Everyone has a different image in their mind when it comes to the best summer holiday. Some prefer azure blue beaches, while others go for city breaks, or mountain trails. If you are looking for a peaceful environment to spend your summer vacations, Armenia is not for you. This country has a lot to offer, but its people never keep calm.
Armenia is for those who are in search of meaningful experiences, bright impressions, cultural enrichment, mountain hiking trips, breathtaking sceneries, birding tours, ancient monasteries and of course it’s a paradise for food connoisseurs!
You might say this is not the best time to write about Armenia as a holiday destination (due to the tensions in the frontline). I will say this is exactly the right time to showcase the beauty of Armenia and promote peace through tourism in our country. For many years, scholars have discussed the importance of tourism as a way to foster peace and reconciliation among nations. Hence, I want to use this opportunity to attract peace between the enemies by inviting people to see the beauty of our country.
When you visit Armenia during summer, remember: “our only “sea” is the Lake Sevan” which we truly love, indulge and praise as “Our Sevan!” (While in the past, Armenia’s territory was much larger and was called “From Sea to Sea Armenia”). According to seasons, Lake Sevan changes its colours and shades, from glaring azure to dark blue… The beaches are presently owned by different proprietors who can lend you a spot per the hour. On the other side of the main beaches closer to the town Gavar, you will find an ultimate paradise for bird lovers- a small island called “The Island of the Seagulls”. This is a heaven for those who want to escape from the crowd and rejoice in the peaceful environment for a while. Here you will have the chance to watch the majestic flying of the seagulls and hear their calming sounds.
As noted above, Armenia does not have a distinction of a serene destination and the Island of the Seagulls is one of the few tranquil spots.
While driving a little more than 40 km North-West from Sevan, you will arrive in Dilijan – the green jewel of Armenia, which is often called the “Armenian Switzerland” due to its similarity with the Swiss mountains and green hills. Dilijan is a spa town with numerous rest houses surrounded by fascinating nature. For foodies, there is a special place in Dilijan to taste Armenian Tolma (piquant dish made from meat and grape leaves or vegetables, like cabbage, eggplant, etc) - the restaurant called “Dolmama”, located very close to the city centre.
A natural continuation of your trip could be the wonderful Lake Gosh, located 25 km East from Dilijan- an idyllic place to spend a romantic weekend in a tent. Surrounded by marvellous forests, the area presents scenic natural beauty.
If you amble 97 km North-West from Gosh, you will encounter Stepanavan Botanical Garden, established by Polish engineer-forester Edmon Leonovich who started planting ornamental trees in the territory. Presently, the botanical garden occupies 35 ha area, consisting of 15 ha ornamental trees and 17.5 ha natural forests. Stepanavan Arboretum is the first botanical garden in Armenia. A list of plants are beautifying the Arboretum: Magnolia, Cypress, Carpinus Caucasica, Siberian Pine, Pyrus Communis, etc. Probably, one day would not be enough to explore this wonder of nature. Hence, there is an opportunity to spend the night in the nearby rest house and continue exploring the Arboretum the day after.
If you are passionate about Horse riding, you might want to visit “Ayrudzi” Riding Club, settled in a small town Ashtarak (20 km away from the capital Yerevan). The horse-riding at “Ayrudzi” Riding Club will bring you great delight. In addition, you could learn special insights about horses from the owner of the club (but make sure to have an interpreter with you). For instance, during my recent horse-riding in the club, I learnt from the owner that white horses are not born white. They change their skin colour throughout years after birth.
For those of you who are searching for mountain trails, Byurakan will make your heart sing. Byurakan is a small mountain village situated on the slopes of Mount Aragats, and home to the famous Byurakan Astronomical Observatory. Further away from Byurakan, you will find the historical 7th century fortress Amberd, meaning “Fortress in the Clouds”. The Fortress pertains to the Stone Age period and served as a summer residence for kings.
At the end/beginning (on your choice) of your Armenian journey, stay in the capital Yerevan for a few days - a vivid centre for leisure activities filled with cafes, cinemas and numerous attraction sites. For cinema lovers, there is an open air cinema during summer season, located in the territory of Moscow Cinema. Continue your day by climbing the Cascade Hills and watch the majestic Mount Ararat. Later in the evening, you can see and listen to the colourful singing fountains on Republic Square, presenting a vivid performance out of colour and sounds.
If you visit Yerevan in July, you might have the chance to witness/attend the International Film Festival “Golden Apricot”. This is also a wonderful season to taste Armenian apricots – among the sweetest in the world.
On a hot summer day, try out Armenian beer Kilikia. Kilikia Brewery was founded in 1952 and organises Beer Festivals every year in August, or September.
As you can see, Armenia is rich in cultural, historic, natural, culinary and leisure provisions, almost all of which you could witness during the warmest season of the year. Visit our country in summer and you’ll take back with you plenty of unforgettable impressions, sensations and memories!