ENTRY TO AZERBAIJAN
All visitors to Azerbaijan over the age of 18 are required to present a Covid-19 passport confirming complete vaccination against immunity gained by recovering from Covid at the border control in Azerbaijan and a document confirming a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of arrival.
An EU Digital Covid Cert will be sufficient for the purposes of proving vaccination. Passengers between the ages of 1 and 18 must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before the flight.
Azerbaijan uses the Manat, with the current exchange rate roughly 1.97 Manat to the Euro.
Currency can be exchanged at the airport, although the rate will not be favourable or at the many local bureau de changes. Cards are also widely accepted although you may face a surcharge for using them.
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
The Baku Olympic Stadium, built in 2015, has a capacity of 69,870 and hosted the 2019 Europa League final along with four games in Euro 2020.
Located roughly 11km from the Old City along the shores of Lake Boyukshor, taxis, buses or the metro will all get you to the stadium.
The Metro station 28 May in the city centre will take you to the Koroglu stop via the red or green line and from there it's a 15-minute walk to the stadium.
The number 11 bus which leaves from outside the 28 May metro station also travels to the stadium. Go in the direction of Yeni Akhmedli and get off at the Koroglu stop, from there it’s a 15 minute walk.
Taxis in the style of London cabs will be metred but with other private hire vehicles you may need to agree on a price before getting in. Ride hailing apps such as Uber are widely used.
With a stunning contrast of the medieval Old City against a modern trio of sky-scrappers, The Flame Towers, Baku combines a historic heart with much more modern architecture.
Fuelled by the oil industry, the more modern developments sit aside buildings such as the Baku Fortress which dates back to the 1100s.
The Old City will be the first stop for many people and is full of narrow meandering streets, cobblestone pavements and history on every corner.
Medieval era buildings such as the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and the Maiden Tower are the source of many local legends and tales and are beautifully preserved constructions that are hundreds of years old.
The Baku Boulevard is a pleasant and popular hotspot which stretches along the coast of the Caspian Sea for a couple of kilometres and dotted with ice-cream, tea and souvenir vendors.
One thing to be wary of the on the Baku Boulevard however is the need for a filming permit if you’re doing any kind of TV work as RTÉ’s Dave Kelly discovered in 2019 while attempting to record a pre-match video for Dundalk’s Champions League qualifier with Qarabag.
FOOD AND DRINK
Combining elements of Turkish and Asian food, Azerbaijan cuisine is widely varied but travelling Irish soccer fans can rest assured that kebabs are very much the king when it comes to street food.
There are many street food tours walks that will be more that happy to bring to the best spots for a post-match feed.
Qutabs are also a local specialty and the light pancake turnovers and typically filled with meat and vegetables. Qaynana Restaurant at the Double Gate entrance to the Old City is among the best places to sample them.
Nizami Street in Baku’s main shopping street and has dozens of decert dinning options along its 3km length.
Anyone looking for a pre-match beer will have plenty of options around the Nizami Street area with the obligatory Irish bars Finnegans and O’Malleys battling it out for tourist pub supremacy with more anglo-centric hostelries the William Shakespeare Pub and the London Pub.
Anyone looking for a less theme-pub experience could check out ROOM Fine Art Wine & Dine, serving up tipples from local winemaking company, Savalan.
Despite being nominally a Shiite Muslim nation, Russian influence has left a big mark and vodka or arag as it's called locally is very popular. The Pushkin Pub and Bunker Mixology Bar are among the better places to sample the local hooch.
Follow Azerbaijan v Republic of Ireland via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player, or listen to commentary on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.