Armenia is an underexplored gem in the Caucasus region. There is a myriad of things to do in Armenia depending on your interests, preferences and the allocated time. Below we've listed some activities you can take part in depending on the number of days you have in this historical country. The listed order is just a suggestion, feel free to mix and match to your liking.
Whether it's your first time in Yerevan or you've been there before we've imagined ourselves in your shoes and tried to anticipate what would you be interested in doing. To start with, you can go for some sightseeing in Yerevan. When you've done enough walking you'd probably get hungry - Yerevan's restaurants & cafes are there to delight your taste buds. At dusk, the city lights turn on and off you go into the evening Yerevan. Your visit would be incomplete without the city's nightlife scene. Whether you're up for a beer in a pub or you're crazy about latino dances, whether you're into a jazz or rock music or you'd rather dance under the club mixes - Yerevan has got something to offer you.
Garni & Geghard, Echmiadzin & Zvartnots
Now we are going to go outside of Yerevan. The first half of the day you can visit Garni & Geghard. Garni is the only surviving Hellenistic pagan temple in Armenia. Geghard is a monastery complex with amazing acoustics, some buildings of which are dug into the cliffs. It's not far from Garni. The second half of the day you can spend in Echmiadzin & Zvartnots. Echmiadzin is considered by many as the religious capital of Armenia. It hosts the Cathedral of Armenia and Holy Mother of See. Zvartnots - a church with a unique architectural style in Eastern Armenia is on the way to Echmiadzin.
Khor Virap -> Areni Winery, Noravank -> Tatev Monastery
The third option is to head to the south of Armenia in a whole day trip Yerevan -> Khor Virap -> Areni winery, Noravank -> Tatev Monastery -> Yerevan. The first stop is at the 7th-century monastery of Khor Virap built on the pit where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned. A beautiful view of the Mount Ararat opens up from this place. The second stop is at the unique archeological site Areni winery where the world's oldest winemaking enterprise was discovered. Not far is the 13th-century monastery complex Noravank. The last stop is at the glorious monastery of Tatev with the world's longest ropeway over the spectacular gorge.
Lake Sevan -> Dilijan
If you have followed through the previous tours then you've explored Yerevan quite a bit, you know what khachkar is and you're already well versed in Armenia's pivotal historical events and some of the architectural heritage sites. For your next trip, you can take a direction to the northeast of Yerevan. The trip Yerevan -> Lake Sevan (Sevanavank) -> Dilijan (Haghartsin, Goshavank) -> Yerevan will usually last about 6 - 7 hours. You will be full of impressions and pleasantly tired:) Sevan is the largest freshwater lake of Armenia almost 2 km (1.2 mi) above the sea level. You'll also visit Sevanavank monastery situated on the peninsula in the lake. Next, you'll be heading to picturesque Dilijan. Dilijan has alpine weather and the freshest air thanks to the surrounding forests. We will visit 2 marvelous monasteries of medieval Armenia - Haghartsin and Goshavank.
Haghpat -> Sanahin -> Odzun
Why don't we go all the way to the north of Armenia to see what's there?. A full day trip Yerevan -> Haghpat, Sanahin, Odzun -> Yerevan to pristine Lori province would be a day to remember. Haghpat and Sanahin are 2 monastery complexes separated by the gorge of Debed river. These are monumental buildings worth making the long distance to see them. But the road going there is no less interesting: you'll be passing through forests, crossing rivers, going through an under-mountain tunnel and just enjoying the nature's game of vast valleys, high mountains and steep canyons. Finally, Odzun church has some uncanny charm to it. The church has some carvings bearing signs of Hindu influence from the times that Hindus used to live in the area.
Armenia still has so many ways to surprise you. Have you heard about Jermuk? It's a mountainous spa town famous for its healing hot springs and mineral waters. The air is so fresh and crisp here and the water is crystal clear. Time spent in Jermuk is a time spent in touch with the life force. The town is in a green zone and has a beautiful waterfall. You can also visit the nearby 10th-century monastery of Gndevank.
Sisian, Carahunj -> Goris, Khndzoresk
Did you know that Armenia has a prehistorical astronomical observatory? This site with big stone blocks has been compared to Stonehenge. It's called Carahunj in Armenian. The highway near Carahunj leads to homely Goris with its prehistoric cave dwellings. You'll enjoy the view of the orderly aligned Goris houses and the tasty local food with lavash. Next to Goris is the village of Khndzoresk famous for its hanging bridge and medieval cave settlements. The recommended route is Yerevan -> Sisian, Carahunj -> Goris, Khndzoresk -> Yerevan.
Ashtarak or Tsaghkadzor
Our final suggestion, for now, is to go off the beaten track. For example, you may want to explore Ashtarak. It's a small town not far from Yerevan with its delightful nature of contrasts and delicious food. Right through the town flows a river dividing it into 2 parts. After you tour the historical landmarks we have some recommended cafes and a restaurant for refreshments or lunch. This would take you half a day's trip. Another option not far from Yerevan is Tsaghkadzor (lit. "Valley of Flowers"). This town has alpine weather and a well-developed infrastructure for tourism and winter sports.
We hope you found some useful information about the places to visit while staying in Armenia. We listed here the main travel routes in Armenia and the major highlights of Yerevan from the perspective of a city guest. Follow our blog because we'll be posting a new article with the hidden gems and some undiscovered places in this adorable little country.