On the Southern Routes
“On the Southern Routes” is a 12-day hiking tour in Armenia offering travelers and adventure lovers a unique opportunity to explore Armenia’s southern regions, visit off-the-beaten path sites and treasures hidden in the mountains and experience a different Armenia: serene and mysterious.
The tour takes travelers on a mesmerizing journey across Armenia: stunning landscapes and natural sites, abandoned villages and cave towns, centuries-old monasteries and fortresses, snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear lakes. Armenia’s south has a rich cultural, historical and religious heritage. Tatev monastery, Smbataberd fortress, millennia-old petroglyphs of Ughtasar, Khndzoresk cave town – these are only a few of the sites you’ll visit during your trip.
Book your hiking tour in Armenia with Route Armenia tour operator and let’s explore Armenia’s southern routes together! Check out our other adventure tours in Armenia.
- Take a walking tour around Armenia’s capital, Yerevan
- Hike from Garni pagan temple to Havuts Tar monastery in the Khosrov Forest state reserve
- Explore the Areni-1 cave where the world’s oldest winery and shoe were discovered
- Climb up to the medieval Smbataberd fortress
- Visit Zorats Karer, a mysterious prehistoric archaeological site in Armenia
- Abandoned villages in the Vorotan river valley
- Khndzoresk cave town
- Ughtasar petroglyphs
- Jermuk waterfall
- Admire the magnificent blue pearl of Armenia, Lake Sevan
- Hike from Parz Lake to Goshavank monastery through the forests of Dilijan National Park
- Climb the sourther peak of Mount Aragats, the highest mountain in Armenia
- Taste exquisite Armenian wine and cognac
- Authentic Armenian cuisine – experience the tastes of Armenia
(Please note that this tour is available from May to October only.)
IncludedAccommodationMealsMuseum TicketsPersonal GuideTransfer to/from airportTransportation
Not IncludedAir ticketsAlcoholCoffee breakInsuranceSubway ticketsVisaWine tasting
Arrival at Zvartnots airport. Transfer to hotel. Lunch. Walking tour in the city.
Mother Armenia - Cascade - Opera House - Mashtots Avenue - Kond Old District - Parajanov Museum - St. Sarkis Cathedral - Blue Mosque - Republic Square
Walking tour around Yerevan. We’ll start our exploration of Armenia’s capital from the Mother Armenia monument located in the Victory Park, which provides one of the best panoramic views over Yerevan with Mount Ararat in the background.
From here, we’ll proceed to one of most iconic landmarks of Yerevan - the Cascade complex, and will walk down to the building of Yerevan Opera Theatre, getting acquainted with the Cafesjian centre’s unique collection of contemporary artworks displayed under the open sky along the way.
A relaxing walk along the Mashtots Avenue will take us to our next destination, the Kond Old District. Feel the breath of the 18th-century Yerevan. Roaming the narrow streets of Kond, we will descend to Paronyan street and will visit the Sergei Parajanov museum: a unique revolutionary artist who gave a new interpretation to traditional Armenian symbolism.
Our next destination is the St. Sarkis cathedral. Overlooking the Hrazdan canyon, Victory bridge and the setting of the former Yerevan fortress, this cathedral was rebuilt on the same site where a monastery consisting of 3 churches was operating since the early days of Christianity. The old monastery was destroyed during an earthquake in 17th century.
Yerevan is also home to the only acting mosque on the territory of Armenia - the Blue Mosque. Its cozy small garden is a favorite hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
A mesmerizing fountain show (summer evenings only) at the Republic Square, the heart of Yerevan, will conclude our day’s program.
(The schedule of the first day of the tour program will be adjusted in accordance with the arrival time.)
Yerevan - Garni Pagan Temple - Symphony of Stones - Havuts Tar Monastery - Garni village - Geghard Monastery - Yerevan
Breakfast in Yerevan. We leave the capital of Armenia and travel to the village of Garni to visit the 1st-century AD Hellenistic temple of Garni, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our hike begins here from the temple. Following a cobbled road that eventually turns into a narrow path, we’ll walk down to Azat canyon to see one of the most impressive natural monuments of Armenia - the basalt columns of the Symphony of Stones.
Walking along the Azat river, we’ll reach the Khosrov Forest state reserve and hike to the 13th-century Havuts Tar monastic complex. Nestled on top of a hill, Havuts Tar provides some stunning views over the Azat canyon and the nearby villages.
We’ll take the same route to return to the village of Garni, where we’ll have a lunch, after which we’ll visit an incredible monastery carved out of a mountain – the monastery of Holy Spear or Geghard, sometimes referred to as the Armenian Petra. Part of the monastery was carved in a single massive rock in the 13th century AD.
Return to Yerevan. Dinner at a traditional Armenian restaurant (upon request).
Yerevan - Khor Virap Monastery - Old Artashat - Amaghu - Noravank Monastery - Areni-1 Cave - Yeghegnadzor
We head to the southern regions of Armenia. A short stop by the Sasuntsi David train station of Yerevan to see the Soviet neo-classicist building of the station with a contemporary spatial art work by an Italian artist. After a 40-minute drive, we’ll reach the monastery of Khor Virap (translated from Armenian as a ‘deep pit’), truly the witness of historical conversion of Armenia from paganism to Christianity. The first Armenian Catholicos and the patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church was imprisoned here for 13 years.
The area where Khor Virap is located was once part of one of the ancient capitals of Armenia - Artashat, known as the “Armenian Carthage” during the Roman era. Explore the archaeological site of Old Artashat and get acquainted with the discoveries and ongoing excavations of the city.
Continuing our road through the Ararat valley and up the breathtaking mountains of Urts range, we head to the abandoned village of Amaghu, from where we’ll take a 1-hour hike to the 13th-century monastery of Noravank, an architectural masterpiece with elaborated ornaments and unique stone reliefs, once a major religious and cultural center of medieval Armenia.
Archaeological excavations of the last decade unveiled a history of local viticulture dating back to 3rd millennium BC. Visit the Areni-1 Cave where several major discoveries were made, including the world’s oldest leather shoe and the oldest winery.
Accommodation in a local house in the nearby town of Yeghegnadzor.
Yeghegnadzor - Yeghegis - Smbataberd Fortress - Tsaghats Kar Monastery - Artabuynk - Yeghegnadzor/Hermon
We’ll start the fourth day of our hiking tour in Armenia with a visit to the village of Yeghegis where the one of its kind church of Zorats (translated as ‘the church of soldiers’) is located. Dating back to 13th century, the church was major religious site where the military men were being blessed before going to war. We will also visit a medieval Jewish cemetery with 40 gravestones with Hebrew inscriptions, discovered in 1996.
From Yeghegis, we’ll start our hike to the fortress of Smbataberd. Historical evidence suggests that the fortress was built in 5th century. Smbataberd seats on a high cliff, overlooking the canyons of Artabuynk and Yeghegis. The fortress received water via underground clay pipes from the nearby Tsaghats Kar monastery, our next destination. Consisting of 2 architectural ensembles of several churches, the monastic complex of Tsaghats Kar was founded in the 10th century. It was a renowned educational center, where monks studied painting. We’ll explore the monastery and will then walk back, taking another path that will lead us to the village of Artabuynk.Return to Yeghegnadzor.
Yeghegnadzor - Zorats Karer - Tatev Monastery - Devil’s Bridge - Halidzor/Tatev
We leave Yeghegnadzor and travel to the mysterious prehistoric archaeological site of Zorats Karer, known among travelers as the Stonehenge of Armenia. Learn about the ancient petroglyphs discovered in the nearby mountains.
Our next destination is the Tatev village. Take a ride on the longest reversible aerial tramway in the world listed in Guinness Book of world records. The aerial tram takes travelers to Armenia’s largest medieval monastery and educational center – the monastery of Tatev. Situated on a vast plateau, it overlooks the Vorotan gorge and provides some breathtaking views.
Following a winding path through a forest, we’ll descend to the Great Hermitage of Tatev, a 17th-century educational and religious center located in the Vorotan gorge. After explore the ruins of the monastery, we’ll continue our hike to the Devil’s Bridge. Truly a natural wonder formed by winds and water, Devil’s Bridge reaches 60 meters in width and 30 meters in length.Overnight in Tatev or Halidzor.
Halidzor - Old Shinuhayr - Old Khot - Goris
Explore Armenia off the beaten track. Hike to the villages of Old Shinuhayr and Old Khot, two abandoned villages situated in the Vorotan river valley. Both villages were abandoned in 1970s. On our way, we’ll visit several cultural and religious sites, including a 1261 khachkar, the 17th-century St. Stepanos church, cave settlements, medieval cemeteries, an old church dating back to 5-6th centuries and other. Enjoy the majestic sceneries of the Syunik province and experience a different Armenia, hidden from the main travel routes, isolated and mysterious.
Overnight in Goris.
Goris - Khndzoresk Cave Town - Ughtasar Petroglyphs - Jermuk (free time)
Travel to Khndzoresk - a cave town that was inhabited until the middle of 20th century. Hike down the steps and walk over the longest suspension bridge in Armenia that connects the two sides of the canyon. Explore the natural and man-made cave dwellings, the 17th-century small basilica nestled in the canyon and taste fresh mountain spring water. Khndzoresk - a cave town that was inhabited until the middle of 20th century. Hike down the steps and walk over the longest suspension bridge in Armenia that connects the two sides of the canyon. Explore the natural and man-made cave dwellings, the 17th-century small basilica nestled in the canyon and taste fresh mountain spring water.
Next destination is ancient petroglyphs of Ughtasar, another treasure hidden in the mountains of Armenia. Situated on an elevation of around 3300 meters above sea level, the site features hundreds of millennia-old petroglyphs carved on flat volcanic stones. Dating back to as early as 12,000 BCE, the Ughtasar petroglyphs depict mountain goats and other animals, scenes of hunting and everyday life, people, geometric shapes, etc.
Overnight in Jermuk – a spa town in Armenia famous for its hot springs and mineral waters.
Jermuk (mineral waters, waterfall) - Vardenyats Mountain Pass - Orbelian Caravanserai - Lake Sevan - Sevanavank Monastery - Dilijan
After visiting the Jermuk mineral water gallery and the Jermuk waterfall in the morning, we’ll leave the town and travel up north, crossing the Vardenyats mountain pass, known among locals as Selim pass. Once a part of the famous Silk Road, the Vardenyats pass is home to the only well-preserved caravanserai in Armenia. It was built by the Orbelian noble family as an overnight stop for merchants.
Continue to the shores of Lake Sevan, the largest body of water in the Republic of Armenia. Considered the second highest freshwater lake in the world, Sevan has an elevation of over 1900 meters above the sea level and is surrounded by mountain ranges. Visit the 10th-century Sevanavank monastery located on the Sevan peninsula. Enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the lake that opens up from the monastery.
We then continue our road to Dilijan, a spa resort town in Armenia, surrounded by the lush forests of the Dilijan National Park.Overnight in Dilijan.
Dilijan - Parz Lake - Goshavank Monastery - Yerevan
After exploring the town of Dilijan and its historical Sharambeyan street, we’ll travel to the nearby Parz Lake to start our hike through the dense forests of the Dilijan National Park to reach the village of Gosh. The village is home to the medieval monastery of Goshavank, which served as a law academy in the 12-13th centuries.
We’ll then drive back to Dilijan to enjoy a delicious dinner of traditional and modern Armenian dishes at one of the best restaurants the town has to offer.Return to Yerevan.
Yerevan - Etchmiadzin Cathedral - St. Hripsime Church - Zvartnots Cathedral - Matenadaran
Make a pilgrimage to the spiritual center of all Armenians. See the mother cathedral of Etchmiadzin that was founded in 301AD, a year when Armenia officially adopted Christianity as its state religion. Visit the St. Hripsime church to learn the history of women martyrs and explore the typical Armenian national architecture principles developed in the 7th century. We will then head to the open-air museum of Zvartnots where you’ll see the ruins of St. Gregory church. Lean about its excavation and reconstruction history at the nearby museum. Etchmiadzin Cathedral, St. Hripsime Church and Zvartnots Cathedral are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Back in Yerevan, we will visit Matenadaran - the museum of ancient manuscripts. Learn about the ancient Armenian alphabet and the long traditions of translation skills. Matenadaran is one of must-visit museums in Yerevan.
Free time in Yerevan. Enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the city.
MOUNT ARAGATS (southern peak) - Amberd Fortress - Yerevan (free time)
We leave Yerevan early in the morning and travel to Mount Aragats, the highest peak of Armenia. Passing by the town of Ashtarak and villages of Agarak and Byurakan, we’ll reach the Kari Lake, located about 3200 meters above sea level. From here, we’ll start our ascension to the southern peak of Mt. Aragats (3887 meters). A stunning view over the crater and the three other peaks of the mountain opens up from the southern peak.
Just like the Biblical Mt. Ararat, Aragats was considered sacred. According to one of the legends, the first patriarch and the patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church Gregory the Illuminator once climbed the Mt. Aragats and prayed there, and while he was praying, an everlasting lantern appeared in the sky. The lantern symbolized the hopes and dreams of the Armenians. Many Armenian poets, writers, painters and musicians dedicated their works to this mountain.
On the way back to Yerevan, we’ll visit the 7th-century Amberd fortress located on the slopes of Mt. Aragats at an elevation of 2300 meters above sea level.
Yerevan - Levon’s Cave - History Museum of Armenia - Vernissage market - Ararat Brandy Factory - Zvartnots Airport - Departure from Yerevan
Start the day with a visit to a real man-made wonder – the Levon’s Divine Cave. It’s an astonishing large maze dug right under a small house where the family of the cave’s creator still lives.
Sum up your journey at the History Museum of Armenia. Established in 1920, the museum represents the history of the country from ancient to modern days through its archaeology, ethnography, numismatics and documentary collections.
Explore the open-air Vernissage market in the heart of Yerevan and discover a wide variety of handmade works by local artisans representing Armenian culture.
Head to Yerevan Brandy Factory famous for its Ararat brandy. Learn about the preparation process of Armenian brandy during the tour around the factory and discover the exquisite taste of this drink.
Lunch. Transfer to Zvartnots airport. Departure from Yerevan.
(The schedule of the last day of the tour program will be adjusted in accordance with the departure time.)
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