In the west of Armenia near the Turkish border sits Yerevan, the lively and likeable capital that wears its artistic exuberance on its sleeve. It's a city with lots of open green spaces dotted with sculptures, streets decorated with street art and a great dining scene. In summer the city buzzes long after dark as everyone is out enjoying the warm breeze and the nightlife. One of the major hubs of activity all day long is the leafy Republic square where the people of Yerevan come to mingle and take the air. There’s plenty to keep you busy here, from cultural pursuits to shopping and bar hopping. Here are some of our recommended things to do in Yerevan.
The food of Armenia shares much of its heritage with Turkey, which generally equates to maximum flavour and freshness. Expect meze, pide, grilled meats and stuffed pastries along with salads and plenty of lavash, a staple Armenian flatbread. Bulgur wheat is often used in place of rice, and aubergine and yoghurt feature prominently. One of the most common dishes found in Armenia is stuffed vegetables. From vine leaves to peppers, lots of different types of vegetables are stuffed with minced lamb flavoured with onions and plenty of herbs and spices. In Yerevan there is a small and growing presence of cuisines from elsewhere, especially China, but on the whole, restaurants serve Armenian cuisine. The options range from fine dining venues such as Dolmama restaurant, through to more casual places such as Old Erivan where live music and dancing is a regular feature and the decor is as traditional as it gets. Don’t miss the chance to sample some of the delicious fruit whisky which is an integral part of many Armenian meals.
Yerevan is a hub for Armenian culture and there is a wealth of cultural venues to be discovered. Take in an opera or a ballet at the historic theatre, where some of the most important performances in this part of the world have featured on the program. Spend a sombre moment reflecting on the tragic past of this nation at the memorial to the Armenian Genocide, known as Tsitsernakaberd, where an eternal flame burns and the museum sets out the cold facts of the atrocities which saw 1.5 million Armenians murdered by the Ottoman authorities. Harrowing but essential. Inside the Cascade complex you can visit the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, a contemporary art gallery and creative hub for modern art in Armenia. The Cafesjian sculpture garden outside is a great showcase for a variety of works which is always open and accessible for free.
In the warm months the streets are full of musicians and the café culture comes into its own. Northern Avenue is a classy street with plenty of coffee bars ideal for people watching. The landmark hang out spot in Yerevan is the Cascade, a monumental staircase which connects the central district with the sculpture park below. The Yerevantsi come to enjoy the sunshine and the views of mount Ararat, as well as the sense of peace and space. The Cascade has multiple levels and staircases which means that there is always some space to relax. Shopping in Yerevan is fun, especially in the Vernissage flea market, where you can pick up all sorts of handcrafted souvenirs including woodcarvings, ceramics, leatherwork, brassware and rugs. Once evening comes around, head for Republic Square where the dancing fountain show in front of Government House is a big draw.
Make it happen
Armenia is a welcoming and beautiful country where uncovering the history and landscapes is hugely rewarding. Our local experts can create a bespoke itinerary for you, prioritising your interests to make your ideal trip a reality. Have a look at their Armenian Culture and History itinerary idea for further inspiration. Send them a few details and they can get started planning your Armenian adventure. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.