Points of Interest: Where to Go and Places to Visit in Armenia
For travelers looking to travel to some place which is rich in culture, has postcard-perfect landscapes and a myriad of medieval monuments, Armenia is the best place to go.
There is so much to do and see in this lovely country that it would be impossible to do it on a short trip and the visitors end up in a dilemma as to what to see in Armenia and which Armenia points of interest to travel to.
The mountainous terrain makes it a perfect place for outdoor activities and hiking. The ancient churches and ruins make it a great place to be for history lovers. The local cuisine is so delectable that it’ll leave the taste-buds of the visitors begging for more Armenian food.
Another interesting fact about Armenia is that it was the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion and it has some of the most beautiful churches in the world.
It is also known for its famed wine which is attributed to the fertile valleys in Armenia where the most exquisite grapes can be grown.
Armenia’s travel scene is still underexplored and is one of the best in the world. It has a culture so vast that it’ll remain an enigma to its visitors even after many visits.
Here’s a list of 20 places to visit in Armenia which will make everyone want to pack their bags and set out exploring the world now.
Table of Contents
- 1 Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Armenia
- 1.1 Yerevan
- 1.2 The Debed Canyon
- 1.3 Shikahogh State Reserve
- 1.4 Lake Sevan
- 1.5 Goris
- 1.6 Dilijan National Park
- 1.7 Mount Aragats
- 1.8 Garni
- 1.9 Lake Arpi National Park
- 1.10 Noravank Monastery
- 1.11 Gyumri
- 1.12 Vanadzor
- 1.13 Amberd Fortress
- 1.14 Tsaghkadzor
- 1.15 Upper Azat Valley
- 1.16 Karahunj Observatory
- 1.17 Khor Virap Monastery
- 1.18 Dvin
- 1.19 Etchmiadzin Cathedral
- 1.20 Tatev
- 2 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Armenia
Located along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the most significant Armenian city and also the capital city of Armenia. It is also called as the pink city of Armenia because of the color of the stone used in its buildings. Unlike it is perceived by many, it is a very modern and vibrant city.
Yerevan Republic square, formerly known as Lenin Square in the Soviet period and the Genocide memorial are must-see places in Yerevan if you want to understand the elaborate and gruesome history of Armenia.
Another must see a place in the capital city of Armenia is the Vernissage flea market where the visitors can get a glimpse of Armenian folk art and craftwork. Hrazdan gorge is also a great place to visit in Yerevan to spot some medieval ruins and old forts.
The Debed Canyon
The Debed Canyon offers its visitors a lot more of Armenian history and culture than the rest of the country put together. The entire stretch of the canyon is dotted by churches, chapels and old forts which ooze with tales of Armenian history. And, in fact, almost every village around the quaint gorge has a church or a monastery with beautiful khachkars.
It is home to two World-Heritage listed monasteries, the Haghpat and the Sanahin which are also very famous tourist attractions in Armenia. Travelers can sight worn out Soviet period infrastructure along the river bank, and the scenic backdrop makes it a sight to remember forever.
Alaverdi is the principal town in the Debed Canyon, and it takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach from Yerevan. Debed Canyon is a must-be place on every traveler’s list of spots to see if they are planning to travel to Armenia.
Shikahogh State Reserve
Shikahogh State Reserve which is located in southern Armenia is one of the best places to go to in Armenia. It is Armenia’s second largest reserve forest, and it finds itself all the more welcoming with about 1,100 species of plants and rare species of animals such as leopard, bezoar, bear, snow-cock, viper, and hedgehog which can be seen here.
Shikahogh State Reserve is said to be the only place in Armenia where the forest remains intact and is considered to be the wealth of not just Armenia but the whole world as it is home to some rare and unique species of flora and fauna. So, any traveler who gets a chance to travel to Armenia must make sure to take a trip to this astonishing forest reserve.
Lake Sevan is one of the most massive water bodies not just in Armenia but in the entire Caucasus region. It is set about 1900m above sea level and is considered “the jewel of Armenia” and is highly regarded as one of the most treasured tourist attractions in Armenia.
It covers a vast expanse of 940 square km and is 80km long by 30km at its broadest. It is also one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in the world. Lake Sevan has an essential economic significance in Armenia as it is the primary source of irrigation water and provides low-cost electricity. And, it commands a crowning position among Armenia’s travel destinations.
For travelers looking for any water-sport activities when they travel to Armenia, Lake Sevan is one of the only few places where they can find them as Armenia is an entirely land-locked country.
Goris is a small town in the southern Syunik province of Armenia. The infinitely meandering roads that pass through the mountains of Syunik come to a cross at Goris, making this a supreme destination in Armenia’s tourism.
It lies in the Valley of Vararak River and is marked with a charming regional style of stone architecture. It is famous for its medieval cave dwellings and the Tatev monastery. It is a city of forts, caves and many other architectural wonders.
Goris is the last major town in Armenia for travelers continuing their journey to Karabakh. It is also quite hard to reach Kapan or Meghri and thus Iran without passing through Goris, making it the gateway of the south.
Dilijan National Park
It’s dubbed as the ‘Switzerland of Armenia,’ because of its irresistibly stunning scenery and an incredibly lovely climate. It is said that it was a soothing retreat for artists, writers, cinematographers and composers during Soviet times where they could come and be creative.
Nowadays, it’s a center for tourism in Armenia with some elegant bed & breakfasts and hotels offering a comfortable stay and traditional Armenian food.
The natural beauty found here is one of the greatest pleasures travelers can discover when they travel to Armenia. The verdant forests skirting the town with soaring mountain peaks in the distance are a delight to experience. And, the local Soviet monuments and other buildings with a touch of finesse to them make this an incredibly photogenic place.
The medieval churches of Haghartsin and Goshavank are a short distance away and can be visited on a one day trip from Dilijan.
Mount Aragats at 4090 m above sea level is the highest point of Armenia. What is known for its panoramic views is also a paradise to mountaineers wanting to explore its four peaks.
Snow covers the top of the mountain almost throughout the year, so climbing it is best in July, August or September.
There is a high altitude lake nearby called Kari Litch (Stone Lake) which is a favorite camping site for mountaineers. Mount Aragats is a must visit tourist attraction in Armenia for mountain lovers.
Mountaineering in Mount Aragats is high on the list of best things to do in Armenia.
If you plan to visit Armenia, then Garni should be on your list of places to visit in Armenia. Garni is a principal village in the Kotayk province of Armenia famous for its temple with the same name.
The Garni Temple is the only pagan temple remaining in Armenia. The temple dates back to 8th century BC and is one of the prized monuments in Armenia.
When in Garni travelers can also visit Mashtots Hayrapet church built in the 12th century featuring numerous intricate carvings upon its exterior facades and further the ruins of Khumarzham church.
Lake Arpi National Park
Lake Arpi National Park is another one of the leading attractions in Armenia. It was established around Lake Arpi with the aim of protecting the unique biodiversity of the area, and to ensure sustainable development of the local communities.
Lake Arpi is itself the second largest lake in the country of Armenia after Lake Sevan and covers a vast expanse of about 220 square kilometers.
Unfortunately, it is still an underexplored place by both local and foreign travelers though it has some of the rarest and unique species of flora and fauna and offers exciting activities to do like birdwatching, butterfly watching, and botanical excursions.
Noravank Monastery is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable wonders in Armenia. Built in the 13th century; this church complex is a beautiful embodiment of the ornate architecture of that period.
The site is home to three crumbling churches each decorated with elaborate designs. A man named Momik is said to be the sculptor of this architectural marvel, and he is buried in a grave at the site itself.
This church complex is admired not merely for its architectural grandeur and historical importance but also because of the way it is seamlessly woven into the beauty of the surroundings. It is also listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
It is one of the largest cities in Armenia after the capital city Yerevan, Gyumri which was once ruled by the Arabs, and then the Turks and Persians is now an industrial center. The Spitak earthquake in 1988 almost entirely leveled the city, and the restoration works can still be seen underway.
Sights like the Amenaprkich Church, the regional museum, historical and cultural reserve and the picture gallery draw tourists to the city.
Other points of interest that showcase the history of Armenia and the city are the monument to Vardan Mamikonyan and the crumbling fortress of the Tsarist period which is popularly known as the Black Fortress.
Vanadzor is the capital city of Lori Marz in the North Central part of Armenia and is the third largest city in Armenia. Most of this city was built in the Soviet era, and it is still evident by the crumbling chemical factories of the Soviet period which can be sighted here.
It is set in a charming locale in the Valley of Pambak River where the Tandzut and Vanadzor rivers join the Pambak River.
With undulating mountains of Bazum and Pambak surrounding it and a lovely town square at its center, it makes for a picturesque setting.
Lori Pambak Geological museum here is a key attraction and one of the most important cultural centers of Armenia.
Other places of interest here are the Russian Church which has a golden dome and the Karakilisa Church which lies by the river on the north end of the town exemplifying the historic architecture of Vanadzor with its black and orange stone church building.
Vanadzor botanical garden at the southwest of the city is one of the five botanical gardens in the country of Armenia and is worth a visit.
Situated about 50km away from Yerevan on the southern slopes of Mount Aragats, this medieval fortress dates back to the 7th century when the Armenian prince Kamsarakan started its construction.
It stands on a craggy cliff at a whopping altitude of 2100 meters overseeing the sweeping views of the beautiful backcountry. The ruins of a chapel, a 13th-century bathhouse, and a cistern can be seen downhill from this fortress.
It is considered as one of the leading historical points of interest in Armenia and is a top destination to be visited in Armenia.
Set amidst the delicate alpine meadows; this quaint spa town is located on the south-eastern slope of Mount Teghenis. It is one of the major tourist attractions and has some of the best hotels in Armenia.
The Tsaghkadzor Ski Resort here is a popular summer travel destination in Armenia. It is also home to ‘Golden Palace Senator’ and ‘Senator Royale’ which are two prominent casinos of Armenia.
Kecharis monastery which is a medieval Armenian architectural exemplification, Memorial Museum of Orbeli Brothers and the Leonid Yengibarov Monument are the other attractions which pull the tourist crowd.
Also, the forests near the foot of the mountain render for leisurely strolls for travelers who desire it.
Upper Azat Valley
Upper Azat Valley is a beautiful valley with towering cliffs and scenic views in the Kotayk province of Armenia and is marked by the Geghard complex here which is listed as a world heritage site.
The Geghard complex is an exceptional example of medieval Armenian monasteries. Sitting at the head of the Azat Valley it offers a panoramic view of the valley below. The complex has many churches, tombs, caves, and khachkars which illustrate the Armenian medieval architecture.
It is one of the most frequented destinations in Armenia, and it is not an exaggeration to say that travel to Armenia is incomplete without seeing this beauty.
Zorats Karer, also called Karahunj, is a prehistoric archaeological site in the Syunik Province of Armenia and is aptly billed as the ‘Armenian Stonehenge.’
But what is known belies the claim by researchers that it could be among the world’s oldest astronomical observatories and is at least 3,500 years older than the British Stonehenge. It is a marvelous collection of megaliths which could have both scientific and religious significance.
The nearby city of Sisian houses a small museum dedicated to findings in the area, including tomb artifacts from the Bronze Age burial site.
Armenia’s travel plan is unfinished without sighting this medieval marvel.
Khor Virap Monastery
One of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Armenia, it’s a famous pilgrimage site for the Armenians. It lies 30 Km south from the capital city of Yerevan in a strikingly beautiful location with Mount Ararat in the backdrop.
The monastery is perched on a hillock alongside the Araks River, offering some of the best views of the river pasture for the travelers. Khor Virap translates to ‘deep well’ and as the legend says, St. Gregory stayed in that pit as a prisoner for thirteen years. It is also noted that long time ago it was the site where Artashat, the ancient Armenian capital was located.
Travelers can make for a visit to the Aramash Fish Ponds, 25km downstream from Khor Virap near the town of Yeraskh, which sees a great variety of migrating birds and local species in spring and autumn. It is one of the best places to visit in Armenia and should be on every traveler’s bucket-list for Armenia.
Dvin which served as the capital of early medieval Armenia and which was a booming commercial city until the Arab conquest in 640 AD is not much more than bare ruins now.
The insignificant remains of churches and other monuments among which there are the ruins of what was said to be the largest in Armenia and was dedicated to St.Gregory can be seen here.
The foundations of the 7th century palace of the Katholikos can also be sighted to the north of the ruins of the Church. It makes for a perfect stop-over if you are looking to explore the history of early medieval Armenia.
Located in the vast fertile valley of River Arax, near the magnificent Mount Ararat, Etchmiadzin Cathedral unquestionably is one of Armenia’s must-see places. It is considered the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church and is located in the city of Vagharshapat.
It is believed that this is the oldest cathedral in the world. It has been the center of Armenian religion, culture, and spirituality for more than 17 centuries and has been called ‘The Armenian Vatican’ and ‘The Armenian Mecca.’
It is one of the most ancient and beautiful examples of Christian architecture in Armenia and a not to miss the place when visiting Armenia.
Around 35 kilometers away from the town of Goris is the village of Tatev. It is famous for its 9th century Armenian Apostolic monastery which is popularly known as the Tatev Monastery. It is an Armenian architectural masterpiece which stands on the verge of a deep gorge overlooking the Voratan River.
Its rise to fame is partly attributed to the cableway there, which is called as ‘Wings of Tatev’ which is the longest cableway in the world covering a considerable distance of 5.7 kilometers.
There are many short hikes you can take in the surrounding area of Tatev. The hiking trail which leads to the hamlet of Svarants on the other side of the valley and the path which heads up north to the top of Petroskhatch Mountain are two of the popular ones among them.
Tatev is one of the places which offers both- hues of history and the abundance of nature. It is one of the best points of interest in Armenia, so visitors should make sure to check out this place when in Armenia.
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