Baku was not on our list of weekend getaways, and a place we knew nothing about when we received Holiday Factory‘s invite.
Online, you hear about the history and a tidbit here and there on the nightlife. We flew in as a blank canvas.
Here are 10 things you don’t know about Baku:
- Two words: oil money! The international airport is much like a 5 star hotel (very Dubai, so think shiny things everywhere), and the drive out will immediately show you that it was a recent addition only to upend what is now the domestic airport.
- People typically speak three languages: Azeri, Russian and Turkish. There is also a little bit of Arabic.
- People aren’t rude – there is just a communication gap.
- The F1 circuits visits Baku once a year, where the city streets are converted to a race course. It’s a lot of work and the barricades along the sidewalks are up a month in advance.
- Lonely Planet described Baku as the architectural lovechild of Paris and Dubai – I reckon that’s overstating it a bit. Though it has its own unique charm, seeing how the modernistic Flaming Towers blend with the adjacent Soviet constructed plazas and Old Town.
- No street names except for Nizami street. Good luck if you plan on exploring with a map.
- For our resident foodies, do give an Azeri meal a shot. Start with the lentil soup, followed by the Saj and Plov, and end it with some tea. To all the veggie fans out there: go nuts! All the produce we saw and ate in Baku was fresh and organic. The lemons are strong. Not even kidding. Squish half the amount that you normally would in to your soup and TASTE it before you add any more.
- The nightlife is exactly as advertised. People love to party here. Make sure you get a list from locals and do a bar hop.
- The city prides itself on being secular. All you ladies will be happy to know that you can dress comfortably and will not only go unjudged, but be in trend with what some of the locals are wearing as well. Note: this does not apply to when you’re visiting religious monuments.
- Everything is dirt cheap! Hard Rock Café, alcohol, ZARA, alcohol, taxis, ZARA, taxis, and even alcohol! You can do Baku on a budget and still have enough left in hand when grabbing a Big Mac on your way out.
You can check out Holiday Factory’s Baku deal here – I’ve got a gut feeling this destination will go mainstream and hit travellers’ bucket lists very soon.