By Nigar Orujova
Thinking about Baku as your next vacation destination? Many budget tourists seem to think that the capital of an oil-producing country is not their cup of tea. However, magnificent Baku can be affordable to anyone that wants to enjoy its hospitability.
Traveling to Baku is easy by air, as Azerbaijan has a modern airport, but other modes of transport such as by train, bus, bike, hitchhiking, or even ferry are often overlooked.
To see the all beauties of the city, it is better to stay in the city center. For this purpose, try Baku hostels. There are not so many, but you can find them via popular travel websites. As there are only a few hostels in the city, you will need to reserve a place. Prices start at 15 manats ($14.30).
You can also find guesthouses where you will be able to stay alone, but the price and the atmosphere cannot compare with those in hostels. Try your luck with couchsurfing as well, since it is now gaining popularity in the country.
Those who plan to come to Baku in the years to come will be able to enjoy more cheap hostels in the capital, as their construction is now on the agenda.
As you put your luggage to your hostel, you will probably need to have a bite. There are many places to eat cheap but tasty in Baku. You should pay attention to cozy restaurants with national cuisine. Here you can enjoy delicious kebabs and spicy national soups at affordable prices. Do not forget to have a look at prices before ordering food.
If you are not hungry, just get a refresh at the local traditional café, or “chaykhana,” where you can drink full-flavored tea out of the popular “armud” glass in the shape of pear.
Now you want probably travel around the city. Bear in mind, that taxi is not a cheap affair in Baku. However, you will be pleasantly surprised with public transportation prices. Catching a ride on the bus or Baku Metro is costs only $0.19, and the new Baku Card works on both.
There is also an opportunity to save while visiting museums around the city. Some museums are free, like one of a kind museum of Miniature Books, others provide free entrance once in a month, like Azerbaijan History Museum and Carpet Museum, which are the most advisable to visit.
While buying souvenirs from Baku do not forget to bargain, as experienced tourist may measurably bring down the price.
You should definitely visit Baku bay and the national Seaside Park, which is also free of charge. The park stretches for several kilometers, and evenings are the best time to visit. While walking here you will encounter the Yarat Center, to discover the Azerbaijani modern art.
Most of the exhibitions are free in Baku, so you can save to visit the futuristic Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by popular architecture Zaha Hadid.
Baku is a compact city and you can walk around the city center to see most of the attractions and a mix of architecture. There is also the opportunity to rent a bike along the promenade.
Do not forget to make a trip to the Caspian Sea if you will be in Baku during the warm season. Here you can drink tea admiring the view or take a dip if there are lifeguards on the territory.
As you will see, Baku is a very hospitable and amicable city, and everyone will be ready to help you no matter what you will need and despite of time of day. Come and taste the Eastern hospitality on the back of the Western appearance of Baku.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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