It’s that time of the year again! Baku residents and visitors alike have noticed the concrete barricades and road-side bleachers going up around town in preparation for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Last year saw over 71,000 spectators flock to the Land of Fire, nearly two and a half times the numbers from the year before, and excitement is mounting around the city as locals brace for what will hopefully be another grand turnout.
Anyone who was here for the Grand Prix over the last few years knows that there is a lot to be excited about. The Baku circuit is the fastest street circuit of the Formula 1 season, with twenty turns through narrow thoroughfares and a cityscape that melds ancient fortifications with cutting-edge modern architecture. Fans can’t help but feel they are on the set of a sci-fi movie.
Last year’s race certainly saw no shortage of thrills. Aside from a number of crashes early on, race fans will remember second-placed Sebastian Vettel deliberately ramming first-placed Lewis Hamilton. Both were soon forced to the pits, which allowed Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who had started the race tenth on the grid, to move up and finish in first place.
Really, as electrifying as the race is by itself, the Baku circuit would be nothing if it weren’t for Baku. The tens of thousands of visitors soon to arrive here would be remiss to not indulge in the unique wonders that this city has to offer, many of which are within walking distance from the race course itself.
We at VoA have taken the time to highlight some of the must-see, must-taste, and must-experience places in the vicinity of the circuit. The interactive map below includes both well-known tourist locations and a few off-the-beaten-path venues only the locals know about.