Dilijan is a resort town with mild climate, fresh air in the northeast of Yerevan. It is famous for its amazing surroundings, called the "Armenian Switzerland" by the locals, due to the densely forested valleys and mountains with alpine meadows around. It is an excellent center for walking.
Most visitors to Armenia spend all of their nights in Yerevan. Spending a night or two in Dilijan while exploring Tavush Marz is well worth it. There are plentiful accommodations in Dilijan, from the luxury of the Tufenkian Hotel to much more basic hotels or homes. From Dilijan you can explore up to the Georgian border and the remote Shamshadin region much more easily than from Yerevan, and then continue on to Lori Marz.
Minibus/Van - Take a van (marshrutni) from the Medical University (Pjhishkakan Hamalsaran) on the corner of Abovyan and Koriun to the upper Avtokayaran. From there you can take a marshrutni headed to Ijevan that will stop in Dilijan on the way.
Taxi - a taxi from Yerevan will cost approximately 10,000 dram ($33) one way with a standard meter price. You can probably negotiate a better rate, especially for round trip.
Day tour - many companies offer day tours from Yerevan, which include Dilijan, Haghartsin and Goshavank. They can be cheaper than taking a taxi, and depart in the morning on fixed days of the week.
Within town, for the most part, walking is quite easy. The tourist information office also has a few bicycles for rent if you'd like to go a bit further. If you need to get to some of the regional monasteries, your best bet is negotiating a package deal with the taxis. You can have to tourist information office help you translate and negotiate, as most of the drivers will not speak English. If a driver tries to change the price on you, absolutely refuse, and take the matter to the police if necessary.
Haghartsin Monastery. One of Armenia's most popular monasteries, Haghartsin is nestled in lush forested mountains about a half hour drive from Dilijan. The monastery is in good condition and has a resident priest who sometimes gives tours. There are a few different churches, a large gavit, a huge dining hall, khachkars and a massive hollow tree. A slightly sweet bread is often being baked in an old oven.
Goshavank Monastery, (40 minutes north of Dilijan). Goshavank monastery is surrounded by a traditional village, and has a groundskeeper who opens the main church building up for visitors, and can give a tour. This is the one church in all of Armenia where entrance to one of the chambers is not free. The chamber is nice, but you can certainly enjoy the rest of the complex without it, especially since it may not be offered in English. There are excellent carved details and khachkars here, but the "lacework" khachkar at Goshavank is one of the most impressive in the world.
Jukhtak Vank Monastery. A nice little monastery just on the edge of Dilijan, a short 10 minute hike from the Dilijan Mineral Water plant. Huge iron bands hold one of the two churches together, preventing its collapse.
Matosavank Monastery, (Follow the marked trail from the water bottlers.). Matosavank is a 25 minute hike from the Dilijan Mineral Water plant. It is easy to miss, and not terribly interesting from the outside, but the inside is a cool, moist, green, mossy world unto itself. The low light illuminating bright green algae covered khachkars is very soothing, and the environment transports you far from your daily life.
Dilijan Reserve. Dilijan Reserve surrounding town has some marked hiking trails you can try out and discover some lesser known monasteries, a lake, forests, springs and wildlife.
Molokan Villages - if you take the highway toward Vanadzor, a few of the villages you pass will be those of the Molokans. A Russian old believer sect, much like the Amish in Pennsylvania. The grow beards, shun technology and have their own religion.
Crafts on Sharambeyan Street. The old town street has some little shops where artisans are busy hand making their craft. Visit Revik to see his wood working studio, with some great traditional designs for everything from Christmas tree decorations to cribs. The tourist information office has additional information on local crafts purchases and local painters you can visit.
Tufenkian Restaurant, Sharambeyan Street. There is a Tufenkian Restaurant on Sharambeyan Street, with rustic modern Tufenkian furniture, and upscale Armenian menus and prices.$20.
Getap Restaurant. A few minutes north of Dilijan, along the river is the restaurant/hotel complex of Getap (meaning riverside). Great traditional wooden eating booths outdoors, some of them over the river serve as the perfect setting for fresh fish, meat or vegetable barbecues. Prices are pretty reasonable.$10.
Shawerma, (just below the bus station). A modern shawerma fast-food joint, with rotisserie meat served in a pita or lavash sandwich. Cheap and fast food.$3.
Georgian food, (Just above Sharambeyan Street, overlooking the valley). There's a Georgian restaurant in town, with good food and soups. Prices are low, menus are not in English, and the space is a former Soviet cafe. Khingali dumplings are 2 or 3 to the US dollar... and they are not small.
Drinking is done wherever eating is done. It usually entails vodka, though beer and wine are not uncommon.
Daravand Guest House, 46 Abovyan St. (heading up Abovyan Street, pass under the bridge, on your right, on a short dirt driveway with two sharp turns), ☎ (+374 2680) 7857 or (094) 420965, . Daravand Guesthouse was opened by an Armenian carpenter in Dilijan on the scenic road to Jukhtak Monastery. Built in a quiet canyon, the guesthouse is very comfortable and cozy. The canyon affords many hiking opportunities and has 2 monasteries in the forest within easy hiking distance. Seven guest rooms are available. A library and games room and billiard room are available for gaming. Open air dining area is also available, overlooking the beautiful valley. The bar, living room and nice garden provide areas for guests to congregate and relax. The owner, Razmik, is very accomodating and helpful, speaks decent English and is a considerate smoker.18.000 AMD (for 2 people) ensuite, or 14,000 ($46) with shared bathroom.
Cinematographers’ Union House, (Road to the Lake Parz, Dilijan), ☎ (+374 2680) 6139, 2710. A very cool retro cubist resort on an isolated spot in the forests above Dilijan, with great views. This is an incredible 70s/80s Soviet spot, which time has not touched, but unfortunately handy men hardly have either and many of the rooms are dilapidated. There are nice 2 story cottages however in good condition, so if you're a bigger group it worthy of a stay. If you're heading to Parz Lij anyway, pop by for a Soviet cafeteria lunch - it's as bad as it sounds, but a great experience and atmosphere.7,000 ($23) single, $40-50 cottage (sleeps 8), and everything in between. Includes 3 meals a day.
Haghartsin (a sign in Armenian and Cyrillic only), far from the centre (1000 dram by taxi), one of the last buildings on the road towards Yerevan. A ''de luxe'' double with bathroom and hot water was 8000 AMD, a spacious double with bathroom (cold water only) was 4000 AMD. Food available for 2000 AMD daily (full board). All prices from summer 2005..
Ananov guest house (Tufenkian Hotel), Sharambeyan Street, Dilijan (Top of the street, on the left), ☎ +(374 10) 65 58 77, . Part of the high end Tufenkian chain of hotels. Perfect location on historic Sharambeyan Street in the heart of Dilijan.
Your options for leaving Dilijan are the same as those for getting in. Minibus (marshutni), taxi, tour or bus.