Dilijan, the “Swiss mountain town of the Caucasus” is a charming retreat, with an authentic 18th century old town and dozens of wooden guesthouses and B&Bs overlooking the surrounding thick old growth forests. The forests are filled with hiking trails, including several day hikes to the nearby forest monastery of Haghartsin; the reflective Parz Lich and Goshavank, as well as the ivy laden Jukhtakavank and Matosavank. Maintained by the vigilant rangers of the Dilijan National Park, these trails also lead to campsites, fortresses, mountaintops, deep gorges and breathtaking waterfalls.
Its cool clean air, bubbling mineral springs, mild climate and picturesque setting make it a welcome respite from the heat and bustle of Yerevan, and a nice contrast to the beautiful but stark alpine country around Sevan. If Yerevan is for business and Sevan for beach-combing, Dilijan is for rejuvenating, for contemplating art, soaking in springs, walking through the forests that creep into the heart of the city, and listening to nature.
Dilijan is also a city of artists. For 200 years, artists and musicians from all over the Russian Empire and Soviet Union gathered in mountain retreats, drawing inspiration from its idyllic setting. New artists still spend vacations in the area and occasional exhibitions and sales are held in the town. It is now also home to a major international boarding school, with students from all around the world. Walk along the river in the center of town for a view of the park, lake and architecture, before reaching the UWC school to admire how its use of green roofs and walls allows it to seamlessly blend in with the natural setting.