What to do and see in Aragatsotn, Armenia: The Best Places and Tips

March 5, 2018 Christa Meece

Discover the best top things to do in Aragatsotn, Armenia including Amberd Fortress, Mount Aragats, Saghmosavank Monastery, Hovhannavank Monastery, Armenia Wine Company, Kari Lake, Vahramashen Church, Armenian Alphabet Monument, Karmravor Church, Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory.
Restaurants in Aragatsotn

1. Amberd Fortress

Byurakan, Armenia
Excellent
77%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 53 reviews

Amberd Fortress

Reviewed By Aram K - Yerevan, Armenia

Located on Mount Aragats. Tourists can go there by passing the village Byurakan. The walls of Amberd Fortress is very well preserved, although a minor part of it collapsed in recent years. Near the fortress there is 11th century church. Very much recommended for visit.

2. Mount Aragats

Aragats Road, Armenia
Excellent
78%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 48 reviews

Mount Aragats

Reviewed By Ben W - New Westminster, Canada

Last month my cousin and I wanted to conquer Mount Ararat, the highest mountain in Armenia. The mountain has 4 summits whereas the northern peak is the highest with 4,090 m above sea level. We understood several of our friends and internet information that it would take just few hours to reach the highest peak and be back. I have to admit that we spent a bit more time on the way to that area visiting the Tegher Monastery as well as the Fortress Amberd and the Vahramashen Church. So we reached the Kari Lake as starting point pretty late in the afternoon (around 3 pm). But we were pretty optimistic that we would still have plenty of time to reach the northern summit since the distance was according to Google Earth “just” around 7 km. The only issue that we both experienced was that we felt a bit dizzy at the Kari Lake level (at 3,190 m). So with fresh energy we started our tour using the GPS of my cousin’s cellphone. The first stretch didn’t seem to be too bad. But for some reason we were not as fast as expected: after 2.5 hrs we had reached just an altitude of 3,500 m. And we made it to 3,800 m after 5 hrs when the sun was already staying low. We realized that our navigation system told us the air distance but not the real distance and the time by calculating using the usual walk speed (~ 6 km/hrs), which is complete unrealistic under that conditions. When we arrived at the rim we realized that we reached just the foot of the western peak while the way to the northern peak (which would have been our original target) would be much farther and would lead through a snow field with unknown conditions. So, we decided to climb up the western summit instead of the highest peak. But then the real fight began only now: The wind was blowing cold and strong. And when the sun started to set it was blinding me so much that I was not able to see anything above and left of me. And since I didn’t have a wind-proof jacket I was freezing which forced me to give up at about 3850 m – just about 45 m below the peak while my cousin made it to the top. When I was seeing him waving to me last time I thought that he would climb down now. But I didn’t see him for more than half an hour. Laying in a small stone circle that protected me from the strongest winds, but not completely, I was already considering my options in the dimming daylight. Finally, when I was already considering to start a rescue Mission for him I saw him at the top again. He told me later that the place where I saw him last was not the end of the route to the top; that he had to hike farther. That’s why I didn’t see him for a while. When he was finally descending the sun was almost down, and I was almost completely frozen. My cousin gave me his jacket that helped me to survive. The next challenge was the trip downwards to the lake in the entire darkness since the sun had been completely set. The sky was nice. But we were not able to enjoy it since we still didn’t know how to go home. We were able to see the lights of Yerevan far away; but this didn’t help us at all. We had a headlight and a flashlight to see our way. And, luckily, the GPS of the cellphone was good enough to show us a direction. Eventually, after about 8 hours we found the lake and with it our car. Our lesson is:
1) Plan your route well ahead or have a competent guide
2) Don’t start too late (expect a hike of at least 8 hrs)
3) Have the right clothes (a wind-proof jacket, warm pullover and, probably good gloves)
4) Have a plan how to communicate with each other when someone is not in sight.
Despite our terrible experience I would love to go there again in order to finish what I was not able to do the first time. It’s just a matter of time and money – as usual.

3. Saghmosavank Monastery

Artashavan, Armenia
Excellent
63%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 26 reviews

Saghmosavank Monastery

Reviewed By Katrien S - Ghent, Belgium

This 13th century monastery is located on the edge of a cliff, over the cliff and the canyon you have a great view from the complex. The monastery, or at least what remains, is quite compact, everything is build next to each other. Outside and inside there are some nice carvings and inside there are some remains of the original frescoes.

4. Hovhannavank Monastery

Ohanavan, Armenia
Excellent
80%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 19 reviews

Hovhannavank Monastery

Reviewed By patrickmeyer - Washington DC, District of Columbia

Despite being just a short drive from Yerevan, Hovhannavank Monastery is not a very well known site. The monastery stands precariously on the edge of the Kasagh River canyon in the community of Ohanavan. The oldest part of the monastery is from the 4th century, although most of what you'll see today was completed in the 13th century. Some parts of the monastery underwent renovation in the 1990s. I've been to many Armenian monasteries and must say that Hovhannavank Monastery is in an exceptionally good state of preservation. We visited on a Sunday and the monastery was being use for Sunday service. The carvings above the doors are beautiful. From the grounds you can get an excellent view of the canyon below. You'll find some local ladies selling bread and fruit, even in the off-season. Highly recommended!

5. Armenia Wine Company

Sasunik 0223, Armenia +374 60 467707 ext. 136
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 14 reviews

Armenia Wine Company

Armenia Wine is a modern winery built in the style of Armenian classical architecture. Located 40 minutes from Yerevan it is one of the favorite destinations of tourists and wine lovers. Here you can enjoy the charm of Armenian terroir and learn about the history and contemporary trends of wine-making in Armenia.

Reviewed By yYlena - Yerevan, Armenia

It was really marvelous excursion. We drove in Armenian Wine Company from Yerevan on bus of company. We admired both the beautiful architecture and the extraordinary views of the Ararat. We tried all kinds of wines: champagne, red and white. And in a good mood...MoreDear yYlena, Thank you very much. We love having guests and it always makes us happy when our visitors are happy! You're most welcome to enjoy your fairy tale with us whenever you want. Best wishes Armenia Wine Co.

6. Kari Lake

Byurakan, Armenia
Excellent
55%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 20 reviews

Kari Lake

Reviewed By gentbrugg - Moscow

Summer is the best time to visit Alpine lakes on mount Aragats. The most famous, the biggest and perhaps the most picturesque among them is Kari Lich, which has a rather bizarre shape. Asphalted, sometimes quite winding and steep road from Byurakan leads to it. For those who are going to trek to the top of the volcano, there are guesthouses and cafes. Trekking there is not too difficult, but you you do not want to miss it because of the incredible beauty of the surrounding countryside.

7. Vahramashen Church

Amberd Rd., Byurakan, Armenia
Excellent
68%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 15 reviews

Vahramashen Church

Reviewed By patrickmeyer - Washington DC, District of Columbia

As an Armenian church, Vahramashen Church is actually not very impressive. It is small compared to others, and is even more plain than typical. But what makes Vahramashen Church so utterly amazing is the location. Standing on a towering precipice at the convergence of two rivers, Varhramashen Church provides a commanding view of the entire Ararat Valley. Of all the Armenian churches, I believe only Khor Virap has a more impressive vantage point. Vahramashen only about 100 meters from Amberd Fortress -- you can easily visit both at the same time. Highly, highly recommended.

8. Armenian Alphabet Monument

Artashavan, Armenia
Excellent
27%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
31%
Poor
3%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 29 reviews

Armenian Alphabet Monument

Reviewed By Katrien S - Ghent, Belgium

Armenians are very font of their alphabet, and this park containing all 39 letters in large forms celebrated its existence for 1600 years. There is no explanation or transcription, so unless you are with an Armenian, you probably will not find the letter you are looking for. At the back there are also some statues, but even without name tag, so you get to guess who they are. So, worth a stop if you are passing by, especially if an Armenian can tell you which letter your name starts with.

9. Karmravor Church

Khachatur Abovyan St., Ashtarak, Armenia
Excellent
14%
Good
72%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 14 reviews

Karmravor Church

Reviewed By BijanTehran_Iran - Tehran, Iran

Karmravor ( "Reddish" because of the color of its dome) or Surp Astvatsatsin ("Holy Mother of God") is a 7th-century Armenian church built by priests Gregory and Manas. The church is located on the northeast side of the town of Ashtarak in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia.
According to a legend, 3 sisters lived in Ashtarak, fell in love with the prince Sargis. The elder 2 sisters killed themselves with orange and red dress in favor of the youngest one. When the youngest sister found out, she put on a white dress and also threw herself into the gorge. Sargis then became a hermit and three small churches appeared at the edge of the gorge, named after the sisters' dress colors.
The place is not too large but has a very beautiful atmosphere.There is a very nice and also expensive caffe and restaurant nearby.

10. Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory

Byurakan, Armenia +374 91 195903
Excellent
56%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 9 reviews

Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory

Reviewed By patrickmeyer - Washington DC, District of Columbia

I was part of a group of 15 people who visited in September 2015. We made a reservation in advance. Upon arrival we were promptly greeted by an astronomer who took us down a a number of unlit pathways to a building housing two telescopes of different sizes. We had to climb up a steep staircase and emerge through a small hole in the ceiling to reach the telescopes. The moon was setting, so he quickly aligned the telescopes to the moon. Through the small telescope you can see the moon pretty good, and through the large telescope you can see the moon well enough to see individual craters. He then proceeded to align the telescopes to three different clusters of stars. Two of the three clusters are not visible with the naked eye, so it was a treat to see them so clearly. For each cluster, he allowed each visitor to look through both the large and small telescopes, and he told a story about what we were looking at. In order to look through the bigger telescope, you have to stand on a slightly-wobbly wooden stool about 4-5 feet off the ground. The entire tour was just over 1 hour in length. The cost was 1500 dram (about $3) per person, which I thought was a bit expensive, considering we had 15 people and that's nearly $50 for a 1 hour tour. But it was worth it. The astronomer was kind, patient, and informative. Unfortunately did not visit the largest telescope in the biggest dome -- which I had wanted to see. I'm not sure why they didn't take us there, but I assume it is out of commission, or perhaps too difficult to operate for large groups. I wish that in addition to the scientist himself, they would have assigned us another staff who could have given us more details of the purpose and history of the whole facility. Remember, this is Armenia, and there aren't very many institutions like this left in this country. This is not an advanced 21st century Observatory -- it is a 40+ year old Soviet-era Observatory with technology that's been maintained but not upgraded. Don't expect computers and LED screens, but do enjoy the nostalgia.

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