Armenia probably isn’t on the top of your bucket list, but it probably should be. No matter what kind of traveler you are, you’re sure to find something about Armenia to love: there’s tasty food, amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites, world-renowned brandy, unspoiled nature and better yet, you won’t have to share your experience with a bunch of other tourists around (at least not yet). Here’s why you should visit Armenia.
10 Reasons To Visit Armenia
Armenia was once the cornerstone of historical developments; therefore, it’s no surprise that you’ll find quite a few UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you’re planning a trip to Armenia, make sure you add at least a few of these sites to your list of places to visit.
- Haghpat: The Haghpat monastery dates back to the 10th century. It’s situated on a plateau and is surrounded by gorges. Several manuscripts, including “The Gospel of Haghpat,” were written at this complex, which was one of medieval Armenia’s biggest cultural hubs.
- Sanahin: Sanahin was constructed in the 13th century. The complex’s name can be interpreted as “sa nranic (Haghpat) hin e,” which suggests that the site predates Haghpat. This was one of the most significant cultural and educational institutions in the area, which housed a school and a sizable neighboring library. The main building consists of the churches of St. Astvatsatsin and Amenaprkich, a bell tower, three churchyards, the chapel of St. Grigor and a library.
- Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and Archaeological Remains at Zvartnots: At these UNESCO sites, you can see the evolution of the development of the Armenian central-domed cross-hall type of church, which had significant influence on the architecture of the region.
- Monastery of Geghard: The Monastery of Geghard contains a number of tombs cut into the rock, done at the height of Armenian medieval architecture. The complex is in a beautiful natural setting surrounded by cliffs.
Amazing Hiking and Nature
If you enjoy the outdoors, Armenia has a lot to offer including trekking, hiking and paragliding. However, if you visit Armenia in the winter, you can still make use of the great outdoors by skiing at Tsaghkadzor, which is on par with well-known ski resorts in Europe.
You can also take the longest cable car in the world for a unique experience. The cable car is 3.6 miles long and rises 1,050 feet above the River Vorotan, so it is not for the faint-hearted.
If you prefer to stick to modest hiking trails, there are plenty to choose from with breathtaking views. Hike Armenia is a helpful resource for all of your trail maps through their handy app.
The stunning Lake Sevan, often referred to by the locals as “The Armenian Sea,” is impossible to miss. You can sit on the bank and feel as if the water’s surface and the sky are going to merge.
This lake, which has fresh and mild waters and is the biggest and often regarded as the most spectacular lake in the Caucasus, is surrounded by silent mountains that seem to shield it from the outer world.
Ararat is a Biblical mountain that was referenced in the Bible during the Great Flood, according to historical records and is thought to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark. Armenian legends claim that Noah stopped and settled with his family in the valley at the base of the mountain. The view alone is breathtaking and will leave a lasting impression.
You can drive out of the capital to the Monastery of Khor Virap for the best views of this picturesque mountain. Alternatively, you can climb to the top of the Yerevan Cascade.
Armenia is home to a large number of monuments, many of which are incredibly stunning. The Mother Armenia monument is one of the most well-known. It is located in a park in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan.
While Armenian brandy is made in a large number of distilleries and exported to other countries in addition to being consumed locally, it’s difficult to find one that tops Ararat brandy. Ararat uses only local Armenian oak to age the brandy, but the real secret is the water and soil of Armenia.
It is believed that this Armenian brandy is naturally perfect, so you definitely can’t miss out on trying a bottle. To learn how this liquid gold is created, you can even take a tour of the renowned Ararat brandy factory with a tasting at the end—which I highly recommend.
Armenia isn’t only known for its brandy; it has some popular and delicious wines too. Armenians have grown grapes and produced a variety of wines for centuries. In fact, the world’s oldest known winery, Areni, was discovered in an Armenian cave. There’s an operating winery known by the same name.
In Armenia, water is a special kind of element. It’s delicious, clean and fresh. Everyone is curious as to why this water is fresher and better than any other water in the world. Well, this is because Armenian water comes from some of the highest mountains.
Armenia also has a fascinating tradition surrounding water fountains—they build and name these fountains after the dead. They believe that if water flows through the fountain the people won’t be forgotten.
If you have a sweet tooth, Armenia will be a paradise for you. You’ll find amazing fruit, including pomegranates, apricots, figs, apples, grapes and more. If you’re visiting at the start of summer, berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mulberries, etc. are a must-have. However, if you’re a fan of the sweetest and juiciest grapes, make sure you visit in autumn.
Armenians love their bread. You’ll rarely find an Armenian family gathering around the table without bread. Whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner, you have to have bread on your plate!
A tonir, an underground oven, is used to make a particular kind of flatbread called lavash. Many Armenian people use lavash bread to make mouthwatering sandwiches with cheese, lettuce and other fillings. Lavash also accompanies khash, the traditional Armenian bone broth that’s made and eaten on cold days to get warm down to the bone—often enjoyed with a shot (or a few) of vodka. Khash is also touted as a hangover cure … but perhaps it’s just the hair of the dog.
Fortunately, you can buy lavash in almost any supermarket or grocery store, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it. However, there are also bakeries where lavash is baked fresh.