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 – 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.
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.
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. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 3 YEREVAN – KHOR VIRAP – NORAVANK – ARENI WINERY – ZORATS KARER – GORIS
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. 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 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.
Continue in the Vayots Dzor Province, which is Armenia’s most storied wine growing region. Stopover for wine tasting at the local winery in Areni village, which is famous for its delicious dry red wine. Areni is marked by spectacular cliffs and caves, where archaeologists found evidence in one of the caves of the very first winery in the world.
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 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 – TATEV – SELIM PASS – NORATUS – LAKE SEVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive 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.
Drive to Lake Sevan 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 Lake Sevan. Stop at the Noratus medieval cemetery, with the biggest cluster of the khachkars (cross-stones) on the territory of Armenia, and presently the largest surviving cemetery with khachkars in the world. The cemetery is containing almost a thousand khachkars, each of them depicting unique ornamentation and telling a unique story. Since 2010 khachkars are included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Arrive in 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. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Sevan.
DAY 5 LAKE SEVAN – DILIJAN – FIOLETOVO – ALAVERDI – HAGHPAT
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. 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.
Drive to Fioletovo village, a home to communites of Russian Molokans, a religious sect that was exiled from Tsarist Russia in the 19th century for rejecting some Orthodox beliefs. Drink tea from the traditional Russian samovar and try some delicious homemade savory cabbage & potatoes pirozhkis.
Drive to Alaverdi, the largest city in the Debed Canyon, an area rich with historical monuments and natural beauty. Visit the outstanding example of Armenian medieval religious architecture, the 10th century Haghpat Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site). There is a number of splendid khachkars standing on the territory the monastery, among them is the best known “Amenaprkich” (All-Savior) khachkar, which has been standing there since 1273. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Alaverdi.
DAY 6 ALAVERDI – PAMB PASS – AMBERD – ALPHABET PARK – SAGHMOSAVANK – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive back to Yerevan, across the Pamb Pass. The lovely views continue along the route through the upland grasslands, home of the Yazidi shepherds and mountain vistas.
Visit the Amberd Fortress, located at 2,300m above sea level. The southern slope of Mt. Aragats hosts this 7th century medieval fortress, the patrimony of Pakhlavuni princes, and one of the few surviving castles in the country.
Continue to Yerevan and stop by the massive stone carved letters of the Armenian Alphabet, clustered under the skirts of Mt. Aragats. The Alphabet Park was built in 2005, for the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet. You can climb some of the letters for a photo with the first letter of your name.
Stop at the 13th century Saghmosavank Monastery. Saghmosavank (“Monastery of Psalms” in Armenian) was famous for its manuscripts, and the large number of illuminated miniatures were created and copied at this monastery. Arrive in Yerevan. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 7 YEREVAN – ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – YEREVAN
Breakfast. 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.
Drive back to Yerevan. En route to Yerevan 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.
Arrive in Yerevan. Visit one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world, the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. It’s a great place to get a sense of the Armenian history, culture and connectedness to the world heritage.
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. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 8 YEREVAN DEPARTURE
Check out from hotel early in the morning. Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport. Departure from Yerevan.