If you are traveling to Armenia for the first time, then this guide is just for you.
1. What to see?
Armenia is the best place to visit for cultural tourism visits which are often mentioned as a “museum under the open sky”. The capital Yerevan is a great place to start for anyone wishing to explore Armenia. The city is home to the grand Republic Square, where a fountain show takes place every evening at 9 pm except in winter.
If you cross the road from the square you will find Northern Avenue. It is the most modern and high-end part of the capital with its fashionable boutiques and shops, office buildings and luxury hotels.
Yerevan is a deeply historic city and visiting the Armenian Genocide Memorial is a must to learn more about the nation’s troubled past. The Vernissage flea market is worth visiting too where you can buy colorful souvenirs and enjoy a walk. Much of what Armenia has to offer can be explored during day trips from Yerevan.
There are also many big malls with world-famous brands that you can shop from. Among religious sight you should visit Khor Virap with its breathtaking view to Mount Ararat, Geghard known for its amazing rock architecture, Tatev, which is the best example of medieval architecture, Haghpat and Sanahin included into UNESCO world heritage list, Echmiadzin Cathedral – the religious center of all Armenians.
Lake Sevan is one of the highest lakes in the world and sometimes it seems as if the azure waters are about to touch the sky. The lake is especially popular in the summer amongst locals and tourists.
Jermuk is one of the best cities to relax and heal as it is the most popular spa town in Armenia because of its healing mineral waters, mild climate, and sanatoriums. The town has more than 40 thermal springs. Jermuk Waterfall is the second largest waterfall in Armenia where the water tumbles down from the height of about 70m.
To fully discover this beautiful and old country some days are not enough. In every season Armenia is delightful and expressive. Try to pass a long time here so that you can feel the breath of Armenia and Armenian culture.
2. What to eat?
Armenians cuisine can trace its origins and roots way back, almost 2000 years. It has elements and influences from the Mediterranean Cuisine and Eastern European elements. Armenian food makes uses of vegetables, various spices, herbs, meats, fruits, and fish. Khorovats(meat barbeque) is the most famous and loved dish in Armenia which can be found in every restaurant. It can be of beef, pork, lamb or chicken commonly served with Lavash (Armenian bread).
Dolma, which is a dish made by stuffing meat, herbs, and spices wrapped in grape leaves is a must when visiting the country. Some other delicious dishes that you should definitely give a try are khash(boiled cow’s feet), kufta(meatballs boiled in broth), Gata(a sweet bread), Lamachun(flour tortilla with meat).
Armenian cuisine is very tasty and sweet flavored. Here you can find something flavored for any taste.
You know what is the best thing for me in the world? A tasty Brduch(an Armenian sandwich) with the local cheese and herbs. Due to Armenian good climate and always shining Sun the tastiest fruits, vegetables, and herbs grow here. Don’t forget to try and if you have an opportunity, take them to your relatives, too.
It can be difficult to find vegetarian options in restaurants as they serve only one or two vegan options.
In that case, there are many other cuisines found in the capital, like Italian, American, Indian, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese and many more to choose from that might satisfy your needs.
The most popular and used means of transport by locals is a minibus or a shuttle bus. The other ways to get around in the city are by metro or trolleybuses which are very inexpensive and cost only 100 AMD. These can be hard to navigate if you are not local and are in the capital for a few days.
If you want to save time you can get around in the city in taxis which will not cost you much. Taxis are easily available everywhere but you can also order a car from popular taxi companies in the city. It’s better to discuss the cost of a taxi ride in advance. The minimal fee is 600 AMD (1-4km) and 100 AMD per 1km. In order to travel out of the capital, you can either book a taxi or a minivan. You can also rent a car from various companies in the capital.
Else you can travel by marshrutka(local buses) or by local trains. There are daily local trains connecting Yerevan with Gyumri (3 hrs), Ararat (1 hr), Hrazdan (1 hr 30 min). There is also a train service from Yerevan to Lake Sevan but only in summers that will take approximately 2 hrs and 20 mins. The only international train service provided is from Yerevan to Tbilisi (Georgia) which travels on odd days. The correct schedule of local and international trains and cost can be enquired at the railway station or at their website.
4.Money and costs
The national currency of Armenia is dram. Both banknotes and coins are called so. There are banknotes of 1000, 2000, 5000, 20000, 50000, 100000 Dram denomination. There are also coins of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 Dram denomination. You can easily exchange US dollars, Euro, Russian rubles and Georgian Lari in any bank or shops. If you run out of local currency, you can pay in dollars in some stores. Not all shops accept credit card transactions so always carry enough cash for a day. The accommodation in Armenia cannot be considered the cheapest in the world but has a reasonable rate.
There are many hostels and guest houses in the city you can find in the center for about $10-$20/day. A lot of luxury hotels are also available not only in the capital but also in many resort towns. The hotels' price starts at $100 or higher. The cost of renting an apartment depends on the location, number of rooms and the quality. The cost in the center ranges from $180-200.
A three-course meal – 6000 AMD ( $12) / person
Domestic beer – 500 AMD($1)
International beer- 800 AMD($1.2)
Shuttle bus / metro / –100 AMD ($0.21)
Trolleybus - 50 AMD - ($0.10)
Taxi – 1000 AMD($2) for a 8km ride.
Armenians are very kind and open-hearted people who warmly welcome the tourists and try to make them feel as comfortable as possible in Armenia. After the journey around Armenia, any tourists mention the warm attitude of the locals. The official language of the Republic of Armenia is Armenian (Hayeren), which belongs to the Indo-European family of languages.
The other two main foreign languages spoken are Russian and English. Russian is spoken by almost everyone whereas English is not. Youth or people under 30 have basic knowledge of English and will always be ready to help. People working in the tourism or hospitality sector are fluent in English. Armenia is even mentioned as an easy country for English speakers to get around in.
Published February 27, 2018
Article by Shushanik Shahbazyan