Are you thinking about visiting Armenia but don’t know how to plan your days there? Or maybe you’ve already booked your tickets but need help with figuring out your Armenia itinerary. I’m here to help!
I’ve been to Armenia some ten times by now and every trip to Armenia is a pure joy to me. The country is fascinating with its amazing monuments, beautiful landscape, and vibrant and cosmopolitan capital – Yerevan. I bet you will not regret your decision to travel to Armenia!
Table of contents
- 1 How many days should you spend in Armenia?
- 2 How to get around Armenia?
- 3 Armenia travel tips
- 4 Armenia itinerary
- 4.1 Day 1 – Yerevan
- 4.2 Day 2 – Yerevan
- 4.3 Day 3 – Day trip to Geghard and Garni
- 4.4 Day 4 – Monasteries Noravank and Khor Virap
- 4.5 Day 5 – Gyumri
- 4.6 Day 6 – Monasteries Sanahin and Haghpat
- 4.7 Day 7 – Goris and Tatev Monastery
- 4.8 Day 8 – Goris and Khndzoresk
- 4.9 Day 9 – Jermuk
- 4.10 Day 10 – Return to Yerevan
- 4.11 Days 11-13 Lake Sevan and Dilijan National Park
- 4.12 Day 14 – Yerevan
- 5 Other versions of Armenia itinerary
- 6 Final thoughts on visiting Armeneia
- 7 Travel Resources
How many days should you spend in Armenia?
I personally think that 3 or 4 days is the absolute minimum for Armenia. But sometimes that’s all you have and even in those few days you can see a variety of sights in Armenia.
You can spend two weeks in Armenia and you will still leave the country feeling there are still places to visit in Armenia you missed.
The Armenia itinerary I present below is a suggestion for 3 to 14 days in Armenia and you can adjust it to your needs.
I personally think the best time to visit Armenia is either in spring or in early autumn. Days are still long enough to use them to the maximum but it’s not so hot.
In the summertime, the temperatures can be even over 40C which makes sightseeing a bit of a challenge. Winters are not THAT cold, usually around and a bit below 0C degrees, but days are short and you won’t be able to see as much as you would like to.
The New Year and Christmas period (in Armenia Christmas is celebrated on January 6th) are a bit tough as the majority of things (museums, cafes, restaurants, shops) are closed for the holidays.
Is Armenia safe?
Yes! Most of my trips to Armenia were solo and I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable (but things do happen, of course). Just use the general rule and don’t do stupid things you wouldn’t do at home.
The biggest challenge might be roads and crazy drivers, however, if you are familiar with driving in this part of the world Armenia is nothing worse than that. Armenia also might have the issue with corruption and bribery but this is getting better too.
The recent war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh shook Armenia but didn’t really worsen the safety in the country. But before planning the trip to Armenia better check the news as the peace in the region is rather fragile these days.
As always I recommend getting travel insurance as you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can get a quote here.
How to get around Armenia?
Unfortunately, public transport in Armenia is a bit nonexistent, except for bigger cities, and most of the best places to visit in Armenia are located in remote areas. You can rent a car to drive around but it can be rough, especially in the southern part of the country when the roads are not in the best condition.
Fortunately, it is possible to visit Armenia without renting a car and see all the best sights – there are good and affordable tours available, in some places you can also rent a car with the driver. I will mention all the details in the Armenian itinerary below so you will know how to plan your trip to Armenia properly.
The good thing about visiting Armenia is that you can actually base yourself in Yerevan and go for day trips from the capital. You can see a lot of great places this way and you won’t need to bother with packing and unpacking every second day.
Armenia travel tips
While Armenia isn’t a very difficult country to visit from a cultural and practical point of view, there are a few things worth knowing before you travel to Armenia. I wrote the whole article with Armenia travel tips – click here to read it (the link will open in the new window).
Day 1 – Yerevan
Most likely you will start your trip to Armenia in Yerevan – the capital city. You can easily get here overland from Tbilisi (Georgia) and Teheran (Iran) or fly from many other destinations in Europe and the Middle East.
There are not too many major sights in Yerevan and if you are hoping to see a cute old town with beautiful houses you might be disappointed. But the city has so much to offer and the list of things to do in Yerevan is pretty long.
On your first day take it easy, relax, and enjoy the amazing vibrant atmosphere Yerevan is known for. Visit the Cascade – the impressive staircase, one of the main attractions of the city. Inside it, you can find Cafesjian Museum of Art but even if you don’t decide to visit the museum you will still be able to see a lot of art as the whole area of Cascade is full of numerous modern art works.
If you are too lazy to climb the stairs you can find the escalator that will take you to the top of the Cascade – it’s free of charge and when riding it up (or down) you can still admire some nice art. From the Cascade, you can see the best view of Yerevan and, if you are lucky, the iconic Mount Ararat – the holy mountain of Armenians that is located in Turkey.
From the Cascade, it’s a short walk to Matendaran – the amazing museum of Armenian manuscripts, the largest one of that kind in the world with 13 thousand manuscripts, the oldest one from the 5th century. This is one of the most precious treasures of the Armenian culture.
Head towards the Freedom Square with the Opera House. It was opened in 1933 and is one of the main cultural institutions in the city. If you wish to get tickets for the show, you can do it in the ticket office outside of the Opera, at Sayat Nova Avenue. The area around the Opera is full of small cafes and you might want to sit here for a coffee break.
Continue your Yerevan sightseeing through Northern Avenue -the main pedestrian street of the city and a real showcase of modern Yerevan, with some fancy shops, restaurants, and more. At the end of Northern Avenue, you will arrive at Abovyan street with its old houses – one of the reminders of how old Yerevan used to look like.
Only a few more steps and you are on the Republic Square – the main square of the city, with the History Museum of Armenia, government buildings, bank headquarters, and fancy Marriott Hotel.
If you would like to do some souvenirs shopping head to the nearby Vernissage – the open-air market with a wide selection of Armenian souvenirs.
Near the Vernissage, you will find Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral. It is pretty new, finished in 2001, but it surely is an impressive building, even if a bit raw at the edges. This is actually the largest cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the world.
In the evening return to the Republic Square for the kitschy yet cool dancing fountains show. Be sure to walk along Northern Avenue again to see how the city is alive until the late-night hours.
Where to stay in Yerevan
Here are some of the recommended places to stay in Yerevan:
- Budget: Highland Hostel (9.8/10) / Duck Hostel (9.6/10) / Loft Host (9.5/10)
- Mid-range: R&R Hotel (9.2/10) / Nova Hotel Yerevan (9.2/10) / Teryan Pushkin Apart Hotel (9.5/10)
- Luxury: Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel (9.2/10) / Grand Hotel Yerevan (9.2/10) / Golden Palace Hotel Yerevan (9.2/10)
If you would like to join a tour to get to know Yerevan better here are some of the recommended ones:
- The Magic and Secrets of Yerevan Walking Tour
- Private Yerevan City Tour: Erebuni, Matenadaran & Tsitsernakaberd Museums
- Evening walking tour in Yerevan
- Photo tour in Yerevan
Yerevan travel resources
Here are some articles you might find useful when planning your time in Yerevan (all links open in new windows):
- Yerevan travel tips – all you need to know about visiting Yerevan, Armenia
- 31 Amazing Things to Do in Yerevan, Armenia
- Guide to the Cascade in Yerevan – City’s Biggest Attraction
- Guide to Yerevan Soviet architecture
- Reasons to visit Yerevan, Armenia – one of my favorite cities
You might also start your trip to Armenia in Gyumri, since the city has direct bus connections with Georgia (Tbilisi and Akhaltsikhe). Soon there might be low-cost flights to Gyumri too, they were supposed to start operating in 2020 but 2020 happened.
If you arrive there first use the “day 5” of this Armenia itinerary as your first one and then continue your trip to Yerevan.
Day 2 – Yerevan
On your second day in Yerevan head to Tsitsernakaberd – the Armenian Genocide Memorial to visit the museum, learn more about the awful genocide, and pay the respect to 1,5 million victims. It’s not an easy place to visit but I believe everyone visiting Yerevan should learn about this part of the Armenian history to better understand the country.
Tsitsernakaberd is located a bit away from the center, the best way to get here is by taxi (Yandex Taxi is the best app to travel around Yerevan).
Armenia is known for its brandy and you can take the tour in the brandy factory to learn more about the drink and to taste it. Click here for the tour details.
Not far from the Ararat brandy factory you can visit the Museum of Sergei Parajanov – the famous Soviet movie director of Armenian origins. Even if you are not familiar with his works it’s still a fun place to see!
Nearby you can also stop at the Blue Mosque – the only working mosque in Armenia. It is a beautiful building from the 18th century and its surrounding is a perfect green oasis from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
In the afternoon you might take the taxi to Victory Park to see the statue of Mother Armenia, enjoy the fairground and see some spectacular views of the city.
Day 3 – Day trip to Geghard and Garni
It’s time to go for some day trips from Yerevan.
The most famous Armenia attractions and easy day trips from Yerevan are Lake Sevan, Garni Temple, and Geghard Monastery. You can see them all in one day (however, if you are spending more time in Armenia leave Lake Sevan for later – you can find it again at the end of this itinerary).
Lake Sevan is one of the highest located lakes in the world with an altitude of 1.900 meters above sea level. It is such a beautiful place but that’s not the only reason to go there. At the shore of the lake you can visit Noratus – the cemetery with beautiful khachkars (Armenian tombstones, some of them are from the 9th century), monasteries Sevanavank and Hayravank, and Writer’s House – one of the most famous examples of Soviet architecture in Armenia.
Garni temple was built in the 1st century AD and is the pagan temple dedicated to the sun god Mihr. This is the best example of the pre-Christian Armenia monuments and the only building in the Classical style in the country and the former Soviet Union.
Garni Temple was destroyed during the earthquake in the 17th century but the original stones were used when rebuilding. Around the temple, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Armenian countryside.
Some 10 kilometers further you will visit Geghard Monastery – the UNESCO listed complex from the 4th century. What makes it special is the fact that many of the churches and tombs were cut into the rock, showing the Armenian medieval architecture at its best.
Since the 12th century, when the relicts of Apostles Andrew and John were donated to the monastery, the place became a popular pilgrim destination.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to visit all these places by public transport. Your best option is the tour from Yerevan. Here are some of the recommended tours that cover these places (and a few more):
- Day Trip to Garni, Gegard and Lake Sevan
- Day Tour to Garni Geghard Armenia
- Garni Temple, Garni Gorge, Symphony of Stones, Geghard Monastery, Charents Arch
- Private tour to Garni – Geghard – Tsaghkadzor (Kecharis)
Day 4 – Monasteries Noravank and Khor Virap
These two monasteries are some of the most beautiful places you will see in Armenia.
If you’ve seen Armenia pictures showing the small monastery with the impressive Mount Ararat in the background – that’s Khor Virap. If you are lucky with the weather this is a truly spectacular view.
Khor Virap is also a popular pilgrimage site due to the fact that Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned here by King Tiridates III of Armenia. Today you can go down the ladder to the dungeons where the Saint spent 14 years.
Noravank Monastery is located at the end of a deep canyon with moon-like orange and red rocks. The monastery complex dates back to the 13th century and today you can visit twelve different objects there, including two-floors Surb Astvatsatsin Church, Surb Karapet Church, and Surb Grigor Chapel as well as numerous khachkars. This is a truly spectacular site and you don’t want to miss it!
Besides monasteries, you can also visit Areni village, only a few kilometers away from the Noravank monastery. That’s where the oldest wine in the world comes from – the wine tradition here is over 6.000 years old! Besides the traditional wine, you can also try the one made from pomegranate, apricot, cherries, or blackberries.
Again, public transport doesn’t cover these places so the tour is your best option. Here are some of the tours that include Noravank, Khor Virap and Areni:
- Group tour to: Khor Virap, Noravank, Areni Cave, Hin Areni winery
- Private Tour: Khor Virap, Areni, Noravank
- Privat Tour in Khor Virap church, Areni winery free tasting, Noravank church
Day 5 – Gyumri
After visiting monasteries and natural wonders it’s time for the city again. Gyumri – the second largest city in Armenia – is located in the north-east part of the country, some 120 kilometers away from Yerevan, and it makes such an easy day trip from the capital.
In 1988 Gyumri was hit by a massive earthquake – the loss was enormous – around 40.000 people lost lives and most of the city was badly destroyed. Still today you can see remnants of these tragic events all over the city but Gyumri is recovering.
The city is different than Yerevan but such an interesting place to visit. You can see here another Mother Armenia statue (besides the one in Yerevan) as well as other interesting places: museums, churches, a bazaar, and some cool Soviet sculptures. Click here to learn more about things to do in Gyumri.
Gyumri is such a pleasant city to visit you might want to stay there overnight. If you do, here are some recommended accommodation options:
You can use public transport to get from Yerevan to Gyumri. There are both, trains and minibusses connecting the cities. Here you can find a detailed guide on how to travel from Yerevan to Gyumri.
Day 6 – Monasteries Sanahin and Haghpat
These two monasteries are located in the north part of the country, in Lori Region, and are the real gems of Armenia. Both are on the UNESCO World Heritage List and both are simply incredible.
Haghpat Monastery was built between the 10th and 13th centuries and in the Middle Ages, it used to play an important role as the religious, spiritual, educational, cultural, and scientific center. The monastery complex is surrounded by medieval walls. Inside you can find four churches, the library, the bell tower, the tomb, and numerous khachkars.
The nearby Sanahin Monastery was built at a similar time and for a similar purpose as Haghpat. In the monastery complex, there are 16 buildings and objects, including St. Gregory and St. Harutyun chapels as well as numerous khachkars decorated mostly in plants’ motives.
On the way to the monasteries, you can see the Monument of the Armenian Alphabet, located randomly on the side of the road. The Armenian alphabet is unique (and very beautiful) and used only in Armenia. 39 giant Armenian letters carved of the stone and decorated in the local motifs are strewn around and are such fun things to see and admire. The monument was created in 2005, to commemorate the 1600th birthday of the Armenian alphabet.
Again, public transport is not available to get to the monasteries but you can go for a tour from Yerevan (some of them include the stop at the Monument of Armenian Alphabet). Here are the tours that cover these places:
- Group tour to: Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries
- Armenia: Discover Odzun, Akhtala and UNESCO Heritage listed Haghpat & Sanahin
- Private tour to Haghpat, Sanahin, Odzun, Dsegh
Day 7 – Goris and Tatev Monastery
Today you will leave Yerevan to explore the southern part of the country. Take the minibus to Goris to see the city and its surroundings. Aim for the earlier departure to have enough time when you arrive in Goris, some 4-5 hours away from Yerevan
After arriving and leaving your stuff at your accommodation try to arrange the car that would take you to Tatev Monastery (or maybe ask your accommodation to help you with it?). It is located around 35 kilometers away from Goris and you should expect to pay around 2.500-3.000 AMD one way for a trip from the city to the cable car station.
The cable-car trip is already an interesting experience – it is listed on the Guinness World Records as the longest non-stop double track cable car in the world (it covers the distance of 5.752 meters from Halidzor village to Tatev monastery).
Tatev Monastery is one of the most picturesque places in Armenia. The monastery from the early 9th century was built at the edge of the deep gorge and it looks simply breathtaking. Tatev Monastery used to be the seat of a bishop, that’s also where at the end of the 14th century the biggest university in Southern Caucasus was established, teaching students numerous sciences.
In the monastery complex, you can visit three churches (Saints Paul and Peter, Saint Gregory the Illuminator, and Holy Mother of God), a library, refectory, bell tower, mausoleum.
If you still have time head to Carahunge – the prehistoric archaeological site, often called “the Armenian Stonehenge”. It consists of 223 massive stones (84 of them have a circle hole drilled in the upper part) and is one of the most mysterious places in the country. Carahunge is located around 35 km away from both Halidzor village and Goris.
How to get from Yerevan to Goris
There are two daily minibuses from Yerevan to Goris, departing from the Southern Bus Station, at 09:00 and 16:00. They tend to fill up quickly so better ask your accommodation to reserve a seat for you a day before.
Where to stay in Goris
Here are the recommended places to stay in Goris:
If you are running out of time in Armenia you might go to Tatev monastery as a day trip from Yerevan. It will be a long tour but Tatev is one of a kind place that you can’t miss. You can combine it with other places too.
Here are some tours you might want to take:
- Full Day Group Tour to Explore the South of Armenia
- Private Tour to Areni winery, Tatev (ropeway), Khndzoresk (cave city)
- Tatev,Shaki(waterfall),Noravank,Wine tasting,Khor Virap
- Tatev Ropeway and Monastery, Khor Virap, Noravank, Areni Winery – private tour
Day 8 – Goris and Khndzoresk
Even if the main reason to stay in Goris is the surrounding nature, the city itself also has a few attractions, such as St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Aksel Bakunts House-Museum or the Geological Museum. But places you absolutely can’t miss in and around Goris are Medieval Cave Dwellings and the village Khndzoresk with the shaking bridge leading to it.
Day 9 – Jermuk
On the way back to Yerevan you might want to do a small detour to the mountain spa town Jermuk, famous for its mineral waters. This is a perfect place to relax a bit in the beautiful scenery.
While there don’t miss the stunning Jermuk waterfall and Gndevank Monastery, be sure to ride a cable car and simply enjoy the vibe of the spa town and all it has to offer.
Unfortunately, reaching Jermuk from Goris is almost impossible so, unless you are not driving yourself, you might need to find a driver to take you there. There are a few marshrutkas per day that will take you back to Yerevan.
Day 10 – Return to Yerevan
After returning from Jermuk to Yerevan you can still go to nearby Etchmiadzin and Zvartnots.
Etchmiadzin (or Vagharshapat as that’s the official name of the city) is the spiritual capital of Armenia where you can visit the Ethcmiadzin Cathedral – one of the oldest churches in the world, built between 301-303 (it was rebuilt and expanded in future centuries but the church still stands in the very same place). Echmiadzin with its numerous churches was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
On the way from Yerevan to Echmiadzin, you should stop at Zvartnots archeological site (also on UNESCO list). The cathedral was built here in the 7th century but its remnants were discovered only at the very beginning of the 20th century. Besides excavated ruins, on a sunny day you can also enjoy stunning views of Mount Ararat in the background.
Here are some of the tours that cover Etchmiadzin and Zvartnots:
- Group Tour: Echmiadzin (Mother Cathedral-outside & Churches), Zvartnots temple
- Private tour to Etchmiadzin and Zvartnots
- Private tour to UNESCO heritage Echmiadzin churches, Zvartnots and Sardarapat
If you don’t feel like visiting new places on that day you can just take it easy, stay in Yerevan and enjoy the capital with its vibrant cafe scene and some cool bars – there are so many great spots to choose from.
Days 11-13 Lake Sevan and Dilijan National Park
The last places you should visit in Armenia are Lake Sevan and Dilijan National Park, located north of Yerevan, not too far from the city. You can actually visit both as (separate) day trips but if you have the extra time it’s worth staying there a bit longer to enjoy the area.
Lake Sevan, the biggest lake in the Caucasus, is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country and part of the Sevan National Park. It is known for the variety of flora and fauna, including the most famous Sevan trout. There are also a few monuments you can visit (you can find them on day three of this itinerary).
If you are traveling in the summertime you might want to spend the whole day at Lake Sevan, not only visiting the interesting sights but also relaxing at one of the beaches.
From Lake Sevan, it’s a short drive to Dilijan – a charming town often called “the little Switzerland of Armenia”. There are plenty of things to see and do in and near the town, including impressive monasteries (like Haghartsin and Goshavank) and hiking in the stunning Dilijan National Park with numerous trails and beautiful and diverse nature.
How to get there from Yerevan
Minibusses to both Sevan and Dilijan depart from the Northern Bus station in Yerevan frequently, when they fill up. Just keep in mind that the town of Sevan is located a few kilometers from the lake itself and you will have to take a taxi to get there. You might also get a taxi to Lake Sevan directly from Yerevan.
Where to stay in Dilijan
Here are the recommended accommodation options in Dilijan:
You might also go for a day trip only from Yerevan to Dilijan. Here are the options:
- Group tour to: Lake Sevan, Sevanavank, Dilijan, Haghartsin, Goshavank monasteries
- Private tour to Sevan (Sevanavank), Dilijan (Goshavank, Haghartsin)
- Private tour to Dilijan (Goshavank, Parz (Crystal) Lake, Haghartsin)
Day 14 – Yerevan
On your last day in Armenia, you can visit Etchmiadzin and Zvartnots Cathedral, if you haven’t done that yet.
Or you can just hang out in Yerevan, relax in the Lovers’ Park, do some shopping at GUM or Vernissage, look at Mount Ararat from the Cascade complex yet again and enjoy some amazing Armenian food for the last time during your stay in the country!
Other versions of Armenia itinerary
Even if you don’t have two weeks in Armenia you can see a lot of the country. Here is how you can plan your Armenia itinerary with fewer days available:
- if you have only 3-4 days in Armenia you can spend 1-2 days in Yerevan, one day on a day trip to Lake Sevan+Gerhard+Garni, and one day on a day trip to Khor Virap and Noravank
- if you have a week in Armenia you can add to the suggestion above a day trip to Gyumri and two days in the southern part of the country (Goris and surrounding area), or a day trip to Tatev monastery and a day trip to Haghpat and Sanahin
- if you have 10 days in Armenia you can use the detailed itinerary above but skip Jermuk, go to Dilijan only for one day, visit Lake Sevan together with Geghard and Garni and cut the last day in Yerevan from the plan
Final thoughts on visiting Armeneia
As you can see there is plenty to do and see in Armenia and no matter how many days you will have there you are in for a treat. The country is simply amazing with its history, culture, stunning landscape, friendly people, and vibrant capital.
I believe Armenia is one of the most underrated countries in the world. I bet after visiting Armenia you will want to return there over and over again – that’s what happened to me and now, some ten trips later, I don’t regret a single day I spent in Armenia. I’m sure you will enjoy it too!
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