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On the fault line between East and West, Baku is unlike anywhere else on earth. Azerbaijan's capital offers a fascinating Soviet legacy, soaring towers that could have been transplanted from Shanghai, along with a beautiful ancient center. Contradictory it may be, but Baku is always a delight.
Baku's Old City dates back almost a thousand years. Ringed with an impressive set of walls, it sits atop a maze of tunnels and features countless historic sights, including the Maiden Tower.
Baku sits on the Caspian Sea, the world's largest inland sea. Take cruises across the sea, explore beaches like Bilgəh or stroll along Baku's elegant seafront promenade.
Baku is rich with museums, including a recently opened Carpet Museum, the National Museum of Azerbaijan History, and the Museum of Modern Art, which includes works by Picasso and Dalí.
Baku's hinterland is well worth visiting, from the Ateshgah Fire Temple to the spectacular natural gas vents of Yanar Dag.
If you are a kebab fan, Baku is the place to head. For a treat, try the liver kebabs from Sultan's, a local favorite.
High summer can be a little intense for some, so visit between April and June or September to October for the best weather. Winters tend to be chilly, and many attractions close for the season.
Heydar Aliyev International Airport (GYD) is 15 miles out of town. To reach Baku, take the express bus, which costs ₼1.30 or take a taxi for around ₼60.
Baku has rail connections to Moscow and other Russian cities, as well as Kiev in Ukraine.
If you are driving north from Bilasuvar, take the E119. From Mingecevir and the west, take the E60 all the way to Baku.
Buses run into Baku from all of Azerbaijan's major cities, and there are international services from Russia and Iran as well.
Baku has some incredible hotel options, including the lavish Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers with its rooftop pool, and the Sheraton Baku, which is handy for the airport.
İçərişəhər - Baku's old town, İçərişəhər is a UNESCO-listed gem. Don't miss the views from the 95-foot-high Maiden Tower.
Khutor - another old part of Baku, Khutor is full of flower-decorated lanes and buzzes with street life. Safe and charming, it's a great place to explore on foot.
Yaşıl Bazar - Baku's major market, Yaşıl Bazar is the place to go to find fresh, juicy pomegranates and locally made quince jam.
NIIM runs buses and the subway in Baku. A single ticket costs just ₼0.20, so they represent excellent value. If you ride the subway, you'll need to buy a BakiKart for ₼2 before traveling.
Taxis are a cheap way to get around in general, charging about ₼1.30 for every mile.
Car rental options in Baku include AvtoRent, AzRent, and Aznur. Expect to pay about ₼35 per day.
Baku's bazaars include Yaşıl and Taza, and both are great places to shop for bargains. There are also huge malls at Park Bulvar and Port Baku, which are crammed with international brands.
Supermarket options include Makromart, Bizim, and Neptun, where you can expect to pay around ₼2.50 for 12 eggs.
If you want to enjoy some of the finest kebabs on earth, head to restaurants like Sultan's, Sehrli Tandir, or Şəki. There are also plenty of Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and French places as well. Expect good kebabs to cost around ₼5-10, but gourmet meals to come to far more, around ₼40-50.