The architecture of the city is impressive, and particularly the Historical Old City has many sightseeing options which you don't need to pay for. Natural parks and reserves around the city are beautiful and free and so are the numerous public art locations all over Baku.
Gobustan National ParkGobustan is a fascinating State reserve, located about 40 miles away from the centre of Baku. The place is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the numerous (over 6,000) ancient rock carvings which date back to somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 years. Gobsutan park is also known for its mud vulcanoes and gas-stones, which are also available for tourists.
Absheron National ParkAbsheron National Park is a vital part of the territory of the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests' ecoregion. The area is well known and highly valued because it's inhabited by numerous flora and fauna species, including the endangered gazelles and Caspian seals. One of the drawbacks is that the park is a bit hard to find due to the lack of sufficient street signs. The best option for the tourists is to join an organized daily tour and enjoy some beautiful landscaped without having to worry about getting lost.
Caspian Sea seashore
Garasu VolcanoAzerbaijan is often referred to as the "mud volcano capital of the world." This might not sound very prestigious at first, but once you witness the sight of it, you somehow get respected. Garasu volcano is proudly listed as a part of the World List of Natural Sites of Tourist Attraction, and visitors never regret taking the time needed to visit it.
Shirvan National ParkWhen you get tired and bored of the monotonous city landscape, it's always a tempting option to run to the nearest Natural park and hide from reality for a bit. Shirvan National Park and Reserve, which once was the bottom of the Caspian Sea, is a lovely place to do that.
You can get from Baku to Shirvan National Park by car or by train. The drive is about two hours, while the train ride takes about five hours.
Sheki CitySheki City used to be the capital of the Shaki Khanate back in the 18th century. Anyway, the village is way older and dates back to more than 2700 years ago. Except for the uniquely rich cultural heritage, the area is stunningly beautiful and suitable for the lovers of nature. You can travel from Baku to Sheki by bus, by train or by car. Driving takes about four hours, while bus and train trips are slower and take about seven hours.
Fountain SquareFountain Square is one of the most widely recognized symbols of Baku. It's almost impossible to be missed because it fills all the space between two other crucial locations - the main shopping street and the gates of the Old City. The Square is filled with dozens of fountains which were constructed by the time when Azerbaijan was under Soviet rule.
Baku Old CityBaku Old City is the historical inner core of the capital, which is also the oldest part of it. Researchers still argue about its age. It's widely accepted that the city dates back to the 12th century, yet some people claim that some of its oldest buildings date back as far as the 7th century. The Old City of Baku is the first location in Azerbaijan to be named as a part of the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A few years later, after a destructive earthquake, the place is also on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Flame TowersThe Flame Towers are three iconic, illuminating skyscrapers, located in the centre of Baku. One of them is the highest in Azerbaijan, reaching a considerable height of 182 meters. Those three towers are not only architecturally impressive but also serve as a special symbol. They are meant to symbolize the long history of the fire-worshipers - a group of people who believed Azerbaijan to be the birthplace of Zoroaster. That's why the buildings are entirely covered with LED screens which illuminate bright lights in the form of a burning fire. This spectacular view can be easily seen even from the most distant points of the city.
Philharmonic Fountain ParkThe beautiful garden of the Filarmonical hall is one of the must-visits in Baku, especially for people who'd fancy a little quiet and green oasis in the heart of the city. The area is designed and built in a classical baroque style, with a delightful fountain and it's quite neat to the walls of the Old historical City. In some evenings the visitors of the park can enjoy some live classical music by the direct open-air performances from local and foreign world-class classical musicians. Another interesting fact about the park is that it's home for a lot of parrots which fly around freely and bring a colorful and exotic taste to the atmosphere.
Martyrs' LaneMartyrs' Lane, also called the Alley of Martyrs', previously known as the Kirov Park is a memorial cemetery, dedicated to all the people killed by the Soviet Army during a catastropih event, known as the January Massacre. This was a mass murder of civilian population of Baku, which happened in 1990 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union as an attempt to suppress the Azerbaijani independence movement. The place is the final home of another group of victims - those from the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which was an ethnic and territorial conflict between Armenians and Azeris. An estimated number of 15,000 people are buried in the cemetery park. Thousands of people visit the place daily to pay their respect for the fighters for independence and for the innocent victims of the monstrous events.
Gosha Gala TowerThe Gosha Gala Tower is actually an arch portal which serves the main entrance gate to Baku's Old City. It blends perfectly with the overall environment, and it's a significant crossroad of routes through the city. It's the beginning of the Old City, the end of Fountains Square and it hosts a big Tourist Information Center, where visitors can get every kind of necessary information they might need. There is also a little set of stores, placed right inside the gates where you can find some gifts and thematic souvenirs.
Workshop Ali ShamsiAli Shamsi is a magnetic and enjoyable artist, philosopher, traveler and an owner of this gallery-atelier in the Old City of Baku. This is not only a place for the art lovers - actually, everyone who stops by somehow enjoys the colorful and creative atmosphere, full of small and not so small paintings, installations and different forms of beauty.
Monument to Richard SorgeRichard Sorgeis one of the greatest spy of all times, and this place is absoltely spooky. It's a massive monument of his eyes and half of his face, and the worst part of it is the special design, made so that wherever you stand, the eyes seem to look right at you. It's not all roses and carpets, you know. Spooky places deserve to be on the list too.
Monument to Lovers and CatsThis is a cute, little and almost secret monument, which is a part of one of the buildings in the Old City of Baku. Professional guides won't ever forget to point your attention to that building, located on the route from the Main gate towards the Maiden Tower. It has a man and a woman sculptres, with a few stone cats around them and on the roof of the building.
Depending on your personality, you can find this to be ridiculously lame or adorably beautiful. Anyway, it's something small, but small things usually represent bigger ones, just more delicately.