Your full travel guide to

Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the history-steeped country of Armenia serves up dramatic mountain scenery, high adventure and a curious culture that’s a joy to absorb. From savouring its street food to visiting the world’s oldest cathedral, here’s how to explore this bewitching, off-grid destination.



With an ancient history dating back to pre-Christianity, Armenia’s culture and national identity has been centuries in the making. Here’s how to explore it for yourself...


Armenia has around 120 museums and galleries, but the History Museum of Armenia as well as Matenadaran (also called the Museum of Ancient Manuscripts) – some of whose tomes and high literature date back 1,000 years – offer incredible insight into the country’s cultural history. The Yerevan Genocide Museum also offers a thought-provoking glimpse into its layered past. The Dzitoghtsyan Museum of National Architecture, meanwhile, is also worth a visit and showcases the daily urban life of Gyurmi as well as the architectural styles of the city. Over in Sasunik, the Wine History Museum tells the fascinating story of the centuries-old traditions involved in the production of wine in the country. 

Art galleries

Art is an important and celebrated part of Armenian culture and there are many galleries you can visit across the country. To witness the striking artwork of prominent Armenian artist Martiros Saryan, head to the National Gallery of Armenia, the country’s largest art museum, founded in 1921. The open-air museum of Cafesjian Center for the Arts is also well worth a visit for its contemporary art and eye-opening sculptured gardens.

Churches and monasteries

Armenia is the world’s first Christian nation and its most historic church, the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301 AD, is considered one of the world’s oldest. Located around 22km west of Yerevan, this spiritual heart joins around 4,000 Armenian Apostolic and Orthodox churches and monasteries across the country, which explains its nickname the ‘land of churches’. Some of the most spectacular include the 4th century Geghard Monastery, carved into the mountainside above the Upper Azat Valley. The capital’s Katoghike Church, which survived the 17th century earthquake, is another historic gem.


There are three UNESCO-listed sites in Armenia all worth visiting. The frescoed Cathedral of Etchmiadzin and the ruined cathedral of Zvartnots, are, by far, the most visited. As a symbol of the wealth generated by the Kiurikian dynasty, the 10th century monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, founded in the Lori Province, are also inscribed on the World Heritage list. There are also four sites on the tentative list that occupy spectacular mountain locations and served as key educational centres across maths, history, philosophy and calligraphy.


Armenia brims with both modern and ancient architectural wonders and examples can be found all across the country. The Erebuni Fortress, for example, built in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, is an intriguing place to uncover Urartian architecture. Besides medieval churches and monasteries, discover the Soviet era architecture of Yerevan alongside traditional Armenian styles, advanced during the Hellenistic era.

Local traditions

Local traditions in Armenia are simply fascinating. Don't miss your chance to watch a kochari performance. This UNESCO-listed folk dance originated in the Armenian Highlands and is a type of circle dance.  Another UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity example that can be found in Armenia is the duduk and its music. This historic reed wind musical instrument (dating back to 95 BC) is made from the soft wood of an apricot tree.

Local Armenian traditions can also be sampled through the country's food. Festivals, too, like the Pagan-rooted Vardavar – where people drench each other with water – and the annual harvest festivals, offer a window into Armenia’s cultural tapestry. As for music, the Sevan International Music Festival and lively Yerevan Music Night are big on the events calendar while the country’s famous wine heritage is celebrated at the Areni wine festival, in the Vayots Dzor region.



Thanks to its variety of climate zones and topography, as well as its altitudes and distinct seasons. Armenia sets the bar high for nature spotting and immersing yourself in wildlife. With three state reserves, 26 state sanctuaries and four national parks, there is a bounty of places to appreciate the natural, unspoilt world in Armenia. Here are just some of the many highlights…


April to June and September to October are the best times to enjoy Armenia’s world-class birdwatching when some 180 migratory birds - from flamingos and pelicans, to cormorants, shrikes and finches – pass between the hemispheres. While the 1,242 sq km Lake Sevan and surrounding peninsula are key habitats for Caucasian grouse and Armenian gulls, the Armash fishponds are a prime location for kingfishers, various lapwing species, herons and terns. Across the 250 sq km Arpi Lake National Park glimpse the rare black stork and Dalmatian pelican, or visit the Gnishik Canyon to spot bearded vultures and other birds of prey.


While the exact population of Caucasian brown bears is unknown, around 2,500 inhabit the South Caucasus, with Armenia’s remote forest, and mountain slopes of Mount Aragats, Mount Ara and the Geghama Mountains acting as key habitats. The Caucasian Wildlife Refuge is a great place to learn more about them.

Wild sheep and goats

Wild sheep, known as mouflons, are an endangered species in Armenia. But head to the highlands of the Syunik region and you may be lucky enough to spot them. Bezoar, or wild goats, meanwhile, occupy the slopes of the Gnishik Canyon, close to the famous Noravank Monastery.

Caucasian leopards

Populations of the Caucasian leopard declined in the late 1980s, however, thanks to conservation efforts, its population has continued to grow ever since. Sightings here are rare, since numbers are thought to remain below 15, but a visit to the Khosrov Forest State Reserve places you in one of its favoured habitats.


Armenia’s flora comprises an impressive 3,800 plant species and Arpi Lake National Park is a beautiful place to appreciate some of its best, from yellow water lilies and delicate irises to brightly coloured gladioli. Come spring, poppy fields set a dramatic scene for hiking and biking around the city of Gyumri while the Tsakhkunyats and Geghama mountain ranges and slopes of the iconic Mount Ara reward visitors with herbal flora and rare plant life unique to high altitude steppes. The protected oak and juniper forests of the Khosrov Forest State Reserve are also among the country’s most treasured flora.



With its varied terrain, numerous climates, high altitudes and natural wonders, adventure abounds across Armenia and there are thrills to be found in all of the seasons.  These outdoor activities are a must for adrenaline-thirsty travellers…


Travellers who appreciate rambling among dramatic gorges, rolling mountain scenery and high-altitude lakes should consider Armenia’s plethora of hiking trails. There’s an added feeling of mystique on its Legends Trail, in Armenia’s south, too, since this covers a part of the historic Silk Road and has only recently been rediscovered by modern visitors. Trekking some of the 3,000 km-long Transcaucasian Trail (TCT), which takes in the mighty Caucasus Mountains and dozens of national parks, is another spectacular way to get under the skin of the region.

Water activities

With so many lakes, reservoirs and rivers in Armenia, it is easy to get out on the water. Whether you’re keen to wakeboard, jet ski or waterski, the 1,360sqkm Lake Sevan, the largest lake in the Caucasus, is the place to do it. While you can admire ‘the jewel of Armenia’ from various lookout points (including the striking hilltop Sevanavank monastery), a boat trip, spot of wild swimming or a water sporting adventure is a great way to enjoy this reservoir over summer. With an altitude of 1,900m, you can also claim to have visited one of the highest lakes in the world. The lake is also popular with kayakers and stand-up paddle-boarders. Also good for stand-up paddle-boarding is the Azat Reservoir with its glass-clear and still waters.

Those seeking more of a thrill should head to Tumanyan in the Debed Canyon (around 160km north of Yerevan) and embark on a whitewater rafting adventure along the Debed river. 

Zip lining

Those with a thirst for speed (and no fear of heights) can take a thrilling aerial flight from ziplines in Yerevan, Yenokavan and Kapan. Stretching for 1,080m and taking you to heights of 160 metres, the one in Kapan is the country’s longest, and perhaps the most thrilling.

Rock climbing

Armenia is renowned for its rocky limestone and volcanic tuff cliffs, and some of the most popular among climbers are in the Gnishik Canyon – aka the Noravank Gorge – known for its easily accessible yet unspoilt setting. In the southeastern part of Ararat province, you can take on the Aratso Canyon, also known as ‘Hells Canyon’.

Adventures in the air

With its unspoilt natural landscapes and geological drama, Armenia looks incredible from the sky. Garni is a great base for hot air balloon adventures where you can float above the mountains and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Temple of Garni and Geghard Monastery. For more of a thrill, opt for a paragliding experience which will see you soar above Yerevan, taking in the sparkling lakes below and the peaks all around. 



Armenia’s cuisine is an intriguing fusion of both eastern and Mediterranean flavours. Add to that a tradition of winemaking and you have a culinary scene that is well worth exploring. Here are just a few of the must-try dishes...


Don’t miss a trip to Yerevan’s GUM Market for its gata, an egg-rich Armenian pastry.


For something sweet, try the highly celebrated ghapama, essentially a mix of rice, dried fruit, honey and walnuts cooked inside a carved-out pumpkin.


You won’t regret sinking your teeth into syrupy pakhlavas. This delicious dessert combines thin layers of dough stuffed with chopped nuts and honey. 


Khash, literally translating as ‘to boil’ is a hearty bone broth of cow’s hoof, tripe and marrow. The thick, slow-cooked dish is popular during the winter months. 


A kufta will become a firm favourite among meat eaters. This Armenian style of the dish sees the meatball, often ground beef or ground lamb, layered with potatoes and tomatoes and cooked like a casserole. 


This Armenian barbecue features marinated meat such as lamb, beef, chicken and veal cooked over coals. It is a dish that is often enjoyed during festive occasions. 


There’s little an Armenian loves more than a stuffed vegetable, and a tolma is a prime example. These vine leaves are filled with fragrant mince meat and rice, and make for a great starter or side dish to your meal. 


It’s not just meat that is found on the menu in Armenia, with the country serving up fresh seafood, too. One popular dish is ishkhan, a freshwater trout. Look out for Sevan ishkhan which is only found in the Sevan lake and has a distinct colour and taste. The fish is usually poached with bay leaves, pepper and tarragon. 


In Armenia, wine has an almost sacred value. Visit the famous Areni-1 cave, also called ‘Birds’ cave’, near the village of Areni, where archaeologists unearthed a 6,100-year-old winery. You can also follow routes to various wine-producing regions like Ararat, Armavir, Aragatsotn, Tavush and Vayots Dzor and enjoy a whole host of red, white and fortified wines and brandies, amid picturesque rolling vineyards. Saryan Street in Yerevan offers many bars where you can order local wines.



Start planning your dream visit to Armenia now by heading over to the official website.