Armenia may not be an obvious tourist destination – but it is considered as one of the oldest countries on the planet offering some of the world's most incredible sights. Its history dates back to over 3,000 years. Its divine ancient architecture and stunning scenery makes the country one of the finest places to visit in the Eastern Europe. Naturally, there are quite a few things to do in Armenia after you make touchdown.
As the first Christian country in the world, Armenia presents some of the world's oldest churches and monasteries along with a unique history. The capital city of Yerevan is growing, and its art, culture and dining scenes are increasing in prevalence.
It can be slightly hard being a tourist in this country as nearly everyone speaks Armenian or Russian. However, the locals are friendly and patient. As long as you try to communicate with them, you will have no issues. Just be composed and you will get to enjoy the untouched sights of the country.
Things to do in Armenia - Visit churches and monasteries
Armenia is known for it monasteries and their magnificent architecture, dating back to over 1,700 years. Be sure to visit Tatev, Noravank and Haghpat for checking out ancient monuments set amid mesmerizing landscapes. Do not miss the Ecthmiadzin Monastery and Cathedral, located in the city of Vagharshapat. This World Heritage Site features a large church complex that was established in 301 AD - making it the very first Christian cathedral in the world! The country is also home to a Pagan temple, the only one that remains after Christianity took over the city. The Pagan Garni Temple is beautiful to this day and is still open to visitors. We managed to witness a ceremony taking place!
Things to do in Armenia - Visit Flea market
There is nothing quite like the endless weekend flea market that takes place in Yerevan's Republic Square every weekend. You can literally find everything you could want here, from ancient rugs to Soviet-era hats and other historic paraphernalia. Expect to see the typical tourist take-homes at this enormous street market. My top tip is to ask questions about the item, look like you know what you are doing, and don't be afraid to bargain!
Things to do in Armenia - Go to Shikahogh State Reserve
Armenia is not just filled with divine cultural artifacts but also is a treasure trove of natural beauty. Shikahogh State Reserve is the country's second largest forest featuring a beautiful landscape. Explorers are yet to cover this enormous land mass, but experts guess that the region is home to around 1,000 species of plants, as well as leopards, goats, bears and vipers. The best way to see the forest is to take a hike - hidden waterfalls and many other natural delights can be found along the way.
The Armenian Wonder
Things to do in Armenia - Swim in Lake Sevan
Enjoy the peace and quiet of Armenia's stunning Lake Sevan, a large lake flanked by ancient monasteries and stunning countryside. One of it's most famous sights is the Sevanavank Monastery, a time-honoured monastic home on a narrow peninsula. The freshwater lake also provides opportunities to try out windsurfing and relaxing on Sevan bay – the closest thing to a coastline in the land-locked Armenia.
Things to do in Armenia - Visit Dilijan National Park
Dilijan National Park is one of the most beautiful nationals parks in Armenia. Explore its magical terrain and discover natural springs, man-made monuments and some of the nation's most important cultural buildings - a series of renowned monasteries and churches, including, Goshavank Monastery, Haghartsin Monastery, Akhnabat church and Matosavank Monastery.
Things to do in Armenia - Enjoy Yerevan's cafes
Despite it's long-standing survival as a country, Armenia's history is a volatile one. Not only did its people live through the Ottoman Empire, but also the Soviet takeover after the Second World War. It was during this era that the city's capital, Yerevan changed from a small town of 20,000 people to a city of 1 million. Armenia's capital still possesses remnants of the Cold War, including monuments in its main Republic Square.
Today the city is thriving with cafes! Step into them for creating wonderful moments. The homely traditional Armenian culture exists even now, with Armenians making up 99% of the population. You can find ancient and modern cultures thriving side-by-side in this city. There is an opera house, museums, art markets, and lots of modern architecture for everyone.
Yerevan - the capital city
Things to do in Armenia - Dig into Armenian food and drinks
Armenians are traditional in their food choices, often cooking meals at home. If you can secure an invite to a home-cooked meal, I highly recommend it! Other options are to eat the traditional Armenian pizza, known as lahmadjun. At Mer Taghe restaurant, a cozy, small, local place, provides a local tan (yogurt based) drink. If you are looking for a special place, head to Old Erivan in the capital. Here, you get to savour local dishes prepared fresh alongside live Armenian music.
Armenians are very keen on their coffee. The intricate preparation that goes into preparing every coffee bean makes all the difference and gives it that unique Armenian flavour. You can sample the black stuff in most coffee houses. cafes and restaurants. Also, Armenia is believed to be the first wine country. Vineyards fill the mountain-sides of Mount Ararat. Wines, including varieties of some unique fruit-flavoured wines, are produced to this day. We opted for a wine tour to experience as many wineries as possible and enjoyed a sample at each stop.