Yerevan is the capital and biggest city in Armenia. It’s a big city with plenty of things to do that’ll keep entertained for a few days. However, there’s much more to Armenia than just Yerevan, so it’s important that you travel to the rest of the country and get to know its beautiful landmarks. One way of doing it is through day trips from Yerevan.
Armenia is a rather small country and Yerevan is nicely located in the center (roughly) which makes almost all of the country reachable through a day trip. If you decide to travel to Armenia, you can easily establish a base in Yerevan and do several day trips. This way you’ll enjoy the most of Yerevan and the rest of Armenia.
In this post we will explore the best day trips from Yerevan, explaining why they are interesting, how to get there, how much time it takes, and why you should visit them. We have been to many of these attractions, but we have asked a few fellow bloggers to pitch in their favorite day trips from Tbilisi.
Best day trips from Yerevan
Khor Virap is very popular among travelers because it offers the best views in Armenia of Mount Ararat – the sacred mountain to Armenians and where they believe Noah has stranded The Ark. The views of Mount Ararat in the background of Khor Virap are extraordinary and make amazing pictures. The only downside is that it can get foggy which ruins the pictures and make it harder to see the imposing Ararat.
Nonetheless, Khor Virap is more than a lookout to Mount Ararat, it’s a charming monastery and one of the most important pilgrimage sites with an important history behind it. This is where Gregory the Illuminator was kept in a pit for 14 years before he cured King Trdat III of a disease. Later the King converted to Christianity, Gregory became a patron saint, the first official leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and consequently, Armenia converted to the first Christian nation in the world.
Khor Virap is located about 50 km from Yerevan which makes it a perfect distance to do a day trip from Yerevan. You should take about 1 hour to go from Yerevan to Khor Virap by car, but it’s possible to use a marshrutka or a taxi. If you want to take an organized tour we suggest these.
The Garni Temple is fairly close to Yerevan and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Armenia. Also known as the temple of the sun god Mihr, the Garni temple is a completely different attraction from all the monasteries and religious points of interest in Armenia. It’s the only pagan temple on this list and the biggest symbol of a pagan Pre-Christian Armenia.
The temple was built in conformity with the canons of classical Greek architecture and it is very similar to the well-known Temple of Athena in Greece. It’s situated on the edge of a cliff over the Azat River, offering tremendous views and beautiful photo opportunities.
If you have a car, it’s very easy to reach Garni – it’s only 30km from the center of Yerevan and it should take about 45 minutes to get there. If you don’t have a car the best way to visit the Garni Temple is to join a guided tour. You should really include the Geghard Monastery on a day trip from Yerevan to the Garni Temple.
As we said above, the Geghard Monastery and the Garni temple are perfect to do together on a tour from Yerevan. They are very close and basically, Geghard is only 10 Kilometers down the same H3 road you take to get to Garni… It shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to reach it, from Garni.
The Geghard Monastery is a UNESCO heritage site since the year 2000 and as per UNESCO themselves it includes “churches and tombs, most of them cut into the rock, which illustrates the very peak of Armenian medieval architecture. The complex of medieval buildings is set into a landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by towering cliffs at the entrance to the Azat Valley“.
This monastery was partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, and it’s surrounded by cliffs creating a rather unique atmosphere and beauty. It’s said that Geghard both emphasizes and rivals the natural beauty all around it.
The Noravank Monastery is further away from Yerevan at about 120 km (halfway between Yerevan and Goris), which should take at least 2 hours to reach by car. Armenian roads aren’t the best in the world. However, we believe that it’s worth the trip as it’s one of the most beautiful monasteries in Armenia.
This monastery is situated deep in the Noravank Canyon, completely surrounded by red cliffs, creating an impressive setting. The road through the canyon to the monastery is one of the most beautiful in Armenia.
The fascinating medieval architecture and the magnificent backdrop of the Noravank Complex make it a must-see when visiting Armenia. Tip: Don’t forget to do access the second level through the narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of the building to take a closer look at the dome.
The Tatev Monastery is probably the best tourist destination in Armenia outside Yerevan. Thus, it’s a place you should really try to visit during your trip to Armenia. However, Tatev is located close to Goris, in the South of Armenia. Goris is roughly 250 Kilometers from Yerevan, making it a really long day trip – about 4 hours each way! It’s possible, and there are guided day tours from Yerevan, but it’s going to be a really long day…
The Tatev monastery was built in the 9th century on top of a cliff overlooking the Vorotan gorge in an incredibly remote location. Throughout medieval times, it played a central role in the country’s history as a vital scholastic, enlightenment, and spiritual center – it was one of the most famous medieval universities.
To reach the monastery you’ll need to take the wings of Tatev – considered the longest cableway in the world. The wings of Tatev give travelers incredible panoramic views of the landscape below and could be an attraction by itself. The journey is almost 6 km long and takes about 12 minutes.
If you (understandably) want to go to Tatev, our suggestion is to make it a two-day trip, stay the night in Goris, and try to enjoy other destinations on the road. Or, understand that you’ll have a really long day and book a day trip.
Karahunj or Zorats Karer
Karahunj is a prehistoric archaeological site located in the south of Armenia, close to Goris (35 km). It’s about 200 kilometers from Yerevan and it should take almost 3 and a half hours to get there by car. Similar to Tatev, it’s a way too long a day trip to be doing in one day. However, as it’s fairly close to Tatev and Goris, it’s a perfect add-on to the two-day trip we suggested above.
Zorats Karer is one of the least popular destinations on this list, but it’s a very beautiful and even mystical place. You can freely walk around the site, and enjoy the views and the incredibly old stone settings, burial costs, and standing stones – Menhirs. It’s estimated that the site can be as old as 5.500 years making it one of the most ancient megalithic constructions in the world!
by Maggie Turansky from the world was here first
If you want to experience another side of Armenia while on an easy day trip from Yerevan, then visiting the city of Gyumri is an excellent choice for you. As Armenia’s second-largest city, Gyumri was devastated by the Spitak Earthquake in 1988 where between 25,000 and 50,000 people lost their lives. Today, Gyumri is still in the process of recovering and it is a great place to visit if you want to see more of Armenia.
Gyumri is quite a small city, meaning that you can cover a lot of ground in just a day trip. Some of the best things to do include heading to the Black Fortress, visiting the massive Mother Armenia statue, strolling through the tranquil Central Park, and enjoying some of the trendy cafes on Pushkin Street.
You can easily reach Gyumri from Yerevan in a couple of different ways. The most comfortable option is the train that connects the two cities a couple of times per day, however, the timetables can be sporadic. A one-way train ticket costs 1000 AMD and the journey takes about 2.5-3 hours. The faster and more convenient way to travel is by marshrutka, which leaves Yerevan when full throughout the day and cost about 1500 AMD one-way. The journey will take around 2 hours by marshrutka. It is also possible to visit Gyumri from Tbilisi if you want to include it in a longer Caucasus trip!
Gyumri is a good place to visit if you want to see what life is like in Armenian cities outside of the capital while also venturing a bit off the typical tourist trail.
by Louise France from wanderingwelshgirl
Lake Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus and one of the largest in the world. Sitting at 1905m above sea level, Lake Sevan is a popular destination with Armenians who come to enjoy the sandy beaches and cool water during the hot summer months. Nestled on a peninsula on the North-Western corner of Lake Sevan, sits a stone monastery complex called Sevanavank.
The monastery was originally built on an island but water levels dropped during the Soviet era causing it to become a peninsula. Monks first arrived on the island in the 8th century, soon after which they started building the complex. Today, however only 2 churches remain. Entrance to the site is free but if you bring a vehicle you will have to pay for parking – a meager 200 AMD (40c). Don’t worry, the parking attendant will come and find you to make sure you pay! Unique to Sevanavank are the beautifully carved green Khachkars, which you can find dotted around the site. Their unique green color comes from the use of local andesite or limestone. The other great thing about Sevanavank is, of course, the incredible views over Lake Sevan and its surrounding mountains. Come early in the day to avoid the crowds.
Sevanavank is just a short 60km drive from Yerevan. I visited Lake Seven whilst running an overland tour from Istanbul to Beijing, so had access to private transport. Renting a car from Yerevan would provide you with good access to Sevanavank and other areas of Sevan Lake. However, if you prefer public transport the easiest way is to take a marshrutka (minibus) from Yerevan to the city of Sevan. From there you can take a taxi to the lake. This whole journey should cost around $3 one way.
During our visit, we camped on a beach on the north shore of Lake Sevan, where we could enjoy the sunset and an even better sunrise. Further around to the east, you can find beach resorts and there is also accommodation in the city of Sevan.
Tsaghkadzor – A relaxing stop on your way to Lake Sevan
by Carine Liberian from We did it our way
Yerevan is the perfect place to be based when you’re visiting Armenia. There are a ton of day trips you can do from there. One of our favorites, during our two months in Armenia, was visiting the sleepy and relaxing town of Tsaghkadzor. It’s about an hour’s drive from the capital.
We stopped there on our way to Lake Sevan, another must on your Armenia bucket list. Tsaghgadzor is known as being a spa town and one of the most popular health resorts in Armenia. There you can indulge in one of the many different spas available.
If you’re not in the mood to relax, you can go to another extreme and go ziplining. You’ll get the thrill of zipping down the mountainside, and get an incredible view at the same time. The cost of this experience is $20 USD.
And if you still want the beautiful view, but without the adrenaline, we highly recommend going up the ski lift in Tsaghgadzor. On a winter day, it’s the perfect place to go skiing, but during the other seasons, the lift is used to take people up to the mountain, offering them a beautiful view of the mountains, valleys, and the surrounding area. The lift is only a few minutes long and costs about $5 USD. Although we were there at the end of the summer, we can only imagine how beautiful the view is during the fall foliage.
And finally, while you’re there, why not stop at a church. No visit to Armenia is complete without it! The Kecharis Monastery is a medieval Armenian monastic complex that dates back to the 11th to 13th centuries. Nestled in the Pambak mountains, Kecharis was founded by a Pahlavuni prince in the 11th century, with construction ending in the middle of the 13th century. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Kecharis was a major religious center of Armenia and a place of higher education. Today, the monastery has been fully restored and is clearly visible from the ski slopes.
Even though our time in Tsaghkadzor was short, we loved it there. From relaxing at a spa to getting an adrenaline rush, there’s something for everyone here!
by Megan C. Starr from absolutearmenia
Etchmiadzin is one of the oldest cities in Armenia and it is over 2,000 years old (slightly younger than Yerevan). The city, located around 20 kilometers from Yerevan is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Armenia because it houses the original churches that were the start and foundation of Christianity around the world.
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral and some of the churches in Etchmiadzin hold UNESCO World Heritage Status and are a popular sight to visit. It is also located close to Zvartnots Cathedral, another huge tourist draw.
Aside from the religious aspect of Etchmiadzin’s historical importance, there are many other things to do in Etchmiadzin. The city has a special culinary scene and kufta is one of the most popular local dishes to come from the city that is also known as Vagharshapat. In the city, there is the oldest restaurant in the Caucasus that dates back to the 17th century and it is called Agape. This restaurant is located at The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin area and is inside a building that is UNESCO protected.
In Etchmiadzin, you will also find museums, cafes, parks, and a lot of interesting Soviet architecture. There are a lot of plans and urban development proposals happening in Etchmiadzin right now that are careening to develop tourism in this perfect day trip from Yerevan.
Alaverdi and Debed Canyon
by Emily Lush, from wander-lush
If you don’t mind the long drive, Alaverdi in far-northern Armenia makes for an unforgettable day trip from Yerevan. Located in Lori Province, roughly 3 hours from the capital by car and close to the border with Georgia, most travelers pass through this region when traveling between the two countries by train. However, it’s well worth spending a day in Alaverdi and exploring the Debed Canyon. I’ve traveled extensively around the Caucasus and think this is one of the most underrated spots in the region.
Alaverdi is the biggest in a series of towns laced along the canyon floor. If you’re using public transport, it makes sense to start and end here. From Alaverdi, you can find taxis or marshrutka to drive you between smaller villages – each one an outpost for history and culture, and home to at least one significant monastery or church. Two of the country’s most impressive UNESCO-Listed monasteries, Sanahin and Haghpat, both of which date back to the 10th century, are located within close proximity of Alaverdi. Other notable monasteries in the area include Odzun and Akhtala.
The town of Alaverdi itself has its own charm. Shuttered factories, relics of the town’s Soviet past, stand like rusty dinosaurs against the lush canyon. Driving up the steep roads out of town (sadly, the cable car in Alaverdi has been out of commission for a while now) onto the pancake-flat plateaus that tower above the valley is an otherworldly experience – especially on an overcast day when the whole area is wreathed in clouds.
If you’re visiting Alaverdi as a day trip, it can be more economical to join an organized tour departing Yerevan. Expect to pay around 12,000 AMD (25 USD) for a place on a full-day tour. Like all monasteries in Armenia, those in Debed Canyon are free to visit.
by Aram Vardanyan from meganstarr
Located 18 kilometers away from Yerevan in the Kotyk region is Arzni village. The village is known for being a resort area that has water and nature known for its healing properties. Arzni was founded by Assyrian Christians in the 19th century. The village is one of the best places to visit in Armenia and has old and new health resorts like Health Resort Arzni 1 where it is possible to take thermal spa baths and other mineral water procedures. Another draw to Arzni is that it is also extremely green and a great escape from the Armenian capital’s heat during the summer.
If you wish to take a taxi, it will cost you approximately $8-$10 to get there. Near Arzni village, you will find Arzni Gorge, a place where is possible to relax in riverside restaurants, take a dip in the Hrazdan River, and enjoy the mild weather during the summer. There is also a 6th century S. Kiraki Church located in the Arzni village.
The local, cozy restaurants can offer you freshly-cooked fish BBQ and many other amazing dishes. This area is also a hiker’s paradise if you’re an outdoors lover. This is definitely one of the best day trips from Yerevan if you’re looking for something more off-the-path.
All in all, there are several day trips you can take from Yerevan that will make experience most of what Armenia has to offer. There are lakes, parks, monasteries, churches, canyons, spa towns and much more. You just have to choose where do you want to go and how do you want to travel, independently or on a tour. Either way, you are bound to have a great time.
Dilijan National Park
by Cate Michelle from sacredwanderings
Dilijan National Park sits just North of Lake Seven, and makes an excellent place for a day trip from Yerevan on its own or combined with Lake Seven and Sevanavank Monastery!
Around 90 km from Yerevan, you will know you are entering Dilijan as the road narrows, begins winding up and down the mountains, and an explosion of green meets your eyes. Called the “Switzerland” of Armenia, I was surprised just how much Dilijan National Park did feel exactly like being in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland! A cool retreat from the hot summer sun of Armenia, Dilijan National park is filled with beautiful trees, mountains, overlooks, picnic shelters, and cool streams – all alongside wonderful hiking and delicious local food.
In the summer months, the winding road into Dilijan is filled with vendors selling fresh-picked corn on the cob and local mushrooms. Bring a picnic to the park and enjoy a natural retreat for the day! A renovated tourist information center, updated trails, maps, and toilet facilities in certain places were added with EU funding recently, and the park also hosts 80 km of the Transcaucasian Hiking Trail!
It is free to enter Dilijan National Park. It is best to hire a guide for more serious hiking or to organize a day-trip from Yerevan with a reputable tour company and experienced driver.
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