24 hours in Baku

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Don’t be misled by its youthful facade. Baku is an old city, full of history and ancient architecture.


Baku – the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan, the largest country in the Caucasus – is constantly changing, leaving behind its dull Soviet past. Whatever your expectations of the place, it will, no doubt, surprise you. Even those who have visited Baku before will not recognise it now – with its new buildings, designer shops, and glamorous hotels.

Behind the old stone walls of Icheri Sheher (the Old City) lie quiet cobbled streets with carefully restored buildings and antique shops. Across the road from the Maiden Tower – the focal point of the city – you will find Boulevard, the completely revamped seafront promenade that is over 100 years old.

Baku is a city of contrasts: where young and old, rich and poor, modern and old-fashioned, sophisticated and basic all mix together in one colourful, exotic parade.

Baku summers are hot. Start the day early – sunrise in July is around 6.30am – and walk while the sun is gentle. Take a stroll (or hire a small pedal cart) along the beautiful Boulevard to admire the sea and local attractions.

If you happen to visit Baku on a Sunday, try one of the fancy hotels for buffet brunch – affordable and luxurious sometimes go together. Alternatively, try traditional chai in one of the many local chaikhanas (teahouses).

Visit the Maiden Tower and take a stroll around the Old City – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and spiritual core of the city. Check out the alluring carpet shops, and stop by the art gallery across the road from the Maiden Tower.

Wherever you are in Baku, you are never far away from a plethora of food options. Try the old Mugham Club with its beautiful courtyard, where you can enjoy traditional Azeri food in the shade of the old trees.

Enjoy the contrasts Baku has to offer. Straight from the medieval Old City, immerse yourself in the world of avant-garde in the Museum of Modern Art – a blend of art, sculpture, and design.

If you enjoy a touch of hedonism, Baku delivers. Indulge in an ancient Turkish and Arabian-style treatment at the Four Seasons Penthouse Spa, which includes steam rooms and ice fountains under its glass-roofed atrium.

Stop by the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall or the Opera and Ballet Theatre to check out what’s on. The tickets are affordable and the performances are worth seeing, often featuring internationally renowned artists.

For dinner, try Sahil on the Boulevard – one of the oldest restaurants in Baku. Old it may be, but the interior is sophisticated and inviting. Dine on Italian, Azeri, or tapas-style food, with indoor or outdoor seating.

Catch a taxi to the Hilton hotel’s 360º, the 25th -floor rotating rooftop bar, for after-dinner drinks and spectacular night-time views of Baku and the Caspian Sea – the largest enclosed body of water on Earth.

Jet-lagged? Baku is an old city that is young at heart and famous for its nightlife. Visit one of the nightclubs to feel the beat of this exciting city, or take in some jazz at  the newly opened Fairmont in the iconic Flame Towers.


Baku, Azerbaijan
Distance: 1,684 km
Flight Time: 3 hours
Frequency: Daily flights

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