This itinerary will take you from Yerevan to Dilijan National Park with a stop to see Lake Sevan. Within Dilijan National Park, you can see Haghartsin Monastery as well as take a two-hour medium-difficulty hike to see the remains of two other monasteries within the park.
Logistics to Dilijan National Park
The furthest of these sites is two hours from Yerevan. To make the most of the trip, plan for at least a full day (10-14 hours) of travel and activities before you are back in Yerevan. You might also consider making this a weekend trip and staying overnight in the picturesque city of Dilijan, which has many small hotels and guest houses.
To get there, you can rent a car (this can be done with an American license), or by hiring a car with a driver (this is preferable for safety and to allow you to take in as much of the beautiful scenery as possible). Googling “car hire with driver Armenia” will return a number of services, including some from major international brands like Enterprise Car Rental, which also offers drivers in Armenia.
You can also catch a minibus from the Northern Bus Station in Yerevan headed to Dilijan. They depart on the hour 10am and 4pm daily, costing 1000 AMD (2 USD). Note that they may not stop near Lake Sevan, so you’ll have to be happy with the view from the window there. Once in Dilijan, you’ll also have to hire a local taxi to get you to and from Haghartsin.
Lake Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus region. It dominates the map of Armenia and features prominently in Armenian culture. It is known for its stunning natural beauty and crystal-clear waters. It is a popular tourist destination for locals and visitors alike, offering a range of recreational activities such as swimming, sunbathing, boating, and fishing.
- Option 1: The town of Sevan, located on the northern shore of the lake, is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant local markets, and traditional Armenian restaurants serving fresh fish from the lake. You will pass through it on the way to Dilijan National Park and it can be a good place to stop and take in the lake.
- Option 2: Sevanavank Monastery, just minutes north of the town of Sevan, is another excellent place to stop on the way. The monastery is on a peninsula jutting into the waters of Lake Sevan, and gives breathtaking views of the lake. It dates back to Armenia’s Second Golden Age in the 9th century AD when it was founded by Princess Mariam, the daughter of the great Armenian King Ashot I.
Dilijan National Park
Dilijan National Park is known for its dense forests, mountainous terrain, historic monasteries, and numerous hiking trails. Note that the options below need not be mutually exclusive as many of the hiking trails also lead to the monasteries.
Haghartsin Monastery was built between the 10th and 14th centuries. This large complex has several well-preserved buildings exemplifying Armenian architecture and surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Several prominent figures in Armenian history are buried on its hallowed grounds. These include the 13th century Armenian historian Kirakos Gandzaketsi, who lived and worked at the monastery, and the 18th century Armenian poet and musician Sayat Nova, whose tomb is located just outside the monastery complex. The monastery is just 15 minutes by car from the village of Dilijan, so you can take it in and still have time for…
Medieval Monasteries Trail
Medieval Monasteries Trail is a medium-difficulty 2-hour trail that starts in the village of Dilijan and takes you to two monasteries. First, you will pass by the 13th century Matosavank Monastery, lying in moss-covered ruins in the forest, waiting to be discovered. The second is the 12th century Jukhtakvank Monastery, which was partially restored in the 1970s but is still mostly just two incredible buildings lying tucked away in the secluded mountains. You can find out more about this trail from HikeArmenia.org.
The Village of Dilijan
The village of Dilijan is a tourist town in the center of Dilijan National Park. You’ll probably want to stop here after your adventures for at least some local cooking and possibly even to stay the night. There are many opportunities for either that you can find on Google maps or by just asking around. Dillijan can also be great for exploring on its own, with many buildings in the city featuring intricate wooden balconies, carved doorways, and ornate facades. The city has a number of museums, including the Dilijan Museum of Local Lore, which showcases the history and culture of the area.
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