Unique places to swim in Armenia
While Armenia is most famous for its massive Lake Sevan, there are dozens of beautiful and hidden places to swim that are off the beaten track. Here we present some of the most beautiful spots, grouped by the type of water body.
Armenia has more than 20 beautiful waterfalls all over its territory!
Trchkan waterfall, located on the border of Armenia’s Shirak and Lori regions, is the tallest plunge waterfall (23 m) in all of Armenia. Visit in May/June for the highest water volume, or July/August for the best swimming weather! The waterfall is most accessible by car, but there are paths to get there by foot from both the Lori and Shirak sides.
Shaki waterfall, accessible by car from the town of Sisian, is Armenia’s widest waterfall. Here, the Vorotan river gushes over cliffs of ancient volcanic basalt forming a series of side-by-side cascades framed beautifully by trees and greenery. Wade in the pools at the base of the waterfall, take a “shower” under the spray, or climb above the falls for a breathtaking vista. Visit in the spring for the most impressive water flow! The waterfall is a 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot.
As they’re located in the Khosrov State Reserve, you’ll need a guide to visit the fairy-like Vahagn and Astghik waterfalls. Named after ancient pagan gods, the waterfalls are definitely worthy of their names. Once again, although the water will be slightly chilly, springtime is the best season for a good swim! Swimming is just one of the features of Khosrov. There, you’ll also find abandoned monasteries, unique species of flora and fauna, cliffs, forests and plenty to explore.
Jermuk, Armenia’s famous Soviet-era resort town, still delights visitors with its healing waters. In the architecturally stunning “water gallery” where the springs are channeled into pipes, you can sample the mineral waters for drinking. Take a short off-roading trip out of town into the nearby forest for a soak in the heart-shaped hot springs. You’ll see color deposits of minerals all around the swimming hole. Mineral waters are also channeled into nearby hotels for indoor soaking and bathing. Jermuk is also famous for its huge, yet delicate, waterfall, called “mermaid’s hair.” Visit and ask a local to tell you the legend that inspired the name.
Hankavan, located in the Kotayk region, is another famous location for hot springs. In fact, the village’s name means “place of minerals.” Here, the waters are diverted into private enclosed baths with open roofs that you can reserve for an hour with friends.
Nearly half of Armenia’s landmass is mountainous, and one of the best rewards of conquering a peak is a brisk swim in its crater lake! You’ll find many of these in the ancient Geghama mountain range, home to some of Armenia’s most spectacular extinct volcanic summits.
The most famous of these is Azhdahak (3597 m), Armenia’s third tallest mountain. From here, you’ll have stunning views of Lake Sevan, Mt. Aragats and Mt. Ararat. And best of all? There’s a turquoise crater lake nestled in the center of the red rock. Once you summit the mountain, you’ll probably have worked up a sweat. Swim if you dare; it’s freezing!
Nazeli lake, often called “Badi” Lake or “Duck” Lake for its shape, is located in the same mountain range, nestled at the foot of Spitakasar, or “white” mountain. Not far away is clear and sparkling Akna lake, which is lower in altitude and thus a bit warmer than the aforementioned two.
Other mountain lakes
Mt. Aragats (4,090 metres) is Armenia’s tallest mountain. Brave hikers who conquer its four peaks on a hot day often cool off with a dip in the freezing Kari lake or warm up with a bowl of khash on a colder day. On Mt. Aragats’ slopes, you’ll see several small lakes shining like little jewels. These include Astghani, Rapi, Hordakheghd and Mtnalich.
Tsaghkari Lake, nestled in the Zangezur Mountains of the Syunik region, is pristine and set against a dramatic backdrop of peaks. For the best photos, catch the crystal-clear waters of the lake in early summer before the snows have melted. For the best swimming, visit in late summer.
Craving saltwater? Explore the fascinating salt lake located on the outskirts of Yerevan. You can float and soak in this unique body of water, which is very popular in the summer months. The lake is divided into two sections: the larger part contains about 15% saline, while the smaller pond has a higher saline content of 25%. This smaller pond is known for its therapeutic properties, attracting individuals with aching limbs and joints. Additionally, there's a refreshing little waterfall near the lake.
“Satani Kamurj” or the “Devil’s Bridge” is one of the most exhilarating locations for swimming. Get extreme with a canyoning tour of this natural wonder in Armenia’s Syunik region. Here, you’ll descend into the Vorotan river canyon with rope and harness, don a wetsuit and explore the area’s multicolor mineral deposits, hot springs and unique rock formations.
Is the water clean?
Most of the swimming locations mentioned above are fed with fresh-flowing mountain spring water or snow-melt. While there is always a risk when swimming in nature, these are some of the cleanest water sources you will find.
Published on February 01, 2024