Lake Sevan

Lake Sevan is the crown jewel of the Armenian highlands. It is surrounded by Geghama mountains range and situated at an altitude of 1900 m (6,234 ft). Sevan is the largest freshwater lake in Armenia giving a start to Hrazdan river. Sevan beaches are popular among Armenians and visitors during hot summer months. Water temperature is nice for swimming from June until the beginning of September though it may feel cold at first, it's not a seaside beach after all:). As the lake is situated in a mountainous area it may get windy at times, especially in the evenings.

If you ever visit Sevan lake you should make sure to visit its peninsula where 9th-century Sevanavank monastery complex is located.


Sevanavank, Sevan, Armenia

Sevanavank has originally stood on an island which afterward became a peninsula because of the lake's water drainage during the Soviet period. It was founded at 305 AD by Gregory the Illuminator. Centuries later two churches were built by Mariam princess in 874 AD. The construction year can be seen on the wall inscription on one of the churches called "Arakelots". Both churches have been renovated in 1956 - 1957. Many knachkars can be found in the area. The complex houses a seminary active to this day. At the western shore of the lake, there is another monastery called Hayravank.


Hayravank (lit. "Father Monastery") belongs to 9th - 12th centuries. Monastery's St Stephan church was built in the 9th century. Considered as one of the unique remaining examples of Armenian architecture the monastery is built with basalt stone. The arcs are made of tufa stone. Monastery's small walled yard encloses 16th-century graveyard and khachkars. Outside the walls lay the remnants of cells where monks used to live. The monastery was active till the 19th century. In the 1980s the complex has been renovated, the dome of the church was then reconstructed.

The Legend

According to a legend a religious leader of this church has saved the lives of many people held hostages by a Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane). In 1381 when the atrocious leader set the villages to fire and kept thousands of Armenians as hostages the religious leader named Lazarus approached him and asked to set free as many people as his church can house. Tamerlane agreed. By the virtue of his prayer, he turned all the people entering into the church into pigeons. They then flew out of the church window. He saved thousands of people in this manner.

Sevan Trout

Sevan trout is an endemic fish found in the lake. It is now an endangered species due to extensive fishing and changes of the water surface level. Along the highway passing near the lake, you will likely see people stretching out both their hands as a sign that they sell fresh fish. You can try fried Sevan's common whitefish or even a trout in the lakeside restaurants.

Cafes & Restaurants

Bashinjaghyan Restaurant

Traditional Armenian style restaurant-hotel at the Sevan lake with nice views opening on the lake. The menu includes soups, fish, pork, chicken and more. The staple is the barbequed fish from the lake.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • "Khash" in winter
  • Dry homemade white wine
  • Nice terrace with a view on the beach
  • Tasty food

Collete Restaurant

Located on the highway Sevan-Dilijan this restaurant is popular with both locals and tourists. It features tentlike seatings right on the lake shore. The bill here must be paid inside at the counter. It's better if you have someone local to accompany you here because English is not well spoken and there is no menu per se. But the fantastic food is really worth overcoming the barriers mentioned.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Delicious fried or BBQed fresh fish
  • Reasonable prices
  • Beautiful view of the lake
  • Outstanding pork and fish kebab

Tsovasar Restaurant

Located in a calm environment but not easy to find if you're specifically looking for it. A nice view of the lake opens from the windows. English is not spoken so head there if you are up for an adventure.

What Do People Like About This Place?
  • Grilled local fish
  • Great views