In case you find yourself in the region of Caucasus, you cannot miss the opportunity to visit Armenia. It is a small country between Asia and Europe, which means that it is rich in culture. For your information, Armenia is the oldest country that adopted Christianity, and when you interact with the locals, they will make sure to remind you.
There are a lot of things that you will find charming in Armenia, but before we get to that, you should know a little bit about Armenia’s visa policy. After all, that is the first thing you need to handle.
You should know that Armenia has a pretty lenient visa policy. There are many nationalities that are exempt from getting a visa and can stay inside the country for up to 180 days. Some can only spend up to 90 days. It depends on nationality. The nationalities that are not visa-exempt can either get a visa on arrival or an electronic visa before departure. Unfortunately, the e-visa is not available for everyone, but if you do qualify, we recommend you apply online since it takes less time and energy. An Armenia e-visa can grant a stay of up to 180 days, and with Fast Track Visa, you can get it in as little as 72 hours.
All the other nationalities that are neither visa-free nor eligible for an electronic visa or visa on arrival must pay a visit to the nearest Armenian embassy and apply for a consular visa. Contact the diplomatic mission for more information.
Leaving all technicalities aside, if you like a challenge, then you will love Armenia as well. First off, 5% of the country’s surface area is occupied by Lake Sevan, and you will find plenty of things to do there. The scenery is beautiful, and you should have a wonderful time exploring as much as you can.
Some of the most visited landmarks in Armenia are the churches and monasteries. As mentioned in the introduction, Armenia is the oldest country in the world that adopted Christianity. As a result, you will be able to enjoy many ancient churches. We recommend that you opt for a tour guide since you learn the most. Plus, taking day tours will spare you the trouble of finding transportation. It is not that it does not exist, but it is incredibly infrequent. Even so, the effort is totally worth it. After all, there are not many places in the world where you can visit millennium-old monasteries. You do not have to be religious to understand their cultural value.
Apart from visiting churches and monasteries, you can do plenty of other things. Some of them also offer beautiful scenery, and since Armenia is a mountainous region, you can go rock climbing, hiking, camping, and everything that comes with mountain passes, canyons, and valleys.
Geography is not the only thing that varies in Armenia. The climate is various as well, and in some places, you can experience multiple changes at once. You can either be very hot at the bottom of a mountain, and when you climb it, you can find snow-capped peaks and alpine lakes. So make sure to pack clothes for every region you want to visit. Hiking clothes will not suffice when you go up the mountain and climate changes. Layers are advised.
Apart from the scenery and adventurous activities, we recommend that you visit the local markets. Bargaining is not common in Armenia unless you buy in bulk. However, you will find a lot of amazing things that you will want to take home. The most popular choices? Carpets. Armenian carpets seem to be famous for both quality and design.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that Armenian people are not very good at foreign languages. The people in Yerevan, the capital city, may know a little bit of English, but outside the capital, it will be very difficult to get around if you only speak English. Armenian is the official language, but as a former Soviet country, the people speak Russian as well. It may be useful for you to learn a few common phrases before your departure. That will help you get around better.
As far as food is concerned, you are in for a treat. If you have ever visited South-east Europe before, then you may already be familiar with borscht. If not, it is a traditional vegetable soup, and since its main ingredient is beet, it has a strong red color. Served warm with sour cream, it is a delicious meal that you will miss once you leave. Other foods you should try are Khorovats, which is a barbecue with Armenian spices. It is served with tomatoes or eggplants. Khash and Dolma are not be overlooked either.
You should know that street food is safe in Armenia. There are no reports of food poisoning or unhygienic conditions that lead to any illness. Tap water is also safe to drink because it comes from the mountains. However, for the skeptical, there is always bottled water. One issue that you should be aware of is overeating. If you ever have the chance of visiting local Armenians, they will feed you until you cannot eat anymore. Since their diet is new to you, you must limit yourself.
Safety is not an issue in Armenia. Not more than common sense dictates. You should be careful about airport scams and petty thieves, but other than that, you should be fine. However, you should know that walking alone at night as a woman is a cause for concern, so try to avoid isolated places at night and never walk alone.
As for what you should avoid, there is a silent conflict with Azerbaijan, which is why you should avoid talking about it. Politics should also be a topic that you overlook. You cannot leave the country via Turkey or Azerbaijan because the borders are closed off. You need to go to Georgia or Iran first. Also, if you are a smoker, you should know that smoking is not legal in all public places. You need to find signs that forbid you from doing it until you reach for the lighter. Otherwise, you will get a fine.
The bottom line is that Armenia has plenty of things to offer to you as a tourist. It may be a small country in the Caucasus, but it is rich in culture and tradition. You will be able to create wonderful memories. The people are friendly and over-hospitable at times, you will see breathtaking scenery, and you will come home enriched in knowledge. Needless to say, you will have a wonderful time in Armenia.