The Dilijan National Park ends up on the list of many travelers when they visit Armenia. And it’s not without a good reason. This huge national park is one of the main treasures of our country – it offers amazing scenery, some of the best hikes in nature, great weather and delicious food. In this post I’m going to bring you the key facts about Dilijan, to help you plan a great trip here.
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What is the Dilijan National Park about?
The Dilijan National Park, situated in the north of Tavush Province, is one of the most picturesque places in Armenia. Different sections of the park are differently elevated above the sea level – from 1000 to 2300 meters. The park spreads across the slopes of Ijevan, Pambak, Areguni, Miapor, and Halab mountain chains.
All put together we are looking at an area of 240 square km occupied by rich flora and fauna. The Dilijan National Park is home to about 1000 different plants, including over two dozen endangered species. But the park is especially famous for its rich fruit trees and bushes, including walnut and hazelnut trees, pear trees, and much more. You can also find a lot of animals here – foxes, wolves, lynxes, boars and other animals typically met in European forests are in abundance here.
Where are the best hikes in Dilijan?
The Dilijan National Park is also popular among nature lovers because it offers some of the best hikes in Armenia. Those who want to hike and explore some of the historic sites in the area would definitely be entertained in Dilijan.
To be honest, I don’t consider the hiking infrastructure particularly well organized in Dilijan, for example in terms of clarity of hiking trails signage and maps. However, I still believe many would enjoy a nice hike in this national park. Especially, when you know you’re hiking with a purpose – to see an abandoned ancient church somewhere in the middle of the forest or something like that.
I recommend you check out HIKEArmenia and the hiking trails they offer in the Dilijan National Park. I didn’t personally go for hikes with them, but I’ve heard from friends that these guys offer some of the best hikes in Dilijan and other parts of Armenia.
Currently they offer four different hiking routes of varying difficulty, so there is definitely something to choose from for everyone. You can also download their app for hiking in Armenia that is full of very useful info, including routes, photos, hiking maps and different tips. You can find this Armenian hiking app in Google Play and in Apple App store.
Hiking trails in the Dilijan National Park
In my opinion, there are four must-see sites in the Dilijan National Park for any hiker: Lake Parz and three ancient monasteries – Haghartsin, Goshavank, and Matosavank monasteries. Each of them is unique in its own way and is definitely worth the efforts you’d put to reach them, especially the last three. Unfortunately, Matosavank is one of the hidden places in Armenia and not many people know about it. So, make sure to bring comfortable shoes and go for a short hike to see these places.
Beware of ticks when hiking in Dilijan
Please beware of ticks, because these are quite prevalent in the forests of Dilijan. While not wildly dangerous for most people, it’s quite an unpleasant experience when you find one of these little bugs on your body.
That’s why I recommend avoiding walking in forests of Dilijan showing too much bare skin. I imagine it might be difficult to not wear shorts in summer months, but then I recommend you at least take long socks (forget the fashion!). Examine your body regularly and seek for medical help if you find a tick. You can go to Dilijan Medical Center in 7/3, Sayat-Nova street in case of emergency.
Weather in the Dilijan National Park area
In general, Dilijan is known for being colder than the rest of Armenia. Typically, the weather is much milder here in summer months, and there is more snow here in winter, in comparison to the rest of the country. But keep in mind, it’s a relatively humid area, so consider that when you look at the temperature forecast. Humidity makes warm temperatures feel warmer here than, let’s say, in Yerevan, and makes cold feel colder as well.
Summer in Dilijan
If you are after the warmest months, then you should visit Dilijan in July or August. The latter is also known as one of the driest months in this region. So, if you are visiting in August there is a very little chance that your hiking plans would be ruined by rain. The average temperature in July-August is around 20 degrees Celsius, even though it feels a bit warmer than that.
My personal favorite time of the year in Dilijan is certainly June, because I prefer milder summer weather – around 17 degrees Celsius is ideal for me. However, visiting in June is sometimes tricky, because typically it’s raining quite often in Dilijan during this month. So, you really need to check the weather in different sources beforehand to be sure. By the way, you should go and check out my other blogpost on Armenia’s best places to visit in summer, where I included other must-visit spots, like Dilijan.
Winter in Dilijan
Snow lovers will probably enjoy Dilijan if they visit in February and early March, and the best time for skiing is early December because it’s the driest winter month. Even though Dilijan has traditionally been perceived by locals as a great summer destination, recently it started becoming more popular for short getaways in winter months as well.
Best time to visit Dilijan
Still, the busiest tourist season in Dilijan is Summer, which makes everything cost more than usual. Spring is in the second place. So, if you romanticize over an idea of a lonely walk around the Lake Parz, then probably don’t plan your trip to Dilijan in July and choose a less popular month. By the way, if you are looking for a romantic getaway check out this other post of mine about best romantic places in Armenia. I absolutely had to include the Parz lake in it.
Also, typically the city is more popular during weekend, as many locals come to spend their time here. So, if you visit during the week, you will certainly have a better chance of not meeting too many people on your hiking journeys and around Lake Parz.
Where to stay in Dilijan?
When you are planning your trip to the Dilijan National Park, logistics are important. I recommend you arrive and stay in Dilijan town, because it is sort of the logistical center of the whole park, and it’s the spot from where it’s the easiest to explore the whole park. The tourist infrastructure is also concentrated here, so it’s easier to find a room to stay in overnight, ask for an advice at the local Tourist information center, visit nice local eateries to enjoy traditional Dilijan cuisine and so on.
Cozy hobbit house in Dilijan!
I cannot write a post about visiting this town and omit the option to stay in a real hobbit house while in Dilijan. 🙂 I think this is one of the most epic accommodation options one can find anywhere in the world. Cozy house is a small local family business. They operate several hobbit houses literally dug into the ground. Each of the houses is a separate unit, that can be booked – ideal for a couple or an individual traveler with a sense of humour. I love these hobbit houses! Check their Instagram profile linked below for more details.
Best food in Dilijan
Looking for food in Dilijan? Don’t miss Tava restaurants at in Myasnikyan 37/4 street. It’s probably the coolest venue in the entire region, in terms of the interior design and the overall vibe. Besides, the food they serve is absolutely delicious.
If you are looking for something more traditional, less hip, but with good quality and authentically Armenian, try Kchuch. It’s literally next door from Tava. They have great food and plenty of outdoor seating options. It’s a very popular place, so, if you are planning for a dinner there, I recommend you book a table beforehand.
How to get to the Dilijan National Park?
Get to Dilijan by bus
There are a few ways to get to Dilijan to be able to see its beautiful nature. One way is to take a mini-bus (marshrutka) that departs from Yerevan’s Northern Bus Station. While direct trips to Dilijan are between 9:30-17:30, you can also take a bus to Ijevan that stops in Dilijan on its way. The buses depart from Yerevan once every hour, and the ride costs 1000 AMD (less than 2 EUR).
Take a taxi or share a ride
Another option is to take a taxi to Dilijan for about 10000 AMD (19 EUR). If this seems too expensive, consider shared rides offered by local Uber-like taxi apps. For example, gg offers shared rides for groups of 3-4 people, where each pays about 2000 AMD. Check out my separate post about taxi apps in Armenia, to learn more about how these apps work.
Take a tour to Dilijan
Finally, taking a tour is also a valid option. Especially if you base yourself in Yerevan for your trip in Armenia, there are many companies you can find here, that offer organized tours to Dilijan. A tour like that might cost you less than a taxi ride to Dilijan, as they save on costs while operating with groups of travelers. The prices vary though, depending on the season and the number of travelers interested in a tour.
How to get around in Dilijan?
I am a strong advocate for walking! Especially when you are surrounded by such beautiful nature everywhere you go in Dilijan. Besides, walking is very easy in most parts of Dilijan. In fact, to walk from one end of the town all the way to its opposite end you need only about 2 hours.
As an alternative, there are also two bus routes that start at the “Dilijan” mineral water plant (25, Abovyan street) and cross the entire town. The buses operate every half an hour from 07:30 to 18:30 on weekdays, and from 09:30 to 17:30 on weekends.
A taxi within Dilijan shouldn’t cost you more than 600 AMD (a little over 1 EUR). If you want to visit a few places at once, you can negotiate with the taxis over the price and have the driver wait for you while you’re visiting the sites. You can also ask the employees of the Tourist Information center in Dilijan to help you translate and negotiate with the driver, because typically local drivers don’t speak English.
Bikes are another option for moving around. But don’t expect well organized bicycle lanes and good roads. 🙂 It’s Armenia, after all! You can rent them either at the Dilijan National Park’s visitor center or at the “Old Dilijan” Tufenkian historic center. Renting a bicycle will cost you 1000 AMD per hour or 5000 AMD per day.
That’s it! I could talk about the Dilijan National Park and its treasures for hours… But I hope this brief summary covering the key aspects of traveling in this part of Armenia will help you plan a great trip. Check out my list of top cities in Armenia to see other great places you could visit in our country. If I’ve been helpful to you in any way, please take pictures in Dilijan and tweet/instagram those to me with #ArmeniaTravelTips. I’d love to hear from you!
Featured image credit: Photo by Sonashen on Wikimedia (CC)
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