As Eurovision 2012 ended last Tuesday in Azerbaijan, we take a look at its capital city Baku, deeply-rooted in history and endowed with picturesque landscapes, monuments of culture and modern tourist destinations.
A city well visited during the 1980s was left crippled during the 1990s war of Nagorno-Karabakh. With an extensive loss of resources, the tourism industry was resurrected only in the late 2000s and was ready to play host again. A city so picturesquely designed, it is a fascinating articulation of ancient historical empires and is an incredible tangle of contradictions and contrasts. The nation’s cosmopolitan capital, Baku is at present a dynamic boomtown that recently hosted the Eurovision 2012.
Travelling to Azerbaijan may be challenging but it takes immense creativity and imagination as the city rarely provides any activity. A handful of people outside of Baku speak in English. While one part of the city delves in modern fanfare, a completely different world exists, barely three hours’ drive away where the soaring high Caucasus mountains in the Northern part of Azerbaijan provide a scenic background to the timeless village of Xinaliq where inhabiting shepherds will narrate tales of traditional mountain culture.
If not for anything else, Azerbaijan is filled with modern tourist resorts. With a laid-back atmosphere, the city knows how to laze around in style. The Khudat-Yalama seacoast, bordered by forests and the seashores of Absheron and Lankaran with their sandy beaches are fine places for recreation and relaxation. A number of health resorts and spas provide ample opportuity for illnesses to be treated with natural therapies.
For something completely different (in a country full of completely different travel experiences), there’s always the remote and intriguing enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. If you are looking at a relaxed and a more laidback holiday, then Azerbaijan is the place for you.
Visit Maiden Tower for wonderful views of the city
Try and attend an Azerbaijani wedding
There may not be a lot of places serving Georgian or Armenian wines but Azeri wine is more than drinkable
Wander around the Old Town aimlessly and get accustomed to the ways of the locals
Visit the beautiful Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Walk along the Promenade
Bunking for the night
There are definitely a good selection of hotels in Baku, including many Western chains but options in other parts of the city are limited. Rental apartments may be a good choice as they are cheaper than hotels, provide a homely atmosphere and are more comfortable.
Tourist visas are available on single or double entry basis only. Only citizens of Russia and CIS countries (except Turkmenistan) do not need a visa to enter Azerbaijan. Note that the Azeri government has officially stopped issuing visas on arrival at the Baku airport.
Robbing and pickpocketing is rare but definitely possible at night. Also watch your stuff in public transport.
Finish your travelling to outskirts the city during the daytime for safety reasons.
Make sure your diptheria, tetanus and Hepatitis A & B immunisations are up to date.
How to get there
The primary international gateway is Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku. You can either fly Azerbaijan Airlines, Turkish Airlines or Qatar Airways
About the Author (Author Profile)
Desperately in search of inner peace. Loves traveling. Will write for money. Picky with food but loves her pastas and South-Indian thalis. Highly entertaining. Loves watching gossipy TV shows and good looking vampires. Would like to be abducted by aliens, at least once. Also I am not fat, I am just big-boned