DAY 1 SATURDAY YEREVAN or TBILISI (OPTIONAL)
Arrival to Zvartnots International Airport early in the morning (or an optional arrival on Friday to Tbilisi International Airport, with the following transfer to Yerevan for joining the tour on Saturday). Meet your Phoenix Tour representative. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Breakfast. Start exploring Yerevan, the Armenia’s capital city and one of the oldest cities in the world. Stop at the Victory Park and Mother Armenia monument to get a spectacular view of the Biblical Mt. Ararat with a panorama of central Yerevan.
Visit one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world, the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. Take a walking tour of the Cascade Complex, with its Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Center for the Arts. Visit the magnificent building of the Opera House, the postmodern Northern Avenue and the city's main Republic Square. Be sure to return to Republic Square after dark to see the "Dancing Fountains", a choreographed water show synched with lights and music (The fountains are on from May until the end of October).
Continue to the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on the hills of Tsitsernakaberd. The Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex houses both the Armenian Genocide Museum, and the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 2 SUNDAY YEREVAN – ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Drive to Echmiadzin, the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Visit the churches of St. Hripsime and St. Gayane (UNESCO World Heritage Sites). Visit the Main Cathedral of Echmiadzin, the oldest state-built church in the world, having been built by St. Gregory the Illuminator in 303 AD (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Attend the colorful service of the Holy Liturgy, which attracts a numerous visitors and pilgrims from around the world.
Drive back to Yerevan. En route to Yerevan visit ruins of the 7th century Zvartnots Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Zvartnots Cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 930 AD, and was lost to history until its discovery in the early 20th century.
Return to Yerevan. Take a tour of an open air "Vernissage" market, where you can buy some gifts, souvenirs, jewelry and other handicrafts. Stop at the popular fruit market "Shouka" to buy traditional sweets and dry fruits. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 3 MONDAY YEREVAN – KHOR VIRAP – NORAVANK – ARENI – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Drive to the Khor Virap Monastery, where the Mt. Ararat reveals its breathtaking size and splendor. Khor Virap is one of the most popular destinations in Armenia, primarily because it is where the St. Gregory the Illuminator, the future head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was imprisoned here for 13 years.
Continue in the Vayots Dzor Province, which is Armenia’s most storied wine growing region. Visit the masterpiece of medieval Armenian architecture, the 14th century Noravank Monastery, a major religious and cultural center of Armenia in the past. Lunch. Stopover for wine tasting at the local winery in Areni village, which is famous for its delicious dry red wine. Return to Yerevan. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 4 TUESDAY YEREVAN – GEGHARD – GARNI – LAKE SEVAN – DILIJAN – HAGHPAT – BAGRATASHEN – TBILISI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Armenia, the 13th century cave monastery of Geghard (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The name of the monastery originates from the spear, which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, and currently stored amongst many other relics in the Echmiadzin's Cathedral Museum.
Continue to the oldest surviving building on the territory of Armenia, the 1st century Garni Pagan Temple. The Garni Temple was built by the Armenian King Tiridates with the money he received after visiting Emperor Nero in Rome, and was dedicated to Sun God Mithra.
Continue to Lake Sevan. The lake's proximity to Yerevan, coupled with its cooler summer temperatures, outstretched blue waters and historic sights make it one of Armenia’s key places to visit. Walk up to the 8th century monastery of Sevanavank on Sevan peninsula, one of Armenia’s iconic landmarks.
Drive to Dilijan, a resort town renowned for its charming nature and some traditional Armenian architecture. Stroll through the Dilijan’s Historic Center, the cobbled Sharambeyan Street, with its collection of stone and wooden traditional buildings, shops, restaurants, souvenir stalls and workshops.
Continue to Alaverdi, the largest city in the Debed Canyon, an area rich with historical monuments and natural beauty. Visit the 10th century Haghpat Monastery, one of the most outstanding examples of Armenian religious architecture (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Drive to the Armenia-Georgia border and arrive at the Bagratashen-Sadakhlo border crossing. After border formalities, start the Georgian part of the tour and continue to Tbilisi. Arrive in Tbilisi. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 5 WEDNESDAY TBILISI – ANANURI – GUDAURI – JVARI PASS – KAZBEGI – GERGETI – TBILISI
Breakfast. Take the historic Georgian Military Road across the Caucasus Mountains, a major route through the Caucasus from Georgia to Russia. Visit the 17th century Ananuri Castle, the seat of power of medieval Georgian dukes of Aragvi, and presently, one of the most scenic fortresses of Georgia.
Continue to the ski resort of Gudauri, whose bare hillsides make for Georgia’s best downhill ski runs. Stop at the Jvari Pass (Pass of the Cross), the highest point of the Georgia Military Road, where it reaches its maximum altitude of 2,379m above the sea level.
Continue to Kazbegi, a valley town at about 1,750m above sea level, just a few miles short of the Russian border. Near the village of Gergeti, take a local Jeep to make it up the hill to visit the 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church. During the dark times, the precious relics from Mtskheta, including the St. Nino's Cross were taken here for safekeeping. Enjoy the views of the snowy peak of Mt. Kazbek towering to the west. Return to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 6 THURSDAY TBILISI – MTSKHETA – GORI – UPLISTSIKHE – TBILISI
Breakfast. Drive to Mtskheta and Jvari Complex. Mtskheta is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and has been Georgia’s spiritual heart since Christianity was established here in about 327, and holds a near-mystical significance in Georgian culture.
Visit the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where the Robe of Jesus Christ is believed to be buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Continue to Gori, the town where the Joseph Stalin was born and went to school. Visit the large museum devoted to Stalin, the Gori’s best known attraction. Drive to the ancient cave town of Uplistsikhe, some 10 kilometers east of the town of Gori. Uplistsikhe played a significant role in Georgian history over a period of approximately 3,000 years, relating to a Sun Goddess, worshipped prior to the arrival of Christianity. Return to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 7 FRIDAY TBILISI – KUTAISI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Kutaisi, the second largest city of the Georgia. From the Jachvis Khidi (Chain Bridge) walk up cobbled streets lined with attractive houses and gardens to the splendid 11th century Bagrati Cathedral on Ukimerioni Hill.
Visit the 11th century Gelati Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Gelati was founded by King David the Builder in 1106 as a center for Christian culture and Neoplatonist learning, and many Georgian rulers were buried here, including David himself and Queen Tamar. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Kutaisi.
DAY 8 SATURDAY KUTAISI – OKATSE CANYON – TBILISI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Tbilisi. En route to Tbilisi visit the Okatse Canyon, located in the village of Gord. The unique sights of the area are the waterfalls, created by the waters of Nabecho and Okatse rivers. The must see attractions of the canyon are the Dadiani Wood Park, an eco-educational amphitheater and the ethnographic exposition square. Return to Tbilisi. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 9 SUNDAY TBILISI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Transfer to Tbilisi International Airport. Departure from Tbilisi.