Armenia is one of those countries, which have stolen my heart completely. I needed less than one day to fallen for it.
I still don’t know why Armenia charmed me so much – some countries are just made for you and have special kind of energy, but I would be lying if not saying I loved the fact it is still so wild and pure.
Best tourist attractions in Armenia
We were traveling around Armenia by car, what gave us all the needed freedom to stop wherever we wanted and to really enjoy the amazing Armenian countryside. We were in Armenia in September and the whole landscape was colored in gold.
Most of Armenia lies on a high altitude and we almost never reached less than 1500 meters above sea level, what definitely shows in its landscape as well.
You can hardly pass monasteries in Armenia, as there are so many. But if you’re not really keen on seeing them, just choose the best and most spectacular ones.
We did visit six of them and if you ask me, I loved all of them (Simon would argue on this with me though). Each monastery we visited was different with its energy, beauty, views and history.
The Makaravank monastery is hardly visited by any foreign travelers and that is why I liked it best. It is nothing special from inside or out, but I loved its roughness.
The Sevanovank monastery at the Lake Sevan did not impressed me much, but it is actually one of the most famous ones and that is why we decided to stop there as well. It was pretty crowded with tourists (mostly locals), but the best thing of it is the view down the lake Sevan. (40.56357/045.00773)
I did find the Noravank monastery interesting as well, especially the road to reach it, which is actually a narrow canyon with reddish cliffs right along the monastery. (39.68446 / 045.23291)
Khor Virap monastery is mostly visited for the view towards the holy Ararat Mountain in Turkey. But the monastery is known also for its legend of Gregory the Illuminator, who spent 13 years in its prison, to give up the Christianity. But Greogory the Illuminator managed to cure the King from devastating illness and in the year 301, the king commanded its people to adopt the Christianity as the nation’s religion. With that Armenia became the first country which accepted the religion. (39.88134 / 044.57919)
The Geghard monastery, which we see today, got its look in 12th century, but a monastery stood up there already in 4th century. The name of the monastery actually means spear, as the monastery is saving a relic from the spear, which hurt Christ the Savior during its crucifixion. The monastery was built at the cliff, where the first churches and monks residences were being carved. The Geghard monastery is so unique and important, it can also be found on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
If you won’t visit any of the above monasteries, you will for sure visit the Tatev monastery, as it can be reached by the world’s longest cable-car. The monastery was once home of the most important Universities in Armenia and it’s quite a sight.
Lake Sevan is one of the world’s largest lakes on high altitude, as it can be found at 1900 meters above sea level. For locals it is very important, as it gives them fresh catches of fish and crabs.
To be honest, the lake Sevan was one of the best surprises on the road and with that one of the best tourist attractions in Armenia. We managed to find secluded white sandy beach, where we first thought to stay one night only, but we did longer our stay for 2 more nights. It was perfect for swimming, relaxing and enjoying nature with its beautiful sunsets and sunrises.
I have always been keen on history and that is why missing the famous Hachkars field was not an option. We did had problems in finding it as most tourist attractions in Armenia are badly marked. But when we finally did reach it, I was extremely happy. For many the area would only represents a place full of rocks, but for me and all cherishing history, the area is an old cemetery, full of hachkars (tombstones), which are old – some even few thousands of years.
The Hackhars field is the largest area with hachkars, containing more than 900 of them. It can be found in the Noratus town, on the west shore of Lake Sevan. (40.37459 / 045.18097)
Orbelian / Selim caravanserai
The Silk Road run across Armenia and that is why the country once was full of caravanserais – caravan stops. Unfortunately not many are preserved, but the most beautiful sample can be find when crossing the Vardenyats / Selim mountain pass with 2410 meters of altitude. The caravanserai was built in 14th century.
Even though the Orbelian / Selim caravanserai is known as the best preserved one, it is still forgotten and is out on a limb. I just hope that visitors, who don’t really see the true value of this amazing building, will not ruin it before someone will start with its renovation.
The Silk Road
When you travel a lot and visit all kind of tourist attractions and sights, not many of them can leave you speechless. But driving on the Silk Road got me completely – I was so full of emotions that at the end I could not hold back and I just started to cry from pure happiness. Just the thought itself, me, driving on the road full of history, stories, triggered strong emotions of happiness and gratitude, to really be here.
Many tourist attractions in Armenia are poorly maintained and represented and the Zoratskar observatory is one of them too. Some people put it head to head to the famous Stonehenge but to be honest, this one in Armenia is not as impressive as the one in England. But the fact is, that the Zoratskar observatory is more than 3500 years older than its British »rival«. (39.55036 / 046.02934)
Wings of Tatev
Did you know that you can find the world’s largest cable car in Armenia? It is called The Wings of Tatev and is 5752 meters long. The travel speed is 32 km/hour and only 12 minutes is needed to come from one end to another. It will bring you directly to the Tatev monastery. (39.41746 / 046.08162)
Stone village Khndzoresk and suspension bridge
If you’ll be traveling around Armenia, joining a guided tour, you might have this tourist attraction in Armenia included, but if you’ll be exploring Armenia on your own, extra effort to reach this place is worth the time.
To reach the old stone village with residences carved into stone, you’ll first need to cross the amazing and pretty long suspension bridge, which takes you over a deep canyon. Only a walk over the bridge is worth the stop.
The Greek-Roman influence did have an impressive reach. We can find a Greek-Roman temple in the middle of Armenia. The original Garni temple was ruined in an earthquake in 17th century, but it was rebuild in the years of 1969-1975. The Garni temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Armenia, so be prepared for the crowds.
Who agrees you cannot really get to know a country without tasting it? Armenian cuisine has influence from Turkey and Iran, so you can be sure you will not eat bad. Check out what should you try when traveling around Armenia here.
Byurukan Park and Armenian alphabet
In 2005 Armenian letters and alphabet celebrated 1600th birthday. That is why this park was build, as a memorial to the men, who created all 39 letters of Armenian alphabet.
There are not many foreign visitors there, but mostly locals. It looked like kids love the place and use it as their climbing area.
During traveling around Armenia and visiting its tourist attractions, we realized how big potential in tourism Armenia still has. Most of the best tourist attractions in Armenia are hardly visited by foreign travelers, what definitely shows that Armenia has not been put on most popular travel bucket lists yet… And that is exactly why it is still so amazing and priceless to travel around it.