The first town you’ll reach on arrival from Georgia (via Lagodekhi), Balakən is essentially a 3km-long ribbon following Heydar Əliyev pr east–west. Two blocks south of the western end, Balakən’s 19th-century mosque has a unique brick minaret that’s free to climb if you can track down the mullah for the key. Around 1km east along Heydar Əliyev pr, the central roundabout is marked by a huge flagpole. The bazaar is just to the south, while a large manicured park leads north past the snazzy new Hotel Qubek to a merrily waving statue of Heydar Əliyev on a hillock. You could save the 15-minute walk by using the cable car, assuming somebody fixes it.
The bus station is around 1.5km further east, 500m before the clean little AzPetrol Motel at the far end of the city marshrutka route.