Armenia is full of natural beauty. If you have more time after exploring Yerevan, we highly recommend taking some day trips to see these wonderful landscapes and churches not too far from the capital.
Garni and Geghard
Garni and Geghard can be done as a half-day trip from Yerevan. We took a gg, which cost 9800 Armenian dram plus a 1000 dram tip, including wait times at both sites. The meter on the app continues to run during wait times but at a reduced rate.
We skipped the temple at Garni because we read that it was completely rebuilt in 1970. We could see it from outside and it looked way too intact. We like our ruins to be in ruins. Instead, we walked down to Garni Gorge to check out the geological formation known as Symphony of Stones. Go down the path to the left of the Garni Temple entrance if you’re facing the entrance, then through a gate until you reach the part of the stone wall where there is an overhang. It makes for dramatic photos.
On the way to Garni, we stopped for a fill-up at a natural gas station. Some cars in Yerevan have been converted to run on natural gas. As a safety precaution, you have to get out of the car while it’s being filled. Our driver said the natural gas is coming from Russia and is cheaper than petrol.
After Garni we drove to Geghard, one of Armenia’s famous churches. Armenia is known as the land of churches, with over 4000 monasteries and churches. Religion is very important here, with most people belonging to the Armenian church, one of the oldest Christian churches.
Lake Sevan and Dilijan National Park
Another day trip you can take is to Lake Sevan and Dilijan National Park. We actually did these two in the same day, but if you want to go for a long hike in Dilijan, you should devote at least an entire day to it.
We rented a car from Hertz. Driving through the city was crazy. Armenian drivers don’t respect lanes at all. If you prefer a private driver, Hertz can provide one for an extra $20 USD – just make sure to let them know in advance.
Once you get out of Yerevan, driving on the highway is fine and it’s just one road to Lake Sevan. We climbed to the monastery overlooking the lake. The snow-capped mountains on the opposite shore of the lake were really beautiful. It’s much colder at the monastery and very windy, so bundle up.
From Lake Sevan we drove to Dilijan National Park. There’s a new tourist information office in the town of Dilijan, but it’s on a bad road with huge holes, so just park and walk there. They can give you a hiking map and tell you how long each hike will take.
We drove up to Haghartsin Monastery but parked a little ways before the monastery in a spot with a very old original looking church. If you walk up the hill behind this church, you’ll get a clear view of the mountains and valley in Dilijan National Park on one side and Haghartsin Monastery from the other.
Even More to See
If you have even more time, you can stay overnight in mini resorts or village homes in Dilijan. If you want to go even further afield from Yerevan, here are some places my Armenian friend suggested – Lastiver, Harsnadzor Eco Resort, Tatev Monastery, Wings of Tatev, the longest cable car in the world, and Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the religious center of Armenia, where the head of the church resides.
You can’t visit Armenia without exploring its capital. We spent two weeks there. Check out our Yerevan City Guide.