Located on the dividing line between the north and south of the country, the capital of Yerevan is a good base from which to explore this small country. Surrounding Yerevan there are many sights which can be seen on a day trip.
West of the city is the Cathedral of Ejmiatsin, founded in 303AD and is still the official residence of the Catholic Church in Armenia. To the north-west is Ashtarak, a pretty town overlooking the Kasagh gorge with several churches dating from the 6th to the 16th centuries which line the gorge.
In Yerevan you can take a city tour which would visit the highlights of the capital such as, the Republic Square, the Museum of Ancient Manuscripts, the Armenian Genocide memorial complex, and the Ararat cognac factory. You can also visit the Megerian carpet factory.
From Yerevan you can drive to Khor Virap monastery and take in the spectacular views of Mount Ararat, the highest point in Armenia. It is here where Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia, was imprisoned. Also nearby is the Noravank monastery, which dates back from the 13th-century. It’s location is worth the visit itself as it’s situated among sheer rocks in a winding gorge.
Another monastery we would recommend visiting is the ninth-century Tatev monastic complex. You can arrive here from an overnight stay in Goris. To reach the complex you climb up the mountain in the world’s longest double-track cable car.
If you decide to use Yerevan as a base on your tailor-made itinerary, we recommend also visiting Garni, the only surviving Hellenistic temple in Armenia. From here you can continue to the Unesco-listed Geghard Monastery. It is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, dating from the fourth century. The complex was partially carved out of the mountainside, while the main chapel was constructed in 1215.
Lake Sevan, east of Yerevan, is a welcome retreat from the capital in the hot summer months. Just north of the lake is the stunning, almost alpine area of Dilijan National Park. Travelling into southern Armenia, the country becomes more remote still with one main highway serving as a vital artery linking to
the capital city. Age-old churches and monasteries, rustic villages, vineyards and orchards, forests, caves, canyons and high plateaux all feature in this enchanting land.
Other activities you can include in a tailor-made itinerary to Armenia are local culinary classes, wine tasting, learning how to make Armenian vodka, Armenian pastries, pasta and traditional lavash bread.
If you wish to extend your tailor-made itinerary and explore the Caucasus region in even more depth, you can easily combine your visit to Armenia with neighbouring Georgia.