The baby grand prix, Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, turns one this weekend. Considered the fastest circuit of the season, the city of Baku is about to witness another big fight between Ferrari and Mercedes who are separated on performance by tiniest of margins. We know you’re here for the races, but here’s our renowned Eat/See/Do to make sure you make the most of your trip when you are visiting Baku.
… as the Azeri do and you will live and prosper long. It’s because their diet is jam-packed with raw vegetables and herbs, and none of the nachos I just scoffed as I wrote this. If you have only one night in Baku, we recommend Evda that serves traditional Azerbaijani cuisine like Sahil and Dushbara, as well as qutabs, pancakes filled with minced meat and spinach. If you’re a fan of street food, head to the old town, with its labyrinth of streets and fortress walls. If like me, the way your day goes depends on that first cup of coffee, then a little bird tells me to begin your day Pakhlova House in Old Town. Want to see where young Baku debates, then head to Old School Café and lose yourself in some live jazz and conversation.
… and delight in the contradictions between new shiny and old elegance Baku, from the new free-form structures like the stunning Heydar Әliyev Cultural Centre built by Zaha Hadid, the gorgeous race track built by renowned F1 track architect Hermann Tilke and the three Baku Flame towers that dominate the skyline, and the little gems in Old Town be it the Shirvanshah’s palace or the 12th century Maiden Tower.
… get lost in the bylanes of Old Town after you climb to the top of the Maiden Tower and look out over the Caspian Sea and pinch yourself because you are in fact that close to something that sounds as exotic to you as the Caspian Sea. Do steam your troubles away at local hammams, walk along the Bulvar, or take a boat out to see to watch the city glow like embers against a sunset. If you have time, head to the Gobustan National Park & Reservation to marvel at rock carvings dating back between 5,000 and 40,000 years. Do buy yourself a carpet at the Azer-ilme carpet weaving center or anywhere else but make sure you have a certificate when you do or you’ll have to leave it behind at the airport like my little bird.