Discover The Old City Baku: Everything You Need To Know

 In Azerbaijan, Backpacking Trips, Baku, Best Time to Visit, History, Hotels, museum, places to eat, Shopping

Do you also love to explore the authentic old vibes of places in this world of modernization? How about visiting a place where buildings are made of smoothly cut limestone? Baku Old City stands as a testament to Baku’s historical heritage and architectural beauty. Explore it with our Baku tour packages!

Old Town Baku in Azerbaijan, also known as Icherisheher, was listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2000. The city will give you the vibe of vintage cities that have no tall glass buildings, instead massive stone walls with towers and gates, just like in old times. 

Old City Baku is a treasure trove of architectural gems including places, mosques, bathhouses, minarets and roadside inns. From The Palace of Shirvanshahs, a gem of Shrivanese architecture to the Maiden Tower, the best sunset point in the city, Old City covers everything you would wish to see! The streets are so happening and the eateries are classic and antique, very different from what you have been visiting till now.  

Plan your trip to Old City Baku and explore the best things to do in Baku! If you have already planned but are looking for the perfect Old City Baku Azerbaijan travel guide, we are here to help you, covering everything you need to know so that you can plan your itinerary accordingly.

History of Old Town Baku in Azerbaijan

history-baku

Baku Old City, also known as Icherisheher, is renowned for its rich and fascinating history, dating back to the 4th century. Arabs have introduced Islamic and Arabic culture to the city. This city was also a trading center at that time.

The Shirvanshahs ruled in the 9th century, turning Baku into a hub of trade, culture, and education, and constructing notable buildings like the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Juma Mosque.

Old City Baku gained global attention after it was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Today, it is a vibrant part of Baku, popular among tourists for its unique Azerbaijani culture and traditions.

Best Time to Visit Old City Baku

season

Peak Season ( April to June )

The best time to visit Old City Baku is from April to June because of the pleasant weather, ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. However, you can expect large crowds and higher prices during this time of year.

Shoulder Season (September and October)

During the shoulder season, you will encounter fewer crowds compared to the peak season and there is quite comfortable weather for exploration, and accommodation rates are also lower.

Off-Season (November to March)

If you don’t mind the cold weather, visiting during this time can be a good option. You may encounter a little rain and snow, there will be fewer crowds and more affordable rates. Some restaurants and shops might have limited hours during this time.

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How to Reach Old City Baku

airport
  • By Air:  Baku features a well-connected airport, Heydar Aliyev International Airport. The most convenient way to reach Baku is by air and then from the airport, you can hire a taxi, take a bus, use the metro or rent a private car to Icherisheher Baku.
  • By Road: If you are already in Azerbaijan, you can opt for a private car, metro , taxi or bus to reach the Old City. For the metro, take the red line to Icherisheher station, located right next to the city walls.

Things to Do in Old Town Baku

Icherisheher Baku offers so many things to do in Baku, that you can’t even count them on your fingers.  From historic adventure and cultural exploration to tasting the delicious Azerbaijani cuisine and shopping for souvenirs, Baku has something for every type of traveller. Here are the top must-do things in the Old City Baku:

1. Explore the Palace of the Shirvanshahs

palace

“One of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture”, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs is an outstanding historical site that stands as a testament to the history of Shirvan-Absheron region.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a unique opportunity to travel back in time and imagine the lives of the Shirvanshahs and their court. The complex comprises living quarters, bathhouse, courtyards, mausoleum, Divanhana hall, administrative buildings, all decorated with stone carvings. It stands as one of the best places to visit in Old Town Baku.

  • Timings: 10 am to 6 pm
  • Entry Fees: 10 AZN

2. Witness the Sunset from the Maiden Tower

maiden-tower

A landmark full of mystery, Maiden Tower offers panoramic views from the rooftop of the building. While the purpose of the tower is not known, legends suggest that it may have served as a Zoroastrian fire temple or an astronomical observing point. 

Visitors need to climb the spiral staircase to the top and enjoy the perfect sunset from there and think about those times when the tower held deeper significance beyond being a mere tourist attraction. 

  • Timings: 10 am to 6:30 pm
  • Entry Fees: 6 AZN for student and 15 AZN for adult

3. Step back in time at Juma Mosque

juma-mosque

Juma Mosque, also known as Friday Mosque, is considered one of the oldest mosques in Baku,offering a peaceful atmosphere as soon as you step inside.

More than just a place of worship, Juma Mosque stands as a historical testament to Islamic culture. It features a square-shaped hall with a small dome and pillars, adorned with beautifully detailed craftings on the walls. The exterior showcases intricate decorative stonework and calligraphy, adding to its architectural beauty.

  • Timings: Varies depending on prayer times. Generally open mornings and evenings for non-Muslims.
  • Entry Fees: Free

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4. Discover the historical tapestry of Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum

carpet-museum

Ever heard of a carpet museum ? The first carpet museum in the world is in Baku, which is home to the largest collection ( approximately 10,000 carpets and carpet items) of Azerbaijani carpets in the world.

The Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum is a gem for anyone interested in art, textiles and Azerbaijani culture. Shaped like a rolled-up carpet, the museum is one of the top places to visit in Old Town Baku. 

Visitors not only have the opportunity to admire the exhibits but also to learn about weaving techniques. In addition to carpets, the museum features costumes, jewellery, rugs, and much more!

  • Timings: 10 am to 6 pm (Tuesday to Friday) and 11 am to 7 pm (Saturday-Sunday)
  • Entry Fees: 7 AZN for adults and 3 AZN for children and students

5. Discover the Tiny World of Books at the Miniature Books Museum

miniature

Do you instantly fall in love with the things in miniature sizes? The Miniature Books Museum in Baku is the only museum of miniature books.

These books, available in various languages including English, Russian, Arabic, Azerbaijani and Turkish, range in size from a few millimetres to several centimetres. The museum invites you to explore over 5600 unique books from 76 different countries.

  • Timings: 11 am to 5 pm ( Closed on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday)
  • Entry Fees: Free

6. Wander through Caravanserais

caravanserais

In Old City Baku, there are ancient buildings called caravanserais which long ago were like hotels for travellers on the Silk Road. They provided a safe place to rest, store goods, and shelter animals.

Wandering through these sites will take you back to the time of the Silk Road. Today, two of these buildings still stand: Multani Caravanserai and Bukhara Caravanserai. Multani Caravanserai was used by merchants from Multan, Pakistan. Now it’s a restaurant serving Azerbaijani food. 

Bukhara Caravanserai, built in Central Asian style, has shops and cafes. Even though they’re not inns anymore, they give us a peek into the past when Baku was a hub of trade. 

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7. Indulge in a Hammam experience

hammam

Are you looking for a place to indulge yourself in relaxation and rejuvenation? You should definitely experience a traditional bathing ritual and immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring hammams.

Baku boasts several historical hammams, some dating back hundreds of years. A typical hammam involves a series of hot, warm and cool chambers. You will be provided with peshtemal ( a traditional cloth to wraparound ), slippers and a skilled attendant, known as tellak, may assist with washing and scrubbing using a kese (exfoliating mitt) and fragrant soaps.

Following the cleansing process, you can relax in a steam room or enjoy a soothing massage. The heat and steam help to ease muscle tension and improve circulation.

Cost of Different Types of Hammam: 

  • 30 AZN to 50 AZN ( Basic Hammam )
  • 50 AZN to 100 AZN ( Including Massage )
  • Over 100 AZN ( Luxury Hammam )

8. Stroll through the Vintage Streets of Baku Old City

vintage-streets

Apart from visiting the famous landmarks, the true magic lies in getting lost in the alleyways of the Icherisheher Baku. The vintage street tells you stories about the past. As you wander through them, you may spot hidden courtyards, cafes and local shops.

The vibrant streets are home to many art galleries, traditional craft workshops and stores offering authentic souvenirs,jewellery, clothes and much more!

The old stone houses, doors and balconies emit a vintage charm, providing perfect settings for aesthetic photography. You will thoroughly enjoy wandering through these streets.

9. Browse for Unique Souvenirs at Old Town Baku in Azerbaijan

souveniers

In Baku’s Old Town, you can find lots of special souvenirs and local treats to take home, making it one of the best places for shopping in Baku. Here’s are some of the most interesting included in our Old City Baku Azerbaijan Travel Guide:

What to buy:

  • Carpets: These are a classic souvenir from Azerbaijan. You can find both old and new ones in different styles and sizes at shops around the Baku Old Town.
  • Kelagayi: These are beautiful silk scarves with pretty flower designs. They come in lots of colours and sizes, perfect for adding a touch of Azerbaijani style to your clothes.
  • Jewellery: Handmade jewellery made from silver, gold, and colourful stones with traditional Azerbaijani patterns that are really special.
  • Ceramics: You can find all sorts of hand-painted ceramic things, like plates, cups, and little statues, both pretty and useful as souvenirs.
  • Carpet Bags: These are really cool bags made from old carpets. They’re strong as well as thick and come in different sizes, perfect for carrying your stuff.

Where to Buy:

  • Caravanserai Shops: Take a look at the shops inside Multani Caravanserai or Bukhara Caravanserai. You can find all kinds of souvenirs there, from old-style clothes and musical instruments to handmade crafts and tasty local treats.
  • Art Galleries: Discover unique artwork by local Azerbaijani artists in galleries spread throughout the Old Town. You might see paintings, sculptures, or fabrics that you really like.
  • Street Vendors: Keep an eye out for street vendors selling handcrafted items like miniature carpets, dolls in traditional costumes, or keychains with Azerbaijani motifs.

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Places to Stay in Old City Baku

places-to-stay

Comfortable accommodation is a basic necessity while you are on your trip. Choosing the right one can be challenging, we are here to help you find the best places to stay in Old City Baku:

  • Fairmont Baku Flame Towers: If you are looking for a luxury stay, Fairmont is an iconic luxurious hotel offering stunning views of the city and the Caspian Sea. The hotel is designed to exceed five-star standards with high quality luxury amenities in the rooms.
  • Sultan Inn Boutique Hotel: The hotel is situated right next to the Maiden Tower, offering the stunning views of the city. The hotel features spacious rooms and breakfast is served on the terrace, offering a delightful experience.
  • Two Seasons Boutique Hotel: Located in the heart of Baku Old City, the hotel is very close to the Palace of Shirvanshahs. It offers great views from the balcony and the staff is so humble and provides a comfortable stay with a focus on Azerbaijani hospitality.
  • Shirvanshah Hotel: A stunning hotel which offers a unique experience steeped in history. The Azerbaijan cuisine they serve is the best in town and the staff, especially the manager, is so friendly. Everything is a 5 – 10 min walk to most of the tourist attractions.

What to Eat in Old City Baku

baklava

Icherisheher Baku offers a variety of traditional Azerbaijani cuisine that reflects the country’s diverse cultural influences. Here are some must-try dishes and places to eat in Old City Baku:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Plov: A traditional Azerbaijani rice dish often made with saffron, raisins, chestnuts, and meat (lamb or chicken).

Where to eat: Firuze Restaurant and Köhne Şeher

  • Dolma: Grape leaves or other vegetables like peppers, cabbage leaves or zucchini stuffed with seasoned rice, meat, herbs and spices.

Where to eat: Köhne Şeher and Firuze Restaurant

  • Kebabs: Skewed meat that is cooked by grilling or pan-frying.  There are many different varieties of kebabs, depending on the region and the type of meat used.

Where to eat: Namli Kebap

  • Dushbara: Small dumplings filled with lamb, beef and fresh herbs. They are typically served in yoghurt sauce.

Where to eat: Dushbara Restaurant

  • Pakhlava: The most famous sweet dish in Icherisheher Baku is a layered dessert pastry made with chopped nuts and honey.

Where to eat: Pakhlava Boutique Baku

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Conclusion

In conclusion, Baku Old Town offers a fantastic experience for all types of travellers. This walled city, rich in historical heritage and cultural traditions, combined with its natural beauty, makes it one of the best places to visit in Azerbaijan. With its palaces, monuments, beaches, bustling streets, local shops, and vintage cafes and restaurants, Baku Old Town is a hub of exciting activities. Icherisheher Baku is vibrant both day and night, offering something for everyone, whether you’re seeking a peaceful escape or an adventurous tour.

What are the must-see attractions in Old Town Baku ?

The must-see attractions at Old Town Baku in Azerbaijan include the Maiden Tower for panoramic views, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs for its historical architecture, and the Juma Mosque, one of the city’s oldest mosques.

How can I get to Old Town Baku from the city centre?

To get to Old Town Baku in Azerbaijan from the city centre, you can take a short taxi ride, use the Baku Metro and get off at the Icherisheher Baku station, or enjoy a pleasant walk if you’re nearby, as it’s centrally located and easily accessible.

What is the best time of year to visit Old Town Baku?

The best time to visit Old Town Baku is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) months. During these periods, the weather is mild and pleasant, ideal for exploring the city’s historical sites and outdoor attractions.

Are there any guided tours available in Old Town Baku?

Yes, there are several guided tours available in Old Town Baku also known as Icherisheher Baku. These tours are offered by various local tour companies and can be booked online or through hotels. 

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