Armenia Travel

Armenia Travel

Despite its small size, Armenia is an ancient land where unmatchable history blends with a magnificent landscape. Sharp mountain ridges rise over towns. Steep, curvy roads lead to medieval monasteries and forgotten Silk Road caravanserais. An alluring flavor of oriental spices wafts over colorful bazaars. Here and there, you can catch a glimpse of exquisite handmade carpets. Evening air carries the sound of brandy-or-wine-full glasses clinking over long, elaborate toasts. Come and listen to the echoes of the glorious past while enjoying the charms of modernity.

In this Armenia Travel Guide, we will do our best to assist you in learning more about this stunning destination. If you are looking only for practical information, try our Armenia Travel Tips. Inside, you will find useful details that will help you prepare for your upcoming journey.

Your Guide to Armenia by a Local Travel Expert

Contents

Is Armenia Worth Visiting?

Out of hundreds of holiday destinations, why should you choose Armenia, a tiny, obscure country in South Caucasus?

  • Armenia is a land of alpine landscapes and unspoiled nature. The Lesser Caucasus mountain range makes up for almost the entire territory of Armenia. Eighty-seven percent of the country lies between 1000 and 3000 meters above sea level. The geological structure makes the region a paradise to anyone who loves sky-piercing peaks, spectral wooden valleys, and icy streams.
  • Armenia is a country of ancient history echoing in Hellenistic temple ruins and walls of medieval monasteries. You can sense its hue in the flavor of brandy and the woven fabric of Armenian carpets. Contemporary Armenia is equally alluring. An avid traveler will find its vibrant culture and alpine landscapes that form a perfect getaway for endless adventures.
  • Armenia is an affordable destination for thrifty travelers seeking all-inclusive guided tours. Armenia travel costs a fraction of what you would have to pay for a similar Europe or North America experience. Transport is inexpensive and meals affordable. There is also a growing selection of hotels and guest houses opening their doors to independent travelers.
  • Armenia is off the beaten track and sure to satisfy your need to explore the unknown. You will not have battle crowds of tourists. Occasionally, you may find yourself the lone visitor at some of Armenia's most breath-taking sites.

Long story short – now is the perfect time to travel to Armenia. Don't miss your chance to explore this hidden gem of a country and its thriving culture.

Your Dream Vacation

Explore Armenian culture with its mountain hikes, thick-walled monasteries, and delectable cuisine. Stroll along wide, specious alleys of Yerevan and jump into the cold water of Lake Sevan. Craft your tour to learn more about Armenia's history and culture.

Our Armenia tourism packages are diverse. We offer both quick jaunts to the major sites and extensive multi-country expeditions. Whether you are into history, outdoor adventures, or cultural immersion, chances are we have exactly what you're looking for. And if not, drop us an e-mail. We will immediately start working on an Armenia travel itinerary tailored to your needs and interests.

Top Historical Experiences:
Top Cultural Experiences:
Top Outdoor Experiences:

Do You Need a Visa to Come to Armenia?

Armenia visa policy is very straightforward and allows over 60 nations to enter the country visa-free for up to 6 months.

Passport holders of another 60 plus countries are eligible to apply for a visa-on-arrival. It allows them to stay in the country from 21 days up to 4 months, depending on their country of origin. Armenia also offers e-visa services and visas available at the Armenian embassies across the World.

Is Armenia Safe for Travel?

Armenians are a hospitable nation, always happy to welcome travelers in their country. Of course, as in any other country, scam and petty theft occasionally happen. Thus, travelers should remember to maintain basic precautions. Do not flash large amounts of cash and leave passports and valuables in a safe place. Make sure to book an official taxi, particularly when traveling from the Zvartnots International Airport. It is not unheard of scammers approaching unaware tourists and offering a taxi service only to request a triple of a regular fare.

Please be aware that Armenia and Azerbaijan have an unsolved territorial dispute. If you travel to Nagorno-Karabakh region, you will be banned from entering Azerbaijan.

Armenia Travel Seasons

Situated at the crossroad of Europe and Asia, Armenia boasts four distinctive seasons. Spring and autumn are the best to travel weather-wise. But winter and summer also have their perks that make the country a worthy travel destination year-round.

Winter is a perfect time for ski enthusiasts who would like to try a more off the beaten track destinations such as Tsakhadzor. It is a joyful season hued with New Year and Christmas. Besides, since fewer tourists arrive in winter, you can count on cheaper accommodations and reduced Armenia travel costs.

Autumn: The harvest season brings gentle weather and vivid colors. Bazaars burst with pomegranates and grapes, while locals engage in making young wine and brandy. This period of festivals brings a second wave of tourists to this marvelous land.

Spring: The gorgeous season brings pleasant weather, green pastures, and flowers in full bloom. Although you may get some rain, most days are sunny and warm, making April and May ideal for shorter hikes and excursions.

Summers in Armenia are hot and long. They bring juicy fruits and vegetables of every kind. Locals and foreigners alike escape the city walls to explore high mountain valleys or bath in the cold waters of Lake Sevan.

Choose Your Transport

Landlocked Armenia is surprisingly accessible. Direct flights connect Yerevan with Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Rome, Warsaw, Tbilisi, and many other large cities. Low-cost airlines such as Ryanair or Wizz Air offer both permanent and seasonal summer connections. Railway links Yerevan with Tbilisi. The train has typical soviet-style carriages. But it is very affordable and allows you to travel at night, leaving more time for sightseeing.

Crossing the border is usually fast and effortless because of Armenia's relaxed visa policy. If you feel adventurous, once you reach Yerevan, you can try to explore the country with domestic trains and a shared taxi service called marshrutka. But if you prefer more individual arrangements or wish to avoid extra hassle, a drive in a private car will allow you to enjoy Armenia's charms in comfort and with little effort.

Armenia Travel Map

Use the Armenia Map to locate the country's prominent landmarks and learn what they have to offer.

Armenia Travel Map

 

How Many Days Do You Need in Armenia?

Every trip to Armenia is a unique experience created of dreams, interests, and schedules of individual travelers. You may already have your ideal itinerary in mind. But if you are still looking for more ideas, the guideline should be a good starting point for your Armenia Travel plans:

  • Yerevan – Armenia's capital city, famous for its pinkish color of the volcanic tuff used to build its center. It is extremely welcoming with broad alleys, large parks, and fascinating historical sites.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: The Great Cascade, Yerevan Brandy Factory, Armenian Genocide Museum, History Museum
    How to get off the beaten path: Sample local delicacies at GUM Bazaar or explore the Matenadaran collection of manuscripts and documents related to history of Armenia.
     
  • Ararat – The province is named after the biblical Mount Ararat. Bordered by Turkey from the west and Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic from the south, the region offers a fascinating mix of cultures and historical sites. In addition, you can spot here the snow-capped peak of Ararat Mountain, now located in Turkey.
    How long should I stay? 1 day
    Major Sites: Khor Virap Monastery
    How to get off the beaten path: Hike in the spectacular Angel Canyon or explore Khosrov Forest State Reserve.
     
  • Armavir – Bookended by Mount Aragats and Mount Ararat, this historical region is among the most fertile parts of Armenia. Once a robust political center, Armavir remains the most densely populated area of the country.
    How long should I stay? 1 day
    Major Sites: Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Zvartnots Temple
    How to get off the beaten path: Wander the ruins of the ancient Armavir fortress or stop at Sardarapat Complex dedicated to Armenia's victory in the 1918 war with Turkey.
     
  • Gegharkunik – This landlocked region of Armenia is home to Lake Sevan, the Caucasus's largest water body.
    How long should I stay? 1-2 days
    Major Sites: Lake Sevan, Sevanavank Monastery, Airivank Monastery, Noraduz Cemetery
    How to get off the beaten path: Visit ruins of the Orbelian Caravanserai or hike to the extinct Armagan Volcano (2829 m).
     
  • Kotayk – Located in the northeastern part of the Ararat plain, Kotayk offers a combination of wonderful landscape and amazing historical sites. Easily reachable from Yerevan, the region is one of the most important tourist hubs in Armenia.
    How long should I stay? 1 day
    Major Sites: Garni Temple, Geghard Monastery
    How to get off the beaten path: Walk down the Garni Gorge to reach the monumental rock formation called the Symphony of Stones, or enjoy winter sports in Tsakhkadzor ski resort.
     
  • Lori – Home to four large rivers, Lori is abundant in vegetation. Once an independent kingdom, the region houses one of the three Armenian UNESCO World Heritage sites.
    How long should I stay? 1 day
    Major Sites: Haghpat Monastery, Sanahin Monastery
    How to get off the beaten path: Stop at 6th-century Odzun Monastery or follow the steps of Alexander Pushkin and visit the Pushkin Pass, where the famous poet saw in 1828 the funeral convoy of another famous Russian poet and diplomat, Alexander Griboyedov.
     
  • Tavush – This beautiful region is well-known for its alpine landscape. Most of its territory lies 800-1,000 m above sea level boasting rocky hillsides covered with green meadows.
    How long should I stay? 1-3 days
    Major Sites: Goshavank Monastery, Dilijan National Park
    How to get off the beaten path: Explore the 10th-13th century Haghartsin Monastery.
     
  • Vayots Dzor – The least populated region of the country is famous for steep mountain gorges and rapid rivers. There are practically no woods here, but locals make the best honey in the country. It's also home to the renowned Areni Winery.
    How long should I stay? 1 day
    Major Sites: Noravank Monastery, Areni Cave
    How to get off the beaten path: Enjoy relaxing spa treatment in a hot spring resort in Jermuk.
     
  • Syunik – Located at the border with Armenia, Syunik is a motherland of extremes. The highest point of the region is Mount Kaputdzhukh rising to 3,906 m. Its lowest section, located in the Megrin Gorge, declines to barely 375 m. You will not find here any plains. Instead, the land bewitches with impassable canyons, alpine meadows, thick forests, rapid rivers.
    How long should I stay? 2 days
    Major Sites: Tatev Monastery, Goris
    How to get off the beaten path: Stop at Armenian Stonehedge, Zorats Karer, or visit the ancient cave settlement of Khndzoresk.

At Your Service

Whether you'd like to join a group tour, arrange a short day trip, or get some extra help with in-country travel arrangements, we would love to help you make your trip as smooth and memorable as possible. Our Armenia travel services include:

Train Ticket Concierge Service
Local train ticket purchases.
Hotel Reservations
Selection and reservation of Armenia hotels.
Join a Group Tour
See our upcoming small-group tours with guaranteed departure dates.
Plan a Private Tour
Check our Armenia private tour packages or contact us to design a personalized Armenia travel itinerary.

Armenia Holidays and Festivals

Visiting Armenia during a festival is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in its long history and rich culture. Come and lose yourself in the graceful music, the irresistible scents of home-cooked delights, and the kind-hearted embrace of the hospitable Armenians.

New Year (31st December - 4th January) – Armenians mark the New Year with joyful mood, lavish holiday decorations, and social and cultural events. It is a fascinating mix of religious and secular activities that bring people together through a series of mutual visits. New Year is followed by Armenian Christmas (5th - 6th January), making January a month of festivities.
Best place to celebrate: Yerevan

Yerevan Wine Days (May) – The celebration of wine brings together leading local wineries and restaurants. Each day has a unique program during which you can try Armenian delicacies. Live music and street performances accompany the feast.
Best place to celebrate: Yerevan

Dolma Festival (20th May) – Every year a small village of Hnaberd celebrates the Armenian national dish called dolma. The delicious meal comprises minced meat wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves or stuffed into a vegetable such as a tomato or pepper. The feast in Hnaberd allows you to try every variety and become dolma's expert.
Best place to celebrate: Hnaberd, Aragatsnotn Province

Day of the First Republic (28th May) – This relatively new festival was established in the early 1990s to commemorate the 1918 proclamation of the independent Republic of Armenia. Expect streets decorated with national flags, cultural events, and military parades. There is also a splendid firework show taking place in the evening on the Republic Square in Yerevan.
Best place to celebrate: Yerevan

Mulberry Festival (7th July) – Every summer Armenians gather to celebrate and sample national and local delicacies made of mulberry. Participants can try mulberry vodka, mulberry molasses, and jams, and even enjoy mulberry master classes.
Best place to celebrate: Karahunj village, 4 km from Goris, Syunik Province

Taraz Festival (August) – This festival is a perfect event for those interested in traditional Armenian costumes, taraz. Some of the best Armenian designers come together to present their tradition-inspired collections. You also get to enjoy traditional music and dance performances.
Best place to celebrate: Yerevan

If you would like to learn more about Armenian festivities, check out our list of national holidays and festivals.

Dos and Don’ts in Armenia

Our personal Armenia travel advice:

DO:
  • Cover your body when entering the church. Make sure to wear long trousers or a skirt and cover your arms and head with a scarf if you are a woman.
  • Learn several basic expressions in Armenian and always greet people with "Barev Dzes".
  • Show respect for the elderly by letting them take your seat on a bus or allowing them in front of you in the queue.
  • Bring a small gift such as flowers or chocolates if you are invited to someone's home.
  • Leave Yerevan and explore the countryside.
  • Try Armenian brandy.
  • Bargain when purchasing goods at a local market.
DON’T:
  • Behave loudly around the church or enter religious institutions in revealing clothes.
  • Discuss politics, particularly Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh or Turkey.
  • Smoke until you are sure you are in a place where it's allowed.
  • Forget to carry some cash (Armenian currency) on you. Outside of Yerevan, it may not be easy to find ATMs.
  • Forget to tip when dining in a restaurant. Some Armenian staff is compensated only with trips.
  • Hesitate to ask for help or interact with local people. Armenians are very friendly and almost always happy to chat with you!

What to Eat While in Armenia

Here is our list of top dishes to try during Armenia travel:

  • Khorovats – Armenian barbeque made of grilled pork, lamb, or beef. The meal comes with minimal seasoning as Armenians believe spices should not detract from the meat's natural flavor.
  • Kyufta – Minced, lightly spiced meatballs cooked in broth. The local twist comes with a hint of pomegranate molasses, and brown sugar occasionally added to the dish.
  • Dolma – This popular Caucasian dish consists of minced meat, onion, rice, and spices wrapped up in a vine or cabbage leaf. Armenians like to have fun with ingredients, so expect to taste lentils, tomatoes, eggplant, mint, or onions.
  • Ishkhan – A delectable fish dish made of trout species from Lake Sevan. Armenians cook ishkhan in several different ways. The most famous one involves cooking the fish in wine, stuffing with hazelnuts or apricots, and seasoning it with basil, tarragon, chives, and pepper.
  • Spas – A delectable yoghurt-based soup that can be served both hot and cold. Comes with hulled wheat or rice. An egg or egg yolk is added to the mix to prevent curdling of the yoghurt. Greens and herbs are occasionally used as garnish.
  • Ghapama – This delicacy is made of scooped up pumpkin filled with rice and dried fruits such as apples, prunes, or apricots. The dish is then baked and cut into pieces to serve.
  • Harrisa – The thick porridge is made by slowly simmering dried or roasted cracked wheat (korkot) and lamb or chicken meat pieces. Harissa is traditionally served during Easter accompanied by pickled vegetables and lavash flatbread.
  • Khash – A dish for thrill-seekers. Khash is a winter soup made of boiled cow limbs and stomach. The meal is served hot sometimes along with pickles or lavash. Serves as local hangover treatment.
  • Gata – This traditional sweet pastry had many local variations. Gata is baked in the oven and stuffed with a variety of feelings, most often nuts. It's frequently eaten over a cup of surj - strong local coffee.
  • Sujukh – A delightfully healthy snack made of grape must, nuts, and flour. Almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts are threaded onto a string and dipped into a thickened grape juice. They are then left to dry in a shape resembling a sausage. Occasionally chocolate or resins are also added to the mix.

Check out our Armenia Travel Guidebook for Food for an in-depth look at Armenian National Dishes

Armenian Brandy

Armenian tradition of distilling is possibly one of the oldest in the World. Yet, the World heard about it quite late. In the late 19th century, Armenians took advantage of French cognac's popularity and began to export their brandy to Russia. They labeled it as “Konyak”, the Russian spelling for cognac.

In 1900, a producer of Armenian brandy, Nikolay Shustov, won in blind judging at the Universal Expo of Paris. The jury awarded him the right to call his product “cognac” legally. Unfortunately, this privilege was revoked after World War II.

Over time, Shustov's business evolved into the country's largest brandy producer. The Soviets nationalized the company. In the 1940s, the venture changed its name to Yerevan Ararat Wine - Brandy Factory. It was then divided into the Yerevan Ararat Brandy Company and the Yerevan Brandy Factory.

Ararat Cognac Factory, Armenia Travel
Ararat Cognac Factory, Armenia Travel
Ararat Cognac Factory, Armenia Travel

In 1999, the Armenian government sold the Yerevan Brandy Company to a French distiller Pernod Ricard. Today, the business is also commonly known as “Ararat” after its most famous brand. Meanwhile, Yerevan Ararat Brandy Factory went on to become the property of Multi Group Concern. It currently produces another famous Armenian brandy brand, Noy, under the official name of Yerevan Ararat-Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory.

An undocumented anecdote claims that Winston Churchill, with delight, drank Armenian brandy during the Yalta Conference offered him by Joseph Stalin. The Soviet leader reportedly arranged later on 400 bottles to be shipped to Churchill annually.

Ararat has also been said to be the drink of choice of Agatha Christie and Frank Sinatra.

Today Ararat remains one of the most popular export products of Armenia, ranking fourth among the country's most important export products. If you would like to learn more about Armenian brandy, check our guide to Yerevan Ararat Brandy Factory.

Speak the Language

Knowing a few basic phrases in the local language is the best way to make local friends and connections during your travels in Armenia.

Here are some phrases that may come in handy:

Phrase Armenian
Hello Barev dzes
How are you? Inchpes ek?
Good-Bye Tstesutyun
Thank You! Shnorhakalutyun or Mersi (on French manner)
You are welcome Khndrem
Yes/No Ayo / Voch
Where is the... (airport)? Vortegh e odanavakayany
How much is it? Inch arzhe?
My name is… Anun's... e
I don’t understand Chem haskanum
Excuse me Neroghutyun
Please Khntrem
Nice to meet you Shat hacheli e
Cheers! Kenaced

Virtual Travel Guide to Armenia: Further Reading

Did You Know That...

Armenia may be terra incognita to many, but the country's historical and cultural influence spreads far and wide:

  • In 2011, archaeologists discovered the World's oldest winery in a cave near the village of Areni.
  • The World's oldest shoe comes from the same excavation.
  • Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as the state religion in 301.
  • Armenia is the ancestral homeland of Cher, Andre Agassi, Serj Tankian, Charles Aznavour and the Kardashians.
  • Yerevan is one of the World's oldest, continuously inhabited cities. It came to life in 782 BC, 29 years before Rome.
  • In 1969, Armenian director Sergei Parajanov made an art film titled “The Color of Pomegranates”. The movie is a poetic tale of the life of 18th-century Armenian poet and troubadour Sayat-Nova. In September 2020, Lady Gaga released her new 911 music video inspired by the movie.