Armenia’s Absolute Musts
Most Beautiful Natural Spot
Armenia‘s Absolute Musts are wonderfully varied: Zorats Karer also called the “Armenian Stonehenge” is a vast stretch of land dotted with over two hundred 3m high stones. Some archeologists argue that the site is an old necropolis, others believe in its astrological role. Whatever the stones were used for back in the Bronze Age, the sight is unquestionably beautiful and worth visiting if you have the chance.
The site is located 3,5km from the city of Sisian, and then 400m from the turn-off. However, it’s not that easy to get to, since it’s in the middle of nowhere and tourism in this part of Armenia is not developed at all. We were really lucky to be picked up by a kind driver who decided to take us there and show us this amazing place.
Best City / Town
Without a doubt, the best city in Armenia, if not in the whole Caucasus region, is Yerevan. It’s café culture atmosphere, its street art and its amazingly kind and open people will make you want to stay there forever!
It was the only city in Armenia where we managed to find CS hosts, but the hosts we found were truly good friends who made us feel at home. We went out every single evening of our stay, being invited to parties in private houses and mingling with the local scene.
While there we were seriously considering moving to Yerevan and we’re sure we will be back one day.
Best areas for hitch-hiking
There are two completely contrasting regions in Armenia which deserve to be called ‘best hitch-hiking area’ – the north and the south of the country.
In northern Armenia, you should definitely hitch-hike through the Debed Canyon, which is a long single lane road in the middle of a lush green valley with steep hills on both sides. Along the road you can visit two UNESCO World Heritage monasteries – Sanahin (built in 928) and Haghpat (dating back to 976).
Unfortunately, the canyon is not pristine as its landscape has been altered by an ugly copper mine in Alaverdi, a Soviet era relic.
The main city in this region is Vanadzor, not pretty but charming.
The landscape in southern Armenia, towards Iran, is quite different, but equally stunning. Here the most prevailing colour is not green anymore but yellow. You won’t find many trees there, but rocky hills with brown sand and dried yellowish grass. And empty endless roads…
The place which we were the most disappointed with was Dilijan, which wasn’t ugly but there was nothing worth visiting. Our Lonely Planet guidebook recommended this place as having a cobbled street Historic Centre, which we found was nothing more than a newly built collection of wooden houses, including a hotel, shops and a tourist information centre. Nothing historic about it, plainly just a tourist trap.
However, if you ever find yourself in Dilijan, we can recommend a good place to stay (the ‘Tourist information’ right next to the marshrutka station will try to grab your attention and direct you to their places of choice as soon as you arrive, but don’t trust them!). The place we stayed at was a homestay run by friendly Silva, who lives alone with her disabled mother. The place feels really homely, it’s very cheap, centrally located, and Silva will cook you a nice daily meal. We found her quite by chance, as she doesn’t advertise, but it was a good stroke of luck. Silva Antonyan B&B (tel.094709400; Maksim Gorky 36; AMD4000-6000 per person).
Good luck, you will love Armenia!
written by: Ania