When I said I was going to Azerbaijan, most people just looked at me with a blank look in their face. I was lucky to find someone who even knew it was a country. But there is so much in Azerbaijan and in Baku as well from history, to food, to culture. So I wanted to put together a list of the top things to do in Baku, Azerbaijan.
One of the most historic sites in Baku, the Maiden tower is definitely one that has a lot of mystery surrounding it. The history is unknown but there is a lot of legends that surround this tower (such as a maiden who threw herself from the tower to not have to marry someone her father wanted her to). Visiting the tower will give you some insight into the various different legends and lores and some of the history of Baku as well.
Hours: 10am – 6pm
Admission Fee: 10 AZN
Wandering and Shopping in the Old Town
One of my favorite parts of Baku was the historic old town. With all the cranes and buildings going up around the modern city of Baku it is wonderful that some of the old city is still preserved and able to be visited. Shopping here at many of the small shops allowed us to find some great local goods and textiles.
Funicular, Flame Tower & Memorials
The Flame tower and the surrounding area is worth a visit as well. While the tower itself is hotels, apartments, and business areas, taking the funicular up is worth the trip. You can see memorials to those who died during the war with Armenia as well as other monuments such as a burning flame. This area is especially worth visiting (and popular) in the evenings with everything lit up.
This area is certainly the land of fire. The mud volcanos are beautiful and raw acts of nature that constantly change the landscape outside of Baku. It is said that nearly half of the world’s mud volcanos are in this area of Gobustan. Getting here is half the adventure as the roads are not really designed for most traffic (convincing a taxi to take you there is even more tricky as we learned).
Tip: The road here is not well maintained. And having a GPS will help as its a bit complicated to locate yourself in the area surrounding it. The last bit is a steep hill which might be better walking up instead of driving.
Gobustan Rock Art
A fascinating set of petroglyphs, the Gobustan Rock Art Landscape is one of the best preserved petroglyphs I have ever seen personally. They do seem a bit unreal in how well they look on the rock faces surrounding the area. This UNESCO World Heritage Site of incredible rock art and petroglyphs date back from over 5000 to 20,000 years. It seems so incredible to get a glimpse into prehistoric Caucasus life.
Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Located by the wall of the old city, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs is one of the most important historical sites in Baku. Built in the 15th century, the palace was the home of the Shirvans that ruled this area from the 9th until the 16th century. Along with the Maiden tower and the walled city this site makes up one of the two UNESCO sites in the country.
Hours: 10am – 6pm
Admission Fee: 10 AZN (~ 6 USD)
Ateshgah Fire Temple
This Zoroastrian Fire Temple has been used by various different groups during its history (as shown by the hindu and other symbols throughout). The temple is believed to have been built in the 18th century by the Parsi community in Azerbaijan over a site of a previous Zoroastrian temple that was destroyed centuries earlier.
Tip: The Ateshgah temple is located outside of the main area of Baku so you’ll either need your own car or to hire a driver to get here. Be sure to ask the driver to stay as its hard to find a taxi locally there.
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Have you been to Azerbaijan or Baku? Do you have any other favorites you would add to the list? Let us know!