Armenia or Georgia? Which Caucasus country should be your next travel destination? Both nations were absolutely forgotten by international tourism, particularly by western tourists, but now they are trending, and becoming more and more popular! We will explore and compare everything you need to know about each country and help you figure out if you should travel to Armenia or to Georgia.
Both countries have a wide array of things to do and see, but they are mostly known for the mountains, monasteries, cheap prices, delicious food, and above all nature! So, we will use these topics to compare Armenia and Georgia.
- Natural beauty;
- Tourist attractions;
- Outdoor activities;
- Culture and heritage;
- The people;
- Food scene;
- Travel infrastructure;
- Travel safety;
- Tourist index;
Note, if you are looking for complete guides to Georgia and Armenia have a look at ours:
- Everything you need to know before traveling to Georgia
- Everything you need to know before traveling to Armenia
Armenia or Georgia – Travel Edition
Natural Beauty of Armenia vs Georgia
The first thing to examine in this comparison is how beautiful each country is – think of it like this if you randomly look out of the car window, how beautiful would landscape be.
Armenia has some wonderful areas, the scenery around Tatev monastery is beautiful, the Dilijan National park is also very pleasant, but in general, it has very rocky areas and it’s very yellow and dry during summer. Don’t get us wrong, it’s very nice and pleasant to look at, but only a few areas are really exciting.
The northern side of Georgia is absolutely astonishing – this region of the Caucasus is out of this world when it comes to beauty. Southern Georgia is more on the same level as Armenia. It’s nice, with so areas more beautiful than others, but doesn’t come close to Svaneti, Kazbeghi or Tusheti regions in Georgia.
Georgia has to win this topic. We have visited quite a few mountain regions in the world, and only a few can compete with the Georgian Caucasus.
Tourist attractions and Landmarks
When we first thought about this topic, we thought Georgia would win easily. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Georgia is surely more diverse when it comes to landmarks and attractions. It has mountains, beaches, caves, waterfalls, hikes, fortresses, and churches, monasteries and so on… It’s truly a wonderful country with activities and things to do for everyone. You only need to remember that one of the main attraction in Gori is the Stalin Museum… 🙂
Armenia, on the other side, is clearly less diverse. Most of its famous attractions are churches or Monasteries, however, together with them usually come some extraordinary views. For example, the Tatev monastery is great, but do you know what’s greater? The wings of Tatev and the views you get there! And this happens quite a few times in Armenia.
So, Georgia still wins this, because of the diversity and quantity of activities, but don’t disdain Armenia and its many monasteries.
Outdoor activities in Georgia vs Armenia
Both Georgia and Armenia are truly mountainous countries, with plenty of outdoor activities, particularly hiking. If you are into hiking, you’ll find opportunities in each country. Though, again Georgia seems to be a little better. There are short hike, long trails, and lots of multi-day treks through the Georgian Caucasus.
Georgia also has a few ski resorts, like Gudauri (the most famous), Mestia, Goderdzi, Bakuriani, while Armenia only really has Tsakhkadzor. Both countries offer opportunities to paragliding, white water rafting, and a few other more adventurous outdoor activities. Paragliding in Gudauri (Georgia) seemed to us really inviting, but we didn’t dare.
So, Georgia also takes this.
Beaches of Georgia vs Armenia
This is the most obvious one. Armenia doesn’t have any coastline, while Georgia has about 300km, though more than 2/3 are in Abkhazia (which you probably won’t visit). Despite not being too long, the coastal city of Batumi is one of the most popular in de Black Sea!
Armenia doesn’t have a sea, but it has the lake Sevan. People sometimes go there to the beach, but honestly, it really isn’t worth it as a beach destination, if you are only staying in Armenia for a few days.
So, once again, Georgia wins but almost by default this time.
Culture and Heritage
When it comes to culture and heritage, things become a little more interesting. Both Georgia and Armenia have distinct cultures – not only from each other but also from the rest of the world. They have their own religion, language, alphabet, cuisine, and many other things.
Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianism, though Georgia soon followed. You can actually visit the “oldest cathedral in the world” – Etchmiadzin Cathedral close to Yerevan. As we said earlier, you won’t lack monasteries and churches in Armenia, but you’ll also find enough religious sites (churches, cathedrals, and monasteries) in Georgia to visit.
Curiously, each country only has 3 UNESCO Heritage sites. We say “only” because we felt it has much more to offer than only those sites. It’s probably a question of time before a few more be inscribed.
For all the above reasons, we feel that this should be a tie. They are both interesting enough for anyone who likes history and culture to dive in and have a great time.
The people of Georgia vs Armenia
The interactions with the locals may turn a trip into a memory to cherish forever, or just something we want to forget. Luckily, both nations tend to be populated with nice locals who enjoy receiving tourists.
Despite being very friendly, you should note that in neither of them they speak much English. And if we talking about the older generation, then it’s quite rare. You may have to communicate with gestures and learn a few Russian or Georgian and Armenian words. We found this challenge more fun than an actual problem.
Georgian hospitality is usually very very highly rated among travelers and you will probably see many internet posts saying that they are the most friendly locals on the planet. Well, we don’t necessarily agree with this. Yes, they are friendly, but people tend to exaggerate a little on that matter. We actually found the Armenians even more friendly and nice to engage with. We suppose it depends on how lucky you are on your stay.
So, as we had a better time with Armenians than Georgians, we will give Armenia the win here. But note that this is a very tight win, and you’ll need to be very unlucky to have bad experiences in either Georgia or Armenia.
Nightlife in Armenia and Georgia
In this series of articles, we usually compare the nightlife of each destination, but honestly, we haven’t really tried them. As far as we could see, both Tbilisi and Yerevan had a few bars and restaurants, and Yerevan, in particular, has an interesting coffee culture. Though, we don’t really feel we know enough about it to comfortable to advise you on this.
Shopping in Georgia and Armenia
Neither Georgia or Armenia are shopping destinations, despite being cheap ones. You may find the occasional shopping street in Yerevan, Tbilisi, and maybe Batumi, but going there to shop would be weird. Georgia, as a famous wine country, is a great place to buy good wine at nice prices. Both Armenia and Georgia have nice handcrafts that would make a good souvenir or travel gift.
We will give this one a tie, though if shopping is an important part of your trip, you should probably skip them both!
Georgia or Armenia – who has the best cuisine?
The food… now things get more interesting again…. the food in the Caucasus is surprisingly good! To be honest we hadn’t really pay much attention to neither of them before planning our trips Armenia and Georgia. Though, we had a great time trying new things.
Georgian and Armenian cuisines share some characteristics like the love for bread and the use of fresh produce. Due to their locations, they also suffered influences from both Europe, Levantine, and Central Asian cuisines. Between the two we clearly preferred Georgian cuisine. It’s just too good!
Some of the best dishes you should try in Georgia include:
- The several types of Khachapuri, but mainly the Adjarian.
- Shkmeruli – roast chicken in garlic sauce
- Khinkali – the Georgian dumplings. Absolutely amazing!
- the cheeses – particularly Sulguni.
- Mtavadi – the Georgian skewer of meat;
In Armenia, some of the dishes you should try are:
- Dolma – Minced meat mixed with rice wrapped in grape leaves
- Khorovats – meat barbecue, usually in a skewer;
- Lavash – thin and soft flatbread;
- Manti – dumplings served with tomato sauce and yogurt
In general, these dishes are delicious, and you’ll have a great time trying them. But the Khachapuri and the Khikali take Georgian cuisine to the next level. They are some of the best dishes we have ever tried. So, Georgia wins this.
Travel infrastructure – Armenia vs Georgia
Georgia is clearly more developed than Armenia, and it’s easily better prepared to receive tourism. It has been investing hard in its infrastructure and tourist attractions. The roads in Georgia aren’t that great, but they are so much better than in Armenia… There are more travel agents, better public transportation, more hotels and guest houses, and tour providers. Even the tourist attractions are better prepared to receive the tourists.
Though you should note that, it’s not Georgia that’s very good developed, it’s just Armenia that has a very undeveloped tourism sector. So, Georgia has to win this topic. If you are looking for a more tourist-ready country, then Georgia should be your choice.
The tourism index is where we compare the number of tourists you’ll see and how touristy a destination is. Neither Georgia or Armenia is very touristy when compared with Europe, the US, Southeast Asia, and so on! That being said, Georgia is becoming more and more popular among backpackers and in our opinion, their popularity will continue to grow.
Armenia’s tourism is also growing but at a much slower pace. While in Armenia it’s still possible to have a destination almost for ourselves, in Georgia that’s much more difficult. Unless you are extremely unlucky you won’t have hundreds of other travelers with you, but you won’t be alone either. You should also note that Georgia is also popular among eastern Europeans, particularly Russian tourists. It’s likely that you’ll find many Russian families traveling in Georgia.
So, if you want to have the least amount of tourists, choose Armenia. If you prefer to go to a more developed tourist destination, with other tourists, then Georgia should be your choice.
Which is safer? Georgia or Armenia
In terms of safety, there are safer countries than Georgia and Armenia, particularly when it comes to petty theft and that kind of criminality. Violent crimes are somehow rare, and you would need to be very unlucky to witness them. Between Georgia and Armenia, we feel that Georgia is safer. It’s richer and more developed, with fewer people needing to resort to scams and crime to survive.
The one thing we felt that it’s actually dangerous is road safety. Both Georgians and Armenians are bad drivers and put themselves and other people in danger. Keep that in mind if you are planning to drive, though if you are an experienced driver, you probably won’t have any problem.
Which is cheaper? Georgia or Armenia?
Finally, we get to the costs… the things that can make it or break it in a destination! Luckily of you neither Armenia or Georgia are expensive destinations. In fact, they as cheap as it can be. You can easily spend a trip in either nation for less than 25 USD per day. The prices in each country are quite similar, but Georgia tends to be cheaper in about everything. The fact that some of the best Georgian food is basically fast-food, easy to buy and eat on the go, and just make it even cheaper.
Depending on the location, usually, you can find basic accommodation for a couple less than 20 USD and a dorm for about half of that. Liquor also tends to be cheap in both countries and public transportation is obviously very very cheap. Renting a car isn’t too expensive either, but we found it to be cheaper in Georgia.
Overall, Georgia tends to be a little cheaper than Armenia – in our calculations about 2-3 USD per person per day cheaper. So, Georgia wins this one too.
The verdict of our Georgia vs Armenia travel comparison
Overall, we got a very uneven result, with an 8-2 for Georgia. This a result that’s somehow misleading. With such a difference in the result, you could think that Armenia has few things to offer, but it’s not that. Armenia is excellent, it’s only Georgia that’s a little (sometimes a lot) better in almost everything.
So, in general, we believe that Georgia is a better tourist destination, with a bigger variety of things to explore, from culture to natural beauty. Yet, there are people who will probably enjoy more Armenia than Georgia. Let’s recap!
You should go to Armenia if:
- you want to set up a base and do day trips from Yerevan. Yerevan is very well located and you can do the whole country from day trips. (sometimes really long);
- you want a destination with very few tourists;
- you are really into monasteries and churches. The monasteries in Armenia are located in the most unbelievable locations.
- enjoy exploring untouristy places, with very few travel infrastructure;
On the other hand, you should travel to Georgia if:
- you want to have a big range of things to see and do;
- you don’t mind a few tourists, particularly backpackers and non-western tourists;
- enjoy hiking through mountains;
- try new and delicious food, with a few extraordinary dishes;
- one of the cheapest and value for money destinations available;
- you need to have beaches on your trip;
- and ultimately, you want the visit the more beautiful of the two countries. As much as we like Armenia and the Armenians, Georgia is just prettier 🙂
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