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Yerevan

Travel Guide Europe Armenia Yerevan

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Introduction

Yerevan by night

Yerevan by night

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Yerevan is the capital of Armenia and is likely the first or one of the first places you will spend the night. Actually, the city is a good place to base yourself for at least several nights to explore both the city and the surrounding central parts of the country, as distances and travel times are short.

The center, which few tourists wander out of, is compact and pretty easy to navigate. The basic layout is a couple of ring roads with a grid inside of them. If you climb the Cascade steps (or cheat and take the escalator halfway up), you will get one of the best views of Yerevan around, with Mount Ararat looming in the background on a clear day. Sunsets here are worth watching.

One hub of the city is Republic Square where you can find the National Gallery, National History Museum and the Museum of the Middle East. From the square, take the pedestrian Northern Avenue (Hyusisayin Poghota) to the northern hub of the city, known as Opera Square and has countless cafes and the Opera House.

The major thoroughfare of the center is Mashtots Poghota, at the end of which is the Matendaran Illuminated Manuscripts Museum and on top of that is the dominating statue of Mother Armenia, 23 metres high on top of the hills that surround the city.

You can not leave Yerevan without a visit to the Museum of the Armenian Genocide, commemorating the agony of the 1915-1922 genocide of Armenians by the Turkish people. The museum itself is underground and has displays with horrible pictures of Armenians in Turkey during this period. Next to the museum is the memorial building, with a 40-metre-high pyramid shaped needle as its centrepiece and an eternal flame around it.

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Neighbourhoods

yerevan-cascades-raffi_kojian-DCP_1934

yerevan-cascades-raffi_kojian-DCP_1934

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All of the museums are in central Yerevan, and the vast majority of tourists stay in the centre, so there is nothing specific to venture out of the center to see. If you ascend the Cascade steps, you'll be in the neighborhood called Monument, after the WWII spire monument on top of the Cascades. Beyond that are Zeytun and Komitas, on the next hill are Nork and Marash, and one of the furthest suburbs is Bangladesh, so named because it seems so far from the center. If you want to see what some of these and other neighborhoods are like, sit on the subway, get off at the end of the line, wander around, then wander back.

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Sights and Activities

yerevan-opera-front-raffi_kojian

yerevan-opera-front-raffi_kojian

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Yerevan is where most tourists spend their nights, no matter where they spend their days. It's a bit crazy to drive up to Lori (Haghpat and Sanahin) and then all the way back, but that's the pattern, since visitors tend to enjoy the night life in Yerevan. Late nights at the open air cafes which crowd the city, eating, walking, and clubs keep people up into the night. Don't be surprised to see kids playing in the courtyards at 11:00pm. Despite all this, the must-see sights in Yerevan are not that numerous.

  • Parajanov Museum - many people haven't heard of Parajanov when they first visit Yerevan, but those who make it to his little house-museum are delighted, and count it as a favorite. The whimsical art of this very multi-faceted man captures everyone's imagination, and the longer you stay, the more you notice and enjoy. Make sure you see it!
  • Matenadaran - Armenian's had one of the strongest traditions of copying manuscripts, and they helped bring it to a new level with the golden period of Armenian illuminated manuscripts, with varying schools of painting located across a the much more vast Armenian lands of the time. The Matenadaran is the biggest repository today, and one room is set aside to display a range of some of the choicest works. The exquisite paintings showing on the open pages will have anyone longing to pick up the protected books and turn through the pages.
  • Genocide Monument and Museum is locally known as Tsitsernakaberd, the monument to a defining point of Armenian history stands on the outcropping of a hill overlooking Yerevan and Mount Ararat. The monument is moving, and the museum educational. Visiting will help you understand not just Armenians, but the politics and conflicts of the region.
  • Opera Square cafes are where Yerevantsis spend their evenings in good weather, and the Opera is the capital of the cafe scene. Melody is the original, Jazzve the trendy, but you'll see many others and can choose one that suits you. If there are seats.
  • Vernissage Weekend Market is a sight to behold, and a shopping experience. See Shopping section for details.
  • National Art Gallery is an excellent collection of Armenian paintings, including some from Armenian artists abroad. Focus on the floors with Armenian paintings, which will take time to see.
  • Republic Square (at day and night) - the grand pink and cream square during the day, transforms at night into an illuminated scene, with water and music pumping through the air.
  • Pag Shuka, meaning covered market, is a nice place to see the in-season fruits and vegetables brought in by farmers at the start of Mashdots Avenue, in a vast building. Meats, fish and crawdads are in the back, with cheese and pickles in the middle, after the fruits and veggies. At the entrance are some flowers, followed by dried fruits and nuts in the front of the market, which are delicious. Vendors will insist you taste, and once you do, it will be hard to resist purchasing. A great place for photographers and food lovers alike.
  • Cascades - these massive Soviet white steps dominate a hillside in central Yerevan, but with the landscaping and fountains are actually a very cool structure. Even cooler for those wanting to get to the top are the escalators inside of them, going halfway up the hill. The views from each level are fantastic, and the world class art and sculptures on display (Botero and others) are whimsical and photogenic. Be sure to climb up and get a view of the city and Mount Ararat on a clear day!

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Events and Festivals

  • May 1 - Labor Day.
  • July - Golden Apricot International Film Festival.
  • September 21 - Independence day festivities.

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Weather

While winters in Yerevan can be bitterly cold with temperatures way below zero at night from December to March, summers can be very hot with temperatures up to 40 °C. For visiting the city both the spring months of late April to early June and the autumn months of September to late October are the most pleasant times for travelling. Rainfall is relatively low with March and April being the wettest months and Yerevan has only about 350 mm of rain a year.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max1 °C4 °C11 °C19 °C24 °C29 °C33 °C32 °C28 °C21 °C12 °C4 °C
Avg Min-8 °C-6 °C0 °C6 °C10 °C14 °C17 °C17 °C12 °C7 °C1 °C-4 °C
Rainfall22 mm25 mm30 mm37 mm44 mm21 mm9 mm8 mm8 mm27 mm23 mm23 mm
Rain Days99811138534778

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Getting There

By Plane

There are numerous flights to cities across Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Republics. Cheap prices are hard to find, though budget airlines like BalticAir and AirArabia are exceptions. Other airlines serving Zvartnots International Airport near Yerevan are Armavia, Aeroflot, CSA Czech Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Midland, Syrian Airlines and others.

By Train

Slow trains run between Yerevan and Tblisi in Georgia. They are cheap, overnight trains, with a pretty long stop at the border. Very few take them, and even fewer recommend them.

By Car

Cars may cross into Georgia (multiple crossings) or Iran (at Agarak). Taxis usually won't cross the border, but you can usually find one at the border to take you to Yerevan. If you are a good negotiator and have a couple of other travelers to split the cost, it's not a bad option from the Iranian border to Yerevan.

By Bus

International:
There are buses both to Georgia and Iran. To the latter, daily buses leave for Tabriz and Tehran, with journeys taking 14 and 28 hours respectively. The main connection with Georgia is the Yerevan to Tblisi route with regular buses. Also minibuses, called marshrutkas serve this route, but also other routes like the one to Nagorno Karabakh. There is even a bus to Istanbul now and then which takes up to 3 days!

Domestic:
Buses and minibuses (marshrutkas) serve most major cities and lots of smaller towns as well. Buses usually leave all day but have a fixed schedule. Minibuses on the other hand leave whenever they are full which makes it a more flexible option for travellers. Marshrutkas are the best way of getting around the country and almost any place can be reached within an hour or 6, except for the Iranian border which can take up to 10 hours.

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Getting Around

Within Yerevan, most tourists get around by walking, and the occasional taxi.

By Car

You'll see a few car rental offices as you walk around in central Yerevan, and can rent anything from an old Soviet car to a brand new Chinese Jeep (called a Hover). Driving can be intimidating however, so you can also go to a tourist agency and get a car and driver deal, and maybe even a guide. Otherwise there are many street taxis and taxi companies you can arrange transportation with, who usually charge about 100 drams (US$ 0.33) per kilometre.

By Public Transport

There is a subway in Yerevan, but it is only one line, and since most places you'll go are in the center, there is little need to take it. The fare is extremely cheap though, so if you want to experience a Soviet metro, jump on and go to Sasuntsi Davit to check out the Kochar Statue and impressive Soviet train station there, or to either end of the line to see a major square that tourists rarely tread.

The most popular public transport within the city by far is the minibus (marshutni). They are numbered, and each number goes along a fixed route, though they are notorious for stopping anywhere, rather than at designated stops. That's bad for traffic, but convenient if you need to wave one down, or have it stop in between designated stops. Fares are pretty uniformly 100 drams (US$ 0.33) no matter where you get on or off. Just say "stop" to get off, and hand the driver your fare at the end of the ride, unless you have a big bill. If you are not giving exact change, you can hold up your fingers to indicate how many people you're paying for, and you'll get the right change.

By Foot

This is the most popular way to get around, and indeed the distances within central Yerevan tend to be so short, that anything else can seem silly.

By Bike

Biking in Yerevan is great in theory, though the driving can intimidate you if you're on a bike. Yerevan, and Armenia for that matter does not have a single bike shop, so bicycles are almost never seen.

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Eat

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republic_square-fountains-raffi_kojian

© All Rights Reserved raffi-koj

The restaurant industry in Yerevan is booming and it may seem that all people do is sit at restaurants and cafes. You have your choice of traditional Armenian fare, modern places, European and world cuisine, Italian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Russian and other ethnic places, street food and home cooking if you manage to get invited to a locals home, which is not uncommon. If you don't get that invite, stop by Gayane's house/restaurant in the courtyard behind the southern side of the Tumanyan Street block between Saryan and Parpetsi. Hard to find, the residents in the courtyard will help you out if you ask, and Gayane cooks up the same foods people eat in their homes every day for those who want a home cooked meal. Prices are not high, and the menu changes every day, just like at home.

Tourist traps you should probably allow yourself to fall into are Old Erivan and Our Village, both near the Opera. With live music, village and traditional decor, and interesting menus (especially Our Village), the overall experience is usually a fun one, and prices are not much more than other places. For a more upscale and modern take on the Western Armenian menu, you can visit The Club (Akumb), which also has some of the best thin crust pizza in town. If you want the best of the barbecue that Armenia is plastered in, Artashi Mot is a local favorite, with incredible veal barbecue (horti khorovats) and mushroom barbecue (sunki khorovats), but everything there is great, and almost everything tastes better with the tomato sauce you can order. Caucasus (Kavkas) Restaurant is open around the clock, and has the themed decor and costumes, and a wider Caucasian menu, including many Georgian (try the Kharcho Soup or a Khachapuri) and Azeri (Piti soup) dishes.

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Drink

Alchohol is served just about anywhere that you can sit down, from cafes and restaurants to of course bars and clubs. Vodka, beer, wine and cognac are the most popular drinks, with some cocktails and champagne at some places as well. Drinking a lot and toasting is a big tradition, but driving after a single drink is illegal and frowned upon, while getting visibly drunk is considered poor form. If you don't have a high alcohol tolerance and you want to sit and drink with the locals, good luck!

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Sleep

Hotels tend to be expensive in central Yerevan, but even so getting a room can be a problem in the high season. A popular alternative is renting an apartment for a few nights to a month, which a few travel agencies arrange. There is a very nice youth hostel, and home-stay options for the budget traveler. Depending on how long you're staying in Armenia and what your sightseeing goals are, staying in places outside of Yerevan is also an option, and will actually save you a great deal of back and forth driving that many of the trips based out of Yerevan entail. Getting a room or apartment outside of central Yerevan, or even in the towns of Echmiadzin or Ashtarak (taking the half-hour public transport into Yerevan) are cheap options as well.

There are a few homestay options for pretty cheap by the Opera House, the tourist information office can direct you to these. You can arrange your own for quite cheap, including board, in the more distant parts of the city just by asking around. Same goes for villages, though you'll have a hard time getting many villagers to accept payment for their hospitality.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Bass Hotel3/1 Aigedzor strHotel-
Best Western Congress Hotel1 Italy str.Hotel-
Envoy Hostel54 Pushkin StHostel91
Hotel Hrazdan72 Dzorapi StreetHotel-
Orange FitnessTsitsernakaberd Highway House 7/1HOTEL-
Moscow House Hotel7 Argishti StrHotel-
Regineh Hotel235-1 Nork AiginerHotel-
Hotel Erebuni26/1 Nalbandyan StHotel-
AUA Barsam SuitesHanrapetutyan 8Apartment-
Armenia Marriott Hotel1 Amiryan StreetHotel-
Golden Tulip Hotel Yerevan14 Abovian StreetHotel-
Ani Plaza Hotel19 Sayat Nova AveHotel-
Metropol Hotel2 2 Mashtots AveHotel-
Arma Hotel275 Norki Ayginer StreetHotel-
Europe Hotel Yerevan32-38 Hanrapetutyan StHotel-
Aviatrans Hotel4 Abovyan StreetHotel-
Ararat Hotel Yerevan7 G Lusavorich StrHotel-
Villa Delenda B&BYeznik Koghbatsi 22Guesthouse-
Allstar Terjan Hotel5th St 39 1 SilikyanHotel-
Hotel Valensia40 Miasnikyan AvenueHotel-
Armenian Royal Palace17 1 4th Silikyan districtHotel-
Avan Villa Yerevan13 Nortk-marash Street, Bld 16Hotel-
Olimpia Yerevan56 Barbus StreetHotel-
Best Eastern Hotel Shirak26 1 Movsesa Khorenatsi StreetHotel-
Dvin Hotel40 Paronyan StreetHotel-
Arthurs Aghveran Resort2503 Kotaysky RegionHotel-
Theatre Hostel27 Tigran Mets Ave., 2nd entranceHOSTEL87
Aviatrans Hotel4 Abovyan StreetHotel-
Yerevan HostelTpagrichneri 5HOSTEL89
Penthouse HostelKoryun str.5, apt 33aHOSTEL90
Hostel GlideGalents str, house.16HOSTEL88
Center-Hostel4 Vardanants apt. 31 apt. 31HOSTEL89
Nork Residence Hotel56/1 Moldovakan str.HOTEL-
Rafael HostelKhanjyan st 39/5HOSTEL-
Art House Hostel22 Abovyan 1Hostel-
Areg HotelBurnazyan 80HOTEL-
Apartment Yerevan6 OrbeliAPARTMENT-
Three Jugs B&B123 Jrvezh district YerevanGUESTHOUSE-
Apartment One22 Abovyan Str.APARTMENT-
Armenia Hotel DormitoryMoldovakan 29/6, 3rd bldg.HOTEL-
Karins ApartmentMashtots avenue 15, apt. 154APARTMENT-
Yerevan Deluxe Hotel YerevanKomitaz Street 32/1HOTEL-
Capital HotelAygedzor street 53 BHOTEL-
Sedrakyan's Guest HouseShirazi G1 area, house 60GUESTHOUSE-
Grammy Hostel7 Heratsu StreetHOSTEL91
Gostel City Center ApartmentNalbandyan 9, Apt. 21APARTMENT-
Capital Hotel YerevanAygedzor street 53 BHOTEL-
Yerevan Deluxe Hotel32/1 Komitas Ave.Hotel-
Aria Pars54 Baghramyan StreetHOSTEL-
DownTown Hostel Yerevanstr. Nalbandian 31-42HOSTEL86
Hilltop Hostel YerevanAygestan 7 StHOSTEL-
Downtown apartment in Yerevan5a vardananc TpagrichnerAPARTMENT-
JR's HouseJames Bryce 4/1HOSTEL-
One Way Hostel41 Tumanyan str. 5th floorHOSTEL-

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Work

Visitors cannot legally work without a permit or residency card (available to ethnic Armenian visitors). They may be able to find freelance type tasks such as tutoring English or editing/marketing type work, and can get employers to sponsor them for longer term work visas (3/6/12 months). There are plentiful volunteer opportunities as well, which can also gain you a work visa.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are everywhere and cheap, though they may be smoky if that is allowed. Wireless is harder to find, but Yum Yum (no smoking) has it on Tumanyan Street for free, and Square One on Abovyan has it for a couple of dollars an hour. You can also use dialup from many home phones, with a dialup code, call Armentel for details.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Options include call centers, calling from many post offices, renting a cell phone, getting a SIM card for your own mobile phone and calling cards bought from the store (cards are called dzaynayin kamurj). Calling to a cell phone number in Armenia is always charged to the caller, not the recipient.

Post

Haypost is the national postcal company of Armenia. Despite belief to the contrary, the mail system in Armenia does work. Letters are a breeze to send and receive, if you're not in a great rush. Packages however are trickier, as they sometimes restrict your mailings to odd rules, and sometimes stop incoming packages for customs duties, where they will often try to extract a bribe for products which they have no right to even collect customs for. Avoiding electronics altogether will probably keep your incoming mail below the radar. Sending packages is often better with companies like UPS, TNT, FedEx or DHL.

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 40.15959
  • Longitude: 44.508999

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This is version 35. Last edited at 10:54 on Jun 14, 13 by Sander. 33 articles link to this page.

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