Baku, the Dubai of Caspian sea

In recent years Baku, the Azerbaijan’s capital became one of the most popular travel destinations in Caspian Sea. Thanks to the gas and oil fields this city is early fase of development and in the way to attract more western tourism with cheapest prices, modern architecture and good variety of touristic attractions.

Baku

How to go to Baku?

I reached Baku by flight with Azerbaijan Airlines from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia; this is not the most economic way to travel from Georgia to Azerbaijan but is the fastest one. Majority of the tourist use the night train which is confortable and cheapest if you don’t have any problem sharing the room with someone else.

Visa

For the majority of the tourist there is a tourist visa online (e-visa) similar to the visa ESTA in USA.

List of the countries accepted in e-visa program: https://evisa.gov.az/en/countries 

The visa cost 23 dollars at the moment of write this article. If the e-visa is easy to obtain up to 3 working days, there is a few important things to consider before apply:

  1. Be careful when you fill your personal information in the form because you won’t edit that after submit.
  2. In case of mistake you’ll need to pay again for the application but is not consider a rejection.
  3.  At the end of the process there is not a confirmation email, pre-confirmation screen or application proof. So is better take a print screen of the form before submit. Obviously once the visa is issue you will receive an email with the document.
  4. If you have 2 or 3 names, please add those in the form because if the form data doesn’t match with the passport data the process is consider invalid and the visa rejected.
  5. The visa need to be shown when you enter and going out of the country. So don’t throw it away before left the country!

Official web for the visas: https://evisa.gov.az/

Public Transport

The public transport in Baku is not very efficient for long distances or moving outside the city. At the international airport we can buy a card in a machine for a public transport called BakiKART. This card is useful if you don’t want to expend money in taxi when you arrive. If you planning to come back to the airport by bus as well is better to select 2 journeys.

Important: The card is the same for the metro but journey is a different cost.

The airport bus name is aeroexpress and the frequency is every 30 minutes after 6am until 12am, outside of these hours the frequency is every 1 hour. You can check the schedule here: Baku International Airport bus.

In Baku the bus arrive in front of  28th of May station. The historical center and touristic area is a little bit far from there, around 30 minutes walking but there is a metro station as well.

Baku - Azerbaijan

Aeroexpress bus

What to see in Baku?

Baku is a big city but the touristic attractions are easy to reach by foot or taking the metro. The metro is not really confortable because is busy majority of the times and is an old russian metro but the cost of the ticket is really cheap.

    • Historical Center: Here we can see a well preserved walled city (Icherisheher) with buildings from the arabic and persa occupation.
      One if the most important buildings is The palace of Shirvanshahs built in the 15th century and one of the most important historical buildings in Azerbaijan. Also in the historical center we can see old mosques from arabic invasions and a big tower from the XII century called Qız qalası or Maiden Tower.  The historical center is small, is not big as a medina, so the visit won’t take more than 1 hour.
Baku

Maiden Tower

Baku

Sulfur Baths

Baku

Old Minaret

Baku

Shirvanshahs Palace

Baku

Typical street in walled city

  • Flame towers: Symbol of modern Baku and easy to see from practically every point of the city. These towers are relative news, built between 2007 – 2012  and every tower have a different function: North Tower: Hotel, South Tower: Luxury Apartments, West Tower: Business offices. At night the towers present a light show.
Baku - Azerbaijan

Flame Towers at night

Baku

Baku

Flame Towers from walled city

  • Seaside Boulevard: On of the favourite walking for tourist and local residents. The boulevard has several kilometres long along the Caspian Sea and we can find a few touristic attractions walking here:
    • Old government house
    • Little Venice
    • Carpet museum
    • Baku Wheel
    • Caspian Waterfront Mall
    • Baku Cristal Hall.
Baku

Carpet Museum

Baku - Azerbaijan

Caspian Waterfront Mall

Baku - Azerbaijan

Old government palace

Baku

Little Venice

Baku

Baku - Azerbaijan

Baku Wheel

The surroundings of Baku

The best way to visit the surroundings of Baku is via full day tour because the touristic sites are far each other and difficult to access by public transport. The tours are really cheap and arrive from the historical center early in the morning and return around 5pm.

Baku City and surroundings tour are one of the most popular and recommended. That included:

  • Bibi-Heybat Mosque
  • Atashgah, temple of fire
  • Yanardag, mountain of fire
  • Qobustan and museum
  • Mud volcano

The tickets and food weren’t included in the tour but for a tour with a professional english speaker guide for 75 manats (35 euros) it was a bargain. Tours are private or individuals but in the group tours there are not too many people. They guide use normal cars if the passengers are less than 4.

  • Bibi-Heybat Mosque: Old mosque from XIII century destroyed during the soviet occupation and rebuilt during the 90’s.

Bibi-Heybat Mosque

Bibi-Heybat Mosque

  • Atashgah, temple of fire: This temple is one of the most important and interesting historical monument in Azerbaijan. The “Atashgah” means “House of Fire” en local language. The temple was built between the end of  XVI century beginning of XVII. From XIX century natural gas seeping through the rocks of the temple generating flames for rituals and tourist enjoyment.

Ateshgah of Baku

Ateshgah of Baku

Ateshgah of Baku

  • Yanardag, mountain of fire: This place is located in the other side of the city and in order to access the tour pass through Baku suburbs surrounded by oil extraction machinery. In the ‘mountain’ which is a small hill we can see another eternal natural gas leak.

Yanardag - Baku

  • Mud volcanoes: Continues with the tour outside the city, there is an area surrounded by small active mud volcanoes.

Mud Volcano - Baku

Mud Volcano - Baku

  • Qobustán: This is a palaeolithic site where the first inhabitants of the region lived and left their art in the rocks. The park has a modern museum as well with the history of the place.

Qombustan - Azerbaijan

Qombustan - Azerbaijan

Qombustan - Azerbaijan

Qombustan - Azerbaijan