48 Hours in Baku, Azerbaijan

This contemporary city criss – crossed with history is a “ must do “ on anyones bucket list. The landscape features modern elegance like the Flame Towers to the old medieval city that is full of life. Baku is the architectural love child of Paris , albeit with plenty of Soviet genes floating half – hidden in the back ground. 

Here East and West blend seamlessly or maybe chaotically, in the heart of the city, is the Unesco – Listed Old City that lies within an arc of the fortress wall.

The second oil boom for the country started around 2006, and turned the city into an architectural experiment of some of the finest, jaw dropping masterpieces one could see when looking at the new buildings. 


These are some of my recommendations on where to stay, what to do and what to look out for.

Hyatt hotel

Comfort, luxury and location, the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Baku has it all covered. Located on Izmir street this 5 star premium hotel is strategically located close to the city’s shopping malls, and business district. It has an indoor and outdoor pool and free , unlimited wifi. Not far from all tourist attractions like the carpet museum and boardwalk its ideal for any traveller.

The Hyatt Hotel in Baku
Hotel room view from the Hyatt Hotel in Baku

Flame Towers

Day or night the trio of iconic buildings completed in 2012 is spectacular. Looking up at them during the day I had that queasy feeling that they were swaying because of their sheer height. These towers are the WOW factor of Baku, having transformed the skyline of Azerbaijan’s capital. Designed to symbolise the element of fire, they are a reference to Azerbaijans nickname “ The land of fire “, historically rooted in a region where natural gas flares emit from the ground.

Flame Towers Baku
Flame Towers Baku

Martyrs lane

Also known as Alley of Martyrs this area was formally Kirov Park, now a cemetery and memorial dedicated to those killed by the Soviet Army during Black January 1990 and the first Nagorno – Karabakh war from 1988 to 1994. Just a 3 minute walk from the Flame Towers it over looks the Caspian Sea. The Eternal Flame monument situated at the end of Central avenue is massive, you can feel the heat a few metres away. From the location one gets the best views of the bay curving to the horizon to the east. 

Martyrs Lane, Baku
Martyrs Lane, Baku

The Caspian Front Promenade 

As with any modern boulevard in the world there is a ferris wheel that lights up the night sky on the coastline of the Caspian sea. “ can you smell the wealth ? “ was the first question I was asked as I got close to the calm waters, the answer was ‘ yes “ . Azerbaijan is known for its wealth emanating from the oil below the ground. Strolling along the water front there is something for everyone from carousels and parks for children, shopping malls , cafes , cycling and more. The biggest park in Azerbaijan, it is 26 km long and starts from the Port of Baku on one side and ends at the National Flag Square where there his the biggest flag of the world.

View of the Promenade , Baku
The promenade, Baku
Promenade in Baku


Known as the king of fruits, the distinct bright, juicy fruit from Azerbajian is recognised as one of the best in the world due to the country’s unique microclimate and fertile soil. The only country in the world where all varieties grow, because of the diverse climate the tasty pomegranate is enjoyed as a drink or in an edible form.There is even an annual festival celebrated in Goychay that cerebrates the fruit and its traditional uses and symbolic meaning.

Maidens tower

This 12th century monument located in the Old City forms part of a group of historic monuments. A much loved symbol of the old city it looks dark and enigmatic, looking out onto the sea. Climbing the stairs is well worth the view from the roof where one can take in the alleys and minarets of the Old City and a wide vista of Baku Bay. In 2011, the tower participated in the “ Earth Hour “ campaign against climate change when large buildings go dark for an hour.

Maidens’ Tower in Baku

The old city 

Referred to as Icherisheher this is the historical core of Baku, the humble heart of the capital it is one of the most important historical places and must do’s when visiting the city. An oval shaped pocket of curving roads, one can imagine the trading of carpets, silks and wares over the centuries.  Sunken ruins and restaurants add to the bustle and vibe,  while walking I found a delightful little art shop where the artist took great pride in showing me her art. Cats laze in the sun while people go about their daily rituals. This is not a visit that should be rushed, the enjoyment lies in the relaxed atmosphere.

Old City, Baku
Old City, Baku
Old City , Baku
Old City , Baku

Nizami lane 

The largest pedestrian and shopping centre street in downtown Baku it is named after classical Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. Locals love to shop here in the glamorous brand shops and enjoy dinner in a local or international restaurant. Others just enjoy the walk while taking pictures . There is something here for everyone be it the random statues, fountains or the night life like the Hard Rock Cafe. 

Nizami Lane, Baku
Nzami Lane, Baku
Nzami Lane, Baku

Burning mountain 

Burning for 4000 years non stop, through all types of weather be it rain, snow or wind. This incredible phenomena is worth the drive out of Baku city centre. The flames jump as high as 3 metres into the air from a thin, porous sandstone layer. There is also a small museum that is worth the walk through where ancient pots are on display as well as other interesting sties to visit in the country.

Burning Mountain, Baku
Burning Mountain, Baku

Kose kahve

Cute and cozy coffee shops have a special type of appeal to them. Kose coffee is just that. Maybe it was the whiff of coffee as we walked past or the country style decor that pulled us in. Whatever it was, this coffee shop is well worth the find for a morning cup as one wonders the city’s streets and alley ways soaking in the rich culture and admiring the magnificent architecture of the buildings. 

Kose Kahve, Baku


Leaving the city and heading towards the country side, one sees fields and fields of cotton. Referred to as the “ White gold “ of Azerbaijan, cotton has a long history of production in the country. In 2020, the county exported $132 million in raw cotton, making it the 13th largest exporter of raw cotton in the world. 

Cotton farming Azerbaijan

Need to know :

South African passport holders require a visa. The application is done online and costs 25 USD

Health certificate proving vaccination for COVID is required when arriving in Baku

Qatar airlines is a good option, flying from Johannesburg to Doha then connecting to Baku

Most people speak English so communication is not difficult

There are taxi cabs, Uber and Bolt all reasonably priced and accessible

The plug points are European so best to carry an adaptor 

There is no difference in dress code, stylish and modern clothing is worn with all major luxury brands and known brands available.

WIFI is easy to access and getting a sim card for a phone valid for 30 days is another suggestion.

Retailers accept bank cards for payments and cash ( local currency only called the Manat )