Baku, also known as Baky or Bakı, is the largest city in the Caucasus and the capital of Azerbaijan. Baku is located on the coast of the Caspian Sea on the southern tip of the Absheron Peninsula. There are three major divisions in Baku: İçəri Şəhər (the ancient city), the Russian built city, and the newest part of the city. The population as of January, 2003 reached 2,074,300 people.
Heydar Aliyev International Airport (GYD) is situated 25km from Baku city centre. It is served by major airlines including British Airways and Lufthansa, and a whole host of smaller airlines.
To get to Baku from the airport cheaply, walk to the traffic circle from the airport (about 15 minutes) and ride the minibus from there. It is a 1 hour trip. Otherwise pay a taxi driver 10 AZN ride the taxi to your destination in Baku.
If you are flying out of the airport and you want to save a few AZN it is possible to take the number 135 minibus from near the 28 May train/metro station. It costs 40 qapik, but it is 7-9 AZN cheaper than a taxi. After getting to the traffic circle near the airport, join disembarking passengers in their taxi and give the driver 1 AZN once arriving at the airport.
From Turkmenistan, the costs at the cheapest is around $50 for a steerage bed and it takes two days to reach from Turkmenbashi to Baku. It is better to bring your own food, instead of buying it on the ship because food can be quite pricey. Make sure to get a visa in Tashkent before entering, because it is impossible to obtain one in Turkmenbashi.
Taxi costs about 2-3 manats for trips within the center of Baku.
There are no counters, and it is recommended to negotiate the cost in advance.
Buses and minibuses cost 20 qapik per person and can take you to almost any place within Baku. Destinations are usually posted on the front and the right side of the bus so that people can know where they are going.
The metro goes many places throughout Baku and it costs only 5 qupick. It is the least expensive way to get around Baku besides walking. Be careful when transferring on the only transfer (28 May and 20 January) as there is no signage. Ask a cashier or attendant. Also, the newly implemented Bakı Metropiliten Kart requries people to purchase a 2 AZN card and load it like a normal metro pass. This is more convienent for everyday users, but it can be a hassle for tourists. It is possible to use a Azerbaycan Sosial Kartı like the ones on some Azerbaijani ATM cards instead of having to buy a Bakı Metropiliten Kart. They will be more than happy to help you if you speak either Azeri or Russian.
It is possible to get around Fountain Square, the Boulevard, and the old city by foot, but otherwise it would be better to use a different mode of transportation.
Panorama of Baku
English and Russian are spoken in many places throughout Baku, but it wise to still either bring an Azeri phrase book and/or brush up on your Azeri/Russian/Turkish before arriving. However, everyone over the age of 35 will speak excellent Russian, and about half the people under the age of 35 will speak a little English.
Guz Qalasi (The Maiden's Tower) a UNESCO World Heritage site
There are a number of interesting sites within Baku's walled fortress, the Old City (a UNESCO World Heritage site), which can all be seen on foot in one day:
The Palace of the Shirvan Shahs. 10:00–17:00 daily. The medieval palace of the Shirvan Shahs is the highlight of the Old City and a must see for any tourist in Baku.2 AZN.
Maiden's Tower (Guz Qalasi). 10:00–19:00 daily. This mysterious and eccentric tower was built somewhere between the 7th and 12th centuries and may have served as a fire beacon, defensive fortification, astronomical observatory, or Zoroastrian temple..5 AZN.
Outside the city, on the Absheron Peninsula, there are several interesting sites that are easy to reach via taxi or public transportation. Moreover, the scenery along your route is itself a fascinatingly ugly site to be seen, a desert wasteland with white salt flats and natural oil pools seeping up to the surface.
Atashgah Fire Temple. You can take the Baku Electric train from the Baku train station to Suraxani station for 10 qapik. Simply walk through the station to the outdoor platforms where a schedule is posted. You can pay on board or buy a ticket from a kiosk on the platform. From Suraxani station walk about 100 meters and 'you can arrive at the templeAdmission is as follows: children's .20 AZN, student's .40 AZN, adult's 2 AZN. If you want to take pictures it costs 2 AZN in addition to admission.
Yanar Dagh. Yanar Dagh is a mountain that has been continuously on fire for one thousand years. The natural gas vents ensure that hot flames roar out of the sides of this hill even when it rains. There is a small cafe next to the natural wonder that serves tea and snacks. It is best to take a cab as Yanar Dagh is remote and difficult to find.
Oil Rocks. Tourist wanting to see the oil rock complex need to get previous authorization from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan.
Latif Karimov Carpet and Applied Arts Museum.
Magomayev Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall. Built in 1912 and inspired by the Monte Carlo Casino. Houses the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra amongst others.
The Azeri National Costume Museum (Doll Museum).
Taghiyev History Museum.
Baku Entertainment Center (Bakı Ləncə Mərkəzi), Khatai District, F. Bayramov Street, 1130/33, ☎ 994 012 490-22-22 (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, fax: 994 012 490-22-05). Baku Entertainment center has been around for more than half a decade. It has a shopping center, bowling alley certified by AMF, health club, conference venue with a capacity of 350 people, and various restaurants and clubs.
Hamam Mehellesi. Public Baths (Hamamlar). This is the oldest public bath in Baku located near the Baki Soviet metro station, inside the walls of the old city. There are men's and women's days at this public bath, Mondays and Fridays are for women, the rest of the days are for men. Hamam Mehellesi is located in the Old Town. From the station, enter the gate to the old city, turn right and go down the street. The hamam will be a few blocks down, on the left side of the street, you will see a note on one of the walls "hamam mehellesi" and a little further - the bath's domes - this will be the place.Entrace costs 1 AZN and they offer two types of service, ''hise'' (skin peel) for 2 AZN and massage for 4 AZN..
Luna Park, ☎ 994 012 496-48-48. This is a small amusement park for kids and adults.
Teze Bey Hamami. Public Baths (Hamamlar). This public bath is located in the old town and is a male only hamam. They have different types of baths (Finnish, Turkish, etc), so it may be a bit pricier than the other public baths in Baku.
Baku Jazz Festival, ☎ 994 012 437-55-33 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Organised by famous saxophonist and Baku resident Rain Sultanov to showcase Azerbaijan's love of Jazz which grew during the Soviet era when it was banned by the authorities. Features acts from around the world, the annual festival lasts for a week, and will run from 7th to 14th June in 2007.Tickets can be purchased from Baku Jazz Center, 19 Rashid Behbudov Street, AZ1001 or by phone.
There are a couple of beaches including Shikhov Beach, but they are polluted by sewage and industrial waste. Outside the city, however, there are a few very nice sandy beaches on the Caspian. In particular Bilgəh and Amburan beaches, on the north coast of the Absheron Peninsula are great spots to cool off from the desert heat.
Antiques from Old City (İçəri Şəhər)
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
up to 10 AZN
10 - 20 AZN
20 AZN or more
There are a great deal of restaurants in Baku.
Lebanese Lebanese Cuisine (12, Z. Taguyev Street) located on fountain square tel: 944 012 493-78-49; prices 4-8 AZN
Half Way Inn International Cuisine (6, 28 May Street) tel: 944 012 598-09-05; prices 5-10 AZN
L’aparte European and Azeri Cuisine (51, Istigaliyyet Street) tel: 944 012 497-77-79; prices 6-10 AZN
McDonald’s American Cuisine (Throughout Baku) tel:?-?; prices 2-6 AZN
Onassis Greek and International Cuisine (3, Inshaatchilar Avenue) tel: 944 012 439-17-34; prices 2-7 AZN
U Dali Georgian Cuisine (5, M. Ibragimov Street) tel: 944 012 494-93-56; prices 3-6 AZN
Respublika Luks European and Azeri Cuisine (24, Khagani Street) tel: 944 012 598-10-56; prices 2-15 AZN
XVII esr Club-Restaurant (215, B. Safaroglu Street) tel: 944 012 598-17-00; prices 8-15 AZN
Anadolu Turkish/European Restaurant/Catering (Pushkin Street 5) and (Rasul Rza Street 3/5) tel: 944 012 498-87-58; tel: 944 012 498-804; prices 8-15 AZN
Mugam Club European and Azeri Cuisine (9, A. Rzayeva Street) tel: 944 012 492-40-85; prices 10-15 AZN
A Cultural Note
Although tea houses (çay xanalar) in Baku usually allow western women to enter, in the regions, it is often forbidden for females to enter such establishments. Women drinking in Baku is a la mode, but it is taboo for women in the regions of Azerbaijan to consume alcohol.
Tea Houses (Çay Xanalar)
There are many outdoor tea houses (çay xanalar) that serves tea and sweets to people in their own individual nooks. It can be a great way to get a sense of the local culture. If you are adventurous, try challenging a local Bakuvian to a game of backgammon (nard) or dominoes.
There is a good selection of cafés dispersed throughout Baku. Expect to pay Western prices for your coffee.
Aroma Café, 18, U. Hajibayov Street, ☎ 012-598-07-07.
Although tea houses (çay xanalar) (found throughout Azerbaijan) serve local beer (piva) - draft at 50 qapick/glass or bottles at 70 qapick/bottle or vodka (araq) at 2 AZN/bottle. For anything exotic (e.g. tequila, gin, or rum), you will have to go to a normal bar or hotel and pay Western prices there.
Beluga Bar, Bakikhanov Street, located in the Hyatt Hotel, ☎ 012-496-12-34.
Britannia Pub, Bakikhanov Street, located in the Hyatt Hotel, ☎ 012-496-12-34.
Caspian Bar, 1025/30, Tbilisi Avenue, ☎ 012-490-70-90.
The Corner Bar, 77, Nizami Street, the corner of the R. Rza and Tolstoy Streets.
Finnegan’s, 4, A. Aliyev street, ☎ 012-498-98-57.
Golden Ridges Pub, 5, Mardanov Gardashlari Street, ☎ 012-493-17-72.
Tequila Junction, Next to ISR Plaza, ☎ 012-498-43-32.
Tiger Bar, 19, Mamed Aliyv Street, ☎ 012-598-41-21.
The Phoenix Bar, 10, Mammadaliyev Street, ☎ 012-305-90-90.
Tj’s Pub, 9, Aliyarbekov Street, ☎ 012-498-46-21.
Caravan Jazz Club, 4 Aliyev Street, ☎ +994 12 97-11-39. You might not expect it, but Baku has a great jazz tradition of its own and this is the place to go. No cover and has a free western toilet.
Room 103, 103 Neftiçilər prospekti, ☎ +994 12 92-65-03. An upscale cocktail bar with nightly live jazz.
Thousand Camels Hostel Baku, 25 Maqomayev St, Icheri Sheher, (email@example.com), . This is the best located of all budget options, being in the old city, inside the old city walls, and close to all the sights and shoreline. It's also the only place where you'll find any sort of atmosphere, as it's run by an Aussie whose young friends often hang around the hostel and take guests out on the town.The price is around 20-22 USD for a dorm-style bed..
Araz Hotel, About a kilometer from the ferry port. This is a dormitory style hotel, but it is quite inexpensive but clean. There is hot water 24-7 in the hotel, but it is shared with the whole dormitory. There is a restaurant on the second floor. The patrons of this hotel are quite respectable, even though it is one of the cheapest places in Baku.The rate per night range from 8 AZN and room service for tea costs 1 AZN..
Baku Station Hotel, 24 May Station, Baku. 2.4 AZN per person for a 5 person room/per person; 6 AZN for a single room; 3 AZN for a twin room..
The Azerbaijan Hotel, Azadlig Square, located near the Caspian Sea boulevard, ☎ 994 12 989-004 (fax: 994 12 980-817). Either this hotel is being renovated or torn down at the moment.The rate per night range from 15-45 AZN..
Hotel Velotrek, 20 January Metro Station, slightly hidden behind the Respublica Velotrek bicycle race course through a tall iron gate on the left hand side.. A few kilometers north of the centre, this budget hotel has clean rooms with TV, private bath and hot water in the mornings.15 AZN for a single room and 30 AZN for a double..
The Absheron Hotel Baku, ☎ 994 12 493 75;994 12 493 20 56;994 12 598 54 88 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 994 12 598 54 88), . Has 343 rooms and suites, 139 of them are tastefully decorated and equipped to the proper standards. The wide windows in the rooms give a good view to Azadliq Square and Caspian Sea. The spacious rooms have cable TV, telephone, air conditioning, comfortable beds, plenty of furnishings, and room service. Internet Access is available in the hotel. The hotel will help you with travel and tickets arrangements, in–city tours, restaurant reservations, and car rentals.$70-170 USD (Major credit cards accepted).
Delfin Hotel, 9th km of Sumgait Highway, ☎ 994 012 406-64-00 (email@example.com, fax: 994 012 406-60-09), . Situated 9km out of town. Opportunity to play paintball (50 bullets - 12 AZN).
Diplomat Hotel, Suleyman Rahimov Street, 185, ☎ 994 012 596-11-27 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 994 012 596-11-28), . Located centrally.90 AZN for a double. Major credit cards accepted..
Elite Hotel, Darnagul Settl., Neft avenue., 30/68. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12AM. 4 star business class hotel.85 AZN for a double..
Park Inn, Azadlig Ave 1, ☎ 994 12 (fax: 994 12), . Fully-equipped business centre, restaurant, bar and coffee shop, five modern conference rooms and an elegant ballroom with a large foyer. Also offers wireless internet access in all guest rooms, gift shop, free airport shuttle, 24 hour room service, workout room, open parking facilities, 24 hour concierge.
Excelsior Hotel Baku, 2 Heydar Aliyev Avenue, ☎ 994 12 496-8000 (email@example.com, fax: 994 12 496-8008), . With a 5 star rating, the Excelsior Hotel is one of the nicest hotels in Baku.The rate per night range from 250-2,450 USD, but will be converted to AZN at the hotel's rate.
Hyatt Regency Baku, Bakikhanov Street, Baku, Azerbaijan 370065, ☎ 994 12-496-1234 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 994 12-496-1235), . Located a five-minute drive from Baku city center, this is one of the more luxurious hotels in Baku with a plethora of amenities and services at the disposal of patrons. Services include: High-Speed Internet Access, Chauffeur-driven Limousine rental, Hotel Shops, Wireless High-Speed Internet Access, Business Center, Dining & Entertainment, Regency Restaurant, Gourmet Shop, Beluga Bar, Club Oasis Fitness Center, Swimming Pools, Tennis Courts, Squash Courts, Ballroom, 10 Meeting Rooms, 2 Boardrooms, and Pre-Function and Social Function Space. The rate per night range from 200-320 AZN..
Radisson SAS Plaza Hotel, 340 Nizami Street, Baku, Azerbaijan, ☎ 994 12 498-2402 (email@example.com, fax: 994 12 497-2451), . The Radisson SAS Plaza Hotel, Baku is an exclusive all-suite hotel. Located on the top floor of the ISR Plaza Business Centre, a prominent 17 story building, the hotel offers decorated suites enhanced by views over the old and new cities of Baku and the Caspian Sea. The hotel is on Fountain Square within walking distance of the Old City, national park boulevard and other city sights Free Broadband including wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel, Plaza Health and Fitness Club has a gym, sauna and indoor pool, The Lounge and Business Centre on the 17th floor caters for business needs. Both meeting rooms can accommodate up to 120 guests.
Aqua Park, 59, R. Beybutov Street, 1130/33, ☎ 994 012 447-03-03. checkin: 12PM; checkout: 12PM. This complex houses pools, saunas, salons, water slides, entertainment center, and hotel facilities.From 69AZN for a standard double room..
Serin Hotel/Restaurant, 79, Babek Avenue, ☎ 994 012 422-33-93 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . This complex has a pool, bar, restaurant with cooks from Azerbaijan and Europe, and a reception hall for up to 500 guests.
Crescent Beach Hotel, Salyan Highway, Shikhov, ☎ 994 012 497-47-77 (email@example.com, fax: 994 012 497-47-80). This complex has an indoor and outdoor pool, beach front, bar, and tourism services. High-speed wireless internet access is available for guests. You can connect with laptops, notebooks or PDA's. Wi-Fi zone is covering 10 hotel buildings, Hotel yard, restaurant, bars and beach. Please contact Hotel reception.
Internet cafes in Azerbaijan are called "internet klubs" and they are found throughout Baku. Some coffee houses provide wireless internet, but they are quite rare in Baku.
Azerbaijan Post locations are dispersed throughout Baku. A typical international letter/stamp combination costs .8 AZN.
Emergency Contact Numbers
Gas Emergency 104
Speaking Clock 106
You must speak in Azeri, Russian, or Turkish to communicate your needs. It would be a good idea to memorize key phrases before coming to Azerbaijan - see the Talk section for phrasebooks.
Pack a flashlight (especially in fall-spring) as the streets are not always well lit.
Travel outside the city only during the day time, unless taking a night train. The roads can be treacherous at night due to unseen potholes and dimly lit cars.
The Petroglyphs of Gobustan are nearby to the South, and date back as far as the 12th century BCE. The invading armies of Alexander the Great and Trajan also left some interesting grafitti.
A ferry departs daily from Baku across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. This ferry has become somewhat of a sleeper hit with backpackers on the Silk Road, but is very uncomfortable and should only be taken by adventure-seekers.
Sheki, which is a 7 hour bus ride to the north, is a beautiful city in the Caucasus mountains with lots to see and do.
Buses take international travelers onwards from Baku to Iran and Georgia.
The Baku Airport is one of the few in the world offering flights to Nakhchivan and travelers heading that way should book a flight from here.
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