If you want to discover one of the most old and historical countries in the world than you need to go to Armenia. A place where everywhere you can feel at home because of hospitable and amazing people. A place where every place has a huge history, not necessarily the most happy or exciting history, but that has it’s own beauty. A place where people have a lot to tell. And if you are a European you will discover a lot of differences.
And there are some things that you should know about Armenia before going there.
Where is Armenia
Armenia is a landlocked country in the Caucasus region, bordering with Turkey in the west, Georgia in the north, Azerbaijan in the east and Iran in the south (however the borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are closed for political reasons).
The capital city of Armenia is Yerevan with 1,1 million inhabitants (over 1/3 of the country’s population). It is located in the central part of the country, near the border with Turkey.
Why visit Armenia
You might be wondering why you should visit Armenia.
Armenia is the first country in the world that took Christianity as the state religion, in the year 301. Today you can visit many beautiful monasteries strewn around the country, many of them are centuries old and are a great history lesson. To get to one of the most famous monasteries – Tatev– you need to take the longest cable car in the world!
The landscape of Armenia is a bit harsh but beautiful. You can find here some incredible rock formations, like the so-called “symphony of the stones”, deep canyons, stone villages that look a bit like Cappadocia and more!
Lake Sevan is among the highest-located lakes in the world, with an altitude of 1,900 meters above sea level.
And then there is Yerevan the capital city. It might not be a beautiful place in the classical definition but it’s a great city and offers so much that you need at least two days to get to know it in the slightest.
Armenia has a long and unfortunately tragic history and very rich culture and traditions. You will learn a lot about it from friendly locals who are very proud of their national identity.
Last but not least – the food! Armenia is known for its fresh produce and everything you try is simply delicious!
Do you need a visa to Armenia?
Nationalities of most of the countries, including the European Union, the US, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina and some Asian countries like Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan don’t need a visa to enter Armenia.
Crossing the border to Armenia is easy and straightforward. You might be asked questions about your travel plans or accommodation but it’s nothing extraordinary in comparison to other borders.
How to get around Armenia
The biggest problem with visiting Armenia is getting around the country.
While you can easily travel between bigger cities, like Etchmiadzin, Gyumri, Sevan, Dilijan or Goris reaching some more remote destinations can be an issue. And the biggest attractions of Armenia usually are in those remote locations.
You might rent a car but roads in Armenia are often in a poor condition so driving might be a challenge. Not to mention crazy drivers that can wreck your nerves.
If you are not too confident or adventurous with driving I would reconsider your decision.
Fortunately, there are numerous affordable tours in Armenia, many of them operating as day trips from Yerevan.
You can use Yerevan as your base and do numerous day trips around. You might also go by public transport to one of the bigger cities, like Goris in the south, to use for your base to explore the area. I’m sure you would easily find a driver for a reasonable price there.
In and around Yerevan you can use the app called Yandex Taxi. It works like UBER, the only difference is you don’t need to register your card in the app and you can pay directly to the driver.
You can use Yandex Taxi if you want to go independently to places like Etchmiadzin, Zvartnots Cathedral, Zvartnots Airport, Garni temple or Geghard Monastery although if you are traveling alone tours might be cheaper.
Language in Armenia
The official language of the country is Armenian. It uses its own alphabet that you can see only in Armenia – it looks like nothing you’ve seen before and you won’t be able to read the signs, but it is really beautiful.
Fortunately, English is widely spoken among young people, especially in Yerevan and you shouldn’t have many troubles with getting around. Knowing some Russian, even basics comes in handy too.
But even if you have some language problems local people are very friendly and will help you for sure.
Armenia is a very affordable country and everything, from food to accommodation and from transport to activities has a very good price.
To give you some examples:
- a good hotel in Yerevan – around $40 (16.000 AMD)
- Lunch in the restaurant – around $10 (4.000 AMD)
- Craft beer – $2-3 (around 1.000 AMD)
- Coffee – $2-3 (around 1.000 AMD)
- Train ticket from Yerevan to Gyumri – $2-$5 (1.000 – 2.5000 AMD), depending on the train
- Marshrutka from Yerevan to Dilijan – $2 (1.000 AMD)
- Bottle of water – $0,30 (around 150 AMD)
- 2 liters bottle of Coca Cola – $1,25 (600 AMD)
- Metro ride in Yerevan – $0,20 (100 AMD)
- Day trip from Yerevan to Lake Sevan – around $20 (around 10.000 AMD)
- A SIM card + 2 GB data – around $6 (2.800 AMD)
- Yandex taxi ride from the airport to the center of Yerevan around $3 (1.500 AMD)
One more thing that all Armenians are proud of is that you can find free water in the streets. There are ցայտաղբյուր(tsaytaghbyur)s everywhere, these are made of rock and have water line, and they work 24/7. I can’t translate it in English because only Armenia has this thing and it’s not translatable.
These are not the only things you should know about Armenia, but the most important thing that you should know is that once you’ve been to Armenia it will not be the last time.