Travel Practicalities - Travelling in Armenia

Climate and weather in Armenia
When to go to Armenia
How to get there
Visas and travel documents
Transportation
Food
Language
Electricity
Health & safety
 

Climate & weather in Armenia
Armenia has a fairly dry climate, with the regions of Lori, Tavush and Syunik experiencing higher rainfall than other areas of the country. The wettest months of the year are April and May, but often showers at these times are heavy and brief, thus having a minimal impact on travellers. Spring and autumn are characterised by warm temperatures, though the transition between winter and summer can be short. Summers in the capital   can be stiflingly hot; temperatures often hit 40°C, although low humidity means they are usually bearable. The climate in north of the country is more agreeable at this time. Winters tend to be very cold; it’s not unusual for the mercury to fall below -10°C and roads can be blocked by ice and snow making it difficult to access some areas.

When to go to Armenia
Many say that late spring and early autumn are the best months in which to travel.  Temperatures are pleasantly warm and such mild weather is perfect for hiking or sightseeing. If you travel at the peak of the summer season, welcome relief from the heat will be found at Lake Sevan and of course up in the mountains where the altitude moderates the climate. Skiers will find plenty of snow covers the slopes in the depths of winter.

How to get there
Most international visitors arrive by air at Zvartnots International Airport close to the country’s capital Yerevan.  There are no direct flights from the UK. A handful of European airlines serve Armenia, however, including Air France, Austrian Airlines, Aegean Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines and LOT. It’s also possible to fly with a number of Russian carriers including Aeroflot and S7.
 
In addition, there’s a train service operating overnight from Tbilisi in Georgia. Cross-border road travel is only possible between Armenia and Iran or Georgia as all other borders are currently closed. Minibuses known as marshrutkas link Tbilisi and Yerevan and there are departures several times a day. A daily bus operates between Tehran and Yerevan.

Visas and travel documents
Currently no visas are required for tourists. Please read more in the visa section of the website.

Transportation
Getting around Armenia by public transport is straightforward. In Yerevan, there’s a metro system and also plenty of metered taxis. Between major towns and villages there are minibus connections; these marshrutky usually run an hourly service between major destinations though this can be a single bus daily to smaller destinations. The final stop is usually displayed in Armenian in the front window, so make sure you know the translation before you go looking for your ride. A limited rail network provides an alternative to road transport in some parts of the country.

Food
Though vegetarians are welcome throughout Armenia, it is meat eaters who are in for the biggest treat. Lamb is a speciality; you must try kashlama, or boiled lamb, at least once during your stay. Pescatarians could do worse than to head to Lake Sevan where locally-caught trout graces many a menu. There’s a Middle Eastern influence on the cuisine here: typical foods such as chickpeas, aubergines and tabouleh are easy to come across. 

To say Armenians are big on coffee would be an understatement. A bit like Turkish coffee, it’s served thick and strong. You’ll need to specify whether you want it soverakan or kats’r (normal or sweet). In terms of alcoholic beverages, the country is best known for its cognac. Said to be favoured by Sir Winston Churchill after Stalin introduced him to it at Yalta, his brand of choice was Dvin. Vodka is also very popular.

Language
Armenian is the official language in Armenia. Russian was once the official second language but since 1991 it’s been reclassified as a foreign language. However, you’ll still find Russian is widely spoken as many Armenians realise it is still a logical choice when it comes to a second language for their children. English is growing in popularity, though it wouldn’t be wise to expect it to be widely spoken. Several minority languages are recognised by the Armenian government, including Kurdish, spoken by the Yazidi population. In addition, Assyrian, Ukrainian and Greek can be heard.

Electricity
Standard voltage in Armenia is 220 V which is compatible with Europe, Australia and most Asian and African countries where the standard voltage is between 220V - 240V. A 2 pin European adaptor will be required (German standard). If you don't buy an adaptor before your trip, please do not worry. You will be able to purchase one very cheaply in Armenia.

Health & safety
By and large, Armenia is a safe country in which to travel and crime levels are low.  However, it’s sensible to take precautions to avoid becoming a pickpocketing statistic and to leave valuables in a safe place. It isn’t recommended to use ATMs at night. The border areas of Armenia can be unsafe. 
 
As a result of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, at the time of writing, the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is closed and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against visiting the regions of Tavush and Gegharkunik. The land border with Turkey is also closed.  However, cross border travel to Georgia is possible via Alaverdi or Gyumri.
 
Visitors to Armenia should bear in mind that this is a seismically active region and that earthquakes do occur. Ensure that you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.
 
Hepatitis A is the only vaccination recommended by the NHS in addition to the usual inoculations given in the UK. However, if you are planning extended travel in rural areas, take advice as to whether you might also require a rabies jab. If travelling at altitude, make sure that you are aware of the risks associated with such travel and discuss with your doctor before you travel whether you require medication.

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