A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about Armenia for the first time. We gave you several reasons to visit the capital of the country. But apart from its vibrant capital Yerevan, Armenia has far more to offer and it would be unfair not to report about our experiences on the countryside.
Once you leave Yerevan, again you are experiencing a different world. Although there are several options to travel by public transport, we decided to hire a car. Well, the car rental company offered us a Lada Niva, and to be honest, this Russian build car made our road trip experience even more unforgettable. In general, distances in Armenia are fairly small. But do not forget, there is a lot to see and the road conditions can vary significantly. Therefore getting around, simply takes a bit longer than in other countries.
Starting from Yerevan, you could start your trip in any direction, because there are plenty of must-visit places. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the West and the North part of the country, but we want to share our experiences in the South and East part of the Caucasian Republic.
Our trip took us from the Armenian capital to the Southern city of Goris. As soon as you leave Yerevan, you realize a change. The life in the countryside is very different, in fact, more basic, but not less heart-warming than in the capital.
From Yerevan, we took a major road towards the South East. Our first stop was Khor Virap – an incredible monastery with an iconic view located at the foot of Mt. Ararat. In our case, we had excellent weather and the views of Mt. Ararat was spectacular. The Monastery is 4km off the main highway and visible easily. This place is full of history and plenty of time is necessary to explore all buildings. Just outside of the monastery itself, old ruins dating back to the 2nd century can be found. Visiting this place is a must and I don’t want to tell you everything. Explore for yourself!
On our way further down South to Goris, we drove through the Yeghegis Valley. In terms of landscape, this valley is worth a visit alone, but the combination of hospitality, a high concentration of old churches and a spectacular landscape, makes this place certainly a highlight of our trip. Once you get to the end of the valley you will have to drive up to Vorotan Pass (2344m). The climate and landscape changes completely and you reach a different world, which somehow reminded me of Ireland. Mostly flat, some mountains and hills in the far away on the horizon, fields of grass and the lakes of the Spendaryan reservoir.
We drove further to the South of the country until we reached Goris. With a population of 25,000 people and being geographically located between the Iran, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Yerevan, this city is an inevitable stop for any traveler, who passes through this region. We did not book any accommodation in advance and some very helpful people provided us with information on where to stay. We landed at the best spot we could have imagined.
The owner of the hotel located on Mascots Street, next to a supermarket, prepared the best dinner for us we had during the entire trip. Shashlik on a barbecue and fresh locally grown vegetables. The food was accompanied by an Armenian wine and Armenian cognac. The owner was telling us many different stories, mainly drinking stories and he was very communicative. Unfortunately, we did not really understand what he actually wanted to tell due to the language barrier, but we felt very welcome at his table and the hospitality was overwhelming.
In Goris we turned around and headed North-West. On the way back we made a detour to the largest lake of the country Lake Sevan. The 80km long and 30km wide (widest point) lake is located in the heart of the country at an altitude of 1900m above sea level. The picturesque surroundings really catch your attention. Often clouds are streaming from the ridges on the Northern side towards the azure blue lake and then disappear spectacularly. With the always changing light conditions, the colors of the lake constantly change.
We definitely recommend a stop in Noratus, a small town on the Southern shore of the lake. Visit the chapel Surp Grigor Lusavorich and the nearby ancient cemetery. Sunsets here are amazing and while wandering around, you will easily forget the time and let your thoughts wander.
Thank you, Armenia!
Along the entire trip, we met incredibly friendly people. Children swimming in crystal clear rivers were waving at us enthusiastically. Hotel owners were joining us for dinner and cognac, telling us stories we will never know what they actually were about. But it was an awesome and funny evening with lots of laughter. We got to try even more Shashlik and local wines. Yerevan impressed us, the rest of the country made us speechless and after the trip, we became storytellers.
No matter how beautiful landscapes, beaches or nature is. What makes traveling awesome and so enriching, are the people you meet along the way. Thank you, Armenia, I never met so many incredibly friendly and welcoming people on any other trip. I cannot wait to come back to your amazing country – Շնորհակալություն ձեզ Հայաստանին.
If you have any question regarding traveling through Armenia, please do not hesitate and contact me. (firstname.lastname@example.org) If you haven’t read our article about Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, click here.