DAY 1 YEREVAN ARRIVAL & CITY TOUR
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.
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).
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 2 YEREVAN – GEGHARD – GARNI – SYMPHONY OF STONES – LAKE SEVAN
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.
Drive to the masterpiece of Hellenistic architecture in Armenia, the pagan temple of the Sun in Garni. Garni Temple was built in the 1st century AD by the Armenian King Trdat with the money he received after visiting the emperor Nero in Rome, and was dedicated to the Sun God Mithra. The temple was destroyed in 1679 in an earthquake, but was reconstructed in Soviet times.
Take a local 4x4 jeep down to the bottom of the Garni gorge, where the unique natural monument the “Symphony of Stones” is located. Usually, visitors must walk or take a local transfer, as our buses do not make trips down there. This landmark consists of huge basalt pillars hanging above the ground at a height of about 50 meters. Their special shape in the form of hexagons and their vertical arrangement are very reminiscent of organ pipes, in connection with which the monument is known as the “Symphony of Stones”.
In the Garni village house take part in the masterclass of baking traditional Armenian flatbread lavash. Throughout the ages, lavash have not only occupied the highest place in Armenian cuisine, but also acquired the sacramental meaning, symbolizing the soul of Armenian people. In 2014, "Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia" was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
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. Take a refreshing 30 minutes long boat ride around the peninsula. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Sevan.
DAY 3 LAKE SEVAN – SELIM PASS – TATEV – KHOT – GORIS
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Tatev via Selim Pass (Vardenyats Pass) and enjoy the fabulous views of the surrounding area. Stop at the Selim Caravanserai, located at 2,410m above sea level. Built in 1332 by the prince Chesar Orbelian, this caravanserai for many centuries provided lodging for travelers who followed the Silk Road from East Asia to the Mediterranean and back. It’s not only a unique site, but the location on the pass renders it a spectacular stopping point.
Continue to one of the most spectacular and impressive places in Armenia, the 9th century Tatev Monastery. Built on a fairy tale natural fortress of rock on the edge of the Vorotan Canyon, Tatev is one of the jaw-dropping sights in Armenia.
Take the cable car "Wings of Tatev" from the Halidzor village to the magnificent complex of Tatev, which passes over the serpentine roads with the breathtaking views of Syunik mountains. 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 with 12 minutes ride.
Continue to Old Khot village, more commonly known as “Armenian Machu Picchu”. The village is located on the left bank of the river Vorotan, at 1,500m above sea level, surrounded by gardens and inaccessible crags. The area had been inhabited since the 2nd century BC, but was abandoned as late as the 1970s for the fertile plains elsewhere. Take a local 4x4 jeep to visit the vista point for making an incredible photos of the village.
Drive to Goris. The endlessly winding roads that leap through the gorges over the mountains of Syunik come to a major junction at Goris, making this an inevitable stop between Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Iran. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Goris.
DAY 4 GORIS – SISIAN – UKHTASAR – SHAKI – JERMUK
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Sisian. Arrive in Sisian and change your mode of transportation to a local 4x4 UAZ for an uphill climb to Mount Ukhtasar (The "Camelback Mountain" in Armenian).
On the territory of Ukhtasar there is a glacial lake formed in the crater of an extinct volcano erupted during the Pleistocene. Ice floes float in this lake almost all year round, and the snow in its vicinity never completely melts. Over 2,000 decorated rock fragments extend to the foot of the mountain. The petroglyphs, some believed to date back to the Paleolithic Era (12,000 BCE), are carved onto dark brownish-black volcanic stones left behind by an extinct volcano.
Return to your regular vehicle and continue to Shaki Waterfall, one of the beautiful waterfalls in Armenia, located near the city of Sisian. Shaki is a very picturesque spot, where the cascades of water plunge 18 meters down over solidified basalt lava flows.
Continue to Jermuk, a spa town famous for its hot springs and mineral waters. Stop at the Jermuk “Drinking Gallery” and taste the world renowned "Jermuk" mineral water. “Jermuk” water is well known for its healing properties, and is often compared to the famous mineral water in Karlovy Vary. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Jermuk.
DAY 5 JERMUK – OLD BRIDGE WINERY – NORAVANK – GNISHIK – ARENI CAVE – KHOR VIRAP – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Yeghegnadzor for wine tasting at the local family run “Old Bridge” winery, which is very popular for its delicious wines. You can sample their distinctive 3 types of red wines and 1 type of white wine. Depending on the time of year, the visitors can take part in grape-picking, distillation or bottling process at the vineyards.
Continue 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 Yerevan. Check into a hotel. Visit the Republic Square to see the "Dancing Fountains", a choreographed water show synched with lights and music. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 6 YEREVAN – ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – DEPARTURE
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Stop at the popular farmers market “Gumi Shuka” to buy traditional sweets and dried fruits. The aromas and colors of the local produce will add up to a wonderful and unique experience.
Visit the Yerevan’s Shiite Blue Mosque - one of the oldest extant structures in central Yerevan and the only active mosque in Armenia. Built in 1766, the mosque is a lovely little oasis in the center of Yerevan, a great place to relax or hide from the scorching sun around apricot trees and rose bushes.
Drive to Echmiadzin, the heart of Armenian Christianity and the administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Visit the churches of St. Hripsime and St. Gayane.
The 7th century St. Hripsime Church is one of the famous ecclesiastical buildings in the city of Echmiadzin (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The church is notable with its architectural simplicity and loftiness, and the tomb of the Christian martyr Virgin Hripsime is located in the small mausoleum beneath the sacristy of the church.
The 7th century church of St. Gayane was constructed over the tomb of Virgin Gayane, who was martyred for preaching Christianity in Armenia (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Visit the Echmiadzin Cathedral, one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, built by St. Gregory the Illuminator in 303 AD (UNESCO World Heritage Site). On Sundays you can take part in the colorful service of the Holy Liturgy, which attracts many visitors and pilgrims from all over 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, a fragment of Noah's Ark, the kneecap of John the Baptist, a particle of the Cross on which Jesus was crucified, and the fragment of the Savior's crown of thorns.
Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport. En route to the airport visit the ruins of the 7th century Zvartnots Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Originally built to be the tallest church in the world at the time, and to last for 1,000 years (a projected date for the second coming of Christ), the Zvartnots was destroyed by a powerful earthquake in the 9th century.
Arrival to Zvartnots International Airport. Departure from Yerevan.