Before the pandemic, tourism in Armenia took an unprecedented rise with all its developing infrastructures and huge tourism potential. Though the one-year break was tough for the whole economic sector, Armenia tourism board and all the branches involved in the industry filled in the missing gaps and fixed many regulations for better tourism experience in the future. Nowadays tourism is striving once again with many innovative offers. Below you can find useful information you should consider when traveling to Armenia.
Is Armenia Safe To Travel in 2021?
Just like the whole world, Armenia went through the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown in 2020. However, the biggest challenge for the country began in September when an armed conflict arose between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the southeastern borders of Armenia. It ended with a ceasefire in November with foreign peace corps guarding the borders. Interestingly after the conflict, the local tourism in Armenia increased drastically, as people began to travel closer to those areas as an act of revaluation of their own country and its heritage. The main tourism destinations in the southeastern parts of Armenia, such as Tatev monastery, Khndzoresk cave city and nearby settlements of Syunik region, are safe to travel as they are far from the borderlines. For foreign travelers it is advised to avoid traveling in the area of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) for now, as it was the main zone where the armed conflict happened.
Armenia is a homogenous country with a small population, where crime has a very low rate. Pickpocketing and robbery are not very common in the country, however, you need to be careful with your belongings in crowded touristic spots, where minor theft can happen. Kidnapping, murder or terrorism are not about Armenia in general. The local men can sometimes be very high-tempered, which you need to consider when attending an Armenian party or decide to get drunk late at night in one of the many pubs or clubs.
For solitary women traveling in Armenia is quite safe. You just need to consider the fact that most of the people outside Yerevan are quite conservative. Armenia is a family oriented country, where men grew up with a mentality to be in a position of protecting women. Today many Armenian women travel on their own, backpack and hitchhike, thus it is more common these days to see female travelers, however be bold and do not trust easily everyone you come around, till you find yourself being understood and respected. If you feel any slight discomfort, politely leave the place or the car. As a woman traveler, you can have a local contact who you trust and always keep in touch while you travel around. Nowadays tourism in Armenia has various offers for women travelers, such as many arts and craft workshops, cooking masterclasses and meeting with local women entrepreneurs.
The most common scam is the overpriced taxi rides. If you travel in Armenia on your own, it is best to have the local Uber-like application called GG installed on your mobile. It is the number one and the safest taxi service you can find in different cities of Armenia. In case you arrive at the Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan, you will meet persistent taxi drivers offering a ride to downtown Yerevan for a ridiculously high price. This ride usually costs around 3000 Armenian drams (6 USD/EUR) and not more, so be cautious not to be overcharged. If you travel in far regions and want to get a village taxi, you can just agree on the cost before you take the ride.
Armenia Travel During Covid-19
Tourism in Armenia is efficiently adjusting to new rules and challenges brought by the pandemic. As of October 2021, entry to Armenia is permitted both via land and air. Upon entering Armenia, you are required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate (on an official letterhead in Armenian, English or Russian) taken within the previous 72 hours or a certificate of complete vaccination (in Armenian, English or Russian. Single-dose vaccination should be completed 28 days prior to entering Armenia, while the multi-dose vaccination should be completed 14 days before entering the country. If you fail to provide any of these documents, you will have to pass a PCR test at the airport and keep a compulsory isolation period until the negative test results arrive. Should you reject the PCR test, you will be isolated for 14 days. The PCR test-related expenses are covered by travelers. Children aged up to 6 years 11 months and 29 days old are exempt from providing a negative PRC test or a vaccination passport.
Armenia has been through its third wave of the Covid-19 in early spring and the numbers have been decreasing rapidly since then. Three types of vaccines are now widely available in not only polyclinics and laboratories, but you may find an ambulance van in several parts of the city doing free vaccination on the spot. Both inside Yerevan and around the country there are both popular and less crowded sites where you can enjoy your trip and breathe the fresh air of the Armenian Highland. You may opt in for individual tours or group tours in case you want to be away from bigger groups and have more space for yourself.
Can You Travel To Armenia on a Budget?
Tourism in Armenia is constantly enriched with new offers that meet travelers’ various expectations. You can find high-end hotels along with more budget friendly options throughout Armenia. Yerevan, the capital and the biggest city in the country, today has smaller family hotels and different hostels both close to the center and on the outskirts of the city. Even the modest hostels provide clean accommodations and basic comforts. You can stay in a dorm room starting from 3000 AMD (6 USD) per night, or find a small hotel room for 15-20,000 AMD (30-40 USD).
As you travel around the regions of Armenia, you can stay in cozy hotels or find a local guesthouse. Staying in a guesthouse is also a great way to get to know the local people and their lifestyle. The average price for a guesthouse starts from 5000 AMD (10 USD) per night.
Public transport is a true local experience by itself; however, it is quite challenging to figure out which bus to take since the destinations are written only in Armenian. Yerevan has a Soviet-era metro with only a few stations. If you want to take a short ride and travel around the suburbs of the city, opt in for a cool metro experience. You can find some shared taxi options in Yerevan Central Station or in the GG app to several destinations within Armenia and Georgia.
Both in Yerevan and throughout the country you can find cafes and restaurants with reasonable prices. Local fast foods like barbeque, kebab, pastry with cheese and green, flatbreads and sandwiches are a good option for your food breaks. If you find locals also eating in these places, then do not worry about the quality of the food, make an order and enjoy your meal. There are many top-notch restaurants with national cuisine that are usually included in tour packages, but you can as well enjoy Armenian food in smaller restaurants that are quite famous among the local people. Today most of the regions in Armenia that are on the tourist routes have developed infrastructures with food courts, open-air food corners and home-restaurants. Whether you are a meat lover, vegetarian or have special food preferences, you will find your type of food with good prices in most of the places. One person can have a full dinner for less than 5000 AMD (10 USD) in a casual restaurant.
Except for the museums and cultural museum-reservations, you can visit most of the historical monuments in Armenia without any entrance tickets. The best of Armenian ancient and medieval history is presented in many monasteries, fortresses and archeological sites that are open for the visitors free of charge. And museum tickets typically cost 1000-2000 AMD (2-4 USD) only. You can plan your cultural tour inside the museums on the second half of the day when there are less visitors.
When to Go
The best seasons to visit Armenia to learn about its rich culture, hard-working people and amazing nature are between April-June and September-November. During the springtime, you contemplate the lush green panoramas of the Armenian Highland, whereas during the fall you enjoy the colorful landscapes. If you want to hike up Aragats or other mountains, or you want to travel to Armenia for adventure tourism, consider booking your trip in July and August. Winter tourism in Armenia is also becoming popular with its several options, such as the biggest ski resort in Tsaghkadzor and several other winter activities throughout the country. In summer, the temperature can reach over 35C (95F) during the day, and drop to -10C (14F) in winter, it may also vary depending on the region.
There are no strict regulations on clothing in Armenia. You may find all the latest clothing fashion on the local youth throughout the country. However, if you plan to visit Armenian monasteries and churches during your historical tours, consider putting on clothes that will cover your knees and shoulders, especially relevant for women travelers during summer.
Nowadays the problem of toilet stops is being solved as the tourism infrastructure develops at a fast pace. On many routes, you can find big supermarkets and bakeries that have clean toilets. If you are on a road with less traffic, you will find gas stations where you may need to pay 100 AMD (20 cent) for the restroom. Some of the sightseeing places around Armenia also have paid toilets that cost 100 AMD.