Armenia Travel Guide
Boasting one of the world’s oldest civilizations, yet one of Europe’s poorest nations, Armenia is a small landlocked country between the Caspian and Black Seas. It sits at the heart of Eurasia and enjoys a diverse and tourist-friendly culture – in fact, its people are famous for their hospitality and generous nature. In recent years the former Soviet state has struggled with air and water pollution problems, but its long, rich history has left it with many interesting archeological sites which continue to be its strongest attraction.
When to Go
Armenia has a distinctly continental climate. Summer is the best time to visit – it runs from June to mid-September, and is marked my dry, sunny weather. Temperatures range from 22o to 36 oC, pleasantly cooled by evening winds. Winter temperatures run from -5° to -10°C, following a long autumn and relatively brief spring.
Getting There & Away
Most international flights arrive at the Zvartnots Airport in Yerevan. Take only direct flights to Armenia if possible, as internal maintenance of local aircraft is not always followed. If you’re driving, beware of local drivers who drive recklessly and violate traffic laws. Rail travel is more comfortable, but stations are often crowded, so watch your valuables in such places.
Health & Safety
Armenia’s health threats are low, but there have been cases of Avian Influenza in surrounding areas. People have died from the disease in Agri, Turkey, about 80 kilometers away. Avoid visiting live animal farms, and make sure all your poultry dishes are well-cooked.
Armenia enjoys a relatively low crime rate, although petty incidents like pickpocketing, theft and mugging (some against tourists) have been up in recent years. Do not carry your passport, credit cards, and other valuables in busy places, and take extra care when using ATMs.
Food & Hospitality
Armenia has been called the motherland of winemaking, and for good reason. Wines dating back to the 19th century are a major lure for wine aficionados, and its most famous red wine, the Areni, is made from vineyards as old as 1000 BC. Most restaurants serve wine along with their meals.
Armenian hotels are expensive by most standards, so if you’re staying for a month or so, you may have to spend more than expected on accommodation. Some European-style budget hostels have been built in recent years, and while not as luxurious as local hotels, they do provide decent accommodation for a good price. Most hostels will have a bed, breakfast, and TV, as well as tourist assistance.
Three to four days in Yerevan
One day in Lake Sevan
Two days in Mount Aragats
Two days in Dijilan
One day in Mount Ararat
Mount Aragats: At 4090 meters high, Aragats is the highest point in Armenia. The four ragged peaks surrounding the crater make a unique geological feature. The Byurakan Obervatory, one of the world’s main observatories, can also be found here.
Yerevan: Armenia’s capital city has a lot to offer, from plush hotels to funky indie bars. There are also museums, shops, music shows, and parks – you’ll never run out of things to do. You may run out of breath though – air pollution is a major problem here.
Lake Sevan: Secluded by mountain and home to one of the world’s largest gull colonies, this lake offers over 200 kilometers of pristine shore and scenery. The Island Monastery, formerly a cluster of three churches, is a major attraction.
Mount Ararat: This Biblical mountain is where Noah’s Ark supposedly came to rest after the Great Flood. It’s definitely worth seeing, but as much of the mountain is actually in Turkey, it may be out of the way for most tourists.
Freedom Square: A must-see for culture buffs and a great place to mingle with locals, this sprawling park has witnessed pilgrimages, military oaths, and the 1988 Artsakh movement for independence. It now houses statues of great Armenian artists, as well as cafés, ice cream shops, and play areas.
Mountain climbing: For the adventurous traveler, Armenia’s colossal mountains are the place to go. Aragats is a particular favorite for outdoor trips and alpinists (winter mountaineers).
Sightseeing: Nature lovers will certainly appreciate Armenia’s pristine lakes and mountains. They’re a great place to relax – especially after touring the rather congested city center.
Walking and bicycle tours: For first-time visitors, these guided tours are a great way to get to know the country. Armenia Daily Tours offers scheduled tours every day except Saturday.
Museum hopping: Armenia is home to many interesting museums that celebrate its rich history and embrace its Christian beginnings. Recommended museums are the National Art Gallery, the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial, the Children’s Art Museum, and the Matenaradan (Museum of Ancient Manuscripts).
Shopping: Armenian malls are pretty average, but the outdoor markets make a great day out for shoppers. Check out the Outdoor Paintings Market and Handicrafts Market in Vernissage, just outside the Republic Square in Yerevan.