Spending a day in Dilijan, Armenia

Spending a day in Dilijan, Armenia

#Culture and lifestyle








Discovering the Hidden Charms of Dilijan, Armenia


Best known for its forested hills and peaks, Dilijan is a hiker’s paradise – especially in the colourful autumn months. Sometimes called the Switzerland of Armenia, the town beckons travellers seeking peace and connection with nature. But even if you’re not an avid hiker, there’s still a lot to do and see. In this article, we offer activities in Dilijan and the surrounding area that will make for an unforgettable visit! 


City Park


Kick-start your adventure in Dilijan with a stroll through the downtown city park, easily accessible from the main square. The tranquil area has a small pond, walking paths and lots of trees and greenery. There are great views of the surrounding mountains, and if you visit in May, you’ll find fragrant lilac bushes blooming in abundance! 

Cross the bridge over the pond to reach the Dilijan info centre, where you can access information about hiking paths, rent bikes and scooters, and purchase maps and swag. 


Continue down the path past the info centre toward the wooded Verev Rope Park, an exhilarating outdoor adventure destination that promises fun and excitement for visitors of all ages. Various aerial obstacle courses criss-cross the trees above. You’ll traverse swinging bridges and test your balance on challenging rope courses. With different levels of difficulty, the activities cater to both beginners and experienced thrill-seekers. 


While exploring the park, enjoy the juxtaposition of old and new. Check out the vibey overgrown Soviet-era amusement rides and the cutting edge Ditaran, a dome-shaped cinema for breathtaking immersive films and edutainment. 


Corners of Culture


Don’t miss Sharambeyan Street! This pedestrian-only avenue is a treasure trove of traditional Armenian architecture, artisan shops, and art galleries. Immerse yourself in the quaint atmosphere and cobble-stoned streets, and enjoy the beautifully preserved 19th century buildings. 


At the Museum of Folk Art on Getapya Street, shop for interesting pieces of local art and handicrafts, including woodwork, lace, dolls, ceramics and paintings. 


The Local Lore Museum and Art Gallery offers a comprehensive exploration of Dilijan's history, folklore, and artistic heritage. The museum section houses a collection of artefacts, including archaeological finds, manuscripts, and ethnographic items. The gallery showcases an array of local artwork, ranging from traditional paintings and sculptures to contemporary installations.


Soviet-era film fans will definitely want to take a photo with the heroes of Mimino, a 1977 comedy film starring Armenian legend Mher “Frunzik” Mkrtchyan. The statues of the characters are right off the central square. 


The government sanatorium is also worth a visit for those who appreciate Soviet-era architecture and history. The building once served as a rest house for military families. It is still functioning today, but to a much more limited extent. 


Flora and fauna

Dilijan National Park spans over 240 square kilometres of mountainous forests and meadows. The area is criss-crossed with hiking paths of various difficulty levels and altitude gains; they traverse mountain meadows, pass streams, lakes and waterfalls, and lead to secluded ancient monasteries. Some of Dilijan’s best hikes follow the Transcaucasian Trail, a regional network with signage, maps, and facilities, enabling hikers to explore safely and responsibly. Visit the above-mentioned info centre in the city park for guidance on which path to pick. 


Popular destinations include the Drunken Forest, so called because of its asymmetrical trees; Parz Lake, which boasts a zip line and ropes course; and Gosh Lake and the nearby ancient monastery Goshavank. The park is most beautiful in autumn when its foliage is a mix of fiery reds and vibrant yellows. It’s also stunning in spring when the trees are bright green and the lilacs are in bloom.


If you’re interested in wildlife, visit the breeding centre of the red Caucasian deer. While once abundant in Armenia’s northern regions, the species has become endangered due to deforestation and poaching. In 2013, the Ministry of the Environment and the Armenian branch of the World Wildlife Fund began active efforts to breed the deer and then release them slowly into their natural habitat. You can observe the deer in special enclosures and learn more about the resettlement efforts at the breeding centre. 


Ancient faith


Dilijan is surrounded by a rich collection of monasteries that bear witness to Armenia's ancient spiritual heritage. 

An architectural gem boasting stunning views of the valley below, the Haghartsin Monastery Complex showcases the magnificence of Armenian mediaeval ecclesiastical art. The complex is a 13-kilometre drive from Dilijan through verdant forests with picnic spots and walking paths. Haghartsin boasts three churches: St. Gregory, St. Stepanos, and St. Astvatsatsin. It also has an architecturally rare 13th century refectory and beautiful khachkars (cross-stones). 


You’ll notice the remains of the old walnut tree behind the complex. Because they attract lightning, walnut trees were often planted next to churches. And indeed, the massive trunk of the Haghartsin “lightning rod” is now simply a charred shell of its former self. Legend has it that your dreams will come true if you can pass through the cavity in its trunk. 

While you’re exploring the woods around the monastery, see if you can find the old abandoned cable car platform. During Soviet times, there was a plan to build a ropeway from the valley below up to Haghartsin, but the project stopped before passengers ever got to take a ride. If you can find it, you’re in for amazing views! 


Founded in the 12th century by the renowned scholar and theologian Mkhitar Gosh, Goshavank is a stunning monastic complex with multiple churches and chapels, as well as a school now in ruins. The complex boasts intricate stone carvings and some of Armenia’s finest khachkars. You can visit the secluded Gosh Lake nearby. 

The tucked-away 12th century monasteries of Jukhtakavank and Matosavank are also worth a visit, but accessed best by foot. They are peaceful hidden retreats steeped in history, with beautiful khachkars and moss-covered walls. 

Festivals and food! 


Dilijan has a vibrant and growing culinary scene showcasing local Armenian flavours as well as international cuisine. The city is gaining a reputation for its fine dining… and its food festivals. Why not align your visit with one? 


In June, the Armenian-Georgian Cultural Culinary Festival invites visitors to immerse themselves in the heritage and traditions of two neighbouring cultures. The event brings together teams from both Armenia and Georgia to prepare and present their cultures’ best dishes, handicrafts, artwork, song and dance. At the end of the festival, three awards are granted for “best taste,” “best view” and “best idea.”  

Since 2022, Dilijan has hosted the Gastrofest, an adventure for the stomach and the senses. Located at the tucked-away Aghasi Khanjyan villa, the ticketed event promises delicious offerings from more than 25 restaurants, live music, games, and “top chef” style culinary battles! Become a food critic for the weekend and vote for your favourite restaurant.

Every August, the Dilijan Wine Fest again draws crowds to the grounds of the villa for the love of great wine, live music, and lots of fun. Get a ticket to enjoy tastings with more than 25 different wineries and restaurants, master classes, concerts, and wine & paint activities.

Getting to Dilijan 


The drive from Yerevan to Dilijan is about 1.5 hours and a beautiful one, passing a section of the shore of Lake Sevan and the magnificent forested slopes of the Tavush region. Shared gg shuttles run multiple times per day from the Matenadaran museum and minibuses run from the northern bus station. Private taxis are also abundant.

Published on July 11, 2023