DAY 1 YEREVAN
Arrival to Zvartnots International Airport early in the morning. 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 YEREVAN – KHOR VIRAP – ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – 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.
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 on Sundays, which attracts a numerous visitors and pilgrims from around the world. Visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral's Museum, where amongst other relics, you can see the Holy Spear, with which Jesus Christ was pierced on the cross.
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 dried fruits. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 3 YEREVAN – GEGHARD – GARNI – SYMPHONY OF THE STONES – YEREVAN
Breakfast. 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.
Take a local 4x4 car down to the bottom of the Garni Gorge, to see the breathtaking vertical cliffs of the well preserved octagonal basalt columns, called the "Symphony of the Stones". Usually, visitors must walk or take a local car, as our buses do not make trips down there.
Return to Yerevan. Take a tour of the "Ararat" Brandy Factory, featuring degustation of the two types of the world renowned Armenian brandy. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 4 YEREVAN – PAMB PASS – ARMENIAN ALPHABET MONUMENT – SANAHIN – HAGHPAT – ALAVERDI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Alaverdi via Ria Taza. Stop by the massive stone carved letters of the Armenian alphabet clustered under the skirts of Mt. Aragats. You can climb some of the letters for a photo with your favorite letter.
Continue to Alaverdi across the Pamb Pass. Enjoy the lovely views along the route through the upland grasslands, home of the Yezidi shepherds and mountain vistas. Arrive in Alaverdi, the largest city in the Debed Canyon, an area rich with historical monuments and natural beauty.
Visit the moss-covered 10th century Sanahin Monastery, a fascinatingly detailed monastery complex, packed with ancient graves, darkened chapels and medieval gallery schools (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Stop by the 9th century Bridge of Sanahin (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Owing to its firmness and the harmonic construction of all the parts, the Bridge of Sanahin has its unique place among the numerous bridges of medieval Armenia and an outstanding one in the whole Transcaucasia.
Visit the 10th century Haghpat Monastery. This pearl of a monastery, perched on the lip of the Debed Canyon, has a UNESCO World Heritage Site status, along with Sanahin Monastery. These two magnificent monastic complexes are among the most outstanding examples of Armenian religious architecture. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Alaverdi.
DAY 5 ALAVERDI – DILIJAN – HAGHARTSIN – GOSHAVANK – LAKE SEVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. 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.
Visit the splendid 12th century Haghartsin Monastery, situated in the picturesque gorge of the upper reaches of Haghartsin River. The monastery is famed for housing an image of the Virgin and Child, which has distinct Mongolian features - added to convince the next wave of Mongol invaders not to destroy the church.
Visit the beacon of science and culture of ancient Armenia, the 12th century Goshavank Monastery. Haghartsin and Goshavank are one of the iconic examples of the developing Armenian architecture during the Middle Ages.
Continue to Lake Sevan. Lake Sevan’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. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Sevan.
DAY 6 LAKE SEVAN – NORATUS – KARVACHAR – DADIVANK – VANK
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Noratus medieval cemetery, with the biggest cluster of the early khachkars (cross-stones) on the territory of Armenia, and presently the largest surviving cemetery with the khachkars in the world.
Continue to Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) via Karvachar Road. Start the Karabakh part of the tour and stop by the 9th century Dadivank Monastery. The Monastery of St. Dadi, otherwise called Dadivank, is the largest monastic complex in Karabakh, and one of the true masterpieces of Armenian medieval architecture. According to the legend, one of the churches of the monastery was built at the burial site of Apostle Jude's disciple, St. Dadi, who martyred preaching Christianity in the Eastern Armenia.
Continue to the Vank village. Vank is definitely one of the surprising places you’ll see in Karabakh. Located in the vicinity of the Gandzasar Monastery, this village is known for its mix of kitschy architecture and historical buildings. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Vank.
DAY 7 VANK – GANDZASAR – SKHTORASHEN – AMARAS – STEPANAKERT
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the 10th century Gandzasar Monastery, where the relics believed to belong to St. John the Baptist and his father St. Zechariah are being kept.
Continue to Amaras. En route to Amaras stop by the Tnjri, possibly the world's largest plane-tree in the Skhtorashen village. This tree (Platanus orientalis L.) reportedly, is more than 2,030 years old, and its trunk has a circumference of 27 meters.
Visit the 4th century Amaras Monastery. The Amaras Monastery is one of the most treasured historical and religious sites of the South Caucasus, and one of the world’s oldest Christian monuments. Amaras hosts the resting place of St. Grigoris, the St. Gregory’s grandson, who preached the Holy Gospel to the pagan tribes in what is modern day Dagestan in the Northern Caucasus, and martyred in 348 AD.
Return to Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Stop by the popular “We Are Our Mountains” monument in the outskirts of Stepanakert. Also known as “Grandma and Grandpa ” it is widely regarded as a symbol of Karabakh’s identity, representing the mountain people of Karabakh. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Stepanakert.
DAY 8 STEPANAKERT – SHUSHI – HUNOT CANYON – KHNDZORESK – GORIS
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Take a stroll in the Stepanakert’s main food market, where you can try the popular local bread zhingyalov hats. This herb filled bread is a unique specialty of Nagorno-Karabakh and a typical street food you’ll find in Stepanakert, where they will make it freshly in front of you.
Drive to the small town of Shushi, the heart and the cultural and economic center of Artsakh for many centuries. Visit the Shushi Fortress, built in 1752 by Khan Panah Ali Bey to defend northern part of the plateau, a geographically the most vulnerable part of a city.
Continue to the St. Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, the main cathedral in the center of Shushi. It was built between 1868 and 1887 and is supposed to be one of the architectural-ecclesiastical masterpieces ever built in the Nagorno-Karabakh. Be ready for the most spectacular acoustic experience after you enter one of the mystical basement rooms of the church. When in the room, stand in the center of this hemispherical area, under the hole made in the ceiling and speak to hear your voice.
Drive to Hunot Canyon, one of the most beautiful sites in Karabakh. Called Jdrduz by the locals, it is located on the southwest edge of Shushi. You can view in awe, the sheer 250 meters deep canyon walls soaring above the Karkar River. This beauty is one of the most photographed sites by visitors to Artsakh.
Start your journey back to Armenia and drive to Khndzoresk. Khndzoresk is widely renowned for its canyon with picturesque rock formations and ancient cave settlement. Visitors are welcome to explore the cave system, but a trip across the gorge is not for the faint of heart. However, making the trip a bit easier if no less harrowing, is a 160 meter long suspension 'Tibetan Bridge', that shakes with every footstep.
Continue to Goris, a major junction stop between Yerevan, Stepanakert and Iran. Goris is known for its variety of homemade fruit vodkas, including the deliciously potent Mulberry and Cornelian cherry vodkas. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Goris.
DAY 9 GORIS – TATEV – ZORATS KARER – NORAVANK – ARENI – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to one of the most spectacular and impressive places in Armenia, the 9th century Tatev Monastery, which hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, whose scholars contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history.
Take the cable car "Wings of Tatev" from the Halidzor village to the magnificent complex of Tatev. The "Wings of Tatev" built by the Swiss company, is included in the Guinness Book of World Records as world’s longest non-stop double track cable car, clocking in at around 5.7 km.
Drive to one of the oldest observatories in the world, the megalithic complex Zorats Karer. Zorats Karer (often called Karahunj) is a prehistoric monument consisting of hundreds of vertically set large stones with holes in the top, and frequently referred to in international tourist lore as "Armenian Stonehenge".
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. Continue to Yerevan. Stopover for wine tasting at the local winery in Areni village, which is famous for its delicious dry red wine. Arrive in Yerevan. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 10 YEREVAN DEPARTURE
Check out from hotel. Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport. Departure from Yerevan early in the morning.