Planning a trip to Armenia and wondering what are the things you MUST cover, and what can be skipped? We'll guide you! Surrounded by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic; Armenia is a country lying on the crossroads of Europe in the stunning Caucasus Region. The Caucasian country has a rich history spanning 3000 years and boasts of an extensive rich culture, folklore and traditions. Armenia is also one of the least visited and explored countries in the world. Its landscape comprises of mountains, valleys, meadows, lakes, rivers and forests. There are several interesting activities to do like horse-riding, trekking, hiking along with a rich collection of cultural heritages to see in Armenia. holidayme has curated this list of 11 popular things to do in Armenia:
Check out 11 amazing things to do in Armenia!
1. Visit the Debed Canyon for UNESCO World Heritage SitesVisit the Debed Canyon to see the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin. It is also said that the great Armenian troubadour-poet, Sayat-Nova, was born in Sanahin and became a monk at Haghpat.
2. Head to the beautiful Lake Sevan of ArmeniaPristine, serene and stunning, Lake Sevan (known as Sevana Lich) is renowned for its pure water, stunning location and delicious salmon trout. Located at a distance of 70 kilometers east of Yerevan, Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus Region. Head to this beautiful expanse of gorgeous blue, take in its beauty, experience the calm settle in around you, then go check out the Sevanavank monastery - one of the most remarkable sites of medieval Armenian architecture – built by Princess Mariam, the daughter of the founder of the Bagratuni dynasty, Ashot I Bagratuni in the year AD 874!
3. Explore the cultural sites of Armenia in Yerevan
The Armenian capital, Yerevan is an interesting city located at the foothills of the famous Mount Ararat, one of the key biblical references in the world. In Yerevan, do visit the National Gallery which was founded in 1919 and the Yerevan library of ancient manuscripts, Materadaran. Out of the many things to do in Yerevan, do check out the State Museum of Armenian History that houses the best collection of Armenia’s historical artifacts.
4. See strange rock formations in Goris, a 19th-century townThe ancient town of Goris is located in the southern-most and most picturesque province of Armenia - the Marz of Syunik. Once in Goris, you must proceed to witness the most prized attraction of the town, the result of a natural phenomenon - a labyrinth of cone-like rocks and peaks extending towards the sky! Known as the Goris Stone Forest, the weirdly eccentric shapes of these rocks were formed by the action of wind, water and other natural elements on the volcanic tuff. The entire landscape almost looks other-worldly especially when the sun-rays play tricks with your eyes! The unusual peaks of the Goris Stone Forest
5. Visit the Tatev Monastery riding on the world's longest aerial tramway!Named "Wings of Tatev", the Guinness Book of Records recognizes this 5.7kms long aerial tramway as "world's longest reversible cableway". The 12 minute picturesque route on this tramway to the Tatev Monastery, one of the most popular sites of Armenia, will take you over the dangerous canyon of the fierce Vorotan river. This is the quickest and quite an enthralling way to reach the historic Tatev Monastery! Goris town is filled with 19th-century German architects and few important religious and historical features. The area is filled with cave dwellings and is renowned for the spectacular Tatev Monastery.
6. Explore Echmiadzin, the holy city of Armenia
One of the most popular things to do in Armenia is to visit the city of Echmiadzin, the erstwhile capital of Armenia from AD 180-340. Visit the famous Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator, renowned for its treasury that contains a spearhead that was used to pierce the side of the crucified Jesus Christ.
7. Picnic in Dilijan, the lovely alpine town
One of the best places to visit in Armenia, Dilijan is a picturesque town located amidst pine forests, filled with walking trails and serene alpine lakes. This lovely little town is home to number of Armenian artists, composers and filmmakers. One can enjoy hiking, mountain biking and picnicking along with plenty of recreational activities. Still wondering what to do in Armenia?!
8. Explore the ancient caves in Vayots Dzor
Head towards the southeaster province of Armenia - Vayots Dzor to check out some interesting ancient landmarks. Go "caving" (i.e. discovering interesting cave systems) in the limestone caverns in Vayots Dzor (known as the Magel cave) and get dazzled by its stunning limestone structures.
World's oldest leather shoe (5,500 years old!) and a 6,100 years old winery was found in one of them, known as the Birds' cave (Areni-1 cave) which is located near the Arpa river’s Gnishik stream. The cavers are located near the city of Goris and you can also explore the cave homes carved into the hillsides. You must not miss this, while in Armenia!
Sitting unusually preserved in the gorge of the Arpa river's Gnishik stream, barely 8 kms away from Areni village is the 13th-century Armenian monastery - Noravank which is an enchanting example of the magnificent architecture of that period.
9. Hike your way up to a UNESCO World Heritage site!
Enjoy hiking through Armenia’s spectacular countryside and hike your way through the country roads, passing quaint villages, beautiful rivers, steep mountain passes, farms and ruins of cathedrals, medieval forts to see the stunning sunrise and sunsets. At a height of 1.7 kms above the Azat river is the UNESCO World Heritage site, the magnificent Geghard monastery, known for its church that is carved inside a rock! On the way to Geghard, you can stop at the Temple of Garni - the only Greco-Roman building with colonnades in Armenia with 24 Ionic columns! Enjoy the view from their before you continue your hike towards the Geghard monastery!
10. Go on a Bird Watching tour!
Look out for rare species of birds including eagles, falcons and swans. Armenia is home to 346 of Europe’s 550 species and is one of the best places on earth to enjoy bird watching - one of the top activities in Armenia.
11. Set out on a brandy and wine tasting tour!
Check out some of Armenia’s excellent brandies that are highly acclaimed all over the world. Even Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, always insisted on Armenian brandy after tasting it first at the Yalta Peace Conference after the conclusion of the devastating Second World War. You can check for famous wine and brandy tasting tours such as those organized by Yerevan Wine Factory, Areni Wine Factory or the Vedi Alco Winery.