Baku serves as the gateway to Azerbaijan—Land of Fire—and three days gives you ample time to tour the city’s ancient wonders and modern marvels, experience the unique geology of mud volcanoes and natural-gas fires, and even spend some time in one of the nation’s smaller towns. Here are some ideas for your three days in Baku.
Day 1: Cultural Treasures
The Old City of Baku has earned UNESCO status for its collection of historic attractions. Start your first day in the Azerbaijani capital with a walking tour of the city’s historic heart as you visit the Maiden Tower, Palace of the Shirvanshahs, and the old city walls. Take a morning stroll along seaside Baku Boulevard while temperatures are still cool. In the afternoon, explore some of the city’s many museums. Learn about the history of carpet making at the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum, dive into history at the National Museum of History, or marvel at the architecture of Zaha Hadid at the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center. Then ride the funicular to Highland Park to watch as the sun sets and the city’s buildings, including the three Flame Towers, illuminate for the night.
Day 2: Natural Wonders
Today, find out why Azerbaijan is called the Land of Fire by exploring some of the natural wonders just outside the city. Visit the mountainside natural-gas vent Yanar Dag, which has been burning continuously for centuries and inspired the nearby Ateshgah, a Zoroastrian fire temple where complex fire rituals were once performed. In the afternoon, head south of Baku to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gobustan National Park. This area in the Greater Caucasus Mountains is home to Mesolithic rock paintings and carvings, as well as a petroglyph museum. Trips here often include a stop at some of the area’s many active mud volcanoes. Back in town, treat yourself to a taste of Baku’s nightlife on a pub crawl to some of the best breweries, bars, and pubs in town.
Day 3: Day-Trip Adventures
Leave the modern capital behind and take a day trip to Gabala, one of the country’s oldest cities, and visit the Juma Mosque (the oldest in Azerbaijan), Diri Baba Mausoleum, Seven Beauties Waterfall, and serene Nohur Lake. Active travelers might opt for a trip to the mountainous Guba region to visit Khinalug, one of Europe’s highest inhabited villages. Alternatively, head to Sheki, considered one of the prettiest towns in the country thanks to its tiled-roof houses and mountain setting. Wrap up your time in Baku with an evening food tour and sample local dishes, with their Arabic and Mediterranean influences, from some of the city’s top local restaurants.