Top Winter Activities in Armenia
While Armenia tends to be pretty cold in the winter, with average temperatures in Yerevan hovering between 1 and 3 C, there are plenty of reasons to visit in the months of December, January and February. Embrace the cold weather and explore some of your options for enjoying it to the fullest below.
If you’re an adventure lover, Armenia shines in the winter months. Try paragliding over snow-powdered Azat Reservoir, downhill skiing in Tsakhkadzor, ice skating at Aparan, cross-country skiing in Ashotsk, and sledding or snowmobiling in Lernanist. If you’re not into sports, you can still enjoy a bird’s eye view of the wintry landscape below on the ski lifts at Aparan and Tsakhkadzor.
In December, numerous Christmas markets pop up around Yerevan! Bring your friends to enjoy the holiday mood and sample the mix of freshly made delicious treats and hot drinks for sale. You can also browse and purchase handicrafts and artisan gifts for the special people on your list. Some of these events are organised to support charitable causes, so you can feel good about spending!
Winter is an amazing time to treat yourself to a relaxing spa experience. There are many spas and saunas in Yerevan, and also a few in Gyumri and around Lake Sevan. If you want to take advantage of mineral waters, visit some of Armenia’s natural hot springs. In Hankavan, the healing waters are channelled into private bathing rooms with sky-lights which channel the steam into the open sky. Rent one of these rooms by yourself or with friends and soak away your stress for an hour.
For the ultimate experience, visit one of the many hotels or spas in Armenia’s resort town of Jermuk for special water treatments, therapeutic massages and rejuvenating facials. Relax at the warm indoor pools and overlook the snowy forests surrounding the town!
If you have the right gear, the snow shouldn’t stop you from exploring Armenia’s mountains and forests! Winter hiking is becoming more and more popular. When you see the magical shots snapped by hikers who have gone before you, you’ll understand why. You can catch a breathtaking panorama of snow-covered Mt. Ararat from the peak of Tezhkar Mountain and explore the nearby Hell’s Canyon in Armenia’s Ararat region. Travel to the mystical Vayots Dzor region and conquer the fascinating fortress of Smbataberd. Hike from the village of Shirakamut to the massive frozen waterfall of Trchkan on the border of Armenia’s Shirak and Lori regions. Climb to the top of Mt. Artanish in the Gegharkunik region for a panoramic view of Lake Sevan below. In the Khosrov reserve, visit the fairy-like waterfalls that can be found along the riverbank. The opportunities are endless, and the beauty you will witness in winter is on a whole new level!
If you’re looking for a less active option, but you still want to enjoy the frozen natural beauty around you, plan a cozy wintry escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Local guest houses – from BnBs to unique experiential stays to tucked-away A-frame cabins – abound in the regions. Many are listed on booking.com or Airbnb.
Have a khash party
Usually enjoyed during winter months, khash is a legendary savoury broth prepared from boiled cow's feet. It is typically flavoured with garlic, served with dried lavash (Armenian flatbread) and washed down with vodka. The rich and distinctive flavours result from the long simmering process which can last up to ten hours. Khash eating parties also last for hours on end! Friends and family traditionally gather on winter weekend mornings to enjoy the delicacy, fostering camaraderie and social bonding. It's a cherished culinary ritual, often accompanied by lively conversations and toasts.
Experience the holidays
Traditional winter holidays include New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Trndez and St. Sargis. See if you can participate in some of the celebrations!
Armenians commemorate New Year’s in the way that much of the world does Christmas – with a tree and the exchanging of gifts. Families gather around a traditional table and stay up until midnight to ring in the new year. Gifts are exchanged on January 1, and family and friends filter in and out of each other’s homes through the 4th. It is customary to have the table set from the morning with traditional dishes like blinchik (a meat-filled crepe), pork loin, dried nuts and fruits, pickled vegetables, and of course, wine and vodka. Friends are actually expected to pop in unannounced.
The commemoration of Jesus’s birth is celebrated on January 6 in the Armenian church. Families usually attend a service before gathering around the table.
During Trndez, young married couples jump over a fire, and sweet treats made from roasted grain are exchanged. The holiday has pagan origins, but is currently celebrated as a fertility holiday. On the holiday of St. Sargis, an equivalent to Valentine’s Day, young people eat salty crackers before sleeping. It is said that the man or woman who brings them water in their dreams will be their future husband or wife.
In conclusion, Armenia's winter wonderland offers an array of activities that cater to both adventure seekers and those looking for a cosy escape. Embrace the chill and discover the hidden gems that make winter in Armenia a season to remember!
Published on November 29, 2023