Located in the middle of the highlands of Armenia along the Hrazdan River is the city of Yerevan. The city, which dates back to the 8th century BC, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world at over 2,800 years old. Its long, rich history and thriving culture greatly contribute to the things you must see and do in Yerevan, Armenia.
The city, established as the capital in 1918, has transformed greatly in the years following the fall of the Soviet Union. While retail outlets like cafés, restaurants, and shops were rare during the Soviet era, the numbers of each have increased exponentially since then.
Yerevan, which had been in decline during the latter part of the Kingdom of Armenia, is now a thriving, cosmopolitan world capital, complete with beautiful attractions, world-class restaurants, fascinating historical and cultural sites, and more. It’s also a city that captured my heart with its warm and friendly people and beautiful culture. These are the 20 things you must see and do in Yerevan, Armenia.
Of all the things you must see and do in Yerevan, Armenia, visiting the Matendaran should be high on the list of every history buff. This massive, beautiful museum built in 1957, houses over 17,000 priceless historical manuscripts. Only 1% of the museum’s manuscripts can be viewed the public, but the ones on display are a treat to observe.
The manuscripts range in size from a 28-kilo, 600-page behemoth to a minuscule church calendar that can only be read through a magnifying glass. Many of the manuscript pages are vibrantly colored using all-natural dyes. Some of my favorites included a 6th-century book made of ivory, a huge silver Bible, and a golden book with gold and silver bindings. You can even see manuscripts that have been painstakingly restored by museum workers.
Visiting the Matendaran is one of my top things to see and do in Yerevan, Armenia. It’s also a great way to start your exploration of the city!
One of the best places in town to experience the fresh ingredients and Mediterranean-esque flavors of Armenian cuisine is Restaurant Lavash, which is named after the Armenian flatbread of the same name. From your table, you can watch the cooks baking lavash in tonir ovens in the kitchen. You can also choose from an extensive food and wine menu.
From the beef-and-tomato dish called kufta to the pumpkin stuffed with beans, beef, and vegetables, everything had my taste buds going nuts! For dessert, have some gata and milfoy. Having these dishes are easily some of the best things to see and do in Yerevan, Armenia.
One of the best ways to learn more about Armenian culture in Yerevan is to visit the Mother Armenia statue. Built in 1967 and rising over 167 feet above Victory Park, Mother Armenia is a female personification of the country. On clear days, you can see the entire city of Yerevan and the distant Mount Ararat from the statue. Mother Armenia was built in the Soviet style and includes a Soviet star.
Also in Victory Park are a museum and an Eternal Flame dedicated to people who died in World War II. There is also an area called Victory Alley. This area is dedicated to World War II heroes, and honors them with tuff stone plaques inscribed in Armenian and Russian. Nearby are relics of the Soviet era, including a fighter jet, a cannon, a massive divisional gun, and even a missile!
Armenia is known for its incredible wines, so wine connoisseurs should not miss the chance to visit Saryan Street. On Wine Days, they shut down the street and throw a huge festival! These festivals are among the things you must see and do in Yerevan, Armenia. But on regular nights, you can visit various shops selling lots of varieties of Armenian wine. One of my favorites is In Vino, the first wine shop that opened along the street.
In Vino sells Armenian wines as well as Old World and New World wines. I highly recommend their Alluria, a tasty blend made from two Armenian grapes. It’s not very sweet but had a different flavor than I was expecting. It was also pretty strong and had a good body. Trust me, your list of things to see and do in Yerevan, Armenia is not complete without sampling this wine!
Linking Yerevan’s Kenton area and Monument neighborhood is a giant limestone stairway called the Cascade. Constructed between 1971 and 1980, the 572-step Cascade was built to resemble a stone waterfall. The stairway is more of a complex, as you can also go inside the stairway to find art displayed throughout the interior exhibit halls. Head inside to see why the Cascade is one of the top things to see and do in Yerevan, Armenia!
There are seven escalators that take you to the top of the complex, so you don’t have to worry about climbing all the steps. At each landing, you’ll find outdoor plazas featuring fountains, sculptures, and other artwork. At the top, you’ll enjoy stunning views of Yerevan and Mount Ararat amongst the flowers planted there. And back at the bottom is a garden, as well as many restaurants and cafés. If you visit during the spring, summer, or early autumn, you can even catch a classical or jazz concert there!
As you explore Saryan Street, you’ll probably want to grab a bite to eat. I recommend Wine Time Restaurant, which features a dining room with international and domestic wines displayed on the walls. You can also dine on their outdoor terrace.
Of course, you must start with a glass of delicious wine, so I suggest their semi-sweet Voskevaz. Enjoy it with appetizers like beet root paste and fig paste with crispy bread, dolmas, and grilled peppers with tomatoes. If you’re a big fan of eggplant like I am, you’ll have a field day in Armenia, as some of the best eggplant dishes in the world are from there.
Try the eggplant, tomato, and pepper salad with a dense Armenian sour cream called rejan. It’s one of the things you must see and do in Yerevan, Armenia!
A great spot to get a feel for more of what Yerevan has to offer is Republic Square and the surrounding area. The square itself is located in the center of town. It’s home to several important buildings that house the Government of Armenia, the History Museum of Armenia, and the National Gallery of Armenia. You’ll also find the country’s flagship hotel, the Armenia Marriott Hotel, and the Trade Unions and Communications Building.
Connecting Republic Square with the nearby Opera is a pedestrian street called Northern Avenue. It strongly reminded me of Knez Mihailova Street, the main pedestrian street in Belgrade, Serbia. It’s lined with restaurants, shops, and retail and is a haven for tourists and locals alike. There’s even a souvenir shop inside a parked yellow car there! Leave your signature on the car’s exterior and then head over to the square to watch the fountains dance in time with the music that plays there!
Saryan Street is home to many excellent wine bars and restaurants, but there are lots of other great spots to grab a bite or a drink in the area. One of them is Armat Lounge Restaurant along Yeznik Koghbatsi Street, not far from Freedom Square. This open-air restaurant and wine bar is an eatery known for its modern Armenian cuisine and medieval Armenian décor.
While you can enjoy a fantastic modern Armenian dinner there, it’s also a great spot to visit for a nightcap. That’s exactly what I did with my guide Gayane to finish off my exploration of the Saryan Street area. They have a super-strong, full-bodied wine that is perfect for unwinding before bed!
No doubt about it, one of the things you must see and do in Yerevan, Armenia is visit GUM Market. This local produce market is a fantastic place to buy and locally-produced cheese, fruits, breads, meats, and much more. The vendors are also extremely friendly and more than happy to give out free samples.
The dehydrated peaches, dates, and apricots in the front section of the market are excellent. You can also try a plum fruit leather called plum lavash and a nugget made of figs, walnut, and a grape coating. It’s like an Armenian Snickers bar!
As you continue on, you’ll also come across a friendly man selling a cured meat called basturma and pomegranate wine. Further on are honey, jams, and fresh, farm-to-table meats. I highly recommend trying a variety of cheeses. I met one very sweet vendor who kept feeding me different varieties with herbs and lavash!
Speaking of lavash, you can also find different varieties there. The vendor was so nice and gave me an entire bag to take with me!
While Armenia gets lots of attention for its incredible wines and brandy, many people may not know that the country is also a great place to try craft beer. As Armenia’s first brewpub, Dargett Brew-Pub opened in 2016 and quickly became a popular hangout for locals, tourists, and expats.
They only use high-quality ingredients sourced from all over the world, and it shows in the 21 unfiltered and unpasteurized beers they offer.
When you tour the facility, I recommend their smoky Baltic Porter, Black IPA, barley wine, and Nitro Oatmeal Stout. After your tour, you should enjoy a gourmet bar food meal of burgers, pork ribs, chicken wings, sausages, cheese balls, and much more! If you love beer and bar food, this is one of the things you must see and do in Yerevan, Armenia!
While GUM Market is the best market to buy and sample freshly-made foods in the city, Vernissage Flea Market is the best to buy locally-made crafts. This 350-meter-long open-air market along Aram and Buzand Streets is a great spot to meet local craftsmen and buy everything from swords to religious carvings to ceramics.
During my visit, I met a very nice vendor who sold me a bag, beanie, and a colorful scarf for just 9,000 Armenian dram, or just under $20 USD. Further on, you can find beautiful models of notable Armenian churches, handmade clocks, rosaries, wooden Armenian board games, musical instruments, carpets, hats, and more!
There is also an area featuring vivid paintings of Armenian landscapes and churches. I bought a traditional Armenian hat for 5,000 dram (roughly $10 USD) and some Armenian soccer uniforms for my nephews for 6,000 dram, or about $12 USD.
If you enjoyed visiting Lavash Restaurant, you should also check out Sherep Restaurant. This eatery is the first restaurant in Armenia with an open-air kitchen and is part of the same restaurant group as Lavash, so you can expect high-quality cuisine there as well.
I recommend starting with appetizers like the cheese board with figs, which you can wrap in your lavash. The grilled vegetables wrapped with roasted eggplant are also phenomenal. For your main dishes, I suggest the buttery trout and the baked lamb, which was fatty and citrusy.
Everything there was incredibly fresh and paired well with a couple of glasses of sweet, fruity, and full-bodied red wine!
During my time in Yerevan in late September of 2019, I visited a fantastic handicraft market called My Handmade Armenia Crafts Festival in front of the Cascade. It’s a two-day-long festival that occurs every year and is a great way to see lots of beautiful, locally-made crafts including jewelry, pottery, wood and stone carvings, carpets, and more. Artisans from across Armenia’s regions participate in the festival, as well as those from the neighboring country of Georgia.
Some of the most unique items I saw included wooden rings and stones carved with Armenian letters and symbols. The man who carves the stones makes pieces of different sizes. His larger pieces can take three to seven months to complete!
If you want a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home, look him up and buy one of his masterpieces! In addition to shopping at the market, you can also enjoy demonstrations by the artisans and take part in interactive craft workshops. It’s among the things you should definitely do in Yerevan, Armenia!
No trip to Yerevan is complete without visiting the world-famous Megerian Carpet Cultural Complex that is known for producing, selling, displaying, and restoring Armenian rugs. Founded in 1917, the facility includes the Museum of Antique Rugs, which showcases antique rugs that are up to 400 years old!
There, my amazing guide, Galina, showed me the materials used to make their all-natural dyes, as well as several rugs. You’ll learn the stories behind each rug; visit the weaving center; and see the weaving, washing, brushing, and shearing process. You can also see thousands of rugs in the showroom and even have a meal there!
After a brief demonstration where Chef Vladimir showed me how to prepare a beef-and-rice dish called Tapaka Ararat, we then enjoyed a delicious Armenian meal complete with lavash, cheeses, salads, trout, herbs, dolmas, and vodka. I also recommend having some gata, halwa, and nuts with honey for dessert. After dinner, you can pay $25 USD to don some traditional garb and take photos in the showroom.
Dining at Megerian Carpet Factory is definitely one of the 20 things you must do in Yerevan, Armenia. Just remember that you must book ahead of time if you want to do so!
One of the most interesting spots around the city is the Sergei Parajanov Museum, which honors one of the most controversial figures in Soviet art and film. During the Soviet era, the only sanctioned artform in the country was Soviet Realism. Parajanov, a bisexual man, was imprisoned repeatedly for his lifestyle and his work, which broke from Soviet Realism.
The museum focuses on another side of Parajanov’s life: his artwork. Throughout the museum, you’ll find pieces dedicated to his family, and others made using beads, shells, broken pieces of china, and more. You can also watch clips from his films and even see pieces he created while he was in prison!
I really liked his glasswork, including three fish he created using shards of glass. One of my favorite pieces, though, was an elephant made from his friend’s luggage!
Breakfast culture as we know it in the West isn’t really a thing in Armenia, so there aren’t many cafés open in the morning in Yerevan. One of the few that bucks that trend is Apreitivo Café, a cute little spot that offers pancakes, omelets, granola, muesli, and other items.
There, I recommend trying the Armenian tomato omelet and the Armenian basturma omelet. Both come with bread and are great with a strong double espresso. The tomatoes made the Armenian tomato omelet nice, fresh, and juicy. Meanwhile, the basturma—a type of salty and peppery cured meat—added a saltiness and uniqueness to the other omelet that I’d never tasted before. Having both omelets are things you must do in Yerevan, Armenia!
As I hinted at earlier, Armenia isn’t just known for its excellent wines. This western Asian country is also a major producer of brandy. One of the best places to get a taste of authentic Armenian brandy is the Ararat Brandy Factory. It’s the leading producer of brandy in the country and makes several different varieties.
Right as the tour begins, the aroma of the brandy barrels with hit you right in the face! As you tour the factory, you’ll learn about how they age, blend, and bottle their brandy. You’ll get to visit the barrel room and visit the Presidential Hall, where world leaders have their own barrels dedicated to them! Then, you’ll get to taste some brandy! My personal favorite was the 20-year, which was super smooth and had a beautiful aroma.
Note that only one English tour of the facility is offered per day, and that it must be booked in advance. Other tours are offered in Armenian, Russian, Spanish, French, and Dutch.
As I mentioned earlier, Yerevan is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world at over 2,800 years old. I happened to visit in 2019, the city’s 2,800th anniversary. It’s the same year the Yerevan 2800thAnniversary Park was built. This quiet and beautiful recreational area takes up a little over 3 acres in the Kentron district. If you stay at the Congress Hotel like I did, it’s right outside your balcony!
The park itself is home to 250 new trees across 70 species. You can also find an Urartian bull statue, granite stones shaped like Armenian carpets set into the ground, and several bronze statues. But the main attractions are the 2,800 fountains, each of which symbolizes one year of Yerevan’s existence. Some of them even create an archway of flowing water that you can run through!
If you enjoyed touring and dining at Dargett Brew-Pub, then you’ll love touring the actual Dargett Brewery. Located roughly 20 minutes from Yerevan, it’s the country’s first craft brewery and its number one brewing company. Here, they bottle their seven core beers, which then go out to stores and restaurants around the country.
Taking a tour of their facility, which boasts a six-barrel system, was such a treat. During your tour, you’ll get to check out their malts and follow the brewing process all the way to its fermentation and maturation.
I tried a light Pale Ale and a fantastic German Pilsner, followed by their exclusive Armenian Imperial Stout. This beer is a 10% stout and is aged in brandy barrels. It’s so exclusive that they don’t even sell it, so this is the only place you can get it!
During my final night in Armenia, I had the pleasure of joining the entire Armenia Travel team for a Syrian-Armenian feast at Mayrig Restaurant. After meeting the staff and watching the cooks make ground beef dumplings called manti and Sari Burma (a layered, baklava-like dessert), I joined everyone in the dining hall.
The food at Mayrig Restaurant was outstanding. Dining here is among the things you must do in Yerevan, Armenia, for sure. Between the beef tartare, curd-stuffed roasted eggplant, manti, and Sari Burma with pistachios, I was in gastronomical heaven. This meal was the perfect way to cap off ten perfect days in Armenia!
The city of Yerevan is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited in nearly 12 years of traveling. The sites are stunning, the history is mind-blowing, and the food is some of the freshest I’ve ever eaten. But I can’t stress just how special the people here are. Between the team at Armenia Travel and the locals I met during my exploration, I truly fell in love with them all. This city will have my heart forever and I hope you’ll visit someday and see why. Experience the magic of Yerevan by booking a trip to Armenia today!
Special thanks to my friends at Armenia Travel for their kindness, hospitality, and for arranging my trip. I couldn’t have done it without them!
Also, if you would like to visit Yerevan, please contact my guide Lusine.
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