Four Seasons Hotel Baku Presents: How To Spend a Weekend in Baku

Baku, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is an Eastern European country that perfectly combines both traditions and modernity. It consists of contrasts, in which many divinely beautiful places that are far away from the city bustle and completely different and full-of-life Baku city are in harmony with each other.

The Concierge team at Four Seasons Hotel Baku is happy to share few tips on what to do in Baku if for guests with three days to enjoy the city.

Baku is the capital, or maybe it is better to say – the heart of Azerbaijan. It is a city that’s changing literally every second, without losing its real face. There is probably no other place where historical architecture and modern art look so good together. New architectural projects, entertainment places and parks, many buildings that were left from the Soviet Union times are now perfectly restored: Baku is moving forward and growing, and it is developing tourism attractions.

A few years ago tourists would come to Azerbaijan’s capital for business purposes only.  Because of this, for a very long time Baku was not perceived as a place where one could really have some rest, enjoy and see many new and interesting things. Nowadays everything is different: more and more people from around the world are choosing Baku - the Land of Fire for their next family vacation.

Coming here for about three days only, guests will already notice that they have arrived in a beautiful place from the brand new terminal of Heydar Aliyev Airport and brightly lit road to the city. A bigger surprise is waiting ahead. Being an ancient city, Baku has saved many wonderful attractions that are interesting for tourists.

The first day in the capital of Azerbaijan can be spent within the city centre. For example, guests could walk along the seafront on the Boulevard; stroll through the famous streets of Old City; or sit in one of the many cozy cafes on the Fountain’s Square.

Walking along the Boulevard, guests can enjoy the fascinating view of Caspian Sea, breathe in the fresh air, or see the city from the bird’s eye view on the new ferris wheel. Active travellers can start their day on the Boulevard with a morning jog, rent bikes, or combine business with pleasure by training in the Hotel's fitness centre.

Next on the list is the gem of architecture and culture – the Old City (Icheri Shekher), which is located right in the centre of Baku. It is the very place where a tourist can experience real Bakuvian flavour. When strolling through the narrow streets of the Old City, it feels as if the time has stopped for centuries. Pavers, stone walls, mysterious patterns on many different ancient doors and gates, and more. Most visitors to Baku give priority to the two main museums of the Old City – the Maiden Tower and Shirvanshah’s Palace.  The Palace is an architectural complex, located on the very top hill of the Old City. The complex consists of "tribunal" Divankhana, Shirvanshakhs tomb, palace, mosque, mausoleum court and sauna. Legend says that in pre-Islamic times there was a sanctuary on the site of the palace that helped nursing mothers. The most unique landmark of the Old City is the Maiden Tower. It is shrouded in mysteries and legends that are still told by grandparents to their grandchildren. Now Maiden Tower works as a museum and has been included to the UNESCO list of monuments since the year of 2000.

If at first the traveller thinks of the Old City as of an open-air museum, then he will be pleasantly surprised to know that many local people are still living there. Moreover, almost on every corner is full of little cozy cafes with national food, mini-museums and shops with souvenirs that will make trip memories last forever.

Behind the walls of the Old City modern life is still going on and following the list above, guests are encouraged to go directly to Fountains Square.  The Square is noisy, fun and crowded epicentre of Baku with a huge amount of cafes, restaurants and shops. And of course, as the name of this place speaks for itself, it also has lots of fountains, not simple ones, but musical fountains. Fountains Square becomes most fabulous in the evening, when the sky gets darker and the whole street is beautifully lit up with big hanging garlands.

For those who like walking, Baku’s green parks can be very attractive. For example, Philharmonic Park is one of those lovely places, all covered with trees and grass, located near the Old City, and one of the oldest gardens in Baku. There are a few cafes and the Philharmonic building in this area. Sometimes not only tourists but locals as well are surprised when noticing real parrots singing songs on the trees of the Philharmonic Park. A second favourite place like this among locals is the Uphill Park. It is located at the highest point of modern Baku and has the most amazing view to the whole city. It is also possible to go to this park by funicular.

As it was mentioned before, Baku is constantly changing, and in the blink of an eye has become modern metropolis in which the amount of sky crapers and buildings by world’s leading architects is growing day by day. One of these buildings is Heydar Aliyev’s Cultural Center by Zaha Hadid, who is famous by her projects in London, Abu-Dabi, Milan, Croatia, Sacramento, and now in Baku. Both exterior and interior of Heydar Aliyev’s Cultural Center are entirely in white. The Center consists of a museum, library, conference centre and separate room for events, celebrations and concerts. Even before the official opening it was a must-to-see place in the itinerary of every tourist.

After seeing all of the most interesting and beautiful places that city centre could offer, it is time to go to the countryside. For instance, the largest mud volcanoes in the Caucasus are only 30 kilometres (19 miles) away from Baku. Also, the open-air historical museum of Gobustan is 60 kilometres (37 miles) away from the capital. People lived there centuries ago and tourists from all over the world are now visiting Gobustan to see the famous petroglyph drawings on the rocks. These drawings reflect culture, economy, philosophy and traditions of ancient people.

Another place that is famous for its rich historical past is the Gala village. Its territory was declared a State’s Historical-Ethnographic Reserve, which consists of 243 historical and architectural monuments (including mosques, baths, wells and living quarters).

Baku was always known for its windy weather that provides relief during the heat of summer, or becomes a reason for some people to stay at home and listen to its howl during autumn or winter. It can be surely said that spring is the most best time to visit Baku. Spring brings joy after very cold winters with longer days and green leaves, and it’s also the most festive time of the year for Azerbaijani people. Every March, everyone celebrates the feast of spring, the Novruz Holiday (Novruz Bayram). It is one of the most favourite, colourful and joyous holidays in Azerbaijan. Before Novruz, Azerbaijanis mark a number of days saying good bye to the old year and welcoming the new one. These days are the four pre-holiday Tuesdays: Water Tuesday, Fire Tuesday, Earth Tuesday and finally, Last Tuesday. According to traditional beliefs the water is reborn on the first Tuesday as still water comes to motion. Fire comes to life on the second Tuesday, and the earth on the third. On the fourth Tuesday, the wind opens tree buds and spring begins.

If the guest happens to arrive to Baku on the last month of spring in May, then there are also pleasures. The pre-holiday bustle starts in Baku from the beginning of May, and then Azerbaijan celebrates the Flowers Festival on May 10th.

All in all, guests will see the uniqueness and beauty of Baku city, but the main feature that they will not see but mostly feel is the hospitality of the local people. Their warm and friendly attitude will make every trip memorable.