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Ancient Armenia

Full of archaeological surprises, Armenia’s rich cultural heritage is stencilled on mountains and valleys in medieval architecture and Christian cathedrals. The first Christian country in the world, empires have risen and fallen here. The shadow of a bloody past still haunts the nation’s identity, although you wouldn’t know it from the warm welcome you’ll receive.

Grandfathers gossip over backgammon, street art brightens cracked pastel walls, and spaceship-like buildings break the uniformity of Stalinist architecture. Old teahouses sit alongside new wine bars, hipster fashion blends with babushka scarfs, and sidewalk restaurants spread joy through traditional music, sizzling barbeques and potent oghi (fruit liqueur).

Dilijan became an artists’ retreat when the light of creativity dimmed during soviet times. Discover untouched alpine scenery and verdant river valleys, remote towns nestled in emerald forests, ancient relics from the Bronze and Iron ages, stone monasteries, charming gingerbread homes, and open-air theatres that keep its creative heritage alive.

Goris has been settled since the stone ages. In medieval times, villagers carved out homes in soft rock caves. Take in spectacular vistas as you explore archaeological and geological gems, like the stone pyramids of Old Kores, and spellbinding Tatev Monastery, perched upon its basalt plateau since the 9th century.

Populated since the third millennium BC, history is imprinted on the region in timeless splendour. The world’s oldest cathedral, Etchmiadzin Cathedral, sits here, a divine masterpiece of Armenian architecture. Follow winding roads over rolling valleys to explore significant Silk Road sites and sacred ruins.

Surrounded by alpine meadows and deep gorges, the name literally translates to ‘flower canyon’. Meander along rural roads and ramble down stony trails to uncover forgotten monasteries amidst breathtaking scenery. Suck in fresh mountain air as you marvel at the Sevanavank monastic complex overlooking the azure Lake Sevan.

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How to travel responsibly


Capital city: Yerevan

Population:  2.925 million

Language: Armenian

Currency:  Armenian Dram (AMD)

Time zones: GMT+04:00

Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin)

Dialing code: +374

A number of nationalities, including the USA & United Kingdom, have a visa-free agreement that are valid for stays in Armenia for up to 180 days per year (usually 90 days per visit). Australian, New Zealand and Canadian nationals require a visa to enter Armenia. It is possible to obtain your visa on arrival with a validity of 21 days from the date of entry or you can apply for an E-visa via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Armenia website.

Please check the appropriate consulate website for specific information on the cost and method of payment. Cash is generally not accepted and often payment will need to be arranged before you apply with the embassy/consulate. The actual application process will vary depending on your nationality and the consulate/embassy at which you will be applying. Please check the appropriate consulate website for specific information.

Travel Insurance is mandatory for all group journeys and Sundowners Overland strongly recommends travel insurance for all other journeys. You must ensure that your insurance policy covers you for the entire duration of your journey, for all activities you will be participating in and that you have purchased the highest level of cover available to you for medical emergencies (including repatriation/evacuation cover) which are relevant to ALL the destinations that you will be visiting. Contact us for further information and quotes.

If you are taking special medication, it is a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor to show authorities if necessary. Some medications such as sleeping pills and strong painkillers that available are over the counter at home require a prescription in Armenia.

Since some medications can also be affected by changes in temperature or require special care, we recommend you discuss this with your doctor before departure.

Armenia has a highland continental climate with hot, dry summers (June to September) and cold winters (December, January and February being the coldest months). However due to high altitudes the temperature can vary greatly within short distances.

Autumn is a beautiful time to travel to Armenia. The tree-covered mountains begin to turn various shades of apricot, crimson and gold and temperatures cool with a hint of crispiness in the air.

Winter brings snow sports playgrounds with plenty of world-class ski resorts on offer. The cities are full of Christmas cheer, decorated with fairy lights, Christmas trees, and market vendors line the pedestrian streets. Locals scurry around the streets preparing for the most significant event of the year, Christmas – celebrated on the 6th of January.

The aroma of spring wafts throughout the air and the warmer weather approaches in March, beautiful meadows are covered with a myriad of flowers, and spindly trees are again lush with green leaves and blossoms.

The local currency is the Armenian Dram (AMD). Foreign currency is easily exchanged in hotels, banks and money exchange offices. The Euro is the most recognised and accepted of all foreign currencies. There are many ATM’s in Yerevan that accept major credit and debit cards with the Maestro/Cirrus or Visa logo displayed on the card. When travelling outside the capital access can be limited, we would suggest you withdraw cash before leaving the capital.

In Yerevan:

  • CokeUSD$0.55
  • 2 course meal & a drink in a decent restaurant USD$25
  • A cup of coffee USD$2
  • Bottle of local beer USD$1

*Prices are approximate average costs based on prices at 11/03/17 and are based on the equivalent amount of local currency.

The Armenian border stretches for 1448 km and adjoin Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. Armenia has no access to the sea; all border-crossing points are overland. As far as border crossings go these ones should be reasonably quick and painless, with very limited paperwork and some rather lovely scenery!

  • Wherever you go, you should be armed with general knowledge of the customs and traditions of the country. It holds true to Armenia as well.
  • A handshake is the usual greeting exchange.
  • Armenians are well known for their hospitality and respect for foreigners. It is not unusual to be invited to a family home for some delicious Armenian home cooking.
  • Armenia is a Christian country and women can usually dress in normal western-style clothing. Outside the capital people are more conservative and inappropriate dress will attract attention.
  • Men - Shorts are not to be worn inside churches.
  • One of the unique symbols of the culture here are khachkars – cross-stones. On all the territory of Armenia there are several thousands of khachkars, each of which has its own unique pattern. Khachkars are made of basalt or tuff and represent the cross – the symbol of the crucifixion of Christ.
  • There’s usually a 10% service charge added to the bill at eating establishments. If you have received exceptional service and would like to tip more - go for it! Tipping in taxis isn’t necessary, as you usually decide the cost ahead of time.

Mobile phone coverage is good in most areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your service provider or purchase a local SIM card. You will need to make sure your device is unlocked to accept a foreign SIM card.

Internet access is widespread and available throughout large cities and resort areas of Armenia. Many hotels and cafes offer access, some you need to pay while others have free Wi-Fi areas.