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Difference between revisions of "Yerevan"

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Central Armenia : Yerevan
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(Budget)
(Eat: added locations)
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===Budget===
 
===Budget===
*'''Lagonid''' is a Middle Eastern restaurant with sandwiches starting from $3.
+
*'''Lagonid''' is a Middle Eastern restaurant with sandwiches starting from $3.  On Nalbandyan St. north of Sayat Nova.
*'''Mer Tagh''' is a small lahmejun joint on Tumanyan, and their lahmejuns have a big following. Stands selling Armenian-style "pizzas" called "lamehjun" or "lahmajoun" are prevalent throughout Yerevan. This cheap snack consists of a thin layer of dough topped with an herb and meat paste.
+
*'''Mer Tagh''' is a small lahmejun joint on Tumanyan, and their lahmejuns have a big following. Stands selling Armenian-style "pizzas" called "lamehjun" or "lahmajoun" are prevalent throughout Yerevan. This cheap snack consists of a thin layer of dough topped with an herb and meat paste.  Tumanyan St. west of Abovyan.
*'''Khingali''', on Tumanyan next to Mer Tagh (above) has excellent khingali (dumplings) with meat or cheese filling.  Either can be served boiled or fried.
+
*'''Khingali''', on Tumanyan next to Mer Tagh (above) has excellent khingali (dumplings) with meat or cheese filling.  Either can be served boiled or fried.  Tumanyan St. west of Abovyan.
 
*'''Dona Bakery''' The underground Dona bakery located on Mesrop Mashtots avenue close to the Matenadaran offers delicious pastries, both European and Armenian. A good place to catch an inexpensive snack.
 
*'''Dona Bakery''' The underground Dona bakery located on Mesrop Mashtots avenue close to the Matenadaran offers delicious pastries, both European and Armenian. A good place to catch an inexpensive snack.
  
 
===Mid-range===
 
===Mid-range===
*'''Café Central''' a solid place for a meal, reminiscent of a Viennese café.
+
*'''Café Central''' a solid place for a meal, reminiscent of a Viennese café.  Abovyan St., south of Moscovyan.
*'''Old Erivan (Hin Yerevan)''' has traditional foods, song, dance, and the décor will make you think Disney has come to town.  Almost a must for any visitor.
+
*'''Old Erivan (Hin Yerevan)''' has traditional foods, song, dance, and the décor will make you think Disney has come to town.  Almost a must for any visitor. 2 Northern Ave.
*'''Artbridge''' is a staple of the Yerevan eating scene.  The food strong on breakfasts and lighter fare. Artbridge also has a nice selection of foreign language books and Western periodicals if you are desperate for some new reading material.
+
*'''Artbridge''' is a staple of the Yerevan eating scene.  The food strong on breakfasts and lighter fare. Artbridge also has a nice selection of foreign language books and Western periodicals if you are desperate for some new reading material. Abovyan St. north of Tumanyan St.
*'''Artashi Mot''' is considered by many to be the finest khorovats (BBQ) joint in Armenia.  Judge for yourself, but not before trying the horti (beef) and sunki (mushroom) barbeques.  They are both mouthwateringly delicious, when they have them.  Other nice alternatives include the fish barbeque and the piti soup.  Whichever barbeque you get, get some of the tomato sauce mix that Artash makes to put on your meat, or just to dip your bread into.
+
*'''Artashi Mot''' is considered by many to be the finest khorovats (BBQ) joint in Armenia.  Judge for yourself, but not before trying the horti (beef) and sunki (mushroom) barbeques.  They are both mouthwateringly delicious, when they have them.  Other nice alternatives include the fish barbeque and the piti soup.  Whichever barbeque you get, get some of the tomato sauce mix that Artash makes to put on your meat, or just to dip your bread into.  On Manoogian St, right across from the National Cathedral's candle prayer room.
*'''L’Orange''' has great service and a good menu.
+
*'''[http://www.lorange.am L’Orange]''' has great service and a good menu. 21 Tumanyan St.
 
*There is a local company named "[http://www.cheezler.com  CheeZLer]" that makes great cheesecakes. Cheesecakes are sold in most of the big supermarkets in the centre of Yerevan city. You can even order cheesecakes online only for 7.5 $ (per 1 kg cake).
 
*There is a local company named "[http://www.cheezler.com  CheeZLer]" that makes great cheesecakes. Cheesecakes are sold in most of the big supermarkets in the centre of Yerevan city. You can even order cheesecakes online only for 7.5 $ (per 1 kg cake).
*'''Mer Gyughe''' An excellent restaurant in Yerevan to sample traditional Armenian cuisine is this restaurant, located on Sayat Nova Street not far from the Opera. The creatively decorated interior mimics an Armenian village in Lebanon. The chicken "Ararat" comes with a dried fruit pilav that is quite a treat! The restaurant often features traditional folk music in the evenings.
+
*'''Mer Gyugh''' An excellent restaurant in Yerevan to sample traditional Armenian cuisine is this restaurant, located on Sayat Nova Street not far from the Opera. The creatively decorated interior mimics an Armenian village in Lebanon. The chicken "Ararat" comes with a dried fruit pilav that is quite a treat! The restaurant often features traditional folk music in the evenings.  Sayat Nova Ave., west of Terian.
*'''Cactus''' Yerevan's Mexican restaurant, located near the Opera off Mesrop Mashtots Avenue. The food is decent imitation Mexican with all the usual dishes--burritos, tacos, etc. The prices are a bit steep by Yerevan standards, but not that expensive for Western travelers. The décor gets an "A" for effort.
+
*'''Cactus''' Yerevan's Mexican restaurant, located near the Opera off Mesrop Mashtots Avenue. The food is decent imitation Mexican with all the usual dishes--burritos, tacos, etc. The prices are a bit steep by Yerevan standards, but not that expensive for Western travelers. The décor gets an "A" for effort. 42 Mastots Ave.
  
 
===Splurge===  
 
===Splurge===  
*'''Dolmama''' – fusion Armenian-World cuisine.  Excellent food, service and ambiance.  The outdoor seating out back is a way to experience the old courtyards that filled central Yerevan in the past.  
+
*'''Dolmama''' – fusion Armenian-World cuisine.  Excellent food, service and ambiance.  The outdoor seating out back is a way to experience the old courtyards that filled central Yerevan in the past. 10 Pushkin Str.
 
+
*'''The Club''' has some excellent Western Armenian dishes, including manti, su borek and the amazing midia dolma.  The underground space is very hip, and the tea room, when not too smoky is a great place to sit on a bean back and chat.  For a budget option, you can order one of their very filling thin crust pizzas, possibly the best in Yerevan, starting at $5. 40 Tumanyan St.
*'''The club''' has some excellent Western Armenian dishes, including manti, su borek and the amazing midia dolma.  The underground space is very hip, and the tea room, when not too smoky is a great place to sit on a bean back and chat.  For a budget option, you can order one of their very filling thin crust pizzas, possibly the best in Yerevan, starting at $5.
+
*'''Mozarteum''' – opened in Spring 2008, this is an excellent addition to the Yerevan food scene with excellent Armenian and international cuisine, and great ambiance. Intersection of Sayat Nova and Byron St.
 
+
*'''Al Leoni''' (on Tumanyan just west of Parpetsi) and '''Hotel Yerevan''' (on Abovyan) for some fine Italian dining.
*'''Mozarteum''' – opened in Spring 2008, this is an excellent addition to the Yerevan food scene with excellent Armenian and international cuisine, and great ambiance.
+
 
+
*'''Al Leoni''' and '''Hotel Yerevan''' for some fine Italian dining.  
+
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==

Revision as of 20:13, 6 March 2009

Downtown Yerevan
Yerevan (Երեւան) is the capital of Armenia, and with 1 million residents - by far the largest city in the country. With most of the city built during Soviet rule, much of the city is an excellent example of good Soviet architecture with an Armenian twist – almost all with pink stone facades, including most of the grand Republic Square. The center is very compact and easily walkable, with endless dining and entertainment options.

Contents

Districts

  • Center (Kentron) - Central Yerevan is known as kentron, and the parts within the circular streets (Saryan to Khanjian) are known Pokr Kentron (small center). This is the heart of Yerevan, and indeed Armenia. The center has two hubs, the grand and Soviet Republic Square, and the more elegant and soft Opera house with its Freedom Square and park. The two were linked in 2007 with the 700 meter long pedestrian-only Northern Avenue, the first such massive project in post Soviet times. The construction involved demolishing much of central Yerevan and replacing these one or two story structures and winding alleys with much larger buildings lining a street straight from the Opera to the back of Republic Square. A smaller scale project known as Main Avenue is under construction along Arami Street, and perhaps the largest is eventually planned for the hill that the old Kond neighborhood rests upon between Saryan and Proshyan. Virtually all of the museums, hotels and popular places to eat and drink are in the Kentron, so most visitors will probably not venture much past it.
  • Barekamutyun - Meaning friendship, Barekamutyin is the area around the metro stop of the same name. This hub is home to Hayastan Hanrakhanut (dept store) which is more of an indoor bazaar than an actual department store. The hub branches off to Kievyan and nearby Komitas streets.
  • Monument - At the top of the Cascade steps rests the towering monument to Soviet victory in WWII. Directly adjacent is the large construction site of the Cafesjian Museum, which will house the large collection of contemporary art, including perhaps the best glass art collection in the world. Beyond the monument is Victory Park, and the neighborhood around it is known as Monument as well.
  • Bangladesh - Not much to offer a tourist, the name however is worth an explanation. At the time this was one of the furthest new districts built in Yerevan, and because of the distance, locals quickly began calling it Bangladesh, which has stuck to this day.

Understand

Yerevan is one of the three major cities of the South Caucasus and is the capital city of Armenia. It is home to some 1.1 million people and to the largest Armenian community in the world. In Soviet years Yerevan underwent massive reconstruction, following Alexander Tamanyan's (the architect) new plans to make a perfect city. The center is a true jewel of early soviet architecture. In those days Yerevan gained the name Pink City due to the color of the stone used for building.

History

Fountains of Republic Square

Even though the history of Yerevan dates back to the Erebuni fortress, making it at least 2800 years old, little remains of what was small settlement saving the excavations at Erebuni, Karmir Berd and ??. These sites have been excavated, and the artifacts found are in museums today. Being on a strategically important place Yerevan was a constant war stage for rival Ottoman, Persian and Russian Empires. It has been repeatedly ruined by those wars or natural disasters (e.g. an earthquake in 17th century almost entirely destroyed the town). Few buildings of the old Erivan survived to the present-day Yerevan.

At the time of Armenia's independence in 1918, when Yerevan was made the capital of an independent Armenia, Yerevan was a town of just 20,000 Azeris, Armenians, Russians and few Persians and Kurds. Large scale construction began, which took a more holistic approach under the new city plan laid out by Alexander Tamanyan, whose statue overlooking those original plans can be found on Moscovyan Street by the Cascades. The plan involved the demolition of much of what existed, in favor of concentric circles, parks, and taller structures. He planned for Yerevan to become a metropolis of up to 200,000 people.

So think of Yerevan today architecturally as a prime example of good Soviet architecture. In central Yerevan, virtually all the facades are surfaced in a pink tuf stone. Examples of excellent Soviet architecture, with an Armenian twist can be found in Republic Square, the Opera, the Cascades and surrounding buildings, Sasuntsi Tavit Metro, Kievyan Street, as well as various buildings and squares around Yerevan.

People

Yerevan is a very homogenous city, though tiny Yezidi and Molokan (Russian) minorities exist. Because the population of the city was only 20,000 a century ago, the vast majority of the Armenians are immigrants themselves, from all over the world. From the villages and towns of Armenia, from Tbilisi which was the center of Eastern Armenian culture before 1918, from Western Armenia as genocide survivors poured in, and even from the middle east and Europe in a large, post-WWII wave of immigration. Since independence, the city has become the heart of the entire Armenian world, as the divisive communist governments demise has allowed the Diaspora – larger in number than the population of Armenia itself, to embrace the city as its own.

Religion

Many visitors will be surprised to know that Armenia is not just an outcrop of Christianity in the Caucasus, but it is the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. The king declared Christianity the state religion in 301 AD. One can find thousands of churches and monasteries in Armenia. Armenians are Apostolic Christians and have their own Catholicos (religious leader, like the Pope for Catholics). Armenia has paid a heavy price though for its Christianity in this rough neighborhood. Invasions by Zoroastrians, Muslims, and even Greek Orthodox armies were undertaken to convert Armenia to their faiths. Today, the vast majority of Armenians do not attend church each Sunday, with visits revolving around weddings and baptisms, or occasionally dropping in to light a candle.

Climate

With a continental climate, Yerevan experiences long hot summers, and cold winters, both with little or no humidity. The winter is not a good time to visit Yerevan, due to icy sidewalks and smoky restaurants, any other time of year is worth a visit. Spring offers mild but sometimes wet weather, and lots of green hills and wildflowers. Summer is very hot, but the long, late nights at the cafes, and the fruits and vegetables are amazing. Fall is the most popular, with perfect weather, and great farm fresh foods.

Itineraries

Smoking

Smoking may appear to be the national pastime, and indeed, Armenia has the highest rate of smoking in all of Europe. To avoid the smoke, stick to restaurants with outdoor seating, let your taxi driver know it is not okay to smoke, and sit near the door when in a smokier café, and ask to have it left open when possible. Some restaurants have non smoking sections, but rarely is there separate ventilation. Yum-Yum Donuts is strictly non-smoking, and Melody café has a walled off section for non-smoking all year round. Artbridge and Twinings have separate rooms for non-smokers.

Get in

Opera house of Yerevan.

Visa

Most visitors to Armenia need to obtain a visa, though some can get one upon arrival. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South America and the EU require a valid visa which can be obtained on arrival by plane or land crossing. Standard visitor visas are now valid for 120 days, are single entry (not counting side trips to Karabakh) and cost $30 US. An e-visa is another option. It is equivalent to a conventional visa, but no paper is inserted in your passport and there is no need for you to visit an Armenian diplomatic mission to submit an application. Applications for e-Visas can be submitted online, verified on line, and in most cases, e-visas will be approved and issued on-line within two business days. This e-visa is good for travelers arriving by air at Yerevan's Zvartnots International Airport only and it costs $60 being valid for 21 days. For more detailed information contact your nearest Armenian embassy or consulate or visit http://www.armeniaforeignministry.am/eVisa

CIS nationals do not need a visa to enter Armenia for a maximum of 90 days.

NB Travelers wishing to visit Nagorno-Karabakh must obtain a separate visa at the NKR representation in Yerevan. The cost of the NKR visa is $35 US.

By plane

Zvartnots International Airport (IATA: EVN) is the main gate to Armenia. In 2006, a new terminal was opened, where most arrivals and departures are now based. It remains a smaller airport however, so navigating your way around is easy and fast. Free WiFi access is availabe in the depature terminal.

Also remember that all the passengers leaving Armenia from Zvartnots International Airport have to pay 10,000 AMD (30 USD) departure air tax in dram, so have this handy when flying out.

Between the airport and the city

Zvartnots is only 14 km from Yerevan city center by road.

  • Taking a taxi to the city is the best option. A taxi ride from the airport to the city will cost from AMD 3000 ($10) to the center, and up to 5000 ($16) for the most distant parts of the city. Drivers will often try to convince you to pay more, but don’t ever believe them, and telling them you will call the police (who will help you) should straighten out any opportunists. Agree to a price beforehand, unless they’re using a taxi meter (“sochik”).
  • A ‘’’bus’’’ is also available during the day for about $1, which will take you to the Opera House in central Yerevan.

Airlines flying to Yerevan:

  • BMI British Midland Airways from London
  • Austrian Airlines from Vienna
  • Czech Airlines from Prague
  • Lufthansa from Munich
  • AirFrance from Paris
  • Aeroflot from Moscow
  • Armavia to Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Zurich, Moscow, Kiev,Istanbul, Dubai, Aleppo, Beirut, St.Petersburg, Sochi and others
  • Siberia Airlines from Moscow
  • Pulkovo Airlines from St. Petersburg
  • Belavia from Minsk
  • Air Baltic from Riga (the service will be restarted from 24/03/2009)
  • Air Arabia has direct flight to Sharjah and connections to major Gulf cities, India, Egypt and Kazakhstan. Air Arabia flights to/from Sharjah is temporalily suspended (feb 09).
  • Syrian Air from Aleppo with connection to Damascus

By train

An overnight train runs from Tbilisi, Georgia. It is roughly $20 and actually fairly comfortable though dirty, but slow enough that it is a good idea to bring food, snacks, and water. The wagons are the standard Soviet hold-overs that can be found throughout the former USSR. Tickets can be purchased for a seat in a four-person coupe (pronounced koo-peh) or a more expensive two-person SV (ehs-veh) class.

By car

Options include arriving into Armenia via Georgia or Iran.

By bus

You can reach Yerevan by bus from Tbilisi, fare costs 15 lari ($10US) and takes about 12 hours. More expensive is to take a 30 lari ($20 US) marshutka/minibus but it’s much faster at about 5 hours. Sometimes you can take a shared car from Tbilisi as well. Again, a bit more expensive than minibus, but faster and more comfortable. Bus service to Yerevan also is available in Istanbul, or many of the cities on the Black Sea coast of Turkey en route to Yerevan, with a detour through Georgia. In Yerevan some of the bus lines from Turkey are: Karbut Tour: +374-10-54-26-97 and Oz Aybaki +374-10-56-50-03.

Get around

On foot

The center of Yerevan is very compact and easy to get around by foot. Watch your step, however, as construction sites, potholes and aggressive drivers abound.

By metro

The metro system in Yerevan is quite reliable and relatively modern, having been built in the early 1980s. It is the quickest way around town, and at 50 dram (US$0.10), the cheapest aside from walking.

Today the metro operates as a single line, with a shuttle branch and covers 12km (7.5 miles), with trains running every five minutes from 6:30 a.m. till 11 p.m. Due to Yerevan's uneven landscape, the metro in some cases goes above ground. Continuing the tradition of all ex-Soviet underground systems, most of the stations are exquisitely decorated, often blending Armenian national motifs with late-Soviet architecture.

By minibus

More than a hundred minibus (marshrutka, pronounced mahrsh-root-kah) routes exist that criss-cross the city and travel to the suburbs and beyond (such as to Georgia or Karabagh). At 100 dram (US$0.33) a ride in Yerevan, they are a bargain. The minibuses are often overcrowded, and you may find yourself standing, crouched without a seat during rush hour. The route number is displayed prominently in the window, along with Armenian text listing the major landmarks and streets of the route. The Opera (ՕՊԵՐԱ) is an easy Armenian word to recognize on these signs, and is the main crossing point of many of the lines. When you want to get off, you should say “kanknek” for the driver to hear, or else, just say “stop” in English. The numbers of the minibuses are written on the bus stations though and the webpage of the tourist information has the whole list with destinations.

By bus or trolleybus

Yerevan has a few trolley lines and buses, operated by "Yergortrans." The fare is very inexpensive (50 dram) and the vehicles are not too crowded. Pay when leaving a bus or trolley.

By taxi

Abundant throughout the city, a taxi ride anywhere downtown should not cost more than 1000 dram (US$3). Most taxis with company names on the sides have meters, and prices tend to be competitive among taxi companies. To flag an empty one down on the street, just hold your arm out and pat your hand in the air, if they’re free they’ll stop. Taxis without a logo on the side tend to charge more, and may to try to get more out of foreigners. To avoid being ripped off, either call a taxi from a big company or head for the most modern looking ones which usually have a meter. Make sure that the driver switches it on when you start and politely remind him to do so if he has "forgotten" it. Carry some coins to prevent the drivers from telling you that they have no change on them. Standard price is a minimum of 500-600 Dram for the first 5 km and than 100 Dram for every further km. A car and driver can easily be rented for day trip outside of Yerevan, for as little as $20 plus gas. Beware of moonlighting "taxi" drivers at the airport who will try to charge you ridiculous amounts (20,000 dram or more) to get to the city. Finally never ever believe any taxidriver who wants to convince you that there is no bus or minivan to the destination you are heading to.

See

  • The Armenian Genocide Memorial (Genocide Museum & Tsitsernakaberd Monument) - Located on a hill above the city center. A very austere monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Worth seeing. Tsitsernakaberd (meaning "Fortress of swallows") is probably best reached by taxi. Genocide Museum is home to Armenian-French artist Jean Jansem's startling collection of paintings named Génocide.
  • Cascades – massive white stairwell up a hillside of central Yerevan, with fountains, a free escalator inside, and excellent views of the city and Mt. Ararat. The steps serve the double purpose as seating for free outdoor concerts in the summer and fall as well.
  • Victory Park/Monument - Amusement park. Features a huge monument of Mother Armenia as well as some Soviet military equipment on display. Very nice view of the city center.
  • Katoghike - The oldest (and possibly smallest) church in Yerevan, constructed in typical Armenian style. Currently undergoing expansion.
  • Parajanov Museum - The House-Museum of Sergei Parajanov, a famous Soviet film director is best known for the crazy collages, art made from junk, and other ecletic works. This is one of the funnest art collections you may ever see!
  • Erebuni Fortress – the excavations, recreations and museum of the nearly 3,000 year old fortress that established Yerevan.
  • Matenadaran – Houses the worlds largest collection of Armenian Illuminated manuscripts, and one of the largest such collections of any kind in the world. A display room has a sampling of some of the finest works, and the additional cost of the guided tour is worthwhile.
  • The National Art Gallery - Located at Republic Square in the same building as the National History Museum. Features several floors full of mostly paintings, organized by their country of origin. The Armenian collection is the best, but the Russian is quite good, and art lovers will enjoy the European collection as well.
  • Republic Square - Make sure to see the main square. Perhaps considered the finest example of Soviet era architecture as far as squares go. There is a free fountain and light show every night (weather permitting) in front of the National Art Gallery from 22:00 to 23:00. Accompanying the fountains is a program of classical favorites along with a variety of US and Russian hits.
  • The Ararat Cognac Factory – The oldest factory in Armenia. Offers tours and tasting.
  • The Opera House – a beautiful building, and hub of Yerevan. Freedom Square is behind it, surrounded by parks which have been taken over by cafes, and finally Swan Lake by Terian Street, which becomes an ice-skating rink in the winter.
  • St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral – Completed in 2001 to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of Armenia as a Christian nation. Seats 1700! The holy relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator were given back to the Armenian Church by the Vatican in 2001 and placed in this cathedral.
  • AquaWorld – a water park which is popular with the locals in the summers.
  • Levon's Amazing Underground World – see what happened when Levon set out to dig a potato storage cellar for his wife, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Northern Avenue - impossible to miss, this pedestrian avenue was just opened in 2008 connecting Opera with Republic Square, the two hubs of central Yerevan.

Do

Old carpets at the market
  • For music fans, attend cheap and excellent performances at the Opera and/or the Chamber Music Orchestra. If a national dance group is performing, don’t miss it.
  • Spend a late night at a café in the Opera park. Station yourself by the sidewalk at Melody Café for some of the best people watching in Yerevan.
  • Visit one of the themed restaurants in the Hrazdan Gorge to see the locals partying. The food does not tend to venture far from barbeque and crayfish, but it is usually good barbeque, and the prices range from very reasonable to the unreasonable. Check the prices on the hard liquor and wines before ordering a bottle if you’re price sensitive.
  • Climb the Cascades (or take the escalator) one evening for the great views of the city and Mt. Ararat, then head across the street to the amusement park inside Victory Park for some cotton candy and a ride on the ferris wheel.
  • A walk through the weekend Vernissage by Republic Square metro is a must. From car (and perhaps rocket) parts to rugs, souvenirs, instruments and paintings, this outdoor market seemingly has everything.


Work

Diaspora Armenians may obtain a residency permit to live and work in Armenia without a problem. The 10 year visa/permit for $350 is the best deal. Non-Armenians should have an invitation, or establish a business to get a work/business visa.

Volunteering in Armenia may be a suitable for those wanting the experience. Armenian Volunteer Corps can organize a volunteer placement and visa for you.

For those of Ethnic Armenian Descent, there are programs such as Birthright Armenia, which will pay for your trip if you participate in their program.

Tutoring in English is always an option for native English speakers. Demand to learn English, and practice English conversation is high.

Buy

  • Armenian brandy (locally called Cognac as well) is considered one of the world's finest brandies and is accordingly a popular gift to take home for tourists. It was actually Winston Churchill's brandy of choice. There are many stores within central Yerevan center devoted solely to brandy from the Ararat Cognac Factory; the airport is also a good place to stock up at duty free. As a rule, the more aged the brandy, the more refined the taste and the more expensive. But regardless the series of brandy, in Yerevan it will be an excellent value.
  • Armenian rugs, new and old are a favorite choice. New carpets can be purchased at the Mergeryan Rug Factory for a good price. More upscale is the international brand “Tufenkian Carpets”, with a shop on Tumanyan near Abovyan. Both will add your name or inscription request into an existing rug, or do a custom rug for you. There is no problem with exporting these. Old rugs are found in stores all over town, or in Vernissage. Be sure the seller obtains an export certificate from the ministry of culture for you – or you’re taking a chance that it may be confiscated. Negotiate to have the certificate delivered to you as part of the purchase price, and buy your rug a week before you go to give them time to obtain this certificate. New rugs do not require certification, but keep your factory certificate as proof that it is new.
  • More fragile, but maybe worth the effort are some of the more exotic jams and preserves made in Armenia. From walnut preserves, to “Sea Buckthorne” (Chichkhan), virtually everything that grows in Armenia is canned!

Currency

Dram (AMD) is a national currency of Armenia.

  • 1 USD = approx. 308 AMD
  • 1 EUR = approx. 420 AMD

The rates can vary. (December 2008).

When arriving in Zvartnots International Airport exchange only 20-30 USD for taxi or airport service as the exchange rate at the airport is always poor. Exchanges can be found all over the city, and do not charge a commission – count your money on the spot, though they tend to be patently honest. Banks tend to be the least convenient place to exchange, and tend to have the worst rates – exchange on the streets. Exchange rates on the streets are almost all quite competitive, so shopping around is only worthwhile for very large amounts. Stores and restaurants will frequently accept dollars in a pinch, though they prefer dram.

Cash (in dram only) can be easily withdrawn from numerous ATM's located in the city. Though VISA and Master Card are accepted in many restaurants, supermarkets and shops in Yerevan, carry some cash. To withdraw dollars from your credit card, you can go into a bank.

Eat

Budget

  • Lagonid is a Middle Eastern restaurant with sandwiches starting from $3. On Nalbandyan St. north of Sayat Nova.
  • Mer Tagh is a small lahmejun joint on Tumanyan, and their lahmejuns have a big following. Stands selling Armenian-style "pizzas" called "lamehjun" or "lahmajoun" are prevalent throughout Yerevan. This cheap snack consists of a thin layer of dough topped with an herb and meat paste. Tumanyan St. west of Abovyan.
  • Khingali, on Tumanyan next to Mer Tagh (above) has excellent khingali (dumplings) with meat or cheese filling. Either can be served boiled or fried. Tumanyan St. west of Abovyan.
  • Dona Bakery The underground Dona bakery located on Mesrop Mashtots avenue close to the Matenadaran offers delicious pastries, both European and Armenian. A good place to catch an inexpensive snack.

Mid-range

  • Café Central a solid place for a meal, reminiscent of a Viennese café. Abovyan St., south of Moscovyan.
  • Old Erivan (Hin Yerevan) has traditional foods, song, dance, and the décor will make you think Disney has come to town. Almost a must for any visitor. 2 Northern Ave.
  • Artbridge is a staple of the Yerevan eating scene. The food strong on breakfasts and lighter fare. Artbridge also has a nice selection of foreign language books and Western periodicals if you are desperate for some new reading material. Abovyan St. north of Tumanyan St.
  • Artashi Mot is considered by many to be the finest khorovats (BBQ) joint in Armenia. Judge for yourself, but not before trying the horti (beef) and sunki (mushroom) barbeques. They are both mouthwateringly delicious, when they have them. Other nice alternatives include the fish barbeque and the piti soup. Whichever barbeque you get, get some of the tomato sauce mix that Artash makes to put on your meat, or just to dip your bread into. On Manoogian St, right across from the National Cathedral's candle prayer room.
  • L’Orange has great service and a good menu. 21 Tumanyan St.
  • There is a local company named "CheeZLer" that makes great cheesecakes. Cheesecakes are sold in most of the big supermarkets in the centre of Yerevan city. You can even order cheesecakes online only for 7.5 $ (per 1 kg cake).
  • Mer Gyugh An excellent restaurant in Yerevan to sample traditional Armenian cuisine is this restaurant, located on Sayat Nova Street not far from the Opera. The creatively decorated interior mimics an Armenian village in Lebanon. The chicken "Ararat" comes with a dried fruit pilav that is quite a treat! The restaurant often features traditional folk music in the evenings. Sayat Nova Ave., west of Terian.
  • Cactus Yerevan's Mexican restaurant, located near the Opera off Mesrop Mashtots Avenue. The food is decent imitation Mexican with all the usual dishes--burritos, tacos, etc. The prices are a bit steep by Yerevan standards, but not that expensive for Western travelers. The décor gets an "A" for effort. 42 Mastots Ave.

Splurge

  • Dolmama – fusion Armenian-World cuisine. Excellent food, service and ambiance. The outdoor seating out back is a way to experience the old courtyards that filled central Yerevan in the past. 10 Pushkin Str.
  • The Club has some excellent Western Armenian dishes, including manti, su borek and the amazing midia dolma. The underground space is very hip, and the tea room, when not too smoky is a great place to sit on a bean back and chat. For a budget option, you can order one of their very filling thin crust pizzas, possibly the best in Yerevan, starting at $5. 40 Tumanyan St.
  • Mozarteum – opened in Spring 2008, this is an excellent addition to the Yerevan food scene with excellent Armenian and international cuisine, and great ambiance. Intersection of Sayat Nova and Byron St.
  • Al Leoni (on Tumanyan just west of Parpetsi) and Hotel Yerevan (on Abovyan) for some fine Italian dining.

Drink

Armenia itself is a place to drink, with no prohibition against drinking in public. Cafes, bars, restaurants, clubs and the countryside on a picnic are all popular places for vodka, the usual drink of choice, with wine, beer, champagne and brandy all popular as well. You can even drink in a car – as long as you’re not driving. Drivers cannot have a drop of alcohol in them, with Zero being the legal threshold – and the penalties for violating this are stiff.

Places for a drink

  • The most popular places to drink in the summer tend to be outdoor cafes and café/restaurants. The cafes by the Opera and Republic Square are always packed.
  • Bars such as Cheers, the Irish Bar (Saryan St.), the Rock Bar Yerevan (16 Parpetsi St. www.therockbaryerevan.com ) and Melines are popular spots with visitors.
  • Popular nightclubs are mainly in the center, with longtime standby’s such as Atlantic, Relax, Astral and Club One usually full on the weekends.

Drinks to try

  • Cognac – see the buy section above.
  • Homemade fruit vodkas – these are not flavored from fruit like most of the western vodkas, they are actually made from pure fruit. The most popular is the Tutti Oghi (Mulberry Vodka), but just as impressive if you can find them are the Cornelian Cherry (Hon), Pear, Apricot and Peach.
  • Wine – Areni grapes are only grown in Armenia, which is in the oldest grape and wine producing part of the world. Old Yerevan is the best brand.
  • Compote – if you can get it, this usually home made fruit juice is fantastic.
  • Tan – blended plain yogurt with water and a dash of salt, this drink is often an acquired taste, and very refreshing. It’s a healthy alternative to soda, so give it a try. You can sometimes find bottled fizzy tan, which is an even more acquired taste!

Night Clubs

In Yerevan there are plenty of Night Clubs, Pubs, Karaoke and Strip Clubs especially in downtown. Locals' and tourists' favourite night clubs are:

  • Astral Club near Opera building. The largest club in Yerevan.
  • Bunker Club Sayat-Nova street
  • Opera Club the basement of the Opera building.
  • Kami Club Abovyan near Moscow cinema
  • Chans Elise Club on Northern Avenue
  • Ego Club on Kuryun street, Citadel Business Center Area
  • The Club on Tumanyan street
  • Tochka Club Opera Area
  • Stop Clup Moscovyan street
  • Tornado Club Brand-new huge club in Bangladesh area

Popular Pubs

  • Pub Red Bull Moscovyan street
  • Western Pub Tumanyan street
  • Wild West Pub Tumanyan street

Yerevan Night Life is famous for its Strip Clubs

  • Omega Club Teryan street
  • Pyramida Club Sayat-Nova street
  • Charlotte Club Baghramyan street
  • Dinoul Club Baghramyan strret
  • Cherry Club Leningradyan street
  • Safari Club Set of Clubs, Republic Square area and a brand-new club on Arshakunyats street

In All Clubs the dancers are from Ukraine and Russia so erotic dance show and hot atmosphere are guaranteed.

Favourite Karaoke Clubs are:

  • Mama-Mia Large set of Karaoke clubs
  • 7Notes Sayat-Nova street
  • Iceberg Northern avenue
  • 69 Club Sayat-Nova street

This is a brief list of famous clubs in Yerevan.

Sleep

Yerevan has a wide variety of accommodations but for the most part they are overpriced. If you're staying for an extended period of time, rent an apartment. Check the AUA (American University of Armenia), locat travel agents (Menua tours, Hyur Service) or real estate brokers for rental listings.

Budget

It is almost impossible to sleep cheap in a Hotel in Yerevan. Try home stays with Armenian families that rent out rooms. There are many of these places and they cost from $8 - $12 per night per person. Many are located in the center of Yerevan and if you can handle not having your own “space” they are a wonderful way to truly see Armenian hospitality up close. You can get a list of these home stays by contacting the Armenian Information Center [1].

  • There is a dormitory/hostel at 52 Mashtots Poghota. They are very kind and it is very clean.
  • Envoy Hostel [2] (corner of Pushkin and Parpetsi) The only hostel in town. It is large, immaculate and costs normally 8,500 AMD with breakfast, but it’s on special for 6400 in 2008 (excluding September)
  • several homestays, on Sayat Nova 5. About 10 USD per person (summer 2005), conditions from bad to average..
  • Areg Hotel [3] (near Sasuntsi David Square, south and not too far from downtown) Nice, small and clean, it's the cheapest (real) hotel. Single: 50 USD - Double: 73 USD - Triple: 86 USD (Tax and breakfast included)

Mid-range

  • Ani Plaza [4]
  • Ararat Hotel [5]
  • Congress [6]
  • Casa Delano??
  • Hotel Europe [7]
  • Erebuni Hotel [8]

Splurge

The main western standard hotels are the Marriott Hotel Armenia, located in Republic Square, Hotel Yerevan (Golden Tulip) on Abovyan, and the Congress Hotel, a short walk from Republic Square. The Congress is one step down in price but offers the same western feel as the Marriott, and has a large outdoor pool. The Golden Palace, which claims 5 stars, has recently opened (July 2005). It is at the top of the Cascade. Hotel Latar, far on the outskirts of the city is like another world – as are the prices. The massive circular pool is a sight to behold.

The Hotel Ani and Bass Hotel are nice and offer more realistic prices for western style accommodations. The specialty niche has the Tufenkian Hotel which tries to give you western standards but be true to the Armenian culture. It is high up in the Nork district of Yerevan, and you will be lucky if your taxi can find it easily. Olympia Hotel is situated in one of the most prestigious parts of Yerevan. The outstanding view from your balcony (you’ll see Mountain Ararat, Mountain Aragats, Hrazdan valley and hear the sound of the waterfall just in front of you). Renovated and recently opened Erebuni Hotel is also a good choice in terms of price, location (next to Republic Square) and accommodations.

  • Armenia Marriott Hotel [9]
  • Golden Palace Hotel [10]
  • Golden Tulip Hotel Yerevan [11]
  • Olympia Hotel [12]
  • Tufenkian Avan Villa Yerevan [13]

Read

  • Michael Arlen, ‘’Passage to Ararat’’, an autobiographical account of an American-Armenian’s first visit to Soviet Armenia.

Mobile phone providers

There are two GSM service providers operating in Armenia: VivaCell (K Telecom) and ArmenTel. International roaming rates can be high, that is why it is strongly advised to purchase a temporary prepaid SIM card. The latter option is cheap and comfortable. It allows both local and international calls, no charge for incoming calls and no monthly fee. VivaCell is the leading GSM services provider in Armenia and offers a quality service at reasonable rates. VivaCell temporary SIM card (it is called ALO card) will cost you from AMD 1100 - 7000 (USD 3-20) depending on how many credits you wish to have on your account already. ArmenTel Easy card can be an alternative. Note: this option may no longer be available to those without Armenian residency.

Majority of foreign visitors find their mobile phones compatible with Armenian SIM cards (GSM 900).

Stay safe

Yerevan is a relatively safe city, though have been increasing reports of muggers targeting foreigners. In crowded places and transport beware of pickpockets, especially at Vernissage. There are well known scams affecting some of the cash dispensers (ATMs) that take VISA cards where no money appears but it is nevertheles taken from your account.

The traffic can be quite rough, so pay close attention when crossing the street.

Contact

  • Armenian Tourism Development Agency, 3 Nalbandyan Street, [14].

Get out

Day tours

There are many convenient day trips based from Yerevan, including a bunch better saved as overnight trips. Companies like Levon Travel, Menua, Sati and Hyur (among others) have signs around town advertising their pre-arranged tours.

  • Garni and Geghard are an absolute must, or people will not believe you’ve been to Armenia.
  • Zvartnots Cathedral ruins and Echmiadzin.
  • Saghmosavank and Hovhannavank monasteries overlooking the Kasagh River Canyon and the churches of Ashtarak.
  • Khor Virab Monastery, Noravank Monastery, Noravank Canyon and Areni Wine Country.
  • Lake Sevan, Sevanavank and Hayravank Monasteries, and Noratus Khachkar Cemetary.
  • Dilijan old town, Haghartsin and Goshavank Monasteries.
  • The Debed Canyon and the monasteries of Lori (UNESCO World Heritage sites of Haghpat and Sanahin, plus Odzun, Kobayr, Horomayri and Surp Grigori).

Public transportation

Buses and Minivans are the major means of transportation within the country. From Yerevan you can get to literally every place in Armenia within a day. To make things confusing for foreigners, there exists a confusing amount of different regional bus-stations in Yervan and especially the minivans tend to leave from hard to find places just somewhere at the side of the road. When heading into Yerevan, they are not unknown to drop you at random spots somewhere in the city, so ask the driver beforehand to drop you at a convenient place. The following is a incomplete list of the major bus- "stations".

Central/Kilikia Bus Station

This is the biggest bus station in Yerevan. It is located to the south-west of the city center on Admiral Isakov Avenue, around one kilometer form the shuka at the end of Mashtots Avenue. To get there, take Minibuses 13 (from Barekamutsun Metro), 23 (from the Train Station) or 15, 68 and 75 (from Repuplic Square). The buses from here serve for example Sisian, Goris, Kapan, Gyumri and Vanadzor.

Northern Bus Station

This bus station lies around 5km north of the city center on the Yervan-Sevan Highway. It is worth visiting just for its soviet architecture and the desperate feeling the huge and empty building gives. To get there take bus 113 or Minibus 101 (both from somewhere on Komitas). Buses and Minivans from here go to for example Dillijan and Sevan.

By train

Trains are cheap and inconvenient/uncomfortable options, but for the adventurous they can be taken Yerevan-Lake Sevan, Yerevan-Gyumri, Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Tbilisi and Yerevan-Yevlakh.



This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!





14:12, 26 December 2008 (EST)94.228.16.5

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