This year my choice fell on sunny Armenia! The sea was somehow not particularly drawn, I wanted to see a minimum of tourists and a maximum of beauty. Our family has many friends and colleagues of Armenians who enthusiastically told the secrets and amazing places of their homeland – Armenia!
My name is Sophia, I live in a small provincial town – Izhevsk. Since childhood, I had a special passion for travel, in my student years I had to work at night in order to save up for a long-awaited adventure. But besides the trip itself, I also love planning it! I can do this for weeks on end, exploring the country up and down, plotting routes and planning days almost by the hour. So I made a route in Armenia, which I will talk about.
Flight to Armenia
I have been planning an independent trip to Armenia for about a week. Aviasales constantly monitored prices, but since they found out about the vacation in just 2 weeks, the prices for the flight to Armenia were already decent, but elevated. The cheapest tickets and direct flights to Yerevan: from Moscow, from St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg are also available, but there are few flights and the price is quite biting! Izhevsk does not have its own international airport, for this reason it was decided to go to Kazan by car, from Kazan to Moscow, and from Moscow to Yerevan.
As a result, about 35,000 rubles were spent on a flight to Armenia for 8 air tickets with one baggage. (including 4 tickets Moscow-Yerevan – 24,000 rubles). We flew with Utair and were very pleased with the flight.
Housing in Armenia
It was planned to spend 4 days in Yerevan, and 4 days traveling around the country in a rented car. Accommodation in Armenia was booked on Booking.com, and once found on the spot, the price tag was budget – up to 1,500 rubles / day, a separate bathroom, a kitchen, in Yerevan, an air conditioner also joined the requirements. If a vacation in Armenia is planned in the summer, then the city has a terrible heat up to +38 degrees and stuffiness, my advice is to consider options only with air conditioning. Outside the city, especially in the mountains, there is a very favorable climate and cool nights. If not for the rented car, I would have lived by Lake Sevan for three days.
Car rental in Armenia
Expensive car rental in Armenia: Nissan Micro for 4 days – 13,000 rubles, but it was at the insistence of the driver’s husband that the international company Hertz was chosen and full insurance for all days from everything! After reading the reviews on the network and the nightmares that many tourists experienced, it was decided to play it safe, so as not to pay even more for scratches on some part of the door), and gasoline – 62 rubles. per liter, which is also not small, but it’s definitely worth it. Now I’ll tell you in detail why.
What to see in Armenia
Khor Virap Monastery
The first point of our trip was the legendary Khor Virap monastery, located 30 km from Yerevan. For the first time, we saw Mount Ararat, so carefully camouflaged in the clouds all this time! Arriving at Khor Virap, we were asked 1000 AMD (about 132 rubles) for parking a car (and this is the maximum price tag for parking), and the entrance to the complex itself is free. Be prepared for a lot of tourists. The fun is that you can climb everywhere, touch everything, no one forbids anything! Inside the church itself, of course, everything is strict: a headscarf and closed knees (women in trousers are allowed), inside churches it is generally forbidden to shoot photo-video, somewhere it is generally forbidden, somewhere they look very judgmental, although there is such an atmosphere that you don’t really want to photograph. The disadvantages of visiting such attractions without a guide – you will not learn the mysterious stories of every corner and stone, but, however, how much time you want and where you want to spend, you are your own boss.
The next point of the route – what to see in Armenia was the Noravank monastery. The way to it lay through the village of Areni. This is the only place where they sell so much of everything homemade: fruits, marshmallows, some flammable liquids in bottles of mineral water, and many, many things in the bins. They were afraid to buy liquids, but they bought peach and plum marshmallows for 1000 drams (about 132 rubles), and a jar of wild honey with honeycombs – 4000 drams (about 528 rubles). Noravank conquered my heart forever and is included in the top 3 beautiful places that I have seen in my entire life. The perfect combination of man-made and natural beauty. One road leads to the monastery along a narrow gorge of red fantastic rocks, 8 km long! Entrance is free, parking is 200 AMD (about 27 rubles). I definitely recommend visiting!
For lunch, we chose a restaurant to the left of the entrance to the gorge, there is a swimming pool, several slides and a waterfall. So, they say “not all that glitters is gold.” During the trip, I was convinced of this once again, since this restaurant had the most tasteless food in Armenia. We had to spend the night in the glorious city of Goris, so on the way we stopped at the Shaki waterfall, and I’ll tell you this, just a breath of fresh air at +38 degrees), minimum tourists, maximum freshness! As if you are moving into another dimension, just a piece of the jungle. Entrance and parking are free.
Armenian Stonehenge – Karahunj
Well, at the end of the first day of independent travel in Armenia, we visited the Armenian Stonehenge – Karahunj. Honestly, I don’t really know the story, there was no one to tell, we stopped along the way, but after all we saw, for some reason, I was not impressed. Also everything is free.
We spent the night in the city of Goris at the Noy hotel. We arrived tired, hungry and overwhelmed with emotions, but there was nowhere to sleep, booking options were more expensive than 1600 rubles, in the end we decided to go to hotels on the spot and find out everything. My husband went to the Noy hotel, where the price tag is 18,000 AMD / day (about 2,373 rubles), and at the hotel across the road – 14,000 (about 1,845 rubles), but our goal was 10,500 (about 1,384 rubles), and now we are we were going to go to a lousy hotel, suddenly the owner of Noah came up to us and said: “A Russian man is my brother, as much as you give, for so much I will settle in the best room!” We were wary and wanted to leave, but he was very persistent, and we stopped at 10,000 drams (about 1,318 rubles). And the room was really great: a TV, a refrigerator, a large living room, a balcony, and a great family owns this hotel.
Ropeway “Wings of Tatev”
Already at 10 o’clock we headed to the cable car “wings of Tatev”! Advice: visit in the morning, because by lunchtime the buses of tourists from Yerevan and a lot of people arrive. The cable car greeted us with a luxury of views, very beautiful and high-quality service – from buying tickets to being escorted back and forth with a charming stewardess-guide! 5000 AMD (about 660 rubles) for two round trip! Well, the Tatev monastery itself is greatness and power, goosebumps and at the same time peace in the church that is still functioning today.
Cave city Khdnzersk
The next point of the route in Armenia on the map is the cave city of Khdnzersk. I will say right away, thanks to the fact that I read a lot about Armenia and carefully planned our independent tour, we managed to find this splendor! Walking over a bridge swinging at a height of more than 5 meters is an adventure in itself! Especially when you look down, you find holes patched with wire, and the most amazing thing in the cave city is that people left it only from 1950 to 1973, because they were given land not far from the caves. The entrance is free. In the old church, we met the watchman, chatted, he took us to the first floor of the former mountain three-story dwelling, where he showed his personal collection of things left by the settlers. Then the watchman took out old photographs, which captured all the ruins in all their inhabited glory!
Bridge of Satan and its secret Caves
Next – the bridge of Satan and its secret Caves. This is to slightly dilute our vacation in Armenia with extreme sports. Due to the dangers of the caves, the husband completely refused to climb there, but still the female magic won. When we again approached the alluring cliff, a local guy came to the rescue, escorting tourists to the caves for money, he told in detail where to put our hands, insured, and my husband and I nevertheless went down. On this, the adventure has just begun. Then I had to walk on foot ford the river, on slippery stones and through absolutely dark caves, to the touch. But when we arrived – it was definitely worth it! I have seen a lot in my life, but this is the first time – magical transfusions of minerals of all colors, an inexplicable natural shower from the strange pink mouth of a monster and natural pools of minerals filled with blue water, I can’t even believe that this is all a miraculous masterpiece. All the words in the world are not enough to describe these fantastic experiences! Well, in the meantime, the guy who saw us off was waiting for the money), my husband had 100 rubles in his pocket, we gave him, and he is like that, what do you mean, it costs 2,000 drams (about 264 rubles), well, then this, but oh well and left). Do you understand !? He just disappeared) It’s good that I remember the roads perfectly, we got out safely.
Therefore, negotiate a price on the shore, you are unlikely to walk through dark caves to white baths on your own, and give the money when you leave, not like us.
Charter, spent the night in passing in the city of Vayk for 700 rubles. (it was terrible, don’t do that). There are many awesome cafes near the mountain river near the city with awesome food, be sure to stop for a bite to eat.
Lake Sevan, Hayravank Monastery, Sevanavank Monastery and Dilijan – Little Switzerland
Each time, an independent trip to Armenia surprised us more and more. And the next day we devoted ourselves to relaxation and beach recreation. A trip to Lake Sevan was planned! The lake itself is incomparable: huge, clean, surrounded by mountains, and it is there that the ideal air temperature!
On the way, we stopped at a very beautiful Hayravank monastery on the banks of Sevan. Stones of all shades of red and lake blue are eye-catching. Then we decided to find housing on the shore of the lake, sunbathe, swim, and at sunset go to the Sevanavank monastery (as there are many tourists during the daytime). We stopped at all the bases on the coast, the price tag started from 15,000 AMD (about 1982 p.) And above.
My favorite Booking.com hotel Nirvana came to the rescue, 12000 AMD (about 1586 rubles) with a super breakfast. I advise. The hotel is kept by a good family, they cook very tasty and inexpensively. We also dined with them with freshly caught fish (6000 AMD a full dinner for 2 is about 793 rubles). There is a beach, sun loungers, towels. The room is cool, good bed, own toilet and shower, TV, refrigerator. For this money I advise. We met the sunset in Sevanavank, it is an amazing sight!
The big advantages of renting a car: we have always chosen a time where there will be a minimum of tourists, and were inspired by the beauty of the sights almost completely alone.
Further, having hardly left through the tunnel, we went to Dilijan – Little Switzerland in Armenia. You leave the tunnel and ahhhh … just a green world, all the mountains are covered with dense forest. It is easy to breathe and very tasty.
The second monastery I love very much is Haghartsin, around the forest and mountains, a very picturesque place where you can enjoy nature and ancient architecture. Struck by the glass vaults with a rainbow, and a huge refectory. Free entrance, parking – 200 AMD (about 27 rubles). I want to return to this place again and again. I advise you to definitely see!
Further, along the way, we stopped at the Goshavank monastery. Not impressed at all. It was all the fault of active repair work, the noise was very disturbing.
Garni – a pagan temple
After that, our route through Armenia lay through Yerevan to Garni – the only pagan temple in Armenia. Honestly, I didn’t like it, the entrance is 3000 AMD (about 397 rubles), parking is 200 AMD (about 27 rubles). The only place with a paid entrance, but that was not what upset me. There are too many tourists here, but I don’t like to enjoy antiquities in a crowd of people, inside the temple itself, a museum of ancient excavations and ruins. Well, another awesome view. And very cool photos.
Symphony of Stones
Then we went to look at the Symphony of Stones and Google maps took us in the wrong place) We left the car and went on foot. But it was worth it! Required to visit. I can’t believe that this is all miraculous beauty. It takes your breath away.
Geghard Monastery Complex
Then we went to the Geghard monastery complex. Completes my top 3 monasteries. I was struck by the cave church with a spring. Well, the rite of consecration, the smell of incense with impurities of spices. Very atmospheric place.
Tired, but happy, they went to rest in an apartment on the outskirts of Yerevan. For 4 days 3 nights they paid only 25,000 rubles (about 3,300 rubles): normal repair, kitchen, balcony, living room, everything is fine, but the biggest disadvantage is that there is no air conditioning, which is simply unbearable in a stuffy city at +38 degrees, never do so.
Prices in Armenia
Prices in Armenia are lower than in Russia, at the time of the trip the rate is 1 ruble = 7.6 AMD.
- Very tasty and cheap fruits and vegetables, dinner in a cafe on average about 8,000 AMD for two (about 1060 rubles). The food is amazing, especially the kebabs, locally made cheeses and sweets.
- Very cheap taxi, for 70 rubles. you will be taken anywhere in the city.
- Upon arrival, we purchased 2 MTS SIM Cards, paid 600 rubles, which is expensive, but excellent coverage throughout Armenia and 5 GB of Internet.
We went on a trip with a Russian passport, there were no problems with a foreign passport. Be very careful if you have visited Azerbaijan or Turkey for the next 3 years. They may either be denied entry or there will be a long conversation at the airport.
Cons of Armenia : tobacco smoking. Everyone smokes. Everywhere. Tobacco smoke is everywhere. Well, butts. It seemed a little dirty. Well, I would not recommend it with children – they may get bored.
Local residents treat tourists very well, especially Russians, it feels like you come not even to friends, but to distant relatives. Everyone knows the language, there is no barrier, but only a few know English. We have always expected that, now, they will try to make money on us, to deceive, but this has never happened, but nevertheless, one should not lose vigilance. You can bargain everywhere, but the prices are so low that somehow it was even uncomfortable for us.