Relax and Rejuvenate in Jermuk
Enchanting Jermuk, nestled in the forested hills of the eastern Vayots Dzor region, is a haven for those seeking respite from the chaos of the city. With its proximity to nature and healing waters, Jermuk is a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. Whether you're arriving from Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, or traveling from other regions, the journey to Jermuk is a prelude to the serenity that awaits you. You’ll pass the vineyards of Vayots Dzor, mountain vistas and ruddy, rugged cliffs on the way.
Healing Waters and Wellness of Jermuk
The word "Jermuk" itself translates to "warm" in Armenian. That’s a reflection of the town’s most prized possession, which lies beneath its surface: mineral-rich thermal springs! These have been celebrated for their healing properties for centuries. During the Soviet era, Jermuk was a bustling and renowned retreat town, a mecca for local and international visitors seeking natural treatments. Its famous waters are believed to aid in treating a range of ailments, from digestive issues to skin conditions. They are rich with minerals and compounds, including hydrocarbonate, sulfate, chlorine, sodium, potassium, calcium, fluorine, bromine and magnesium. One of Jermuk’s must-visit spots is its architecturally elegant Gallery of Water next to the small artificial lake in the city center. There, the natural springs are channeled into five beautifully carved metal spigots. Each one releases sparkling water of a progressively warmer temperature (30 to 57 C) into massive stone jugs. You’ll notice layers of colorful mineral deposits on the jugs! Bring a cup with you or purchase one on the spot to sample each temperature of water.
After spending just a couple days in Armenia, you’ll be sure to notice Jermuk brand in the supermarket and on the table. It’s one of the country’s most popular bottled waters. The still and sparkling varieties hail directly from the area’s mineral springs. Of course, the waters aren’t only for drinking! For the ultimate relaxation experience, visit one of the many hotels or spas in town for special treatments, therapeutic massages and rejuvenating facials. While Jermuk’s natural beauty is most vibrant in late spring and early summer, the abundance of spas makes the town a perfect winter getaway as well.
Exploring the Nature of Jermuk
Jermuk's pristine natural environment invites exploration and adventure. Lace up your hiking boots and set out to discover the town's surrounding beauty! As you might imagine, many of the attractions have to do with water. Want to see where the famous mineral waters originate? The heart-shaped hot springs are located about five kilometers out of town, deep in the forest. A walk there will take about 40-60 minutes, with a few stream crossings. The trip by off-roading vehicle is bumpy and extreme – you’ll be ready for a dip in the orange-tinted waters when you arrive. This is part of the fun: every couple of minutes, the springs bubble up in a small natural geyser.
The fairy-like Jermuk waterfall is another must-see. Flowing from the mountains into the Arpa River, the waterfall does not tumble vertically down the rocks below with a roar. It’s wide and delicate, flowing fairy-like with lots of little streams. After enjoying the serenity of the waterfall, follow the Arpa River through town. You can enjoy a view of the rushing waters below from the bridges or walk down the hundred plus steps to the riverbank itself. On the HikeArmenia app, you can find directions for the “Gndevank Trail,” which takes you through the Arpa River canyon along ancient foot-paths to the 10th century Gndevank monastery. The intricate carvings on the walls, the age-old khachkars (cross-stones), and the serene atmosphere create an experience that transcends time. The church sits on the banks of the tranquil Kechut Reservoir into which the Arpa flows. Since there is little to no light pollution in the area, the reflective reservoir is a lovely place to admire the stars. While it is currently being renovated, the Jermuk ropeway is a great way to experience the beauty of Jermuk’s forests and the Kechut Reservoir from above! At one kilometer in length, it reaches 2,480 meters above sea level. In the winter months, it actually functions as a ski lift. The Jermuk area gets lots of snow; here, you can enjoy two slopes for skiing – a 1,400 meter run for beginners and 1,300 meter run for enthusiasts. The ropeway ride takes just 10 minutes and accommodates up to 200 passengers. At the top of the mountain, you’ll find a seasonal rental shop for snowboards and skis and a year-round cafe.
Jermuk Cultural Immersion
For art aficionados, the Jermuk Art Gallery is worth a visit. As a branch of the National Gallery of Armenia, this museum showcases selected exhibits from Soviet-Armenian and modern cultural heritage. Established in 1972, Its permanent collection features around 100 paintings and sculptures created between the 1920s and 1990s. The artwork of renowned Armenian artists like Martiros Saryan and Vahram Gaifejian are represented alongside captivating sculptures. The gallery hosts various cultural events and exhibitions, as well as workshops in landscape painting. Located by the Arpa River, visitors can enjoy art and then easily reach the beautiful Jermuk waterfall in about ten minutes via a field road from the backyard.And of course, no travel e xperience is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Jermuk offers an array of dining options that highlight traditional Armenian flavors. A visit to a local restaurant isn't just about the food; it's about the convivial atmosphere and the opportunity to engage with the warm-hearted locals. Strike up conversations, learn about traditional cooking techniques, and allow the flavors to transport you to the heart of Armenian culture.
Jermuk Awaits You
Whether you’re seeking a retreat or an adventure, Jermuk offers a blend of experiences sure to satisfy. From the healing waters that soothe the body to the exhilarating hikes that invigorate the soul, every moment spent in this hidden gem is a step closer to reconnection with nature and oneself.