Arriving to Baku, Central bus station
The Bus station is located in the outskirts of the city, on the other side of a small hill. Busses and minibuses depart on the second floor and will leave you somewhere around the ground floor entrance. Local city busses stop on the main gate and those going to the city, through a bridge, will also stop on the other side of the road, before getting on the bridge. Same local busses stop again on the side of the bridge, connected to the 2nd floor of the bus station. Rides costs 20 quepik and you pay when you get off the bus.
When I arrived I had no clue of which bus went to the old city, so after taking the bus (no 18) I saw a metro station and took the metro. The metro stop for the old city is Icheri Sheher, pronounced something like Igari shahar. To get on the subway the best choice is to approach someone charging their plastic cards (something like a metro card, or the London Oyster card) and hand them the 20 quepik for the ride. They will let you in the system, you can exit without problems and there is no need to have a receipt.
The metro system is quite confusing, specially when transferring trains. To head to the old city You will need to go to 28th of may station, then change trains for the red line in direction to Icheri Sheher, which is also the last station on that line. The trick is that the green line and the red line share the same station and platform, there is a light signal at the end of the platform that indicates to where the next train is going. Don’t get on the trains in a hurry (like I did) cause you will end up having to return!
The Old city is quite charming, I was waiting to se something like in Jerusalem, but I was surprised that there everything looked new, kind of fake. It didn’t took off the charm though. Places to sleep inside the city walls are not so abundant. A room costs an average of 50 manat, but there is no indication in the price for the quality you will receive. Ask to see for the room before deciding. For budget travellers the 1000 camels hostels was closed at the time of writing.
What to see, Things to do.
Baku is quite a contrast from the rest of Azerbaijan, with it’s imposing towers it reflects the wealthy of the nation. The Old city has it’s own attractions, like the Maiden Tower and the Palace with it’s ruins. Karavansarai are a great place for a relaxing chai, and the turkish eateries make great snacks to take away like lajmachun. The Caspian sea promenade is a great place to walk around, specially at sunset, many chai houses and restaurants offer great views.
With and all I think a day or two are enough for Baku, The “new” city has a couple of buildings of importance and the local market might be worth a visit. From the surrounding places I decided to visit the Athesga Fire temple in Suraxani. Now, there are several ways to visit the temple, for me none of them worth the time for what you are about to see. You will have to travel from wherever you are staying to the train station and make a 40 minute trip, or the other option is to take 2 different busses. The time you will be in Suraxani is not really worth the time you will be travelling.
What I did, the day that I was leaving Baku to the airport, I left an hour before and the cab stopped at the temple. From the temple to the airport is a 10 minute ride.