Visiting Armenia and not seeing Tatev Monastery is a big mistake because Tatev is an absolutely spectacular place. This unique monastery stands out in Armenia and even in the whole Caucasus. So, don’t forget to pay a visit while in Armenia! Is Yerevan to Tatev Monastery day trip possible? To tell you frankly, you will be a bit tired but it is worth the game provided you choose a good itinerary with lots of spots to rest. Coupled with good company and a driver with a safety record, I guarantee you will have the most unforgettable trip.
In this blogpost, I will detail everything you need to know to have a fabulous day trip to Tatev from Yerevan. Keep on reading and if you find the information useful, don’t forget to ping me on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips.
Yerevan to Tatev Monastery day trip, distance and travel time
Tatev is located on top of an isolated basalt plateau in Southern Armenia’s Syunik region. The distance from Yerevan to Tatev is 253 kilometers (157 miles). It is a 4.5-5.5 hours drive from Yerevan by road.
It is a 9th-century historical monument that served as scholastic enlightenment and spiritual center during medieval times. As such, the monastery plays a significant role in Armenia’s history.
In fact, the name Tatev is connected with a legend. Literally, Tatev means “giving wings”. There are many legends about why the monastery is called Tatev. According to one, after the monastery was built, the architect asked God to give him wings to see the monastery from above. So, he said, “Holy Spirit, help me get wings!” or “Ognir, Surb, Ta tev!” This is why this construction that dates back some 10 centuries is called Tatev.
Wings of Tatev – Schedule and Tickets
Now, guys and girls, and everyone in between, call me an uncultured swine, but for me, the Wings of Tatev was the most exciting part of my trip to this monastery. Yes, honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing the monastery as much as I was eager to check the “Wings” out. And let me tell you why!
Before 2010, if you wanted to see the Tatev Monastery, you had to drive a long way to get to Tatev. But in 2010, a 5,7-kilometer aerial cableway (Wings of Tatev) was built to connect the monastery with the nearby village of Halidzor. Today, the monastery is accessible to all. It will take you about thirteen minutes to cross over a big gorge and get to the actual monastery. And it’s this ride above the gorge that made this trip for me so amazing! I absolutely loved the view that opened to me from up top when I was in that cable car.
The Wings of Tatev is recorded in the Guinness World Records book as the world’s longest non-stop cable car. It is also a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. I really hope UNESCO will recognize it eventually as it’s truly amazing.
The Wings of Tatev do not operate on Mondays but work any other days and on holidays. The first “flight” is at 11:00 and the last one is at 17:30. The tickets cost 7000 AMD (round trip). Most tours that you can buy in Yerevan include this price in the tour ticket price, but I recommend you check it with the provider of the tour.
How to get to Tatev Monastery
You can get to Tatev Monastery in several ways, including daily trips offered by many travel agencies, public transportation, taxi services, or by renting a car.
The public transport to Tatev leaves from Sasuntsi Davit Metro Station. Marshrutkas (tiny van-like buses) cost around $5. The problem is that they don’t stop right at the cable car but you can get there on a taxi for about $10 when you arrive at the terminus of the bus.
There are many agencies that organize daily tours to Tatev. The nice thing about having a daily tour instead of traveling on your own is that you get a guide that tells you the stories behind the places you stop at on the way. Normally, these tours are in English, Russian or Armenian languages.
You will pay something from $30 to $40 for a trip to Tatev and back. You will have stops on the way and see lots of other attractions during your day trip. By the way, I have a post about the best-routed tours from Yerevan throughout Armenia and you can find some private tour options there as well. The destinations are diverse so I’m sure there you’ll find a lot more than you need 😉
Some of the leading tour agencies that organize tours to Tatev from Yerevan are:
You may think that a taxi may be a bit pricey for you but that’s not always the case. An option is to share the taxi cost. You can get shared taxis at the bus station. If you choose this option, you may be able to get to Tatev for as low as $10. Also, if you’re traveling with your own group of friends, this could be a great option.
The normal price for Yerevan to Tatev by taxi is 25,000 AMD or about $50. The trip by taxi takes about 4-5 hours.
There are a number of local taxi apps in Armenia, like GG, Yandex, and U Taxi that can get you to Tatev at an affordable price.
What else to see?
The trip to Tatev will be more spectacular if you make several stops on the way. In fact, most tour agencies sell packages of trips, including stops near other churches and outstanding natural spots. Here is where you can stop by while traveling to Tatev.
You may want to stop by Noravank Monastery, a charming little monastery complex that dates back to the 13th century.
Today, the monastery’s main building was rebuilt after it was destroyed in an earthquake.
The legend says the monastery was saved during the Mongol crusade because of the stone engravings on the facade which depict God with almond-shaped eyes.
Just a legend but who knows? Thank God, this unique architecture survived ages.
Shaki waterfall will have a truly therapeutic effect on you. The waterfall is located next to the town of Sisian. It has a height of 18 meters and is situated on the left side of the Vorotan Gorge. The surrounding nature is spectacular. Just next to the waterfall is Shaki village. So, if you would like to stop by and talk to locals as well as buy local Armenian matsoun, this is where to go.
If you are on Yerevan to Tatev Monastery day trip, Zorats Karer is where to stop by. This is known as Armenia’s Stonehenge. It is an interesting archeological site made of some 223 weathered and mossy boulders set in an open field. The impressions from this nature-built monument are impressive. There is some controversy surrounding the actual age and origins of the formation – Bronze Age tombstones or part of an ancient observatory?
If you are wondering whether Yerevan to Tatev Monastery day trip is worth it – YES! The impressions you will get will last for life. Make sure to start your trip early in the morning as most of the time you will spend driving. Even with this tiring experience, you will enjoy the trip especially if you take short coffee breaks and enjoy a good meal on the way. And don’t forget that there are other spectacular places to visit in Armenia. Read my blogpost on top cities to visit in Armenia to have an idea of where to go. To me, as a frequent traveler to Armenia, villages are the best place to feel the whole charm of the country. There are also many unusual things to do in Armenia. Check my blog post! If you liked this post, don’t forget to let me know on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips. Keep in touch and share your experience with me!
Featured image credits: Alexander Naumov on Wikimedia Commons (CC)