50 Travel Tips About Armenia

Armenia isn’t on many people’s list of countries to visit. However, if you are considering visiting Armenia soon, you will probably have a few problems finding correct and reliable information. Why? There aren’t many people traveling to Armenia and even less writing about it. That’s why after visiting Armenia we built this list!

50 Travel Tips About Armenia | Armenia And The Locals

#1 Armenia isn’t a “tourist ready” country, but that’s probably just another thing that makes it even more interesting! This doesn’t mean that tourists aren’t welcome since we were always pleasantly received in Armenia. However, the country still lacks many infrastructures to receive big amounts of tourists.

Things you want to know before traveling to Armenia

#2 Barely anyone speaks English, only Russian and Armenian. We believe it’s the least English-speaking country we have been to… Communication can be very difficult, though it’s manageable.

#3 Armenia is a very dry country, at least in the Summer. Yellow is the prevailing color and makes it quite scenic 🙂 There’s something about it that’s soothing…

traveling in Armenia
Karahunj Observatory

#4 It’s very mountainous or else wouldn’t be a Caucasus country… The mountains aren’t as high as its neighboring Georgia but the whole country is marked by mountains, gorges, and valleys.

#5 There are more Armenians outside Armenia than in the country! In fact, there are almost 3 times more Armenians outside Armenia (8M) than living in Armenia (3M)! This happened due to the Armenian Diaspora.

Armenia and the locals

#6 During WWI the Ottoman Government (nowadays Turkey) killed 1-1.5 M Armenians in what it’s called the Armenian Genocide or Armenian Holocaust. Until today Turkey does not recognize what happened as a Genocide.

#7 Armenia is considered the first Christian country! Christianity was implemented as the state religion in 301 A.D. Though it was introduced in Armenia even earlier, during the 1st century by Christ’s disciples Bartholomew and Thaddeus. They are known as the “Illuminators of the Armenian world”. Even today Armenia is still a very conservative and religious country, 95 % of the population is Armenian Apostolic.

Armenia travel - Mount Ararat

#8 Armenia (and Georgia) connects Europe and Asia. For centuries was a center of trade between continents and the epicenter of many wars! It has been attacked and invaded by the Greeks, Mongols, Persians, Turks, Russians, etc…

#9 However, today Armenia is a geopolitical hotspot! It has no access to the ocean and has a conflict with many of their neighboring countries. It has no relation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Iran to the south mostly supports their fellow Islamic countries. This leaves only Georgia,  who wasn’t too happy with their support to Russia during the recent war…

How to see Mount Ararat - Armenia travel guide
In Armenia, you get some astonishing views

#10 All this made Armenia’s economic struggle and made Armenia’s transition to a market economy more difficult. Though, Armenia is still a very poor country!

#11 However, don’t feel discouraged Armenia is a stable and safe country. Moreover, it feels safe… As a tourist, I always felt relaxed and comfortable, almost as in Georgia or Western Europe.

Top atractions of Erevan Armenia
The famous cascade in Yerevan

 

Travel In Armenia And The Tourists

#12 Armenia is one of the least touristy countries in Europe. Out of the few tourists they host, even fewer are western backpackers… We only saw a handful of them.

Armenia has so many cool things to do and see, yet has so few visitors…

#13 Even in the peak season, in the biggest tourist attractions, we only saw a few tourists and no queues. It was great not being overwhelmed by people everywhere we went

What to visit in Armenia

#14 If you are planning an overland trip be aware that Armenia borders are closed with both Turkey and Azerbaijan. If you want to go to any of these countries your best option is to go through Georgia.

#15 While traveling through Armenia, one thing will catch your eyes… Half the country seems to have been abandoned to their own fate… There are way too many half-deserted towns with buildings falling apart.

Travel in Armenia and the tourists

#16 Yerevan is the exception, the center is much more developed than the rest of the country. It’s known as the pink city because of the color of the stones of the beautiful old and new buildings. Yerevan is a buzzing city and very pleasant to walk around both during the day and at night!

#17 If we had to choose the best travel attraction of Armenia, that would be the Tatev monastery and the Wings of Tatev aerial roadway! The Tatev monastery is amazing and situated in an incredibly scenic mountain range, which you can appreciate from the Wings of Tatev.

Visit Tatev Armenia - Travel tips
The gorgeous Tatev Monastery

 

#18 Mount Ararat is a very important part of Armenian National identity, however, it’s nowadays part of Turkish territory! Though you can see it from Armenia and it’s an incredible view that allows some amazing pictures particularly from Khor Virap! Unfortunately, when we were closer to it, there was a strong fog ruining the pictures

Armenia travel tips
Khor Virap, with Mount Ararat behind – unfortunately it was a bit foggy

#19 Sevan Lake is the biggest lake in Armenia and occupies 5% of the territory! We read how beautiful it was and that it’s a beach destination within Armenia… Well, the lake is impressive and being 1900-meters high makes it rather unique, however, most of the surrounding felt abandoned! it definitely wasn’t a place where we wanted to beach…

Visit lake Sevan Armenia - Travel Armenia
Sevan Lake

#20 Moreover, the town of Sevan itself was probably the worst place we have been in Armenia! Felt completely abandoned and with nothing to do… I would suggest visiting the lake as a stopover on a road trip, but nothing more!

#21 Armenia is the place to go if you want to see unique monasteries in a beautiful setting, usually hidden away in the Mountains. The most interesting we visited were Noravank, Tatev, and Geghard. Khor Virap isn’t that impressive by itself, but the view of Ararat is incredible! We also went to Etchmiadzin, which is supposedly the first cathedral ever built (between 301-303)!

Travel to Armenia
Just one example of the many Armenian Monasteries

 

Food And Drinks In Armenia

#22 Armenian food is pretty cheap, even in restaurants. With 5-10 Euros one couple can have a very good meal at a nice restaurant.

What to eat in Armenia

#23 However, it isn’t easy to find quick meals or fast food. Definitely, the country isn’t prepared for travelers… We ended up going to supermarkets and buying supplies to being able to eat “on the road”.

#24 Lavash is the staple bread in Armenia. When you ask for bread, usually you get Lavash. It’s a soft, thin flatbread. “Lavash, the preparation, meaning, and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia” was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

#25 The best things we tried in Armenia were Zhingyalov hats and Dolma. Zhingyalov hats are flatbread stuffed with finely diced herbs and green vegetables. Dolma is a dish of minced meat wrapped in grape leaves.

Traditional Armenian food

#26 Be careful when you ask for a Lemonade! It may not be what you expect… We learned that, in Armenia, a Lemonade is Soda, and it doesn’t have to be a Lemon Soda! You can easily have a pear or Tarragon (Yeap…) Lemonade! 🙂

#27 Fruit (fresh and dried) is very good in Armenia, particularly peaches and figs! You will also see lots of melons and watermelons…  Enjoy them, it’s a great way to eat some healthy food during the trips!

Where to eat in Armenia
We love buying fruit and veggies from street vendors – Armenia was no exception

Money And Expenses In Armenia

#28 Overall Armenia is a very cheap country to travel in! Food, accommodation, fuel, and tickets to attractions are all very inexpensive. Overall, in 5 days we only spent 190 Euros, which means less than 20 Euros per person per day. This doesn’t include the car rental!

#29 You can withdraw money from almost any ATM with your foreign card, without extra fees! It’s similar to Georgia and very different (better!) from SE Asia! Note: We are talking about the local ATM fees, not the fees charged by your bank… those depend only on your bank!

Travel to Erevan Armenia - Travel tips

#30 The problem is that in most places it can be difficult to find ATMs! I would advise you to take a few extra Eur/USD just in case you need an alternative… The exception is Yerevan, where there’s ATM everywhere like you would expect in a big capital city.

#31 Accommodation is also very cheap! It’s fairly easy to find a private double room in a nice guesthouse under 20 Euros. Most of the times we ended up paying about 15 Euros per night.

breakfast in Armenia
breakfast in Armenia

#32 Expect to pay an added service fee of 10% in every restaurant. That information is usually on the menu. Besides, even with this small added tax, meals are very cheap in Armenian restaurants.

#33 Cash is King in Armenia. Many places only accept cash, even some that have Visa’s and Mastercard’s signs (no internet, no service or any other problem).

Most supermarkets and big restaurants/hotels are exceptions. Almost every guest house will have to be paid in cash and you can’t even pay with a card when booking.

How To Travel In Armenia

 

#34 Roads in Armenia are terrible, much worse than in Georgia. They are full of potholes, even some of the main roads that connect the country. Also, be aware that just because a road is considered a highway or a main road doesn’t mean that is any good, or even paved… You may need to drive gravel in places you won’t expect it!

#35 Therefore, you cannot blindly trust Google Maps (or maps me) expected time or you’ll be in for a bad time! In our experience, add 30 – 50% to the ETA to be safe…

 Roads in Armenia -
Roads in Armenia are a hassle…

#36 However, you don’t have to drive a 4 x 4 / SUV! It will make your journey more pleasant and allow you to go to more extreme places, but most of the usual destinations can be reached with a normal car. We did it with a small Toyota and it was OK.

#37 If the roads terrible, drivers are even worse… mostly because they are impatient and will overtake you in the craziest places. We think they are more reckless than actually aggressive. Anyway, it can be dangerous and if you are driving you should be aware of it. Our experience driving in Angola was very, very useful 🙂

Transportation in Armenia - how to travel in Armenia
Out of nowhere, the road becomes like this…

#38 Fuel is very cheap at half the price of western Europe countries, which is great for road trippers!

#39 In Armenia you can (or may really need to) fill up your car in these pumps… how cool is that? 🙂

Is Armenia Safe

#40 Armenia is part of the silk road and one of its most famous passes was the Selim pass (now called Orbelian’s pass). The scenery is amazing and the road is actually good and enjoyable to drive in. Selim pass goes as high as 2410 meters!

#41 If you are planning to drive in Armenia please note that there are way too many speed cameras on the main roads! In almost every small town you’ll see one, or several! We didn’t get any ticket, however, be careful because they usually enforce the speed limit.

Best Things to do in Armenia
Beautiful open Road in Armenia…

#42 If you are planning to bring a car from Georgia to Armenia you will need a cross-border authorization to cross the border to Armenia. It’s a document from the car rental authorizing you to take the car to Armenia in Georgian and translated to Armenian! It will cost at least 50 USD and you’ll probably need to request it 1 or 2 days in advance.

#43 Additionally you will also need to buy car insurance in Armenia, but you’ll need to buy it in Armenia. Right after crossing the border you’ll find many places selling insurance. Just stop and buy it. It’ll probably cost 10-15 USD.

Other Travel Information About Armenia

#44 In Armenia you’ll find free WIFI everywhere, restaurants, bars, hotels, guesthouses, and even some tourist attractions! However, if you want you can also easily buy a sim card close to the borders. We didn’t buy and didn’t miss it!

#45 Armenia uses the power sockets and plugs of type C and F, with a standard voltage of 230 V and a frequency of 50 Hz. Type C plug is usually called the Euro socket as it’s used in almost every country in Continental Europe. If you need to buy an adapter, we recommend this one.

#46 Do you need a visa to enter Armenia? Probably not. The citizens of many countries are exempted from visa: the US, most EU, the UK, Australia, etc.. Curiously, not Canada… Both Canadians and Indians need a visa on arrival. Nevertheless, have a look here for the lists of countries that exempted countries, visa on arrival, and visa requests.

#47 If you can buy products on the side of the road. This way you will get great products at very reasonable prices and it will directly help the local economy! Fruits, nuts, honey, and wine are some of the great things you can buy…

Armenia travel information
Another street vendor – this time it was honey

#48 Be aware that the working day starts very late… There’s nothing open before 9:00… However, at night many things come to live, particularly in Yerevan.

#49 Crossing borders between Georgia and Armenia is perfectly easy and fairly quick. One time took us 30 minutes, the other for almost 2 hours. But most importantly it was peaceful and without any “problems” from the Police. We were particularly worried about the Brava Border (because it’s very small) but it was very simple and without any trouble!

#50 If you want to travel to a country that it’s still off the radar of tourism, visiting Armenia is probably one of your best options! It’s safe, cheap, relaxed, fairly easy to travel. It has many interesting destinations and unique culture and history!

Things you need to knwo about Armenia
Garni Temple, close to Yerevan

 

$100,000 Gift Funds Armenian Studies Lecture Series at UC Irvine

 

IRVINE, Calif—The Armenian studies lecture series at the University of California, Irvine, continued on February 21 with “Armenia, Armenians, and the New World History,” a lecture by Steven Rapp, professor of history at Sam Houston State University.  Rapp’s talk, the first under the newly-christened Vahe and Armine Meghrouni Lecture Series in Armenian Studies, was well-attended by more than 120 students, faculty and local community members.

Before Dr. Rapp’s lecture the audience was introduced to the new dean of the School of Humanities, Dr. Georges Van Den Abbeele.  The dean announced the naming of the lecture series and expressed his gratitude for Vahe and Armine Meghrouni and their tremendous support of Armenian Studies and the School of Humanities.

Dr. Vahe Meghrouni spoke briefly on the importance of providing a place where students can learn the history of Armenia and its people.  At the end of his remarks Meghrouni announced that he and his wife were giving another $100,000 to the Armenian Studies program.

The Meghrounis, long-time donors to Armenian Studies at UCI, generously donated $50,000 to start an endowment fund in support of Armenian culture, language and heritage in December 2011, and matched their initial gift with another $50,000 in 2012. The Meghrouni Lecture Series is a quarterly series of public lectures on Armenian history, literature and other relevant topics. They offer opportunities for the local Armenian community, and the general public, to learn more. This past year the series included lectures by Dr. Richard Hovannisian on “The Changing Landscape of Historic Western Armenia: Reflections on a Journey into the Past,” Talinn Grigor on “Dolling-up Yerevan Avant-garde Urbanism in Post-Soviet American Politics,” Houri Berberian on “Connected Revolutions: Armenians and the Russian, Ottoman and Iranian Revolutions of the Early Twentieth Century,” and “The Armenian Genocide in Literature, Perceptions of those who Lived through the Years of Calamity” with Rubina Peroomian.

The next lecture in the series will be “Reflections on Early Modern Global Armenian Print, 1512-1800” by Sebouh Aslanian, the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA, on Monday, April 1. On May 28, Giusto Traina, professor of Roman history at the Paris-Sorbonne University, will lecture on “Tigran the Great, King of Kings.” All lectures start at 6:30 p.m. in Humanities Gateway 1030. Complimentary parking passes can be picked up in Lot 7.

In addition to the lecture series, a course in Modern Armenian History is currently being taught by Dr. Richard Hovannisian, a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, celebrated Armenian historian and professor emeritus of Armenian and Near Eastern History at UCLA. Undergraduate courses in Armenian history continue spring quarter with Ancient Armenian History.

Established in 2007, thanks to the vision of Sylvie and Garo Tertzakian, Armenian Studies at UC Irvine has continued to thrive.  This past December, the Tertzakians hosted their annual fundraiser at and helped secure almost $18,000 in pledges from community members to support future course offerings.

The mission of the Armenian Studies program is to provide intellectual and social space for any student with an interest in these areas of history, but also to provide a cultural framework for students who may be interested in learning more about their own heritage or those of their neighbors.

New Pope Urged Turkey to Recognize Genocide in 2006

 

Seven years ago, the newly-elected Pope Francis urged Turkey to unconditionally recognize the Armenian Genocide.

During events marking the 91st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Buenos Aires, then Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio urged Turkey to recognize the Genocide as the “gravest crime of Ottoman Turkey against the Armenian people and the entire humanity.”

On Wednesday, after what is viewed as a short conclave, white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel heralded that a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope, choosing the first pontiff from the Americas to lead the Roman Catholic Church.

The 76-year-old pope will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church and the first none-European pope in more than 1,200 years.

“I would like to thank you for your embrace,” the new pope, dressed in white, said from the white balcony on St. Peter’s Basilica as thousands cheered joyously below. “My brother cardinals have chosen one who is from far away, but here I am,” reported the New York Times.

“Pray for me, and we’ll see each other soon,” the pope told the crowd of more than 100,000 gathered at St. Peter’s Square.

Genocide Journalist Memoir to be Presented April 5

 

LOS ANGELES—On Friday, April 5, “The Crime of the Ages,” a book containing documentary evidence of the Genocide written by Sebuh Aguni, a journalist who miraculously survived the 1915 Turkish massacre of Armenians, will be presented at the Zorayan Hall at the Western Diocese in Burbank at 7 pm, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

Sebuh Aguni was a journalist, newspaper editor and resident of Istanbul. In 1919 Aguni chronicled the large-scale plunder, deportations, and massacres that were systematically perpetrated by the Turkish government against Armenians. “The Crime of the Ages” — the first English translation of Aguni’s study — is an invaluable work of historiography as it encompasses not only first-hand victim accounts of the Turkish atrocities, but a wealth of evidential information culled from Turkish, European, and American official sources found in archives in Istanbul. Brimming with the eloquent, vivid narrative of a journalist and survivor, the book portrays, in prodigious documentary detail, the first genocide of the 20th century.

Hagop Hagopian, principal of the AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School, and Prof. Silva Karayan, professor emeritus at Cal Lutheran University, will present the book. There will be a recitation of Siamanto’s “Ap Mu Mokhir Hayreni Tun” and performance of Komitas Vartabed’s “Garun a dzun a arel”.

The book, published by Hagop and Knar Manjikian and translated by Ishkhan Jinbashian, will be available for sale before and after the event. It is the fourth book in the Genocide Library of Armenian-language memoirs translated to English by the Manjikians and Jinbashian.

The Zorayan Hall at the Western Diocese is located at 3325 N. Glenoaks, Burbank; call 818-558-7474 for information.

Mesrobian Students go to City Hall

 

The Armenian Mesrobian School 4th Grade class students got a firsthand experience at how City Government works on Tuesday, March 19.  The morning started with a tour of the Police Station where the students observed 911 emergency calls in the Dispatch center, sat in the holding cell for juveniles, learned about the red-light camera system, and had a Q&A session with Police Captains Luis Lopez & Brad Keller.

After the tour of the Police Station, Councilman Jack Hadjinian walked the 4th Graders thru City Hall’s different departments and explained what the responsibility of a Councilman is and how they can effectuate change in their community.

The students had the opportunity to conduct a mock City Council meeting where they heard concerns of the community and voted on an issue. Students congratulated Councilmember Hadjinian for being the first Armenian-American elected to City Council in Montebello and were happy to know he is a fellow Mesrobian Alumni.

“I am ecstatic about the level of interest these students had today in City Government. They might be young but they are very aware. I was truly impressed by their participation and the questions they asked.”

The class was accompanied by their teacher Miss Valerie Ananias and parents Garo & Liz Arshagouni, and Mayra Tabbakh.

Ferrahian Student’s Trip To KZV Middle School And Berkeley MUN

 

On the weekend of March 8, 9, and 10, eleven high school students participated in the 61st annual Berkeley Model United Nations conference at the University of California Berkeley. This is the third conference that our school has taken a part of this year. The previous conferences included Bruin MUN at the University of California Los Angeles and Gauchos MUN at University of California Santa Barbara. We, the students, have been participating in the Berkeley MUN conference for fifteen years now. The conference was three days long filled with rigorous debate in the gorgeous San Francisco/Berkeley area.

Before participating in the conference our students visited Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School in San Francisco. The principal Grace Andonian opened her arms and made us feel like family, inviting us to spend time with the children and enjoy lunch with them. There we interacted with the younger children and had the privilege to introduce Model UN to the eighth grade students and discuss current world topics. We also had the privilege to meet Elizabeth Chouldjian, who is a member of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). With Chouldjian we discussed current topics that were relevant to the topics that we would be discussing in conference. Chouldjian encouraged us to join the ANCA and help the Armenian community and the “HAY TAD.” She persuaded us to volunteer and to make sure that the works of the previous generations of ANCA members are continued. She stressed that we can spread the “HAY TAD” through participating in MUN conferences and educate others about the Armenian struggle and what we are trying to accomplish.

After the empowering thoughts and ideas by Chouldjian, who emphasized how important MUN is to help drive the works of the ANCA and the “HAY TAD”, the students went to the conference at the university. There they met 1,800 other delegates from around the world and after three days of rigorous debate were able to “solve problems” pertaining to the world. They were able to gain new insight from other cultures and races debating with students all around the world about topics ranging from the Syrian conflict to female infanticide.

Our eleventh grade students Shawnt Karakozian and Farah Kandah, who were a part of the World Bank committee as representatives of Belgium, discussed the topics of Open-Loan Proposals and Anti-Corruption Efforts in Developing Countries. The two delegates won the “Outstanding Delegate” (second place) award, for their hard work. Arteen Galstian, also a junior, participated in the European Union committee, representing Belgium, discussed the topics of the European Debt Crisis and A Divided Cyprus. Arteen won the “Accommodation” (third place) award.

One important mentor that we had the honor to work with during this conference was Garen Bostanian, a Ferrahian alumni who not only continued his MUN career outside of high school, but works hard every day for the Armenian community and the ANCA. He became an intern for the ANCA during the summer of 2012 and carried out the jobs that Chouldjian explained to us at the middle school. Garen started participating in the MUN conferences in ninth grade. He found a passion for debating and trying to find solutions for any problem given to him. He decided that his MUN career would not stop after high school; he participated in many conferences since graduating in 2011. The most prestigious conference he took part in was the conference at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 4,000 college students from around the world came together and participated in one of the most rigorous conferences offered to college students. There he debated two topics that are important not only in the world, but specifically to the Armenian community: Sovereignty, Intervention, and Syria, and more importantly the Conflict in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Garen was able to bring his knowledge from his own history, past, and experiences while debating these topics and stressing the importance of finding a solution for these problems that are so relevant in the Armenian community today.

Model UN provides students with a new approach at understanding problems not only in the Armenian community, but around the world, and we encourage our students to be involved and have the opportunity to solve the current world issues. It’s a fun, yet highly educational way to take world problems and make them interesting to any student in high school.