Azerbaijan Grand Prix
4th – 6th June, 2021
Getting around in Baku can be a bit of a hassle, but being a street circuit it’s still easier to get to the circuit come race day than at a lot of F1 tracks. At least for fans in Europe and the Middle-East, travelling to the Azerbaijan for the Grand Prix is an easy one or two flights away on a low cost airline.
Flights to Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
From most major cities in Europe you can reach Baku’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport (GYD) with just one stop on one or a combination of low cost carriers.
Common routes are via Kiev with Ukraine International Airlines, Istanbul with Turkish Airlines or Moscow with Aeroflot. There are also a limited number of direct flights from London Heathrow, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Prague, Geneva and Milan with Azerbaijan Airlines (Azul).
From North America and North East Asia, most fans will fly to Baku with Aeroflot, stopping en route in Moscow. If you’re coming from South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand you’ll likely find flights through Singapore and either Doha (on Qatar Airways) or Dubai (with Emitates).
Kiwi.com lets you search for the lowest cost flights and shows you route combinations that often don’t show up on other search engines. If you miss a connecting flight due to delay the Kiwi guarantee means you can take the next available flight at no extra cost.
Getting Around in Baku, transport to the Grand Prix and to/from the Airport
With the exception of the airport express bus, most of your getting around in Baku can be done using the metro and taxis/Uber, and on foot. The local driving style airs on the aggressive and the roads can get quite heavily congested. Unlike in Monaco, circuit officials don’t open the track in the evening, so getting around the central area can sometimes be troublesome with some lengthy detours necessary.
Note that getting around in Baku is especially difficult for wheelchair users or anyone travelling with a pushchair as there are rarely elevators for the city’s metro stations or underground pedestrian walkways and buses don’t have wheelchair access.
BakiKART or Bakucard?
You can use the same travel card to use the Metro and Bakubus buses. Called the BakiKART you’ll see machines to purchase and top up the balance of these cards at all stations.
There are 2 types – the plastic card, which requires a non-refundable 2 AZN deposit and is aimed more at residents, or the paper card that has a 45 day validity. Most F1 tourists should opt for the paper card which allows you to pre-load the card with up to four trips. To buy one of these select ‘BakıKART for limited use’ from the ticket machine’s menu screen.
Not to be confused with the BakiKART, the Bakucard allows free unlimited travel on the city’s buses and metro as well as discounts on cafes, museums and entertainment. Given how inexpensive travel is in Baku its generally not worth buying for the free travel alone, but if you think you’d make use of some of the other benefits it might be worth considering.
You can pick one up at Bakucard machines at metro stations, bus stops and kiosks throughout the city.
For getting around Baku, buses come in two varieties. The old buses are cash only so simply pay the fair as you get off. The new, shiny red buses operated by Bakubus can only be paid for using the BakiKART or Bakucard. One standard trip on any bus in the city is 0.20 AZN.
The website gomap.az displays bus routes in an interactive map. Just select the bus icon in the menu and choose the route number from the dropdown menu.
..for the airport
The Aero Express bus is an efficient and inexpensive way to travel to and from the airport. It runs every half an hour during peak times (6AM to 10PM) and once an hour off peak. It stops at Koroglu and 28 May metro stations and takes about 30 minutes to reach the final stop.
Just keep in mind that the metro doesn’t operate 24 hours a day so you may still need to take a taxi to complete your journey.
Buy tickets (1.50AZN; 1.30 AZN with a Bakucard) before getting on the bus from ticket machines located just outside the exit of the terminal.
..for the Grand Prix
The nearest bus stops to the Baku Street Circuit are:
- the intersection of Rashid Behbudov and Nizami Streets (bus #5).
- near the MUM store on Azerbaijan Avenue (bus #65).
- Palace of Hand Games (bus #53).
Buses on these routes run every few minutes and the circuit is within walking distance of these stops.
Free Concert Shuttle Bus
There are nightly concerts for F1 fans on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, held at the Baku Crystal Hall on the Coastal Boulevard near Flag Square.
There will be free shuttle buses going from the track to the concert. Buses start running at 8pm on Friday, 7.30pm on Saturday and 6.30pm on Sunday. Returning to the track buses depart between 11pm and 4am on all three days but if you’re planning to complete the trip back to your hotel on the metro remember the 28 May and Icheri Sheher metro stations will close at 2am.
If you’ve been looking forward to stretch your legs after a long day in the grandstands its about a 5km walk.
Taxi and Uber
You might be surprised to see London taxis plying the streets of Baku. Recently introduced to the city its not only a surreal experience to be driven around this exotic location in a London taxi but the prices are a lot lower than what you’d pay in London.
Unlike London though, drivers won’t always use the meter so its always a good idea to know how much you should pay, so if you can’t persuade your driver to turn the meter on you can at least negotiate a fair price. Its a good idea to show the price on your phone screen too so there can be no chance of an opportunist ‘misunderstanding’ when you reach your destination.
Typically, taxi rides around the centre of Baku range from 4 to 10AZN (0.7AZN/km). If you’re not comfortable with haggling for prices, Uber might be for you, giving you reasonable prices and a fair you can see in advance with no nasty surprises on arrival. F1S readers can get €10 off their first ride when signing up.
..for the airport
To and from the airport most taxi’s will charge about 15 – 20AZN. Its generally better to walk straight passed the taxi drivers in the arrivals hall who are more likely to overcharge and whos cars might be parked a long way from the exit. If the metro is open when you touch down, you might consider just taking a taxi as far as the nearest station which is Koroglu. This should set you back only about 5AZN.
Some of Baku’s subway stations are beautifully designed works of art and worth visiting in their own right. The metro network however is small and not very pleasant to use but can be useful for some of your longer trips across the city. There are 2 main lines, red and green, and some platforms serve both lines with alternating services. Information on platform screens display the final destination of the next train so always check this to be sure you’re getting the right train.
Trains get very crowded at peak times and the local etiquette might be a bit more rough and ready than what you’re used to. Sometimes a train will fill up and leave before everyone is on board so always leave in plenty of time when planning trips on the subway.
The silver lining here is that the arduous experience of the Baku metro is cheap at only 0.30 AZN per trip, or free with the Bakucard. Trains run from 6am to midnight but 28 May and Icheri Sheher metro stations will stay open until 2am from Friday to Sunday the week of the Grand Prix – perfect for revelers returning from the free concert.
..for the airport
The nearest station to the airport is Koroglu and can be reached by airport express bus or taxi (see above).
..for the Grand Prix
28 May and Icherishahar are the nearest stations to the F1 circuit. From here its possible to walk to your grandstand.
Getting around on foot can be challenging in Baku. Walking around the old city, the Boulevard and Fountain Square is generally okay, though closures and diversions because of the Grand Prix, can be an issue. Elsewhere, chaotic traffic makes getting around on foot a bit of a chore. Look for underground walkways when trying to cross the busy roads.