Basic Facts About Armenia
Population: 3 million
Language: Armenian, almost everyone speaks Russian, English spoken only in tourist areas, some basic German spoken
Currency: Armenian Dram (AMD) €1 = 560 AMD
Drinking water: Safe to drink. There are many drinking fountains in every town, bring a reusable bottle.
Visa for Armenia
Many nationalities including EU, USA, Australian and New Zealanders can enter Armenia for 180 days visa free. Other nationalities may be eligible for an e-visa, visa on arrival or may need to obtain a visa in advance. Check here for the visa policy for your country.
Getting to Armenia
Flights to Armenia are usually fairly expensive and it can be cheaper to fly to Georgia and take overland transport if you have the time.
Armenia shares borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran. At the moment you can only cross overland from the latter two. The most popular and easiest crossing from Iran is at the Norduz border crossing.
From Tbilisi there are regular minivans to Yerevan leaving from Avlabari Metro or Station Square. It costs 7000 AMD or 35 GEL per person and takes around 6-7 hours. They pass through other locations along the way where it is possible to be dropped (although you’ll likely have to pay the full fare to Yerevan). There is also an overnight train between the two cities which can be booked online here.
Wondering where to visit in Armenia? Check out our full Armenia Itinerary here
Weather in Armenia
Armenia experiences long hot summers and cold winters making the best time to travel spring and autumn (April-May and Sept-Oct). During these time the temperatures are pleasant and weather is mild. During the summer months temperatures reach over 45°C and can make activities very unenjoyable. We were there in late June and temperatures were already over 40°C!
At the same time there are many mountainous areas of Armenia and we drove through snow in one town on our way to Yerevan. Areas like Lake Sevan are elevated and therefore much cooler than lower parts of the country.
Budget for Armenia
Our travel budget for anywhere in the world is €50 per day for two people. We found this very easy to stick to in Armenia even when eating out for most meals. Because of the lack of tourism in some areas, it is hard to find hostels outside of Yerevan although most places will have a single-occupancy rate.
Here are some average prices to give an idea when planning your budget.
Double room in a guesthouse: 10 000 – 12 000 AMD
Meal in a local restaurant: 2000 AMD
Minivan between cities: 1000 - 5000 AMD (depending on distance)
Taxi within the city: maximum 1200 AMD
Coffee: 700 AMD
Armenia and Azerbaijan
Armenia and Azerbaijan are not friends. As a result, people are cautious about entering one after they have been to the other. From what we hear it is best to enter Azerbaijan first as Armenian border controls are less strict. We entered Armenia with Azeri stamps in our passports and no questions were asked. We can’t say for the other way but know many people who have done so without a problem. Note that you cannot take any Armenian products into Azerbaijan.
If you plan on going to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) it is advised not to go to Azerbaijan after. Officially it is forbidden to enter Azerbaijan if you’ve been to Artsakh but they give you your visa separately and don’t stamp your passport. Still, apparently there are ways of knowing you’ve been and there can be issues. Some people risk it though, you’ll need to ask around for some first-hand experiences.
Simple solution? Go to Azerbaijan first.
Useful Apps for Travelling in Armenia
Our phones are really crap but we managed to use a couple of simple apps that made our time in Armenia a little easier.
Yandex – This is basically the Russian version of Uber. A taxi app that allows you to input your pickup and drop off location and it gives you the set price. A taxi picks you up, you pay in cash and there’s no negotiating or language barriers to deal with. Easy! It’s also used in Georgia and many other ex-Soviet countries so it’s worth having if you’re in the area for a while.
HIKEArmenia – This is a great app which has a variety of hiking routes. You can download them and use them offline and with GPS while you’re hiking.
Transport in Armenia
This is the most popular form of public transport in Armenia. There are several stations within Yerevan servicing all areas of the country. Some routes have schedule and others just leave whenever there is a full vehicle. Fares are cheap and start from 1000 AMD for an hour journey. Make sure you check with a local e.g your guesthouse owner the day before you want to travel. Sometimes they only leave in the morning or require a reservation.
There are usually about 17 seats in a minivan and between cities they are only filled to seating capacity. Sometimes they will include foldout seats in the aisle. The vehicles often have poor suspension so long journeys can be uncomfortable. There is vary rarely air conditioning
Hitchhiking in Armenia is very easy and, from what we experienced, safe. Locals are more than willing to pick up travellers and take them along for the journey. You don’t even need to stick your thumb out, sometimes walking along the side of a road will result in someone offering a ride. There are also plenty of tourists with hire cars who are willing to help other travellers out with a ride.
This is a very popular method of transport in Armenia due to the low costs and convenience. If you’re travelling in a group this can be an economical way to get around. Likewise if you’re short on time and what to see a lot in between destinations. Offers are available all over Yerevan but require some negotiation. I recommend using the Yandex app to get a quote for the journey and using that as a ballpark figure, of course the more stops you add the more expensive it gets.
Car hire in Armenia
Similar to Georgia, we found car hire in Armenia to be very pricey. In the high season, we could only find options from $30USD per day. Considering we were just two people and wouldn’t be travelling long distances every day we opted for public transport. But there is so much beauty in between the towns in Armenia and we often wished we still had our van.
If it fits in your budget I would really recommend hiring a car for some of your time in Armenia. The roads are mostly well sealed and traffic is mild. The other drivers can be a bit reckless (similar to most of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus) but if you drive during the day on the main roads you should be fine. Consider finding a car hire company in Yerevan when you arrive and prices are cheaper than online. Also think about getting a 4WD if you want to visit more off the beaten path locations.
Accommodation in Armenia
Yerevan offers all kinds of affordable accommodation options including hostels, apartments and hotels. In smaller towns the go-to option is guesthouses, many of which will not be online. If you have the time and patience it can be cheaper to turn up in a town and wander around to look at the options. We paid anywhere from 7000 AMD to 12000 AMD for a double room. This is on the upper side of our budget but we didn’t stay anywhere that ended up being a rip off.
The standards of cleanliness and hospitality in Armenia are high and most places offer options for food as well. Take it! The best food comes freshly cooked in someone’s home. Below are some places we stayed and recommend.
Yerevan – A little out of the city centre but clean, affordable and comfortable with friendly hosts - Mini Hostel Tigranyan
Dilijan – Basic but comfortable ensuite rooms plus an amazing restaurant and lots of chill out areas- Art Guest House
Garni/Gerghard – Beautiful campground and guesthouse complete with fruit trees, pool and stunning views- Camping/Bed and Breakfast 3GS
Shushi – Balcony views of the cathedral, spacious rooms and delicious breakfast - Shushi Hotel
Goris – Very helpful English speaking hosts, clean and central - Zanger Hotel
Backpacking in Armenia is lots of fun and the country is great for budget and independent travel. No matter where you go you'll find friendly locals, stunning landscapes and delicious food! Got questions about travel in Armenia? Leave them in the comments below!