So you want to see a beautiful Western Asian city but you’re short on time and cash? Then this list of 9 fun things to do in Baku is for you!
Aside from being beautiful, Baku is also unique in so many ways. It’s the only metropolis in the whole of Azerbaijan. Furthermore, it’s situated below sea level on the shores of a sea that isn’t really a sea. Keeping yourself occupied in this city won’t break the bank. In fact, there are many cool and quirky things to do for free!
The activities below will definitely keep you occupied for at least 2 days, but possibly longer if you like to do things at a more leisurely pace.
3 Fun Things to do in Baku For Free
1) Go on a Fountain Hunt
If you love fountains, you’ll love this! The city of Baku has a crazy amount of fountains. Who can blame them really. I mean, who doesn’t love stylised water jets? Seeing how many you can find is a great way to introduce yourself to some of the quirks of the city while you find your bearings.
To save water, most fountains do not run during the daytime, so fountain hunting is some thing that you might want to try after 7pm in the summer season. the added bonus there will be that everything gets cooler in the evening.
2) Admire the Architecture
While you’re hunting fountains, you’ll see a lot of pretty buildings, in both the new and old town. If you love architecture, you can wax lyrical about the different structural influences that can be seen around town.
If you’re not architecturally inclined, there’s certainly still a lot to appreciate about the city’s buildings. Maybe you can take pictures for your friends on Instagram?
3) Find Some Pop-out Friends
You may notice that some of the pretty buildings have heads popping out of them. These are sculptures of people that played a part in the city’s history. Most have a short explanation about how the person contributed.
Some even pop right out of the ground.
3 Fun Things To Do In Baku For Free, With Optional Budget Extras
4) Visit Baku Boulevard/Denizkenari Milli Park
Denizkenari Milli Park, the biggest park in the city, is also known as Baku Boulevard. It stretches along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea for almost 4km. That means you should easily be able to find a quiet spot where you can sit and admire the sea.
You can continue your fountain hunt while walking through the park.
When you finish your walk at Flag Square, you can play chess with little-people-sized chess pieces under the Azerbaijan flag.
Here are some optional extra things to do in the park if you don’t mind spending a little bit of money.
Go to the carnival area and go on some rides. This area may be aimed at children, but they don’t have any signs saying that child-like adults can’t join in the fun!
Maybe if you have kids, you can leave them at the carnival and take a gondola ride on the canal a short walk away.
Finally, to escape the heat, you can head to the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum. It comes highly recommended by locals and costs 7 Manat for entry.
5) Rise Above It All
There is a place where all the locals in the city gather for the best view. It’s known as ‘The Hill’. You can also find it on Maps.me as ‘Panoramic View’. The beginning of the stairs that lead to the hill can be seen across the road from Flag Square in Denizkenari Milli Park/Baku Boulevard.
If you want to go for the free and fit option, you can walk the 700 metres up the stairs. Make sure you take enough water as there isn’t really an option for resupply on the way up!
If it’s too hot, or you’re feeling a bit lazy, there is a funicular near the start of the stairs that goes up to the Flame Towers. The towers are a little bit past the hill, so you’d have to backtrack a bit, but at least it won’t be uphill! The funicular costs 1 manat each way.
You could also take a taxi. I’m sure all the drivers will know what you mean if you say ‘The Hill’. It shouldn’t cost more than 5 manat/US$3.
6) Get Lost in the Old Town
It’s free to wander around the UNESCO Heritage Listed old town of Baku and soak up the old timey-ness of the narrow alleyways and cobbled roads. There are also handy maps and markers to show you where the points of interest are. Audio guides available to explain the importance of the points of interest, but they cost 5 manat/US$3.
Among the many attractions of the old town is the Miniature Book Museum. It is free to enter and quirky to boot. It’s definitely something to tell your friends about. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Mondays and Thursdays, so plan accordingly.
3 Fun Things to do in Baku on a Budget
7) Qobustan Mud Volcanoes
Looking for a fun adventure outside of the city? Then get yourself to Qobustan, (pronounced Gobustan)! This unassuming little town hides some quirky little secrets away from the main road. Mud volcanoes! These ‘volcanoes’ are about 10 minute drive down a dirt road into the middle of nowhere.
The sounds as the volcanoes ‘erupt’ are giggle-worthy. This place is guaranteed to put a smile on your face without burning a hole in your pocket. To get there, you can take the 125 bus from the city to Bina Ticaret Merkezi, then get the 195 bus and let the driver know you want Qobustan. The combined cost of these buses is less than 1 manat. You’ll get dropped off on the side of the road, where a taxi will be waiting to take you the rest of the way. They will barter hard, but it shouldn’t cost you any more than 10 manat/US$5.
8) Bibi-Hebyat Mosque
This is an amazing mosque and adjoining cemetery perched high above the Caspian Sea. You can catch the 125 bus from the city, so it can be combined quite easily with your visit to Qobustan.
9) Take a Bus or a Train
The transport in Baku is efficient, clean and cheap! You shouldn’t have to pay more than 1 Manat to go anywhere in the city. Each bus stop and metro station has machines where you can purchase a Bakikart for you trip.
Above is a one-time use BakiKart, but there are also BakiKarts available for everyday use, that can be recharged at the machines at all stops. It could be a good idea to purchase one if you plan to spend more time Baku, because you’ve fallen in love with the city. I did! You can see why here.