COVID-19 (Coronavirus) may impact your travel plans. Wherever you're going, you'll find the latest advice here.

News Partnership 8 reasons why your next city break should be Azerbaijan

All articles

8 reasons why your next city break should be Azerbaijan

This country is well worth taking another look.

In partnership with

Azerbaijan Take Another Look logo

For the latest guidance, check Skyscanner’s Travel Advice and Azerbaijan’s COVID-19 Restrictions & Advisory.

Here is a hand-picked list of the top things to do and see in Azerbaijan on your next short trip.

1. Explore Baku’s heart-warming Old City

Baku’s medieval heart is a UNESCO-protected site surrounded by 12th-century walls, brimming with history and Eastern architecture. It features the spectacular Shirvanshahs’ Palace as well as Baku’s most mysterious treasure, the Maiden Tower. No one knows for sure what it was originally built for!

Old City in Baku
Beyond its main attractions, the “Inner City” is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways filled with artists’ workshops and traditional restaurants.

In the late 1800s, the oil industry boomed, and a whole new architectural layer emerged all around the Old City. These elegant buildings, whether Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical or Art Nouveau, blended harmoniously into the urban landscape and encouraged visitors to call Baku “Paris of the Caucasus”.

2. Admire the curves and collections of the Heydar Aliyev Centre

With its striking wave-like shape and futuristic use of space, the Heydar Aliyev Centre has become an iconic site in Baku and around the world since its opening in 2012.

Heydar Aliyev Center Baku Azerbaijan
The Heydar Aliyev Centre was designed by architectural legend Zaha Hadid

Beyond its impressive exterior, the centre offers a world-class exhibition and museum complex with numerous permanent and temporary displays exploring the best of local and global art and culture. You will also find here a stylish cafe, a state-of-the-art auditorium, and even a collection of vintage cars.

3. Discover the history of Azerbaijani carpet weaving

The art of carpet weaving is a legacy that Azerbaijani people have been passing from generation to generation for centuries. Exquisite carpets still can be found in every house and in every family, making them an integral part of local culture and history.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Azerbaijan has a striking National Carpet Museum located in the very heart of Baku. At the time of its establishment, this museum devoted to carpets and rugs was the only one of its kind in the world.

Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum
The art of carpet weaving dates back to the Bronze Age and is still embraced in Azerbaijan today. Even the museum building designed by the Austrian architect Franz Janz resembles a rolled-up carpet!

The Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum houses the largest collection of Azeri carpets in the world as well as archaeological artefacts and folk crafts, including ceramics, oil lamps, embroidery, and jewellery.

The exhibits feature patterns from different regions where the art was practised. Some of the carpets and rugs date back to the 17th century, and the most delicate ones are kept in climate-controlled storage for their protection.

4. Marvel at the iconic Flame Towers in Baku

A trio of skyscrapers dominating Baku’s skyline is the city’s most recognisable landmark. The Flame Towers’ glass facades are illuminated by 10,000 coloured LED lights at night, creating the illusion of fire visible from the farthest points of the city.

The Flame Towers and skyline in Baku
Every two minutes, Flame Towers’ light show switches between giant flames, the colours of the Azerbaijani flag, and a person waving a flag.

Non-guests are welcome to enjoy the magnificent views while sipping a cocktail at one of the Hotel Fairmont Baku’s restaurants and bars.

5. Explore traditional tea (and sweets) culture

Tea drinking rituals in Azerbaijan are one distinctive aspect of the culture. Tea gets poured into a pear-shaped glass called an armudu. It is served without milk, and a cube of sugar always accompanies the ceremony.

Azerbaijanis usually drink sweet tea but they don‘t add sugar to it directly. Instead, they dunk a cube into the beverage, then bite off a piece and only then drink their tea.

Historically, this method can be traced to medieval times when rulers who feared poisoning tested their tea by dunking a piece of sugar into the liquid. It was supposed to react if lethal.

Tea and a traditional pastry of Nakhchivan with a walnut and onion filling Azerbaijan
In Nakhchivan, they drink tea with traditional walnut and onion pastries.

Azerbaijan has an abundance of mouth-watering sweets. To start, try these:

  • Pakhlava, a layered pastry dessert made of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey. Traditionally served during the spring holiday of Nowruz.
  • Shekerbura, a sweet crescent-shaped pastry filled with ground almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts. Rather spectacular is the pattern produced on the dough by the traditional tweezers called maggash.
  • Shorgoghal, a flaky pastry filled with turmeric, anise, caraway, cinnamon, and black pepper. In ancient times, this yellow pastry represented the sun, while the Shekerbura symbolised the moon.
  • Firni Firni, a dessert made from rice flour, which resembles a lighter version of British baked rice puddings.
  • Samani halva, a spicy chewy treat made from malted wheat. There is a tradition in Azerbaijan to make it communally, using flour from seven different homes.
  • Badambura, a dessert that is slightly less sweet and sticky than pakhlava as it has no honey. It’s filled with plain ground sugar, almonds, cardamom, and vanilla.

6. Unleash your inner shopaholic at Nizami Street

Located in Baku’s most prominent shopping district, Nizami Street takes its name from the famous Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi. Along its 3.5-kilometre length, the street is lined with boutiques of brands from around the globe as well as restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes. 

Enjoy Nizami Street’s fountains on Fountain Square and admire its stunning architecture, ranging from Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance facades to “Stalin’s empire” buildings and neo-modern skyscrapers.

Nizami Street

7. Visit vibrant old bazaars

Forget supermarkets. When in Azerbaijan, take a basket called zenbil and get ready to experience the hustle and bustle of a true Eastern bazaar!

Metalwork at Azerbaijan’s bazaar

The best bazaars in Baku

  • Yashil Bazaar (Green Bazaar), the largest one in the city, packed with organic vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, juices, compotes and jams, as well as local delicacies like caviar and saffron.
  • Taza Bazaar (New Bazaar), one of the oldest street markets in Azerbaijan where you can find fruit, veg, meat, fish, spices, jams, pickles, marinades, and, of course, famous Azeri tea.
  • Weekend bazaars. You can easily find tiny authentic street markets in different parts of Baku, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. Locals often hawk flowers and traditional Azerbaijani food on the streets and even from the back of their cars. There are also numerous copper bazaars around the city, with artisans selling their masterfully crafted metalwork.

8. Enjoy the thriving nightlife

Baku is tailored for long conversations over a beer or cocktail, enjoying great music and dancing the night away.

Five best venues in Baku for a night to remember

  1. Hard Rock Cafe, a rock’n’roll-themed bar serving burgers and American classics.
  2. Harrison Baku Lounge & Bar, a cocktail bar and a music venue with striking design.
  3. BarDuck, a party-until-sunrise kind of bar. Make sure to try their signature cocktails Amaro Passion and Green Meadow.
  4. Pivnaya Apteka (means “Beer Pharmacy” in Russian), a cosy bar with beer, burgers, snacks, and more.
  5. 360 Bar & Cafe, a fancy rotating rooftop bar located on the 25th floor of the Hilton Baku Hotel.