April and May, while autumn is in the month of October. During both these times, the city enjoys a pleasant climate, although the winds may blow any time. The temperature during both these seasons fall between 20oC to 25oC. Although summers and winters in Baku are not too extreme, spring and autumn are the best times to visit the city.

Baku has one of the hotspot vacation destinations for people around the world. Hence, reaching Baku is extremely easy. You have the options of travelling to Baku by air, rail as well as road.

Air Transport: The best way to reach Baku is to fly to Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which is located 25 km away from Baku City Centre. Most of the major airlines like British Airlines, Australian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Azerbaijan Airways, Turkish Airlines, Uzbekistan Airways, Emirates, etc. have flights to Azerbaijan from different countries in the world.

Rail Transport: Baku has great railway system that not only connects it with the different places in Azerbaijan but also various neighbouring coutries. You can take a train from Ukraine, Russia and Georgia to reach Baku. Azerbaijan Railways' official website would have all information about train timings, schedules, prices, routes, etc.

Road Transport: It is possible to reach Baku by bus from its neighbouring countries. Buses to Baku are available from Georgia, Russia, Turkey, Iran, etc. All the international passenger buses arrive and depart from the Baku International Bus Terminal, which can be accessed by bus and metro. Bus travel is comfortable as the buses as well as the roads are in good condition. All information regarding bus services including routes and fares can be found on the official website.

Getting Around Baku

For travelling within Baku, there are several options, including buses and metros. The buses and metros connect the city well and make commuting within the city hassle free. It would be better to get BakiKart, a prepaid card system that is used both in metros and new red buses. The old buses of Baku still run on the cash system.

When it comes to cabs, you would find purple-coloured London-style cabs everywhere in the city. They charge you by the meter. But make sure the meter is running before you start your journey. You can use pre-booked taxis to commute to and from the airport. Apart from this, you can easily book an Uber for travelling within Baku.

To visit Baku, you need an Azerbaijan visa. However, if you hold a passport of countries like Russia, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, you are entitled to visa on arrival in Baku or anywhere else in Azerbaijan. However, the best part about applying for an Azerbaijan visa is that you do not have to visit a consulate for the same. On the other hand, you can get the Azerbaijan evisa online.

The process of applying for a visa to visit Baku is extremely easy. Make sure that your passport has at least three months validity from the date of entering the country of Azerbaijan. Once this is done, download the online application form. You have to provide details like name, passport number, nationality, date of birth, date of arrival, port of arrival, etc.

When you submit the form, you have to pay the service and government fees through Paypal, debit or credit card or wire transfer. Once this is done, you would receive a confirmation email as well as an email regarding the documents you need to submit for the visa process to start.

After your documents and application form are reviewed, you would receive your visa via email. This evisa would allow you enter Azerbaijan by air, rail, road or sea. You have to take a printout of the evisa and show it at the port you are entering. The Azerbaijan Immigration Officials would verify the document and stamp the visa, letting you enter into the country. The validity of the evisa is 90 days and you are allowed to stay in the country for maximum 30 days.

While Baku has amazing array of attractions and a happening nightlife, there are several great places to see around the city. Located few kilometres away from Baku, these spots would make your holiday in Baku even more delightful.

Ateshgah Fire Temple: Located just 20 km from Icheri Sheher, the Ateshgah Fire temple tells you the importance of fire in Zoroastrianism that was followed in Azerbaijan in the ancient times. The temple complex, which is believed to be more than 2000 years old, sis home to one large central flame and four smaller flames. You can either join a tour or explore the place on your own.

Yanar Dag: Not too far from Ateshgag is Yanar Dag, which is known as the burning mountain. This natural wonder is caused by the gas existing under the ground, causing the mountain to burn continuously.

Gobustan National Park: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Azerbaijan, the Gobustan National Park is home to scorching lakes, bubbling mud volcanoes and anthropological sites. The Gobustan National Museum inside the park is informational and interesting as well.

Mud Volcanoes: A day trip from Baku would give you the chance to see the unique mud volcanoes that churn out freezing mud to the surface due to the presence of gas underground. This is one tour that would be both challenging and exciting.

Shamakhi: Take time out to visit the ancient capital of the Shirvan Empire, Shamakhi, which is located two hours from Baku. Here, you would find archaeological ruins, fortresses, etc, that are around one thousand years old.

Bilgah Beach: Although Azerbaijan is not popular for its beaches, the Bilgah Beach is perfect for those who want to relax and have a good time. It is situated 45 km away from Baku, and the best way to reach the place is taxi or hiring a car.

Baku is a metropolitan city and you would find cuisines from all around the world here. However, you need to try the local Azerbaijan cuisine when you are visiting Baku. Combining Turkish, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, Iranian and Middle Eastern influences, the Azeri cuisine is nothing less than lipsmacking.

When it comes to the best dishes that you should try when you are in Baku, you would be spoilt with choices. Piti (mutton and chickpea soup), toyuk levengisi (chicken stuffed with dried fruits and nuts), qutab (pancakes stuffed with meats, herbs or spinach), shirin polav (rice and meat pilaf with dried fruits and nuts), monastirski (lamb or chicken topped with pomegranate sauce and melted cheese), dolma (stuffed vegetables) and coban salatasi (salad containing chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumber and herbs). Most dishes have meat in it, leaving only dolma, lentil soups and salads for vegetarians.

Tea is a favourite drink of the Azeris. You would find plenty of teashops that offer a variety of teas like the darachin chai (tea made with ginger, cinnamon and rosewater), chai (black tea made with sugar and lemon), etc. One of the most popular teas among Azeris is the one mixed with jam.

The old town of Baku is the perfect place to try Azeri dishes as the place has several restaurants and cafes serving the local food. Some of the best restaurants in Baku that are popular for Azeri cuisine include Firuze, Shirvansh Muzey Restoran, Zeytun, Mugham Club, Çay Bağı 145, Art Garden and Royal Garden.

One of the reasons many people visit Baku is for its interesting list of festivals and events. While the attractions of the city are a delight, the events and festivals would ensure that you always stay entertained.

International Baku Jazz Festival: Held annually in the month of October, this music festival brings Jazz artists from around the world to Baku. Jazz lovers also travel from all corners of the world to attend this esteemed event.

Azerbaijan International Auto Festival: If you are a car lover, this is one festival that should be on your list. The auto festival is held somewhere between March and May and gives you the chance to view some attractive models of cars and motorcycles including tires, spare parts and such other equipment.

Maiden Tower International Art Festival: Lovers of art would find the maiden Tower International Art Festival a delight. Hosting art works of both local and international artists, the festival includes several interesting activities like exhibitions, street art, events, workshops, etc.

Baku International Tourism Film Festival: This one is dedicated to promote movies that are based on domestic and international tourism. The international tourism film festival is held in November, every year.

Baku Shopping Festival: Baku Shopping Festival is held twice every year, once in April-May and then in October-November. During the festival, more than 400 stores in the city of Baku offer massive discounts and tax-free offers to the shoppers.

Azerbaijan International Food Industry Exhibition: This exhibition gives you the chance to a variety of local foods including vegetables, meats, fruits, spices, herbs, etc., many of which are exported to other countries. This exhibition is held in the month of May, every year.

Baku offers an amazing nightlife to locals and tourists. The city is home to numerous bars, lounges and nightclubs that make the city vibrant and lively, much after the sun goes down. If you are in Baku for a holiday, do not retire to your hotel room after dinner. On the other hand, get ready to explore the livelier nightlife of the city of Baku.

Classy, modern and relaxed, the nightclubs and bars of Baku offer everything for a great evening. Some of the best places that you must visit for an amazing nightlife experience in Baku are Phoenix Bar, Azza Bar, Hyatt Disco, Capitol Night Club, Sherwoods, Blackjack, Tural, Coral, etc. While the music and ambience of these places are great, they are popular for their food and drinks as well. Most of these places also offer free Wi-Fi, making it possible for you to update your Instagram and Facebook with your latest activities in Baku.

A holiday cannot be complete without a shopping excursion, and Baku has myriad of options when it comes to retail therapy. Right from luxury brands to souvenirs, there is a variety of things that you can shop for in the city of Baku.

Malls: Baku has several malls but the most popular one is definitely Port Baku Mall. It is also the first shopping mall in Baku. Home to many popular luxury brands, Port Baku Mall is the perfect place to shop for exclusive brand clothes, accessories, jewellery, etc. The place also has a 3D cinema theatre, entertainment centre for kids, restaurants and a bowling hall. While the mall has several premium brands, it is also a great place to shop for mid-budget shoppers. Apart from Port Baku, some other malls that are popular in the city include 28 Mall, Ganjlik Mall and Park Bulvar Mall. Park Bulvar Mall is the latest addition in the city and is the largest with 150 stores spread around an area of 55000 sq.m. Apart from clothes, the place also has toy stores, household goods store, restaurants, cinema and cafes.

Street Shopping: Apart from malls, Baku has several street markets that sell everything from fresh produce to souvenirs. The Icheri Sheher Markets are really popular as you get to shop while walking along the historical neighbourhood. It is a great place to buy Azerbaijani carpets and classic souvenirs like keychains, fridge magnets and other such memorabilia. If you are looking for high end street shopping, Nizami Ganjavi is the place to visit. Covering a stretch of 3.5 km, the stress has some of the most gorgeous buildings that house the best boutiques, jewellery and perfumery salons and some of the most popular restaurants in Baku.

Baku is the perfect mix of the old and the new. While the city has some of the best modern buildings and skyscrapers, at the centre of Baku you will find the old town, still preserved beautifully. Here are some of the best places to see in Baku.

Icheri Sheher: The old part of the city, Icheri Sheher is an UNESCO World Heritage Site with cobblestone streets, ancient walls, narrow corridors, etc. The best way to explore the old town is by foot, and there are lot of interesting things to see here. Do check out the mosques, the palace complex and the old buildings of this part of the city, where you can learn about the history of the city and the Shirvanshas dynasty that ruled the place between the 9th and 16th centuries. Apart from sightseeing, you can explore the street markets selling souvenirs, the amazing teashops and restaurants that serve delicious food during your visit to the old town of Baku.

Maiden Tower: Although part of the old town of Baku, Maiden Tower needs a special mention because of its iconic status. Named so due to the impenetrability of the structure, Maiden Tower was first used as a Zoroastrian temple and then as a watch tower. The tower has a museum where you can see the development of the city of Baku. However, the highlight of the visit is visiting the top of the tower and checking out the beautiful view of the city. The best time to visit the place is during sunset.

The Flame Towers: A futuristic building, the Flame Towers places Baku on the international map. Measuring 182 meters in height, the Flame Towers is a group of three towers that are shaped like flames. The buildings are home to luxurious hotels and other top-end businesses, but it is possible to visit the top through funicular ride. Moreover, the Flame Tower is visible from anywhere in the city.

Museum of History of Azerbaijan: Learn everything you need to know about the history of the country at the Museum of History of Azerbaijan. Right from ancient to modern times, you get to know learn about Azerbaijan from tthe 300,000 artefacts and

Bibi Heybat Mosque: A classic example of Shirvan architecture, the Bibi Heybat Mosque is a delight to explore. The mosque was built in the 13th century and has three domes and two minarets. The domes have green and turquoise mirrors and engraved are Quran inscriptions.

A holiday in Baku would be nothing less than interesting as there are so many places to visit and things to do here. If you are not sure enough to plan your holiday, you can trust Rayna Tours and Travels to do that for you. We have a range of Baku tour packages that would fit all kinds of needs and budget.

While Rayna Tours offers a variety of pre-planned holiday packages in Baku, it is also possible to customize it, as per your specific requirements. Some of the most popular packages we offer are Baku City Tour, Baku Old City Tour, Baku Night Tour and Baku Gastronomic Tour. We also offer combo tours where you get to visit some nearby place along with Baku. You can also check out our other service packages like airport or city transfers, car rentals, etc. While our prices are competitive, we also offer high quality tours in Baku.

The best time to visit the place is during the summer months, i.e. from June to September. The climate is warm and pleasant, and is great for sightseeing as well. However, Baku during these months is not just crowded but expensive too, except in September. The weather during September is still warm but there is less touristic crowd and you would see a major difference in hotel rates. In short, September and October considered the best time to visit Baku. Likewise, months between April and June are also great as the city enjoys a pleasant weather.

However, this does not mean you have to ignore the winter months. Winter is between the months of November and March, and the city experiences heavy snowfall during January. Still, winter in Baku is beautiful. If you enjoy snow and skiing, visiting Baku and the nearby ski resorts in February would be a great idea.

Best Selling Baku Tours

  • Baku City Tour
  • Baku Airport Pick Up
  • Baku Airport Drop Off
  • Baku Night Tour
  • Baku Old City Tour
  • Baku city and Ateshgah Tour
  • Baku city and Gobustan Tour
  • Transfer from Baku to Gabala
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