Baku Flame Towers
Region and City Guides

Places to visit in Baku

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Baku is the capital city of Azerbaijan and is located on the Absheron Peninsula in the east of the country. I found it to be a thoroughly engaging city, mixing layers of history and culture with modern-day oil wealth.

This post outlines the places to visit in Baku for travellers plus some essential travel advice.


Old City

Known as Icheri-Shekher in Azerbaijani, Baku Old City is encircled by tall stone walls and is a curious warren of cobblestone lanes and historical buildings. The Old City is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Azerbaijan.

Meandering around the Old City is an attraction in itself, absorbing its atmosphere. However, the Old City has a number of sites worth visiting including Maiden Tower, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, Muhammad Mosque and the fascinating Museum of Miniature Books.

The Old City also has hotels, craft shops, restaurants and a tourist information centre. Some of the buildings in the Old City are residential, and it is mostly a car-free part of the city which will come as a welcome relief.

Baku Boulevard

You could be forgiven for thinking you are in France’s Nice or Biarritz when you arrive at Baku’s seaside boulevard. Known as Denizkenari Milli Park in Azerbaijani, this belle époque promenade and park is perfect for an evening passegiata or strolling anytime of the day.

Cafes and restaurants are dotted along the park as are both fixed and ad hoc entertainment venues. If people-watching is your thing, then Baku Boulevard is the place to visit.

Other Parks

The Boulevard isn’t the only place in Baku where you can chill and people-watch. Fountain Square, Nizami Park, Sabir Bagi, Molokan Gardens, Sahil Bagi, and the Fuzuli/Heydar Aliyev Park area are also good places in Central Baku to take the weight off your feet.

Heydar Aliyev Centre

Looking like something straight out of a James Bond film, the Heydar Aliyev Centre has become one of the iconic buildings of the 21st century. Designed by celebrated Iraqi-born architect, Zaha Hadid, this cultural centre is a must-see site, both for its cultural content and for its design; I spent about 20 minutes looking at one of the staircases!

Although not located in central Baku, the centre is a 10 minute walk from Nariman Narimanov metro station.

Flame Towers

Another of Baku’s iconic buildings, the Flame Towers are three skyscrapers of varying height that overlook the city centre. Built on a hill, they are visible from many parts of central Baku. Azerbaijan is known as the Land of Fire, and these buildings are a 21st century expression of this status.

At night-time, the buildings change colours depicting different scenes. To be honest, the Flame Towers are best viewed from a distance so it isn’t necessary to visit the area.

Martyr’s Lane Cemetery

Formerly known as Kirov Park and also known as the Alley of Martyrs, this site beside the Flame Towers is a memorial to those killed by the Soviet army during Azerbaijan’s drive for independence and to those killed in the first Nagorno-Karabakh war of the early 1990s.

At the end of the park, overlooking the city, is the Eternal Flame monument (aka the Shahidlar monument). Located beside the memorial area is Highland Park which has excellent views over the city.

Istiqlaliyyat Street

Baku is known as the Paris of the East and Istiqlaliyyat Street is one of the reasons that gives the city that moniker. The architecture feels very Parisian, albeit a sandstone version. Istiqlaliyyat Street contains many notable buildings such as the State Philharmonic Hall, the Ismailiyya Palace, the Mayor’s Offices and the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijan Literature. Istiqlaliyyat translates as Independence.


For more Paris-like architecture, head to the Sahil area of central Baku. I thought the area between Rashid Behbudov Street/Sahil Gardens and the Old City was the nicest architecturally. This area contains a number of small boutiques and eateries, just like the original Paris. Interestingly, the French Embassy is located in this area.

Carpet Museum

If ever a building looked like its contents, then this is it. Not only is the museum a celebration of all things weaved, it is designed like a carpet. The museum also houses examples of Azeri jewellery and clothing. 


If retail therapy is your thing, Baku caters well for you. However, there is no one spot for shopping. Some of the places worth visiting are Nizami Street, the 28 May mall near the railway station, and the flower-shaped Deniz Mall on the south end of the Boulevard. The streets north of Fountain Square are paved with gold shops. Libraff bookshop on Istiqlaliyyat Street has an excellent selection of English language books so comes highly recommended.



I travelled to Azerbaijan on my own and felt safe at all times in Baku. There appears to be an extensive police presence, particularly on the roads.


Traffic is crazy in Baku, so book accommodation near the sites that you will be visiting. The Sahil area east of the Old City is excellent for proximity to many of the sites mentioned above. It’s possible to stay in the Old City as well.

Baku has an efficient and very cheap metro system, so it’s possible to stay outside the city centre as long as your accommodation is near a metro station. Check out for great deals.  


Baku’s traffic is one of the worst I’ve encountered. With few bus lanes, avoid travelling by four wheels if you can help it. The metro system is good but there are not enough lines to service this large city of over 2 million people.

The Airport Shuttle bus terminal is at the train station which is located 2-3km from the Old City. The city’s main bus station is located a number of kilometres from the city centre but is reached by its own metro station, Avtovagzal.

Thankfully, central Baku is very walkable. The only site listed above that will require transport from the city centre is the Heydar Aliyev Centre.  


Baku bakes in July and August when the mercury exceeds 30°C. For the rest of the year, Baku experiences breezes due to its proximity to the Caspian Sea.


1 thought on “Places to visit in Baku”

  1. I’m currently watching the F1 coverage on the TV and see many of the beautiful places in Baku that you have mentioned. You’ve helped me understand all the places I am seeing on the TV.


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