Armenia is known for its mountains and hot climate, and people typically think of Armenia as a summer destination. You may think that it is not a good place to visit in winter but that’s wrong! Armenia has a lot to offer during the winter months. The mountains are covered with magical snow, and our sights offer a different atmosphere in winter. So, trust me an Armenian winter offers a unique experience for travelers. There are definitely best places to visit in Armenia during winter!
These are the top places to visit in Armenia in winter:
- Garni and Geghard
- Wings of Tatev
- Winter Park in Yerevan
- Ice Skating at Swan Lake
- Traditional Armenian Khash with a shot of vodka.
Tsaghkadzor is the best place to visit in winter while you are in Armenia. It has all the facilities for winter sports, including skiing, skating, and taking a cable car among the fascinating mountains covered with snow. The cozy town is just 40 minute drive away from Yerevan so it is a good option for those who are done with the capital and want to take some active sports in the mountains. Check out the best ski resorts in Armenia if you’re looking for some more inspiration.
If you are not fond of active sports, Tsaghkadzor still is a good choice. You won’t get bored here. Many nice hotels, restaurants, and cafes can offer you the best amenities and traditional Armenian food. Pack your case and visit Tsaghkadzor in winter! You won’t be disappointed!
A visit to the serene spa town of Jermuk will cut you from the hustle and bustle of city life. Jermuk is known for its natural thermal waters that are thought to have therapeutic properties. It is a three-hour drive from Yerevan in the southern Vayots Dzor region. You can also visit nearby sites like the red rock canyons of Noravanak and the Areni wine village.
Expect to see the most picturesque waterfall in Jermuk which also flows in winter. This waterfall is named ‘Mermaid’s Hair’ due to its shape and folklore about a nobleman who built a castle on the rocks above it.
According to the legend, the daughter of the nobleman was very beautiful. She was in love with a shepherd’s son. She threw a rope down every night and the shepherd could get to her. When the nobleman found out, he put a curse on his daughter that she would become a mermaid. That final night she threw her long braid out of the window instead of a rope and turned into a mermaid. Her hair turned into a waterfall.
Often dubbed as “the little Switzerland of Armenia”, Dilijan will stun you with its charming nature in winter no less than in other seasons. The abundance of historical and cultural sights, as well as magnificent nature, will make you want to prolong your vacation, I am sure.
Besides being a famous resort for many tourists, Dilijan is becoming one of the country’s educational hubs. Don’t miss UWC Dilijan College, which is an international network of colleges, and TUMO– a one-of-a-kind creativity and technology center for the youth – you need to book a tour beforehand.
And sure, visit the gems of medieval Armenian architecture – Haghartsin (10th -13th centuries) and Goshavank (12th -13th centuries) monastery complexes. Don’t miss Dilijan National Park as well (follow the link to learn more)!
Garni and Geghard
You might miss something big if you don’t see the Stone Symphony in Garni during winter. You will enjoy the beauty of nature. The view of the mountains covered with snow is fascinating. During the day you will enjoy free winter air, and village hospitality as well as explore the ancient beauty of Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery.
Geghard is the Armenian word for ‘spear’. The monastery is called Geghard because here the spear that wounded Christ on the cross was kept. This place is a popular pilgrimage site and both of these locations are considered to be historical sites in Armenia. Check out the link for the full list.
Only one-and-half hours of ride from Yerevan, Yenokavan will admire you with its nature and active sports facilities. Whether you are fond of horse-riding or flying, overcoming obstacles, or climbing over rocks, Yenokavan is a place to go. Visiting Yell Extreme Park will make your day in winter as well as in summer. Just expect more magic in winter!
While the prices are a bit high (zipline, for example, is about USD 40 and horse riding for 40 minutes is about USD 20), unforgettable memories are guaranteed. You can also buy a ticket to Adventure Pass (USD 50), which allows you to try Zip-line, Rope Park, and Via Ferrata in one ticket.
Wings of Tatev
What can be more beautiful than visiting the Wings of Tatev in winter? Wings of Tatev is a 5.7 km (3.5 mi) cableway between Halidzor village and the Tatev monastery in the south of Armenia.
There are many attractions on the way to Wings of Tatev and the Tatev Monastery. So, most probably you will need a stay there overnight, once you arrive. The journey can take 4-5 hours if you want to make multiple stops. But if you decide to take Yerevan to Tatev Monastery day trip, that’s also possible. Get up early in the morning and set off on this wonderful trip! The scenery is so amazing in this region, and particularly around the Tatev Monastery, that missing that view from high above is just unforgivable.
Winter Park in Yerevan
While in Yerevan, you don’t want to miss Winter Park. It is a small Lapland where you will enter the magical winter park with elves, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and trolls. If you are with a kid, the best thing is to get acquainted with Santa Claus in his little cottage. Your child will be pleasantly amazed and certainly get a gift from Santa Claus.
But don’t worry my feminist friends, Mrs. Claus doesn’t have just a side-kick role in this scenario, she actually runs Christmas cooking masterclasses here. 🙂 Mrs. Claus and her assistant Mari will teach you how to cook gingerbread with a special magic recipe. It’s fun. I love being there at Christmas and never miss my opportunity to skate in the largest skating area in Armenia Winter Park.
Ice Skating at Swan Lake
The Swan Lake near Opera House in downtown Yerevan turns into a skating rink for those who are fond of ice-skating, winter sports, and active recreation. The skating rink works every day from 11:00 to 22:00 with a technical interval from 16:00 to 18:00. You will pay only 500 AMD which is a little bit more than a dollar. If you want to rent the skates as well, the price per hour will be 1000 AMD.
A coach is available during working hours. There is also a cloakroom for leaving your clothes.
Traditional Armenian Khash with a shot of vodka
Now, this one is not a place, but a thing to do! I want to end this post with something I couldn’t miss – it’s eating Khash! I know, I know some people will say “no, I’d rather not eat cow legs”, but as one of my favorite weird Armenian dishes, traditional Armenian khash is a must-to-try in Armenia to feel fully “Armenianish”. Armenians take pride in their khash soup with garlic and lavash. This soup is served particularly in cold weather.
If Armenia is on your list of countries to travel to, winter is the time to consider for sure. I am sure you will feel the hospitable people’s warmth and have an amazing time. I hope this post inspires you to some fun activities and great places to visit in Armenia during winter. There are thousands other reasons why to visit Armenia, and some may even surprise you. For example, many come to undergo nose surgery in Armenia. Check out that link to learn more about why Armenia is a popular destination for rhinoplasty. And if you have some questions or suggestions, please ping me on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips
Featured image credit: Aram Grigoryan on Unsplash