10 things to see and do when visiting Yerevan
July 16, 2024
Travel

10 things to see and do when visiting Yerevan

Compact city is walkable year-round

Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, enthrals visitors with its distinctive mix of ancient history and modern energy. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Mount Ararat, this city of pink tufa stone is a living testament to the grandeur of the past and the vibrancy of the present. Its streets, each with a unique charm that intrigues any traveller, are adorned with grand Soviet-era architecture, vibrant cafes, and bustling markets, creating a captivating atmosphere unique to Yerevan.

Yerevan
Armenia was the first country in the world to establish Christianity as its state religion, dating back to 301 AD. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Its rich cultural tapestry includes museums showcasing millennia-old manuscripts, ancient fortresses, and a thriving contemporary art scene.

Yerevan’s welcoming atmosphere, steeped in tradition yet embracing innovation, invites exploration of its lively streets, where the aroma of Armenian cuisine mingles with the melodies of local musicians, ensuring an unforgettable experience for every traveller.

For any tourist visiting this enchanting city, here are 10 essential experiences that promise to leave a lasting impression.

Yerevan
Cascade Complex and Cafesjian Centre for the Arts. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Cascade Complex and Cafesjian Centre for the Arts: Dominating the city skyline, the Cascade is a giant limestone staircase (over 700 steps) adorned with fountains, sculptures, and gardens. At the top, the Cafesjian Centre for the Arts offers diverse experiences, from contemporary art exhibits to a panoramic view of the city and Mount Ararat. This variety ensures that every art enthusiast will find something to cherish in this unique location, sparking excitement and intrigue in every visitor.

Yerevan
Republic Square. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Republic Square: The heart of Yerevan, Republic Square is a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture. Fronted by government buildings and illuminated fountains, it is ideal for people-watching and enjoying evening light shows.

Matenadaran: For those passionate about history, the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts is a place of reverence. It houses a collection of over 23,000 manuscripts, including some of the world’s oldest texts. These offer a profound and enlightening insight into Armenia’s literary and cultural heritage that dates back centuries, ensuring an enriching experience for every visitor.

Yerevan
Genocide Memorial Complex. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Genocide Memorial Complex: Erected as a poignant tribute to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, the Genocide Memorial Complex in Yerevan is located on Tsitsernakaberd Hill and consists of several elements, including the Memorial Wall, the Eternal Flame, and the 44-meter tall stele symbolising national rebirth. The museum recounts the history and commemorates the victims with personal artefacts and exhibits. Surrounded by a tranquil park, the complex invites reflection and remembrance, serving as a solemn reminder of a tragic chapter in Armenian history and a testament to resilience and solidarity. It remains a significant cultural and historical landmark in Yerevan.

Yerevan
Vernissage Market. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Vernissage Market: Held daily near Republic Square, Vernissage is a bustling open-air market where Aremina artisans display their crafts, including traditional carpets, ceramics, jewellery, and paintings. It is the perfect place to pick up authentic Armenian souvenirs.

Yerevan
History Museum of Armenia. Credit: Arnold Pinto

History Museum of Armenia: Located on Republic Square, this museum chronicles Armenia’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. Its vast collection includes artefacts, archaeological finds, and exhibits of Armenian culture and traditions.

Erebuni Fortress: Dating back to 782 BC, Erebuni Fortress is one of the oldest sites in Yerevan. The fortress museum provides insights into the Urartian civilisation and the city’s founding and offers panoramic views of modern Yerevan.

Yerevan
Ararat Brandy Factory (top left). Credit: Arnold Pinto

Ararat Brandy Factory: Armenia is renowned for its brandy, and a visit to the Ararat Brandy Factory provides a chance to learn about the production process and sample some of the finest Armenian brandies. The factory tour often ends with a tasting session.

Yerevan
Yerevan Opera Theatre. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Yerevan Opera Theatre: A cultural gem, the Yerevan Opera Theatre hosts ballets, operas, and concerts throughout the year. Its stunning architecture and acoustics make attending a performance here a memorable experience.

Yerevan
Sample Armenian cuisine at one of many street cafes in Yerevan. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Food and dining: No visit to Yerevan is complete without indulging in Armenian cuisine. From savoury dolma (stuffed grape leaves) to succulent kebabs and the ubiquitous lavash (traditional flatbread), Yerevan offers a culinary journey that delights the senses.

Visitors to Yerevan can also explore its vibrant cafe culture, where locals gather to discuss art, politics, and life over strong Armenian coffee or aromatic herbal teas. The city’s nightlife offers a mix of trendy bars, live music venues, and traditional taverns where visitors can enjoy local wines and spirits.

Yerevan
A roadside flower seller awaits customers in Yerevan. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Navigating Yerevan is made more accessible by its compact size and welcoming locals who are often eager to share their stories and traditions. Whether strolling through the bustling streets or exploring ancient monasteries, Yerevan promises a blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication that captivates travellers from around the globe.

Yerevan
Armenia’s winemaking dates back 6,500 years. Credit: Arnold Pinto

As Armenia’s cultural and economic centre, Yerevan is a testament to resilience and creativity. It offers visitors a glimpse into its storied past and promises a future filled with warmth and hospitality. Yerevan undoubtedly exceeds expectations for those seeking a memorable travel experience rich in history, culture, and natural beauty.

When to visit

Yerevan experiences varied seasons, each offering unique experiences. Winters are cold but usually lack heavy snowfall, with temperatures dropping to -20°C.

Yerevan
Soviet-era buildings dot Yerevan City. Credit: Arnold Pinto

The city is beautifully adorned during the New Year. Spring brings warmer weather by March, with blooming apricot trees and special sales honouring women. Summers are hot, reaching up to 40°C. Fall is mild and ideal for visiting, with pleasant temperatures and celebrations like Independence Day in September.

Currency matters

Armenia’s official currency is the Armenian dram (֏/AMD). 1 US$ = 384֏/1€ = 417֏. Exchange offices throughout the city offer competitive rates without additional fees, varying slightly depending on their affiliations with banks.

Armenian currency includes seven paper denominations: 1,000֏, 2,000֏, 5,000֏, 10,000֏, 20,000֏, 50,000֏, and 100,000֏, and six coin denominations: 10֏, 20֏, 50֏, 100֏, 200֏, and 500֏.

Yerevan
Tour operators in Yerevan largely accept cash payments. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Average prices for goods and services in Yerevan are as follows:

Food:

  • 0.5-litre bottle of water: 150 ֏
  • 0.5 kg of white bread: 350 ֏
  • 1kg of lavash (flatbread): 500-600 ֏
  • 1 litre of regular milk: 450 ֏
  • 6 eggs: 600 ֏
  • Bottle of wine: 3,000 ֏
  • Local beer (0.5-litre bottle): 450 ֏
  • Pack of cigarettes: 700 ֏

Cafes and restaurants:

  • Fast food meal: 1,500 ֏
  • Meal in an inexpensive restaurant: 5,000 ֏
  • Meal for two at a mid-level restaurant (three courses): 13,000 ֏
  • Coffee: 600-1,500 ֏
  • Glass of wine: 2,000 ֏
  • Glass of beer: 800 ֏

Transport:

  • City transport ticket (including metro): 100 ֏
  • Minimum taxi fare: 600 ֏
  • Taxi tariff per km: 100 ֏
  • Taxi waiting time (5 minutes): 100 ֏
  • Car rental per day: 25,000 ֏
  • Petrol (1 litre): 500 ֏

These prices provide a snapshot of living costs and expenses in Yerevan, reflecting the city’s affordability and variety of options for residents and visitors alike.

Getting around

Yerevan is a compact city that is ideal for walking. Its centre is around its downtown, where most attractions, museums, cafés, and restaurants are located. The city is easily navigable within an hour.

Yerevan
Mount Ararat, located in neighbouring Tukey, dominates the Yerevan City skyline. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Transportation from Zvartnots International Airport includes shuttle buses, which cost 300֏ per person, run every 30 minutes, and take 20 minutes to reach the city centre.

Yerevan
Public transport is frequent but can be rather crowded at peak times in Yerevan. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Buses and minibuses, costing 100֏ per ride, operate from 06:00 to 23:00, with frequent stops and helpful locals for navigation. The metro network, with 10 stations on a single line, runs from 07:00 to 23:00 and requires a 100֏ token to be purchased at each station. Taxis are affordable, charging about 100֏ per kilometre; reputable services like GG, Utaxi, and Yandex Taxi are recommended to avoid overcharging.

Yerevan
The Yerevan metro system consists of 10 stations on a single line. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Due to dense city traffic and parking challenges, car rentals are not advisable for foreign tourists. However, bike and e-scooter rentals via apps like YerevanRide and Mimo Bike are available despite the city’s limited infrastructure for such modes of transport.

Featured image: Soviet-era Armenian government buildings overlooking Republic Square in Yerevan City. Arnold Pinto

Last Updated on 1 week by Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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