Armenia, a land of ancient history and breathtaking landscapes, is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. While the capital city, Yerevan, may be the most well-known destination, there are numerous hidden gems throughout the country that offer a unique and authentic travel experience. In this article, we’ll guide you through some of Armenia’s lesser-known but equally enchanting destinations, all while keeping in mind your comfort with essential information about hotels in Yerevan.
Dilijan: The Green Oasis
Located in the Tavush Province, Dilijan is often referred to as the “Little Switzerland” of Armenia. This charming town is nestled in the lush forests of Dilijan National Park, making it a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Dilijan offers a variety of hiking trails, including the famous Parz Lake trail, which leads to a serene, emerald-colored lake surrounded by dense forests.
While you won’t find the luxury hotels in Yerevan here, Dilijan has its own unique charm with cozy guesthouses and boutique accommodations. These lodgings often provide an intimate atmosphere and a chance to connect with the welcoming local communities.
Areni: Wine and History
Armenia has a long history of winemaking, and Areni is at the heart of it. This small village in the Vayots Dzor Province is famous for its ancient winemaking traditions and the Areni-1 cave complex, where the world’s oldest leather shoe was discovered. Visitors can explore the historical sites, taste local wines, and even participate in grape harvesting during the harvest season.
While there may not be lavish hotels in Yerevan’s style in Areni, there are comfortable guesthouses and homestays that offer a glimpse into rural Armenian life. Staying with locals can provide a truly immersive experience.
Goris: Cave Dwellings and Natural Wonders
Goris, located in the southern part of Armenia, is a town surrounded by stunning natural formations. The highlight of this region is the Goris Rock Forest, an otherworldly landscape of towering rock formations. A visit to the nearby Old Khndzoresk Cave Village is a journey back in time, where you can explore caves that were inhabited until the 1950s.
In Goris, you’ll find guesthouses and budget-friendly accommodations, though they may not have the same amenities as hotels in Yerevan. What they lack in luxury, they make up for in authenticity and warm hospitality.
Jermuk: The Healing Waters
If you’re looking for relaxation and wellness, Jermuk is the place to be. This spa town in the Vayots Dzor Province is famous for its natural hot springs and mineral waters, which are believed to have healing properties. Visitors can soak in the soothing thermal baths and explore the beautiful Jermuk Waterfall, one of the most picturesque in Armenia.
While Jermuk may not have the same range of hotels in Yerevan, it offers comfortable spa resorts and guest houses where you can rejuvenate and unwind amidst stunning natural surroundings.
Vanadzor: Art and Culture
Vanadzor, the third-largest city in Armenia, is a hub of art and culture. The city is home to several museums, art galleries, and cultural centers. One of the highlights is the Vanadzor Fine Arts Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of Armenian artworks.
Accommodations in Vanadzor are varied, with guesthouses and mid-range hotels providing comfortable options for travelers. While they may not be as opulent as some hotels in Yerevan, they offer a convenient base for exploring the city’s cultural offerings.
Practical Tips for Exploring Armenia’s Hidden Gems
Transportation: To access these hidden gems, consider renting a car or hiring a local driver, as public transportation can be limited in remote areas.
Language: While Armenian is the official language, English is not widely spoken outside of Yerevan, so having a basic knowledge of Armenian phrases or using translation apps can be helpful.
Cash: It’s advisable to carry cash, as not all places may accept credit cards, especially in rural areas.
Reservations: If you plan to stay in guesthouses or smaller accommodations, it’s a good idea to make reservations in advance, especially during the peak travel season.
Armenia’s hidden gems offer a chance to explore a side of the country that many tourists miss. While you won’t find the same level of luxury as in hotels in Yerevan, these destinations provide unique and memorable experiences that will stay with you long after your trip ends. So, pack your bags, venture off the beaten path, and discover the enchanting beauty of Armenia’s lesser-known treasures.