Autumn in Armenia: 5 Unique Ways to Embrace the Season
While each season shines in its own way, autumn in Armenia is special. By the end of September, the intense summer sun has mellowed. The weather is mild and golden, the air is crisp and the leaves are colourful. The crowds have died down, but there is still plenty to do! Here we recommend some of our favourite activities for enjoying Armenia’s fall season to the fullest.
Visit a winery
Grapes are almost sacred in Armenia; so is wine-drinking. Celebrate the fruits of the October harvest by enjoying last year’s vintage! Gather some friends and hit one of Armenia’s many wineries. You can find some great places for a glass in Yerevan, but we recommend escaping the hustle and bustle and visiting a location outside of the city for a bottle (or two), a cheese board, live music and sunset views.
Smaller vineyards frequently look for helping hands during harvest time. It’s possible to participate in the grape gathering – reach out to a local winery to organize an unforgettable experience…
From the sky
The horizon tends to be at its clearest in the months of October and November. Enjoy sunset views of Mt. Ararat from the top of Cascade or a rooftop café. Want to get a bit higher than that? Every autumn, SkyBall hosts the annual hot air balloon festival! For one week in October, hot air balloons from around the world converge on Yerevan’s Republic Square and other parts of Armenia, where you have a chance to take the ride of your life!
If you miss that special window, don’t worry; you can book a hot air balloon ride over the ancient Garni temple and Yeranos mountains at a time that suits you. Autumn is also a great season for open-air paragliding and paraplaning over the forests of the Tavush region, Lake Sevan and the curvy-shored Azat Reservoir.
Admire the leaves
On that note, don’t miss the vibrant autumn leaves! Depending on the weather and the region you’re visiting, the colourful foliage usually peaks somewhere between October 15 and 20. You can enjoy the leaves within Yerevan at the Children’s Railway Park and the Botanical Gardens or just outside of the city at Jrvezh Forest Park.
Easy-to-access Dilijan National Park makes for a great out-of-town getaway. The 1.5-hour drive from Yerevan takes you past sapphire lake Lake Sevan and into the forested Dilijan hills. The route to Dilijan from Gyumri through Vanadzor is equally if not more captivating. Take a pit stop to admire the views from the road near the villages of Lermontovo and Fioletovo. If you’re hungry, visit the roadside stands and taste some of the renowned pickled vegetables prepared by the Molokan women there. Visit the info centre in the middle of town for guidance on trails and local hot spots. We recommend a picnic at secluded Gosh Lake, where you can admire the reflection of the leaves on its surface, or a tour of the ancient monastery of Haghartsin, from which the colourful valley panorama opens below.
Enjoy outdoor sports
Armenia is full of stunning nature. Enjoy the mild weather and vibrant foliage with a half- or full-day hike. Find a trail on the Hike Armenia app and plan your own adventure, or sign up for a group hike through one of the many professional agencies that advertise through Facebook. For a unique experience on the trail, book a horse-back ride. While summer is the best time for swimming in Armenia, you can still enjoy the water in autumn with a sunset SUP adventure at Azat Reservoir or white-water rafting on the Debed River! You can even go sailing at Armenian Camp on Lake Sevan.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, try rock-climbing or cliff-jumping at Hell’s Canyon, zip-lining at many locations throughout the country, or biking at Boo Mountain Bike Park in Vanadzor.
Try autumnal flavours
Getting hungry after all that activity? As the weather gets chillier, it’s time to enjoy local comfort foods. Try crowd-pleasing harissa – a thick and savoury traditional porridge made with cracked wheat, chicken and butter. It’s usually cooked in massive vats, stirred with a long wooden paddle, and served on special occasions or church holidays. Golden-brown ghapama is a festive baked pumpkin stuffed with rice, dried fruits, honey and butter. It’s so famous in Armenia, there’s even a song about it.
If you’re an adventurous eater, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in a khash party, an all-day ritual centred around the enjoyment of garlicky cow’s foot stew and vodka. Be prepared for lots of toasting!