Counting down to the unpredictable, high-octane races next month? Azerbaijan is home to one of the most dramatic and heart pounding city circuit Formula 1 Grand Prix races. With legendary drivers whizzing between the streets of Icherisheher and spiralling across the Absheron peninsula it’s a cracking delight to watch the race cars battling it out for the cup with the backdrop of the magnificent towers and the breath-taking Caspian Sea.
During Formula 1, a plethora of entertainment options will be available on the Baku Boulevard. Each night during the three-day event fans are guaranteed post-race concerts by global superstars at Crystal Hall. Last year, Dua Lipa, Christina Aguilera and Jamiroquai delivered electrifying performances. This year Sam Smith is going to set the stage on fire. The remaining artists remain a mystery but are sure to create a buzz of excitement. Ticket holders will have access to both the entertainment area and the F1 post-race concerts.
Why stop at just the Grand Prix? Baku may be known for its exhilarating car races, but it also offers a kaleidoscope of cultural and historical activities. Besides that, don’t be surprised to find yourself mesmerised by its futuristic urban skyline, rugged natural beauty and remarkable nightlife.
Thanks to the Azerbaijan Tourism Board, F1 Ticket holders also have the opportunity to explore Baku and its many layers through group tours with BTIC (Baku Tourism Information Centre). Fans will have the opportunity to discover some of Baku’s most iconic locations such as Old City Tour, Ateshgah and Yanardag, Gobustan and the Mud Volcanoes.
Get the most out of your escapade by extending your Grand Prix weekend to a weeklong adventure across the city of Baku:
1. The iconic work at the Heydar Aliyev Centre
Designed by the illustrious architect, Zaha Hadid, it is notably one of the most iconic landmarks in the city of Baku. Besides the building’s magnificent architecture, it houses some of the best art curations in the city and right in the front of the centre you cannot miss the plethora of free masterclasses from tango, chess to capoeira reaffirming that the Heydar Aliyev Centre is the place to be. There are four massive floors dedicated to modern and classic art and culture including a colossal collection of vintage cars, several salivating and decedent fashion exhibits alongside a full-fledged museum to add to the mix.
2. Dance the night away
Unknown to most, the nation has a fabulous music and entertainment industry. With a nightlife scene abuzz with talented international DJs you are certainly going to be dancing the night away. Outside of the realm of ravers, there is a wealth of unseen local talent. Whether it is a folk artist jamming monody tunes or a talented henna tattoo artist creating intricate designs at an astronomic pace, Azerbaijan’s cultural similarity to the region leads to exciting entertainment options.
* Check out the uber-elite Pasifico - Lounge & Dining Bar followed by the IN Club or Enerji Club Baku for an incredible night out
3. Indulge in delectable Azerbaijani gastronomy
From their kebabs to tandoor bread, Azerbaijan’s food is truly a melting pot of cultures with fragrances and flavours influenced from European, Middle Eastern and Asian food.
The local delicacies you must gorge on though are their fragrant saffron plov (rice) paired barbequed Shashlik alongside dolma stuffed with earthy minced lamb topped with a touch of sourness from their fermented pickles.
*You can experience traditional Azerbaijani food at Shirvanshah and the Firuze Restaurants
4. Check out the primitive petroglyphs of Gobustan and the Mud Volcanoes
Rising out of the semi-desert Gobustan is a UNESCO Cultural Landscape of more than 6,000 rock engravings, which go back 40,000 years. You can also see graffiti by a Roman legionary - the furthest east it has ever been found. The Petroglyphs of Gobustan are artistic chronicles of the past. They bear great importance both for the study of the pre-history of humanity and for the study of lots of spheres of primitive art. Gobustan’s monuments cover a period of approximately 20 thousand years beginning from the end of Upper Palaeolithic till the beginning of our era.
Besides that, did you know that about 350 out of the 800 mud volcanoes known in the World are located in Azerbaijan? Most of them are situated in the Gobustan region. Some of the volcanoes are considered natural monuments and natural national resources of Azerbaijan.
*A 1-hour drive from Baku
5. The fiery temples of Ateshgah and the Burning mountain at Yanar Dag
The Ateshgah Eternal Fire Temple amazes visitors with its enrapturing flames and features 16 inscriptions that harbour centuries-old secrets. This Zoroastrian-Hindu temple in Surakhani dates to the 19th century and is a melting pot of the Western and Eastern cultures. This mystic temple is sure to leave you and the kids in awe.
Still got time before you head back to the city? A short 45-minute drive away in Mehemmedi is the scorching gas-rich mountain – Yanar Dag that is known as the burning mountain. This will definitely keep the children gawking in delight.
*Surakhani and Mehemmedi are both a 35-minute drive from Baku
6. The epicentre of entertainment at Baku Boulevard
Breathe in the salty fresh air of the Caspian ocean while you stroll the pleasant town of Baku Boulevard. Within it, you will find a small Venetian dream made up of a myriad of islands with gondolas sailing through the canals and restaurants dotted across the shore.
Beyond that, Baku Boulevard is the centre of entertainment for F1 ticket holders. With exclusive access to the fan zone, there are endless activities and entertainment facilities to explore. Fans will also get the chance to get up close and personal with their favourite F1 drivers for autographs and selfies.
The Boulevard also offers eye-catching Instagram story photo opportunities near ancient trains to panoramic views of the city upon its hypnotic Baku Ferris Wheel (Baku Eye), there is so much to see before the day ends. Don’t forget to check out the Yarat Modern Art Space that offers world-class master classes and phenomenal performances for whole family. End the day by the Mirvari ship that has its own restaurant to truly relish the Caspian seaside experience.
*See Baku Boulevard at its best with a half-marathon taking place on 5th May starting from the Boulevard until the Baku Olympic Stadium
7. Discover Icherisheher
The walls of Icherisheher whispers the ancient mysteries of the city. Known as old town or inner city, it is located in the heart of Baku and is a maze of narrow roads spotted with limestone buildings. A sight that’s difficult to miss is the Shirvanshahs’ Palace and Maiden Tower, both listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites List.
The Palace itself is known as the Pearl of Azerbaijani architecture as it is made up of several different structures built throughout the ages with each adding a beautiful amalgamation of medieval, Asian and Islamic influences.
Another mystery is the Maiden Tower. This cylindrical stark tower has baffled historians and to date has theories aplenty about its origins and the exact date of construction. Despite that, it is one of the most iconic structures in the city housing a museum covering the history of Baku and marked around it are beautiful scriptures that hint at the possible roots of this historical feat. It is also home to the International Festival of Arts and regularly showcasing work from innovative artists against its mystic backdrop.
Besides that, Icherisheher offers some of the most eccentric and outstanding feats. The Museum of Miniature Books, a Guinness Book record-holder, open to all for free, houses the largest number of miniature books at 5,600 and don’t forget to spot your national flag to find books from your home country. Another place to stop by is the Ali Shamsi Studio, a wonderland of paintings that transport you to another dimension of reality and mind-boggling installations. You will often find the artist and philosopher Ali Shamsi there who can talk you through the burgeoning art scene in the city.
Details: The four-night package from at Four Seasons Hotel Baku starting at $647 per night during from 25th to 29th of April is available for bookings now.
About the Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB)
The Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB) is a national promotion body established under the State Tourism Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Its main objectives are to support the growth of Azerbaijan’s tourism industry and encourage visitors to explore the country’s rich cultural offering and experience its ancient heritage. For more information, visit http://azerbaijan.travel/en/home and follow us on social media at: @experienceazerbaijan, www.facebook.com/ExperienceAZE/, www.twitter.com/tourismaze