Visiting markets and getting involved in conversations with locals tends to be the easiest way to peek into a country’s local way of life and culture. And few things make such a contrast between the capital’s wealth and lifestyles than the items found in the suburban markets in Baku.
Local markets range from sprawling bazaars to obscure flea markets and stalls selling touristy souvenirs. Others sell fresh fruit and vegetables, snacks and clothes, along the side of the street.
If you want to experience the local Azerbaijan culture without traveling too far from the center, make a trip to Taza Bazaar. The largest market in Baku sits halfway between Nizami and 28 May Metro Station. Locals say the bazaar opened over 70 years ago, surviving the Soviet Union. Today, people buy fresh produce, nuts, herbs and a variety of oriental spices. And fresh Beluga caviar, an Azeri delicacy, along with Caspian Sea fish fill a lot of stalls. Photogenic sites capture the essence of ordinary life, and the smells of exotic spices and fish linger in the air.
Yasil Bazar, also known as the Green Market, offers an authentic local experience. When you’re in the center, Icheri Sheher, or the shopping malls, you’ll see few working-class Bakuvians. Get away from the city’s core, and stroll to the train station to find the local’s favorite market in Baku.
People from around Azerbaijan sell organic vegetables and fruit including grapes and pomegranates at Yasil Bazaar. Lower prices and making a direct contribution to the local economy makes this bazaar a win-win for everyone.
The Russian Flea Market
The flea market in Sanbunchu district gives visitors a glimpse into the real lives of Baku’s inhabitants. Not everyone experiences the wealth from the nation’s second oil boom. Residents sell various trinkets including Soviet memorabilia along with old clothes and electronics. The people in this impoverished neighborhood descended on this weekend flea market to try to generate a little extra income during tough Soviet times. The traditional market has lived on until today. As intriguing as this weekend flea market might be, it’s almost impossible to find without local guidance or by joining a tailor-made tour.
The Icheri Sheher Markets
Spending time in the medieval Icheri Sheher always ranks as one of the top things to do in Baku. And where wealthy tourists go, vendors follow. Stroll through the historical streets, and pass shops selling traditional Azerbaijani carpets. Other stalls hawk the typical souvenirs such as fridge magnets, keychains, and Soviet memorabilia.