Armenia UNESCO Sites Tour

Yerevan, Zvartnots, Etchmiadzin, Garni, Geghard, Dilijan, Alaverdi, Sevan

Armenia UNESCO Sites Tour is a grand introduction to every locale in the Land of Ararat inscribed on the World Heritage List. Envision ancient monastic life in Geghard Monastery, dive into learning at Haghpat and Sanahin Complexes in Alaverdi, uncover history at Zvartnots and participate in Mass at Etchmiadzin Cathedral. Along the way you’ll also encounter Garni Temple, capital city Yerevan, serene Lake Sevan and more.
Tiny Armenia is laden with history and packed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the world’s first official church, while Haghpat and Sanahin Monasteries were renowned religious and scientific centers of the Middle Ages. Zvartnots Cathedral astonishes with its carvings, and Geghard Monastery and the Upper Azat Valley with their flawless scenery.

Arrive in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon, and have a rest after your flight. Meet your guide and driver to begin your private tour to the following sights:

  • Matenadaran, also known as the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, which holds nearly half of the world’s 30,000 Armenian manuscripts, including original texts and early 5th-6th century writings, plus over 400,000 scientific texts in multiple other languages.
  • Cascade Complex, whose 500 steps serve as a modern city symbol and house the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.
  • Republic Square and Vernisaj Market, the largest souvenir bazaar in Yerevan which holds some of the finest examples of Armenian folk art, a large selection of unique jewelry and exclusive handmade masterpieces.
  • Saint Gregory The Illuminator Cathedral (2001), the world’s largest Armenian Apostolic cathedral. It sits atop a hill and consists of three churches, a bell tower and dozens of arches.
  • Tsitsernakaberd (1967), the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on Tsitsernakaberd Hill which is dedicated to the victims of the massacres of the early 20th century.
  • Megerian Carpet Museum, where you can observe the production of rugs firsthand and see colorful carpets from each region of Armenia.
Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: none

In the morning, your guide and driver will pick you up from your Yerevan hotel for a drive to the city of Vagharshapat, commonly known as Etchmiadzin (20km, 30min). Etchmiadzin Cathedral and the Zvartnots Archaeological Complex were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
Upon arrival, discover the following sights:

  • Zvartnots Cathedral (643AD), ruins of a 49-meter-tall, three-tiered pyramidal church with unusually beautiful carvings and perfect form. Built by Catholicos Nerses III, it collapsed in an earthquake in 930 A.D.
  • Zvartnots Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserve, which contains artifacts unearthed on the territory and a replica of the original Zvartnots Cathedral.
  • Saint Hripsime Church (7th century), one of the oldest houses of worship in Armenia which has served as a blueprint for numerous other churches in the country.
  • Shoghakat Church (17th century), a domed medieval chapel with cross-stone khachkars. The church is noted for its brown limestone walls and scenic environ.
  • Saint Gayane Church (7th century), which was built in memory of a nun’s tragic martyrdom. The cathedral’s original design has been preserved to this day.
  • Etchmiadzin Cathedral (301AD), the world’s first official Christian church and the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Participate in Holy Mass, admire the bell tower, rotundas, vestry and frescoes and view manuscripts and religious treasures in the small museum.
Return to Yerevan (20km, 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, meet your private guide and driver for your day tour. Drive to Garni in Kotayk Province (30km, 45min), where you’ll tour the following:

  • Garni Temple (1st century AD), ancient Temple of the Sun dedicated to Mithra and built by King Tiridates. Admire the huge basalt slabs as you explore this Hellenistic structure, which strongly mirrors the architecture of the Greco-Roman Empire.
  • Garni Fortress (3rd-2nd centuries BC), a once-powerful fort and the summer residence of Armenian kings which is perched atop a plateau overlooking the Azat River from a height of 300 meters.
  • Mashtots Hayrapet Church (12th century), a small chapel in Garni village built to replace a pagan temple and noted for its cross-stone khachkars and pre-Christian carvings.
Depart Garni and drive to Geghard (10km, 20min).
Explore Geghard Monastery (4th century), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Upper Azat Valley. Also known as Ayrivank Monastery, it is famous for its stone veneers, bas-reliefs and stunning scenery. Explore its tombs and tunnels and see the spear believed to have pierced Christ's body (‘geghard’ means 'spear' in Armenian).
Drive to Dilijan (135km, 2hrs 20min). Overnight at the hotel in Dilijan.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, meet your guide and driver at your Dilijan hotel and drive to Alaverdi (95km, 1hr 45min).
Stop in Lori Region at Odzun Monastery and Church (6th century), whose conglomerate of arched outer galleries, colorful frescoes and traditional inner designs remain well preserved thanks to multiple restoration efforts.
Cross a 12th-century bridge, built by the Queen of Van, on your way to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites near Alaverdi:

  • Sanahin Monastery Complex (10th century), the former administrative and religious center of the Kyurikians Kingdom. Explore the university, library, scriptorium, tombs and wooded grounds of the famous ensemble which includes St. Astvatsatsin, Amenaperkich and St. Gregory Churches.
  • Haghpat Monastery (10th century), a former science center which sits among deep ravines and holds a rich collection of manuscripts. Along with the main St. Neshan Cathedral, the complex includes several churches, a dining hall, scriptorium, bell tower and tombstones.
  • Drive to Haghartsin Monastery (10th-13th centuries), hidden in a wooded corner of paradise some ten kilometers from Dilijan. Visit the original St. Gregory Church, tiny St. Stepanos Church, central St. Astvatsatsin Cathedral and the refectory, an impressive example of medieval secular architecture.
  • Continue to Goshavank Monastery Complex (12th -13th centuries) in the picturesque village of Gosh. Formerly a major university and library, you’ll tour its churches and see Armenia’s famous cross-stone khachkars.
Drive back to Dilijan. Overnight at the hotel in Dilijan.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, you’ll have a free morning before a noon check-out and a drive to Yerevan via Sevan (35km, 40min).

  • Known as the Blue Eye of Armenia, Lake Sevan has long been famous for its Ishkhan (Prince of Fish) Trout that was formerly served to Armenian and foreign kings. Unwind amid the picturesque rocky coastline, charming churches and snow-capped mountains as you keep an eye out for its legendary fish.
  • Continue to Sevanavank Monastery, a.k.a. Sevan Monastery (9th century), built by Princess Mariam, daughter of King Ashot I, founder of the Bagratid Dynasty. Climb hundreds of stairs on this island-turned-peninsula to enjoy the view of Lake Sevan and explore the monastery’s two churches, Arakelots (Church of the Apostles) and Astvatsatsin (Church of the Virgin).
Continue driving to Yerevan (70km, 1hr 20min). Arrive in Yerevan and visit Ararat Brandy Factory, an old cellar with 120 years of experience in brandy making. Taste their world-famous brandy and learn how it is produced. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: breakfast
Breakfast at the hotel, followed by a free morning for packing or independent exploration of Yerevan. Check out of the hotel by noon and transfer to Yerevan International Airport. End of Armenia UNESCO Sites Tour.
  • Private, local guide;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Wine tasting at Yerevan Ararat Brandy Factory;
  • Accommodation in a double/twin room in a 3-star hotel with breakfast (5 nights);
  • Mineral water (1 liter per person per day);
  • Round-trip airport transfers;
  • Transportation throughout the tour.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Lunches and dinners;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • All other charges and services not mentioned under Inclusions;
  • Tips are not included but are appreciated.

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