One Week in Armenia. An Itinerary for a First Timer
You are coming to Armenia for the very first time. You are excited yet confused. You are not sure what to expect. Even Uncle Google doesn’t seem to know too much about this mysterious destination. Sit back and relax. Here is a ready-made itinerary for a perfect week in Armenia designed for a beginner.
Day 1st and 2nd
Spend two full days in Yerevan
Start your day strolling aimlessly around the extremely walkable, laid-back streets of Kentron. Visit Surb Sargis Church and the Blue Mosque. Climb up the Cascade and enjoy the skyline views. If you want to see an off the beaten path district, explore Kond, a little piece of old Yerevan located a bit up from Amiryan street. In the afternoon head to the Erebuni Fortress, one of the most ancient urban areas in the world, and learn more about its history. After dinner invite yourself to one of the pubs on Pushkin Street for a pint of local beer.
Start the second day with something on a heavier note. Head to Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial. Visit the recently modernized museum to learn more about the atrocities of 1915. While the experience is not exactly pleasant, I recommend it as tribute to the local history. It will help you understand the Armenian mindset, too. Go back to Kentron for lunch. Take a little rest in English Park. Now it’s time for a bit of local art. Pay a visit to the Sergei Parajanov Home Museum. Even if you are not familiar with the artist’s works, you will leave the place enchanted. Make sure to be at the Republic Square after the sun goes down. Get ready for the singing fountains show!
Day 3rd and 4th
Use Yerevan as a base and head off for day trips
There are some really fabulous day trip options to take from Yerevan. For a first timer, I’d opt for these two:
Garni and Geghard
See the only Hellenic style temple in the former USSR and one of the most scenic monasteries in the whole Armenia in just one afternoon. While the country has an incredible share of monastery complexes on its tiny territory, Geghard’s location makes it truly special. It is literally carved out of rocks. The two sights are a ten-minute taxi ride away from each other. Isn’t it a beautiful spiritual journey from the ancient world to Armenia and back? On top of all this, the mountainous landscapes around these sacred sites are truly stunning.
Photo by Zofia Bałdyga
Khor Virap and the most spectacular views of Ararat
This monastery complex with the majestic Mt. Ararat in the background is one of the most famous Armenian sights. You might have seen it on postcards. It is a must-see for history lovers as a site of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s 14 year-long imprisonment. It’s also believed that Khor Virap is where one goes to capture the most scenic views of an Armenian iconic symbol, the biblical Ararat.
Spend a day in Dilijan and Parz Lake
Dilijan is probably the greenest town in Armenia, surrounded by beautiful forests. It’s also one of the most developing urban areas outside Yerevan, home to the Armenian Central Bank and a prestigious international college. Take an early morning walk in the center, then hop on a taxi and head to the Parz Lake for lunch. You have an adventure ahead of you. Hike it up to the Goshavank Monastery to explore more of Armenian nature. In the evening, get back to Dilijan and spend a night in one of local guesthouses.
Discover sacred treasures of the Lori region: Haghpat and Sanahin
This is Armenian sacred architecture at its finest. These masterpieces are perfect examples of local medieval architectural style peppered with some Byzantine elements. The churches are empty today, serving as monuments rather than monasteries. It’s a perfect place to learn about Armenian history and be reminded that Armenia was the first country in the world that adopted Christianity as a state religion. Both places were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Head back to Yerevan, shop for souvenirs and relax. Try to make this day to be Saturday or Sunday, and make sure to visit the Vernissage open air market where you can buy anything from magnets to puppies.
Do you like this itinerary? What would you add?