Monday, 13 November 2017

ARMENIA: Yerevan Among Top 10 Safest Cities In The World, Violence Almost Non Existent

Yerevan is the capital of the Republic of Armenia and one of the three hubs of the South Caucasus. It's home to over a million people - the largest Armenian community in the world.

Yerevan has been the capital of Armenia since the independence of the First Republic in 1918. Situated in the Ararat plain, the historic lands of Armenia, it served as the best logical choice for capital of the young republic at the time.

When Armenia became a republic of the Soviet Union, Yerevan remained as capital and accommodated all the political and diplomatic institutions in the republic.

In 1991 with the independence of Armenia, Yerevan continued with its status as the political and cultural centre of the country, being home to all the national institutions: the Government House, the National Assembly, the Presidential Palace, the Central Bank, the Constitutional Court, all ministries, judicial bodies and other government organizations.

In Soviet years, Yerevan underwent massive reconstruction, following architect Alexander Tamanyan's new plans to make a perfect city. His vision was a neo-Classical town with wide avenues to resembe Paris, Vienna and Saint Petersburg.

Central Yerevan is a true jewel of early Soviet architecture. She is also home to some large scale Modern and Post-Modern marvels which are mostly the result of Soviet-Armenian architectural megalomania.

In Soviet days Yerevan had already become known as the Pink City as much due to the colour of the stone used for building as for the flamboyant spirit of her young population.

Most of tourist Yerevan is concentrated in the centre. The centre is very compact and easily walkable, with endless dining and entertainment options. The rest of the city is mostly sleeping or business quarters, so a typical tourist will not have much incentive to leave the centre.

Kentron, Centre City or Downtown - is central Yerevan, locally called as kentron. This is the heart of Yerevan and indeed Armenia.

Though Kentron's architecture is diverse, ranging from Belle Epoque to Soviet Panel blocks, the great majority of the centre is in Beaux-Arts tradition.

Downtown Yerevan follows Tamanyan's plan for a circular city with two hubs - grand Republic Square, and the more elegant and soft Opera district Opera house, Freedom Square and the Swan Lake Park. The two are linked with newly-constructed pedestrian-only Northern Avenue.

The Main Avenue standard South European Corso is still under construction. For the last 60 years, although on a greater scale during the last couple of years and will eventually reach the hill on which the historical Kond district rests.

Kentron is also home to the University City, where the campuses of State University, Medical University, Engineering University, Agricultural University, Economics University, Pedagogical and some other universities come together in one big group.

Virtually all of the museums, hotels and popular places to eat and drink are in Kentron, so most visitors will probably not venture much past it.

Barekamutyun - Meaning friendship, Barekamutyun is the area around the metro stop of the same name. The neighboring district is Arabkir, which is considered small downtown,Pokr Kendron.

This hub is home to the Hayastan Hanrakhanut department store which is more of an indoor bazaar than an actual department store. The hub branches off to Kievyan and nearby Komitas streets.

Monument - At the top of the Cascade steps rests the towering monument to Soviet victory in WW2. Directly adjacent is the large construction site of the Cafesjian Museum, which houses a large collection of contemporary art, including perhaps the best glass art collection in the world.

Beyond the monument is Victory Park, and the district around it is known as Monument as well.

Erebuni - In this district is situated the ruins of the fortress of Erebuni, founded in 782BC by king Argishti.

Bangladesh - Not to be confused with country in Asia! Not much to offer a tourist, the name however is worth an explanation.

At the time this was one of the furthest new districts built in Yerevan, and because of the distance, locals quickly began calling it Bangladesh, which has stuck to this day. The biggest outdoor bazaar of Yerevan is located in this district.

Nor Nork district is the last Soviet project of residential expansion of Yerevan. It entirely consists of standardised Soviet Panel blocs.

As of 2013, the share of Yerevan in the annual total industrial product of Armenia is 41%.

The industry of Yerevan is quite diversified including chemicals, primary metals and steel products, machinery, rubber products, plastics, rugs and carpets, textiles, clothing and footwear, jewellery, wood products and furniture, building materials and stone-processing, alcoholic beverages, mineral water, dairy product and processed food.

Even though the economic crisis of the '90s ravaged the industry of the country, several factories remain always in service, notably in the petrochemical and the aluminium sectors.

Armenian beverages, especially Armenian cognac and beer, have a worldwide fame. Hence, Yerevan is home to many leading enterprises of Armenia and the Caucasus for the production of alcoholic beverages, such as the Yerevan Ararat Brandy Factory, Yerevan Brandy Company, Yerevan Champagne Wines Factory, "Beer of Yerevan" (Kilikia Beer) brewery, Armco Brandy Factory, Proshyan Brandy Factory and Astafian Wine-Brandy Factory.

The 2 tobacco producers in Yerevan are the "Cigaronne" and "Grand Tabak" companies.

Carpet industry in Armenia has a deeply rooted history with ancient traditions, therefore, carpet production is rather developed in Yerevan with three major factories that also produce hand-made rugs. The "Megerian Carpet" factory is the leading in this sector.

Other major plants in the city include the "Nairit" chemical and rubber plant, Rusal Armenal aluminum foil mill, "Grand Candy" Armenian-Canadian confectionery manufacturers, "Arcolad" chocolate factory, "Marianna" factory for dairy products, "Talgrig Group" for wheat and flour products, "Shant" ice cream factory, "Crown Chemicals" for paints, "ATMC" travertine mining company, Yerevan Watch Factory "AWI watches", Yerevan Jewellry Plant, and the mineral water factories of "Arzni", "Sil", and "Dilijan Frolova".

Food products include processed meat, all types of canneries, wheat and flour, sweets and chocolate, dried fruits, soft drinks and beverages. Building materials mainly include travertine, crushed stones, asphalt and asphalt concrete.

Tourism in Armenia is developing year by year and the capital city of Yerevan is one of the major tourist destinations. The city has a majority of luxury hotels, modern restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs. Zvartnots airport has also conducted renovation projects with the growing number of tourists visiting the country.

Numerous places in Yerevan are attractive for tourists, such as the dancing fountains of the Republic Square, the State Opera House, the Cascade complex, the ruins of the Urartian city of Erebuni (Arin Berd), the historical site of Karmir Blur (Teishebaini), etc.

The largest hotel of the city is the Ani Plaza Hotel. The Armenia Marriott Hotel is located at the Republic Square at the centre of Yerevan, while the Radisson Blu Hotel is located near the Victory Park.

Other major chains operating in central Yerevan include the Grand Hotel Yerevan of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Best Western Congress Hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton, the Hyatt Place, and the Ibis Yerevan Center.

The location of Yerevan itself, is an inspiring factor for the foreigners to visit the city in order to enjoy the view of the biblical mount of Ararat, as the city lies on the feet of the mountain forming the shape of a Roman amphitheatre.

There are many historical sites, churches and citadels in areas and regions surrounding the city of Yerevan, such as Garni Temple, Zvartnots Cathedral, the monasteries of Khor Virap and Geghard, etc.

Being among the top 10 safest cities in the world, Yerevan has an extensive nightlife scene with a variety of nightclubs, live venues, pedestrian zones, street cafés, jazz cafés, tea houses, casinos, pubs, karaoke clubs and restaurants. Casino Shangri La and Pharaon Complex are among the largest leisure and entertainment centres of the city.

Many world-famous music stars, Russian music celebrities, as well as Armenian singers from diaspora, occasionally perform in concerts in Yerevan.

The Yerevan Zoo founded in 1940,[163] the Yerevan Circus opened in 1956, and the Yerevan Water World opened in 2001, are among the popular entertaining centres in the city.

The Northern Avenue that connects the Opera House with Abovyan street is a popular pedestrian zone in Yerevan with modern residential buildings, business centres, restaurants, bars and cafés. Another popular landmarks is the Yerevan Cascade and the "Cafesjian Sculpture Garden" on Tamanyan Street with its pedestrian zone, featuring many coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and pubs at the sidewalks.

The "Cafesjian Center for the Arts" regularly organizes art events throughout the year, including classical music series, traditional folk dance events, and live concerts of jazz, pop and rock music.

As of 2017, Yerevan has 3 shopping malls: Dalma Garden Mall opened in October 2012, followed by Yerevan Mall opened in February 2014, and Rossia Mall opened in March 2016.

However, every tourist crosses this district on the way to obligatory Garni temple and Geghard monastery as the highway to that direction is connected to the main avenue of this district.

The main attraction of this district would be the Gay Statue, though the name has nothing to do with homosexuality to avoid this interesting misunderstanding most often the name of the avenue and statue is Romanised as Guy.

Even though people call it Gai ardzan, it is the statue of Hayk Bzhshkyants to meet someone, it is enough to say "Gayi Ardzan" and people will know.

Unfortunately not everyone knows about Hayk himself. He was a member of people's volunteer corps (Kamavorakan), and participated in fights near Mush and Erzrum in Western Armenia. It's just the Russians gave him such nickname since there is no sound H in Russian.

By the way, it is the tallest statue in the world among the ones that have the horse standing on their back two legs. It's height is 12.5 meters and it weighs 30 tons and was erected in 1978.

Even though the history of Yerevan dates back to the Erebuni fortress, making it at least 2800 years old, little remains of what was small settlement saving the excavations at Hrazdan river gorge, Erebuni, Karmir Berd and Avan.

These sites have been excavated, and the artefacts found are in museums today. Being on a strategically important place Yerevan was a constant war stage for rival Ottoman, Persian and Russian Empires.

It has been repeatedly ruined by those wars or natural disasters e.g. an earthquake in 17th century almost entirely destroyed the town. Few buildings of the old Erivan survived to the present-day Yerevan.

At the time of Armenia's independence in 1918, when Yerevan was made the capital of an independent Armenia, Yerevan was a town of just 20,000. Large scale construction began, which took a more holistic approach under the new city plan laid out by Alexander Tamanyan.

The plan involved the demolition of much of what existed, in favour of concentric circles, parks, and taller structures. He planned for Yerevan to become a metropolis of 200,000 people.

Yerevan is a very homogeneous city, though tiny Yezidi and Molokan (Russian) minorities exist. Because the population of the city was only 20,000 a century ago, the vast majority of the Armenians are immigrants themselves, from all over the world.

From the villages and towns of Armenia, from Tbilisi which was the centre of Eastern Armenian culture before 1918, from Western Armenia as genocide survivors poured in, and even from the middle east and Europe in a large, post-WWII wave of immigration.

Since independence, the city has become the heart of the entire Armenian world, as the divisive communist governments demise has allowed the Diaspora – larger in number than the population of Armenia itself, to embrace the city as its own.

Many visitors will be surprised to know that Armenia is not just an outcrop of Christianity in the Caucasus, but was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. The king declared Christianity the state religion in 301AD.

Christianity has been uninterruptedly practised in Armenia ever since in its own traditions.

The One Holy Catholic Apostolic Orthodox Armenian Church, or just Apostolic Church, is the National Church of Armenia. It is very traditional; in practices but not history, is similar to both Orthodox and Catholic movements as well as to the Reformed Churches, e.g. the Church of England.

At the same time the Armenian Apostolic Church has some strikingly different practices, like allowing animal sacrifices or celebrating Christmas on 6 January.

The great majority of Armenians identify themselves as Apostolic Christians and have their own Catholicos religious leader, like the Pope for Catholics.

Today, the vast majority of Armenians do not attend church each Sunday, with visits revolving around weddings and baptisms, or occasionally dropping in to light a candle.

Soviet restructuring of the city left Yerevan with very few churches: Currently some new ones are being built, and old ones rehabilitated.

The Protestant or Evangelical Armenians are rather few in number with only one church on Baghramyan street. Anglican or Episcopal Christians congregate at St Zoravor church for Sunday Eucharist.

In April 2013 a new Anglican Chaplain, Fr John Barker, arrived in Yerevan and services of Holy Communion in English take place every Sunday at 18:30.

Orthodox Christians currently maintain one church in Kanaker district of Yerevan. A new, large-scale, onion-domed Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Cross is under construction at Yerevan Lake district, visible from the highway coming from the airport.

However, this will have mostly symbolic structure as the Orthodox Christians are very few in number.

Assyrians do not have a church in Yerevan, but rather in the villages around Yerevan.

Yezidi or pagan religious and ethnic minority in Armenia religious rituals, as most of that religion, are kept secret. So no Yezidian practice can be observed easily in Yerevan.

Muslims are steadily growing in numbers since the collapse of the Soviet State, fuelled by Iranian immigration. There is currently one Mosque on Mashtots Ave.

Many Christian independent churches are also present in Yerevan, and they congregate in schools, sport clubs, concert halls and the like.

With a continental climate, Yerevan experiences long hot summers, and cold winters, both with little or no humidity. Spring offers mild but sometimes wet weather, and lots of green hills and wildflowers.

Summer is very hot, but the long, late nights at the cafes, and the fruits and vegetables are amazing. Fall is the most popular, with perfect weather, and great farm fresh foods.

Most of the sights in Yerevan are concentrated in the centre, which is very walkable. Spending a few days visiting the major sights should be enough time, and try to get in a trip to Vernissage flea market on the weekend.

Much of Armenia could theoretically be seen on day trips from Yerevan, but within about an hour of the city are a number of major and worthy trips.

- Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery

- Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral and museums plus Sardarabad monument/museum.

- Ashtarak churches, Hovhannavank and Saghmosavank

- Khor Virap Monastery on a day where Mt Ararat is clear

- Exploring Khosrov Reserve via Garni - including Havuts Tar Monastery, S Stepanos Monastery, Azat Caves and Kakavaberd Fortress

Smoking may appear to be the national pastime, and indeed, Armenia has one of the highest rates of smoking in all of Europe.

To avoid the smoke, stick to restaurants with outdoor seating, let your taxi driver know it is not okay to smoke, and sit near the door when in a smokier cafe, and ask to have it left open when possible. Some restaurants have non smoking sections, but rarely is there separate ventilation.

Yum-Yum Donuts and The Green Bean Cafe are strictly non-smoking, and Melody cafe has a walled off section for non-smoking all year round. Artbridge and Twinings have separate rooms for non-smokers.

Zvartnots International Airport is the main gate to Armenia. In 2006, a new terminal was opened, where most arrivals and departures are now based. It remains a smaller airport however, so navigating your way around is easy and fast.

Yerevan is served by the Zvartnots International Airport, located 12 kilometres (7 miles) west of the city center. It is the primary airport of the country.

Inaugurated in 1961 during the Soviet era, Zvartnots airport was renovated for the first time in 1985 and a second time in 2002 in order to adapt to international norms. It went through a facelift starting in 2004 with the construction of a new terminal.

The first phase of the construction ended in September 2006 with the opening of the arrivals zone. A second section designated for departures was inaugurated in May 2007. The departure terminal is anticipated, October 2011 housing state of the art facilities and technology.

This will make Yerevan Zvartnots International Airport, the largest, busiest and most modern airport in the entire Caucasus.The entire project costs more than $100 million USD.

A second airport, Erebuni Airport, is located just south of the city. Since the independence, "Erebuni" is mainly used for military or private flights. The Armenian Air Force has equally installed its base there and there are several MiG-29s stationed on Erebuni's tarmac.

Free Wi-Fi access is available in the departure terminal.

Numerous carriers fly to Yerevan aside from Armavia: AirFrance, Lufthansa, Iran Air, Czech Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot and the like.

Yerevan is connected to all major European and Middle Eastern cities: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Athens, Moscow, Vienna, Berlin, Prague, St Petersburg, Zurich, Minsk, Riga, Kiev, Istanbul, Dubai, Aleppo, Tehran, Beirut and so on.

Air Arabia connects Yerevan to the Gulf states, Egypt and India via Sharjah. Armavia reopened the Route Yerevan - Tbilisi - Yerevan again, with two daily flights

Between the airport and the city, Zvartnots is only 14km from Yerevan city centre by road.

A mini-bus 18 is going to/from airport and it stops at Yeritasardakan bus stop in front of SAS Supermarket. The cost is 200-250 Dram.

A taxi ride from the airport to the city will cost from AMD4,200 (USD10) to the centre, and up to AMD6,700 (USD16) for the most distant parts of the city.

Some drivers may try to convince you to pay more, but don’t ever believe them, and telling them you will call the police who will help you should straighten out any opportunists.

Almost 100% of taxis are using a taxi meter or sheochik, so, the best if you have local currency with you to pay for the trip.

You may want to use taxis that are the official transport of Zvartnots Airport - AeroTaxi so that in case of losing your baggage, you always know where to find it. Do not agree on a flat fee, but insist on the meter being used and switched on, even with AeroTaxi.

In these cars you'll also find free Wi-Fi internet, and payment can be also done by POS terminals. You can book a taxi on-line and be sure that your driver is waiting for you. You can also book your taxi far in advance or just appear to AeroTaxi's desk inside the airport; the taxis are just outside the door.

An overnight sleeper train runs every second day from Tbilisi in Georgia.

After departing at 22:15 the journey takes nine hours with a scheduled arrival time in Yerevan of 07:18. Border formalities will be at 23:00, expect it to take some time.

The wagons are the standard Soviet era hold-overs but they are fairly comfortable. Bring your own food and water as there is no restaurant car onboard. Fares start at 31 laris per bed includes sheets, pillow and towel. Make sure you get a ticket early on the day you travel as the lower bunks sell out fast.

Overnight trains in the winter depart at 20:20 or 22:00, you should check at the station which time is valid for any day. The journey takes approximately 11 hours.

The cheapest seating place in obschij vagon is 22 lari, but you may find yourself being seated among hundreds of boxes of mandarins and other fruits, since this is one of the ways of moving goods to Armenia.

Notice that during the summer months this train runs from Batumi instead, arriving at 21:40 in Tbilisi. It takes around 10 hours from there, border formalities are uncomfortably around 02:00.

Snacks/water gifts will be provided on the train.

Train departs at 20:20, arrives at 6:55, bed costs 50 Georgian Lari (22 USD)

There is metro station right at the train station. Easy to reach city center. Money exchange open after 9 or 10 am. But you can use ATM inside railway station building.

Options include arriving into Armenia via Georgia or Iran. A drive to Yerevan from Armenia-Iran border will take approximately 6 hours, and is a great way to explore Southern Armenia, cities like Meghri, Kapan, Goris, Sisian, etc.

Arriving from Georgia will allow you to drive trough Northern Armenia and driving to Yerevan will take 4-5 hours.

Highways are high standard, although sometimes can be narrow (1 line to each direction) due to mountainous terrain.

You can reach Yerevan by bus from Tbilisi, fare costs 15 lari ($10US) and takes about 12 hours. More expensive is to take a 30 lari ($20 US) marshutka/minibus but it’s much faster at about 5 hours.

Sometimes you can take a shared car from Tbilisi as well. Again, a bit more expensive than minibus, but faster and more comfortable.

Bus service to Yerevan also is available in Istanbul, or many of the cities on the Black Sea coast of Turkey en route to Yerevan, with a detour through Georgia.

There is also a daily service to/from Tehran and Tabriz. Buy ticket at Kilikia bus station, 25000 dram (55USD) the same for Tabriz and Tehran.

Ticket office with old lady probably speaks no English works till 17:00. Bring passport with you. Departure around 12:00. The bus is extremely comfortable, a small bag of snacks and water is provided, it stops at least once each side of the border and the scenery is incredible, however it does take about 22 hours.

The border crossing is, of course, an absolute nightmare beyond imagination. Was very easy, but took 2.5 hours in total.

After you clear Iranian border you can change money. Rate is good. Almost the same as in Tehran.

In Yerevan some of the bus lines from Turkey are: Karbut Tour, Oz Aybaki. Yerevan Central Bus Station: Armenia, Yerevan, Tsovakal Isakovi Ave., 6 Building, Bus to Istanbul is around 60 USD

There many buses to Russia as well. As far as Moscow.

Marshrutka to Karabakh (Stepanakert) costs 5000 dram, departs every hour from 7.00 to 10.00, takes 5 hours

The center of Yerevan is very compact and easy to get around by foot. Be aware, that there are recently introduced penalties for jaywalking and crossing the streets in non-designated areas, and once spotted by police, you will have to pay a fine of AMD 3000 ($9).

A nice walk if you like nature and not cars, is through the Hrazdan gorge on the margins of the city center.

The Subway system in Yerevan - people call it metro, is quite reliable and relatively modern, having been built in the early 1980s. It is the quickest way around town, and at 100 dram (less than US$0.30), the cheapest aside from walking.

Today the metro operates as a single line, with a shuttle branch and covers 12km (7.5 miles), with trains running every five minutes from 6:30 a.m. till 11 p.m. Due to Yerevan's uneven landscape, the metro in some cases goes above ground.

Continuing the tradition of all ex-Soviet underground systems, most of the stations are exquisitely decorated, often blending Armenian national motifs with late-Soviet architecture.

More than a hundred minibus or marshrutka, routes exist that criss-cross the city and travel to the suburbs and beyond such as to Georgia or Karabagh. At 100 dram (US$0.33) a ride in Yerevan, they are a bargain.

The minibuses are often overcrowded, and you may find yourself standing, crouched without a seat during rush hour. The route number is displayed prominently in the window, along with Armenian text listing the major landmarks and streets of the route.

The Opera is an easy Armenian word to recognize on these signs, and is the main crossing point of many of the lines. When you want to get off, you should say “kangnek” or “ijnokh ka” for the driver to hear, or else, just say “stop” in English.

The numbers of the minibuses are written on the bus stations though and the webpage of the tourist information has the whole list with destinations. Pay when leaving a minibus.

Yerevan has lots of buses and a few trolley lines , operated by Yergortrans. The fare is very inexpensive 100 dram for busses, nearly $0.25 and 50 dram for trolleys and the vehicles are not too crowded. Pay when leaving a bus or trolley.

Buses and minivans are the major means of transportation within the country. From Yerevan you can get to literally every place in Armenia within a day.

To make things confusing for foreigners, there are several different regional bus-stations in Yerevan and the minivans tend to leave from hard to find places just somewhere at the side of the road.

When heading into Yerevan, they are not unknown to drop you at random spots somewhere in the city, so ask the driver beforehand to drop you at a convenient place. The following is a incomplete list of the major bus stations.

Central/Kilikia Bus StationThe biggest bus station in Yerevan. It is located to the south-west of the city center on Admiral Isakov Avenue, around one kilometer form the shuka at the end of Mashtots Avenue.

To get there, take Minibus 13 from Barekamutsun Metro, 23 from the Train Station or 15, 68 and 75 from Republic Square. No. 5 from Mashots Av. nr opera house. Also, there is a modern bus number 259 that connects Kilikia bus station with the Northern bus station.

It goes at Komitas and other central points too and unlike other buses costs 200 dram per person. Note that this bus number is not written at bus stop signs. The buses from here serve for example Sisian, Goris, Kapan, Gyumri and Vanadzor.

Buses to Tehran via Tabriz leave from this bus station at 10am every day - 24 hours, 22,000 Dram, arrive at Azadi bus station. Lunch and dinner stops on the way,one in Armenia, so keep some Dram.

Northern Bus Station - This bus station lies around 5km north of the city center on the Yerevan-Sevan Highway. It is worth visiting just for its soviet architecture and the desperate feeling the huge and empty building gives.

To get there take bus 113 or Minibus 101,both from somewhere on Komitas. Another option is bus number 259 that connects Kilikia bus station and this bus station. It goes at Komitas and other central points too and unlike other buses costs 200 dram per person.

Note that this bus number is not written at bus stop signs. Buses and Minivans from here go to for example Dillijan and Sevan.

Kayakan Bus Station - This station is located a bit south from the Yerevan main train station close to the Sasuntsidavit metro stop. Taxi drivers know the way, you might be able to get there on foot from the metro exit too.

It's pretty hidden, so the foot option needs to be confirmed. Unlike in the past, at least marshrutni to Meghri via Kapan and Goris now go from here and not from Kilikia anymore. Marshrutki to Gyumri also go from here and probably not from the Northern Station anymore.

There were several other marshrutnis too whose destinations need to be outlined here.

Trains are cheap but inconvenient and uncomfortable options, but for the adventurous they can be taken on the Yerevan - Lake Sevan, Yerevan - Gyumri, Vanadzor - Alaverdi - Yevlakh routes. The overnight sleeper train that runs between Tbilisi and Yerevan is fine.

Abundant throughout the city, a taxi ride anywhere downtown should not cost more than 1000 dram (US$3). Almost all taxis with company names on the sides have meters, and prices tend to be competitive among taxi companies.

To flag an empty one down on the street, just hold your arm out and pat your hand in the air, if they’re free they’ll stop. Taxis without a logo on the side tend to charge more, and may to try to get more out of foreigners.

To avoid being ripped off, either call a taxi from a big company or head for the most modern looking ones which usually have a meter. Make sure that the driver switches it on when you start and politely remind him to do so if he has forgotten it.

If taxi has meter and the driver hasn't turned it on, in most cases passenger can not pay for the trip. Carry some coins to prevent the drivers from telling you that they have no change on them.

Standard price is a minimum of 500-600 Dram for the first 5 km and than 100 Dram for every further km. A car and driver can easily be rented for day trip outside of Yerevan, for as little as $20 plus gas.

Beware of moonlighting taxi drivers at the airport who will try to charge you ridiculous amounts - 20,000 dram or more to get to the city.

Finally never ever believe any taxi driver who wants to convince you that there is no bus or minivan to the destination you are heading to.

Download apps such as GG or Yandex, both similar to uber, makes getting around very easy and cheap for tourists. GG works in many parts of Armenia.

Erebuni Fortress – the excavations, recreations and museum of the nearly 3,000 year old fortress that established Yerevan. Fairly well (and maybe the best) preserved fortress of Urartian Period in Armenia.

Republic Square - Make sure to see the main square. Though it never took the planed shape of the Grand Square of a perfect city of Tamanyan, it still can be considered the finest example of Soviet era architecture as far as squares go.

The early buildings like the Houses of Government, the Ministry of Communications, and the Marriott Hotel are fine example of Neo-Classical architecture with Armenian hints. The buildings from later period,the Foreign Ministry, and Art Gallery are Modernist imitations of previous ones.

Northern Avenue - impossible to miss, this pedestrian avenue was just opened in 2008 connecting Opera with Republic Square, the two hubs of central Yerevan. It's a Post-Modern response to post-WWII Soviet Yerevan architecture. It is emerging as the shopping district, together with Sayat-Nova ave., Terian st., Tumanian st., and Abovian st.

Abovian street - It's home to very few remaining Belle Epoque period structures of Republican Armenia. Some gems of Art Nouveau, early Modern constructivist and the like, and Moorish Revival style can be found in the backyards of Abovian, Nalbandian, and Hanrapetutian streets.

Most often they are in a very poor condition due to neglect. Hanrapetutian st. might get a special attention if you are not time constrained.

The Opera – It's the soft center of the city. It is topped by the magnificent building of the Opera House. The building is perhaps modeled after SemperOper of Dresden, however it is supposed to be double as beautiful as the Yerevan building is two sided: One side with entrance from the Theatrical/Freedom square is home to Opera and Ballet Theatre, while the street side houses the Khachaturian Concert Hall.

Freedom or Theatrical Square is part of The Opera. North side of the square is the Opera House, followed by a park full of open air cafés on the West, from South it borders the Northern Avenue, and on the East the square slowly transforms into park with Swan Lake.

The Swan Lake park ends with the controversial statue of the composer Arno Babajanyan, which already was majorly reshaped twice during the first year of its placement. The Swan Lake park usually hosts various open air art exhibitions.

Cascades, Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Museum – The Sculpture Park is a small green zone in the immediate North of The Opera. Sculptures from Botero and other artists of international fame decorate the Park.

The park itself is part of Cafesjian Museum - the Armenian version of Guggenheim. The main part of the museum is in the Cascades - an Art Deco version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon stretching nearly the height of the Empire State Building.

It's a massive white stairway up a hillside of central Yerevan, decorated with green stretches, fountains and waterfalls. Higher level of the Cascades give a spectacular view of Mount Ararat and panorama of central Yerevan with it's hilariously multi-colour roofs.

The first floor and the bookstore of the museum as well as the indoor escalators to the top of the Cascades are free of charge.

Mashtots avenue - It's the eight-lane highway in the center of the city which somehow also accommodates a pedestrian zones on the sides result of standard Soviet planning of mainProspekts.

It is overly noisy because of the heavy traffic mostly unorganised public transportation but the parts close to The Opera is a favourite hangout place for the locals. There are 3 buildings on the avenue which are well worth attention - Matenadaran, and the Blue Mosque.

Matenadaran – Houses the worlds largest collection of Armenian illuminated manuscripts, and one of the largest such collections of any kind in the world. A display room has a sampling of some of the finest works, and the additional cost of the guided tour is worthwhile. The building is dug into the hill and can withstand a nuclear attack.

Blue Mosque - is an 18th century Shia Islamic Mosque, one of the extreme few surviving structures of once before Soviet secularisation prospering Muslim Community of Yerevan.

Covered Market - It's an original building, a combination of Jungenstil and Beaux-Arts. It still houses a market of fresh, sun-dried and conserved produce.

Main Railway Station is a Neo-classical building, small scale version of Soviet skyscrapers such as Moscow State University or Warsaw Culture Palace, with a red-star-topped high spire serving as a symmetry axis.

The Railway Station building dominates the David of Sasoun Square which has the statue of David of Sasoun ,hero of the Armenian epic tale as a centerpiece.

The statue itself is worth seeing,some would claim more than the building: It is the masterpiece of Kotchar - the mastermind of Cubism driven Dimentionalism movement in Armenia, a very dynamic Equestrian statue.

The metro stop Sasuntsi David opens into the square. Unfortunately, the square, the building and the statue are in a measly condition now, as the blockade-driven underusage of the railway left the place unattended.

Victory Park/Monument - Amusement park. Features a huge monument of Mother Armenia as well as some Soviet military equipment on display. Very nice view of the city center.

Lover's Park - the oldest park of Yerevan. Recently renovated in tradition of Japanese landscaping with Armenian spirit. It often hosts open air art exhibitions and concerts. It is best reachable by metro, station Marshal Baghramian - perhaps the most underused building and allegedly the best in Modernist style.

Children's Park - This is yet another beautiful remnant of Soviet urban planning in Yerevan. The park, opened in 1937, is situated in a gorgeous canyon of Hrazdan river and features a Children's railway.

The park was renovated in 2012, so the ghost park atmosphere is not that present anymore. In order to find it you will need a direction from a local.

The Singing Fountains - From early Spring to late Autumn each evening there is a fountain and light show in front of the Art Gallery at the Republic square. The program includes some classical favorites, as well as contemporary Jazz, Rock and Pop (US or Russian). Usually it spans from 10pm to 11pm. It is free of charge.

Parajanov Museum - The House-Museum of Sergei Parajanov, a famous Soviet film director. The museum is best known for special Parajanov collages and art that everybody loves and enjoys. It is equally highly appreciated by children, teenage and most demanding art critic.

Many highest level official informal meetings are conducted here. The entrance is about 2 euros and the guided tours are offered for about 8 euro. It is a must to see!

Saryan Museum If you are a lover of bright colours and enjoy Expressionist Art then House Museum of Martiros Saryan is a place for you. It's a 3 floor structure, built during the lifetime of the artist, as his house and house for his heritage after his life.

So most of the Museum is designed by the artist himself.

Cafesjian Museum of Modern Art is a museum of modern art, house to the collection of Gerard Cafesjian.

It has Arshile Gorky, Andy Warhol, Marc Chagall and other big names on display. The collection is very rich in Glass Art, has many pieces of Libensky-Brychtova couple, including special-made For Armenia series.

A separate floor is devoted to Swarovski Chandelier collection. The inside elevator is opened 8-20, the exhibition halls are opened until 5pm on weekdays and until 8 on weekends.

The National Art Gallery - Located at Republic Square in the same building as the National History Museum. Features several floors full of mostly paintings, organized by their country of origin.

The Armenian collection is the best and of very high quality, the Russian is quite good (Kandinsky, Serov, Chagall), and art lovers will enjoy the European collection as well.

The Armenian Genocide Memorial (Genocide Museum & Tsitsernakaberd Monument) is on a hill above the city centre. A very austere monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide and well worth seeing.

Tsitsernakaberd meaning Fortress of swallows is probably best reached by taxi. Genocide Museum is home to French artist Jean Jansem's startling collection of paintings named Genocide. The museum is currently under renovation in preparation for the 100 year anniversary of the genocide.

The City Museum of Yerevan presents all periods of the life in Yerevan starting from the palaeolithic settlements of 50,000 years ago to modern times. Ancient maps and pictures of the lost city - pre-Soviet Erivan - are of special interest.

Museum of Woodwork houses some artefacts of Armenian historical wood carving culture - doors, furniture and the like as well as wood-based sculptures of modern day artists. Situated at the address Paronyan 2 at a ring border of downtown.

Churches in Yerevan are open from early morning till very late evening. There is no entrance fee ever charged. If you manage to find the priest you can ask him to bless you and any object of non-violent usage that belongs to you including friendship and other relationships.

Katoghike is the oldest surviving church of Yerevan. It is a tiny structure constructed in typical Armenian style. Currently, the area of Katoghike also named St Holy Mother of God church is under construction.

It is planed that a white stone based St Anne Monastery will be built, of which Katoghike church will be only a minor part. On the crossroads of Sayat-Nova ave. and Abovian st.

St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral was completed in 2001 to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of Armenia as a Christian nation. The holy relics of St Gregory the Armenian were given back to the Armenian Church by the Vatican in 2001 and placed in this cathedral.

The building is a megalomaniac exaggeration of traditional Armenian Church Architecture. As opposed to all other churches in Yerevan and Armenia, the Cathedral is full of light and does not carry any stand for candles. The candle-house is a separate structure next door.

However, the complex is vastly and visibly unfinished. Not far from the Republic Square also visible from there.

St Sargis Vicarial Church is at the border of the city centre, on a picturesque gorge of Hrazdan River. From the Victory Bridge or alternatively the Brandy Factory building there is a beautiful view on the church and surroundings,structures of different shades constructed in immediate proximity to the church during the Soviet years of forced secularisation.

The church is always crowded. Usually there are also many young people as St Sargis (or St Sergius in Western churches) is the patron saint of young people and of lovers.

St Astvatsatsin of Nork is the replica of a beautiful 18th century St Holy Mother of God (Sb Astvatsatsin in Armenian) church destroyed during the Soviet years of forced secularisation. Because of the sudden death of the benefactor the church complex was never finished.

The most convenient way for reaching the church is using Yerevan funicular. The funicular itself is a special experience. However the church is not immediately next to the funicular stop so you may need some help of the locals at the end.

The entrance to funicular is at the crossroad of Nalbandian and Charents streets. The church is in the Nork district of Yerevan - the sleeping quarter of rich.

Ararat Cognac Factory – The oldest factory in Armenia. Offers tours and tasting.

AquaWorld – a water park which is popular with the locals in the summers.

L'atelier Restaurant Salon Imperial Russian Antiques at the address Mashtots 37, near Opera.

Levon's Amazing Underground World – see what happened when Levon set out to dig a potato storage cellar for his wife, you won’t be disappointed.

Join one of the tours organized by Yerevan Free Walking Tour on your first day of arrival. It's a must-do 2.5 hour tour in the center of the city covering architecture, history, art, cuisine, etc.

For music fans, attend cheap and excellent performances at the Opera and/or the Chamber Music Orchestra. If a national dance group is performing, don’t miss it.

Spend a late night at a cafe in the Opera park. Station yourself by the sidewalk at Melody Cafe for some of the best people watching in Yerevan.

Chill out in Yerevan Green Belt. The most popular among the locals are the Paplavok Park near Moscovyan and Teryan and the Czerny Fountain Park near Sayat-Nova and Khanjyan.

Visit one of the themed restaurants in the Hrazdan Gorge to see the locals partying. The food does not tend to venture far from barbeque and crayfish, but it is usually good barbecue, and the prices range from very reasonable to the unreasonable.

Check the prices on the hard liquor and wines before ordering a bottle if you’re price sensitive.

Climb the Cascades or take the escalator inside one evening for the great views of the city and Mt. Ararat, then head across the street to the amusement park inside Victory Park for some cotton candy and a ride on the rickety ferris wheel.

A walk through the weekend Vernissage a block east of Republic Square metro through the park is a must. From rugs, souvenirs, instruments and paintings, to pets and chemistry supplies, this outdoor market seemingly has everything.

Catch a concert on the Cascades or the Lover's Park, and an art exhibition at Swan Lake park or Lover's Park.

Do not miss an evening with the Republic square Singing Fountains, 9-11p.m.

Ice-skate with many locals at the Swan Lake next to the Opera House during winter months.

Cool down in the WaterWorld

Medical Procedures - Yerevan offers some world class medical treatments for fraction of the price in the west. The most common are heart surgeries, fertility treatments, nose jobs, hair removal and laser eye surgery.

Vardavar is the pagan holiday of water, currently a church holiday. It is a summertime movable feast that is mostly enjoyed by virtually everyone, grown and child alike: litres of water is poured on everyone by everyone. Some parks have administered events.

Trndez is the pagan holiday of fire,currently a church holiday. It is observed on 13 February. Huge bonfire can be observed in each courtyard with people merrily singing around, youngsters jumping over and the like.

Yerevan Birthday is celebrated on the second Saturday of each October. That's usually a huge event, with central Yerevan being pedestrian only: Many stages all over the city for theatrical or music usually thematic - ethnic minorities, folk, jazz, rock, pop, classics and the like performances with a culmination on Republic square.

ARvesT Expo is an annual international visual art festival/exhibition held in a local gallery in May.

Golden Apricot is a fairly well established international film festival, usually held in July. Armenians take pride in it.

ReAnimania is an emerging international animated film festival. It's held in Autumn.

Diaspora Armenians may obtain a residency permit to live and work in Armenia without a problem. The 10 year visa/permit for USD350 is the best deal. Non-Armenians should have an invitation, or establish a business to get a work/business visa.

Volunteering in Armenia may be a suitable for those wanting the experience. Armenian Volunteer Corps can organize a volunteer placement and visa for you.

For those of Ethnic Armenian Descent, there are programs such as Birthright Armenia, which will pay for your trip if you participate in their program.

Tutoring in English is always an option for native English speakers. Demand to learn English, and practice English conversation is high.

Armenian brandy locally called Cognac as well is considered one of the world's finest brandies and is accordingly a popular gift to take home for tourists. It was Winston Churchill's brandy of choice.

There are many shops within central Yerevan centre devoted solely to brandy from the Ararat Cognac Factory; the airport is also a good place to stock up at duty free. As a rule, the more aged the brandy, the more refined the taste and the more expensive.

Armenian rugs, new and old are a favourite choice. New carpets can be purchased at the Mergeryan Rug Factory for a good price. More upmarket is the international brand “Tufenkian Carpets”, with a shop on Tumanyan near Abovyan.

Both will add your name or inscription request into an existing rug, or do a custom rug for you. There is no problem with exporting these. Old rugs are found in shops all over town, or in Vernissage.

Be sure the seller obtains an export certificate from the ministry of culture for you – or you’re taking a chance that it may be confiscated.

Negotiate to have the certificate delivered to you as part of the purchase price, and buy your rug a week before you go to give them time to obtain this certificate. New rugs do not require certification, but keep your factory certificate as proof that it is new.

More fragile, but maybe worth the effort are some of the more exotic jams and preserves made in Armenia. From walnut preserves, to Sea Buckthorne (Chichkhan), virtually everything that grows in Armenia is canned.

Armenian Vodka is made out of fruit mainly peach or apricot and is a typical Armenian brevage. The bottle is recognizable as it has a fruit drawn on it. It's branded АРЦАХ (in Russian), ԱՐՑԱԽ in Armenian or Artsakh in latin Armenian characters.

Cigarettes are cheap, but you better buy them before you go to the airport, as they are more than twice more expensive when bought at the duty free

Currency

The dram (AMD) is the national currency of Armenia.

In December 2016

EUR1 = AMD510

GBP1 = AMD602

USD1 = AMD485

Rates vary widely.

When arriving in Zvartnots International Airport exchange only small amounts for taxi or airport service as the exchange rate at the airport is always poor. Exchanges can be found all over the city, and do not charge a commission – count your money on the spot, though they tend to be patently honest.

Banks tend to be the least convenient place to exchange, and tend to have the worst rates – exchange on the streets.

Exchange rates on the streets are almost all quite competitive, so shopping around is only worthwhile for very large amounts. Shops and restaurants will frequently accept dollars in a pinch, though they prefer dram.

Cash in dram only can be withdrawn from numerous ATMs located in the city, but you may have to try several machines before getting money. Try local banks (like Ararat). HSBC ATMs usually refuse to recognise non-Armenian cards.

Though Visa and Master Card are accepted in many restaurants, supermarkets and shops in Yerevan, carry some cash. To withdraw dollars from your credit card, you can go into a bank.

Stands selling Armenian-style pizzas called lamehjun or lahmajoun are prevalent throughout Yerevan. This cheap snack consists of a thin layer of dough topped with an herb and meat paste. Another option if you like fresh vegetables and lean meat is to use buffets in supermarkets and shops.

Many locals buy lunch and dinner at these places. Good value for money and though dishes are cold, food that is served in restaurants often is cold as well. Expect to pay 1200 to 1500 Dram for a vegetable salad of your choice, a piece of meat and fried potatoes or buckwheat.

Dona Bakery The underground Dona bakery located on Mesrop Mashtots avenue close to the Matenadaran offers delicious pastries, both European and Armenian. A good place to catch an inexpensive snack.

Jazve Cafe Lunch and appetizer menu. Watch out for its misspellings on the menu. Jazve's wonderful costumers can correct it, but, sadly, they don't get paid. There are plenty of these cafe's across Yerevan.

Khingali, on Tumanyan next to Mer Tagh has excellent khingali or dumplings with meat or cheese filling. Either can be served boiled or fried.

Lagonid is a Middle Eastern restaurant with sandwiches starting from $3. On Nalbandyan St, north of Sayat Nova.

Mer Tagh is a small lahmejun joint on Tumanyan, and their lahmejuns have a big following. Tumanyan St, west of Abovyan.

Anteb a family-run joint that serves a huge variety of kebabs in a very casual cafe-type setting. The Adana and Urfa are a bargain at about AMD800 each and the Iskender, though slightly more expensive (AMD3000) rivals the best.

The rice pudding is pricey but tasty. Cheap drinks and free lavash. On Koghbatsi Street, between Pushkin and Aram Street.

Artbridge. The food strong on breakfasts and lighter fare. Specifically, the French toast is a must. A nice selection of foreign language books and Western periodicals if you are desperate for some new reading material. Abovyan St, north of Tumanyan St.

Artashi Mot is considered by many to be the finest khorovats (BBQ) joint in Armenia. Judge for yourself, but not before trying the horti (beef) and sunki (mushroom) barbeques. They are both delicious, when they have them.

Other nice alternatives include the fish barbeque and the piti soup. Whichever barbeque you get, get some of the tomato sauce mix that Artash makes to put on your meat, or just to dip your bread into. On Spendiaryan St, across Mashdots Ave from the Opera.

Cactus Mexican restaurant, located near the Opera off Mesrop Mashtots Avenue. The food is decent imitation Mexican with all the usual dishes - burritos, tacos, etc. The prices are a bit steep by Yerevan standards, but not that expensive for Western travellers. The decor gets an "A" for effort. 42 Mastots Ave.

Cafe Central a solid place for a meal, reminiscent of a Viennese cafe. Abovyan St., south of Moscovyan.

Caucasus, on Hanrapetutyun near Sayat Nova. Extensive menu of Caucasian dishes in 5 languages plus photos. Starter c. AMD1000, main dish c. AMD2500. You can order fish straight from the aquarium.

Charentsi 28 is a fully restored two-story house turned restaurant, serving a variety of dishes from Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, Western Armenian, to continental cuisines. They manage to do all of these justice.

There is also seating outside in the summer and fall, on the balcony or front-yard courtyard. Starters ~1200 AMD ($3), main dishes c. AMD2600+ (USD7+). A 10-15 minute walk from the Opera House, across the German Embassy.

L’Orange has great service and a good menu. 21 Tumanyan St.

Mer Gyugh. Traditional Armenian cuisine with a village atmosphere. Located on Sayat Nova, west of Teryan Street. The chicken "Ararat" comes with a dried fruit pilav that is quite a treat! Menu items are often unavailable, so have a backup in mind when ordering.

The restaurant often features traditional folk music in the evenings.

Old Yerevan (Hin Yerevan) has traditional foods, song, dance, and the decor will make you think Disney has come to town. Almost a must for any visitor. 2 Northern Ave.

Taboule is a lebanese restaurant. Nice atmosphere and decoration. Starters ~1400 AMD, main dishes ~3000+ AMD. Traditional lebanese mezze and grilled food nicely served. 8 Zakyan Street not far from Grigor Lusavoritch Ave.

Tavern Yerevan (Pandok Yerevan) is a local chain of 4 restaurants comfortably positioned in the centre of Yerevan. Traditional Armenian and Caucasian dishes are on offer to tantalize your pallet.

Traditional folk music is performed in the evenings tempting you to try Armenian dance moves. Tavern Yerevan on 91 Teryan Street is more outstanding for its exceptional service, which attracts more tourists from all over the world.

It is located in front of the HSBC branch on Teryan Street. Famous Armenian compote made of fresh Armenian fruits is served on arrival,on the house. The restaurant’s cuisine is exceptional however very affordable.

It is mostly popular for its lamb, beef and pork barbecues and traditional vegetable barbecues of aromatic Armenian tomatoes, peppers, eggplants with a drizzle of mixed fresh herbs. The other 3 resataurants are located in Movses Khorenatsu St., 29/2 Building, Paronyan St., 7 Building and Amiryan St., 5 Building.

Winehouse 'Mamulyan and Friends' Amazing Armenian food in the basement restaurant. They have a good menu of local specialities, including meat dishes, dolma, soups, salads, etc. 69 Yeznik Koghbati Str. there is a souvenir shop on the ground floor, from there you should go down to the restaurant

Al Leoni on Tumanyan just west of Parpetsi and Hotel Yerevan on Abovyan for some fine Italian dining.

Dolmama – fusion Armenian-World cuisine. Excellent food, service and ambiance. The outdoor seating out back is a way to experience the old courtyards that filled central Yerevan in the past. 10 Pushkin St.

Rossini - central location, Italian Executive Chef, European and Armenian cuisine, customer oriented staff, elegant and relaxing atmosphere, extended wine list, free Wi-Fi. Open 7:30 - 23:30, 14 Abovian, Golden Tulip Hotel.

Raffaello Restaurant - Italian, European and Armenian cuisine - Free Wi-Fi in all the area of the restaurant, friendly and customer oriented staff. Open 07:00-23:00

The Club has some excellent Western Armenian dishes, including manti, su borek and the amazing midia dolma. The underground space is very hip, and the tea room, when not too smoky is a great place to sit on a bean back and chat.

For a budget option, you can order one of their very filling thin crust pizzas, starting at USD5. 40 Tumanyan St.

AEON Anti-Café, 3a Teryan St (next to Teryan-Pushkin intersection, entrance from Pushkin St).- A type of public space, first of its kind in Yerevan, where people can work/co-work/network; have fun with friends, celebrate birthdays; participate in film screenings, music events, exhibitions, discussions, meetings with interesting people, lectures etc.

You pay only for the time you spend at AEON: 10 AMD per minute / 600 AMD per hour from 12:00-18:00; 17 AMD per minute / 1,000 AMD per hour from 18:00-24:00. Everything else is free: tea/coffee/natural ice teas/fruits/biscuits; more than 30 board games like Game of Thrones, Munchkin, Scrabble, Settlers of Catan, etc.

Wi-Fi & Notebooks/tablets; projector and screen; painting, handicrafts and music corners; brand new popular books and print media; scan/copy/print first 5 copies; lectures/seminars and experience-sharing events.

Show student ID and pay only 500 AMD from 12PM to 6PM. Check-in on foursquare and get 20% discount. Also, if you're a member of Couchsurfing, BeWelcome or TrustRoots and your profile is older than 1 year, they offer to stay at AEON for half an hour free of charge.

You can have tea, coffee, check you mail, or take a short rest before continuing your way. Or, if you choose to stay longer, you can have a 20% discount.

There is also a tourist information corner with free maps/guides and useful information on traveling around Armenia, such as visa info, destinations, camping areas, where to stay.

Some of the staff members are experienced hitchhikers so they can provide hitchhiking related information, too. The staff members are friendly and helpful. They are travelers and hitchhikers themselves and they'll be happy to help a fellow traveler/hitchhiker.

A coworking space close to Metro Station "Hanrapetutian Hraparak", good if you need a desk and internet access for a couple of days, also convenient to meet local people, mainly IT people.

Armenia itself is a place to drink, with no prohibition against drinking in public. Cafés, bars, restaurants, clubs and the countryside on a picnic are all popular places for vodka, the usual drink of choice, with wine, beer, champagne and brandy all popular as well.

You can even drink in a car – as long as you’re not driving. Drivers cannot have a drop of alcohol in them, with Zero being the legal threshold – and the penalties for violating this are stiff.

Drink water. Yerevan has numerous small fountains with crystal clear drinking water of the kind that Western entrepreneurs put in bottles and sell.

The most popular places to drink in the summer tend to be outdoor cafés and cafés/restaurants. The cafés by the Opera and Republic Square are always packed.

Cheers Pub Yerevan, 3 Abovyan St, is the most popular bar for tourists, locals and the ex-pat community. Cool drinks, great music and friendly/multilingual staff.

Bars such as Tro's Pub, Saryan 5 St, Troll Pub, Calumet are popular spots with visitors as is the Dolce Vita bar of the Hotel Yerevan (Golden Tulip, 14 Abovian) open round the clock.

Jazzve Café is also a wonderful place to meet up with someone for a drink; make sure to try its wonderful strawberry coffee as that is a drink like no other.

Purpur cafe (yerevan), parpetsi street few doors up from envoy hostel. early till midnight. new licensed café - owners Ike a and Maria are very welcoming - up-beath atmosphere , clients very warm and inviting - lots of eclectic music that would suit most tastes, true hospitality average.

Homemade fruit vodkas – these are not flavoured from fruit like most of the western vodkas, they are actually made from pure fruit. The most popular is the Tutti Oghi (Mulberry Vodka), but just as impressive if you can find them are the Cornelian Cherry (Hon), Pear, Apricot and Peach.

Wine – Areni grapes are only grown in Armenia, which is in the oldest grape and wine producing part of the world. Old Yerevan is the best brand.

Compote – if you can get it, this usually home made fruit juice is fantastic. Ask locals, and if some of them have it at home, they will drag you in to try.

Tan – blended plain yoghurt with water and a dash of salt, this drink is often an acquired taste, and very refreshing. It’s a healthy alternative to soda, so give it a try. You can sometimes find bottled fizzy tan, which is an even more acquired taste!

Popular nightclubs are mainly in the centre, with long time standbys such as Atlantic, Relax, Astral and Club One usually full on the weekends.

Bunker Club No. 12, Sayat-Nova street.

Opera Club the basement of the Opera building. No. 54, Tumanyan St, 13:00-18:00, 19:00-12:00, males: AMD1000

Kami Club No. 18, Abovyan st. near Moscow cinema.

Champs-Élysées Club on Northern Avenue.

Ego Club on Kuryun St, Citadel Business Centre area.

The Club on Tumanyan street.

Tochka Club Opera Area, Address: 1/1 Baghramyan Ave. from 21:00, males: AMD2000.

Stop Clup Moscovyan street , Address: 37 Moskovian St.

Tornado Club Brand-new huge club in Bangladesh area

UPtown, 19A, Koryun street,Big residential building with few other bars, discos and shops on 1st floor, enter through the small dark backyard in the right half of the facade; you will hear the music from the street. 23:00-02:00.

Cosy basement bar / dark night club packed on weekends with 25-35 years behaved and fun loving crowd, full dance floor and some tables, contemporary pop-rock-dance-live music, national anthem at midnight and friendly bartenders who occasionally might join dancing with you on the bar.

Irish 26 pub Parpetsi St.

Calumet Ethnic Lounge Bar a very cozy place, Best of the Best Yerevan can offer to foreigners, diaspora and local Armenians alike, with great atmosphere and fab music! Located on Pushkin 56-a St, 17:00-24:00

Pub Red Bull Moscovyan St.

Wild West Pub Tumanyan St.

Yerevan Night Life is famous for its Strip Clubs.

Omega Club No. 59, Teryan street.

Pyramida Club No. 20/2, Sayat-Nova street.

Charlotte Cabaret No. 25 Baghramyan Ave from 18:00

Cherry Club Leningradyan St.

Safari Club Set of Clubs, Republic Sq area and a brand-new club on Arshakunyats St, on of those branches is in Deghatan St, Shahumyan Sq.

Club Delise 15A Amiryan St.

Ella Clubs.

Galaxy Club near the Marriott, Amirian St.

Manhattan Club located just off Republic Sq essentially behind the Foreign Ministry building, Abovyan St, Byuzand St.

Favourite Karaoke Clubs are:

- Mama-Mia Large set of Karaoke clubs

- 7Notes Sayat-Nova street

- Iceberg Northern avenue

- 96 Club Sayat-Nova street

Yerevan has a wide variety of accommodations but for the most part they are overpriced. If you're staying for an extended period of time, rent an apartment.

It's almost impossible to sleep cheaply in a hotel in Yerevan. Try home stays with Armenian families that rent out rooms. There are many of these places and they cost from USD8-12 per night per person.

Many are located in the centre of Yerevan and if you can handle not having your own space they are a wonderful way to truly see Armenian hospitality up close. You can get a list of these home stays by contacting the Armenian Tourism Development Agency (ATDA).

Hostel Bivouac, 9 Parpetsi Street, Yerewan. Possibly the cleanest hostel you will ever find, located in the city center. Free breakfast, good wifi and individual place to lock away your valuables under each bunk. A/C Dorm beds from 6k, double dorm bed 9k.

JR's House. Located close to the American University and U.K. Embassy this hostel offers free wifi and a huge spacious living room and dining room with access to a open kitchen with all cooking utensils. Washing machine and a laundry service is available.

Staff is very organised and structured and speaks English,Russian,German,French,Polish and Indonesian. WIFI is free and the breakfast in the morning is provided for no additional cost.

Prices in dorms start from 3000AMD and for private rooms from 9600AMD. Free towel and lockable wardrobes are available too.

Yerevan Hostel. Located in the centre, 3 minutes from the metro station and the Republic Square. Surrounded by restaurants, shops and markets. Friendly, knowledgeable English speaking staff available 24 hours a day. Very clean hostel, clean showers with hot water available day and night.

Staff will work with you to design a tour of your choice to see Armenia,individual and group tours, Free Wi-Fi is available, also a computer for guests in the living room. Breakfast prepared for you every morning upon request, so always fresh. Flexible check in/check out times. Bag storage.

Yerevan Apartments at Vardanants Street. Apartments at Vardanants Street are located in the centre of Yerevan, 5 minutes’ walk from the Republic Square. Hanrapetutyan Hraparak Metro Station is 500 metres away. All apartments come with air conditioning and free WiFi.

Guests can use a fully equipped kitchen, and it’s possible to order breakfast at surcharge. Various cafes, bars and restaurant are located within 10 minutes’ walk from the apartments.

Apartments at Vardanants Street include a comfortable bedroom, nicely decorated living room and modern bathroom. Slippers, hairdryer, washing machine and ironing facilities are available. Zvartnots International Airport is 14 km away, and a shuttle service is available on request.

Yerevan Central Railway Station is about 8 minutes’ drive from the apartments

Anahit Stepanyan's B&B, 5 Sayat-Nova ave, apt.25 Across the Opera house square. Brabion flower shop right underneath the house.

The oldest bed and breakfast in the heart of the city with a view on the Opera house and the Swan Lake. Breakfast is included, there is free Wi-Fi in the apartment. They speak English, Russian, Italian and Arabic. From AMD4000/€7.

Apricot Hostel, Kajaznuni 14-4. Located in the centre of Yerevan, a 15-minute walk from Republic Square, this hostel has a fully equipped shared kitchen, daily morning breakfast, and free Wi-Fi throughout. Rooms here provide guests with towels and linens, and a shared bathroom with free toiletries.

The dormitory rooms have lockers for guests to secure their valuables. Other hostel facilities include a shared lounge, a tour desk, ironing and laundry services, and a shuttle service, homemade traditional Armenian cuisine.

Hostel regularly organize free food, walking, city tours, trips to the sights of Armenia, meetings with locals and enjoying tasty regional eco, agro food and beverages. from USD9 per person.

Balcony Hostel, Hovsep Emin 3/1, Arabkir. Take the metro to Barekamutyun station the last one and from there walk down H. Hakobyan st until you get to a little hill. Up the hill and to the right, it's the small metal door on your left.

A taxi from the airport here should cost AMD3000-4000. checkout: 12:00, but flexible. A small, budget hostel. Offers free Wi-Fi, laundry, a kitchen and shared bathrooms that are cleaned daily. English speaking, friendly; coffee and tea are free.

AMD9000 for single room, AMD6000 for shared room with locker, AMD6500 for room with light breakfast, AMD7000 for full breakfast. Between November and May rooms are AMD5000..

Grammy Hostel The brand new Grammy Hostel is a vibrant and trendy hostel ideally located in the centre of Yerevan, only 5min walk from the heart of the city,address 15 Aghayan st. Free internet access, tasty breakfast just for extra 500 AMD , laundry.

Yerevan and Armenia tourist information, public transport timetables, info on excursions, travellers' services, TV , little garden of the hostel Prices are flexible AMD 4000-7000.

GuestHouse, Mashtots 52. They are very kind and it is very clean. However, they are almost always full.

Heghine apartment, 10min walking from Garegina Sq. A kind and hospitable lady runs this old house. Stove and bath is available. She speaks Armenian, Russian and Persian. $15 per person.

Hostel Glide is a private house located in the centre of the city, but in a quiet and safe place. It's very close to bus stations and a 3 minute-walk from metro station “Barekamutyun” . It's possible to see Ararat mountain from the windows. It is run by a very hospitable family. The prices for beds start from AMD4500.

Kesabella Touristic House Located in Parakar, 9.5km (5.9 mi) from the centre of Yerevan (Republic Square). The price of USD60/day per person includes stay and daily tours in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, breakfast and lunch/or dinner (Middle Eastern and Armenian cuisine) and daily housekeeping.

ree shuttle service to/from Yerevan 09:00-23:00, free airport pick-up and drop-off, free coffee and tea, free Wi-Fi. Laundry/ironing services are available at a low cost. Doctor on call. Special rate for groups of 8 or more. The staff speak Armenian (Eastern & Western), English, Arabic, Turkish and Persian.

Penthouse Hotel & Hostel 5 Koryun St, apt 33/2 (near Matenadaran, Medical University, Abovyan Street, the metro station Eritasardakan) An elegant duplex, clean, comfortable, with the amazing view of biblical Mount Ararat. From AMD5000-5800 (€9-10.40), including Armenian/continental breakfast.

Rafael (Hostel), Khanjyan 39, apt 5 (Tumanyan-Khanjyan). checkin: 13:00; checkout: 12:00. Within walking distance of Republic Square. Nice common room with a fireplace, where you can relax and kitchen. Free Wi-Fi, tasty breakfast and washing machines. AMD4000-15500.

Theatre Hostel A small and cosy hostel just 5min walking distance from the main square. It's very clean, has many free facilities, such as Wi-Fi internet access, bicycle parking zone, etc. The prices start from AMD4500 with light breakfast included.

Minotel Barsam Suites 8 Mher Mkrtchyan St next to Republic Sq. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00 noon. Minotel Barsam Suites is a Swiss brand hotel located in the heart of Yerevan, only in a few steps away from the Republic Square, within a short walking distance to downtown Yerevan’s attractions and entertainment, featuring lobby bar, meeting facilities, business lounge, free Wi-Fi throughout hotel.

Armenian Royal Palace Hotel In the outskirts of Yerevan, quiet location checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Sgl from USD69.88, dbl from USD81.93, (incl 20% VAT)

Areg Hotel, near Sasuntsi David Square, south and not too far from downtown. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Sgl USD50, dbl USD73, tpl USD86 tax and breakfast incl.

Golden Tulip Hotel. First hotel built in 1926, has the charm of an old grand hotel with all of the amenities of a modern, upmarket rooftop pool, elegant guestrooms, exquisite restaurant, conference halls, winter garden with 24h bar and other services.

Hotel Latar,far on the outskirts of the city. The massive circular pool is a sight to behold.

Olympia Hotel, situated in one of the most prestigious parts of Yerevan. The outstanding view from your balcony you'll see Mountain Ararat, Mountain Aragats, Hrazdan valley and hear the sound of the waterfall just in front of you Paris Hotel Yerevan, 4/6 Amiryan St next to Republic Sq. checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00 noon.

An upmarket hotel in central Yerevan featuring the biggest beds in Yerevan, a rooftop cafe-bar-restaurant called "Montmartre", meeting facilities, business lounge, fitness centre, free Wi-Fi throughout hotel.

Royal Plaza Hotel (in the downtown of Yerevan) Sgl from USD80, dbl/twin from USD100, taxes of 20% and breakfast incl.

Yerevan is generally safer than many western-European cities. Crime and street violence is almost non-existent here. Nevertheless, as in the most cities of its size, in crowded places and transport beware of pickpockets.

The traffic can be quite rough, so pay close attention when crossing the street, especially in non designated area. There are about 3000 Dram (9 USD) fine for jaywalking.

Scams Yerevan has its share of scams. A common one is that at the end of a restaurant visit, you will be presented with a bill that is much higher that the sum of what you ordered.

It is normal that tax / service is added, but especially with European / American tourists restaurant owners tend to add many other things in Armenian language to the bill or do not specify the bill at all, but only present you with a total amount that you have to pay.

If in doubt, ask for a specified bill and challenge the extras charged if they don't make sense.

A more advanced scam happens in night clubs. Upon entry, you will be warmly welcomed and probably have a great time. At then end of the evening however, a ridiculous amount of money (e.g. 5000 Dram per person) is added to the bill as entrance fee.

When you mention that this was not clear beforehand or displayed anywhere at the entrance / inside the club, their friendliness changes.

Uniformed Military / Police-look-a-like men enter the bar and behave very aggressive, saying that you have to pay now or will end up in jail.

Specifically Palazzo di Lusso on Nothern Avenue has a bad reputation. Pay attention at bars / clubs that are (almost) empty, for example during the week or in low season and when going out with foreigners only.

Armenian Tourism Development Agency, 3 Nalbandyan Street.

There are three GSM service providers operating in Armenia. It is strongly advised to acquire a temporary prepaid SIM card as they are cheap and convenient, allowing both local and international calls, no charge for incoming calls and no monthly fee.

Mobile internet and UTMS are also offered from all companies, as well as the normal full range of wireless services.

VivaCell and Orange have booths offering free SIM-Cards to incomming visitors at the airport. They are also easiest to top-up at pretty much any store or kisok in the country,and have better English service, rates and coverage.

Majority of foreign visitors find their unlocked mobile phones compatible with Armenian SIM cards (GSM 900/1800). GSM coverage maps of Armenia.

VivaCell,Armenian, English, and Russian is the leading GSM service provider in Armenia and offers quality service at reasonable rates owned by the Russian giant MTS.

They have the best coverage outside of Yerevan. VivaCell pre-paid SIM card "ALO" card costs AMD 1100-7000 (USD 3-20) depending on how much starting credit you want.

At their flagship store off of Republic Square, VivaCell is very helpful to forgeiners and will make sure that you understand everything in English, French or Russian.

They offer very low prices for international calls from your phone via a VoIP, be sure to dial 77 00+country code+the number, i.e.77001... for US or 770048... for Poland, infact it is much cheaper per minute to call the US or Canada(13AMD/$0.03) or Russia(30AMD/$0.08) than it is to dail Armenian networks.

Beeline,Armenian and Russian formerly ArmenTel but have switched to the Russian brand also have a pre-paid card. Note: this option may no longer be available to those without Armenian residency, although Russians and Ukrainians seem to be exempted.

Orange,Armenian and English, The French multi-national is a newcommer, in the country since mid-2009 offers a pre-paid card called Let's Talk with complicated but competitive rates.

All networks in Armenia(35AMD/$0.09) lower rates may apply within the network or for night-time calls, US or Canada(15AMD/$0.04), Russia(30AMD/$0.08).

Venders, small and big shopkeepers, taxi and marshrutka drivers tend to overcharge tourists, particularly Western tourists without knowledge of Russian. Observe what common people are paying and just follow their example or ask them.

Traffic in Yerevan is not as chaotic as in Tbilisi (Georgia) and more car and bus drivers tend to reckon with pedestrians who have a green light when crossing a street.

Strange that all zebra crossings are marked with the word STOP not at the point where cars start to cross, but at the sides where pedestrians start to cross. Strange and perhaps unique in the world. Once you are on the zebra cars usually stop. However not always. So pay attention.

There are many convenient day trips based from Yerevan, including a bunch better saved as overnight trips.

Garni and Geghard (UNESCO world heritage site) are an absolute must, or people will not believe you've been to Armenia. Take mini van from Mercedes show room in Gai avenue northeast of the center at 10am to Garni or further to Goght, then walk to Geghard. 40 minutes, 250dram.
Zvartnots Cathedral ruins and Echmiadzin (also UNESCO world heritage sites).

Saghmosavank and Hovhannavank monasteries overlooking the Kasagh River Canyon and the churches of Ashtarak.

Khor Virap Monastery, Noravank Monastery, Noravank Canyon and Areni Wine Country. The van to Khor Virap leaves from a bus station behind the central train station,you have to go through the underpass under the tracks and metro station.

It leaves at 11:00 am and returns from Khor Virap at 1:20 pm. The fare is 500 AMD.

Lake Sevan, Sevanavank and Hayravank Monasteries, and Noratus Khachkar Cemetary.

Dilijan old town, Haghartsin and Goshavank Monasteries.

The Debed Canyon and the monasteries of Lori, UNESCO World Heritage sites of Haghpat and Sanahin, plus Odzun, Kobayr, Horomayri and Surp Grigori.



Tourism Observer