20 Things To Do In Armenia

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After the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia became an independent state. The small country with a population of just 2.8 million, of which 1 million live in the capital, Yerevan, has a rich cultural heritage dating back over 3,000 years. There’s a treasure trove of ancient monasteries, churches and other historical buildings to explore.

Also known for its mountains, valleys and forest landscapes, you will find hiking trails and ski slopes here too. Day trips from Yerevan head in all directions, so the capital makes a great base. No matter where you are in Armenia, you will find delicious food, warm people and it’s an affordable travel destination compared to many other places in Europe. Here are some of the best things to do in Armenia.


20 Things To Do In Armenia

1- Discover The Secrets Of Khor Virap Monastery

Ararat Mountain covered in snow, And Khor Virap
Khor Virap monastery with Mount Ararat in the background.

A visit to Khor Virap Monastery has the bonus of giving you the sight of Mount Ararat, the supposed place where Noah’s Ark rests.

While it is only an hour away from Yerevan, Ararat is now in Turkiye.

The monastery is at Artashat, one of the country’s most sacred sites.

Most guided tours also visit the Areni Cave (Bird’s Cave), where archaeologists found some of the oldest artifacts in the world, including a leather shoe and a winery.

The site dates back to the Early Bronze Age and has burial rituals and agricultural evidence.

Noravank is the next place on the tour to admire early Armenian architecture in the Gnishik Canyon. Find out more here. 

2- Visit Temples And Monasteries

Garni Temple In Armenia
Visiting Garni Temple is another thing to do in Armenia.

Garni Temple was built in 77 AD and is Armenia’s only surviving heathen temple.

It sits on a plateau over the Azat Gorge with spectacular panoramas in all directions.

The Greek-Roman Bathhouse within the temple has a mosaic with around 30,000 pieces of natural stone.

The ruins of the royal palace are from the 3rd century.

The Geghard Monastery Complex is next, formerly home to the lance supposedly used to stab Jesus on the Cross.

UNESCO has included the site on its World Heritage list.

The final leg of this tour from Yerevan is the gorge of “Symphony of Stones”, a monument consisting of huge basalt columns nearly 100 metres (330 feet) high. Find out more here.

3- Discover The Beauty Of The North West

Sevanavank (Sevan Monastery), A Monastic Complex
Visiting the Sevanavank (Sevan Monastery) is one of the interesting things to do in Armenia. The monastic complex on the shore of Lake Sevan is in the Gegharkunik Province.

North West Armenia is known for its natural beauty and its monasteries, notably Sevanavank Monastery on a beautiful lake and Haghartsin Monastery.

The monastery complex belongs to the 9th century.

Sevan Lake is your first stop at an altitude of 1,900 metres (6,230 feet).

The lake, surrounded by mountains, was formed by volcanic activity.

Your tour continues to Dilijan on the banks of the Aghstev River, known as a health resort.

After lunch, head to Goshavank Monastery, founded by a medieval scientist Mkhitar Gosh, and finally to Haghartsin Monastery, where an oak tree is as old as the churches themselves, dating back to the 10 to 11th century. Find out more here.

4- Sample Armenian Wine

Areni in Southern Armenia is known for its history in winemaking and one of the world’s oldest grape varieties takes its name.

Before sampling what that winery produces, you will learn about the wine process at your first stop.

Next on your tour is the ‘Wings of Tatev’, the longest cable car in the world, measuring six kilometres (almost 4 miles).

The incredible scenery as you take a ride includes the Harsnadzor Watchtower and Devil’s Bridge.

Other region highlights are the 9th-century Tatev Monastery on a plateau above the Vorotan River Gorge and the impressive waterfall of Shaki. Find out more here.

5- Explore Echmiadzin

Saint Hripsime Church with blue sky
Saint Hripsime Church in Echmiadzin, Armenia.

Echmiadzin is home to the first cathedral in the Christian World.

Zvartnots Cathedral was built in the 7th century, and not surprisingly, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The region is effectively Armenia’s “Holy Land” and home to a treasure trove of sites like St. Hripsime church, also from the early 7th Century, Echmiadzin Cathedral and a museum that specialises in Christian exhibits.

Examples are the Holy Cross, the lance which speared Jesus and items from Noah’s Ark.

As a contrast, you will also enjoy a cookery class on this tour, learning how to make dolma, stuffed vine leaves. Find out more here.

6- Discover Culture In Gyumri

Black Fort. Old Russian Fortress In Gyumri
Visiting the Black Fort Russian fortress in Gyumri is one of the interesting things to do in Armenia.

Armenia’s cultural capital is Gyumri, and this guided tour will help you to understand why.

It is one of Armeni’s most colourful cities, with old houses that survived a strong earthquake in 1988, a tribute to the quality of the engineering.

The Black Fortress is the first thing you will visit in the city’s heart before going to the Dzitoghtsyan Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life, a mansion built in 1872.

Leaving Gyumri, your next stop is the Harichavank Monastery, where there are two 13th-century churches and a small chapel that looks down over a canyon. Find out more here.

7- Sample Local Food And Drink 

Salad Moon In Yerevan
Eating Yerevan Moon, an authentic Armenian-style salad with beaf, carrot, cucumber, eggs, beets, and tomato is one of the things to do in Armenia.

If you love brandy, this is the tour for you.

It takes you to Ararat Brandy, where you will learn about the process of producing cognac and the history of its production.

Naturally, you will sample the brandy offered to you with an accompaniment of chocolate before moving on to Aragatsotn, famous for its wines.

Lunch with a glass of wine and a view of Mount Ararat in the distance is a lovely way to enjoy some time in Armenia.

You have to leave room for more food and drink because this tour continues into the evening in Yerevan, where you will be served crayfish that you wash down with local beer.

8- Discover The Delights Of Yerevan

Downtown Yerevan historic district
Going on a walking tour of downtown Yerevan is one of the best things to do in Armedia to get your bearings.

A guided tour of Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, is a “must” for anyone visiting Armenia. Legend suggests that Noah emerged from the Ark, saying “Yerevats” (“it is seen”).

The city’s History Museum tells the story of Yerevan ever since, with almost 90,000 exhibits though not all can be on display at any one time.

The tour continues to a carpet weaving factory, a traditional local skill.

This tour’s final destination is Tsitsernakaberd, a memorial of the Armenian Genocide just over a century ago.

9- Satisfy Your Active Side

The Haghartsin Monastery Complex, with three important churches, is a sedate stop before things move up a pace.

You’ll get the chance to try extreme sports at Yell Extreme Park.

Paraglide, ride a mountain bike, jump on a horse and even head out on a zip line. Paintball fights are another option. Find out more here.

10- Explore Little Switzerland

The Ancient Haghartsin Monastery Is Located Near The Town Of Dilijan
Enjoying the valley view of the ancient Haghartsin monastery near the town of Dilijan is one of the lovely things to do in Armenia.

Another trip that involves Dilijan (“The Little Switzerland”) of Armenia allows you to stroll in the Old Dilijan Complex to explore the wood and ceramic workshops.

There are no better places to buy souvenirs of your holiday than here.

The Parz Lich (Clear Lake) follows a lovely natural setting.

Jump aboard a boat to sail on the calm water, camera in hand, to get some beautiful panoramas for your album.

It is a chance to relax if you have spent the previous days in a more hectic atmosphere before heading back to Yerevan in the late afternoon. Find out how to explore the beauty of Dilijan.

11- Hike Up Gutanasar Mountain

There is some great terrain in Armenia for walkers and hikers.

One option is to go with a guide to the village of Kaputan to start a hike to Gutanasar Mountain.

It is an extinct volcano in the Geghama Range, and once there, you will get some beautiful panoramas over the region.

You will still be able to see the old lava flows on the left-hand side and when you reach the summit, you will be 2,299 metres (over 7,500 feet).

Apart from looking across the mountain range, you will get views of Mount Ararat’s fertile plain.

There is a photograph at every turn before you finally descend to Fantan to catch your transport back to Yerevan.

12- See Amberd Fortress

Amberd St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother Of God) Medieval Church
Amberd St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) medieval church in the Aragats mountain takes on an ethereal look when shrouded with clouds.

The gorge of the Qasakh River is stunning, with beautiful churches on the edge to add to the setting.

Take a tour there before heading to the Amberd Fortress on the slopes of Mount Aragats, the highest mountain in the country.

In the 13th century, this was the site of a struggle for independence from the Seljuk Turks led by the Zakaryan noble family.

The fortress is at 2,300 metres (7,500 feet) and gets its name because it was described as being a fortress “in the clouds”.

During this tour, you will also stop briefly at the Alley of the Alphabet to find the first letter of your name. 

13- Go Skiing 

The top ski resort in Armenia is Tsaghkadzor and Mount Teghenis.

You will start by taking a ropeway ride to get to the first ski path on the mountain.

While skiing, it is impossible not to be impressed by the wonderful views of Armenia’s snowy peaks.

Once you have finished skiing, this tour heads to Lake Sevan, another stunning setting.

The peninsula of the same name is your last stop and where you will visit the Sevanavank Monastic Complex to finish a memorable day.

Top tour: From Yerevan: Ski Day at Tsaghkadzor and Lake Sevan.

14- Go Horseriding In Lori

Panorama Of The Ruins Of The Armenian Medieval Fortress Lori Berd
Exploring the ruins of the medieval fortress Lori Berd near Stepanavan is one of the things to do in Armenia.

Lori, to the north of Yerevan, is a forested province where you can explore on horseback.

Odzun is the small village where you collect your horse and join your guide heading through Lori Canyon and then the Dzoraget River Canyon before stopping for a picnic.

Hnevanq Monastery is one of the highlights and is on top of a gorge where the Dzoraget and Gargar Rivers meet.

The “brother and sister” fortresses on two opposite hills on both banks of the Dzoraget River follow before you head back to Odzun.

Top tour: Yerevan: 1-day Horseback Riding in the Lush Region of Lori.

15- Ride A Horse Up Mount Armaghan

Statues On Mount Aragats
Taking a day trip to Mount Aragats to see the statues of the creator of the Armenian alphabet, Mesrop Mashtots is one of the things to do in Armenia.

Nshkhark village is another alternative for horse riding.

This time it is with the idea of heading up an impressive mountain, Armaghan, at 2,829 metres (almost 9,300 feet).

It is an extinct volcano with a lake in the crater and a nearby chapel.

This is a long trip, anything up to nine hours to the summit and back, so it is only for those experienced in horse riding, but the efforts are worthwhile.

You are likely to pass shepherds with their flocks along the way.

There is a picnic at the summit before your descent to Verin Getashen, ready for your trip back to Yerevan. Find out more here.

16- Enjoy The Local Cuisine

Foodies will want to explore Yerevan on a tasting tour to sample different dishes.

You’ll hear interesting stories and anecdotes about the food you taste, such as why Armenians break bread and never use a knife.

Learn about wrapping cheese and greens in bread, a favourite national snack.

Top tour: Yerevan: Private Walking Food Tour with 6 Tastings.

17- Explore Shikahogh State Reserve

Shikahogh State Reserve is in Syunik Province in Southern Armenia, and at this point, it has been untouched by the national policy of logging.

That may be a danger in the future but currently, it is a lovely reserve with well over 1,000 different botanical species.

Such has been its remoteness that there are few records of its fauna, but enough is known to confirm that leopards, although rare, inhabit the reserve, with bears the largest mammal.

If you have made your base in Yerevan, the reserve is six hours by road, so you should look to tour in the south during your time in Armenia.

18- See Vanadzor, Armenia’s Third City

View On Mountain Ararat Of Yerevan City
Yerevan and Mountain Ararat.

Vanadzor in the north is the capital of Lori Province, 128 kilometres (80 miles) north of Yerevan.

Its population has dropped in recent decades to around 80,000, but that does not mean it has not got things to attract visitors.

There are several archaeological sites to visit, including Mashtots Hill, where there is evidence of life dating back to the 4th century BC.

The Lori-Pambak Archaeological Museum aims to teach visitors more about the region and has approximately 34,000 exhibits.

The Vanadzor House of Culture takes the name of Charles Aznavour, one of the nation’s most famous people.

Entertainment is on hand in various theatres, offering music, dance, and even puppets.

19- Visit Karahunj Observatory

Big Megalithic Menhirs Of Zorats Karer (Carahunge) - Prehistory
Megalithic menhirs of Zorats Karer (Carahunge) in Armenia.

This prehistoric archaeological site is near Sisian in Syunik Province and often compared to Stonehenge in Southern England.

It covers about seven hectares on a plateau above the River Dar at an altitude not far short of 6,000 feet (1,770 m).

The name means “stone treasure” or “foundation stones”.

The stones are basalt, ranging in height between 0.5 to 3 metres (10 feet).

Several have fallen over the years, yet there are still 17 still standing and were thought to have allowed for astronomical observations, equinoxes and solstices.

Hence the recognised title “observatory.” Find out more here.

20- Head To Dvin

Dvin is a tiny village, but if you are interested in history and archaeology, the nearby ruins of the ancient settlements are worth visiting.

It was the ancient capital of Persian Armenia and was located on the Metsamor River, just a short distance south of Yerevan.

There are ongoing excavations with many relics recovered up to the 13th century.

The first signs of life were in the 3rd century BC, with ancient Dvin itself 4th century AD.

Its population reached 100,000 at one time, an important trading centre.

A massive earthquake in 893 saw huge death and destruction, with the city never again reaching prominence. 

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Steve Smith is a widely travelled man who has lived on the South West Coast of Turkey since 2008. He hails from North East England where he lived most of his life but has been to every continent of the world, with a particular love for Southern Africa and its wildlife. He lists Argentina, India, and Vietnam as other favourite places that he enjoyed greatly while sport is also a passion, cricket and golf as a participant, rugby union and soccer as a spectator.