Baku, the stunning capital city of Azerbaijan, is the ideal destination for those seeking a cultural holiday, with a vast collection of fascinating museums, beautiful historical attractions and top restaurants and bars to discover. With luxury hotels across the city – including the excellent Kempinski Hotel Badamdar – it’s also a great place to just sit back, relax and enjoy good food, drinks and company. Since hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, Baku’s reputation as a holiday capital is only increasing – visit now to be one of the first to discover this excellent destination!
Baku’s main draw is its history – records date back to the 1st century AD, and across the city you’ll find remnants of generations and dynasties past. Most of these can be found in the Old City, a walled fortress which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its many historical landmarks. Look out for the Maiden’s Tower, an eccentric structure with a mysterious past, and the medieval palace of the Shirvan Shahs.
Shopping is big business in Baku, where the petrol industry has made the area particularly affluent. The two major shopping malls, AF MALL and Park Bulvar, contain both retail chains and high-end boutiques, while throughout the streets you’ll find a number of independent stores to browse. In particular, look out for the captivating antiques shops filled with Azerbaijani curios, and head to the marketplaces for fresh produce and delicious local breads.
The coastline of Baku itself is not really ideal for recreation, but the surrounding area boasts several sandy beaches that are perfect for sunbathing and relaxing. Amburan beach is just north of the city, and provides a fantastic place to cool off on a hot day, as well as a nearby resort for entertainment and refreshments throughout the day.
There are many ways you can explore the area, whether you want to take a walk into the countryside or hop on a cruise bus along the coastline. The surrounding countryside is particularly striking, if not particularly countryside-like; the nation’s salt flats and natural oil pools are prominent, but head to Yanar Dagh and you’ll find a stunning mountain which, thanks to its natural gas vents, has been aflame for over 1,000 years.
While dining out in Baku is an adventure and an experience in itself, the highlight has to be the tea houses found across the city centre, serving fresh teas and sweet treats to visitors in booths and hidden nooks. They’re perfect for catching up or even just ducking out of the sun for an afternoon, allowing you to get a real glimpse of local colour – you might even be invited to join a game of dominoes by one of the patrons!