Backpacking Armenia: Armenia is a beautiful country, it is easy to travel here, has cheap transport and delicious street food. The people are very friendly and hitchhiking here is really easy.
Armenia, is a mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, where Western Asia and Eastern Europe meet. This beautiful country is bordered by Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. It became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion early in the fourth century. Most of the sights of interest has got religious connotation.
Why did we go to Armenia
I was in Sri Lanka and Alya was taking a short working break from traveling in Russia. There were cheap flights to Armenia from both Russia and Sri Lanka. Neither one of us needed visas for Armenia, Georgia or Turkey. These countries all looked interesting and cheap. We could travel the whole area overland. We traveled Turkey quite extensively see our Favorite Places to Visit in Turkey article.
BACKPACK ARMENIA – THE SIGHTS
Traveling around Armenia is easy, it is a small country and we decided to stay in the capital Yerevan and do day trips. Yerevan is a cheap, clean, beautiful city with very friendly people.
There are many things to do in Yerevan, we stayed here for three days and had to see the main city sights. Inside the city the main sights we saw were the Republic Square a beautiful square with Soviet era architecture. The Blue Mosque is a beautiful 18th century Shia Islamic Mosque worth seeing. The Cascades is a massive white stairway up a hillside of central Yerevan. Green stretches, fountains and waterfalls decorates the stairway. There are many sculptures by Botero and other artists in the nearby park.
We did some great one day trips from the city to Edzmiadzin, Geghard monastery, the Garni Pagan temple and Sevan Lake respectively.
The beautiful Edzmiazin is considered the oldest cathedral in the world. There is also a very impressive modern chapel nearby. Light passes through the massive crucifix shaped gaps in the roof of this church. Edzmiadzin monastery is about 30 min by marshutka (a minibus taxi) from Yereva.
Mount Ararat from Khorvirap monastery
The Khor Virap is an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the Ararat valley in Armenia It is near the border with Turkey, about 45 minutes by marshutka from Yerevan. This monastery is a great view point for Mount Ararat where Noah stranded The Ark.
Genesis 8:4 says: the Ark came to rest “on the mountains of Ararat.” ‘Arkeology’ expeditions have not found any scientific evidence of the ark.
The ancient Gekhard Monastery is about an hour by marshutka from Yerevan. This beautiful monastry is carved out of a massive stone mountain. It was the life work of a father and his sons in the 4th century.
The Garni Temple and Gekhard are only 10km apart. It is completely different from all the Christian Monasteries looking like it belongs in ancient Rome. This is a Pagan temple and predates Armenia’s conversion to Christianity. This temple was dedicated to Helios, the God of the sun. The temple’s setting is also pretty amazing, being situated on a bluff surrounded by rock cliffs.
Organised tours are common and popular. You can easily go to all sites independent using marshutkas, the local public transport. These mini buses are cheap to use costing about 400 AMD (1$) for a half an hour shared ride.
We hitchhiked often in the Caucasus area and the friendly people in Armenia made hitchhiking here a joy. I remember one awesome day hitchhiking while we were heading to Georgia. An elderly gentleman was busy with a barbecue in front of his guest house. He invited us in for coffee which turned into a festive affair involving great food and many vodka shots . They organised a ride for us to our next stop after lunch.
We treated ourselves to fancy accommodation in The Prince Plaza Hotel ($40 per night) for a night when we arrived in Yerevan. Our room was awesome and the staff were great. The location was not central and we had to take long taxi rides costing $6. To stick to our budget we relocate to the dormitory in My Corner Hostel in the city center.
We liked the budget food in Armenia and lived on beef schwarmas (about $1.50) and flat bread with cheese for less than a $1.
Brewed Turkish coffee in Armenia was good, strong and cheap 250 AMD ($0.60), make sure you ask for a Turkish coffee and the price, Americano is much more expensive at about 800 AMD ($2.40).
Armenia was an amazing country, cheap, beautiful, and interesting and a great travel option in combination with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
All details and tips on packing for a backpacking trip you’ll find in this post. ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓
If you do visit the Caucasus region do not miss out on Georgia, another awesome country. For more info see our article on Best Places to Visit in Georgia.
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The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.