Armenia, a beautiful hidden gem in the Caucasus πŸ‡¦πŸ‡²

Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world

With a recorded history of more than 3,500 years, Armenia is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is 29 years older than Rome and one of the oldest continuously operating capitals in the world. Also, Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion around 300 CE.

Today’s Armenia is a small landlocked country with a total area of 29,743 kmΒ² and a population of 2.79 million, situated in the South Caucasus region, bordered on the North and East by Georgia and Azerbaijan and on the South and West by Iran and Turkey. There’s a large Armenian diaspora (around 6 million people) living outside modern Armenia. The largest Armenian populations today exist in Russia, the United States, France, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.

Legends say that the Armenians are the descendants of Hayk, the founding patriarch of the Armenian nation and a descendant of Noah, whose Ark ran aground on Mount Ararat after the Great Flood. In honour of this tradition, the Armenians call their nation Hayastan.

I visited Armenia for the first time in March 2023 and spent 4 great days there. In this blog, I will be sharing my impressions of this beautiful country.

Why Armenia?

I mentioned in my blog numerous times that I have a very strong connection with the former Soviet Union countries. Before this trip to Armenia, I had the pleasure of visiting 12 former Soviet Republics. Armenia was my ex-USSR country number 13 to visit. I’m on a mission to visit all 15 former Soviet Union countries hopefully by 2024 or even before that if I’m lucky. I don’t know anyone who achieved this objective except probably some Vloggers who I don’t know personally. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are the only former USSR republics that are remaining to achieve my goal. I’m hoping to visit Tajikistan before the end of the summer of 2023. As for Turkmenistan, it will be a difficult mission to visit that country due to the complex visa process. Some people describe Turkmenistan as “the light version of North Korea”.

In all honesty, the mission of visiting all of the former Soviet Union countries was the main reason why I decided to visit Armenia. However, after visiting Armenia, I realized that it was not only the Soviet connection that attracted me to visit Armenia. I should have visited Armenia at least 3 or 4 years ago and I shouldn’t have delayed my visit to this beautiful country, I felt so guilty for doing so.

The trip from Tbilisi to Yerevan

I was in Kuwait visiting my parents when I decided to visit Armenia, so I flew to Tbilisi, Georgia with Jazeera Airways first and then crossed the border to Armenia a few days later. I spent nice 3 days in Georgia meeting some friends and enjoying the great Georgian food. It was my second time in Georgia (Here’s a link to my trip to Tbilisi, Georgia post in 2018).

This post is about Armenia and not about Georgia so I will try to avoid spending a lot of time writing about my visit to Georgia. However, I must say that my impression of Tbilisi wasn’t as great as it was on my first visit in 2018. On this visit, the city looked like Disneyland with so many tourists and newcomers from different countries such as Russia, the USA, Ukraine, India, Turkey, and the Middle East who now have a long-term stay in Tbilisi. I felt that Tbilisi was no longer the charming city I once knew and as a result of this influx, the prices doubled and tripled. It’s still relatively affordable by Western standards though but nowhere near how affordable it used to be. It lost a lot of its charm and some spots in the city were turned into tourist traps. Here’s a link to an article by another blogger about how Tbilisi changed in the last few years.

During my short stay in Tbilisi, I had the pleasure to meet with Davide, an Italian YouTuber who visited many remote places in the former Soviet Union such as Transnistria, Yakutsk, Murmansk, and many others. He speaks Russian fluently (probably with an Italian accent). We spent great 4-5 hours talking about so many different things in life and I truly enjoyed the time I spent with him. I like to call him “The new Bald and Bankrupt” as he and the famous vlogger have a similar passion for the former USSR. If you think I’m crazy for having a great passion for the USSR then you should meet Davide because let me tell you something, I’m absolutely nothing when it comes to Soviet craziness if I want to compare myself with him. Anyhow, Here’s a link to Davide’s Youtube channel: Check out his work.

There are 4 ways to travel from Tbilisi to Yerevan; plane, overnight train, minivan, and Marshrutka (shared taxi or minibus that is common in the republics of the former Soviet Union). After doing my own research, I thought that the minivan is the most convenient way to travel between the two capitals. A day before my trip, I went to the minivan pickup point (It’s across the street from Avlabari metro station) to ask about the timing the departure time and to reserve my spot. They told me that Minivans depart at 9:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, and 17:00. I reserved a sport for the 9:00 am trip and they asked me to bring 50 Georgian Lari ($18) in cash tomorrow morning and to be there at least 15 minutes before 9:00 am.

I arrived at the meeting point at 8.40 am but to my surprise, it wasn’t a Minivan that is going to take us to Yerevan, it was a Marshrutka! Now I must admit that it’s a relatively modern Mercedes Marshrutka but it’s still a Marshrutka and not a Minivan! Anyhow, I was a bit disappointed when I entered the Marshrutka and I even had eye contact with a very funny Russian woman sitting there who almost laughed at my reaction when I came to know that I’m going to Yerevan by Marshrutka, which is something I was trying to avoid.

The trip took about 6 hours from the pickup point to the arrival at the Yerevan bus station (Kilikia). Too bad I didn’t take a photo of the beautiful station constructed in 1959 because I forgot (silly me) but here is a photo of it that I found online.

The ride was very long and extremely bumpy. However, other Marshrutka experts I met on this trip told me that it wasn’t too bad and that Marshrutka rides in some other places in the former Soviet Union could be much worse so I should stop complaining about it. Anyhow, we made 2 stops during the ride in addition to the stop at the border. There was one stop at a supermarket right before the border and another one that is about an hour away from Yerevan. I needed an e-Visa to enter Armenia and I was able to get it online in less than 3 days. The border crossing was quick and easy and I wasn’t asked any questions. Here’s the link to the e-Visa portal

Arriving in Yerevan

I arrived in Yerevan at 3 pm. I bought a local SIM card and I ordered a taxi using an app called Yandex (It’s a very popular app in many former Soviet Union countries) and I finally arrived in my beautiful Airbnb apartment. Once I was inside the apartment, I felt that I’m in the USSR in the 1960s. Too bad the modern appliances such as the air-conditioning and the washing machine ruined that nostalgic experience (sarcasm).

I took a short nap (of course I had to do that after the bumpy Marshrutka ride) and then got ready to go out to explore the city. The first place I wanted to visit was the Republican Square, it was only a short 15-minute walk from my apartment.

Republic Square

Republic Square is the beating heart of Yerevan, so you can’t imagine how lively the place is. I visited the square multiple times during my stay in Armenia and every time I went there regardless of the time of day or night, it was always full of life.

The square is surrounded by five major buildings built in pink and red tuff (tuff is a type of rock made of volcanic ash that is used extensively in Armenia) in the neoclassical style with the use of Armenian motifs. I simply loved the energy of the place and the colours of the buildings. I even kept repeating that while talking to m friends there over and over.

The Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex

The next morning, I started my sightseeing tour by heading to Tsitsernakaberd or the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex. The memorial complex is massive and it can take you a few hours to learn about the extremely sorrowful Armenian story. Armenians had a very difficult history, especially at the beginning of the twentieth history.

The complex is located on a hill and dominates the landscape. On a clear sunny day, you should be able to see Mount Ararat from the complex. Sadly, even though it was sunny in Yerevan that day but there were some clouds around Mount Ararat so I couldn’t see the tip of it.

The memorial was built during the Soviet era in 1967 and it has since become an integral part of Yerevan’s architecture and a pilgrimage site.

Victory Park

Similar to many other cities in the former Soviet Union, the Victory Park is a public space that was constructed to commemorate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in WWII or the Great Patriotic War as it was called in the Soviet Union. A 17 meters high copper statue of Stalin was erected in the park but in 1962, the statue of Stalin was dismantled, and replaced by the monumental statue of Mother of Armenia. The Ferris wheel in this park was installed in 1989 to replace the older one.

The park is full of history and beautiful statues, monuments, and even Soviet rides. I regret not trying any of these beautiful Soviet rides during my visit to the park but maybe I should do this next time. In short, the park is very beautiful and I felt some great Soviet vibes there.


Ararat Museum is a unique place representing the history of Armenian Brandy or Cognac as they still call it in Armenia and in other former Soviet Union countries. The museum tells a story about one most recognized Armenian liquors and the pride of the Armenian brandy industry.

The museum was visited by many presidents, artists, and celebrities around the world and is so rich in history and information. Here’s an interesting story about Ararat for history lovers; Sir Winston Churchill developed a taste for the Ararat brandy when it was served by Stalin at the Yalta conference in February 1945. After the Second World War, the Soviet leader arranged for Churchill to be sent 400 bottles every year as it became Churchill’s favourite brandy.

There’s a barrel of Ararat brandy called “Peace barrel” that is stored since 2001 and will only be opened when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan is resolved. I hope it will not be stored there for a very long time.

Soviet Club

Here comes my favourite place on this trip; The Soviet Club is a place like no other that gave me the ultimate joy on this trip. It’s very hard to give a label to this place as it’s a combination of a museum, restaurant, cafe, bar, club, and even a gaming zone. I instantly felt that I’m back in time the moment I was inside this magnificent place.

There’re many great dishes and drinks from Soviet cuisine served at this place, so you can enjoy a delicious meal while admiring items collected from the Soviet past such as vinyl, televisions, radios, cameras, and beautiful retro furniture. You can even play Soviet slot machines, check out a Volga Soviet taxi, and enjoy some music from the past.

I felt so nostalgic and emotional in this place and you can clearly tell that it’s the place I enjoyed visiting the most on this trip. I truly can’t find words to describe how great I felt there. To summarize, this place could be a reason for me to visit Armenia again.

I read online that there’s a 4000 AMD (about $10 USD) entrance fee but I don’t remember that we were charged anything for entrance.

Cascade Complex

The Cascade is another must-visit site in Yerevan. It’s a giant stairway made of limestone. The first phase of it was completed in 1980 during the Soviet era while the second phase was completed in 2009. There’re beautiful views of central Yerevan and Mount Ararat from the top of the stairway. However, I couldn’t see Mount Ararat that day because of the cloudy and rainy weather. At the base of the Cascade is a garden courtyard with statues by contemporary sculptors. It’s a nice place to check out, especially if you’re into Soviet-style architecture.

Vernissage Market

Yerevan Vernissage is a large open-air market. The name of the market is derived from the French word vernissage which means “viewing of an art exhibition”. You can view in this market the best examples of Armenian folk art, unique jewelry, exclusive handmade masterpieces craftsmanship. I bought gifts and souvenirs from there and by the way, don’t forget to haggle. Otherwise, you will end up paying double, triple, or even more πŸ™‚


I thought it’s a great idea to dedicate a section in this post to the food in Armenia as everything I had there tasted so good. I found some similarities between Armenian cuisine and the cuisines in the Middle East, Turkey, Central Asia, and even Russia. I had many great dishes there but what stood out was the lahmacun which is a flatbread topped with minced meat, minced vegetables, and herbs, flavoured with spices such as chilli pepper and paprika. The one I ordered was mixed with cheese and that tasted even better than the original one. If there’s something I regret about this trip, it is not eating enough lahmacun when I was there.

I also tried Lula kebab, Armenian Salad, Dolma, Caviar, and another Soviet dish (I forgot its name). Everything I tried tasted great and fresh.


Armenia is an incredible country with a lot to offer even though it’s a tiny country with a small population but it has a massive history and a great culture, cuisine, and architecture. On my 4 days trip to Armenia, I didn’t get the chance to explore places outside Yerevan. Over 35% of the Armenian population live in Yerevan, the capital city that is marked by grand Soviet-era architecture.

I heard some stories about some amazing places outside Yerevan to visit and explore. Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to go and explore these places because I wanted to explore Yerevan to the fullest. These places are Lake Sevan, Dilijan National Park, Mount Aragats, and Khor Virap where you can get the best scenery of Mount Ararat.

I was generally lucky with the weather as it was much warmer than the average temperature of this time of the year even though it wasn’t ideal (it was overcast and couldn’t see Mount Ararat from the city) but I was lucky to finally see it while on the plane. I believe the best time of the year to visit Armenia is April to May and September to October as it can be scorching hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter.

I met many welcoming and hospitable people in Armenia and I generally found Armenian people to be friendly and warm. Most of the people in Yerevan speak Russian fluently in addition to their mother tongue Armenian but there’s a growing number of people (especially the young generation) that speak English.

I loved many things about Armenia but if there’s something in particular that I truly liked the most about Yerevan, that would be the charm and the authenticity of the city. It’s absolutely true that Yerevan is not exactly a super touristic destination and probably not as cosmopolitan as some other cities in the region but this is what makes it charming and very special. It’s a hidden gem at the moment but who knows what the situation will be like when more and more low-cost airlines invade the city and bring with them millions of tourists.

Armenia is generally affordable, especially the transportation. More than 75%. of the cars in Armenia run on natural gas, maybe that explains why the taxi cost is very low there. Restaurants and cafes are affordable too but not all of them as it seems that Armenia was also hit by the global price inflation wave as it wasn’t always cheap and affordable everywhere I went. I remember there were some occasions the cost of food was similar to Western Europe or North America. However, I must say that the value for money is still really good and the quality of food and service is excellent.

It was a very nice trip; I learned a lot and I met some great people there. I’m so glad I had the chance to discover such a beautiful country and I hope to be back someday, at least to visit the Soviet Club again.

That’s all I can say about Armenia for now and don’t hesitate to share this blog if you like it.


One thought on “Armenia, a beautiful hidden gem in the Caucasus πŸ‡¦πŸ‡²

  1. A nice and unique experience and the way of explanation makes the reader feel as if he has visited this wonderful country indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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