Armenia is quite possibly one of the most underrated countries in the world. Rich with cultural and religious history, centuries of craftsmanship and some of the most stunning natural landscapes – it’s a country that surprises most people. That’s why we wanted to help you explore it with this ultimate travel guide to Armenia.
Start your Armenia itinerary with the capital city of Yerevan. It’s the perfect place to understand the essence of Armenia – where a mix of Eastern and Western cultures come together to create a lively city. If you have a few days to spare, we highly recommend you visit the second-largest city, Gyumri, which has amazing historic architecture. Or make your way to the mountains to see the natural beauty up close, and explore Armenia’s religious past.
Wherever you decide to go – we’re sure Armenia will surprise you. Put it on your travel list immediately, and use this travel guide to Armenia to help.
Things to Do in Armenia
For this travel guide to Armenia, we’ve based most of our recommendations around Yerevan since that’s the most accessible city to most of the world. If you’re on a short trip, you could plan to visit just Yerevan and do a day trip or two to the mountains.
1. Explore the Historic Monasteries
Armenia is said to be the world’s oldest Christian community. As a result, you’ll find centuries old churches and monasteries in the remote mountains. Some are even carved directly into the mountains, making it a spectacular sight. Both hiking enthusiasts and history or religion buffs will love the trips.
The Geghard Monastery is a must-visit. This 4th century monastery is carved out of a cliff along the Azat River Gorge in the Upper Azat Valley. You could visit it as a day trip from Yerevan, and even visit the Garni Temple which is full of striking rock formations.
Another popular spot is Khor Virap, near the Turkish border. From here you can see an incredible view of Mount Ararat in the background.
2. Get to know Armenia’s past
Armenia has quite a difficult past. And one dark chapter of its history can be found on a hilltop in the centre of Yeravam – the Museum of the Armenian Genocide. It’s a memorial that commemorates the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1922.
You can trace the past through photographs, reports and films dedicated to the 1.5 million Armenians who lost their lives in the genocide. The museum creates a deeply unsettling expereince and captures the darkness of the tragedy.
Though neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Azerbaijan don’t recognize the genocide as such, Armenia remembers the lives lost. You’ll see 12 large stone monuments around a flame, that has been burning for almost half a century.
3. Visit the Markets
Open-air markets can be found throughout Armenia. They’re the perfect place to find some souvenirs to take home, or undertsand the style and craftsmanship Armenian artists.
The most popular market among tourists is the Vernissage Market. French for ‘vanishing’, it’s Yerevan’s most famous weekend market. Here, you’ll find Armenian folk art, jewelry, exclusive handmade bronzework, leather, silver, ceramic and wood pieces. This is the best place to shop for souvenirs to take home.
GUM Market Yerevan, is a personal favorite of ours. Its the best local market in Yerevan. GUM actually takes its name from the Russian abbreviation for ‘Main Universal Store’. Here you’ll find the largest collection of dry fruits and candied fruits, pickles, fresh produce and fresh lavash made by expert hands. This is the best place to watch the whole process of lavash-making, which is even recognised by UNESCO. You can reach here by getting off at the Zoravar Andranik metro station and it is a short walk away.
4. Visit the Yerevan Cascade
The Yerevan Cascade is a beautiful landscaped area that rises from the lower part of the city to the higher levels. You can walk up the grand stone steps or take the many escalators found inside.
At the bottom of the Cascade, you’ll find bars and restaurants, and at the the top you can see exceptional views of the city. The Cascade doesn’t just look amazing from afar, it’s also culturally rich. All along the cascade, you’ll find works of art, sculptures and even museums. This is where the city comes to life, and you’ll often find locals and tourists alike exploring it.
5. Find out about Armenia’s alcohol craftsmanship
Visit the ARARAT Museum. Ararat is a brand of “cognac” or brandy that is famous in Armenia. And Armenian cognac is so hihgly regarded that Winston Churchill is said to have kept a bottle of Armenian cognac in his cupboard. The museum offers a look at the history of Armenian Brandy. You can take a tour of the distillery to understand the history and craftsmanship, and end wuth a tasting session.
It doesn’t stop at brandy though. Armenia is also well known for its wine. Visit In Vino for a wine tasting session to learn about Armenian wine and cheese.
6. Go hiking in Dilijan
Armenia is surrounded by the amazing Caucasus mountains, making it one of the most beautiful countries to hike in. There are four national parks in the country but Dilijan’s national park is the best place to go hiking in Armenia. So of course we had to include it in our travel guide to Armenia.
There are a number of trails you can take depending on your level of skill. The 24 km hike from Parz Lake to Gosh Lake is one of the most popular trails here. And the landscapes are beautiful – from beautiful flower fields, to deep green forests and clear, babbling rivers.
7. Fly on the Wings of Tatev
The Wings of Tatev is the longest non-stop double-track cable car, featured in the Guinness Book of Records. It’s 5km long and takes about 15 minutes to go one way. It connects the 9th-century Tatev Monastery with the village of Halidzor, but the gorgeous views are what makes this experience truly worth it. You can see the whole of the Vorotan Gorge on the way up and down. It’s sure to take your breath away, that is if you’re willing to make the journey. It’s about 250 kilometres from Yerevan but well worth it in our opinion!
8. Visit Lake Sevan
We saved the best for last! Lake Sevan is Armenia’s most beautiful (and most popular) lake. It’s the country’s only “beach” destination and its so huge, it can feel like the actual ocean. In summer, the Lake fills up with people on day trips, with families and friends. It’s the country’s favorite destination. And just one hour away from Yerevan – there’s no reason not to visit!
How to Get Around Armenia
Walk: Yerevan city centre is quite compact and easy to walk around. You should be able to get to most places of interest on foot.
Public Transport: Buses and minibuses are common, and fares are quite cheap at just a few hundred dram. There is also a subway/metro in Yerevan, which stops around the city centre and a few of the other places we’ve mentioned in this travel guide to Armenia.
Private Hire: Taxis are available throughout the capital. But they are more expensive than public transport. You can also download Yandex, which is sort of like Uber.
Where to Eat in Armenia
No travel guide to Armenia would be complete without mentioning the food. Oh, the food in Armenia! It’s a beautiful cross between Eastern European palettes and Mediterranean or Middle Eastern tastes. That’s honestly the best of both worlds for us. It was difficult to narrow the list down, but for this travel guide to Armenia – we picked the very top of our Yeravan faves.
- DOLMAMA: Dolmama is THE place to go to try dolma, or tolma. It’s a traditional Armenian staple of stuffed vine leaves. Dolmama was established in 1998, and to this day offers amazing, authentic dishes from eastern Armenia.
- TAPASTAN: We know what you’re thinking, Tapas are Spanish. Yes, and Tapastan is a place where Armenian cuisine meets Spanish tapas, blending both cultures and traditions in a delicious way. They also have an Anti Tapas page – which has more Armenian delicacies.
- Our Village / Mer Gyugh Restaurant: If you’d like to try Armenian dishes like how the locals would eat it, this is your place. Choose a dish from the ‘Village Cuisine’ section of the menu, which offers proper traditional food from the villages, including kerusus, vanakhash, or garni yarakh.
- Tavern Yerevan: Tavern Yerevan seems like a tourist trap, but it’s always packed with locals! The decor is old timey, with singers wearing traditional clothing and singing traditional songs. The place is often full of locals singing along.
- Gayanei Mot / At Gayane’s: This restaurant is Anthony Bourdain approved. We don’t need to say more.
- Caucasus Tavern: If you’re looking to expand your palette, here, you’ll find the best dishes from Armenia AND the neighboring countries: including khachapuri and khinkali and more! This place is also super vegetarian friendly!
What to Pack for a Trip to Armenia
What you pack for Armenia will depend on the time of year you’re visiting. In June, temperatures can go up to the 30 °C mark. The warmest month in the capital is July. August in Yerevan is also hot. It gets cooler during Autumn. Between December and February, the temperature in the capital varies between -3 °C and 5 °C. In February, however, there are often warmer days with 13-18 °C. For this travel guide to Armenia, we’ve picked some items that you can use at any time of the year.
- Good walking shoes
- A great backpack: for hiking trips or walking around the city
- Rain Jacket or any light water resistant jacket in case of unexpected showers
- Sandals: for trips to Lake Sevan or any nature hikes. We love these and these
- A compact camera: To take beautiful pictures or vlog!
- Money Belt: For some cash, or your valuables like your passport – keep them in a money belt under your clothes, especially if you don’t feel comfortable leaving them at your stay
- A reusable tote: Great for the markets, or a day of shopping around. We love these compact ones!
- Packing cubes: this will make your packing a lot easier, and save you a ton of space in your bag, especially if you have onward journeys after Amsterdam
Where to Stay in Armenia
When staying in Yerevan, Armenia, it’s important to stay close to the city centre so you can walk to most places. The places we’ve listed in this travel guide to Armenia are all centrally located, so you don’t have to worry about it!
For Solo Travelers:
- Bridge House Yerevan Armenia: many travelers will tell you how much they love this place! The hosts are amazing.
- Highland Hostel: they have really clean mixed dorms and a budget-friendly private double room.
- Ibis Yerevan Center: if you prefer hotels, this is a great option. A short walk away from major Yerevan attractions too, including Republic Square and the Armenian Opera and Ballet Theatre.
For Couples or Groups:
- Radisson Blu Yerevan: The hotel combines both traditional Armenian with modern design. There’s even an indoor pool, sauna, and steam room!
- Republica Hotel Yerevan: in the very centre of Yerevan. It’s a great hotel (smoke-free!) that brings together Armenian hospitality and world-class standards. The interior design is amazing.
- Ani Plaza Hotel: Located in the business and entertainment district of Yerevan, close to major landmarks including the Cascades. They even have an indoor swimming pool, gym and sauna.
Depending on your citizenship, you may need a visa to enter Armenia. You can check the specific requirements for your country here. In this travel guide to Armenia, we’ve broken down the basics of getting an Armenia visa, but do check the government websites for the most up to date and accurate information.
Those with passports from visa exempted countries can stay in Armenia for up to 180 days within a year. The rest have to get an Armenian visa either on arrival, online, or through an embassy.
- On arrival: Most nationalities can apply for an Armenia visa on arrival at one of the airports or land border checkpoints in Armenia.
- Online: Applications can be made on the Armenia eVisa portal and you can get an eVisa prior to departure.
- At one of the embassies or consulates of Armenia abroad. If you are not eligible for a visa on arrival, you must apply at one of the diplomatic missions of Armenia abroad. The Armenian embassy nearest to you may be in a different city
The Armenia Visa on Arrival costs AMD 15,000 (around USD 31). With an Armenian single-entry eVisa or visa on arrival, visitors can stay for 21 days or 120 days depending on the status of the visa.
How to Get to Armenia
There are two main international airports in Armenia. Zvartnots is the main airport, located 15 kilometres from the capital city, Yerevan. The second airport, Shirak, serves the north of Armenia. Over 50 cities worldwide have regular and direct flights to Yerevan.
Driving to Armenia from Georgia
Armenia is also easily accessible by either train or bus from Georgia. Or you can book a private KiwiTaxi which offers transfer services to loads of destinations.
So there you have it! More reasons to visit Armenia. We hope this travel guide to Armenia has inspired you to make the trip! It will be amazing.