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Armenian Heritage Cruise celebrates 25 years

armenian heritage trip

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the eagerly awaited Armenian Heritage Cruise (AHC) set sail on January 14 from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on the Celebrity Reflection. 

A diverse group of Armenians hailing from various parts of the world embarked on the seven-day adventure. The journey took them to the stunning destinations of the Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Mexico and finally, the enchanting island of Bimini, Bahamas.

Once the sun set and the stars came out, AHC chairman Steve Mesrobian extended a warm welcome to the guests, expressing pleasure in seeing Armenians come together for the milestone trip. Committee members Margo Kaftajian and Maria Tavitian outlined the activities planned for the duration of the journey.

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The entertainment kicked off with performances by Kevork Artinian and Hooshere, who sang the Armenian national anthem, followed by Harout Bedrossian, Antic and DJ Hye Class, creating an impressive lineup. Guests danced throughout the night, enjoying the festivities.

This year, AHC was honored to have on board the Prelate of Canada Archbishop Papken Charian, who conducted the morning services.

While at sea, guests either attended numerous cultural presentations or lounged poolside, soaking in the gorgeous tropical weather. They engaged in a variety of Armenian activities, took advantage of the ship’s amenities, or simply indulged in relaxation.

Emmy award nominee Ani Hovannisian served as one of the cultural speakers, presenting her film “The Hidden Map,” after which she engaged with guests in a question and answer session. Director of the ARF Archives George Aghjayan offered his cultural presentation on family roots and advancements in Armenian genealogy, which led to another vibrant discussion. Finally, longtime member Angele Manoogian provided a comprehensive review of the humanitarian work the Armenian Relief Society accomplished throughout the year.

AHC committee member Kaftajian provided guidance with dance floor techniques for guests requiring some help with the right steps. Meanwhile, tavloo and bellots tournaments took place while the ship was sailing.

Mid-week, the committee unveiled the Armenian Heritage Cruise events for next year. Mesrobian outlined the itinerary and dates for the 2025 cruise, followed by details about the 2025 resort trip to Cancun.

armenian heritage trip

The week concluded with a delightful outdoor entertainment session featuring all the performers under the starlit sky, followed by a heartfelt farewell party.

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  • Destination

Armenian Heritage and Nature Expedition

Armenian Heritage and Nature Expedition


Explore the cultural and historical treasures of Armenia. Begin your journey in Yerevan with a visit to Victory Park, Matenadaran, and the Cascade Complex, immersing yourself in the nation's wartime contributions, literary legacy, and contemporary art scene. Delight your senses at Megerian Carpet with a masterclass in Armenian cuisine. Conclude the day at Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex, commemorating the Armenian Genocide. In the following days, venture into the timeless wonders of Charents's Arch, Geghard Monastery, Garni Temple, and the "Symphony of Stones." Visit Saghmosavank Monastery, Alphabet Valley, and the Armenia Wine Company, experiencing medieval architecture, cultural heritage, and wine traditions. The adventure concludes with Sevanavank Monastery and Haghartsin Monastery, offering spiritual ambiance and architectural marvels. Embrace the rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and culinary delights that Armenia has to offer.


Tour Info Armenian Heritage and Nature Expedition

  • Price & Dates


  • Visits to Victory Park, Matenadaran, and the Cascade Complex,  Armenia's wartime contributions.
  • Enjoy a masterclass in Armenian cuisine at Megerian Carpet.
  • Pay respects at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex, dedicated to victims of the Armenian Genocide.
  • Venture into the timeless wonders of Charents's Arch, Geghard Monastery.
  • Explore Saghmosavank Monastery and the Alphabet Valley.
  • Visit the Armenia Wine Company for a wine-tasting session.
  • Personalized trip plan tailored to your specific interests and availability.
  • 05 nights accommodation on twin-sharing basis at listed hotels or similar
  • Meals as mentioned in the program
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Transportation in a deluxe air-conditioned vehicle
  • Service of experienced English speaking local guides
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • Domestic and International airfare
  • Items of a personal nature, tips and gratuities
  • Optional tours
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees, if applicable
  • Items not mentioned as included


Before you book, frequently asked questions.

Call +1 866 978 2997 or Chat with an expert or --> Book an appointment with us

Acqua Travels would like to reassure you that after booking your tour, should the USA/Canada government advise against all travel to your chosen destination, Acqua Travels will offer a change of tour * to one of our other great destinations or a full refund for the tour * . As always, your safety is our priority for Acqua Travels! *Only for bookings made after 1 March 2020.

Acqua Travels would like to reassure you that after booking your tour, should the USA/Canada government advise against all travel to your chosen destination, or you decide against travel Acqua Travels will offer a change of tour * to one of our other great destinations or a full refund for the tour if you inform us minimum 60 days before departure * . As always, your safety is our priority for Acqua Travels! *Only for new bookings made after 1 March 2020.


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When Travel Brings You Home: An Interview with Mirella Arapian

When I travel, I’m usually searching for something new and unfamiliar. I love throwing myself into cultures that clash with my own and situations that challenge my perspective on the world.

But travel can also do just the opposite – it can be a tool for connecting with your roots, reaffirming your identity and (re)discovering a place that you’re innately tied to. Sometimes we travel to escape; sometimes we travel to find a way back home.

Armenia is a great example of a destination that attracts both types of traveller.

Every time I visit Armenia , I meet people from Australia or the States who have Armenian heritage and are returning to their ancestral home for the first time. From what they tell me, that initial trip is an incredibly moving, sometimes confronting one – totally different to how I experience Armenia as an outsider.

If you don’t know too much about Armenian history, there are events in the country’s recent history that have resulted in a huge diaspora population. Today, less than one-third of Armenians actually live inside Armenia. So you can understand why it is that when many people start retracing their roots and embarking on ‘Genealogy tourism’ as it’s often called, the trail often leads them to the Caucasus nation.

I first connected with Mirella Arapian, an Australian-Armenian graphic designer and entrepreneur, when she was planning her first trip to Yerevan and Gyumri with her mum. We kept in touch, and after they got back, I asked Mirella if she’d be interested in sharing a bit about her experience with my readers. I’m so grateful that she agreed.

In this short interview, you’ll hear about Mirella’s trip and how visiting Armenia has changed her life. If you have Armenian heritage, you’ll probably find a lot in here that you can relate to. If, like me, you don’t have any family ties to Armenia but you’re fascinated by the country’s history and culture, you’ll still find the insights and tips Mirella shares invaluable.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Posters and books in Yerevan with the characters of the Armenian alphabet.

Thank you for being here, Mirella! Can you tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to travel to Armenia?

Thank you for having me! I was born in Melbourne, Australia, to parents of Armenian descent. My paternal grandparents’ families were killed by the Ottoman Empire in the Armenian Genocide of 1915, so I don’t really know my family history beyond what my grandparents told my father.

My grandfather was four when he escaped, and he was adopted by a Turkish couple who tried to erase his Armenian identity and raise him as a Turk. My surname was Turkish because of this, and has subjected me to racism and discrimination for as long as I can remember.

Armenian is my native language (English is my second), and growing up, my sister and I went to Armenian school every Saturday. I learned a lot about the language, alphabet, culture, and history of Armenia. I remember wanting to visit since learning about it in Armenian school.

Was this trip in the works for a long time? What were some of the key places you wanted to visit?

It was in my heart and imagination most of my life, and early last year my mother said it was her wish for us to travel there together. We planned and booked to visit for three weeks.

The main places we wanted to check out were Khor Virap, Tatev, Noravank and Geghard monasteries, Lake Sevan , Tsitsernakaberd genocide memorial, Gyumri, Dilijan, Garni temple, Aparan Alphabet Park, the Vernissage, GUM Market , and see the Armenia vs Greece UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier.

Unfortunately, our trip was cut short due to a medical emergency, but thankfully we had one week of sightseeing before that. We ended up visiting Tsitsernakaberd, Gyumri, Vernissage, Marmashen monastery, Sev Berd (Black Fortress), Mother Armenia, and various art galleries, museums, shops, cafes, and restaurants.

We just wanted to be there, soak up the atmosphere and experience the culture. Sitting in Republic Square for hours doing just that was an absolute highlight.

How did you feel being on Armenian soil for the first time? Was it what you expected?

It was incredibly emotional and felt very surreal.

Growing up in the Armenian community of the Melbourne diaspora was very different. For starters, we speak Western Armenian (Armenians in Armenia speak Eastern Armenian), so straight away there was a language barrier.

It was also heartbreaking to see places like Gyumri, which had been devastated by the Spitak earthquake in 1988 and still hasn’t completely rebuilt, and finding out that was due to a lack of resources and government funding.

While Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world, Yerevan is the most modern city of any ancient nation. However, we didn’t expect to see so much of the Soviet era still prevalent in the 21st century. Post-Soviet Armenia still has a long way to go in shedding the legacy of that time, but I’m hopeful for a bright, exciting, and sustainable future.

There are so many people and organisations doing great things, and it’s inspired me to get involved too.

A detailed concrete sculpture in Yerevan, Armenia.

Did travelling to Armenia change how you feel about yourself and your identity?

It has completely changed how I feel about myself and my identity. I legally changed my name to my rightful Armenian surname, and I don’t let racism get to me as much as it used to.

I’m super proud of my heritage, my family, their journeys and resilience, and love owning my Armenian-ness. I feel more confident and more connected to who I am than ever before, and while I still feel anger (especially after visiting Tsitsernakaberd), I’m learning to practice forgiveness.

Also, I discovered one of my ancestors was Poghos Arapian, who founded the Ottoman print media in the 1750s and created lettering templates that became the basis of Georgian printing. He was also known as the Armenian Gutenberg. That helps explain why my father was a bookbinder and I’m a graphic designer!

As someone who works in design and the arts, you must have loved Yerevan. What were a few of the highlights?

I absolutely loved the arts in Yerevan. While I was surprised there wasn’t much of a design scene in Armenia, its creative history more than made up for it.

We visited the National Gallery, the History Museum, Cafesjian Museum of Art, Armenian Centre for Contemporary Experimental Art, and the Matenadaran. I’m also a big fan of architecture – in particular modernism and brutalism – and Yerevan did not disappoint with its exciting and unique Soviet and post-Soviet era buildings and monuments.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for people planning to visit Armenia?

There are very, very few elevators and escalators in Armenia, so be prepared to walk a lot of stairs at any given time. Pack flat, comfortable shoes.

Due to the aforementioned language barrier, Google Translate will quickly become your best friend.

Armenia has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, so don’t be apprehensive about using marshrutka vans to get around, even if they’re unmarked.

Armenia is an ancient, war-torn nation, so it’s important to bear in mind that things like infrastructure, wages, and essential services are not the same as in other countries. Armenians are the most hospitable people in the world. Please tip generously. If you have Armenian heritage (or not!), it’s the trip of a lifetime. I’ve never experienced such a rich, all-encompassing tapestry of culture in any other country I’ve visited.

Just make sure you bring back as much lavash as you can back with you – this was my biggest regret!

Mirella is the Founder and Creative Director of Mek , an award-winning brand design studio, and the Founder of Womentor , a mentorship program for women working in graphic design. For more, you can follow her on Instagram .

This post is part of a special series of interviews with travellers who have diverse experiences of travelling in the Caucasus . Also read: Solo female travel in the Caucasus , an interview with journalist Elisha Donkin.

Armenia Travel Guide

Discover insider tips, itinerary inspiration, and all the best things to see, do and experience in Armenia!

Armenia Essentials

My favourite resources and tools for planning a trip to Armenia.

Find affordable flights to Armenia

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More from Armenia

  • The Ultimate Armenia Itinerary
  • Things to do in Yerevan , 25 must-sees and alternative spots
  • Where to find authentic and meaningful Armenian souvenirs in Yerevan
  • Don’t miss the GUM Market , Yerevan’s colourful produce hall
  • Tips for being a responsible tourist in Armenia
  • The best day trip from Yerevan
  • Guide to Gyumri , Armenia’s second city
  • Guide to visiting the UNESCO monasteries, Haghpat and Sanahin
  • How to travel between Armenia and Georgia by overnight train
  • 12 things you should know before travelling to the Caucasus

A blue car parked in front of a water fountain in Dilijan, Armenia.

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The Gap Decaders

Armenia Itinerary: An Off-The-Beaten-Path Road Trip

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we earn an income.

Armenia, a small yet captivating country nestled in the Caucasus offers a wealth of picturesque landscapes, ancient monasteries, and a deep-rooted cultural heritage. An itinerary through Armenia promises to deliver unforgettable experiences, making the most of the country’s fascinating landmarks and history.

As you venture through Armenia, you’ll discover a blend of cultures gathered over the centuries, from Ottoman Turkey, Iran, Europe, and Soviet Russia, as well as ancient sites, spectacular natural wonders, and warm hospitality.

We spent 6 weeks exploring this tiny country that packs a real punch in terms of adventure and raw nature. In this Armenia travel guide, we’ll share the perfect Armenia itinerary, insider tips, must-see destinations, and practical advice to help you plan your own epic adventure.

Armenia itinerary

Where is Armenia?

Armenia is a landlocked country of the Caucasus region (formerly Transcaucasia) which lies south of the mighty Caucasus mountain range and neighbors the northwestern extremity of Asia. Armenia is geographically in Asia, but its cultural ties and geopolitics are overwhelmingly southeastern European.

To the north, Armenia is bordered by Georgia , to the east by the Lachin corridor, the only road that connects Nagorno-Karabakh to the Republic of Armenia under a Russian peacekeeping force, and Azerbaijan. To the southeast Armenia borders Iran, and to the west, Türkiye . The Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan is to the south.

Armenia map

Is It Safe to Visit Armenia?

Armenia is generally safe for tourists, but like any country, visitors should take precautions to ensure their safety. Petty theft and crimes of opportunity can happen, so it’s important to keep an eye on your belongings.

Additionally, there are some political and social issues that tourists should be aware of before visiting. Check the advice from your country’s government about visiting Armenia before traveling, especially if you intend to travel near the border with Azerbaijan or visit the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, due to the potential for armed conflict.

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Armenia . We recommend True Traveller for their 5-star TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

Getting to Armenia

Whether you’re traveling to Armenia in a car, motorcycle, or campervan from Europe, or picking up a hire car, self-driving is absolutely the best way to explore this fantastic and lesser traveled Caucasus country.

You can stop whenever you want, try new activities, visit places you see along the route, and have the freedom to change plans at the last minute.

Fly into Armenia’s Zvartnots International Airport . With direct flights from Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, it’s easy to connect with the States and the UK. We recommend booking through Skyscanner for live deals and the best prices.

Are you planning to rent a car in Armenia? We recommend hiring your car with , an aggregator of local car rental companies. They work with small car rental companies that only operate in their location and closely monitor the quality of their service. This means you get the best service for the lowest price.

For a real adventure, hire a campervan for an Armenia road trip. There are no specialist campervan rental companies in Armenia, so we recommend Overlando in Tbilisi, Georgia, who offer campervan rentals with their fully equipped 4×4 campers, including the awesome (and very cute) UAZ Bukhanka, a Soviet classic named after a loaf of bread!

If you prefer a smaller vehicle, check out their Lada and Hilux cars with rooftop tents. You can drive across the Georgia-Armenia border in just a few hours park and sleep anywhere along the route, as long as you’re not on private land. Use the Park4Night app to find overnight spots and campsites along the route, and check out our YouTube videos about traveling this way in Armenia!

Transportation Options in Armenia

Marshrutka travel in armenia.

In Armenia, taking a marshrutka is a popular mode of transportation for locals and tourists alike, especially if you’re traveling Armenia on a budget. Marshrutka’s are shared minibus taxis that run on fixed routes with flexible stop locations and sometimes flexible schedules, making them a great option for budget travelers, or those without their own vehicle.

Unlike buses, marshrutkas can stop anywhere on passengers’ requests. They are generally safe and comfortable, but the quality of the vehicle and the skills of the driver can vary.

It is possible to cover the whole of this itinerary taking marshrutka from town to town. For more remote locations, you may want to book a return trip with a taxi so you can be assured of trasport.

You can find public transport and marshrutka options on the T-Armenia website , or ask your hotel or accommodation to arrange a service for you – always agree on the price in advance.

Guided Tours

Guided day trips are more organized and structured than taking public transport and you’ll be escorted at all times. You also have the advantage of knowledgeable guides who can share insights about Armenia’s culture, history, and attractions. These are our picks of the best guided day tours from Yerevan:

Best Time to Visit Armenia

Armenia is a beautiful country with a variety of attractions to explore. The best time to visit largely depends on what you want to see and do during your trip.

Generally, the months from April to June and September to October offer warm weather and pleasant temperatures, perfect for sightseeing, road-tripping, and outdoor activities.

July and August can get quite hot, indeed Yerevan is known as ‘the city of sun’ and can easily reach 40℃ / 104F in the height of summer.

The winter months bring cold temperatures and snow in higher-elevation areas, which is actually much of the country, given that Armenia’s average elevation is 5,900 feet / 1,800 meters!

armenian heritage trip

Road Trip Armenia Map & Route

This incredible 10 day itinerary from Yerevan hits all the highlights, with charming towns and cities, communist and Ottoman history, iconic monasteries, and natural wonders on the itinerary.

This Armenian itinerary will easily stretch to two weeks if you prefer to slow travel and take in more sights as you go. Why not spend longer in your favorite places, and check the interactive map for attractions and landmarks nearby? 

  • Get the Travel Guides
  • Bradt Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh
  • Lonely Planet Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan
  • The Rough Guide to Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan
  • 10 Day Armenia Itinerary

Yerevan – Gyumri – Alaverdi – Dilijan – Sevan – Yeghegnadzor – Sisian – Goris – Tatev – Areni – Khor Virap – Garni – Yerevan

  • Distance 686m/1104km
  • Duration 10 days
  • Drive Time 20 hours

How to use this map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Armenia Itinerary

Day 1: yerevan.

Yerevan , the capital of Armenia, is a city filled with history, art, and stunning architecture. This itinerary will guide you through some of the must-visit spots in the city.

If you only have one day to spend in Yerevan, we highly recommend booking this free walking tour , where the very knowledgeable guide will take you on a three hour wander around the city, sharing history and facts about Armenia’s history, architecture, language, food, religion, art and so much more.

If you prefer a smaller group or private tour, we recommend the highly-rated Yerevan private walking tour and this Yerevan walking food tour .

Republic Square

Republic Square, located at the heart of Yerevan, is an ideal starting point for your journey. This popular site is surrounded by government buildings and historical landmarks that showcase the city’s unique ‘pink city’ architecture and is home to the dancing fountains, a choreographed light show set to music, which takes place at 9pm every evening from spring to mid-fall.

The square is also home to the mesmerizing History Museum of Armenia which holds an extensive collection of artifacts related to Armenian history. The museum features exhibits showcasing archaeological finds, ancient relics, and manuscripts, as well as displays about the different historical periods of Armenia. It is the perfect place to gain a deeper understanding of the country’s fascinating past.

Cascade Complex

A short distance from Republic Square is the iconic Cascade Complex. This massive staircase is an architectural marvel connecting the city center to Haghtanak Park.

As you climb the 572 steps, you’ll come across beautiful sculptures, fountains, and terraces offering stunning views of Yerevan and Mount Ararat.

Inside the complex, you’ll find the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts, showcasing contemporary art exhibitions.

armenian heritage trip

Opera House & Freedom Square

Yerevan’s Opera House, also known as Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall, is another must-visit landmark in the capital. This impressive building showcases Soviet-era architecture and is a focal point for arts and culture.

Situated next to the Opera House is Freedom Square, a popular venue for outdoor concerts, events, and gatherings. Vibrant Abovyan Street is nearby, perfect for walking and exploring the city’s cafes and shops.

Victory Square & Mother Armenia Statue

The Mother Armenia Memorial is a monumental statue in Victory Park overlooking the capital city of Yerevan, like a guardian of the Armenian capital. The statue was built to commemorate the victory of the USSR in World War II and was opened in 1950, on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia.

Every year on 9th May, thousands of Armenians visit the statue of Mother Armenia and lay flowers to commemorate the Armenian martyrs of the Second World War.

The pedestal hosts the Mother Armenia Military Museum of the Ministry of Defense and today, a large proportion of the exhibition space is devoted to the  Nagorno-Karabakh War  of 1988–1994.

Vernissage Market

For those seeking local crafts and souvenirs, the Vernissage Market is a delightful open-air market held on weekends. Here, you’ll find a wide array of handmade items such as wood carvings, pottery, jewelry, and traditional Armenian carpets.

This bustling market is an excellent opportunity to interact with local artisans and learn more about Armenia’s rich cultural heritage.

If food is your passion, visiting the Gum Market is a must. This indoor market, located near the Vernissage, offers an abundance of fresh fruits, dried fruits, spices, cheeses, and much more.

Locals and tourists alike flock to this market to sample traditional Armenian produce and delicacies.

Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex

The memorial honors the victims of the Armenian Genocide, the systematic destruction of the Armenian people and their identity that took place in 1915. A visit to the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex is an essential component of any Yerevan itinerary.

Situated on a hill overlooking the city and with distant views of Mount Ararat, the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex is dedicated to the memory of the estimated 1.5 million Armenians who perished during the genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire.

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is observed annually on 24th April and is a public holiday in Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, which is what Armenians call Ngorno Karabach, and the Armenian diaspora worldwide.

A visit here provides an essential historical and emotional insight into the Armenian genocide and provides visitors with a deeper understanding of the historical events and their impact on the Armenian people.

Eternal Flame & Memorial Wall

At the heart of the complex, visitors will find the eternal flame surrounded by a circle of 12 basalt slabs representing the 12 provinces of historical Armenia that were lost to Turkey during the genocide.

The flame symbolizes the resilience of the Armenian people and their ongoing quest for recognition and justice.

Adjacent to the eternal flame, a memorial wall lists the names of towns and villages where massacres took place. This provides a stark reminder of the scale of the tragedy and the loss of human life.

Armenian Genocide Museum

The Armenian Genocide Museum is an essential part of the visit to the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex. Opened in 1995, the museum is dedicated to the study, documentation, and research of the Armenian genocide.

Through a series of exhibits, documents, and personal belongings, visitors can learn about the events leading up to the genocide, the perpetrators, the victims, and the aftermath.

The museum also features a library and an archive that houses numerous books, photographs, and documents related to the genocide. This wealth of information is a valuable resource for researchers, scholars, and those interested in learning more about the Armenian genocide and its lasting effects.

  • Where to Stay in Yerevan

Upmarket: The Alexander – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Nova Hotel – | Agoda

Budget: Moscow House Hotel – | Agoda

armenian heritage trip

Don’t forget your road trip essentials! Our free road trip checklists help you remember everything, including road trip snacks , podcasts , and road trip songs for the journey!

Day 2: Yerevan to Alaverdi

A two hour drive from Yerevan is Armenia’s second-largest city, Gyumri , located in the northwestern part of the country. This under-rated city is known for its unique architecture and cultural heritage but is not really on the tourist map, which we think is a real shame.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Gyumri is the Kumayri historic district. This area boasts some of the oldest and most unique architecture in the country, with structures dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors can walk around the district and admire the intricate facades of the buildings, which are built using distinctive black tuff stone.

Another must-visit attraction in Gyumri is the All Saviors Church, also known as Amenaprkich Church. This church was built in the 1850s and is a stunning example of Armenian architecture. The church is located in a square surrounded by cherry trees, providing a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

In the same square to the south of the church is the 1988 Earthquake Memorial, which commemorates the 25,000 to 50,000 people killed and 130,000 injured on December 7th. The magnitude 6.8 Spitak earthquake ruptured multiple faults which lie on an active seismic belt that stretches from the Alps to the Himalayas and crosses northern Armenia.

For those interested in learning about Gyumri’s history, the Shirak Museum is a must-visit. The museum houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage. Visitors can learn about the city’s past, including its role as a trading and administrative center during the Russian Empire.

If you enjoy outdoor activities head to the Dzitoghtsyan Museum of Social Life and National Architecture. The museum is located in a beautiful park and features exhibits on traditional Armenian architecture and lifestyle.

Make sure to look west, over the Kars Highway, to spot Gyumri’s own Mother Armenia statue. If you want to get up close, it’s an easy drive or taxi ride up the hill, and you can also visit the Black Fortress, or Sev Berd , a Russian imperial fortress built during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829.

A two hour drive east of Gyumri is Alaverdi , a town located in the Lori Province near the border with Georgia. An important commercial and industrial center, Alaverdi is situated at the bottom of the Debed River gorge and is the ideal base for exploring the Debed Canyon, Haghpat Monastery, and the Akhtala Monastery Fortress.

By the time you arrive, you’ll probably just want to grab some food and have a good night’s sleep before more adventures await tomorrow!

  • Where to Stay in Alaverdi

Mid-Range: Dream Hotel, Haghpat – | Agoda

Budget: Iris B&B, Debed Canyon – | Agoda

armenian heritage trip

Day 3: Debed, Haghpat Monastery & Akhtala Monastery

Debed canyon.

The Debed Canyon is a stunning region known for its deep gorges, beautiful monasteries, and charming villages. As you travel from Alaverdi to the monasteries, you’ll be following the canyon of the twisting road east.

The winding river, dramatic cliffs, and lush forests that surround the road make the drive truly spectacular. If you want to explore deeper on foot, there are some great trails to check out here , but for our itinerary, we’re going to be focussing on the monasteries of the Debed Canyon.

Sanahin Monastery

The first stop out of Alaverdi, the Sanahin Monastery is just outside the town and easily accessible by car.

Founded in the 10th century, the monastery is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name ‘Sanahin’ means ‘this one is older than that one’ in Armenian, referring to the fact that the nearby Haghpat Monastery was built at a later date.

The complex includes several buildings, including the main church, a bell tower, a library, and several chapels. The main church, known as the Cathedral of Sanahin, is one of the oldest surviving churches in Armenia and is known for its intricate carvings and decorations.

The bell tower, built in the 13th century, is also a notable structure, with a unique design that includes an octagonal base and a conical roof.

Haghpat Monastery

Haghpat Monastery , an important center of learning and culture in medieval Armenia, was founded in the 10th century and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The name ‘Haghpat’ means ‘place of games’ in Armenian, possibly referring to an ancient pagan temple that was located on the site before the monastery was built.

The complex includes several buildings, including the main church, a bell tower, a refectory, and several chapels. The main church, known as the Cathedral of Surb Nshan or Holy Sign, is a notable example of Armenian religious architecture and is incredibly atmospheric inside.

Akhtala Monastery Fortress

A 10th century Georgian Orthodox monastery, Akhtala is also known as Pghindzavank , which means ‘copper mine monastery’ in Armenian, as it was built on a site that had rich copper deposits.

The complex includes several buildings, including the main church, a bell tower, a refectory, and several chapels. The main church, known as the Church of the Holy Mother of God, is a notable example of Armenian religious architecture, with frescoes that date back to the 13th century.

Rather than drive on today, return to Alaverdi for a second night, ready for the road tomorrow.

armenian heritage trip

Want to plan your own road tri p? Get our step-by-step road trip planning guide to help you organize the perfect trip, or check out our Europe road trip ideas .

Day 4: Alaverdi to Sevan

Haghartsin monastery.

Haghartsin Monastery , which means ‘the soaring eagle’, is one of five ancient monasteries located amidst the lush forests of the Dilijan National Park.

A marvel of 10th to 13th century Armenian architecture built under the patronage of the Bagratuni Dynasty, the complex consists of three churches: St. Astvatsatsin Church (1281), St. Gregory Church (11th century), and St. Stepanos Church (1244).

The road to Sevan climbs steadily and has plenty of hairpin bends, tight corners, and stupendous views. There are food stalls along the road, cooking and selling whatever is in season – we ate some of the best corn on the cob we’ve ever tasted along this road!

The town of Sevan is located on the shores of Lake Sevan and is a popular summer resort for wealthy Armenians. In summer, it’s possible to swim and sunbathe on the shores and take boat trips onto the lake.

The Sevanavank Monastery is perched on a hilly peninsula near the shores of the lake and offers stunning views over the vast body of water. Originally constructed on an island in the 9th century, this religious site provides a tranquil space to soak in the natural and historical beauty of the region.

The monastery is a fifteen minute drive from town, then you have to negotiate a few steps and a street of souvenir shops, restaurants, and places where you can buy wine and oghi , which is powerful Armenian moonshine made from berries and fruit.

This was not my favorite monastery – and we visited a few – but the exceptional khachkars or Armenian cross-stones inside and the far-reaching views of Lake Sevan made it worth the visit.

  • Where to Stay in Sevan

Upmarket: Sargsyan Eco House – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Aragast Hotel and Brewery – | Agoda

Budget: Lavash Hotel – | Agoda

armenian heritage trip

Khachkars in Armenia

A Khachkar is a carved memorial stone bearing a cross, often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs. Khachkars are characteristic of medieval Christian Armenian art and have been placed on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list. The term Khachkar is derived from the Armenian words ‘khach’ meaning ‘cross’ and ‘kar’ meaning ‘stone’.

Khachkars can reach 4.9 feet / 1.5 meters in height and are often found in cemeteries, on roadsides, and in public squares or other community spaces throughout Armenia and have long been part of Armenia’s history to celebrate victories, to grieve, worship, commemorate, or to communicate with the eternal world.

Once the stonemason has finished carving the Khachkar there is a small religious gathering, the Khachkar is blessed and is then believed to have powers that can work towards the soul’s salvation.

armenian heritage trip

Day 5: Sevan to Yeghegnadzor

Today is all about the road, as you cross the Varden Mountains into southern Armenia. For us, this drive gave us one of the most spectacular days of scenery we had in Armenia, only topped by the drive to remote Lake Arpi in the north.

Although Google says the drive will take a little over two hours, we recommend allowing at least four hours due to the nature of some of the roads, and the speed of other traffic.

As you skirt the shores of Lake Sevan towards the mountains, you’ll really start to appreciate its size. Along the road, there are frequent stalls selling lake-caught fish, and places where you can stop and have it cooked for you.

The landscape along this route is simply glorious, especially as you start the ascent. High mountain pastures split by ribbons of water meandering through the lush vegetation flank the road before you tackle the switchbacks to the pass. There are frequent places to top up your water bottles, or fresh water tank if you’re in a camper, with cold and fresh mountain spring water.

Make sure to stop on the way to peep into the Orbelian Caravanserai on the Vardenyats Pass, 7,910 feet / 2,410 meters above sea level. Built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian to accommodate weary travelers and their animals as they crossed the mountainous Vayots Dzor region, it is the best-preserved caravanserai in the entire country.

There are usually locals in the car park selling nuts, honey, and soujuk , a delicious sausage-shaped candy made from walnuts that are dipped in a thick pomegranate or grape molasses before being strung on long strings and dried out in sunlight, which makes it crispy and crunchy.


Yeghegnadzor is a small town on the Srkghonk River known for its cultural heritage, including the 13th century Selim Caravanserai and the 9th century Tsakhats Kar Monastery. The town is also a popular base for wine tourism, and if you have time, you can take a tour and enjoy dinner at the excellent Old Bridge Winery .

  • Where to Stay in Yeghegnadzor

Mid-Range: Green Stone Boutique Hotel – | Agoda

Budget: 7Rooms Boutique Hotel – | Agoda

armenian heritage trip

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Day 6: yeghegnadzor to goris, shaki waterfall.

Shaki Waterfall is a beautiful natural attraction about 6km away from the town of Sisian. The waterfall has a height of 18 meters and is situated on the left side of the Vorotan Gorge, formed by basalt lava flows over the years.

There are a couple of legends associated with Shaki Waterfall that locals will share with you. One of the legends tells the story of a conqueror who was captivated by a girl named Shaki. The conqueror ordered Shaki to come and introduce herself and gave her two options: to be his or not. Shaki chose the second option and threw herself from a high rock, causing her dress to open and transform into a waterfall.

Another legend says that a princess was once lost in the area and was found by a shepherd who fell in love with her. The princess was eventually rescued by her father, but the shepherd was heartbroken and jumped off the waterfall – possibly another version of the first legend!

The waterfall was a little underwhelming when we visited in early June, in a very hot summer. In spring, much more water will flow, and it’s possible to bathe in the pool underneath.

Zorats Karer

Not far from Shaki, close to the town of Sisian is Zorats Karer , also known as Carahunge and the Armenian Stonehenge. A mystic and ancient archaeological site, Carahunge is believed to be a prehistoric observatory and was one of our favorite places in Armenia.

Carahunge, which means ‘speaking stones’ in Armenian, consists of 223 stones arranged in a circle flanked by northern and southern arms and has been dated to the Middle Bronze Age. In the middle, there are about 40 stones that are formed into an ellipse. The size of the stones ranges from 0.5 to 3 meters and the heaviest can weigh up to 10 tons.

Some of the standing stones have smooth holes through them, which seem to correspond with landmarks in the surrounding landscape, like Mount Ukhtasar. The Pilgrim Mountain can clearly be seen looking north from Carahunge and is home to the Ukhtasar Petroglyphs, over 2,000 decorated rock fragments that extend to the foot of the mountain.

The Zorats Karer site covers an area of around seven hectares and Middle Bronze Age artifacts including bronze swords, fragments of beads made from antimony, and potsherds (broken piece of ceramic material) have been unearthed and traced to the first quarter of the 2nd millennium BCE.

The exact opposite of tightly controlled Stonehenge in the United Kingdom which is always busy, Carahunge was empty of other people, free to enter, and blissfully peaceful. Wandering amongst the rocks, feeling the smooth edges, holes, and lichens of the stones, and feeling the vast and wild landscape and immense history was a lesson in reverential respect.

On the opposite side of the road is a modern art performance installation called Return by the Armenian artist Ashot Avagyan which mimics Carahunge and is worth a visit.

From here, make your way to Goris , a 40 minute drive east. There are several attractions to visit in Goris, including the Local Lore Museum of Goris , medieval cave dwellings, and Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church.

  • Where to Stay in Goris

Upmarket: Redroof Country House Hotel – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Asour Hotel – | Agoda

Budget: Hayi Tun Guest House – | Agoda

armenian heritage trip

Day 7: Goris to Khndzoresk

Khndzoresk swinging bridge.

The Khndzoresk Swing Bridge spans a dramatic gorge to the abandoned cave village of Khndzoresk, where you can explore ancient ruins and take in the fabulous views of the surrounding area.

The bridge span is 160 meters and was built by a local entrepreneur to showcase the Armenian villagers way of life. To get to the bridge you need to go down, and then back up on the return, 436 punishing steps, but it is truly worth it!

On the other side, you can explore the old cave houses and visit the tiny church in the woods surrounding the ancient village.

If you’re traveling independently, you may want to get a taxi from Goris due to the truly appalling track from the main road to the bridge, which is about 3km long. The track may not be passable in a regular car, especially if it’s been raining, and then you will definitely need a 4×4.

After you’ve finished exploring, head back to Goris for another night before driving to Tatev tomorrow.

armenian heritage trip

Day 8: Goris to Tatev

The wings of tatev and devil’s bridge.

The Tatev Monastery is a 9th century architectural wonder perched atop a hill overlooking a stunning gorge – if ever there was an archetypal Armenian monastery, Tatev is it!

You can drive to Tatev, sometimes spelled as Tat’ev, along the incredible H45 road, crossing the Devil’s Bridge at the lowest point of the 500m gorge, before climbing to Old Tatev and the monastery. Or, you can stop north of Tatev at Halidzor and take the Wings of Tatev , the world’s longest reversible aerial tramway, which offers stunning panoramic views of the region.

Both options offer incredible views of the spectacular Vorotan Gorge, so which one should you take?

The driving option means you’ll have to drive there and back again unless you’re on a one way trip south to Azerbaijan and Iran. The Wings of Tatev cable car option costs 7000AMD (around $18) for a round trip and requires a timed booking in summer.

We did both as we were researching for this blog post, but if you can only do one, we preferred the fredom of driving and stopping to explore the Devil’s Bridge on the way.

The bridge has been created by petrified lava, which has been honed and polished by wind and water over millennia. Close to the bridge, it is possible to swim in the warm springs, which are ringed by colorful stalactites. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can hike down to the river to see the hidden grottos below the springs.

Tatev Monastery

By now, you might be feeling a bit monasteried out, we get it! But keep going, this one is really worth the effort!

Tatev Monastery is a 9th century Armenian Apostolic monastery located on a large basalt plateau on the edge of the Vorotan River gorge, the deepest gorge in Armenia at 2,788 feet / 850 meters. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The main church was built in 895 by Bishop Hovhannes with the support of the Princes of Syunik. Later, in 930, the inside of the churches were carved with the beautiful frescos you can still see today. The buildings of Tatev itself date from the 9th to the 13th centuries and the monastery was a great center of science and philosophy in the medieval era.

  • Where to Stay in Tatev

Upmarket: Old Tatev Guesthouse – | Agoda

Mid-Range: Harsnadzor Eco Resort, Halidzor – | Agoda

Budget: Aida Bed & Breakfast – | Agoda

Day 9: Tatev to Areni

Today is a longer drive, of at least three hours back north. You’re heading to Areni , Armenia’s legendary home of wine.

Areni is in the heart of Armenia’s wine-producing country, with the majority of wine produced locally from the nearby village of Getap. The village is also home to the Astvatsatsin Church of Areni, a single-nave two-aisled domed Armenian church completed in the year 1321, and is located atop a plateau overlooking the village. The church is of great historical and architectural significance.

The nearby Areni-1 cave complex is the site at which archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest winery, dating back to 4100 BC. The cave complex is also known as ‘Birds Cave’ or T’rchuneri in Armenian.

You can explore the cave and learn about the ancient winemaking techniques used by the inhabitants of the region.

After your cave trip, visit one of the many wineries nearby for a tasting session, of course! We would recommend either the intimate Momik Wines or the larger Areni Wine Factory , a name that lingers from Soviet times.

Noravank Monastery

Just 6 miles / 10km south of Areni and set amidst striking red cliffs is Noravank Monastery . Offering a unique juxtaposition of natural beauty and ancient religious architecture, the monastery features intricate carvings and frescoes, making it an essential stop as you pass through Areni.

  • Where to Stay in Areni

Mid-Range: Areni Lodge – | Agoda

Budget: Anna Home B&B – | Agoda

armenian heritage trip

Day 10: Areni to Etchmiadzin

Khor virap monastery.

Khor Virap Monastery is a must-visit site near Mount Ararat, right on the Turkish border. This significant pilgrimage destination once served as a prison for St. Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of Armenia, and offers breathtaking views of both the mountain and the surrounding landscape.

Mount Ararat , a dormant volcano, is considered to be an important symbol for the Armenian people. Although it is not in Armenia’s current territory today, it has great significance in Armenian history and culture. According to the Book of Genesis, Mount Ararat is where Noah’s Ark landed after the Great Flood, marking the beginning of a new life.

The mountains of Ararat are considered to be the cradle of Armenian civilization and are an important part of Armenian identity. In the 19th century, the peaks of Ararat represented the dreams of romantic nationalism and the goal of self-determination.

Today the meaning of Ararat is connected with the loss of territory and the pain of the Armenian Genocide. Despite being located in modern-day Turkiye, Mount Ararat remains an important cultural and spiritual symbol for the Armenian people.

Garni Temple

The stunning Temple of Garni ia a pagan temple built in the 1st century CE and a rare example of Greco-Roman architecture in Armenia stands at the edge of a triangular cliff that overlooks the ravine of the Azat River and the Gegham mountains. 

The temple is a part of the fortress of Garni, one of Armenia’s oldest, that was strategically significant for the defense of the major cities in the Ararat plain but collapsed in a 1679 earthquake. The site was excavated in the 20th century and was reconstructed between 1969 and 1975, using the original architectural elements wherever possible.

Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery is a medieval Armenian monastery founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The name ‘Geghard’ means ‘spear’ in Armenian, and refers to the spear that was used to wound Jesus Christ on the cross, and was allegedly brought to Armenia by the Apostle Thaddeus to be kept at Geghard Monastery for centuries.

The monastery is partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main chapel was built in 1215, and the monastery complex includes a number of churches and tombs, most of which are cut into the rock.

The complex of medieval buildings is set in a landscape of great natural beauty and is considered to be one of the most important examples of Armenian medieval architecture, showcasing an incredible mix of natural and man-made beauty.


Etchmiadzin Cathedral, also known as the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, is the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church and is located in the city of Etchmiadzin.

Also known as Ejmiatsin and Vagharshapat, an ancient city founded in the 2nd century CE, Etchmiadzin is home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is considered the spiritual home of the Armenian people.

Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the first cathedral built in ancient Armenia and is the largest of the city’s UNESCO sites, with the others being St. Hripsime Cathedral, St Gayane Church, Shoghakat Church and the 7th century Zvartnots Cathedral, now in ruins but still attracting worldwide attention for its imposing Ionic stone columns, topped with ornate carvings.

Etchmiadzin is easily navigatable on foot, and there are numerous museums and galleries to explore, making the city a fitting last stop on your epic Armenian itinerary.

From here, it’s an easy 40 minute drive into Yerevan, or a quick 20 minutes to the airport, which lies to the east of the city.

If you’re planning on heading north into Georgia, it will take you around 3-4 hours to reach the border. Make sure to stop and admire Mount Aragats, an isolated four-peaked volcano massif whose northern summit, at 13,419 feet / 4,090 meters above sea level, is the highest point of the Lesser Caucasus and Armenia.

  • Where to Stay in Etchmiadzin

Mid-Range: Najaryan’s Family House – | Agoda

Budget: Artson B&B – | Agoda

armenian heritage trip

Armenia Essentials

Here are the websites and services we personally use and recommend for traveling in Armenia.

  • Search for affordable flights to Armenia with Skyscanner
  • Search for availability and book hotels and accommodation in Armenia with
  • Best for campsites and overnight parking >> Park4Night
  • Best for rental cars in Armenia >> an aggregator of local car rental companies
  • Best for Armenia campervan hire >>
  • Get highly rated, reliable and trustworthy travel insurance with True Traveller
  • Check if you need a visa and arrange your documents with Visagov

Travel Tips & Driving in Armenia

Driving in Armenia can be challenging and is not like driving back home. poor road conditions, road works, weather, animals, and reckless drivers create hazards aplenty, meaning you need to be clued up and switched on behind the wheel.

Whether you’re traveling in your own car, touring Armenia in a campervan or overland truck , or flying in and picking up a rental car, you need to follow these rules when you’re driving in Armenia.

  • Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months from the date you arrive in Armenia.
  • You will need to carry your vehicle’s registration document, often called a ‘vehicle passport’ in Armenia.
  • You must have at least 3rd party insurance for your vehicle. Your insurance company may not provide motor insurance for Armenia, in which case you can buy insurance at the border or online. The insurance is known as ‘CMTPL’ or compulsory motor third-party liability insurance and you can get prices, pay online and download your certificate from ASWA online.
  • Citizens of non-EU third countries may require an International Driving Permit for driving in Armenia. You can check whether you need an IDP here .

Crossing the Border

  • When entering Armenia with a vehicle, expect to pay a number of taxes. We paid around 8,500 AMD ($23) to import our overland truck. The rate seemed to be based on the value of the truck, but it wasn’t clear what we were paying for!
  • Border crossings in the Caucasus can take a while, as you need to pass through passport control yourselves, have your vehicle inspected by customs, and then temporarily imported into the country. Allow at least 4-5 hours for the process.
  • Make sure your documentation is in order and organize your 3rd party insurance online beforehand – it’s just one less thing to worry about on the day.
  • Fixers may approach you at the crossing. It’s worth accepting their assistance because most of them can speak English, understand how things work, and have connections with the border forces. They will be happy with a small payment of $5-10 for their help.

Rules of the Road

  • Armenia drives on the right and overtakes and passes on the left. Vehicles from the right and emergency vehicles have priority.
  • You must carry a warning triangle by law. We also recommend that you carry at least one reflective jacket within the passenger compartment of your vehicle, a fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit.
  • The drink-drive limit for all drivers is strictly 0.00%. 

Tolls in Armenia

The motorway toll for foreign-registered vehicles was canceled in 2018. Previously, a fee of 10,000 AMD ($26) was charged at the border for every 15 days of stay, with longer stays having to pay more on leaving the country.

Make sure you don’t end up paying this defunct toll fee at the border!

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Day 01: Arrival in Yerevan

Arrival in Yerevan. Transfer to hotel. Accommodation. Use your free time for visiting the Vernissage Market in the City Centre – an arts and crafts open-air bazaar which opens only at weekends. You will find here different souvenirs, pictures, sculptures, traditional carpets and rugs and so on. Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 02: Yerevan City Tour

Breakfast at hotel. Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities in the world founded in 782B.C. It’s 29years older than Rome. The founder of Yerevan was the Urartian King Argishti I who founded the fortress of Erebuni on the southern part of nowadays Yerevan. Yerevan is considered to be the oldest operating capital in the world, older than Rome and Nineveh and will celebrate its 2800th anniversary in 2018.

Now Yerevan is a vibrant and modern European city with much to offer.

In the morning you visit the Matenadaran – Depository and Museum of Ancient Manuscripts with a collection of about 17000 manuscripts. The heaviest book in Matenadaran is around 34kgs and consists of 2 pieces. Afterwards you can see the most beautiful panorama of Yerevan City and the biblical Mount Ararat from the top of huge Cascade Monument . Cascade is just a masterpiece in terms of architecture and is decorated in a very stunning way. Inside this monument you find the Cafesdjian Art Center. There are a lot of original statues of modern art. Not far from Cascade you see the Mother Armenia Statue, which symbolizes “peace through strength”. Having its location on a hill overlooking Yerevan City, makes her “The Guardian “of the Armenian Capital.

During a short walking tour in the City Centre you pass through the Northern Avenue which connects the two Yerevan Famous Squares – The Republic Square and the France Square (where Opera House with the original statue of Rodin is located). The Republic Square in Armenia with the governmental buildings is considered to be one of the most beautiful squares of the world. In the night, the square is especially beautiful because of the “Dancing Fountains” accompanied with classic music of world known Armenian components.

Street tour including: Yerevan State University and the Island of universities, Victory Bridge, Tsitsernakaberd Hill with Genocide Museum, Sports & Concerts complex, Kiev Bridge, Parliament, Residence of President, Academy of Sciences. Evening free. Overnight in Yerevan.

Day 03: Yerevan - Khor Virap - Noravank - Tatev - Goris

Breakfast at hotel.

A fantastic tour dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia’s finest medieval architecture with stunning landscapes by driving through the agricultural heart of Armenia. Our first stop will be at the Khor Virap Monastery – the most important place of pilgrimage of Armenia. St. Gregory the Illuminator – the first Catholic of all Armenians, had been imprisoned in “Khor Virap” (deep dungeon) for 13 years. From here you get a unique view of the holy Armenian mountain Ararat (5165m.), on which (according to the Bible) Noah’s ark landed after the World flood.

As soon as we pass the Ararat Plain we can experience the untamed beauty of Southern Armenia – surreal red rocks providing an eerie echo, honey-colored villages sandwiched between them. Continue to the previous residence of Syunik’s bishops – Noravank monastery, nestled at the edge of the narrow gorge in the impressive mountainous landscape with peculiar red hanging rocks. The structure distinguishes by a unique harmony of architectural forms and decorations.

The most interesting part of the tour is still waiting for you – the majestic Tatev monastery, which we reach with the longest cable tram in the world (already registered in the Guinness World Records Book). This used to be wealthiest medieval monastery in Armenia. Besides being a religious center, Tatev was also the important strategical center of Syunik kingdom, surrounded with deep gorge. In non-stable political conditions the several secret ways in the territory of the fortress led the way to the canyon and served as a link between the monastery and external world. Overnight in the small city Goris, surrounded by mountains which are famous for their medieval cave-dwellings carved out of the soft rock. Overnight in Goris.

Day 04: Goris - Selm Pass - Noradus - Sevan Lake - Dilijan

The most part of today’s tour will go on the Great Silk Road. Passing through the Selim Pass (the highest point- 2410m), you stop at the the caravanserai of Selim (14.c.), which offered hospitality to travelers along the silk road crossing the Selim (Sulema) mountains. The best preserved of all medieval caravanserais in Armenia, it comprises a vaulted antechamber and a large hall partitioned into three sections lighted through openings in the ceiling.

After a few kilometers you admire the beautiful view on the Lake Sevan – the 2nd largest fresh-water high-altitude lake in the world after Titicaca (Los Andes, Bolivia) and the largest lake in Armenia and the Caucasus Region. Lake Sevan, this wonder of nature, is the pearl of incomparable beauty with stunning turquoise waters.

On the Lake bank you visit the largest cross-stones field of Armenia. Noradusa unique open-air museum, a unique collection of the stone art. The Cross-Stone is a typical manifestation of the Armenian culture, as other nations do not have this type of culture, and is already a UNESCO World Heritage. On the picturesque peninsula you visit the Sevanavank monastery (9c), which once used to serve as a place of exile of the Armenian nobility. Proceeding to Dilijan spa town in the Dilijan National Park, a protected area renowned for its serene lakes, picturesque hill trails and peaceful villages. Many poets used to say, “If there are woods, mountains, streams and mineral waters in paradise, it must be like Dilijan”. Due to its forested mountains and mild climate, Dilijan is named “Armenia’s Little Switzerland”. Overnight in Dilijan.

Day 05: Dilijan - Stepanavan - Lori Berd - Dzoraget

Day 06: dzoraget - haghpat - aparan - saghmosavan.

Today you explore North Armenia, visit one of the masterpieces of medieval Armenian architecture – Haghpat Monasteries at the Debed gorge (UNESCO World Heritage Sites). This fortified monastery served as the main cultural and literary center during the middle ages. The floor of one of the buildings is notable for the clay pots recessed into the dirt. In the past, this building was used as a library. On the way back to Yerevan we drive through Yezidi Villages and stop at an old Yesdi graveyard with about 20 small stone horse statues. No more than 2 feet high, the horses resemble stone horses found from the Hsia Dynasty in China, or Mongolian monument stones from the medieval period.

Visit of Gntunik Bakery. This place is a paradise for all bakery lovers! Bread, cakes, sweets, everything so tasty that one can hardly leave the bakery. Especially interesting is the bread baking process of the crazy bakers. Following by the highest mountain of Armenia – Aragats (4090m) drive to the Saghmosavank Monastery (“Psalm Monastery”) at the foothills of Mount Ara, perched at the edge of Kasagh River Canyon, a dramatic setting with the views of 3 amazing mountains in the horizon – Ararat, Aragats and Ara. Saghmosavank was once a religious, academic and cultural center of medieval Armenia. Continue to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.


armenian heritage trip


armenian heritage trip

(*Tip: Evening and night life of Yerevan are full of music, plays, performances, shows. In case you like live jazz this is a unique chance to enjoy it as Yerevan has rather rich Jazz traditions (called also the „New Orleans of the East“). Lots of rock and pop bands, the Opera House with almost daily shows and numerous concert halls. (You’d better book cultural events with your local guide directly). Hundreds of local cafes, wine-houses and restaurants spread all over the sidewalks and parks will give you a chance to taste the local and international cuisine, beer, wine and famous Armenian cognac.)


Check-out. Transfer from hotel to the airport. Departure.

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Exploring the Rich Heritage and Scenic Beauty of Armenia

armenian heritage trip

About Armenia

Welcome to Armenia, a captivating country nestled in the South Caucasus region. From its ancient monasteries and stunning landscapes to its rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality, Armenia offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Join us as we delve into the history, natural wonders, delicious cuisine, and vibrant traditions of this hidden gem.

  • History and Cultural Heritage: Armenia boasts a history spanning over three millennia, with a rich tapestry of civilizations and empires that have left their mark on the land. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Echmiadzin Cathedral, Geghard Monastery, and the ancient archaeological site of Zvartnots, all showcasing Armenia’s architectural and cultural legacy.
  • Yerevan: The Pink City: Start your journey in Yerevan, the vibrant capital city of Armenia. Stroll through the bustling streets and visit the iconic Republic Square, adorned with impressive government buildings and the magnificent National Gallery. Discover the rich collection of Armenian art at the Matenadaran Museum and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the Vernissage market, where you can find traditional crafts, artworks, and souvenirs.
  • Majestic Monasteries: Armenia is renowned for its ancient monasteries, perched on hilltops and nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes. Explore the spiritual treasures of Tatev Monastery, located on a mountain plateau overlooking the Vorotan Gorge. Marvel at the intricate stone carvings of Noravank Monastery, surrounded by rugged cliffs and red rock formations. These monastic complexes offer a glimpse into Armenia’s spiritual and architectural heritage.
  • Natural Beauty: Embark on a journey through Armenia’s diverse and picturesque landscapes. Discover the stunning scenery of Lake Sevan, one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world, with its crystal-clear waters and surrounding mountains. Explore Dilijan National Park, known as the “Armenian Switzerland,” with its lush forests, hiking trails, and charming traditional villages.
  • Delicious Armenian Cuisine: Armenian cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors, influenced by its geography and neighboring cultures. Indulge in traditional dishes such as khorovats (barbecue), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), and lavash (thin flatbread). Sample local cheeses, honey, and dried fruits at the bustling Yerevan Food Market. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the world-renowned Armenian brandy, a testament to the country’s viticulture traditions.
  • Festivals and Traditions: Immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions of Armenia by joining one of its colorful festivals. Experience the joyous celebrations of Vardavar, where people douse each other with water, symbolizing the renewal of life. Witness the captivating performances and traditional music at the Yerevan Jazz Festival. Discover the art of Armenian carpet weaving and participate in workshops to learn about this ancient craft.
  • Warm Hospitality: Armenians are known for their warm and welcoming nature, ensuring that every visitor feels at home. Engage with locals, who are eager to share their stories, traditions, and cultural heritage. Stay in traditional guesthouses or boutique hotels, where you can experience genuine Armenian hospitality and enjoy homemade meals prepared with love.

Armenia is a country of hidden treasures, waiting to be explored. From its ancient monasteries and stunning landscapes to its vibrant traditions and mouthwatering cuisine, Armenia offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Come and discover the rich heritage, warm hospitality, and natural beauty of this enchanting land. Plan your trip to Armenia and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Note: When writing a blog, it’s important to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date. Additionally, it’s recommended to include relevant images, travel tips, and practical information for readers to plan their trip effectively.

armenian heritage trip

How To Reach Armenia

To reach Armenia, you have a few options available. Here are the common methods of reaching Armenia:

  • Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan is Armenia’s main international airport, serving flights from various destinations around the world.
  • Several international airlines operate direct flights to Yerevan, including national carriers and other airlines. Major hubs such as Moscow, Istanbul, Vienna, Dubai, and Paris often have convenient connections to Yerevan.
  • It is recommended to check flight schedules and book your tickets in advance to secure the best options and prices.
  • If you are in a neighboring country or prefer traveling by land, you can enter Armenia through its land border crossings.
  • Armenia shares borders with several countries, including Georgia, Iran, Azerbaijan (currently closed), and Turkey (currently closed). Each border crossing has its specific regulations, so it’s essential to check the requirements and restrictions beforehand.
  • Some popular land border crossings include the Sadakhlo-Bagratashen border crossing between Armenia and Georgia, and the Norduz-Bazargan border crossing between Armenia and Iran.
  • Once you arrive in Armenia, transportation within the country is relatively easy and convenient.
  • Yerevan, the capital city, has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, minibusses (known as marshrutkas), and taxis. You can easily navigate the city and reach various attractions using these modes of transportation.
  • If you plan to explore other regions of Armenia, you can take buses or minibusses from Yerevan to different cities and towns. Private taxis and rental cars are also available for more flexibility and convenience.
  • Before traveling to Armenia, it is important to check the visa requirements for your nationality. Some countries may require a visa, while others may be eligible for visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival.
  • It is recommended to check with the nearest Armenian embassy or consulate or consult official government websites for the most up-to-date information regarding visa requirements.

Please note that travel regulations and requirements may change, so it is advisable to check with official government sources, airlines, and relevant authorities for the most up-to-date and accurate information before planning your trip to Armenia.

armenian heritage trip

Best Destinations & Stay In Armenia

Armenia is a country with a rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities. Here are some of the best destinations to visit and stay in Armenia:

  • Yerevan, the capital city, is a must-visit destination. Explore the bustling streets, visit the Republic Square, and admire the architectural wonders such as the Opera House and the Cascade.
  • Stay in the heart of Yerevan to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere. The area around Republic Square and Northern Avenue offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to boutique guesthouses.
  • Lake Sevan is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
  • Stay in one of the lakeside resorts or guesthouses for a serene and picturesque experience. The towns of Sevan and Dilijan, located nearby, also offer charming accommodations amidst the beautiful landscapes.
  • Known as the “Armenian Switzerland,” Dilijan is a resort town surrounded by lush forests and stunning mountain scenery.
  • Stay in one of the traditional guesthouses or boutique hotels in Dilijan to enjoy the tranquil ambiance and explore the nearby national parks and hiking trails.
  • Visit the historic village of Tatev, home to the famous Tatev Monastery, perched on a hilltop overlooking the Vorotan Gorge.
  • Stay in Tatev to fully immerse yourself in the ancient atmosphere and take in the breathtaking views. The village offers guesthouses and small hotels with a traditional Armenian touch.
  • Explore the cultural capital of Armenia, Gyumri, known for its unique architecture, cobblestone streets, and vibrant art scene.
  • Stay in one of the renovated traditional houses or boutique hotels in the city center to experience the authentic Gyumri lifestyle.
  • Visit the ancient Garni Temple and the medieval Geghard Monastery, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Stay in nearby villages or rural guesthouses to experience the tranquil countryside and explore the surrounding nature.
  • Jermuk is a renowned spa town famous for its mineral-rich hot springs and picturesque landscapes.
  • Stay in one of the spa resorts or hotels in Jermuk to rejuvenate yourself and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the area.

These are just a few of the many destinations and places to stay in Armenia. Each region has its unique charm and attractions, so it’s worth exploring different parts of the country to get a well-rounded experience.

armenian heritage trip

Armenia Cuisine & Food

Armenian cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors, influenced by its historical and cultural heritage. Traditional Armenian dishes are known for their rich flavors, use of fresh ingredients, and unique cooking techniques. Here are some popular Armenian dishes you must try:

  • Khorovats (Armenian Barbecue): Khorovats is a beloved Armenian dish consisting of grilled meat, typically pork, lamb, or chicken. The meat is marinated with aromatic spices and herbs, then cooked over an open flame, resulting in tender and flavorful barbecue.
  • Dolma: Dolma is a dish made of grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice, ground meat (often lamb), and herbs. The stuffed grape leaves are then cooked slowly until tender. Dolma can also be made with other vegetables like cabbage or bell peppers.
  • Khash: Khash is a traditional Armenian soup made from boiled cow or sheep parts, particularly the feet and head. It is often enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or winter dish. The broth is flavored with garlic, lemon juice, and served with bread.
  • Ghapama: Ghapama is a festive dish typically prepared during special occasions. It is a whole pumpkin stuffed with a mixture of rice, dried fruits, nuts, and honey. The pumpkin is baked until soft and fragrant, creating a delightful sweet and savory combination.
  • Lavash: Lavash is a soft, thin flatbread that is a staple in Armenian cuisine. It is typically made in a tandoor oven and can be enjoyed on its own or used to wrap various fillings, such as grilled meats, cheese, and fresh vegetables.
  • Armenian Cheese: Armenia is known for its variety of delicious cheeses, including the popular string cheese called “sulguni” and “lori” cheese, which is a creamy, spreadable cheese. Armenian cheeses are often enjoyed as appetizers or used in various dishes and pastries.
  • Armenian Pastries: Armenian cuisine offers a wide array of mouthwatering pastries. Some popular options include “samosa” (a savory pastry filled with meat, cheese, or spinach), “gata” (a sweet pastry filled with nuts and honey), and “nazook” (a flaky pastry with a sweet filling).
  • Armenian Desserts: End your meal with a sweet treat like “baklava” (layers of flaky pastry filled with nuts and sweet syrup), “sujukh” (walnut clusters coated in grape or mulberry syrup), or “kadaif” (shredded pastry soaked in sweet syrup).

Don’t forget to accompany your meal with Armenian wines, which have a long history dating back thousands of years. Armenia is known for its wine production, offering a variety of red, white, and rosé wines made from local grape varieties.

Armenian cuisine is a true reflection of the country’s rich culinary traditions and is sure to delight your taste buds with its unique flavors and textures.

armenian heritage trip

Tradition & Culture Of Armenia

Armenia is a country with a deep-rooted tradition and vibrant cultural heritage. Here are some aspects of Armenian tradition and culture:

  • Christianity: Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD. The Armenian Apostolic Church holds a central place in the country’s religious and cultural life. Many ancient churches, monasteries, and pilgrimage sites can be found throughout Armenia, showcasing its religious significance.
  • Hospitality: Armenians are known for their warm hospitality and welcoming nature. Guests are highly valued and are often greeted with open arms and offered traditional food and drinks. The concept of “mi casa es su casa” (my home is your home) is deeply ingrained in Armenian culture.
  • Festivals and Celebrations: Armenia celebrates a variety of festivals and cultural events throughout the year. The most significant is Armenian Independence Day on September 21st, commemorating the country’s independence from Soviet rule. Other notable celebrations include New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Easter, and Vardavar (a joyful water festival).
  • Traditional Clothing: Although modern clothing is prevalent in urban areas, traditional Armenian clothing is still worn on special occasions and cultural events. Traditional male attire includes a “taraz” (long robe) and a “papakha” (sheepskin hat), while women often wear embroidered dresses called “taraz” or “madagh.”
  • Folk Music and Dance: Armenian folk music and dance play an integral role in the cultural heritage of the country. Traditional musical instruments, such as the duduk (woodwind instrument) and the dhol (drum), are commonly used in performances. Traditional dances, including the Kochari and Shalakho, are expressive and lively.
  • Handicrafts and Arts: Armenia has a rich tradition of craftsmanship and arts. Traditional Armenian handicrafts include intricate carpet weaving, pottery, embroidery, wood carving, and metalwork. These crafts are not only a source of cultural pride but also contribute to the preservation of traditional skills and techniques.
  • Literature and Language: Armenian literature has a long history dating back to the 5th century. Notable Armenian writers and poets, such as Hovhannes Shiraz and Paruyr Sevak, have made significant contributions to the literary world. The Armenian language, with its unique alphabet, is an essential part of Armenian identity and culture.
  • Cuisine and Culinary Traditions: Armenian cuisine, as mentioned earlier, is an integral part of the culture. The preparation and sharing of traditional Armenian dishes, such as lavash (flatbread), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), and khorovats (barbecue), are deeply rooted in Armenian social gatherings and family traditions.

These are just a few highlights of the rich tradition and culture of Armenia. The country’s history, religion, festivals, arts, and culinary customs contribute to its unique identity and make it a fascinating destination for cultural exploration.

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Smithsonian Voices

From the Smithsonian Museums

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See Armenia Through the Eyes of a Local Guide

The landscape of Armenia is diverse. Often, there are several sub-regions within a single region, each with their own distinct set of tourist destinations

Hasmik Barkhudaryan

Sasun, a local guide, takes in the view of Mount Ughtasar. (My Armenia Program)

In the summer of 2020, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s My Armenia Program partnered with Armenian publication Yerevan Magazine to publish a special issue highlighting community-based cultural heritage tourism in the country. Over the next few months, the Center will publish English translations of the articles to Smithsonian Voices.

During this difficult time in the region, we hope these stories shine a light on the resilience of the Armenian people by showcasing their vibrant, diverse cultural heritage.

Traveling is the best way to learn about a place; it is important to visit not only well-known locations, but also places where few people go and where you may discover authentic folklore, distinctive lifestyles, forgotten monuments, and the trails that few people have previously taken. A brief visit becomes more complete when you are accompanied by a person who was born and still lives in that area, who has an emotional connection with the soil, who personally knows the intimate history of the place, and who can reveal to you the concealed corners, hidden roads, lesser-known legends, and, of course, the people who live there. Fortunately, there are many local guides in Armenia who can do all of the above.

In 2016-2017, the My Armenia Program started connecting with those who wanted to become regional guides—attracting some who were already working as guides, and others who wished to start a new career. The main goal of the program was to help them use their extensive homegrown knowledge to benefit their local regions. As a result, many people of different ages—from teens to those in their fifties—joined the program.

After all the existing and guides-to-be were on board, My Armenia collaborated with the American University of Armenia and the Armenian Guides Guild, as well as various experts on the matter, in order to conduct comprehensive training programs. There were also work meetings organized with tour operators in Yerevan. This allowed the tour operators to meet with the regional guides and to include their services in multi-day tour packages.

A rich, mossy valley leads up to snow capped mountains.

Syunik, Charm of the Abandoned Villages

The landscape of Armenia is diverse. Often, there are several sub-regions within a single region, each with their own distinct set of tourist destinations. For instance, Syunik, the largest region of Armenia, distinguishes several tourism destinations, including Goris and Sisian. In both cases, the tours are concentrated not only in the cities, but also in the surrounding territories.

Thus, guides who live in or around these destinations have designed specific tour packages. Among them is Hasmik Azoyan, founder of the Basen Hotel, who also offers her services as a guide: riding a jeep to Ughtasar, learning about petroglyphs, hiking to the nearby volcanic peaks, and so on. Hasmik herself brought together some other guides from Sisian. For instance, Sasun Baghdasaryan leads the jeep tour of Ughtasar; despite being the eldest in the group, Sasun exhibits great enthusiasm and passion.

Another itinerary from Sisian is traveling the road leading to Tatev through abandoned villages. You may enjoy this totally new experience during a two-day hiking tour designed and offered by Katya Babayan, in collaboration with the My Armenia Program. Vahagn Petrosyan leads tours to Goris and its surroundings. Nowadays, he resides in Yerevan but is happy to return to his hometown when anyone needs his guiding services.

A grassy valley hosts an arrangement of small buildings belonging to various wineries.

There are ten guides altogether in Sisian who form a tightly knit, friendly community that openly collaborates—for instance, referring colleagues when a particular language is needed for tourists. They support each other in every way.

The other important destination in the Syunik region is Khndzoresk, not far from Goris. The guides lead comprehensive hiking tours through Khndzoresk’s old and new villages and abandoned caves to provide tourists with exceptional opportunities to meet the locals who were born or lived in those caves not long ago.

Both Sevada Shahnazaryan and Hermine Dilanchyan are experts on Khndzoresk who can tell you all about the past and present of this curious cave-village. Sevada is a regular at Khndzoresk, and can often be found near the swinging bridge. Together, these guides are united under the Renaissance Foundation of Khndzoresk, which contributes to the collaboration between the guides and tourism development.

Vayots Dzor, Artavan’s Hidden Nature

Vayots Dzor is justly famous for its mountainous and rocky landscapes, but Garnik Gevorgyan will guide you to some of the lesser-known natural areas that are lush green and forested. One of his favorite places is his home village of Artavan. Hiking, camping, horseback riding—you may find all these activities within the tours designed by Garnik. In addition to leading his own tours, he works with other organizations from the tourism and nature protection industry. In the framework of WWF Armenia, Garnik serves as the caretaker of the Caucasian leopard. He also cooperates with HIKEArmenia, an organization that has designed and mapped numerous hiking trails and guidebooks across Armenia. These are all available on or on the HIKEArmenia app.

A man sits in front of a dark grey, stone wall with three stately wooden doors.

Shirak, Architectural Glimpse of Gyumri

Tourism in Shirak is concentrated mostly around Gyumri. Visitors to the city may walk along the streets of the historic center, familiarize themselves with the old and new buildings and architectural monuments, and see locations where well-known Armenian movies were shot. The young guides of Gyumri also successfully work with one another. This smooth cooperation occurs because tours of Gyumri are very diverse and each guide’s tour has its own theme. For instance, as an architect, Gayane Papikyan naturally introduces tourists to the city’s distinctive architecture. The tours offered by Liza Gasparyan are broader and more diverse and might include several different themes.

Another enthusiastic guide, Liana Stepanyan, has created student tours by starting a new tour program for schoolchildren and university students under the “Ari Gyumri” or “Come to Gyumri” initiative. Today, teachers from Yerevan and the surrounding regions often entrust their history and architecture classes to the young guides of Gyumri.

A visit to Gyumri would not be complete without getting to know the artistic traditions of this city. Albert Vardanyan and his two sons, Hrachya Vardanyan and Avetik Vardanyan, are among the most famous artists of Gyumri today. Not only may visitors tour the studio of the Vardanyans, but they may also explore the city with Avetik Vardanyan, a professional architect who presents Gyumri’s architecture in his own distinctive way.

An older man stands with his son in front of a bronze sculpture they constructed.

Lori, Poetic Landscapes

To see Hovhannes Toumanian’s Dsegh, with its beautiful surroundings, or Alaverdi town with its architectural gems, you may ask for Saro Ohanyan, who will help in any way possible; he can organize a trip, show you around, and assist tourists in need. He organizes hiking tours, horseback-riding daytrips, and longer journeys. Additionally, a group of young local guides from Alaverdi offers a variety of tours in and around the town. Roza Hovhannisyan’s knowledge of Chinese and active participation in the rafting tours on the Debed River will be a pleasant surprise for tourists from China (when international travel resumes).

Tavush, The Birdwatching Region

Vahe Mayilyan from Ijevan is a woodcarving master who organizes workshops and accompanies tourists to the small local chapel of Surb Kiraki (Holy Sunday), which is not well known even among Armenians.

Wine lovers may wish to visit the Ijevan Wine Factory with Elina Kocharyan, who offers a factory tour as well as wine tastings. She mastered her professional skills as a wine guide during courses organized by the My Armenia Program.

Davit Hovhannisyan and Rouzanna Amiryan work in Dilijan and offer a variety of hiking tours for visitors. Tavush’s distinctiveness is due not only to its dense vegetation and great artistic potential, as in Dilijan National Park, but also its potential as an ornithology center thanks to the diversity of bird species and the abundance of native birds.

In Armenia, there is no scarcity of knowledgeable and passionate guides in Armenia who would be happy to share with you their love of home.

Nestled in a forest stands a small, stone chapel. It is surrounded by tourists taking photos.

About My Armenia The My Armenia Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Smithsonian Institution, works to increase and share knowledge about Armenian cultural heritage and build capacity to support the long-term vitality of Armenian cultural sites and practices. Through My Armenia, the Smithsonian seeks to support cultural sustainability by documenting Armenia’s historic and living cultural traditions, sharing this knowledge with global audiences, and supporting the development of local resources and capacity to safeguard this cultural heritage for future generations.

About Yerevan Magazine (EVNmag) Launched in 2011, Yerevan Magazine is one of the most popular print magazines in Armenia. Known for its high quality, edgy design, and free distribution at more than sixty hotspots in Yerevan (in cafes, restaurants, pubs, and more), EVNmag has become required reading for many Yerevantis—just like coffee in the morning. Even as print magazines fight to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world, with five to seven editions a year and 4,000 copies each, EVNmag remains a beloved and reliable news source covering life in Yerevan.

The Yerevan Magazine  issue covering My Armenia was released Friday, August 14, 2020. Armenian versions of these articles can be found online on their website ,  Facebook , Instagram , and Issuu .

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Lori , Cultural Heritage

Visiting haghpat monastery: history, tips, & how to get there.

Are you looking to visit one of Armenia’s best UNESCO World Heritage sites? This guide discusses everything you need to know about visiting Haghpat Monastery in the north of Armenia.

If you are planning to discover the gorgeous North of Armenia, then the ancient architectural masterpiece of Haghpat Monastery Complex must be on your list and Armenia itinerary .

Simply looking for the best tours to Haghpat ? Here are the best rated day tours to Haghpat Monastery from both Yerevan and Tbilisi :

  • Private tour to Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries (from Yerevan)
  • Tour to Odzun, Haghpat, Sanahin, and Akhtala Fortress (from Yerevan)
  • Day trip to North Armenia to Sanahin, Akhtala, Haghpat (from Tbilisi)

Located in the Haghpat village high in the mountains near Alaverdi, and will you need to drive up to reach the fascinating monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Lori Marz (province) is truly picturesque with breathtaking mountains and gorges where the churches and villages are built into places that will boggle your mind and leave you curious and fascinated with the region.

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

This guide will give you a brief history of Haghpat Monastery , reasons why you should visit, how to get there (4 options!), and the best tours to Haghpat .  If you have any questions or tips, please reach out!

Do note that most people opt to visit Haghpat and Sanahin Monastery on the same trip .  It is very easy to do so, especially by taking a tour. This guide covers solely Haghpat, but do note that it is very easy to visit both together!

Haghpat Monastery History

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Haghpat Monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanush approximately in 976. 

The monastery is located at an altitude of 2,500 meters on the other side of the Debed River and by its capacity, the Haghpat Monastery is one of the largest ones in Armenia.

Just like Sanahin Monastery, the Haghpat Monastery complex is a combination of churches like Saint Astvatsatsin, Saint Nshan, and Saint Grigor . There is also a bell tower, a repository, and of course, it is surrounded by a fortress to protect from invaders.

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

The monastery complex at Haghpat contains different constructions that were erected in different decades after the foundation and construction of the Haghpat Monastery.

The tenth-century, typical architecture style that was popular in Armenia was used to build the biggest Cathedral of Surb Nishan in the Haghpat Monastery complex.

Haghpat Monastery complex is one of the wonders and highlights of Armenia’s ancient architecture which will amaze anyone who appreciates and loves art, history, and masterpiece architecture.

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

Haghpat Monastery Practical Information

Here are a few FAQ about Haghpat Monastery from those who are curious to visit and those who have already been:

Is it free to visit Haghpat Monastery?  There is no entrance fee to Haghpat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  However, donations are accepted and you will need to bring cash if you are keen to purchase souvenirs or something at a cafe or kiosk nearby.

Is there wheelchair access at Haghpat Monastery?  The area is wheelchair-friendly but please note that some places inside of the monastery will be inaccessible (narrow walkways and stairs).

There is Braille for those that are visiting that have visual impairments.

How far apart are Sanahin and Haghpat Monasteries?  Sanahin and Haghpat are 15 kilometers away from each other (or 36 minutes in driving distance).  If other websites tell you that these monasteries are right beside each other, they are very wrong!

Are there restaurants near Haghpat Monastery? Yes, but not particularly on-site. You will find our favorite, Atorick Restaurant , right on the river in Alaverdi. It has a wonderful terrace area, perfect for solo travelers or large groups.

How to Get to Haghpat Monastery from Yerevan

Getting to Haghpat Monastery from Yerevan is pretty easy but it can be a bit time-consuming.  It is fairly far from Yerevan by Armenia standards so we definitely recommend booking a tour there if you’re pressed for time.  You can see our tour recommendations below!

Are you visiting Haghpat Monastery from Tbilisi ? There are a few tours that operate in the North of Armenia from Tbilisi and we also note them below!  Distance-wise, Tbilisi is closer to Haghpat than Yerevan is to Haghpat.

There are a few other options for visiting Haghpat from Yerevan (four options pending you can get to Alaverdi!).  Not all are reasonable with price or time, but we do list all options below.

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

The first option for traveling to Haghpat from Yerevan is to take a bus (minibus, or marshrutka).  The distance is around 165 kilometers , which makes it around a 3.5-hour journey .

There is no direct transportation between Yerevan and Haghpat village, so you will need to take the bus from Kilikia bus station in Yerevan to Alaverdi ( Ալավերդի ).

From Alaverdi, you will need to take a taxi to Haghpat Monastery , which is around a 10-kilometer drive.  If you are unable to get a taxi driver to fully understand, you can show him that you’re going to Հաղպատ (Haghpat).

The bus departures from Kilikia bus station to Alaverdi are as follows:

The price for a ticket from Yerevan to Alaverdi is 1500 AMD ($3) .  

Renting a Car

An alternative option for getting to Haghpat from Yerevan is to rent a car.  Public transportation can be a bit slow in Armenia as the country develops its roads and system better, but renting a car in Armenia allows you to explore at your own pace and make stops along the way.

Some of the places you can explore in Northern Armenia with a rental car alongside Haghpat are Lori Fortress, Ijevan, Sanahin Monastery, Akhtala, and more!  

>> Click here to check rental car rates in Armenia

A third option for getting from Yerevan to Haghpat is to take a taxi .  This may not be the most budget-friendly option, but if you’re with a group, it isn’t really that bad.

The ride is more comfortable and it can be done at your own pace, pending you’re willing to hire a taxi all day.  A taxi trip to Haghpat from Yerevan will cost around $38, one-way (17200 AMD) .

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

Tours to Haghpat from Yerevan

Another way to visit Haghpat Monastery is to take a tour from Yerevan there!  There are a couple of fantastic, organized tours that will make your trip educational and a breeze!

A second plus to taking an organized trip to Haghpat is that you will get to see other famed Armenian monasteries and sights along the way.

Below are the top tours to Haghpat Monastery from Yerevan.

Armenia: Private Tour to Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries

Prices start from €388 per group  Duration:  9 hours Private tour BOOK HERE

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the wonders of ancient architecture at the UNESCO World Heritage Monasteries in the North of America – Sanahin and Haghpat.  This is a private tour (can be a private group of up to five people).

This tour is for those who want privacy and to explore at their own pace and really relish in the historic sights of Lori province.

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

You’ll be picked up and dropped off in Yerevan at your hotel and your day will be spent exploring by means of a modern vehicle with WIFI, air-conditioning, and bottled water.

Insurance will be covered by the tour organizers and you will have a knowledgeable guide that will ensure no detail is overlooked and you really enjoy your day at Sanahin and Haghpat.

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

Armenia: Odzun, Akhtala and UNESCO Heritage Sites Tour

Prices start from $ 138 Duration: 11 hours Group tour BOOK HERE

Another fantastic way to see Haghpat and the other iconic sights in America’s north is to take this tour of Armenian cultural heritage in the Lori region.  You will be with a knowledgeable guide in a private transfer vehicle that has wifi and comfort for everyone.

This tour will guide you to Odzun , one of the oldest villages in Armenia and home to a very historic church called ‘Odzun’.  It is located right on the Debed Gorge and is spectacular!

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

You will then visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites Sanahin and Haghpat Monasteries.  You will get to learn more about each on this all-day tour. 

Finally, you will explore the fortress-monastery of Akhtala, a gorgeous piece of architecture that sits nestled in the forests and mountains near Alaverdi.

Tours to Haghpat from Tbilisi

A surprisingly popular option for visiting Haghpat is as a day trip from Tbilisi .  It is around 110 kilometers one-way and it is a fantastic way to see these UNESCO monasteries! 

The following tour is a top-rated one that will take you from Tbilisi to Northern Armenia (and Haghpat!)

Tbilisi: Full-Day Armenia Tour

Prices start from $55 Duration: 11 hours Group tour BOOK HERE

If you’re looking for an affordable day tour from Tbilisi to Haghpat Monastery , this is one of the best options!  It is a wonderful way to see some of Northern Armenia’s most iconic sights, such as Haghpat and Sanahin.

On this tour, you will visit Haghpat, Sanahin, and Akhtala Fortress (one of our very favorite sights in Armenia! ).  You will also have a chance to marvel at the Debed Canyon, wander around a Copper Smelting Factory, and check out a legendary MiG 21 aircraft.

This is a fantastic day trip from Georgia and you’ll be so amazed at Armenia’s beauty that we hope it entices you to pop down for a bit longer!

Visiting Haghpat Monastery - how to get there, history, and tours

Should You Visit Haghpat Monastery?

If you’re interested in historic culture and to get away from Yerevan a bit, visiting Haghpat Monastery  (and Sanahin) is definitely a great choice!

You can visit as a day trip from Yerevan or even stay overnight somewhere close by like in Debed village or Armenia’s third-largest city, Vanadzor .

Pin This Haghpat Travel Guide for Later!

Are you interested in visiting Haghpat Monastery and Sanahin Monastery, two of Armenia's best UNESCO World Heritage Sites? This guide details the best way to visit, tours to Haghpat, and why it is the perfect day trip from Tbilisi or Yerevan! | Armenia monastery | Armenia history | Armenia religion | UNESCO Armenia | Visit Armenia | Armenia travel | Things to do in Armenia | Places to visit in Armenia

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Nancy Kricorian: Pilgrimage as/or Resistance

A trip to Turkey sparks a search for the ghosts of the Armenian genocide.

armenian heritage trip

By Nancy Kricorian

Before I leave home, I come up with a title for the Armenian Heritage Trip to Turkey: Twenty Armenians on a Bus, or The Thirty Handkerchief Tour. Our guide calls it a pilgrimage, and refers to us as pilgrims, as though we are on a religious or spiritual quest. What do I hope to find? Almost one hundred years have passed since my paternal grandmother and her family were driven from their home in Mersin in 1915, just a few months into the Ottoman government’s genocidal campaign that resulted in the deaths and exile of the vast majority of its Armenian citizens. Of her immediate family, only my grandmother and her brother survived the death march. They were among eight thousand Armenian orphans in a camp in the Syrian desert at Ras al-Ain.


The Saint Toros Church in Everek is now a mosque. There is a fresco of the Virgin Mary on the wall between the left and central apses near the altar. When our guide had last visited, there was a moveable plywood board over the fresco. The painting had been whitewashed many times, but the portrait of the virgin bled through again and again. Now the plywood panel is screwed into place so it cannot be moved. The mayor of the town arrives at the mosque while we are there. He asks if we have any information about the church because he knows nothing of its history.

We are searching for ghosts, and we ourselves are ghosts come to haunt this land.

Remnants—that word floats up in my mind as we leave the mosque and walk towards the home of the last Armenian in Everek, the old Armenian Quarter of the town of Develi. He died in 2000 and left the property to his nephew in Istanbul. We peer in the windows at the dusty rooms of a once-grand house. These buildings are remnants, and we are remnants, like scraps of fabric from a torn curtain. We are searching for ghosts, and we ourselves are ghosts come to haunt this land.


The last Armenians in this town are an elderly sister and brother named Hayganoush and Kegham. Their ramshackle wood frame and plaster house features an inner courtyard that is jammed with logs, pots, broken furniture, cats, stacks of newspaper, fragments of stone with Armenian inscriptions, and balled-up plastic bags. Hayganoush says, “My house is a mess, but my soul is orderly.”

The rest of their family lives in Istanbul and Germany, but they stay here as guardians of this property: a crumbling house, a jumbled courtyard, a large walled garden next door with fruit trees, vegetable beds, chickens, more cats, and piles of matted wool. Hayganoush and Kegham lead us to the local grade school. Kegham says it had originally been an Armenian school, and the parking lot next to it is where the Armenian church once stood. A local official who disliked Armenians had ordered the demolition of the church. When the town held the groundbreaking for a mosque to be erected on the same spot, an earthquake hit and a stone fell on the official and he died. Or maybe, says Kegham, a lightning bolt hit him; he can’t remember which. In any event the man was killed, and the mosque was never built.

My grandmother always said, “We came from near Tarsus. You know Saint Paul of Tarsus? I was born in Mersin, and your grandfather in Adana.” She was a devout Armenian Evangelical and this proximity to the birthplace of Paul the Apostle was a source of pride. It wasn’t until after my grandmother died, however, that I even bothered to look for these towns on a map.

This is another place where we have been erased, a word that one of the women on the bus keeps using. Erased. Effaced. Rubbed out.

As we drive south through the Toros Mountains, we start seeing signs for Mersin, Tarsus, and Adana. The landscape changes dramatically. There are pine trees along the roads, which give way to orchards, and then we begin to see pink oleander and tall thistles. Our guide has warned me that there are no traces at all in Mersin of the Armenians who once lived there—everything is gone.

When we arrive in Mersin, we drive to the marina where there are boats docked and beyond them, the Mediterranean Sea. My grandmother saw these skies, and walked along this very shore. She loved the flowers in her New England garden, and how much she must have loved the ones here: pink and white oleander, lantana, bougainvillea, and red hibiscus.

We go to the old Armenian quarter, where the main market street has recently undergone a renovation, replacing its rundown charm, still evident in the side streets, with a gentrified sameness. We walk to the Great Clock Tower, which was designed in the late 19th century by two Armenian architects, but is now shrouded for renovation. Our guide tells us that it was at this tower that Turkish crowds were incited to murder Armenians during the Adana Massacres of 1909, during which over 2000 Armenians were killed. My grandfather left for America in 1911.

None of the Armenian churches and schools of Adana are still standing. This is another place where we have been erased, a word that one of the women on the bus keeps using. Erased. Effaced. Rubbed out.

We go to the Stone Bridge, which dates to Roman times, over the Seyhan River. My grandfather died when I was three, so I have few memories of him, but I imagine the young man from a faded photo. He is wearing a charcoal gray suit, and his moustache has just been trimmed. He strides across the bridge, a folded newspaper under his arm.


One of the men on the bus, Dikran Fabricatorian, tells us his family story as we drive towards Mezireh, now known by its Turkish name of Elâzığ. Dikran’s great grandfather, Krikor Ipekjian—ipek means silk in Turkish—founded a textile factory in Mezireh in the 19th century. The silk produced by Ipekjian was so fine that it attracted international acclaim, and in recognition of this renown, the Sultan changed the family name to Fabricatorian.

Here, where Armenian churches have been razed, ruined, turned into barns, made into prisons, wedding halls, cultural centers, mosques, and museums, we sing this prayer as an act of pure resistance.

Krikor Fabricatorian had five sons who took over the company after his death in 1902, and they expanded its operations to two large factories. The five brothers built five townhouses side by side. In 1915, the five brothers were shot on the outskirts of town. Their wives and children were deported. One of the children was Dikran Fabricatorian’s father.

The townhouses were pulled down and replaced by apartment buildings in the ’50s, but the name “The Five Brothers” survived. We walk down the hot, crowded street, all twenty of us following Dikran and our guide, until we find the signs: the Five Brothers Apartments and the Five Brothers Passageway. On the ground floor of one of the buildings, we enter an Internet café, whose owner tells us he was born in one of the houses. He shows us an old photo of the houses hanging on the wall. He tells us to go next door to his brother’s pharmacy to see more pictures. We find there also, hung somewhat incongruously and off center, a brass chandelier, salvaged from one of the townhouses.

Dikran’s son asks the pharmacist if they might purchase the chandelier. He replies, “I wouldn’t sell it to you even if you offered me a million dollars.”


We begin the morning, which happens to be the first day of Ramadan, with a ferry ride to Aghtamar Island on Lake Van. It is breezy on the blue lake, and not too hot on the island. The 10th-century Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross is beautifully preserved, as are the bas-reliefs on its exterior. Inside the church there are frescoes depicting the life of Christ, sections of them still in good condition.

The church is now a state museum, and when people in our group start singing the Hayr Mer prayer, a Turkish guard approaches, saying that singing is forbidden. We are the sole visitors in the museum, a museum that has a cross on its roof and an ornate altar. Adi explains that we are singing a universal song for peace. Then someone starts the Der Voghormia prayer while the guard motions with his hand to keep the volume down. The voices rise, and he rakes his thumb across his throat, telling us to kill the music. The Armenians keep singing. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, All Holy Trinity, give peace to the world, and healing to the sick and Heaven to those who are asleep.

With the music echoing after me, I leave the church to sit outside behind a tall metal candle stand, weeping. As a very-much lapsed Armenian Evangelical, I think of religion as a tool of oppression. But here a prayer has, for a moment, transformed this so-called museum—a state-controlled space concerned as much with forgetting as remembering—into the host of something radically incarnate. Here, where Armenian churches have been razed, ruined, turned into barns, made into prisons, wedding halls, cultural centers, mosques, and museums, we sing this prayer as an act of pure resistance: Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, All Holy Trinity, give peace to the world, and healing to the sick and Heaven to those who are asleep.

Nancy Kricorian, who grew up in the Armenian community of Watertown, Massachusetts, is a novelist, essayist, poet and activist based in New York City. Her most recent novel, All The Light There Was , has just been reissued in paperback by She Writes Press. She is on the national staff of CODEPINK Women for Peace and on the Executive Committee of the Armenia Tree Project.

A previous version of this piece was presented at the Women Mobilizing Memory Public Roundtables at DEPO in Istanbul on September 17, 2014.

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AHC Testimonials

This was our 3rd time on the Armenian Heritage Cruise, and we truly believe that the experience gets better and better every time! The cruise this year hit an all time high of over 2000 Armenians from all over the world; as William Saroyan said.

The experience we had on board the Costa Magica is one we will never forget. The organizers of this cruise gave Armenians from all over the world the opportunity to meet and enjoy each other with the Armenian spirit of hospitality and making every individual feel special. Nothing was forgotten or missed to make the cruise enjoyable. Thank you AHC!

A week has passed and it is time to leave, but the memories will last a lifetime. As I pack my bags I am filled with unforgettable memories of a wonderful experience on the Costa Atlantica. I am taking with me a feeling that the Armenians in the diaspora are united, which will help Armenia.

The Armenian Heritage Cruise is outstanding. Besides that, I had the opportunity to meet friends that I haven’t seen for 50 years. I was so satisfied to attend each event that was perfectly organized. I invite all Armenians from all over the world not to miss next year’s cruise. We will show the world the Armenians are united in the diaspora.

This cruise has enlightened me as to where the Armenian community stands today and how far we have progressed. Your program was a nice mix of the social, educational, political, and entertainment. It reminds me of the bygone ‘Atlantic City Affair’ that was hosted by Philadelphia years ago. I wish you continued success. Keep up the good work.

What an excellent experience for my first cruise! My kids have been on this cruise before, what an excellent Armenian cultural and friendly atmosphere. In fact my son found his life’s Armenian partner here. What an excellent thing to happen!

I traveled from Argentina to be a part of the ACAA’s Armenian Heritage Cruise onboard the beautiful Atlantica. This huge ship has been converted into an Armenian town. The events exceeded my expectations with Armenian TV, dances, cultural programs, movies, and many more activities. This year there were over 30 Armenians from Argentina on the ship, and I am sure this number will triple next year. I want to thank the ACAA Committee for providing us with this wonderful experience.

It is my second time but, God willing, you can bet it will not be my last. Armenian Heritage Cruise…three words that sound like music to my ears. Aside from good food, fabulous scenery, and fantastic entertainment, it awakens the hidden warm feelings of belonging to a nation of wonderful people from all over the world. My heartfelt wish to my very dear fellow Armenians, next to good health, is to take part in this wonderful experience. May God bless the organizers.

Thanks to the ACAA Committee members for a great cruise. We all had a wonderful time on the Costa Atlantica. Our entire group from Paris, France enjoyed the warm ambiance, full of fun, dance, music, and shows. We will gladly come back to repeat this wonderful experience. We will definitely promote this cruise with our friends and family in France, hoping to enlarge the ‘Fransa-Hyes.’

We’ve been on all 9 Armenian Heritage Cruises and love going on them. Each year we book for next year while on the current cruise, they keep getting better & better.

Winter Blobs? What to do? Take a Cruise- Not just any cruise, but the ARMENIAN HERITAGE CRUISE. We can enjoy all the amenities of the ship AND OUR CULTURE. Dances, educational lectures, concerts, plays, movies, book readings, the list goes on. I am an Armenian-American living in Canada. My husband Armen and I came with Friends. We all came from diferent places but these borders vanish when we are together. We are Armenian! Can’t wait until next year for the 10th Anniversary Celebration on the AHC X 2007.

We have gone on the Armenian Heritage Cruise for the last four years. It has been a most enjoyable vacation for us. To have so many Armenians together in one place has been a wonderful experience. The fellowship and programs are unbelievable. There is something planned for everyone!

The Armenian Heritage Cruise X was truly an experience of a lifetime not to be missed. We enjoyed every minute of our trip, the Armenian entertainment was great, and the food and service was wonderful. I was really a joy to meet so many Armenians from all over the world.

This was our second Armenian Heritage Cruise, and this year was amazing. The programs that the committee put together were superb. I congratulate each and every one of them on a job well done. I wish that the 2000 Armenians on this cruise be doubled for next year in the same love, harmony and friendship that I felt throughout the week.

The Armenian Heritage Cruise is an experience to be had by every Armenian. It is an event where our pride is truly felt and unity is refined. Friends are made from around the globe, and memories cherished forever. Best of all you are on a ship where everyone is family. The members of the Fresno Armenian community commend the Heritage Cruise Committee for their concept, commitment and dedication.

The most popular annual Armenian cruise organized by the Armenian Cultural Association of America is a wonderful original idea. The main purpose is to bring all Armenians together under one roof in a ship. A seven day cruise to share their meals, ideas, and laughter for a common goal. As an Armenian participating in this 10th Anniversary Cruise, I appreciate whole heartedly the endeavors of the committee and wish them to continue their noble work.

This was the first time we took part in the Armenian Cruise and we had a wonderful time. We were not expecting to with so many Armenians. It felt like little Armenia circling the islands. Even though we are away from our country, we felt like we belonged to the group. We do not speak English; however we were able to communicate with everyone in Armenian. We would like to thank the committee for an excellent job.

We are proud of ACAA dedicating their time and effort to preserve our valuable heritage. We were privileged to participate for the first time your wonderful program. We wish you good luck for your future activities. Hoping to see you in the future.

My husband and I would like to thank the organizing committee for a most wonderful experience. We met old friends from all over the world and re-established old ties. We wish this cruise lasting success.


Follow us @ArmenianHeritageCruise

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Armenian Heritage Park on The Greenway


Top ways to experience Armenian Heritage Park on The Greenway and nearby attractions

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Armenian Heritage Park on The Greenway - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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Yerevan Municipality

Khachaturian International Festival: A grand tribute to Armenia's musical heritage


From Soviet jazz in the 1930s to the soothing score of Gasparyan’s duduk in the movie Gladiator, Armenian music has impressive range.

Today, Armenia’s rich musical traditions are alive and well. Whether it’s folk sounds accompanied by upbeat dance during folk music festival TARAZfest, or jazz ensembles performing at concert halls and clubs in Yerevan for International Jazz Day, Armenia’s arts and culture scene has something tuneful to offer all year-round.

One of the highlights of Armenia’s musical calendar is the Khachaturian International Festival, a classical music festival dedicated to Armenia’s famed 20th century composer, Aram Khachaturian.

One of the most widely celebrated classical music events in the region, the Khachaturian International Festival aims to promote cross-cultural dialogue through music while raising awareness of Khachaturian's legacy to music fans around the world, from late November to mid December 2024.

An homage to Armenia’s famed composer

Organised through the Aram Khachaturian Cultural Foundation in collaboration with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, the Khachaturian International Festival is a vibrant showcase of the works of Armenia’s most prized composer. The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra performs under the baton of Artistic Director Sergey Smbatyan alongside a lineup of world-renowned solo musicians.

The 2023 edition of the Khachaturian International Festival saw celebrations like never before, to mark the 120th anniversary of Aram Khachaturian's birth. Yerevan Municipality, with the deep involvement of Mayor Tigran Avinyan, initiated several major projects which attracted thousands of spectators from around the world, highlighting the significance of the event on the international stage.

Features of the 2023 festival included a special jazz concert modernising Khachaturian’s compositions and outdoor performances of the composer’s famed ballets, including “Gayaneh” and “Spartacus”. Renowned international musicians also shared the spotlight, including cellist Astrig Siranossian, violinist Stella Chen and pianist Jean-Paul Gasparian.

Violinist Stella Chen

Armenia’s cultural riches

Armenia offers a full spectrum of arts and culture stretching back millennia, from prehistoric engravings and magnificent old architecture to exquisite miniature paintings and intricately coloured carpets. Each art form tells the story of Armenian resilience, as well as their creativity, self-expression and national values.

Alongside the Greeks and the Romans, Armenians hold some of the world’s oldest theatre traditions and ceremonial performances dedicated to ancient gods were common in the old kingdom. Hand-in-hand with Armenia’s theatrical prowess come impressive dance customs, as told through the spirited Kochari war dance and the fortress-imitating Berd, performed throughout the ages.

Musical accompaniment was a significant feature of ancient and medieval theatre in Armenia, which offered a seductive blend of Eastern and Western influences. This is said to have inspired the birth of opera and given rise to many successful

composers and conductors, such as the 19th century’s Tigran Chukhajian, founder of the Armenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Other notable musicians to come out of Armenia include ‘Master of the Duduk’, Jivan Gasparyan, whose music is famously featured in the movie Gladiator, and Artemi Ayvazyan, a Soviet conductor and the founder of the Armenian State Jazz Orchestra.

Yerevan: A cultural symphony

A capital in tune with modern culture and traditional roots, Yerevan pulsates with a vibrant musical scene, having hosted distinguished musicians from around the globe, including Svyatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, and Plácido Domingo. It was in Yerevan that English composer Benjamin Britten presented his concert series, and Soviet-Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich devised his 14th symphony.

Visitors to Yerevan can easily soak up the city’s exciting musical heritage, with impromptu performances on the street or in restaurants across the city. If you’re searching for more, the city’s jazz clubs or cocktail lounges can provide, as can bigger venues such as the resplendent Yerevan Opera Theatre and Aram Khachaturian Concert hall, which offer busy performance schedules year round.

Artistic Director Sergey Smbatyan

The 20th Khachaturian International Competition

This year, Yerevan will also host the 20th Khachaturian International Competition, launching on June 6th to coincide with Khachaturian's birth date. This international competition is designed to reveal young musical talents in a number of classical disciplines, with the 2024 jubilee edition focusing on the violin category.

Visit Armenia during the Khachaturian International Festival to be a part of this classical music extravaganza and witness the very best of Armenia’s arts and culture scene. Book your Armenia trip and concert tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Ready to experience the vivid soundscape of Armenian classical music in person? Here’s what you need to know:

Armenian State Symphony Orchestra website: View here

Khachaturian International Competition information page:

Khachaturian International Festival 2024 (preliminary dates):

20 November - 16 December 2024

Khachaturian International Competition 2024 dates: 6-13 June 2024

Find out more about travelling in Armenia’s capital at

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armenian heritage trip

10 days in Pennsylvania: take a trip through the history of the USA

Turn back time during this sweeping trip across Pennsylvania, from the colonial streets of Philadelphia to the now-peaceful hills of Gettysburg battlefield and the maritime heritage of the Great Lakes at Erie.

Pennsylvania is a powerhouse state. It helped to ignite the American Revolution, fuelled the Industrial Revolution and continues to thrive as an epicentre for medical innovations. Situated just below the Great Lakes region on the Eastern Seaboard, the Keystone State is bordered by six states — as well as Lake Erie — and is slashed diagonally by the Appalachian Mountains. This is a destination with a distinctly rich heritage, from the busy city streets of Philadelphia to the Amish communities of Lancaster County and the revered battlefield of Gettysburg National Military Park. And on the cusp of the USA's 250th anniversary of independence — this much-anticipated semiquincentennial takes place in 2026 — a collection of noteworthy events will take place in Pennsylvania, as well as the opening of a number of new war museums and heritage sites. Journey through these spots on a 10-day trip that takes in immersive exhibitions, artistic inspiration and moving memorials, proving there’s no time like the present to peel back the layers of Pennsylvania’s past.

Days 1-3: Philadelphia

Hark back to the Founding Fathers in historic Philly. Make first for the Old City neighbourhood and Elfreth’s Alley , one of the oldest continually inhabited streets in the country, lined with quaint, colourful houses built during the 18th century. From here, it’s a picturesque 15-minute walk to hallowed Independence Hall , where the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were shaped. Within the grounds of this UNESCO World Heritage Site hangs the whopping 2,080-pound Liberty Bell in its fractured glory, its heavy crack a mark of its prolonged use in public events.  

Visitors can also discover more about the nation’s roots at the Museum of the American Revolution , which launched an exciting new exhibition in February. Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington's Tent   displays the first president’s war tent alongside historical documents, artefacts and stories of those who preserved it. Another secretive shelter can be found at the 18th-century Johnson House Historic Site , one of the city’s few remaining intact stops of the Underground Railroad, where runaway enslaved people were hidden in the third-floor attic. The house remains a time capsule, with its original Dutch doors, centuries-old cabinets and exhibits including some of the abolitionist owners’ own domestic accoutrements.

Days 4-5: Gettysburg

The hills surrounding the redbrick town of Gettysburg saw one of the most dramatic battles of the American Civil War, one that proved a turning point for the Union. Visit the site where their forces clashed with Confederate troops in July 1863, Gettysburg National Military Park , where the sweeping grounds are now stitched with trails and studded with more than 1,300 monuments. Visitors today can enjoy guided tours, living history demonstrations and even horseback riding routes.

Further south, Little Round Top , a forested hill that was the scene of intense battle, is set to reopen this year after extensive preservation and accessibility works. Pair a visit here with a stop at the Eisenhower National Historic Site , the farm and former weekend retreat of 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower. But Gettysburg is not content to simply rely on its historic reputation. The city recently saw the opening of two new museums well worth spending half a day exploring: the WWII American Experience and the immersive Beyond the Battle Museum , which uncovers stories of the townspeople caught in the crossfire of war.

Days 6-8: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is carved sinuously by three rivers. The Allegheny and Monongahela join to form the Ohio River at Point State Park, which houses the city’s oldest architectural landmark: the 1764-built Fort Pitt Block House . This structure is all that remains of one of the largest British forts in North America during the French and Indian War. For a knock-out panorama of this park and the city beyond, slide steeply up Mount Washington on the Duquesne Incline . Opened in 1877, this charming wooden funicular provides access to one of the best views of Pittsburgh, with its upper station also home to a exhibit on city history.  

The next day, head across the iconic Three Sisters bridges to the Andy Warhol Museum . A founding father of Pop Art, Pittsburgh-born Warhol’s legacy adorns its walls. The museum is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a KAWS + Warhol exhibition from 18 May, which will examine the darker themes at play in the colourful, charismatic work of both artists. The museum is also curating a new initiative this year, the Pop District , which is transforming the surrounding neighbourhood into a cultural hub. Join sun-soaked summer gatherings on Silver Street and discover murals splashed across alleyway walls and installations from famous artists like Michael Loveland and Yoko Ono.

Days 9-10: Erie

This pretty port city sits around 130 miles due north of Pittsburgh, on the shores of Lake Erie. It’s laced with trails tracing craggy cliffs, dense woods and gorges sliced by waterfalls, with sailboats plying the southernmost of the Great Lakes. First, spend a few hours learning about the region’s long nautical history at the Erie Maritime Museum . Docked behind the building is a replica of the US Brig Niagara , which played a significant role in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, in which the US Navy defeated six British warships. This year, the museum will look skyward on 8 April: head to its plaza for total solar eclipse celebrations as skies darken over Erie during this rare celestial phenomenon. And you can find illumination once again at the area’s three lighthouses, including Presque Isle Lighthouse , in operation since 1873. It opens for the season in April, allowing visitors to climb the tower for striking blue views, then join a tour of the keeper’s home, which still reflects its 19th-century French architectural roots.

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  1. Best Churches to See in Armenia

    armenian heritage trip

  2. UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Armenia / Armenian Geographic

    armenian heritage trip

  3. Unlocking Armenia, The Travel Insider’s Destination To Visit In 2020

    armenian heritage trip

  4. Noravank Monastery // A Must See Site in Southern Armenia

    armenian heritage trip

  5. 5 Really Gorgeous Historic Sites Of Armenia

    armenian heritage trip

  6. Top 23 Must-See Churches And Monasteries In Armenia (2023) ~ Sacred

    armenian heritage trip


  1. Ardzagang Armenian TV: Armenian Heritage Cruise, advertisement

  2. Krisdapor Arabian

  3. Magical Armenian highlands in summer


  1. 2025 Armenian Heritage Cruise and Resort

    The Armenian Heritage Cruise X was truly an experience of a lifetime not to be missed. We enjoyed every minute of our trip, the Armenian entertainment was great, and the food and service was wonderful. I was really a joy to meet so many Armenians from all over the world. Magda and Myrna Abadjian Brussels, Belgium

  2. Armenian Heritage Cruise celebrates 25 years

    Mid-week, the committee unveiled the Armenian Heritage Cruise events for next year. Mesrobian outlined the itinerary and dates for the 2025 cruise, followed by details about the 2025 resort trip ...

  3. Armenian Heritage and Nature Expedition

    ABOUT THIS TRIP. Explore the cultural and historical treasures of Armenia. Begin your journey in Yerevan with a visit to Victory Park, Matenadaran, and the Cascade Complex, immersing yourself in the nation's wartime contributions, literary legacy, and contemporary art scene. Delight your senses at Megerian Carpet with a masterclass in Armenian ...

  4. Armenia Itinerary: Multiple 3-7 Day Trip Options (+ Maps!)

    Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more! Top Experiences and Tours In Armenia: Day trip to Khor Virap, Areni Winery and Noravank Monastery (from $34); Armenia: Private Tour to Khor Virap Monastery (from $37); Khor Virap, Echmiadzin, and Zvartnots Cathedral from Yerevan (from $62); Private Tour: Lake Sevan, Dilijan, Goshavank and Haghartsin (from $90)

  5. Heritage Travel in Armenia: An Interview with Mirella Arapian

    Armenia is an ancient, war-torn nation, so it's important to bear in mind that things like infrastructure, wages, and essential services are not the same as in other countries. Armenians are the most hospitable people in the world. Please tip generously. If you have Armenian heritage (or not!), it's the trip of a lifetime.

  6. Official Travel Website

    Visit hundreds of breathtaking and unique natural sites in Armenia to add vibrant colors to your trip. ... World Heritage Day. In 1982 the ICOMOS (International Council for Monuments and Sites) established a worldwide day about the conservation of monuments and historical sites.

  7. Armenia Itinerary: An Off-The-Beaten-Path Road Trip

    Road Trip Armenia Map & Route. This incredible 10 day itinerary from Yerevan hits all the highlights, with charming towns and cities, communist and Ottoman history, iconic monasteries, and natural wonders on the itinerary. This Armenian itinerary will easily stretch to two weeks if you prefer to slow travel and take in more sights as you go.

  8. 35 Useful Things to Know Before You Visit Armenia

    Top Experiences and Tours In Armenia: Day trip to Khor Virap, Areni Winery and Noravank Monastery (from $34) Armenia: Private Tour to Khor Virap ... Armenia has a remarkable ancient history and heritage, but modern Armenia also shows the world its effort to create a great democratical environment for its citizens and all the visitors of this ...

  9. Armenia's Heritage Tour

    Day 01: Arrival in Yerevan. Arrival in Yerevan. Transfer to hotel. Accommodation. Use your free time for visiting the Vernissage Market in the City Centre - an arts and crafts open-air bazaar which opens only at weekends. You will find here different souvenirs, pictures, sculptures, traditional carpets and rugs and so on.

  10. Exploring the Rich Heritage and Scenic Beauty of Armenia

    Armenia is a country with a deep-rooted tradition and vibrant cultural heritage. Here are some aspects of Armenian tradition and culture: Christianity: Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD. The Armenian Apostolic Church holds a central place in the country's religious and cultural life.

  11. How to see all UNESCO sites in Armenia in 2 or 3 road trips

    Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries - UNESCO sites tour #3. Your third UNESCO World Heritage tour in Armenia will take you up to the north of the country, where two ancient monasteries are located - Haghpat and Sanahin. Both were built in the 10 th century, under the patronage of the Armenian Queen Khosrovanush.

  12. 2024 Armenian Heritage

    Feel Armenia is the most amazing tour company I've ever worked with. Highly professional and very accommodating. They organized the ACYOA Armenia Service Program this year for the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. This is a 20 day trip that involves a tremendous amount preparation and planning. All 26 participants had a blast.

  13. Armenian Relief Society Cruise

    Join us for the 8th International Cruise to South America, sailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Rio, Brazil. Land Tours included. Immerse yourself in Armenian dances, cultural events, and create lasting memories from April 16-29, 2024. Contact Sidon Travel +1818-553-0777 / email [email protected] to reserve today.

  14. See Armenia Through the Eyes of a Local Guide

    Sasun, a local guide, takes in the view of Mount Ughtasar. (My Armenia Program) In the summer of 2020, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage's My Armenia Program partnered with Armenian ...

  15. Visiting Haghpat Monastery: History, Tips, & Getting There

    The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Haghpat Monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanush approximately in 976. The monastery is located at an altitude of 2,500 meters on the other side of the Debed River and by its capacity, the Haghpat Monastery is one of the largest ones in Armenia. Just like Sanahin Monastery, the Haghpat Monastery complex is a ...

  16. Nancy Kricorian: Pilgrimage as/or Resistance

    Before I leave home, I come up with a title for the Armenian Heritage Trip to Turkey: Twenty Armenians on a Bus, or The Thirty Handkerchief Tour. Our guide calls it a pilgrimage, and refers to us as pilgrims, as though we are on a religious or spiritual quest. What do I hope to find? Almost one hundred years have passed since my paternal ...

  17. Exploring Armenian Artisans: A Rich Tapestry of Tradition and Craftsmanship

    From intricate cross-stones to modern copper jewellery, Armenia's handicrafts reflect its rich cultural heritage, linking ancient traditions to decorative art. Read on for a closer look at the country's artisanal landscape and try your hand at some of the crafts. Traditional Armenian Crafts: A Time-Honored Legacy . Khachkar (Cross-Stone ...

  18. Armenia

    Kochari, also known as Armenia's war dance, is a well-known traditional dance that is both aesthetically masculine and dramatic. The song, which is on the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, evokes attacking motions by bouncing, hopping, and shifting weight. The dance has been performed for centuries, and almost every region of Armenia ...

  19. Solo Travel Across Armenia

    Armenia has had three tangible heritage sites included on the UNESCO list since 1996. Top Fortresses. ... On your solo trip to Armenia, be sure to capture and share the memories you made with your new Armenian friends on your Instagram feed. Also, don't forget to use #TheHiddenTrack to keep us a part of your memorable journey across Armenia. ...

  20. Armenian Week in the Caribbean Deposit

    Pricing Information. All Rates are Per Person, Double Occupancy, for AHC 5-Night Package, January 13-18, 2023 (Friday - Wednesday) Optional: Arrive up to 2 Days Before and 2 Days After at a Reduced Rate! 3rd Adult in Same Room - $210 each per night. Children 13+ are charged as adults. Children 3-12 are $135 each per night. Children 0-2 are ...

  21. Love the Park!

    Armenian Heritage Park on The Greenway: Love the Park! - See 11 traveler reviews, 9 candid photos, and great deals for Boston, MA, at Tripadvisor.

  22. 2025 AHC Resort: Hilton Cancun All-Inclusive

    Join us for the 2025 Armenian Heritage Cruise Resort event! WELCOME TO THE 2025. AHC Resort Week Hilton Cancun. Join us February 20 - 25, 2025 for 5 days for sun and Armenian fun at the Hilton Cancun All-Inclusive! ... We enjoyed every minute of our trip, the Armenian entertainment was great, and the food and service was wonderful. I was really ...

  23. Armenian Heritage Park on The Greenway

    Top ways to experience Armenian Heritage Park on The Greenway and nearby attractions. Boston Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour with 14 Stops. 1,662. Historical Tours. from. $42.00. per adult. LIKELY TO SELL OUT*. The Revolutionary Story Epic Small Group Walking Tour of Boston.

  24. Khachaturian International Festival: A grand tribute to Armenia's

    One of the highlights of Armenia's musical calendar is the Khachaturian International Festival, a classical music festival dedicated to Armenia's famed 20th century composer, Aram Khachaturian.

  25. 10 days in Pennsylvania: take a trip through the history of the USA

    Days 1-3: Philadelphia. Hark back to the Founding Fathers in historic Philly. Make first for the Old City neighbourhood and Elfreth's Alley, one of the oldest continually inhabited streets in ...