Armenia’s 11 Most Beautiful Landscapes
Armenia is a pretty small country; to put it in perspective, it’s roughly the size of Belgium or the American state of Maryland. This makes it the perfect country for a road trip – you can explore a lot of it in one or two weeks! Moreover, for its size, Armenia is remarkably diverse in its topography. From rugged peaks, dramatic river canyons and red cliffs to dense forests, wildflower meadows and alpine lakes, you can find every type of magnificent landscape in Armenia.
Whether you’re exploring via foot or by car, here are some of our top landscape recommendations to enjoy.
Red cliffs and mountain goats
After a 15-minute drive through a narrow canyon with towering red cliffs, you’ll arrive at Noravank: a 13th-century Armenian monastery nestled in the stunning Amaghu Valley, between the wine-making village of Areni and the town of Yeghegnadzor. Renowned for its intricate carvings and unique architectural style, Noravank stands as a testament to mediaeval Armenian religious and cultural heritage. The view of the cliffs surrounding the monastery are superb. For a different and equally stunning perspective, hike from the village of Gnishik on the opposite side of the river and take in the whole monastery complex from above. Built from red and pink tuff, Noravank harmonises with the surrounding cliffs, almost blending in.
Monasteries and a massive gorge
The Debed River, which forms a natural border between Armenia and its neighbour Georgia, originates at the confluence of the Pambak and Dzoraget rivers. At this junction, the massive canyon carved out by the Debed looks like a dramatic crack in the landscape. All along the gorge, you’ll enjoy sweeping landscapes of the lush Lori region. It’s a great area for hiking, visiting ancient monasteries and whitewater rafting!
An extinct volcano
Azhdahak, the third largest peak in Armenia, is located in the Geghama mountain range, which extends northeast of Yerevan along the southwest banks of Lake Sevan. A former volcano, Azhdahak is the stand-out in the mountain chain: its soil is rocky and ruddy red. Hike to the crystal blue pond in the crater and swim if you dare. If the visibility is clear, you can admire Lake Sevan, Mt. Ararat and Mt. Aragats from the summit.
The sapphire of Armenia
Lake Sevan is the jewel in the Armenian landscape. There are a few particularly stunning vantage points from several locations around the lake. When the weather is clear, especially on a sunny winter day when the snow-blanketed slopes of the surrounding mountains stand out against blue skies, the view from the summit of Artanish is magnificent. Located at the point where Minor Sevan (the smaller eastern section of the lake) and Major Sevan (the larger western portion) meet, Artanish is truly the best lookout point for enjoying the lake from above. You can also enjoy a beautiful panorama from the ancient monasteries of Sevanavank and Hayravank, as well as the cliffs above the Noratus peninsula, where a collection of nearly one thousand cross stones (“khachkars”).
The cliffs are alive
When travelling past Dilijan toward Ijevan in Armenia’s lush Tavush region, you must stop to admire the Ijevan mountains to your left. Their dramatic white cliffs topped by vibrant green grasses are magnificent from the road; there you can admire them in all their glory. Explore them close-up with a hike, horseback ride or, if you dare, extreme paragliding.
Ararat, up close
Khor Virap, an iconic Armenian monastery, commands attention with its historical significance and spectacular views. It was here that St. Gregory the Illuminator – the scholar who inspired the pagan king Trdat III to adopt Christianity as Armenia’s official state religion – was imprisoned. Later the monastery would be built on the site in his honour. Situated against the backdrop of Mount Ararat, the monastery offers one of the most grandiose views of the iconic mountain. Pilgrims and visitors alike are captivated by the arresting sight of the snow-capped peak.
A pagan temple
Garni Temple, a symbol of Armenia's pagan history, is a marvel of classical Hellenistic architecture. Perched above the surrounding Azat River Gorge, the temple's colonnaded structure frames the landscape. Don’t miss the next door Symphony of Stones in the canyon below, a massive conglomeration of hexagonal basalt columns that resemble a towering pipe organ. Garni, with its harmonious blend of ancient history and natural beauty, is an unforgettable stop in your Armenian adventure.
Fortress on a hill
Amberd Fortress, perched on the slopes of Mount Aragats, transports visitors to mediaeval Armenia with time-worn walls and towers. The strategic elevation affords panoramic views of the Ararat Valley and the surrounding peaks. It is especially beautiful during late spring when red poppies and assorted wildflowers adorn its slopes.
The longest reversible ropeway
Perched on the banks of the Vorotan River gorge, Tatev Monastery is undoubtedly one of Armenia’s most beautiful spiritual sites. And your journey to get there will be one of your most memorable too! To visit the century church complex, you must travel by the “Wings of Tatev,” which holds a claim to fame as the world’s longest reversible aerial tramway. The 5.7 km journey from the village of Halidzor to Tatev is magnificent, unveiling panoramic vistas of the Vorotan River Gorge below and mountains in the distance. It’s an exhilarating adventure!
A mediaeval fortress
Smbataberd is one of Armenia’s most impressive mediaeval fortresses, nestled on the ridgeline between the villages of Artabuynk and Yeghegis in the rugged Vayots Dzor region. A moderate and scenic hike will take you to the peak, where Smbataberd, meaning “Smbat’s fortress,” stands proud and majestic overlooking the surrounding peaks. Explore the fortress’s thick stone walls, arches and towers and imagine what life was like when the Silk Road passed through this region. When in the area, don’t forget to visit the nearby Tsakhats Kar Monastery Complex, which dates back to 1041 AD!
Step back in time to the Silk Road
Linking the regions of Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor, the “Vardenyats,” or “Selim,” Pass offers breathtaking views of the Yeghehis valley below. Make this one a road trip. Travel along the southern shore of Lake Sevan until the town of Martuni, then turn south toward Yeheghnadzor. As you traverse the high-altitude (2400 metre) mountain pass, you’ll encounter the Orbelian caravanserai, one of Armenia’s most famous Silk-Road-era “rest stops” for traders and merchants. Explore the ancient structure which has stood the test of time and stop for a picnic to enjoy the views.
There you have it! These are just some of the many, many stunning vistas that Armenia has to offer. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a casual traveller or a history lover, you’ll find something on our list to inspire you.
Published on January 15, 2024