DAY 1 BAKU ARRIVAL
Arrival to Heidar Aliev International Airport by Aeroflot in the evening. Meet your Travel Agency representative in Azerbaijan. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Overnight in Baku.
DAY 2 BAKU – ABSHERON – GOBUSTAN – BAKU CITY TOUR
Breakfast. Drive to Absheron peninsula and visit the Gobustan State Reserve, best known for being the home to the famous rock petroglyphs and mud volcanoes. Nearly 300 of the world's 700 mud volcanoes are located in this part of eastern Azerbaijan near the Caspian Sea.
Continue to Yanar Dag, a naturally occurring fire which blazes continuously on a hillside. These flames jet out at least three meters into the air, through a porous layer of sandstone. Unlike the other mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan, Yanar Dag has no seepage of mud or liquid, so the fire always burns.
Visit the Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Ateshgah. Situated on the Absheron peninsula, the Fire Temple of Ateshgah was a place of sacrifice founded above a natural gas vent.
Return to Baku. Start exploring Baku, the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus region. Stroll through the 17th century old town’s Market Place with its narrow, cobbled streets, that allow you to dine inside former caravanserais, and haggle with shop owners for silk tablecloths and scarves, and the traditional Astrakhan hats called papakh.
Visit the 12th century Maiden Tower (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Maiden Tower is one of Azerbaijan's most distinctive national emblems, and is thus featured in Azeri currency notes and official letterheads.
Visit the 15th century Palace of the Shirvanshahs (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Despite having been built in different periods without a single plan, the several construction forms a harmonious whole. Overnight in Baku.
DAY 3 BAKU – SHAMAKHI – SHEKI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Shamakhi. Stop at the Maraza village and visit the 15th century Diri Baba Mausoleum. Many legends and mystic events are related to this monument, hence, the mausoleum attracts many pilgrims and curious people since the 17th century.
Arrive in Shamakhi. Visit the landmark 10th century Juma Mosque, the only building to survive eight of the eleven earthquakes in the region. Visit the 18th century Yeddi Gumbez (The Seven Cupolas) Mausoleum, which was the burial place for members of the royal families of the Shirvan Shah's.
Continue to Sheki across the Muganly Pass, with great views of the mountains along the way. Rich in Islamic architecture and Silk Road history, the city of Sheki is Azerbaijan's true travel gem, located on the picturesque hillsides of the Caucasus Mountains in the background of snowy peaks.
Visit the Palace of Sheki Khans, built in 1762. It is remarkable that during the construction of the palace, not a single nail was used, and the colored glass for shebeke (traditional mosaic) was brought from Venice.
Visit the Sheki Caravanserai Historic Complex, which was built to house caravans as they passed through on the Silk Road to and from China. Take a tour of the Sheki History Museum. Visit the Sheki Silk Factory and the local handicraft workshops, where vendors sell very fine silk items. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Sheki.
DAY 4 SHEKI – LAGODEKHI – SIGHNAGHI – TBILISI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Azerbaijan-Georgia border and arrive at the Balaken-Lagodekhi border crossing. After border formalities, change the guide and transportation. Start the Georgian part of the tour and continue to Sighnaghi.
The fortified city of Sighnaghi is the prettiest town in the region, renowned for its charming architecture. From the St. Stephen Church at the Sighnaghi Fortress you can capture a terrific bird-eye view of surrounding areas, the Alazani valley and the Caucasus beyond. Continue to Tbilisi. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 5 TBILISI – UPLISTSIKHE – GORI – TBILISI
Breakfast. 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
Stop at 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.
Return to Tbilisi. Start exploring Tbilisi, the capital and the largest city of Georgia. Stop by the Abanotubani District, renowned for its sulfur baths. In the heart of Tbilisi’s old town, the district of Abanotubani is perhaps one of the city’s iconic spots. These subterranean bathhouses date back to the 17th century and have been a favorite for travelers to the city, whose more famous bathers have included Pushkin and Alexandre Dumas.
Take a cable car to the 4th century Narikala Fortress, and get a superb panoramic view of Tbilisi, with its hanging houses, the historic Metekhi Church and the gold-topped Sameba Cathedral. Views also sweep down to the glass Peace Bridge, the gorge of the River Mtkvari and the picturesque spurs of the Trialeti Range.
Continue to the 13th century Metekhi Church and monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 6 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 7 TBILISI – BAGRATASHEN – HAGHPAT – DILIJAN – LAKE SEVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Georgia-Armenia border and arrive at the Sadakhlo-Bagratashen border crossing. After border formalities, change the guide and transportation. Start the Armenian part of the tour and 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 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 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. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Sevan.
DAY 8 LAKE SEVAN – GEGHARD – GARNI – SYMPHONY OF THE STONES – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Walk up to the 8th century monastery of Sevanavank on Sevan peninsula. Continue 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. Continue to Yerevan. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 9 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 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. Visit 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.
Visit the History Museum of Armenia, where amongst other fascinating exhibits you can see the world's oldest known leather shoe. 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 10 YEREVAN – KHOR VIRAP – NORAVANK – ARENI – YEREVAN DEPARTURE
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. 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. Stopover for wine tasting at the local winery in Areni village, which is famous for its delicious dry red wine.
Return to Yerevan. 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 and the postmodern Northern Avenue. Visit the Republic Square 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).
Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport in the evening. Departure from Yerevan.