Known as the Pink City, Yerevan is a fascinating place to explore impressive architecture and beautiful parks.
It is the capital city of Armenia and is rich in cultural attractions.
Since the early 2000s, many reconstruction projects have taken place to make the city more appealing.
This compact city is very walkable, making it easy to see a variety of attractions in a single trip. Here you’ll find many churches, museums, and examples of Soviet-era architecture.
In between these older structures, there are lots of modern cafés and shops to visit.
You will never be short of things to do in the city of Yerevan.
This guide will provide you with information on the best local landmarks to visit, some practical tips on getting around, and suggestions for where to stay in Yerevan.
What to Do in Yerevan, Armenia
- What to Do in Yerevan, Armenia
- Walk Around Republic Square
- Climb the Cascades
- Go to Freedom Square
- Visit a Church
- See the Blue Mosque
- Walk Through the Armenian Genocide Memorial
- Explore the City’s Old Quarters
- Tour the Ararat Brandy Museum
- Browse the Vernissage Flea Market
- Get Wet at the Vardavar Festival
- Discover the Best Restaurants in Yerevan
- Try the local craft beer
- Take A Day Trip from Yerevan
- Things to Know When Visiting Yerevan, Armenia
- Final Thoughts on Traveling to Yerevan in Armenia
There are many sightseeing opportunities and enjoyable activities to try in this city. You can take a train from Tbilisi, the capital city of Armenia’s neighboring country of Georgia, to start discovering Yerevan’s landmarks and history.
Here are some of the top attractions and activities in Yerevan to include in your trip.
Walk Around Republic Square
This is the main square of Yerevan and a great place to meet friends or do some people-watching. The large square contains the Singing Fountains and is surrounded by impressive buildings.
When standing in the middle of Republic Square, you can see why Yerevan is called the Pink City. Most of the buildings have a pinkish glow because of the stones used to build them.
The government buildings are grand examples of Soviet architecture, built in a Neoclassical style. The Armenian Marriott Hotel was also constructed in the 1950s and is quite stunning with its high arches.
You can see the National Gallery and History Museum of Armenia in this square too. If you have time to look around inside, you won’t be disappointed.
These spectacular structures contain unique archeological objects and the largest collection of Armenian art in the world.
Every evening during the summer, the square’s Singing Fountains light up and ‘dance’ to music. You can grab a coffee or ice cream from one of the many shops in the area and then return to the square for this water show.
Climb the Cascades
The Cascades is a massive white limestone stairway built up a hillside to the upper part of the city. It was designed to be an Art Deco version of the Hanging Gardens of ancient Babylon.
At the foot of this magnificent structure is the Sculpture Garden. In this small green zone, you can see a collection of unique sculptures from Botero and other famous artists.
You can climb up the stairs of the Cascades for a wonderful view of the whole city. On clear days, you can also see Mount Ararat in the distance.
The structure is massive, and it can take a while to climb all the stairs. Still, there are beautiful mini-gardens with fountains and sculptures at each level to keep you going.
If you don’t feel like climbing the stairs, there are escalators inside the Cascades that take you to the top.
In any case, it’s stunning to see the Cafesjian Museum of Modern Art on the inside of this structure. It houses many galleries and exhibits of different artworks.
Go to Freedom Square
This is the other main square of Yerevan and is also called Liberty Square or Opera Square.
It is part of the Yerevan Opera Theater complex, which includes the large opera building, the opera park, and the Swan lake.
During the day, the square is filled with open-air cafés and children riding around on bikes. At night, the large opera house is brightly lit and buzzing with people.
Together, the two different halls inside the theater can hold up to 2,600 people.
When the opera building was established in the 1930s, the first ballet performance on its stage was Swan Lake. And so, the lake in the complex was named after this famous ballet.
The unique Armenian opera Anoush has been performed at the opera house every year since its opening. You can buy tickets and see this amazing performance one evening while you’re in Yerevan.
Visit a Church
Armenia was the first country in the world to institute Christianity as its official religion. So it’s no surprise to find many beautiful churches across Yerevan.
Katoghike Church is the oldest church still standing in Yerevan. It dates back to the 1200s and has a typical Armenian architectural style. Today, this small building is used as a prayer house.
The largest cathedral in Armenia is the St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan. This is not an old building like most of the other churches.
The cathedral was built to celebrate Armenia’s 1700th anniversary as a Christian nation and was only completed in 2001.
This cathedral includes a tall bell tower and a large domed ceiling. The exterior is made from orange-tinted limestone. This enormous structure can be seen from many parts of the city and is one of the not-to-be-missed Yerevan attractions.
All the churches in Yerevan are open from early morning until late in the evening. You can enter for free and take a look around the intriguing architecture.
See the Blue Mosque
The 18th-century Shia mosque is currently the only active mosque in the country. This makes it one of the culturally significant places to visit in Armenia.
From the 1920s until the 1990s, the Blue Mosque served only as a history museum. After Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union, the mosque was renovated and used as a religious institution again.
The Iranian government supported the mosque’s renovation and donated money to the cause. Today, the Blue Mosque serves many Iranians who live in Yerevan.
The large dome and turquoise, indigo, and yellow mosaic exterior are beautiful to see. You can also go inside the mosque when prayers are not in progress.
Walk Through the Armenian Genocide Memorial
While you’re enjoying all the beauty Yerevan has to offer, it is also important to remember the somber history of this country. During your visit to Armenia, take time to pay your respects at the Genocide Memorial complex.
This memorial was built in 1967 on Tsitsernakaberd hill. It commemorates the victims of the Armenian genocide that took place from 1915 to 1922.
The Memorial complex includes the Tsitsernakaberd monument and the Genocide Museum. The striking monument is made from a circle of 12 leaning slabs, each representing one of Armenia’s lost provinces.
In the center of these slabs is an eternal flame to remember the genocide victims.
On April 24, the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, thousands of Armenians travel to the memorial to commemorate those who died.
Many important political and religious figures from around the world have also visited the memorial site over the years.
The Genocide Museum offers free entry to locals and tourists. It uses photos, documents, and films to guide visitors through the tragic historical event.
Although it is a saddening experience, this tour will also give you a new appreciation for the Armenian culture and fighting spirit.
Explore the City’s Old Quarters
Since Yerevan doesn’t have an official ‘old town’, that honor goes to the neighborhood of Kond. This area is located on a hillside to the west of Yerevan’s city center.
Kond dates back to the 17th century and includes houses built in Ottoman, Muslim, and Persian styles. In some places, the winding streets and narrow alleyways are only about 120 cm (47 inches) wide.
You can reach this neighborhood via a steep street or one of the narrow staircases leading up from the main road. The area is mostly residential, with a few modern buildings here and there.
Don’t expect to see a picturesque old town, as many buildings are broken down, and gardens are overgrown. However, most of this architecture dates back centuries, so you can enjoy a day wandering around and discovering the area’s rich history and hidden gems.
Tour the Ararat Brandy Museum
Armenian brandy is famous worldwide and a source of great pride for the country. If you want to discover how these brandies are made, a tour of the Ararat Brandy Museum is one of the most interesting Yerevan activities to try.
The first brandy production company in Armenia was founded in 1887. Today, the Yerevan Brandy Company has won many international awards and certificates.
You can take a two-hour guided tour at the Ararat Brandy Museum, where you’ll discover all the steps that go into the production of these well-known drinks.
At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a delicious tasting of several iconic Ararat brandies.
Note: You’ll need to book a tour on the museum website ahead of time. When you do the booking, you can choose which brandy tasting you would like to do. There is a price difference between the options.
Browse the Vernissage Flea Market
This large open-air market is the ideal place to shop for souvenirs to take back home. Or you can just browse and enjoy the variety of traditional Armenian products on display.
Vernissage is held behind the Republic Square metro every weekend from spring to fall. It started with a small group of artists in the 1980s and continued to expand over the years.
Almost all the items at the market are handmade, including jewelry, ceramics, woven rugs, toys, and paintings.
You can also find an interesting variety of books, vintage parts, electronics, and even pets on sale.
Get Wet at the Vardavar Festival
Vardavar is also known as the ‘water holiday’ and is a very popular festival in Armenia. Every year in July, precisely 14 weeks after Easter, the whole country takes to the streets for a fun-filled day.
Just like the rest of the country, the city of Yerevan becomes a playground for adults and children alike. Everyone walks around with water guns, jugs, and buckets of water.
There are no rules, and you can get splashed by complete strangers—so don’t expect to go home dry on this day. It is quite refreshing, as summer temperatures can reach up to 40°C (104°F).
Besides the spontaneous splashing activities, you can also attend more organized events. The festival aims to promote the country’s traditions and culture, and you can listen to lovely performances of Armenian folk songs.
Discover the Best Restaurants in Yerevan
Yerevan has a great restaurant scene and delicious cuisine for you to taste. When you walk through the city streets, you can find a mix of traditional taverns and modern wine bars.
In the evening, you’ll see many locals eating and relaxing at outdoor cafés.
Dolmama serves authentic Armenian food and is famous in Yerevan and abroad. The restaurant’s main dish is dolma, a ground meat dish wrapped in grape leaves.
Lavash is another restaurant that serves traditional Armenian cuisine. Their specialty is lavash flatbread dishes, but they also have a variety of other local meals on their menu.
On the first floor of the restaurant, you can watch the process of making the appetizing flatbread.
If you’re interested in discovering Armenian nightlife, head to the El Sky Bar in Yerevan. This open-air cocktail bar is located on the 7th floor of the Yerevan Plaza Business Center.
At El Sky Bar, you can listen to some of the best DJs while enjoying panoramic views of the city.
Try the local craft beer
Armenian craft beer might not be as famous as the local brandy, but also in this small part of the world is the craft beer industry growing.
While the main microbrewery in Yerevan is Dargett which has already been in the game for a few years already, the place serves some of the best western food in Yerevan and offers around 20 locally made beers on top.
While Dargett was the only local craft beer in Yerevan for a few years, so is there now also another craft beer bar worth visiting, The Dors.
Take A Day Trip from Yerevan
Armenia is quite small, so it is easy to take a day trip from Yerevan city to other parts of the country. You can travel on your own by private or public transport, or join a day trip from a local travel agency.
One of the shortest day trips is to the Khor Virap Monastery in the Ararat Plains. The ancient stone monastery is an important historical site. From there, you also get spectacular views of Mount Ararat.
For another short trip, you can combine a visit to the Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery. These two impressive buildings are only about 10 km (6 miles) apart, which makes it easy to see both in one day.
The Garni Temple is a Greco-Roman structure dating back to the 1st century, and Geghard is a medieval monastery partially carved out of the mountain.
Lake Sevan is a longer drive from Yerevan but well worth it for nature lovers. It is the largest lake in Armenia and the Caucasus region. You can enjoy stunning lake views and visit the nearby Sevanavank Monastery.
If you are interested in space, consider a day trip to the Byurakan Observatory. This astronomical observatory was built in the 1900s during Soviet times. Back then, it housed the largest telescope in the whole Soviet Union.
Things to Know When Visiting Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan is a beautiful place to visit with lots of exciting things to do. But while you’re planning your trip, there are also some practical tips that you should keep in mind.
Is Armenia Safe For Travelers?
Yerevan, and Armenia in general, is a safe place to visit, even for solo travelers. Crime rates are low and don’t specifically target tourists. You can feel at ease walking through the city streets, using public transport, and going out to bars or restaurants at night.
Although petty crimes like pickpocketing are not common, it never hurts to take some basic precautions. Try not to carry a lot of cash around, and you should be fine.
The biggest concern you have to look out for in Armenia is road safety. Pay attention when you walk across the street and try to avoid driving at night.
How to Get Into Yerevan
Visitors from most countries, including Australia, America, and countries in the European Union, don’t need a visa to enter Armenia. However, tourists from most African countries will need a visa.
Tip: To check whether you’ll need a visa for your Yerevan trip, you can use this site.
There are many flights to Yerevan from countries in Europe and the Middle East.
Flights land at Zvartnots International Airport, about 15 km (9 miles) from Yerevan. From there you can take a bus or taxi to the city.
If you want to travel overland into Yerevan, you can only cross the border from Iran or Georgia.
The Armenian borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are closed.
The most convenient overland option is to take a train from Tbilisi (in Georgia) to Yerevan.
If you want to travel by bus, Georgia is a better option than Iran as the road quality is higher and the route is shorter.
Getting Around in Yerevan
You can mostly walk around Yerevan since everything is relatively close together. If you want to travel somewhere farther, you can choose from a number of public and private transport options.
The main public transport system in Yerevan are marshrutkas. These minivans act as shared taxis and drive all around the city. You’ll find it at bus stops, or you can wave one down from anywhere on the street.
The city’s metro is very clean and safe to use. Of course, the trains stop at designated underground stations, so you have to plan your route and buy the correct ticket.
Yandex is a popular ride-hailing service that works much like Uber. You can download the app on your phone and use it to request a private taxi to your destination. The rides are safe and very affordable.
Where to Stay
There are many affordable hostels and guest houses where you can stay when you visit Yerevan. Prices range from $14 to $30 (in 2021).
It is best to stay in the ‘ring’ around the city center, as that puts all the top attractions within walking distance. If you want to stay outside the city center, choose a place that is close to a metro or bus station.
The Highland Hostel is a great option for a shared living space in the city center. The small but spacious hostel can host ten people. There is a shared kitchen, lounge, and bathroom with a shower. You can easily walk to attractions such as Republic Square and the Opera Theater.
If you want to stay in a guest house away from the bustling city center, Guest House Lilia is a comfortable and affordable choice. You can enjoy a continental breakfast every morning or make use of the shared kitchen.
The Guest House Lilia has a currency exchange service for guests. It is also located close to a metro station, and several bus stops to give you easy access to the city’s landmarks.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Yerevan is during spring or fall. The days are sunny but not too hot or cold to sit at an outdoor café. In spring, you can get great views of Mount Ararat, and there are beautiful flower markets on the streets.
Summer and winter are also suitable for visiting if you want to try certain activities, but the weather is generally not too pleasant.
Also, avoid visiting over the New Year period. Almost all the shops, restaurants and museums are closed during this time.
Final Thoughts on Traveling to Yerevan in Armenia
If you’re planning an Armenia vacation, the capital city of Yerevan is a wonderful place to have on your bucket list. Walk around and discover a mixture of historic and modern sites.
You’ll find everything from cathedrals and museums to bars and opera houses. Yerevan is a city with a rich culture and friendly people who will welcome you on your journey.
Ready to pack your bags and head to Yerevan? Or have you already traveled through this amazing city? Share some of your experiences or future plans in the comments below.