Situated between Asia and Europe, Armenia is a beautiful country that is often overlooked as a tourist destination. In truth, Armenia has interesting historical sites, gorgeous landscapes, charming towns, and friendly locals that provide many memorable experiences for travelers who are looking for a welcoming and unique place to visit. You can explore 7th-century ruins, beautiful lakes, mighty mountains, and become awestruck at buildings dug out of cliffs. You can even visit one of the most ancient megalithic sites on the planet!
Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral in Vagharshapat were excavated in the 20th century, and they have since become a popular tourist destination. You’ll love exploring the site that was once dominated by the grand 7th-century Celestial Angels Cathedral. Sadly, it was destroyed in the 10th century, but there’s a model at the site that shows how the magnificent cathedral once looked.
There’s no better place to hang out in Armenia’s capital city than Republic Square. Bustling and thriving day and night, this square is the heart of Yerevan. The plaza is surrounded by government buildings, museums, and galleries. But it's perhaps most famous for its charming musical fountains that you can see and hear in the summer evenings.
As long as you’re not afraid of heights, you’ll love traveling on the Wings of Tatev. At around 1,8870 feet in length, it is considered the longest reversible cableway on the planet. Located between the village of Halidzor and the 9th-century Tatev monastery, the 12-minute journey enables you to hang over the Vorotan Gorge at the height of approximately 1,050 feet above the ground. Once you’re back on land, it’s a short walk to the medieval monastery, which sits dramatically on the edge of the gorge.
You are sure to spend hours exploring the ghost town caves of Old Khndzoresk. Dug into the volcanic sandstone rock of the Khor Dzor gorge, the site was inhabited since the beginning in the 13th century. By the end of the 19th century, Old Khndzoresk had become the largest town in eastern Armenia. Sadly, it was devastated by an earthquake in 1931, and the townsfolk abandoned their homes.
The Gani temple is one of the most well-known structures from pre-Christian Armenia, as it’s the only pagan temple to remain in the country. The original temple dated from the 3rd century BCE, but an earthquake in the 17th century destroyed it. The temple was rebuilt in the 1970s using most of the original stones. Standing on a hill surrounded by vineyards and mountain gorges, the temple and its beautiful natural setting will take your breath away.
If you want a challenge, try climbing the peaks of this majestic snowy mountain. Situated in western Armenia, Mount Aragats has four peaks. At around 12,772 feet, the southernmost peak is accessible to most inexperienced climbers. But the tallest mountain-peak is over 13,418 feet and is a challenging climb, as you have to cross a snowfield to get to the top. The best time to climb Mount Aragats is between July and September when it's warmer and less wet.
This ruined fortress in Stepanavan lies between the gorges of the scenic Miskhana and Dzoragets rivers. Lori Berd was the base of the Tashir-Dzoraget region’s ruler David Anhogin in the first century CE. Later, the fortress became the home of noble Armenian families. In addition to the ruined fort, you can explore the ancient cemetery and Bronze Age tombs.
Also known as Zorats Karer, Karahunj Observatory is Armenia’s equivalent of Stonehenge. Perhaps it's not as famous because the stone blocks are much cruder and less impressive than other megalithic constructions. But it's estimated to date back to 3,500 BCE, which makes it even older than Stonehenge! Karahunj Observatory is one of the oldest megalithic structures in the world. You can freely walk around the site to explore its burial cists and standing stones.
This place is a stunning example of the skills medieval Armenian architects possessed. Geghard Monastery contains several tombs and churches, most of which cut into the rock of the cliffs. You can explore its complex structures deep inside the cliff, making it a genuinely unique experience. Furthermore, the monastery is in an idyllic setting. With the towering cliffs at the entrance to the green Azat Valley, you’ll be just as inspired by the view as you will be by the medieval architecture.
This massive lake occupies almost 5% of Armenia’s territory. At the height of around 6,234 feet, it’s one of the largest high-altitude freshwater lakes on the planet. Take a trip to the Caucasus Region to see this beautiful natural spectacle and go fishing for crayfish and trout. Due to Armenia being a landlocked country, this is the best place in the country to experience shoreline and beaches. However, if you take a trip to the beach, be warned. The lake’s high altitude means it can be significantly colder here than in other parts of Armenia.