Azerbaijan’s capital feels airy with long straight boulevards, low-level buildings and lots of open spaces near the Caspian Sea. The green areas and parks in Baku tend to have more marble compared to the nearby Caucasus Mountains, but they still make pleasant spots to relax and unwind.
Baku Boulevard, or Milli Park, stretches 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) along the Caspian Sea. The large pedestrianised area opened in 1909 and grew into a favourite hangout spot for locals. Walk along today and pass gardens, fountains, Mini-Venice and the Baku Eye. After dark, the boulevard fills with families and children enjoying the clean and attractive surroundings.
A few minutes east of Baku Boulevard past Baku Shipyard sits New City Park. While the park itself resembles the nearby boulevard, the quiet and less crowded feel gives it an appeal. Walk along the wide walkways, and sit on the benches on one of the many piers, while soaking up the views in isolation. From here, lucky tourists might see hundreds, if not thousands, of fish swimming in the Caspian Sea.
Upland, or Dagustu Park, sits at the top of the Baku Funicular a few minutes southwest of Icheri Sheher. Not only is this park in Baku clean and attractive, but it also gives some of the best views of the city’s skyline. Either ride the funicular or climb the two-hundred-and-something steps to reach the top. Locals come in numbers as the sun begins to set to enjoy the romantic views.
What can be a better park in Baku than the Central Botanical Garden? Inside this 16-hectare park, only 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) west of Icheri Sheher, grows over 2000 species of plants, flowers and shrubs. After opening under the Soviet Union in 1935, the Botanical Garden expanded and developed into a large space to preserve and cultivate a variety of endemic and foreign plant species. Walk through both the open and enclosed areas, and admire the Medicinal Plants Section and Rose Corner.
Located 2 kilometres (1.53 miles) north of Icheri Sheher in Yasamal District is the small and leafy Izmir Park. Several benches provide the perfect place to sit and enjoy the fresh air and surroundings. This park is sometimes referred to as Firefighter Garden because of its proximity to the fire station, and there is another interesting story behind the park’s name. The Turkish city of Izmir has been one of Baku’s Twin Cities since 1985. Despite the Turks following Sunni Islam and Azerbaijanis practicing Shia, they consider themselves brothers.
Out of all the parks in Baku, Zabitler (or Officer’s Park) is the greenest. Created to honour those who fought in World War Two, the small space combines natural surroundings with numerous statues and sculptures of famous Azerbaijanis. Several trees and flowers line the paths stretching around the fountain and children’s play area. Officer’s Park is 2 kilometres north of Baku Boulevard.
Stretching for more than 600 metres (1969 feet) and just a short walk west of 28 May Metro Station lies Fizuli Park. The marble paths lined with flowerpots in the centre and sandstone buildings to the side make a photogenic place for a stroll. But, it’s best to avoid the midday heat, as Fizuli Park offers little in the way of shade.
Located on the same complex as the zoo, Dede Qorqud Park spreads around an attractive pond with large areas of manicured lawns. Spending an hour inside this park in Baku after visiting the zoo is a favourite activity for locals. Long paths and a clean environment, combined with several benches, create a nice ambience.
On the southeast tip of Absheron Peninsula sits a large national park with the same namesake. Just 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Baku, Absheron National Park can be visited on a day trip. Inside, expect to see a variety of flora and fauna throughout the semi-arid landscape. While not strictly a park in Baku, this national park deserves a special mention.