Day 1: Arrival to Yerevan - Yerevan city tour
Arrival at Zvartnots International Airport. Meet & greet. Transfer to the hotel in Yerevan.
After the breakfast we will start our tour.
Yerevan is the pink “pearl” of Armenia. This beautiful European city is mostly built by different shades of the local pink stone called “tuff” quarried in Armenia. Founded in 782B.C. Yerevan is reputedly one of the oldest cities in the world to have been continuously inhabited.
We start our exploration with the Republic Square with it magnificent buildings enhanced by singing fountains. We drive to the Victory Park to see the huge monument called "Mother Armenia" offering a bird eye view of Yerevan and the biblical Mount Ararat in the horizon. We walk down the Cascade, a world class center for the arts. Continue walking towards the Freedom Square by the Opera House, the Northern Avenue. We also explore the Abovyan Street, the oldest street in Yerevan which used to be a part of the Silk Road connecting Europe with Asia.
Overnight in Yerevan
Day 2: Yerevan – Garni – Azat Canyon – Havuts tar - Geghard – Yerevan
This morning we visit the Garni Fortress in an amazing natural setting, the summer residence of the Armenian kings famous for its Hellenistic Temple of the Sun dating back to 77A.D., royal palace ruins, Roman Baths with a well preserved mosaic. We start our hike from here descending down the Azat River Canyon (UNESCO site). Walking along the river we marvel at amazing rock formations known as "symphony of stones" - an extraordinary natural phenomenon. They remind of huge organ pipes, but when viewed from below they look like bee honeycombs. Continue our hiking to Havuts Tar monastery, an enigmatic monastery located on a mountainous peak dominating the area in Khosrov Forest Reserve. The view is awesome with superb panoramas of surrounding mountains.
Later we'll visit Geghard, an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountainside. It is said that the "Holy Lance" that pierced the body of Christ was kept here. Visiting a local house in Garni village. Traditional Armenian bread "lavash" making in tonir (earth oven).
Overnight in Yerevan
Day 3: Khor Virap – Noravank – Areni Winery – Karahunj - Goris
A day dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia's finest medieval architecture with stunning landscapes. The first stop of our trip Khor Virap, the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Armenia not only because it’s the only place in Armenia where you’ll get the best view of the biblical Mount Ararat within Armenian borders, but this is where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years by the King Tiridates III for preaching Christianity. This caused the conversion of the king and Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301. As soon as we pass the Ararat Plain we can experience the untamed beauty of Southern Armenia - surreal red rocks providing an eerie echo, honey-colored villages sandwiched between them. Our next stop is the Monastery of Noravank, an architectural gemstone nestled among brick-red cliffs, just above a deep gorge. We also visit a winery in Areni village, where the world’s oldest winery has been found (6100 years old). Drive to Zorats Karer known as - Armenia’s Stonehenge, the most enigmatic site in Armenia. This stone circle, now shown to be a prehistoric observatory, long predates Stonehenge in England. Ancient inscriptions found here may mark the birthplace of the Zodiac – and of Western Civilization itself. Possibly it was the world's first astronomical observatory founded 7500 years ago.
Continue to Goris
Overnight in Goris
Day 4: Goris – Tatev Monastery – Khndzoresk – Stepanakert
In the morning we explore Goris, one of the most beautiful towns in Armenia. It’s a town in orchards where the houses have the same unique architecture with red tile roofs. The town is beautifully planned by a German architect in the 19th century. We visit the miraculous monastery of Tatev riding the world’s longest aerial tramway (5.7km) built by the Swiss in 2010. Tatev is a formidable monastic complex founded in the 9th century. It’s the biggest monastery in Armenia. It's located on a rocky peninsula more than 100 meters above the Vorotan River. According to tradition the relics of the Apostles, Sts. Peter and Paul, were placed under the dome's supporting pillars. We start walking to the cloister of Tatev Hermitage, a highly evocative place. Continue walking to the limestone caverns of the Devil’s bridge with natural hot baths in a gorge so narrow, that the sun hardly reaches the bottom (trail length 5km).
Later we will drive to Old Khndzoresk abandoned cave town frozen in time with thousands of caves, where people were living until the beginning of the 20th century. Afterwards, drive to Stepanakert, the Capital of Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
Overnight in Stepanakert
Day 5: Stepanakert – Askeran - Tigranakert – Vankasar - Stepanakert
Stepanakert City Tour. Visit the Museum of History and Country Study of Artsakh (Karabagh). Have a stroll in the city’s main food market. Drive to Askeran fortress. And then on our way to Tigranakert Hellenistic city and archaeological site.
Tour of Tigranakert. Archaeologists date the foundation of Tigranakert to a period in the 80s BC, during the reign of King Tigranes the Great, the most powerful king in the history of Armenia. Archaeologists have uncovered two of the main walls of the city, as well as Hellenistic-style towers and an Armenian church dating to fifth to seventh centuries. Start light hiking to the church (6th c.) on the top of Vankasar (5KM – 2 hours).
Overnight in Stepanakert
Day 6: Stepanakert – Gandzasar – Dadivank monastery – Stepanakert
Drive to Gandzasar Monastery, perhaps the most important architectural monument of Artsakh (13th century). According to renowned Russian scholar A. L. Yakobson of St. Petersburg's Hermitage, Gandzasar Monastery is "the encyclopedia of Armenian architecture." Then we continue to Dadivank Monastery. It dates back to approximately 9–13th centuries and is located at the foothills of the Mount Mrav, on the left bank of river Tartar. Dadivank was founded by St. Dadi who was the disciple of Thaddeus the Apostle who spread Christianity in Eastern Armenia during the 1st century A.D. In June, 2007, the grave of St. Dadi was discovered under the holy altar of the main church.
Overnight in Stepanakert
Day 7: Stepanakert – Shushi – Hiking in Hunot Canyon - Jermuk
After breakfast we drive to the most impressive city of Nagorno Karabakh - Shushi nestled on a frozen wave of rock. Because of its impregnable location it received the name “the eagles’ nest”. The fortress had never been taken by force in the course of its history till 1992 May 9 when the Karabakh Armenian soldiers climbed up the huge rock and liberated the historic capital of Artsakh.
Here we’ll visit the only surviving churches of St. Ghazanchetsots and Green Church. Wealso visit 19th the Persian Mosque and one the most beautiful old districts of the city completely abandoned.
Hiking in "Hunot Canyon". This hiking down into the canyon will be rewarded with the discovery of waterfalls, lush forests, caves inhabited since the stone ages, the ruins of Hunot village, old stone bridges, and all of this framed by massive canyon walls with a river rushing through. But the icing on the cake if the waterfall "Mossy Rock" and the cave spring "Mossy Umbrella" of almost surreal beauty. A deep water source comes out of the stone of the canyon to form a perpetually dripping waterfall in the shape of a huge mossy umbrella (Hiking 7-9 km). After that we drive to Armenia to have an overnight in Jermuk Spa town.
Overnight in Jermuk
Day 8: Jermuk –Smbataberd – Yeghekis – Noratus – Hayravank – Sevan
After breakfast we drive to Artabuynk village from where we start our 3 hour hike to the 10th century Smbataberd, the medieval Castle of King Smbat, boasting perhaps the most beautiful setting in Armenia (8km round trip). Along the pathway we marvel at rare flora species; fragile wild flowers of vibrant colors, wild almond and walnut trees… Once we get to the top of the mountain where the castle is nestled proudly, we feel as if we are on the roof of the world… From this vantage point the views are of mesmerizing beauty; the Arpa river valley, small villages, sharp silhouettes of surrounding snow-capped mountains. A quick visit to Yeghekis, and then driving through Selim Mountain Pass famous for its fascinating colorful mountains we reach Selim Caravanserai on the Great Silk Road at the highest point of the pass. Here little has changed since the fourteenth century. The caravanserai offered hospitality to travelers along the highway crossing the Selim Mountains. Visit the Stone Garden - Noraduz, the largest field of Armenian exquisite cross-stones in the world. Visit Hayravank monastery, a 9th century monastery.
We drive to the Lake Sevan, the world’s second largest high altitude lake at 1900m above sea level and the most beautiful lake of Armenia taking up 4% of the territory of Armenia. Marvel at stunning turquoise waters of the Lake Sevan and dramatic mountain scenery after climbing up the peninsula hill where we visit the 9th century Sevanavank Monastery.
Overnight in Sevan
Day 9: Sevan - Dilijan – Jukhtavank – Mostavank – Molokan Villages - Dilijan
Today we explore Dilijan National Park known as "Armenia's Little Switzerland". The forested mountains of the Lesser Caucasus, mineral waters, transparent air enriched with ion make it a real paradise. Hiking in Dilijan National Park to spot Jukhtakvank and Matosavank monasteries in the middle of the wood. Take the road of Dilijan – Vanadzor which is extremely beautiful with small Russian villages. Visit Lemontovo and Violetovo. Before we check into our hotel take a stroll in the most beautiful part of the town, Old Dilijan Complex on historic Sharambeyan street. Here we experience the town as it was in the 19th century.
Overnight in Dilijan
Day 10: Dilijan – Parz Lake – Haghartsin – Goshavank - Gomer
After breakfast we will drive to visit Lake Parz (“Crystal Lake”). It is fed by mountainous springs. Continue to Haghartsin Monastery in the middle of a dense oak forest. Then we drive to Goshavank, a medieval fairy-tale monastic complex in the village of Gosh. From here we start our hike through the forest to the Lake Gosh. It has such a pristine beauty and the setting is simply magical. In some parts it's a strenuous climb. It takes from about 1 hour to get here. Later we will drive to Yenokavan.
Overnight in Yenokavan
Day 11: Yenokavank – Hiking to Lastiver – Akhtala - Haghpat
Breakfast at hotel we take a short transfer to the trailhead. We will spend the day hiking (20 km round trip) in this beautiful wilderness area, no roads, no shops, no TVs, just incredible views and marvelous solitude. A wonderful forested route into the most pristine and rugged area of north-eastern Armenia as we head into a deep gorge before descending to cascading waterfalls and the most scenic meadows in Armenia. Follow the hiking trail to reach hidden caves of Lastiver, perhaps Armenia’s best-kept secret. All the time we have open views of the beautiful green plateau of Lastiver.
(If time permits, you will visit Makaravank Monastery, it depends on your hiking)
After that we drive through Noyemberyan to visit Akhtala Monastery. a 10th-century monastery. Continue to Haghpat village.
Overnight in Haghpat
Day 12: Haghpat – Sanahin - Kobayer - Odzun – Stepanavan - Gyumri
Today we visit the Monastery of Haghpat (UNESCO), an exceptional example of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture that developed in Armenia in the 10th to 13th centuries which is unique by virtue of its blending of elements of Armenian Church architecture and the traditional vernacular building style of the region. From here we start our hike to Sanahin Monastery (UNESCO) (7 KM), an important medieval education and spiritual center which was famous for its school of illuminators and calligraphers. En route you may want to climb up and visit Kobayr Monastery perched on a shelf of the gorge, in an ancient and sacred place where springs seep out of the rock, trees and vines twine among the intricately carved blocks of the monastery. Drive to Odzun, 7th century monastery.
Overnight in Gyumri
Day 13: Gyumri – Saghmosavank – Amberd
Gyumri, the second largest city of Armenia. Gyumri city tour. Drive to Saghmosavank Monastery. It is situated on the edge of a deep gorge at the foot of Mt. Ara, with Mt. Ararat and Mt. Arargats rising majestically on the western and northern horizons. It's an 11th century structure. Later drive to Amberd Castle (meaning “a castle in the clouds”, a fitting name given to it because of the elevation, 2300m) on the southern slope of the Mount Aragats. Breathtaking views of the castle and citadel, snow covered peaks of Aragats, sun scorched grasslands dressed in wildflowers combine to provide an unforgettable experience.
Overnight near to Amberd
Day 14: Hike to Aragats –Yerevan
After breakfast we are off to the highest peak of Transcaucasia and Armenia, Mount Aragats (4,090m), an extinct volcano which is the last point of our hiking adventure! Its four snow-capped peaks have always been exuding a mystic aura throughout the centuries. Acclimatizing gradually as we ascend the beautiful countryside. On the way we can visit high-mountain camps of friendly Yezidi people who tend their sheep under the towering peaks of Aragats. We will discover the traditional way of life of these people of the mountains, visiting their tents, trying fresh cheese and yogurt. We continue to the Stone Lake glittering like polished mirror in the sunlight. Our local guides at Aragats have plenty of experience getting travelers to the Southern peak (3,879m), whatever your physical fitness and age. A steep hike up is rewarded by superb panoramas of alpine meadows of rare beauty. If you're still keen for more, we will scramble up to the Western peak (4,080m) for unbelievable views of endless crisp blue sky and Mount Ararat in the distance. Drive to Yerevan.
Overnight in Yerevan
Day 15: Echmiadzin - Zvartnots
Drive to the lands of ancient treasures of Christian history…Vatican city of Armenia, Holy Echmiadzin with its world’s earliest Christian churches included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral. It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301-303A.D., when Armenia became the first officially Christian state in the world. Continue to St. Hripsime Church built in 7th century, a masterpieces of early medieval Armenian architecture. Also we are going to visit Gayane & Shoghakat Churches. On the way back to Yerevan visit the Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, a majestic cathedral dedicated to St. Gregory. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight... All the sites visited during this tour are inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight in Yerevan
Day 16: Departure
Transfer to airport
*Itinerary is subject to change at any time upon your request.
Transportation with good touristic class minivan/bus with strong A/C
Accommodation in DBL room occupancy at 3* or 4* hotels (16 nights)
Multi-lingual speaking professional guide
Breakfast at the hotel
1 bottle of water per person per day
Entrance fees to all visited places
Visa to Armenia (The EU citizens don’t need a visa to Armenia)
Tips for the guides and drivers
Single room supplement
Mini bar at the hotels
Bank transfer fees