Armenia is one of the most fascinating and underrated European countries to visit.
This small country in the Caucasus region is a mountainous area nestled between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, bordering its arch enemies Turkey and Azerbaijan and their more friendly neighbours in Georgia and Iran.
It might be a landlocked country, but there are multiple Armenian tourist attractions that will blow your socks off when you visit Armenia!
Armenia’s capital city Yerevan may be the most popular destination to visit, but there are many other places to visit in Armenia. Be ready to see a lot of monasteries during your visit to Armenia.
These structures are the biggest tourist attractions in Armenia. Given below is a list of places to visit in Armenia so you can plan your trip to the country and enjoy its beauty to the fullest.
Armenia is really the country of Monasteries which is no wonder since Armenia was the world´s first Christian country.
Top Places to Visit in Armenia
The capital city of Armenia is where you’ll most probably start your trip.
Yerevan is the biggest city in Armenia and is often called ‘the pink city because of the volcanic tuff that was used during its construction – a rare stone to find outside of this region.
Yerevan is also quite ancient – at 2,800 years old, it precedes even the founding of Rome.
The look of the city was designed by Alexander Tumanyan at the beginning of the 20th century.
The best thing to do in Yerevan is to explore the wide avenues and green spaces and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the city.
If classical old towns with pretty buildings attract you, then Yerevan is the place to be!
The local craft beer scene in Yerevan is worth checking out.
Located at 1,899 meters above sea level, Lake Sevan is the biggest lake in the Caucasus and is one of the highest elevated lakes in the world.
Lake Sevan is part of the Sevan National Park and is one of the four protected areas in Armenia.
The lake covers about 3% of the entire country – 28 rivers flow into the lake but only the Hrazdan flows out.
The lake is also known for its world-famous Sevan trout.
The mesmerizing lake isn’t the only reason you should visit Lake Sevan – it’s also home to several stunning monuments.
You can visit the Noratus cemetery and find some of the most stunning khachkars (Armenian cross-stones).
Each stone has the story of the person buried there.
This is one of the largest cemeteries in the world and is truly exquisite. You can also visit breathtaking monasteries like Sevanavank and Hayravank.
Situated in the heart of the Dilijan National Park, Dilijan is often referred to as the ‘Armenian Switzerland’.
This famous town was founded in 1544. However, the area was inhabited from Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age.
Dilijan is known for its forest surrounding the city.
If you love long walks and serene surroundings, then Dilijan is the place for you. But there are also other attractions in the city.
From Dilijan, you can go for a hike to a semi-abandoned monastery from the 11th century called Jukhtak Vank.
There are other monasteries you can visit like Matosavank and Haghartsin.
But the main reason to visit this beautiful town is to experience the fresh air and the lush forests surrounding you.
The second-largest city in Armenia after Yerevan was left devastated after the 1988 earthquake and one can see the damage caused by the earthquake to date.
But apart from this, the city is definitely worth a visit.
The Russians built a fortress in the city in 1837, called Alexandropol, after which the city was constructed.
Before the earthquake hit the city, Gyumri was deemed the most beautiful city in Armenia.
If you love old architecture then visiting places like Vartanants Square, and its museums, churches, and bazaars will leave you awe-struck.
An interesting fact about the city is that most of the buildings are black due to volcanic tuff – similar to the pink hues mentioned earlier in Yerevan’s structures.
This is one of the easiest trips to make from Yerevan. The Garni Temple is dedicated to the sun god Mihr.
This construction is one of the best examples of pre-Christian Armenian monuments.
Research suggests that the temple was built in the 1st century AD.
After Armenia’s conversion to Christianity royals used the temple as a summer house in the early 4th century.
However, other research suggests that this building is not a temple but a tomb – which is why it survived the period of conversion to Christianity.
The temple was unfortunately destroyed during the earthquake but was rebuilt using the original stones.
If history intrigues you then Garni Temple should feature on your list of top places to visit in Armenia.
This 4th-century monastery complex was featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
What’s intriguing about this structure is that the tombs and churches were carved into the rock, depicting Armenian architecture at its best.
The place became popular when relics of Apostles Andrew and John were donated to the monastery.
The Katoghike Chapel which is the main church was built in 1215 in the shape of a cross.
Surrounded by stunning cliffs, the Geghard Monastery is a sight for sore eyes.
It’s also close to the Garni Temple, making it ideal as part of a single-day stopover.
Another mesmerizing monastery, close to the Georgian border near Alaverdi in the Lori Province.
The Haghpat Monastery was constructed between the 10th and 13th centuries during Bagratid’s rule.
The monastery used to play an important role as a cultural, religious, educational, and scientific centre during the Middle Ages.
Some research suggests that the Haghpat Monastery was built in the 4th century on the ruins of a pagan temple.
If you’re a history freak, then the complex medieval walls of the monastery, churches, libraries, tombs, bell towers, and numerous khachkars will intrigue you.
The Haghpat Monastery is another monument that has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Make sure to visit the Haghpat Complex to soak in the beauty of Armenian architecture.
As mentioned above, Armenia is famous for its monasteries, and here is another one.
The name of the monastery roughly translates to “this one is older than that one”, probably referring to the fact that the Sanahin Monastery was built before the Haghpat Monastery.
The monastery consists of 16 buildings, including St.Harutyun and St.Gregory chapels, as well as several khachkars.
The Sanahin Monastery isn’t located far from the Haghpat Monastery and shares the inscription to the UNESCO World Heritage List with the Haghpat Complex.
Tatev Monastery in the southern part of Armenia, one of the most historical important monasteries in all of the country and a landmark of Armenia.
Tatev Monastery was established in the 9th century, and during the 14th and 15th centuries, the monastery was one of the most important universities in the region, the University of Tatev.
Which offered studies in science, religion and philosophy, reproduction of books and development of miniature painting during the period Tatev Monastery was home to more than 600 students, and it was considered to be the main spiritual and cultural centre of Armenia
Tatev Monastery was for years one of the rarely visited monasteries in Armenia, due to its remote location, but everything changed when in 2010, a 5,7km cableway was constructed from the nearby village of Halidzor.
The cableway named the “Wings Of Tatev” is in the Guinness World Records book as the world’s longest non-stop double track cable car.
The most popular day trip from Yerevan is to the small monastery of Khor Virap, which is Armenia’s most visited pilgrimage site.
Khor Virap was means “deep dungeon” in Armenian. After the place was a former prison being notable for holding the man who would become Saint Gregory the Illuminator in a pit that was no larger than 14-feet for 13 years before he helped turn the country into the first Christian nation.
Khor Virap is located on the foothills of Mount Ararat, which is the resting places of Noah’s Ark, according to the Bible. Khor Virap is an important landmark of Armenia and a must-visit.
Roughly translating to “fortress in the clouds”, this Armenian structure is located close to 2,300 meters above sea level.
It was built on the slopes of the highest mountain in the country, Mount Aragats.
The fortress was built between the 10th and 13th centuries and was one of the most important points of defense on Armenian territory.
Make sure to plan a trip to the Amber Fortress as well as the Vahramashen Church and the hidden pathway to the river Arkashen.
Situated in the village of Saghmosavank in the Aragatsotn Region, this stunning monastery complex should feature in your list of the top places to visit in Armenia.
If you love beautiful architecture and mesmerizing views then this monastery built on the cliff above the gorge of the Kasagh river will leave you awe-struck!
Plain walls and quaint decorations make the interior delicate and austere.
The cross-winged domed structure with two-storeyed annexes makes this building unique.
If the weather permits, then you can catch a glimpse of the Aragats, the highest mountain in Armenia, from the monastery complex.
The Alphabet Monument
Situated on the side of the road north to Yerevan, you can find 39 huge Armenian letters carved of stone and decorated with local Armenian motifs.
Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian alphabet at the beginning of the 5th century and consists of one of the most beautiful letters you will lay your eyes on.
The monument was built in 2005 to celebrate the 1600th birthday of the Armenian alphabet.
The location may come across as random, but the last resting place of Mesrop Mashtots isn’t far away from the monument.
Known as the spiritual capital of Armenia, the name of the city is Vagharshapat but people still use Etchmiadzin.
This is because that’s what the place was called between 1945 and 1995. The city is connected with Saint Gregory the Illuminator who built the Etchmiadzin Cathedral between 310-303, one of the oldest churches in the world.
Some more places you should feature in your trip to Etchmiadzin are the Churches of Saint Hripsime, Saint Shoghakat, and Saint Gayane.
You should also visit the archaeological site of Zvartnots. All of these sites have made it to UNESCO World Heritage List and should feature in your trip to Armenia.
Conclusion about Armenia
Armenia remains to be one of the most fascinating and underrated countries to visit. Armenia, being the first country to declare Christianity as its national religion, consists of some of Europe’s most breathtaking views.
Armenia is slowly becoming a popular tourist destination because of the rich culture and history this small country boasts.
For your next trip to Armenia, make sure to visit the places mentioned in the list above to experience the rich culture of this medieval country.