Major Tourist Attractions: Mount Aragats, Tatev, Zvartnots Cathedral, Khor Virap, Geghard
A former Soviet republic tucked away among its larger, more prominent neighbors, Armenia is a treat for those looking to get off the beaten path. The oldest Christian nation in the world, its ancient monasteries are a draw for many, while others simply enjoy the laidback café culture in the capital city of Yerevan.
The tourism industry in Armenia is still developing, but a new visa-free regime for many visitors should quicken its growth. While the country has struggled since its independence from the Soviet Union, the Armenian people are proud of their heritage and open their arms to visitors, often inviting them into their homes to share vodka and khoravats (kebabs) before dancing the night away.
Armenia is culturally similar to neighboring Georgia and Iran, yet retains a distinct national identity, with a unique alphabet and language and a rich tradition of music and dance. Its cuisine draws comparisons to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, utilizing a variety of spices and fruits, especially pomegranate and apricot.
The country is small enough that most visitors will base themselves in Yerevan and take day trips to see the historic churches and monasteries in the surrounding area. In the capital, lodging options range from clean, efficient hostels to luxury boutique hotels, while outside of Yerevan, hotels or homestays are the way to go.
Here are a few things to see and do around Armenia:
- Ride the world’s longest cable car more than 5 kilometers to Tatev Monastery.
- Visit Echmiadzin Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the world.
- Climb to the top of Cascade for amazing views of Yerevan and Mt. Ararat.
- Pay your respects at the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum.
- Take a dip in Lake Sevan, one of the world’s great high altitude lakes.
- Experience the resurgence of earthquake-ravaged Gyumri.
- Climb into the underground chamber at Khor Virap where the founder of the Armenian church was once imprisoned.
- Explore the cave churches at Geghard Monastery.
- Sample Armenia’s best wines in the village of Areni.
- Learn Armenia’s unique alphabet at the Monument of the Armenian Alphabet in Artashavan.
- Relax at one of Yerevan’s many outdoor bars and cafes.
- Check out the medieval fortress of Amberd.
- Shop for antiques at the Vernissage market in Yerevan.
- Marvel at the unique rock formations in Goris.
- Hike the Janapar Trail in the dispute territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Address: 1 American St.,
Yerevan 0082, Armenia