Armenia Guide and Travel Tips

Armenia Guide and Travel Tips

Armenia is a beautiful and hospitable country of the South Caucasus. It is an attractive travel destination which is gaining more and more popularity due to its impressive mountainous landscapes, ancient Christian sights, distinctive national cuisine and genuine hospitality. The tourist industry of the country is rapidly developing offering more and more interesting options for tourists like religious, gastronomic, hiking and trekking tours to Armenia. Moreover, due to its landscapes, the country is becoming an excellent place for extreme cycling and off-road tours to Armenia.

So, if you’re planning a visit to this colorful and welcoming country here is a brief guide with some useful information.

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Practical Information

Language. The official language in the country is Armenian which composes an independent branch in the Indo-European family. Armenians have their own script created in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots – medieval linguist, theologian, and statesman. The Armenian alphabet has 39 letters.

Religion. Most of Armenians follow the Armenian Apostolic Church which is a part of Oriental Orthodoxy and is one of the most ancient Christian Communities. Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD and became the first official Christian country in the world.
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Costs

Accommodation. In Armenia, both budget travelers and those who prefer luxury travel can find some suitable options for an overnight. For a budget stay, you can choose among the number of hostels which are abundant in the capital and other big towns. The lowest cost starts from about AMD5000 ($10.5) per night. For comparing rates you can visit booking.com and airbnb.com

For a luxury stay the country offers a good choice of four and five-star hotels. The average price per person in such hotels will vary from AMD 55000 ($117, low season) up to AMD70000 ($150, high season). In the capital you will find such world-known hotel brands as Marriott, Royal Tulip, Double Tree by Hilton, Radisson Blu.

Food. Armenia has all the necessary conditions for cultivating great fruits and vegetables. In high season, in summer and autumn, when the shelves are full of bright and delicious fruitsand vegetables the aprox. prices will be following: apples -AMD200-600 ($0,4-1,2), apricots- AMD300-1000 ( $0,6-2), peaches – AMD250-1100 ($0,5-2,3), melons and watermelons- AMD100-200 ($0,2-0,4), potatoes – AMD150-500 ($0,3-1).

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is full of various cozy cafes and restaurants where an average breakfast/ lunch will cost from AMD 2000 to 6000 ($4 -10) and dinner ($10-20).

Transport. All the popular sights in Yerevan are concentrated at the city center so you will be able to get around by foot. But if your hotel is far from the center you can take a taxi where the minimal fare is AMD600 ($1,2) and each km adds AMD100 or use the public transport and get to the center by mini bus or bus. The fare is AMD100 ($0,2). You won’t need to buy any tickets, just pass the money to the driver before taking off.

The other way to get to the city center is by Yerevan underground. To pay the fare you’ll need to buy a token which costs AMD100 ($0,2).

 

Armenian-political-map

Map source

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Regions and sights

Armenia is divided into 10 provinces. In this article, we’d like to tell you about some of the most beautiful of them and highlight the most unique and attractive sights.
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Armavir Province

Armavir Province is located in the western part of Armenia. The largest town here is Vagarshapat which is an important religious place for all Armenians. Annually it attracts a large number of tourists and there is a good reason for that. Here was built the first Christian church in the world – Echmiadzin Cathedral.

Echmiadzin Cathedral

Echmiadzin Cathedral

The Cathedral was built in 301 AD just after the adoption of Christianity. According to the legend, Gregory the Illuminator, the founder of Christianity in Armenia, had a dream in which God showed him an exact place for the construction of the first church. Thus was founded the religious center of all Armenians. The church keeps a number of important Christian relics, among which is the spear of Longinus. The cathedral is listed as UNESCO world heritage object.

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Ruins of Zvartnots

Zvartnots

At a distance of 5 km from Echmiadzin Cathedral, there is another impressive architectural masterpiece –Zvartnots temple. The temple itself was built in the 7th century and had majestic and unusual for that time architecture. However, after 300 years the temple was destroyed by an earthquake. Nowadays we can contemplate only its ruins which were found in 1901 in the course of archaeological excavations. Zvartnots is also under the UNESCO protection.

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Gegharkunik Province

At the eastern part of Armenia, there is the largest province of the country – Gegharkunik. Here is located the gem of Armenian nature – an amazing Lake Sevan or “Geghama Sea” as the locals call it due to the huge size.

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sevan

Sevan Lake

Sevan is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world located at an altitude of 1900 m above sea level. The territory around the lake is an excellent place for a pleasant rest. Here the guests will find various hotels and cottages, those who wish will find excellent opportunities for an active past time. Sevan isalso famous for its delicious fish iskhan (the local trout) which can be ordered in any local restaurant. Another no less popular local dish is a kebab of crayfish.

Sevan-trout

Sevanavank

You can combine your holidays at Lake Sevan with a visit to local historical attractions. On Sevan peninsula, there is a small monastery Sevanavank built in the 4th century. It is located on a hill from the top of which opens a fascinating view of the lake and mountainous surroundings. At the territory of the monastery, you will see many unique khachkars (cross-stones).

Sevanavank

 

Kotayk Province

Geghard

Geghard Monastery is one of the most popular sights of Kotayk Province. It is unique because of its rocky architecture: half of the monastery is carved in the adjacent mountains. Geghard was founded in the 4th century and was first celled «Ayrivank» which is translated as «cave monastery». Being destroyed several times the monastery got its modern look in the 13th century and was renamed into Geghardavank which is translated as “the monastery of spear”. The fact is that for many years it kept the spear of Longinus which was transferred to Echmiadzin Cathedral.

geghard

Geghard Monastery

 

Syunik Province

Tatev

Tatev Monastery – the gem of Armenian medieval architecture – is located on a large plateau overlooking the deep gorge (see the photo at the top of this page). You can get to the monastery by the cable car “Wings of Tatev” which was constructed in 2010 and became the longest in the world. Due to that, it was recorded in Guinness Book of Records. It will take about four hours to get to the monastery from Yerevan but it really worth the effort!

Tatev monaster2

 

Aragatsotn Province

Aragatsotn province is located in the western part of the country. Its name is translated as “the slope of Aragats Mount”. Aragats is an amazing must-visit destination which will be discussed below.

aragatsotn province

 

Aragats

Aragats is a stratovolcano, the northern peak of which is the highest point of modern Armenia. Climbing the Mount Aragats is very popular among lovers of trekking. Beginners are advised to conquer the southern summit which is the lowest one (3879 m). The highest is the northern summit with the height of 4090 m. For its conquest you’ll need some preliminary preparation. We recommend combining your journey to Aragats with some sightseeing. At the foot of the mountain at an altitude of 2300 m there is an ancient fortress of the 7th century – Amberd. You can explore its ruins and enjoy the contact with the ancient ages.

Aragats

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Tavush Province

Tavush region is located in the north-east of Armenia and is known for its lush forests, mountains and beautiful alpine meadows. Each summer the locals and tourists come here to take a break from the hustle and relax in the lap of nature. One of the most attractive resort towns in the area is Dilijan.

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dilijan

Dilijan

Dilijan is famous for its velvet wooded forests and fresh healthy air filled with pine aromas. Many compare its nature with Swiss beauties. Here you can seclude yourself, improve your health, breathe the clean mountain air and enjoy the crystal clear water from the natural mineral springs. Holidaymakers can choose among good sanatoriums and hotels. The town is surrounded by the Dilijan National Reserve, the territory of which is great for trekking and hiking. We recommend taking the delightful trekking route that originates at Lake Parz (20 min. drive from Dilijan). Follow the path from the lake which leads to Gosh village. At the end of the way, you can visit the medieval monastery of Goshavank and plunge into the ancient history. The route length is 8 km.

 

Vayotsdzor Province

Jermuk

Jermuk is another attractive resortof Armenia, which is famous for its curative mineral springs. It is said that the treatment composition of the local water is similar to those of Karlovy Vary in Czech Republic. The local water contains chlorine, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, fluorine, bromine, magnesium and etc. Once in Jermuk be sure to visit the Gallery of Water (near the sanatorium “Jermuk Armenia”) where you can try the water of different temperatures. Another attraction of the town is powerful Jermuk Waterfall located at altitudes of 1700-2200 meters. It is really an impressive sight!

jermuk waterfall

 

Feel free to comment with recommendations, tips, or your stories on Armenia. Any other highlights that we may have missed? I’m always looking to supplement/update the above and welcome all constructive feedback!

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Comments

  1. I already have heard only about amazing mount Ararats. But i didn’t think that there such many wonderful places in Armenia. And if in Armenia such cheep accommodation I will visit this country. I will do it))

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      We’ve been to a lot of popular places – Italy, Croatia, Spain – but less known destinations like Armenia (and Serbia where we were just a few months ago) really offer unique experiences and adventures. The more we travel, the more we’re finding destinations like this appealing. I hope you do go one day Nick 🙂
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Armenia Travel GuideMy Profile

  2. I’d love to go to Armenia! Few tourists, good food, spectacular geography, and not expensive. I have a friend who went and loved the hiking.

  3. Grigory Motilov says:

    Armenia is such a awesome place. Me and my family visited Yerevan last yeat and I can strongly recommend to visit this comtry for everybody who looking for some new experiance and emotions

  4. We loved Armenia. We rented a car and just drove around the country, stopping in different cities for a day or two – breathtaking views, welcoming people, and the unforgettable food and wine, god! It was one of our most memorable vacations. Definitely coming back as soon as we possibly can.

  5. Such amazing and picturesque places! I visited Armenia in the last summer, in order to fully enjoy the impressions of this beautiful country. I’m in love with the sights of Armenia and definitely recommend everyone to visit them as much as possible.

  6. I can talk about Armenia for hours, so I’ll try not write an essay here 😉 It’s by far my favourite destination so far and I will go back no matter what. The landscapes are incredible and the people are extremely hospitable and nice, almost anywhere we went we made some new friends. The food is to die for (and very cheap), particularly fresh fruit, cheese, yogurt and bread. For such a mountainous country it’s surprisingly easy to find fresh and very tasty fish. Oghi (Armenian moonshine) is potent as hell but doesn’t give a hangover, and spring water is so delicious there’s no need to buy bottled water at all. If one is willing to swap comfort for adventure, I highly recommend travelling by minibuses (marshrutkas) – we met great people and heard some incredible stories this way. If you happen to be in the village of Byurakan (at the foot of Mount Aragats) and fancy a tour of the area, ask for Stiepan (he owns a grocery store right next to the bus station), he’ll be more than happy to drive you around in his battered old truck (an adventure in itself) and show you sights such as Amberd fortress and the Armenian Alphabet Monument. He also makes mean oghi and sells fresh fish he keeps in his swimming pool. A couple of other places that I can highly recommend are Garni Gorge with fantastic basalt formations and plenty of wildlife, and hot springs in Vorotan Canyon (right under the Wings of Tatev), though beware of some dodgy types claiming to be guides in the latter.

    I’ll stop here before I take over your post 😉
    Agnieszka (Wandering Owls) recently posted…16 things you always wanted to know about Iceland (but were afraid to ask)My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Great comment Agnieszka, really appreciate the feedback and tips. It sounds like you had a fantastic time. The Oghi sounds great, I’m a big fan of moonshine especially when there’s no headache involved 🙂 And fish from a swimming pool? Love hearing stories like that.
      Wow, your favorite destination?! And you’ve been to a lot of places. That’s really high praise.

      Ps. I’m linking your post on Armenia. Some great photos! http://www.wanderingowls.com/2015/09/a-trip-down-memory-lane-armenia-2014/

  7. Armenia has not been on my travel radar, since I had no idea it has so much to offer. It looks beautiful, sounds like the food is delicious and the prices are amazing, I definitely have to add it to my wish list.
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…A little dose of Dorset – with a dash of Stonehenge.My Profile

  8. We have to confess that, like most people, we don’t know too much about Armenia – so this guide is an interesting read! We’re always keen to explore UNESCO sites – Zvartnots looks like a Greco-Roman ruin. Thanks for educating us a little :-).
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Rocky Mountain High! 20 stunning photos of Banff, Jasper and Lake LouiseMy Profile

  9. Amanda Woods says:

    I dreamt a lot about visiting Armenia. And this spring my dream finally came true. My aunt knows Armenian language, so I asked her to visit this beautiful country with me. It’s really impressive, especially Yerevan. The prices are quite okey for us there and the landscapes are wonderful. We really enjoyed our voyage.

  10. This place is close to my heart. I have been every year since 2003, with another visit coming this May. The is a great overview and want to echo all of the previous comments, a great place to visit! Very diverse country, good price point, great people. Thanks for sharing!
    Gaz recently posted…Fantastic Faces Of MyanmarMy Profile

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