DAY 1 YEREVAN ARRIVAL
Arrival to Zvartnots International Airport early in the afternoon. Meet your Phoenix Tour representative. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Free evening in Yerevan.
There is plenty to keep you occupied in the city with its shopping malls, film screenings, concerts and performances. There are numerous cafés and wine shops line the main streets and side alleys around the city’s downtown. The city fills up with people at night, and you’ll find a number of trendy clubs, pubs and bars, where you can party till dawn Yerevan style! Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 2 YEREVAN CITY TOUR
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.
Take a walking tour of the Cascade Complex, with its Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Center for the Arts. The Cascade is a massive white stairway up a hillside in central Yerevan, decorated with green stretches, fountains and waterfalls, that run uphill and crowned with the obelisk of the "Revived Armenia".
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).
Visit the History Museum of Armenia, an essential stop on every visitor's itinerary, where you can see the oldest leather shoe in the world, discovered in the Areni cave.
Take a tour of the legendary "Ararat" Brandy Factory, featuring degustation of the two types of the world renowned Armenian brandy. The Yerevan Brandy Factory, the only and constant producer of "Ararat" brandies, is one of the key stops for official visits of delegations, cultural figures and visitors from all over the world.
Take a tour of an open air “Vernissage” market, where you can buy some gifts, souvenirs, jewelry and other handicrafts made of wood, semi-precious stones, silver and other materials. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 3 YEREVAN – NORAVANK – GNISHIK – ARENI CAVE – OLD BRIDGE WINERY – YEGHEGIS
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the masterpiece of medieval Armenian architecture, the 13th century Noravank Monastery. Set in the spectacular valley of red rocks, the monastery built out of the local stone, blends into the background of the molten red gorge, that contrasts with the stark blue sky.
Take a local 4x4 jeep to visit the Gnishik Protected Area. You will get to the top of the mountain, from which you will view the Noravank Monastery from the above. In addition, the guide will take you to the observation spot, from which you can see the grazing endangered Bezoar goats.
Visit the Areni cave complex, an archeological site, where the oldest leather shoe and oldest winery in the world were found. The shoe is currently on the permanent display in the History Museum of Armenia.
Drive to Khor Virap Monastery, located on the foothills of the Biblical Mount Ararat, where it reveals its breathtaking size and splendor. Khor Virap, located a few hundred meters from the border with Turkey, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Armenia, primarily because it was here, that the Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the future head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was imprisoned in a deep dungeon for 13 years. To this day you can visit this dungeon, located under the St. Gevorg Chapel.
Continue to Yeghegnadzor for wine tasting at the local “Old Bridge” winery, which is very popular for its delicious wines. Depending on the time of year, the visitors can take part in grape-picking, distillation or bottling process at the vineyards. Continue to the Yeghegis village. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Yeghegis.
DAY 4 YEGHEGIS – SMBATABERD – LAKE SEVAN – DILIJAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Take a local 4x4 jeep to visit the Smbataberd, a 5th century fortress of Smbat the Prince of Syunik. The road leading up to Smbataberd is very narrow and steep, with barely enough space for one jeep and a sheer cliff on one side.
Continue to Lake Sevan. Sevan is one of the largest high-mountain freshwater lakes in the world. The lake's proximity to Yerevan, combined with cooler summer temperatures, picturesque coastline and historical sights, make it one of the key places to visit in Armenia. Walk up to the 8th century monastery of Sevanavank on Sevan peninsula, one of Armenia’s iconic landmarks.
Continue to Dilijan, a resort town renowned for its charming nature and some traditional Armenian architecture. Stroll through the cobbled Sharambeyan Street, with its collection of stone and wooden traditional buildings, restaurants, souvenir stalls and workshops. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Dilijan.
DAY 5 DILIJAN – VANADZOR – GYUMRI CITY TOUR
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Vanadzor. Stop by the Khachkar making studio in Vanadzor, and take part in the workshop by doing your own stone-carving.
The khachkars, also known as Armenian cross-stones, are a carved memorial stele, bearing a cross, surmounting a rosette or a solar disc. Khachkars are usually made from basalt (solidified volcanic lava), which is very strong and indestructible, or tuff, which is easy to work with. The master stonecutter fills the space with such a delicate work pattern, that sometimes it was necessary to replace the cutter with a needle. Since 2010, the khachkars, their symbolism and craftsmanship are inscribed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Continue to Gyumri, the second largest city in Armenia. Stroll down the old streets of the city and get acquainted with Gyumri’s unique architecture. Stop by the “Erankyuni Studio” for taking part in the blacksmith masterclass. Blacksmith master will help you to feel the magic of working with iron. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Gyumri.
DAY 6 GYUMRI – BAVRA – VARDZIA
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Armenia-Georgia border and arrive at the Bavra-Ninotsminda border crossing. After short border formalities, change the guide and transportation and start the Georgian part of the tour.
Continue to Vardzia, the most picturesque monument of medieval Georgia. En route to Vardzia, stop by the Javakheti Protected Area’s visitor center with its Exhibition Hall. Exposition presents biodiversity of Georgia and specifically, the Javakheti region.
Visit Vardzia rock-carved cave complex, that was dug into the side of the Erusheli Mountain and was founded by Queen Tamar in 1185 (UNESCO World Heritage Site). At its zenith, the complex had more than 600 rooms on 8 levels that served all kinds of purposes - as sleeping quarters, defensive structures, chapels and pharmacies. In 1283, an earthquake destroyed most of the complex, shaving away half of the cliff to reveal the site’s inner workings. It was completely abandoned in the 16th century and left untouched until excavations began in the Soviet era. In 1988, the monks moved back in.
Continue to picturesque Gogasheni area to take some amazing photos and marvel at the surrounding nature. Return to Vardzia. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Vardzia.
DAY 7 VARDZIA – AKHALTSIKHE – RABATI – MTSVANE – BORJOMI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Visit the Vardzia Upper Monastery. The Upper Vardzia Monastery, or Zemo Vardzia - is a small, 11th century monastery, located northwest of the main Vardzia Monastery, in the middle of a small gorge, with its main construction being the Church of the Holy Mother of God.
Continue to Akhaltsikhe. Throughout its history, Akhaltsikhe has been under the control of many different groups of people, notably the Ottomans during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the Russian Empire for the most part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century.
Visit the 13th century Rabati Castle, which overlooks the town of Akhaltsikhe. The entire site contains a museum, a castle, a church, a mosque with minaret and a synagogue - which is really all fascinating to see them lined up side by side.
Drive to Borjomi, the major health resort of Georgia. En route to Borjomi, visit the Mtsvane Monastery (Green Monastery), a popular site of tourism and pilgrimage in Georgia. The monastic church and bell-tower are inscribed on the list of the Immovable Cultural Monuments of National Significance of Georgia.
Arrive in Borjomi. Stop at the “Borjomi Mineral Water Park” and taste the world renowned “Borjomi” mineral water. Take a cable car, leaving from the park and heading uphill, which is offering lovely views of the park and the town. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Borjomi.
DAY 8 BORJOMI – GELATI – NOKALAKEVI – MARTVILI – KUTAISI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Kutaisi. En route to Kutaisi visit the 11th century Gelati Monastery, the masterpiece of the Golden age of Georgia, and one of the largest medieval Orthodox monasteries in the country (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Gelati was founded by King David the Builder in 1106 as a center for Christian culture and Neoplatonist learning. Many Georgian rulers were buried here, including David himself and Queen Tamar.
Continue to the ruins of the abandoned ancient city of Nokalakevi, which ceased to exist in 736 during the invasion of the Arab commander Mervan. You can see its arched tower, the Church of 40 Martyrs, the foundations of the basilica, the ruins of the palace and the bathhouse.
Drive to Martvili Canyon and stop by the 7th century Martvili Monastery Complex. The site upon the hill, where the monastery stands today, was an ancient pagan sacred center. From the top of the hill you can enjoy breathtaking views of the area.
Martvili is a very picturesque area, with its mountain river, waterfalls and cliffs. The main feature of the canyon, which attracts many tourists, is the Abasha River, with its bright azure waters. A ride on an inflatable boat along such an unusual river is available upon request - upstream, and then back.
Continue to Kutaisi, the second largest city of the country. It is widely believed by historians that, when Apollonius Rhodius was writing about Jason and the Argonauts and their legendary journey to Colchis - Kutaisi was the final destination of the Argonauts and the residence of King Aeëtes. Arrive in Kutaisi. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Kutaisi.
DAY 9 KUTAISI – ENGURI – DADIANI – TBILISI
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Enjoy a show-stopping break at the magnificent Enguri Dam, the world's second highest concrete arch dam, with a height of 271,5 meters.
Continue to the Dadiani Palace Museum Complex, which includes the court church, the famous Zugdidi Botanical Garden and 19th century palaces of the Samegrelo Queen Ekaterine Chavchavadze-Dadiani and Prince Niko Dadiani.
Drive to Tbilisi, the capital and the largest city of Georgia. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 10 TBILISI – DEPARTURE
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Transfer to Tbilisi International Airport. Departure from Tbilisi.