Located in the heart of the Caucasus, this beautiful mountainous land is yet to be touched by mainstream tourism. Whilst its neighbouring countries, Georgia and Azerbaijan grow in popularity, Armenia has stayed relatively quiet, but maybe not for long. Here we look at the best things to do in Armenia.
Armenia is brimming with beautiful landscapes and there are a huge amount of trekking options for those who love a hike in breath-taking surroundings. Tavush is a forested region with a rich wildlife of golden eagles, wolves, wildcats and over 150 species of birds. The Debed canyon meanwhile straddles the border with Georgia, and its woodland covered slopes are littered with small villages, chapels and churches.
Wings of Tatev Cable Car
The longest cable car in the world (or longest non-stop reversible aerial tramway built in only one section, to be precise), is the 5.7km Wings of Tatev. The ride crosses the Vorotan Canyon and offers wonderful views over the forest and the gorge. The journey lasts around 12 minutes and finishes at picturesque Tatev Monastery.
The cuisine of neighbouring Georgia may be more famous, but Armenian food is equally varied and delicious. Influences range from the Middle East, seen in the tabbouleh-like Eetch, a side dish made from bulgur wheat, to manti (or dumplings), which originated in China. Expect plenty of aubergines, lamb and lavash, the flatbread which is found throughout the Caucasus but which actually originates here. Also popular are grilled meats, stuffed pumpkins, The country also has its own wine region. Areni village is full of small wineries, where you can visit and taste the different varieties, and of course buy some to bring home.
The capital Yerevan
Yerevan is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities, and has a picturesque setting on the banks of the Hrazdan River with the impressive backdrop of Mount Ararat. A friendly and outgoing bunch, pretty much every square is filled with locals chatting or playing backgammon. One must-visit is a trip to the Armenian cognac factory. This is the only place in the world outside France that is allowed to use the term ‘cognac’ and was Winston Churchill’s favourite tipple. It has a great collection of museums, including the sobering Genocide Memorial, an impressive mosque (the last in Armenia), lively bars, a thriving modern art scene, and best of all, an endlessly creative array of street theatre at the weekends.
Aksel Bakunts Museum
Armenian writer Axel Bakunts is famed for his short stories and poems. Located in Goris, close to the border with Azerbaijan, his simple and elegant home is now a museum, featuring his original furniture, correspondence, pictures and books. Always an outspoken character, Bakunts was arrested in 1936 in the time of Stalin’s great terror, and executed in 1937.