Armenia is one of the most ancient countries in the world, full of rich history and beautiful landscapes. This undiscovered country of the Caucasus holds gorgeous natural scenery and hidden-away towns just waiting for visitors to explore. If you are planning a trip here, here are some of the most beautiful places to add to your itinerary.
A visit to Armenia isn’t complete without traveling to its capital – Yerevan. The city is full of interesting places to visit and areas to explore. Stroll down the streets, climb up the Cascade for panoramic views, visit the many museums, and indulge in local cuisine. The perfect geographical location of the city also makes it possible to schedule various day trips from here.
Located only a 30-minute drive from Yerevan, the city of Echmiadzin plays an important role in the history of the country. Armenia was one of the first countries to make Christianity its official religion, and the cathedral was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple to commemorate the event.
When traveling throughout Armenia, you’ll notice that the country is rich in monasteries, and Noravank is one of the most impressive ones in the whole country. Smooth brick-red hills shield the monastery, which was built in the 13th century. If you are short on time and undecided which site to see while planning your trip here, do choose Noravank.
Another magnificent place to explore is the Noravank Gorge located in Vayots Dzor Province. Wander through the captivating caves that are home to ancient wine-making utensils and prehistoric shoes dating from the Chalcolithic Period. Moreover, the area is famous for a wide variety of birds, including vultures and eagles, as well as striking rocky walls that change colors according to the time of the day.
Lake Sevan is the largest lake in Armenia and one of the most beautiful places to visit. The lake serves both as a cultural and leisure site. It’s surrounded by many gorgeous monasteries for you to explore, but if you are looking for a more relaxing getaway, head to some of the many beaches along the lakeshore. As the country doesn’t have a coastline, Sevan is a good place to sunbathe, swim, or windsurf.
Gyumri is the second largest city in the country, and it is worth planning a visit here. After exploring city life, head to the Black Fortress for picturesque views of Gyumri, and don’t forget to visit the Mother Armenia statue situated nearby. Museum lovers will also enjoy their time here, as the city is home to some of the most significant cultural institutions in the country such as the Dzitoghtsyan Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life, the Sergey Merkurov House Museum, and the Aslamazyan Sisters House Museum.
Amberd Fortress is one of the most astonishing places in the country to explore. The name translates into English as ‘the fortress in the clouds’, and the view from here is stunning. Dating back to the 7th century, the fortress is about an hour’s drive from Yerevan. However, note that during the winter months, snowfall can block the road towards the fortress.
The Upper Azat Valley is home to Geghard Monastery, another incredible site in the country. Even though the main chapel was built 800 years ago, the history of the monastery goes back to the 4th century. Founded by Gregory the Illuminator, it is believed to have housed one of the spears used during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the best place to enjoy the breathtaking views of Mount Ararat is from the Khor Virap Monastery. The area plays a significant role in Armenia’s history, as Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned here for 14 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. Afterward, the King converted to Christianity and determined the religious future of the country.
History buffs will like Dvin, the oldest city and a former capital of medieval Armenia. Founded in the around 330, the city stood still until it was destroyed during the Jalal Ad-Din’s and Mongols’ invasions in the middle of the 13th century. You can wander through the ruins of the city and admire the archeological findings. In addition, the city also has modern sights to explore, such as St. Harutyun Church, which was built 18 years ago.
Tatev Monastery is another unforgettable place to visit in Armenia. The drive is a bit long, around four hours from Yerevan, but the scenery is worth it. The medieval monastery located at the end of a deep gorge and is surrounded by marvelous mountainous landscapes. You need to take a cable car to get to the monastery, taking another 20 minutes but offering fantastic panoramic views.
Selim Pass used to be part of the famous Silk Road that linked Asia to Europe. Located between Yerevan and Lake Sevan, the site is full of ancient caravanserai that still stands intact. Caravanserais used to be complexes that encompassed a meeting point, a hotel and a shopping place for the merchants traveling along the road.
If you are looking for a popular spa destination, travel to Jermuk, famous for 40 thermal springs. The healing properties of the mineral water and the mild climate attract many locals. Visit the Gallery of Water for free tastings of the mineral water and Jermuk Waterfall, the second largest waterfall in the country.
The Syunik region is home to another attractive site – the cave town of Khndzoresk, where people used to live up until the 1950s. The site is a unique settlement where time seems to have stopped. A new bridge was built to connect the two parts of the village, from where you can enjoy magnificent views of the area.