Your Destination

If you are seeking for non-cliché destination, we definitely recommend you to visit Armenia! It is a cozy country, which is mixed up with Eastern and Western mentality, some oriental spices, Soviet Union influence, Caucasian spirit, old traditions, unique culture and new perspectives. It may sound really paradoxical, but Armenia is one of the oldest and youngest countries in the world: with old heritage, rich history and young independent background. Once you get to know it from inside, part of you will always stay with its beautiful and wild landscapes, hospitable people, delicious food, pictorial mountains and nature… Armenia will fill you with unforgettable impressions and will surprise you with its possibilities and uniqueness, here you will always experience more than you have actually expected. So grab your backpack, do not forget your camera and let’s discover together why you need to visit it ASAP!


Photo by Marko Ukkola
 
  1. Wild nature, high mountains, hills, caves, waterfalls and different type of stones all over the country! Spice up your impressions with some adventures and get lost in different type of reality. It is totally different from all the places you have ever been before. 
  2. Here you will discover some world’s oldest things: like Sky Observatory which is 5,000 years old or Stone Age Tools which are about 325,000 years old, if you are more into fashion, you can see a perfectly preserved Leather Shoe, which is the oldest in the world and just 5,500 years old and many more old stuff! 
  3. Armenia does not have any sea! But here it is Lake Sevan – one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in the world. It is situated in the heart of the country, at the altitude of 1,900 m (6,200 ft) above sea level and surrounded by mountains. Numerous beaches are located along the entire lake shore. You should certainly try out its fish “Ishkhan” and crayfish, which is a really good combination with beer! 
  4. Don't hesitate to try out Armenian food! You will love it, with its special way of preparing and serving. Food over here is really organic and fresh, the region full of tasty fruits and vegetables. And of course no words can describe the real taste of Armenian barbecue. There is no reason to be worried in case if you are a vegetarian you will get the special portion of barbecue made from veggies. 
  5. You will be able to explore old churches and holy places with unique architecture all over Armenia! Most of them are hidden in the high mountains and caves. Here you can take the longest Aerial Ropeway in the world! Learn about “KhachKars” – Cross Stones which are typical only for Armenian culture, learn about Armenian language and its graphically unique alphabet, which was introduced around 405AD. 
  6. Oh, make sure you got some room in your backpack, so you will be able to take presents with you by the end of your trip! Because that is what is going to happen to you in Armenia, people here are way too friendly and hospitable, especially in villages. Although they won’t be able to communicate with you in English, you probably won’t realize how apparently you are having dinner with them and exchanging numbers and they will give you some presents (mostly food, handmade stuff and wine). A tiny portion of cultural shock from locals. 
  7. You always can chill out in Yerevan – which got the reputation of a very safe city. Here you can see harmonic combination of East and West, Old and New. From one side you will discover open markets, carpet’s shops and shawarma places; from another side you will enjoy modern cafes, bars, restaurants and coffee places and night life. Here old buildings intersect with new constructions and Soviet Architecture. Also don’t miss out the view of mountain Ararat, which will follow you during your entire trip…

Preparing Your Trip

The Republic of Armenia (RA) - the land of the sun and rocks; the site of prehistoric life dating back to the Middle Stone Age; the country rich archeological biography, natural attractions, immaculate culture and renowned for its legendary hospitality.
We came up with a list of what a newbie traveller needs to know before heading to Armenia.

General facts:

Armenia is a land-locked developing country. It has closed borders with Turkey to the west and with Azerbaijan to the east. Mountainous Armenia has open borders with Georgia to the north and with Iran to the south. Surrounded by Islamic nations, most Armenians all over the world follow the Armenian Apostolic Church, which was founded in the 1st century AD. Christianity is the official religion of Armenia adopted in 301 AD. The total population as of 2014 is 2.969 million people. Post-Soviet Armenia is considered to be a lower middle-income country among Europe and Central Asia developing countries. Yerevan is the capital of the RA with population of at about 1.079 million people. Currency is called Dram, equal to – AMD in the international ISO code abbreviation.  The official language is Eastern Armenian, however, great majority of Armenians know Russian and many know English as well. 

Photo by Marko Ukkola
 

Obtaining Armenian Visa:

Wondering whether or not you need a visa to enter the territory of the RA? Yes, a foreigner does need an entry visa, which can be obtained either online (e-visa) or at entry points to Armenia. Armenian visas are issued for maximum 120 days with possibility to extend for another 60 days if no other term is defined by international agreements of the Republic of Armenia.

Weather:

Armenia is noted for its distinct four seasons and very different climate depending on the province. Armenians sometimes jokingly say, that even in winter one can ski in the upper suburbs of the capital and have coffee downtown in a cafe with outdoor seating. The climate is dry with hot summers and cold winters. However, the temperatures can vary considerably between seasons. Therefore, we advise you take rainwear for spring or autumn time, and warm winter clothes for cold winters.

How to Get Around:

Public transport network of the capital and other big cities of Armenia is not civilized and systematized yet. The routes are fixed, but there is no need to have a travel card for the buses and minibuses (marshrutka). You pay on the go. Actually, do not be surprised – you pay when getting off the bus or minibus. There is underground in Armenia, but only in capital city of Yerevan and it has one line.

Among the towns of Armenia you can take either buses or minibuses which follow fixed routes.
The railway transport system is slow compared to developed countries with similar sized networks. However, you can take train to some parts of Armenia and to Georgia as well.

We recommend taking taxi or minibuses when traveling outside the capital. There are taxis in all towns and countryside, and even in small remote villages of Armenia. Taxi service is delivered both by individuals and companies. Just pay attention to the license plate: yellow plates belong to taxi companies, while the private ones are white. In both cases prices are quite affordable.

What to eat and drink:

For at about 2700 yeas already, eating habits of Armenian people have not changed much. Armenians love eating food folded in Armenian flat bread lavash, and the national dishes are mostly hot, spicy and salty. The tables are abundant with meat dishes. Yes, Armenians do eat much beef, pork, chicken and lamb.

The must-taste dishes are the famous homemade Armenia barbecue (khorovats), the very traditional meal dolma made of minced meat and the winter soup khash made of cow’s feet. The must-drink options are the legendary Armenian cognac, homemade wines and mulberry vodka.

Well... do not think that vegetarians might have hard times in Armenia. Armenian modern cuisine does offer vegetarian meals, with the most famous pasuts dolma stuffed with lentils, red kidney beans, peas, wheat grits and fried onions and the famous tan – non-alchoholic drink made of yogurt (matsun), water and salt.

Practical Tips:

  1. Armenia is a safe country, however, we recommend that you take precautions against theft and do not leave your valuables unattended.
  2. Currently, there are three mobile phone operators in Armenia: Viva Cell MTS, Beeline and Orange, which offer 2G, 3G and 4G services and have shops located in Zvartnots airport and major towns of the country. You will not have the feeling of being offline in the capital of Yerevan and major towns. The Internet culture has recently grown fast in Armenia – abundance of free-Wi-Fi all the way round.
  3. According to the laws of the Republic of Armenia the trade in foreign currency is prohibited. Therefore, we recommend you exchange your currency in one of the many banks or exchange points in Armenia.

Cultural Tip:

Prepare for stares and being the center of attention. But do not be offended by the stares, in Armenia they come from curiosity and not distrust. Just smile and keep on walking.

Fun tip:

Do not play macho with Armenian females! Because a typical Armenian male is temperamental and extremely jealous...

Must-know fact:

You cannot take photos in Yerevan Underground. Yes, do not be surprised this is one of inherited soviet-style strangenesses.

We hope you will take a break from the ordinary during your travel to this land of contrasts. So, բարի ճանապարհ (bari chanaparh = safe travels).