From the main bus station we took a marshrutka to Imisli and paid 5 manat per person. We ended at the sign to the petroglyphs in Gobustan. Back to Baku we took bus number 195 on the other side of the road and paid only 0,60. We went out near Baku at a beach to swim in sea.
For two Manat you buy a metro card. You need coins to put money on the card in a machine. One ride is 0,20 Manat. The subway has no map on the wall and the name of the line does not correspond with the end station. Before getting in make sure you go to the right station. Different lines stop at the same station. The metro is usefull for going to the bus station, the old town and the fire temple. If you leave Baku you can return your card and you will get the initial 2 Manat back.
Call Ali (+994503307143) for an incredible tour of Baku and surrounding villages. Very colorful guy who is a history buff and fought against the russians during the war. He speaks fluent english and has a very comfortable van which he will use to transport you to the oil fields, volcanoes, old city in Baku, villages, burning fire hills, etc. His price was very reasonable. For 6 hours of non-stop touring is was only 150 euros. He will also pick you up at the airport and transfer you back on departure. Well worth the money considering an airport taxi is 25 euros.
The airport of Baku is the entry point to Azerbaijan for most visitors. The airport building is very modern and the service is efficient. Most visitors need a visa which can be obtained at the airport for a fee of 40US$. Before you go to the visa counter you have to get a stamp at the immigration. The home carrier of Baku Airport is the national airline Azal with various international and domestic destinations. There are also direkt flights to Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Vienna (Austrian Airlines) and London (British Airways), but unfortunately all of them have departure times in the middle of the night. The easiest way to the city center is by taxi, but I think there is also a bus line if you are on a budget.
For more information you can also visit the webpage of the airport. It seems to be up to date, but I wonder why they still mention Swissair...
As in many other places where freedom has just arrived, Baku has its fare share of taxi cowboys. These sleazy crooks come in drovers to the rail station and even beyond – to the train tracks and start negotiating from there – the train platform is very long! Some start from 20Manats and when faced with 5USD quickly back away. Others are more insistent and continue trying their luck till you finally leave them. And in the last moment like in an American movie they accept your adjusted price – 7USD in this case. Then in the car the bloody negotiation continues under the guise that he did not understand exactly where you wanted to go – he thought it was a different place, much closer. Then he commences wimping about the charge of the Old City where there is an entrance fee. OK, at the end he got his mark up for the entrance fee but the bloody idiot never managed to find the hotel and did not try very hard either because “everybody” whom he asked did not know where it was. A real professional! Ah, he did not have a taxi sign on top of his vehicle – this should have alarmed me enough to leave him at the station. The only explanation is that the sun must have clouded my judgement.
You'll hear from just about anyone that the best way to get around Baku is taking a cab. OK, maybe that's true but why not use the metro? It is safe and very cheap! I almost forgot to say that it's clean too and will get you almost anywhere in town. The trains go every 5-7 minutes and there's no rush hour. Some of the stations are really beautiful and worth checking out - look up the Nizami station. Built in 1967, it is still in good shape and most of the trains are new.
There is a new system now of which you should be aware. You can only enter the subway using an electronic card, which is easy to purchase at any subway station. The cost is 2 AzN (around 2 Euros) and you can pay as little as 20 cents on top to add fare to the card (for 1 AzN you can ride 20 times). The card can be returned any time and will be fully refunded (2 AzN).
Baku Airport is fairly quiet - when we left there were about 10 flights listed on the screen between 11am and 8pm. The duty free shop is ok and has a lot of vodka and other goods. For some reason there are people who will wrap your luggage in cling film for a fee. Heaven only knows whether you get a refund should the Customs people wish to search it afterwards.
The coffee bar is nice and quiet and a regular coffee cost me about 1 (new) Manat - about $1.18. While you drink your coffee you can admire the attractive local females. They have the prettiest Customs staff I have ever seen - unfortunately only the male staff seem to be permitted to 'frisk' male travellers when you go into Departures.
Now only do this at your own risk and don't tell me I didn't warn you! Marshrutka buses are all over Baku... They are like Dolmush in Turkey, basically in the size of mini bus. They will stop to pick you up the minute you raise your hand and will let you off the second you hand them the money. Usually the drivers drive like madmen and you start swearing to yourself that you'll never ride a marshrutka again... but once you reach your destination you forget all about it and later desperately look for one again :) They go in all directions, that's why very convenient to use. The price is also pretty good. Doesn't depend on the distance, a ride will cost 20 gepiks - well something like 10 US cents. Marshrut means "route" in Russian in case you were wondering where the name came from... Have a fun ride :)))
If you have arrived at the International Airport in Baku and don't want to take one of those expensive cabbies, then head in the direction of the bus, which you'll find right after the parking lot. You'll see a sign when you get there, however no sign directing you to it ;-) Once you have found the bus stop, look for the bus with number 118. They run about every half an hour in the mornings and in the evenings, less frequent in the afternoon though. The bus will bring you to Ulduz metro station and from there you can get anywhere downtown by just using the subway. Sahil, 28th of May and Baki Soveti stations are right in the center of the city.
You can use the same route to get back to the airport!
We arrived to Baku early in the morning by Airflot flight, being sure that we’ll be taken to the city without any problems by 20 AZN as it was written in many travel tips on different forums. But alas, we have not found anybody to take us by such price. The lowest price was 40-50$. We were explained that because of triple price increasing in Azerbaijan from new 2007 year for everything (electricity/hotels/petrol/food etc. ), the price for transfer from airport to the city centre was also increased.So, we decided to spend several hours at the airport, waiting for the bus, which begins its work at 7-8 in the morning and goes from the airport to the nearest metro station – Azizbekov. From there you can reach the city centre, going to 28 of May/Sahil/Baksoviet - three central m.st.
The easiest way to get to Baku is by air. Even thought not many airlines flies to Baku, there are some. I got there with Aeroflot, through Moscow. Not all that expensive, but there are even more cheap alternatives. One important thing if you go by air. You can get visa, at the airport, that you cannot if you come by bus.
My first intension was to apply for the Azeri visa at the Azeri embassy in Tehran, but arriving to Tehran on a Friday and knowing it took about three days to get the visa issued (and not knowing if the embassy was open every day except weekends) I decided to buy a plane ticket from Tehran to Baku, as you can get the visa at the airport, but not at the land border.
I went to a travel agent in Nejatollahi Street where I bought a ticket with Iran Air for IR 1390000 (about 150 dollars).
The plane left from the new Imam Khomeini Airport at 13.45. I think it took about 1,5 hours to fly to Baku (or less). Not until I went off the plane in Baku did I take off the scarf, as only one woman had done so in the plane.
Getting the visa and going through the passport control was easy. I had already filled in two application forms, which I had downloaded from Internet and I also had two passport photos with me.
To Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran I took a taxi from Qazvin for IR 150 000. Arriving in Baku I shared taxi with two other people and paid 8 Manat to my hotel. Otherwise the fixed price from the airport was 20 Manat (July 2006).
Baku underground is a good way to go around the city, especially if you don't stay in the centre or if you need to get to marshrutkas or bus stations to get in/out Baku.
A problem is the lack of metro maps, while i found it hard to figure out myself which line the train was going. Plasmas are used for cartoons and advertisements, not for information, but you can always find help asking around.
Railways station - 28 May and Cafar, depending on destination, 28 May for the centre.
centre & the old town - between Sahil and Baki Sovieti metro stations
marshrutkas for Sumqayit and buses for Saki - 20 Januar metro
marshrutkas for Suraxani & Fire Temple - Nariman Narimanov metro
From T'bilisi (17,15) to Baku (9,00 next day) 80 lari/40 euros first class, second class about 50 lari. First class means 2 bed compartments, sealed windows, air con in the morning, but no water in the stinky toilet. The wagons' attendant usually requires some small change "for the sheets".
The journey includes:
- 2-3 hours stay at the border
- no smoking on the corridor
- receiving food and drinks from friendly local travellers
- passing through Mad Max type scenery in the afternoon
- filling in applications in Georgian letters
For Sumqayit, buses and marshrutkas leave every 10-20 minutes from a place next to the 20 Januar metro station, 100m down the road.
For Suraxani, marshrutkas leave from Nariman Narimanov metro station.
For Seki, there are air con buses all day and night almmost every hour, 6-7 hours ride, 4 new manats, from 20 Januar bus station near the metro one.