Yerevan is a cool city. While Tbilisi seems to take a lot of the tourist spotlight in the Caucasus region, Yerevan has been slowly creeping into its own embodiment of cool, calm and collected. If you’re heading to the Caucasus, you should definitely travel to Yerevan and explore the architecture, history, bars, markets and churches that make this city one of the most underrated travel destinations in Eurasia.
The Armenian capital, like its people, has had a rough time over the course of its long history. However, since the fall of the Soviet Union, it seems that it’s been rebounding stronger than ever, albeit slowly. You’ll still see remnants of the country’s past with the dominating stone buildings reminding you of the Soviet era, but the streets are also filled with a buzzing energy and with almost more cafes and wine bars than in the laneways of Melbourne (if you can believe that).
Although Tbilisi tends to steal people’s hearts almost immediately, Yerevan is more of a slow burner. Whether it’s the flea markets and pop up artists selling their work in small city squares or the vibrant cafe and bar scene, the city can actually be pretty intoxicating if you let it.
Here’s my comprehensive Yerevan travel blog post to get you exploring the best that the city has to offer.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I get a commission if you buy a product through my link at no extra cost to you. By doing so, I can keep this blog going and continue to create helpful guides for you.
Basic country Information
Currency: Armenian Dram
Language: Armenian and Russian
Visas: European, American, Australian and UK citizens do NOT currently need a visa prior to arrival (check before departing)
Budget: $20-30 per day per person for budget travellers (not including any tours)
Health: Tap water is drinkable and you should refill your bottle rather than buy plastic
When to go to Yerevan
The best time to visit Yerevan is in the summer months, from June until August, although weather is usually good until September. This is when the weather is warm, reaching up to 30 deg and only dipping to around 15 deg overnight. May and June are relatively wet months in Armenia though so July and August are most popular with tourists. This is also when you’ll find prices tend to peak as do crowds at popular sights.
The best months to travel to Yerevan are then September and October when the weather is still pleasant but the crowds have gone and the prices tend to lower a little. Towards the end of October, the weather will be getting cool pretty quickly though before winter sets in. Spring in April and May also have relatively decent weather although they tend to be rainy months too, so Autumn is best.
Planning on a trip to the Caucasus? Read: 12 must-see places to visit in the Caucasus with suggested itineraries
History of Yerevan
Yerevan is often referred to as “The Pink City” because of the rosy stone used to build many of the city’s imposing buildings and houses during the Soviet era. However, the origins of the city date back many centuries. It’s one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited urban areas, although it’s been completely levelled and rebuilt many times from both natural disasters like earthquakes and invading empires.
The known origins of the city are from 782 BC when the fortress of Yerbuni was constructed and which become a central part of what is referred to as the Armenian kingdom. Since then the city has come under the rule of many great empires, from Romans, Parthians, Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Georgians and, finally Russians. In 1920, the city became the capital of the independent Armenian republic and has remained so until the present day.
The city flourished under the Soviets becoming an important industrial centre. However, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the city has struggled to deal with the reintegration into the global market economy and you’ll notice many factories still abandoned and in ruin. But the city is a lively centre of activity and it’s slowly finding its feet.
How to get to Yerevan
If you want to travel to Yerevan, then you have many options with a good transport network to other major cities in the region and further beyond. Yerevan is well connected to other European cities by international flights, with new connections opening each year as the demand for Yerevan tourism increases.
There are trains between Tbilisi in Georgia and Yerevan, which are extremely popular and run daily from June to September, usually overnight. In winter, these trains usually run on a bi-nightly schedule and it’s best to book a ticket in advance at Station Square in Tbilisi or Yerevan Railway Station or Sasuntsi Davit Station in Yerevan. Tickets start from 70GEL and 11, 500 AMD depending on the class.
There are also marshrutkas or shared minivans that shuttle across the border. There are regular marshrutkas from Yerevan to Tbilisi and vice versa. The Armenia-Georgia border is probably one of the easiest I’ve ever crossed and the process is extremely efficient and quick, especially if you are from a visa-free country.
The marshrutkas from Tbilisi to Yerevan depart from both the Station Square and Ortachala stations. However, I was travelling in low season and was told that Station Square was a more efficient service, so I headed there. You can ask around for the Yerevan marshrutkas but they congregate in a carpark outside the train station near a broken down and abandoned caravan which is the ticket office.
They have departures at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm and midnight. I got a ticket for the 9am departure which didn’t leave until 11am and we only had four passengers. BUT in the summer months, you should have no problem for timely departures with more demand from tourists. My ticket cost 40GEL (AU$22).
From Yerevan back to Tbilisi, the marshrutkas leave from the Central Bus Station or sometimes referred to as Kilikia Bus Station. Tickets are around 7000AMD and you can expect departures every two hours.
The journey takes around 6-7 hours.
If you’re travelling to Tbilisi, check out: 11 free things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia
There are daily buses between Tehran in Iran and Yerevan. They are usually deluxe VIP Iranian buses, as Armenia only has marshrutkas which don’t go the long distances. The journey takes almost 24 hours and stops in Goris in Armenia and Tabriz in Iran as well. I’ve heard prices can be between US$30-50, depending on whether it’s a VIP bus or not.
I would recommend visiting Goris and Tabriz as well anyway and that way you can break your journey up with a few days between Yerevan and Tehran.
Planning on travelling to Iran? Read Iran: What you need to know before you go
You cannot travel between Armenia and Azerbaijan because of the ongoing conflict between the two countries about disputed territory. It’s also not possible to cross the Armenia and Turkey border due to the political tensions that go back to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1917.
transport in Yerevan
Travelling around Yerevan is best done on foot as much as possible. This way you can really appreciate the architecture and atmosphere on the streets as well as the main sights. However, the city does have a decent transport network.
The city metro system is useful and extremely affordable. You just simply buy one-use tokens for each journey you take, which cost 100 AMD (AU$0.35).
There are also marshrutkas (minivans) and buses which run around the city and are distinguishable by numbers displayed on their windscreens. These can be more difficult to navigate simply because nothing is in English and the drivers are unlikely to speak English. However, if you know the number you need to catch then they are an extremely affordable way of getting around.
Taxis are everywhere in the city and you can use apps like Bolt and Uber to get cheap fares and minimise the language barrier. Taxis can cost anywhere between 1000 AMD and 5000 AMD depending on where you’re going.
Top ten things to do in Yerevan
For a city that is relatively compact and walkable, there are plenty of things to do in Yerevan to keep you busy for days. In fact, if you want to know how long you should stay in Yerevan, I would say, how much time do you have?
You can easily fill in time by gazing at the Soviet-era architecture, wandering through markets and visiting all the museums. Here are the top things to do in Yerevan that you can’t miss on your visit to the Armenian capital.
The Cascade is a giant stone staircase outside the Cafesijian Museum of Art. It’s incredibly unique and each level of the complex showcases different micro gardens and sculptures. A climb to the top of the 570 stairs is completely worth the effort as the unrivalled view sweeps across the city’s skyline to Mt Ararat which can be seen on a clear day.
The area is like a public square and is one of the best things to do in Yerevan for free.
This is one of the best examples of heavy Soviet architecture and a must see for anyone who enjoys seeing remnants of the Soviet past in the region. It was designed and built by the Soviets in 1930s and holds ballet and opera performances regularly. The surrounding park area is also popular for families to congregate on sunny afternoons and summer evenings.
Katoghike Holy Mother of God Church
This Orthodox church is the oldest in Yerevan, dating back to the 1260s. There’s a tiny chapel next to a newer cathedral and it’s right in the middle of the city. You’ll find people stopping to pray as they pass the church and it’s a nice spot to just observe the local devotion to faith.
Republic Square and The History Museum
This huge imposing square is the heart of the city and where you’ll find a lot of the streets’ buzz emanating from. In summer, the fountains are full of water and people relax on one of the benches, especially of an evening when the dancing fountains, lights and music are turned on for everyone to enjoy.
It’s quite impressive and when you enter the square for the first time, it’s impossible not to be taken aback by the grand stone buildings, which are very reminiscent of the Soviet era.
You’ll also find the History Museum of Armenia here, which is well worth a visit. This multilevel display showcases various artefacts and history of both the country and the region from the Stone Age all the way up to the present day. It’s open every day and costs 2000 AMD (AU$7) for entry.
Although the majority of the population is Christian and have been since the first century AD, you might be surprised to find a mosque in the centre of Yerevan. It’s known as the Blue Mosque and is the biggest place of worship for the city’s Shia Muslim community. The Iran Embassy is technically the guardian of the place and it will remind you of the tiled mosques that you find in Iran.
It’s open to the public to enter, except at prayer times. You should dress conservatively before entering.
One of the best things to do in Yerevan is to explore the Kond neighbourhood, which is one of the oldest parts of the city and where you can get a glimpse of what the city was like before the imposing Soviet buildings sprung up in the city centre.
It’s a very rundown part of town and it’s not technically a tourist sight but the charm is just in walking the laneways and streets. It is a residential area though so don’t be too nosy or aggressive about taking photographs as many people may not understand why you’re so interested in their neighbourhood.
Still, Armenians are super friendly people and although the area is easy to get lost in, there’s always someone around to ask directions.
Sergei Parajanov House Museum (plus other museums)
Yerevan has some great museums and a lot of them. There’s apparently around 50 museums in the city and you can pick and choose from them depending on your interests. But, a personal highlight of the museums in Yerevan was Sergei Parajanov House Museum.
An unassuming place that is dedicated to the life of Parajanov, a pioneering artist, author and screen writer of the 20th century. You’ll find weird and eccentric artwork and displays, some of which make underlying gestures and commentary about the world we live.
Vernissage Market & GUM Market
Yerevan has some excellent markets and I visited the same two markets multiple times because they were that good.
The Vernissage Market is an open-air flea market which is held daily but best to visit on weekends when it’s most busy. There’s everything from Soviet memorabilia to carpets to jewellery and any souvenir you could possibly want. You can easily spend a couple of hours here looking at each stall.
The GUM Market is a large covered fresh produce market where locals come to buy all their food from local vendors. You can find butchers, bakers, farmers as well as vendors with dried fruit and nuts. One of the highlights is watching the traditional Armenian bread, lavash, being made and sold.
Genocide Museum and Memorial
A moving monument up on the hill above the city is dedicated to the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide. There is an eternal flame inside the concrete monument which you can enter to pay your respects.
The Genocide Museum can also be found at the complex, which documents in raw and eye-opening detail what happened to the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. It’s extremely well presented with English descriptions and it’s a must-see in Yerevan to fully understand the people of Armenia. It’s still considered a contentious international issue, as some countries, including Turkey, do not recognise the genocide as ever happening.
This museum and memorial is a bit far to walk from the city centre, although I did walk back and it took me around 45 minutes. An Uber cost me 400 AMD (AU$1.50) to get there from the city centre.
Wine bar and cafe hop
The wine and coffee culture is strong in Yerevan. There are hundreds of open-air cafes and bars, which are most lively in summer when the weather is warm. Cafe and wine bar hopping is almost like a sport in the city too, with locals sitting outside cafes and bars throughout the day and into the night.
Yerevan nightlife would be nothing without a good wine bar and the best of them can be found along Saryan Street, a strip full of bars and restaurants. Here you’ll find everything from Armenia’s finest wines to fancy cocktails and vegan smoothies, it’s basically where you want to be at night in Yerevan. It’s also home to In Vino, a wine bar that is considered to have sparked the wine bar revolution in the city less than ten years ago. It’s become a sort of wine institution.
The cafe scene in Yerevan reminded me a lot of Melbourne’s and in fact, it’s not unusual to find many people sitting with their laptops at one of the cafes for multiple hours. A couple of cafes I highly recommend include The Green Bean and Eat&Fit.
When the weather gets cooler, sitting in a cosy cafe or bar with a glass of wine or mug of coffee is one of the best things to do in Yerevan in winter.
Where to stay in Yerevan
As the city is pretty walkable, the best bet is to stay in the city centre area from where you can reach most attractions easily. The city has plenty of accommodation options for all types of budgets, but in general, it’s a very affordable place to stay.
The best Yerevan hotels can be found around Republic Square and towards The Cascade. You’ll also find all sorts of budget hostels and Airbnb apartment’s to rent within the apartment blocks around the city centre.
I stayed at Good Hotel & Hostel, which was in a perfect location just off Amiryan Street and a 10-minute walk from Republic Square. The staff were friendly and I only paid 1800 AMD (AU$6) per night for a female dorm bed.
Where to eat in Yerevan
I have to admit I spent a lot of my time in Yerevan at restaurants and cafes because the food is very good and there’s a great attitude towards people working from their laptops in cafe spaces.
Saryan Street is the best place for nightlife in Yerevan with bars and restaurants. Tumanyan Street is another popular place with some of the best restaurants in the city like Lavash Restaurant and The Tolma, although they are a bit more on the pricey side.
My personal favourite cafes, restaurants and bars that I went to in Yerevan were:
The Green Bean: They have two central locations, one near The Cascade and the other on Amiryan Street. They have an extensive menu with vegan and gluten-free options. It’s a very popular place for students and digital nomads to spend time at their laptops.
Eat&Fit: An incredibly beautiful cafe with healthy food and vegan and gluten-free options. It’s only small so it fills up quickly but it’s certainly worth it. It’s a bit more pricey than Green Bean but with a similar vibe.
Karas food chain: A national food chain that has a very extensive menu with every type of traditional Armenian food, as well as, Georgian food and Western options. There are plenty of outlets in Yerevan and you’ll come across them on almost every major street. The menu is in English. My hostel recommended it for a quick, easy, affordable and all-round good place to go and I ate there plenty of times.
Tavern Yerevan: A pretty fancy place that has become the city’s most sought after restaurant. My hostel told me it was the best place to go for traditional Armenian food but every time I tried to enter they told me I had to pre-book days in advance, so I gave up. But, for a special treat or if you’re a real foodie, it might be worth planning a meal here.
Day trips from Yerevan
There are plenty of day trips that you can take from Yerevan to explore more of Armenia and get out of the city. In fact, many of the country’s tourist attractions can be reached on a day trip from Yerevan, meaning you can use the city as a base for your entire Armenia trip.
Almost all Yerevan accommodation will organise day trips but it won’t take you long while you walk the streets for you to see cars and vans parked with day trip posters draped over them. There are basically endless tour operators and many of them congregate around Republic Square. In high season, they are generally more in demand and busy, but when I was there (in November) very few trips were being done at all because there were just too few people to fill a car.
Your other option is to rely on using local marshrutkas to get you to places on your own independent day trips. However, I have to warn you that this is difficult in Armenia (compared to Georgia) because the network of marshrutkas is very informal and adhoc so you can never quite guarantee your day will go to plan. But, if you’re flexible and travelling on a budget it is your best option.
Here are all the day trip destinations and important bus stations in Yerevan marked on the map:
Gegherd Monastery and garni temple
The most popular day trip from Yerevan is to these two impressive historical sights. Both are just a short distance from the city and can be done on a half-day taxi trip or full-day organised tour.
It’s also possible to visit these places using marshrutkas but it’s not easy. There are daily departures when full to the towns of Garni and Goght. From there you could hitchhike or walk to the monastery and temple, although it would be difficult to do both. The marshrutkas leave from the Mercedes Benz outlet in the north of Yerevan or often referred to as Gai Bus Station, but you’d have to confirm this with a local (I warned you it wouldn’t be easy).
Khor Virap and noravank monastery
Another popular day trip from Yerevan is to visit Khor Virap monastery and Noravank, both south of the city, not far off the main highway. As an organised day trip it’s very easy and you could arrange it even with a local taxi driver if you wanted a private hire option.
It’s not possible to directly reach these two monasteries by public transport but you can get close enough. For Khor Virap you can head to Sasuntsi Davit station where there will be small buses and vans congregated. There’s usually a couple of departures around 9am and 11am and you’ll need to ask to be dropped in Pokr Vedi on the highway, from which the monastery is another 4km away. The trip should cost you around 500 AMD (AU$2) to Pokr Vedi.
For Noravank, you can take a marshrutka from Yerevan heading for Yeghegnadzor and, either go all the way there and then get a local taxi to drive you to Noravank. Or, you can ask the marshrutka driver to drop you along the highway at the Noravank turn off, just after Areni, from where it’s another 8km to Noravank Monastery. The trip from Yerevan to Yeghegnadzor should cost around 1500 AMD (AU$5), although they often charge for the full trip no matter where you get on and off.
Of course, getting back is a whole other story and you may not be able to guarantee marshrutkas coming back to Yerevan, although likely from Yeghegnadzor there will be afternoon trips back to Yerevan, which you could flag down if there’s a seat. Otherwise, hitchhike!
Lake Sevan is an incredibly picturesque blue lake north east of Yerevan and the biggest body of water in the Caucasus region. It’s an extremely popular summer getaway with beaches, resorts and the Sevanavank Monastery and is one of the best things to do in Armenia. There are day trips or private taxis from Yerevan that can take you to the town of Sevan and back, or even including a quick trip into nearby Dilijan National Park as well.
For independent and budget travellers, it’s possible to reach Sevan on a day trip using marshrutkas. They leave from Yerevan’s Northern Bus Station which is 10km out from the city, but it’s marked on Maps.Me if you need. From there, there are marshrutkas going to Sevan, Dilijan and Vanadzor leaving whenever they are full. It takes around an hour from Yerevan to reach Sevan and costs 1000 AMD (AU$3.50).
To get to the Northern Bus Station from Yerevan city centre you can take bus 259 from the bus stop on Mesrop Mashtots Ave, outside OST Fast Food and Karas Restaurant. The trip will cost around 200 AMD (AU$0.70) and you should allow 45 minutes.
If you’re interested in visiting Dilijan National Park, read my comprehensive travel guide to the park here.
It’s also possible to take a day trip to Gyumri, the second biggest city in Armenia. Although there’s not a whole lot to see there, the old town and churches are actually quite beautiful and I easily spent a day wandering the streets and market. It’s completely different to Yerevan though, and has more of a small town feel, but if you have time it’s a nice day option.
From Yerevan, there are train services to Gyumri, although the marshrutkas are more flexible and leave every hour or so in the morning. I took a marshrutka from Yerevan to Gyumri at 10am and it took two hours and cost 1500 AMD (AU$5). I was told that you could get a marshrutka for Gyumri from either Sasuntsi Davit Station or the Central Bus Station in Yerevan, but I went to Sasuntsi Davit Station because it’s easy to reach by metro.
From Gyumri, it’s possible to head back to Georgia without going back to Yerevan, if that is your plan. There is a daily direct marshrutka from Gyumri to Akhaltsikhe in Georgia. It’s just an alternative option rather than travelling the same Yerevan to Tbilisi road that most people use.
Heading to Georgia? Read: 11 free things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia
The incredible Tatev Monastery in the far south eastern part of Armenia is a spectacular sight. It’s also famous for having the world’s longest, non-stop ropeway that reaches the church in a short amount of time with beautiful views to enjoy.
The remote location of this monastery means that it’s not possible to do independently in one day from Yerevan, but there are organised day trips that take around 12 hours to get you there and back in a day.
Otherwise, for independent or budget travellers, the best bet is to take a marshrutka to Goris, which is a nice town to stay for a night or two. From there, it’s 35km to Tatev which you can do by taxi. Goris is around five hours from Yerevan. The marshrutka costs 2500 AMD (AU$9) and they leave from Sasuntsi Davit Station in Yerevan at 9am and 3pm.
FAQs about Yerevan Travel
Is Yerevan safe for tourists?
Yerevan is extremely safe for tourists and locals alike. The crime rate is in fact very low, even compared to other European cities. I never felt unsafe travelling in Armenia and as a solo female, I had no problems. In fact, I would say Armenia is one of the safest places I’ve travelled, even at night. Many backpackers I met also had no problems hitchhiking through the country too.
It pays to just exercise your normal degree of caution whenever and wherever you travel. Pickpocketing might occur on public transport or crowded places, but the risk is lower here than in other European or Asian countries.
Is Yerevan expensive?
Travel to Yerevan is a very affordable trip and in fact, it’s more budget-friendly than Tbilisi in Georgia. A budget traveller could get by on $20-30 per day, without going on any organised tours. A more modest budget could be $50-70 if you have a private room and occasionally join day tours.
Having said that, poverty is quite pervasive, especially in rural areas and Armenia is certainly still recovering from the collapse of the Soviet Union. So, while it makes it relatively cheap for some of us travellers to visit, the cost of living in Armenia is not cheap for many people living in the country. It’s just something to be aware of whilst travelling there.