Travel Tips Yerevan

Where to Go within the Region

Dilijan Rd by Armen Assatoury 1

The Caucasus is a fascinating place to visit, especially considering the vast differences in culture, language, traditions and food in such short distances travelled. Here is our recommended places to visit based on ease of access by land and visa requirements.

 

Artsakh (also known as Karabakh)

This beautiful mountainous land which has been fought over in recent history is really worth seeing. Accessible mainly by car, it takes about 6 hours to reach the capital’ Stepanakert. Karabakh is known to be a disputed territory due to its recent history of war with Azerbaijan. Travellers do need a visa (unless travelling on an Armenian passport) which can be arranged easily while in the capital’ Stepanakert, Karabakh. Once there, you should allow yourself at least 2 to 3 days to explore this historical land. Location: about 6 hours south east from Yerevan by private car Highlights of Karabakh include:

  • The capital city’ Stepanakert – a clean and tidy city with many newly built buildings since the war. Notice the BBQ’s hanging off the balconies – quite a unique sight! You can tell they are fond of their Khorovats (Armenian BBQ) here! They speak a different dialect of Armenian which can be hard to understand for even those who speak mainstream Armenian.
  • The history museum in Stepanakert
  • Iconic statue of the Papik and Tatik (Grandmother and Grandfather) on route to Gandzasar. It symobilses how entrenched the Armenians are in this land that only their heads are above the land to watch over it (their bodies remain as roots in the ground).
  • Also make sure you visit the famous, Gandzasar monastery 40 km away from Stepanakert, known to house the head of John the Baptist. The once impossible road to travel on to reach the monastery has recently been repaved and is now a perfect route to travel on. This monastery, perched up on top of a hill is set in tree covered rolling hills. It is said that inside the main church, images of two angels have appeared (one on either side of the altar) which has helped to protect it during the wars. You can see the marks from the shootings during the war on the far side wall of the main church.
  • The city of Shoushi is the second biggest city in Artsakh only 10 km away from Stepanakert. This cliff top city has been a focal point in the war with Azerbaijan. It now sits on Armenian territory and is very safe to visit. The winding tree lined street up to Shoushi is stunning and so is the main cathedral there known to be one of the most beautiful in the region.
  • The town of Amaras is renown for the school and church established by Mesrop Mashtots, the founder of the Armenian alphabet in the 5th century. You will also find the oldest tree in the ex-soviet region at Amaras. This tree is said to have been seen by John the Baptist, Mesrop Mashtots, Khrimian Hayrik and many others.

Georgia

A close and easy destination from Armenia. If you have made an effort to reach this part of the world its a must see.

  • Tbilisi is a very picturesque capital city with a beautiful old town area to explore. A hub of intellectual happenings back in the 1800’s its a mini Paris scene! Pay a visit to Envoy Hostel Tbilisi nestled close to the Narikala fortress when you are there!
  • Enjoy the view of the Mtkvari River from one of the bridges
  • Wonder around the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town area
  • Visit the domed Orbeliani Baths
  • Admire the colourful Mosque close to the Baths
  • Visit the dominating Narikala Fortress
  • Indulge in the fine Georgian food and wine
  • Take a day trip to Mtskheta
  • Spend a couple of days in Kazbegi, an excellent region for hiking. Also you will see the much photographed Tsminda Sameba Church
  • Take a tour or two to explore the region with Envoy Tours in Georgia and book yourself in to stay at Envoy Hostel Tbilisi!
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Travel Tips Yerevan

Getting Around within Armenia

Yerevan street

Getting around Armenia is relatively easy. The main options to consider are listed below (including a full minibus destination list to help you plan your trip).

  

  

  

Marshrutka/Minibus

Envoy Tours

Car Hire/ Self Drive
Car Hire with Driver

Travel Tips Yerevan

What to See in Armenia

Sevan by Armen Assatoury

So much to see and so little time! The entire country is studded with places of interest and historical significance. If you want to see everything in detail you could be here for months! However some of the highlights include the following:

Lake Sevan is the largest lake in modern Armenia. The weather is typically cooler in this area so Yerevan locals flock there in summer for relief from the summer heat. It is primarily a holiday destination and a favourite spot for those keen for fishing. However there are also a few places of interest to see close by such as Hayravank, Noraduz and others.

Location: About 45 minutes north of Yerevan by private car

Garni the only standing pagan temple dating back centuries (B.C. construction), rebuilt after an earthquake brought it down in 1679, this is one of the iconic sites of Armenia. Note there is an entrance fee (1200 AMD).

Location: About 30 minutes east of Yerevan by private car

Geghard An amazing two storey monastery carved inside a mountain! Dating back to the 4th century the acoustics inside the mountain church is amazing. There is also a newer built church standing at the entrance.

Location: About 30 minutes east of Yerevan by private car

Dilijan is a small town further north from Sevan. It is a popular holiday destination for locals. It is quite a pleasant and lush region. You can visit nearby attractions including the ancient church of Haghartzin, tucked away in the woods (well worth the effort to get there). Goshavank is another ancient church nearby and Barz Lij is a quiet lake nestled in woods. make sure to have a picnic here! Ijevan is a large city at the furthest point north before crossing the border to Azerbaijan. Its about another 45 minutes drive out from Dilijan.

Location: About 1.5 hours north of Yerevan by private car

Alaverdi is a quaint town situated in a valley along the picturesque Debed Canyon. It is a mining town with refineries close by. Close by you will find many historic sights worth visiting. This includes Akhtala Berd, an ancient castle which also has a church on the grounds. Look out for the mosh (blackberry) bushes around in summer. Haghbat is a monastery where Sayat Nova stayed at. This quiet monastery nestled on top of a hill, has a series of churches next to each other, one with underground storage vessels. There is a secret passage to the village below used by the locals in history in times of war. Sanahin is another monastery complex dating back to the 10th century, home to the Mikoyan brothers who designed the MIG fighter airplanes.

Location: About 2.5 hours north of Yerevan by private car

Oshakan is where the grave of Mesrop Mashtotz resides. A church has been erected on the site in his honour. Make sure you check out the manicured grass Armenian alphabet on the church grounds. A cute village next to Oshakan is Voskevaz. A short drive further will get you to Byurakan, a quaint, relaxing village on top of a hill. Make sure you stop at the .Asdghadidaran. (Observatory) on the way.

Location: About 30 minutes west of Yerevan by private car

Mt Aragats is the highest peak in modern Armenia and it has four peaks. You can drive to the Black Lake situated at a high altitude. Also close by is Amberd, an ancient castle in ruins and an accompanying Church. This region is quite suitable for hiking for those who are keen! Be warned though, you are likely to encounter snow even in summer!

Location: About 1 hour north west of Yerevan by private car

St Echmiadzin is where the head church of Armenia resides.There are often special services held for different events. In close proximity there are also 3 other old Churches some of the oldest in Armenia (including St. Hripsime and St Gayane)

Location: about 45 minutes north west of Yerevan by private car

Khor Virap this is where Christianity all began for Armenia. The monastery is built on the dungeon pit where the St. Grigor the Illumintor was imprisoned for years, leading to Christianity being accepted as the National religion in 301.A.D. It is here where you can take postcard quality photos of the majestic Mt Ararat.

This is a must see destination.

Location: About 1 hour south of Yerevan by private car

Noravank a remarkable two storey structure church/ monastery built in an isolated area, perched high on a hill top and surrounded by majestic mounatins in reddish colour. This “New Monastery” as the literal translation is one you will never forget.

Location: About 2 hours south east of Yerevan by private car

Jermuk is the city where the source of the popular bottled mineral water is found. You can visit the Jermuk mineral water factory, a state of the art bottling plant. Also must see attractions are the local waterfall (where the water hugs the surface of the rock as it descends) and the hot water spring where it is said that the different temperature water will cure different ailments.

Location: About 3 hours south east of Yerevan by private car

Travel Tips Yerevan

Where to Shop in Yerevan

Vernisage markets held every weekend in Yerevan.

Tourist Attraction Markets:
These markets are highly recommended as a tourist destination.

Vernisage | Looking for a wide range of original hand crafted souvenirs? Then Vernisage is your place to visit. Although there are many individual souvenir shops along the central streets in Yerevan, the Vernisage market offers a wide variety of souvenirs in one location ranging from jewelry, wood carvings and paintings through to old Soviet era relics, rugs and embroidery. Open on weekends from 10am till approximately 6pm, Vernisage is stretched between Khanjyan and Nalbandyan (from the foot of the metro on Nalbandyan to Khanjyan). A small section of the market remains open during the week.

Pak Shooka | (translated “Closed Market”) has been an institution of Yerevan for decades. Originally a Soviet era food and grocery market, it has recently been renovated as a modern day supermarket from the inside. It is still worth visiting for its amazing entrance door structure – a work of art in its own right.

General Trade Markets:

Need a new pair of shoes, luggage, or some trendy new clothes? These markets are where you are likely to find it. Just take note that for most of the markets in Yerevan you’d be better off to have a compass and map in hand! But its worth the adventure! Take your camera and enjoy it as a sight seeing experience even if you dont have anything to buy (for that purpose Rasia and Ferdos are the most intriguing).

Tip: Must say if you are after shoes – look to find local made shoes – the leather is beautiful, prices are reasonable and you cant beat on quality.

Dalma | This modern shopping centre is on par with any western mall. What ever you are looking for, from shoes to new suitcase, you should be able to find it here. Positioned on Tsitzernakaberd Hwy, its just outside the Yerevan city circle.

Petak | is an indoor market on two levels with stalls selling fashion, footwear, house ware and food items. Petak is behind Sourmaloo (a wholesale market off Arshakoonyats St.).

Ferdos | is a small, winding, overcrowded-rabbit-warren like market. But don’t get put off by any of this, in fact all these features adds to the character of this popular market. If you find a bargain don’t think twice and get it as you might not be able to find you way back to the same stall again! There are lots of stalls selling fashion, footwear and house ware items. Enjoy this charming market typical of what you would find in the middle east! Ferdos is located on Tigran Mets between the Hrabarak and Khanjyan. It has a small entrance off the street, so make sure to ask so you don’t walk past it!

Hrazdan | This market is situated right next to the Hrazdan Stadium. It is an indoor complex of stalls. One of the more expensive markets in town but has a large and interesting range of fashion and footwear.

Tashir | is a more modern shopping complex in Yerevan. Bearing the legacy name of  ‘Goom’ from the Soviet days, it has several levels of stores you would expect to find in any shopping mall including a supermarket on the ground floor, eating areas, exclusive boutiques, fashion and footwear, stationary stores, jewellery stores etc. Tashir is situated further down from Rasia on Tigran Mets.

Voski Shooka | means Gold market. This is where you can have any gold jewelry made to order or buy a ready made item. It is located on Khorenatsi St (previously Marx St) closer to Khanjyan St.

Travel Tips Yerevan

Travel Tips Yerevan

Armenian Cuisine

Summer Salad

What to Eat?

Here’s a few highlights of local cuisine to consider trying while in the region.

Khorovatz | If you are a meat lover and can pronounce that then you will never go hungry (as Armenians are meat lovers)! It’s the Armenian style BBQ meat . The main type of BBQ meat is pork (which is very tender and delicious), but you can also find beef and chicken too. And in summer you will find BBQ vegetables which is a must! (BBQ’d eggplants, tomatoes, peppers). Kebab is BBQ minced meat, also a popular dish.

Dolma | Wine leaves stuffed with meat, rice and herbs, intricately wrapped are delicious little parcels and known as one of the most traditional food locally. They even have annual competitions for best dolma! You can also try dolma made from vegetables like cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes etc. Highly recommended!

Lahmajoun | Also dubbed as the ‘Armenian pizza’, its a thin layer of pizza style bread topped with ground beef, onion, parsley and tomato paste. Often enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon, its a good filling snack/ meal.

Vegetarian Options | If you are vegetarian or simply overloaded by too many meat dishes, there is a wide range of delicious salads (Stolichnitzia a potato based salad is very filling, igra a delicious medley of bbq’s eggplant, tomatoes and onion etc) and spas (a yoghurt based soup) and more. Some places will also have vegetarian stuffed vine leaves (dolma) – definitely worth trying.

Where to Eat?

There are many options of where to eat in Yerevan. Especially where we are located is in walking distance to many excellent cafe’s, restaurants and eateries. The following is just a few worth mentioning, listed in alphabetical order.

Artashi Mot | If you want to try some tasty Armenian food which is really loved by Armenians, then you should visit the “shaurma place” Artashi Mot. At lunch time you will see a big crowd of Armenians talking, laughing and waiting for their meal. Armenians love meat, especially when it’s prepared well and quickly. You can try their delicious shaurma, the BBQ or kebab. Just drop in and order what you want (if you can decide 😉 ). If you are not in a hurry and want to enjoy your meal visit the restaurant downstairs. You will be surprised by the taste of the soups and the wide range of meat dishes. Its in short walking distance to Envoy situated on Alexander Spendiaryan Street (towards Stepan Zoryan street).

Malocco| A small but very cozy place with amazing interior design and peaceful atmosphere. You won’t get bored even if you’re alone, as there are so many details you can discover in every corner. The fun begins when the waitress brings the menu: a small bunch of yellow, old looking papers fixed by a small clothes pin and with hand written comments on it. Pasta, salads, sandwiches (also for vegetarians), yummy desert, wine and more.  Don’t  forget to try their hot chocolate (with cinnamon) when you drop by on a chilly evening as you have to compare it with the hot chocolate of another nice place – Achajour café (Envoy staff can’t decide which one is better). Malocco is positioned closeby to Envoy on 40 Tumanyan Street.

Achajour | And here is the next great place to have tasty snacks and spent good time while drinking a hot chocolate or a milk shake, when it’s hot outside. You can find Achajour café on Ghazar Parpetsi street, only a minute walk from Envoy hostel and in the Lover’s park (Baghramyan ave.), which is very famous during the summertime, because of it’s location and being open air. And when it gets cooler in the evening, just take a blanket and enjoy the twilight. The Achajour café at the Lovers’ Park is the first in the top 10 Foursquare venues in Yerevan by ranking.

Gemini | Do you like to drink a coffee or tea while watching the people passing by? If yes, then this is for you. The Gemini cafeteria is located in the corner of Ghazar Parpetsi and Tumanyan streets (one of the most beautiful streets in Yerevan). Only few small tables where you can enjoy the best crepe in the city. Gemini offers a wide range of crepes and good coffee/tea. A nice place to have breakfast or dinner. Plus its just around the corner from Envoy!

æon – Anti café | When a Cafe is not a cafe, it’s an Anti cafe! This is by definition what æon is. If you are tired of all the meat dishes and you just want to spend some nice time with friends, then this is the right place for you. æon (3a Teryan str) is a famous time café, where you have time and space for books, games, movies, discussions and more. Just pay for the entrance and get tea/coffee and biscuits, play board games and create music. You will be allowed to order food from other restaurants or cafés. Meet new and interesting people and create your own unforgettable time!

Grand Candy | Calling all those with a sweet tooth! This is more of an institution rather than a new hip cafe. Locals go here for its ‘ponchicks’ which are a custard filled doughnut type pastries (without the hole!). These are baked fresh on site and are very popular with locals.  It is situated close to the Madenadaran Museum at the end of Mashtots. While there, also try their chocolates – we recommend trying their unique local dried fruit & walnut chocolates (can select from fig/ peach and their very tasty apricots!) – you’ll find yourself buying some as a souvenir to take home!

Jazzve | One of the most famous cafés in Yerevan and a local institution in its own right. Over 10 years the Jazzve café is well known amongst the locals and has always something new to offer. Just thumb through their old news paper menu, chose one of their delicious cakes and have a laugh at the jokes mentioned in their menu 🙂 . See how old, traditional accessories from Soviet times have rounded off the interior and enjoy the nice music. Beside the cakes you will find waffles, snacks, soups, salads, a wide assortment of alcohol and non alcoholic drinks and even glintwines.

Retro Cafe | What can make a beautiful day even more enjoyable? – of course a nice evening at a welcome place. If you are a fan of Retro style, then you have to visit this café located on Mashtots ave. and Tamanyan str. (Cascade). Just walk through the Cascade enjoy the beautiful art works and when you get tired, enjoy a meal back in the wonderful epoch of Retro.

Green Bean Shop | Be green! One of the most popular slogans in our modern world. And here is a Coffee shop, where people realize this idea. Being eco-friendly – that’s the way Green Bean has chosen. You can get the best coffee in town in a smoke free environment. Using fresh and organic products the staff will take time to create something special and unique for you, which will give positive emotions and power to continue your day. So make sure you pop in to this great place while you’re walking down the Amiryan Street to the Republic Square.

Yerevan Tavern | The best place to enjoy Armenian traditional food is located near the Republic Square, on 5 Amiryan str. Pork, Beef and chicken combined with vegetables make a colorful and delicious composition which is spiced up by Armenian traditional music. Once you are there you just have to try the dolma or the stuffed aubergine and pepper. Another recommendation is the bean soup with walnuts. Yum! Yerevan tavern offers not only Armenian but also regional food. And all that served with the famous Armenian hospitality!

Mer Gyough | Translated to “Our Village” is a quaint little restaurant on Sayat Nova (behind the Opera). This friendly little place offers great quality traditional Armenian food including stuffed wine leaves, lentil dishes with yoghurt dressings and more. Complete with a hand written menu, chipped plates, and waiters/ waitresses dressed in traditional clothes it offers great food and atmosphere.

Old Tbilisi | Hope you are planning to visit our neighbours while in the caucaus’ and in particular Georgia as they are famous for their fabulous food! Try some delicious Ajarian khachapouri (best described as a bread boat with cheese and egg), khinkali (giant pasta parcels with minced meat) and more. Still in the city circle (5-10 minutes drive) but perhaps a bit far to walk from Envoy – ask reception to book you a taxi.

Poplavok |  An icon and landmark in its own right, it is well known by the locals. It is set on a man made lake with paddle boats and typically has live jazz music. It offers an extensive menu but is best known for its name. Poplavok means fishing float in Russian as it appears to be bopping on the water.