Armenia, located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, is a landlocked country bordered by Turkey to the West, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east and Iran to the south. It is characterized by its diverse topography, which includes mountain ranges, high plateaus and deep valleys. The country is dominated by the lesser Caucasus Mountains, with its highest peak, Mount Aragats, reaching 4,090 meters (13,419 feet). These mountains provide stunning scenery and contribute to Armenia’s unique geography.
The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity, specifically the Armenian Apostolic Church. Christianity has deep historical and cultural roots in Armenia, and its was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD. The Armenian Apostolic Church is an independent Oriental Orthodox Christian denomination with its own distinct traditions and practices. There are also smaller Christian communities and minority groups practicing Islam, Judaism, and other faiths.
Armenia has an estimate population of 2.9 million (as of September 2021) and it is the third most densely populated of the previous Soviet republics. The official language is Armenian, a separate branch of the Indo-European language family. Russian was also widely spoken, especially among the older generation, due to historical ties with the Soviet Union and many can communicate in English as well. Generally, the state buildings and public places are also marked with Latin-letter signboards.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Armenia largely depends on your interests. Spring (March to June) is a popular time to visit Armenia. The weather is generally mild and pleasant, with blooming flowers and lush landscapes. This is an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, exploring historical sites, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Summer (July to August) can be quite warm, especially in the lowland areas like Yerevan. This is the peak tourist season, with many cultural events and festivals taking place. It's a good time to explore the capital city and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
Autumn (September to October) is another great time to visit. The weather is still pleasant, and the fall foliage adds a beautiful touch to the landscapes. The harvest season also means you can enjoy fresh produce and local cuisine.
Winter (November to February) is the low tourist season in Armenia. The temperatures can be quite cold, especially in the mountains. However, if you enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, this can be a great time to visit the ski resorts in Armenia, like Tsaghkadzor.
What to wear in Armenia depends on two standards; the weather and culture aptness. During winter months, warm clothing such as thick warm coats, warm long sleeves tops, knitted or wool scarf and hats and warm gloves is a must, for both men and women. On summer months, casual clothing like jeans and shirts, modest dresses are more appropriate. Be sure to pack clothes suitable for the weather during your visit. Armenia experiences significant temperature variations between seasons, so pack accordingly.
When visiting religious sites, it's a good idea to dress modestly. This means avoiding clothing that is too revealing or overly casual. For both men and women, it's a sign of respect to cover shoulders and knees. If you're visiting more rural or traditional areas, it's best to opt for more conservative clothing. This might mean long skirts or pants for women and long pants for men.
Safety and Health
Armenia is one of the safest countries to travel to, boasting one of the lowest crime rates worldwide. Taking out a travel insurance policy that covers theft, loss, accidents and medical problems is highly recommended. If you plan to do any adventure or extreme sports such as scuba diving, bungee jumping, motorcycling, skiing and even hiking, check that your policy fully covers you.
There are no obligatory immunizations required for travelers visiting Armenia. Take standard health precautions such as drinking bottled water, practicing good hand hygiene, and being mindful of food safety. Armenia's climate is generally pleasant and does not pose unusual health risks. If you have special health needs, speak to your physician before traveling. If you travel during the summer, it is a good idea to pack sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, as the Armenian sun is strong.
The national currency of Armenia is called Armenian Dram (AMD). Coins are available in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 dram and notes are available in denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 dram. Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks and currency exchange offices throughout the city. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in urban centers and tourist areas, having cash is useful for places that might not accept cards.
Tipping in Armenia is not a custom or not expected. But as the country became a popular destination, tipping has become more common.
At restaurants in the capital city, Yerevan, service charge of 10% is already in your bill. But leaving additional tip to the waiter is on your own discretion.
If you're on a guided tour, it's a good practice to tip the guide and driver, particularly if you were satisfied with their service. The amount can vary, but around 10% of the tour cost can be a guideline.
For hotels, especially higher-end ones, it's customary to leave a tip for the hotel staff who provide services like carrying your luggage or providing room service. This can be a few hundred drams, depending on the level of service.
For taxi, you may round up the taxi fare to the nearest hundred Drams and let them keep the change.
Avoid photographing military or security installations, government buildings, and personnel. These are considered sensitive areas for visitor/tourists and you can be detained and questioned if you attempted to do so. When photographing people, especially locals, always ask for their permission before taking their picture. This is a sign of respect and common courtesy. Some people may decline, and it's important to honor their wishes. Armenia is home to many religious sites, including churches, monasteries, and other places of worship. While photography is usually allowed in these locations, be respectful of the worshippers and the sanctity of the space.
If you plan to use a drone for photography, there might be specific regulations in place. Drones could not be operated in Armenia without obtaining a permit from the Civil Aviation Committee. This permit process involves submitting an application with specific details about your drone, the purpose of your flights, and other relevant information. Always check the local laws and obtain any necessary permits before flying a drone.
Internet access is widespread in Yerevan city. Most shopping malls, café and hotels have free Wi-Fi access. There are also public Wi-Fi hotspots in central areas like public buses, railway stations and in some taxis. Outside Yerevan free Wi-Fi will be mainly available in hotels and sometimes in restaurants and cafes.
Getting a local SIM card is a convenient option for tourists. You can purchase SIM cards from various mobile service providers upon arrival at the airport or in local shops. These SIM cards often come with data plans, allowing you to use mobile data throughout your trip. Make sure your phone is unlocked to use a local SIM card. Armenia has good 3G and 4G coverage in urban and even some rural areas. This allows for reliable mobile data connectivity, which is helpful for navigation, communication, and browsing the internet on the go.
Consumption of traditional alcoholic drinks is highly appreciated in the culture of Armenians. The most popular national alcoholic drink is brandy or cognac, it is made from selected grapes that are grown in Ararat Valley. The beverage is classified into three categories depending on the method and time of aging: ordinary, collection, and vintage. The most expensive collection cognacs are the ones produced by aging vintage cognacs longer. Armenian vodka is sort of a brandy, made only from mulberry fruit – both red and white fruits are used in the production. Armenian beer is a popular alcoholic drink among men. The country produces the drink from malt grains developed in the country. The most famous beer brands here are Kilikia, Kotayk, Erubeni, Gyumri, and Aleskandrapol. Pomegranate and other fruit wine are variety that suits for wine lovers. Pomegranate is the national symbol of the country and signifies wealth and fertility.
Armenia's climate is diverse due to its varying elevations and landscapes. Generally, the country experiences a continental climate, characterized by hot summers and cold winters.
Summer (June to August): Summers are warm and dry, especially in the lowland areas. Temperatures can range from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F) or even higher, especially in July and August. This is the peak tourist season, and it's a great time to explore cities and higher-altitude areas.
Autumn (September to November): Autumn is a pleasant time to visit, with milder temperatures and colorful foliage. September and October are particularly enjoyable, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). It's also the harvest season, so you can enjoy fresh produce.
Winter (December to February): Winters are cold and snowy, especially in the mountainous regions. In Yerevan, temperatures can range from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F), while in the mountain areas, it can drop significantly below freezing. This is the time for winter sports enthusiasts to visit ski resorts.
Spring (March to May): Spring sees a gradual warming from the colder months. March and April can still be quite cool, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F). May brings milder weather, with temperatures reaching around 20°C (68°F).
There are two associated plug types, types C and F in Armenia. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type F is the plug which has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. The standard voltage is 220 and standard frequency is 50Hz.
Airports in Armenia
Armenia has two international airports, Zvartnots International Airport located in the capital city Yerevan and Shirak International Airport in the city of Gyumri, respectively.
Zvartnots International Airport (IATA code: EVN, ICAO code: UDYZ) is the main international airport of Armenia and Yerevan’s main international transport hub. It is the busiest airport in the country. It offers flights to and from about 45 cities throughout the world, with direct flights to Yerevan, Armenia, by 28 international carriers from different cities, like Athens, Beirut, Doha, Dubai, Istanbul etc.
Shirak International Airport (IATA code: LWN, ICAO code: UDSG) is the second largest airport and was inaugurated in 1961. The equipment and the system used by the airport are newly developed putting it ahead of other airports located in mountainous areas. It offers direct flights to Moscow.
- Sight-seeing tours and trekking/hiking activities are operated and led by a local guide and/or local driver.
- Visit locally run markets where you can purchase handicrafts created by local artisans such as Kachkar, carpets, Armenian jewelries, dried or candied fruits, Armenian wines and cognac.
- Eat at local restaurants. Most meals in Armenia, especially in rural areas, use locally produced and came from small-scale farms.
- Bring your own re-usable bottled water when travelling. The tap water in Armenia is clean and safe to drink.
- Visit the cultural sites, as the country as few UNESCO heritage sites such as, Geghard Monastery, the Genocide Memorial at Yerevan, 7th Century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, mediaeval monuments at Sanahin or Haghpat, just to name a few.
Georgia is a small country located in the region Caucasus. Situated in the Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is border by Black Sea to the west, Russia to the north, Turkey and Armenia to the south and Azerbaijan by the east. Georgia has a land area of 69,700 square kilometers (26,900 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Tbilisi.
Georgia lies mostly in the Caucasus Mountains and its northern boundary is partly defined by the Greater Caucasus range. The Lesser Caucasus range, which runs parallel to the Turkish and Armenian borders, and the Surami and Imereti ranges, which connect the Greater Caucasus and the Lesser Caucasus, create natural barriers that are partly responsible for cultural and linguistic differences among regions. Because of the elevation and inadequate developed transportation infrastructure, many mountain villages are isolated from the outside world during the winter.
Georgian called their country Sakartvelo. The name consists of two parts: Kartveli, which refers to an inhabitant of the core central Georgian region of Karli-Iberia, and the circumfix sa-o is a usual geographic for indicating the “land where Kartveli live.” The original English name of the country is unknown to many but it is believed that it came from St. George, the patron saint of Georgia.
The population of Georgia has an estimate 3.9 million (as of July 2020). Today 83 percent of the population practices Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In addition, there are Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Jewish community. The official spoken language is Georgian. The Georgian language is a Kartvelian language and is thought to have origins in ancient Aramaic and sound distinct like any other language. Other languages spoken in Georgia include Azeri, Armenian, and Russian, but the official language of the Abkhazia region is Abkhaz.
Best Time to Visit
Georgia is an all-year-round destination. Its climate is quite diverse, with the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea both playing a part in the differing conditions. In general, it’s drier yet colder in the east, and wetter but warmer in the west. Spring time or between the month of Mid-April and May is the best time to visit the country. The weather is pleasant, it is neither hot nor cold. During this time, the best activities are exploring the cities, take day trips and do some hiking. Summer time or months between June to August are considered high season in Georgia. The country receives a bulk of tourists in summer.
In general, appropriate dress code depends on what time of the year you visit Georgia. In summertime, casual and comfortable attire are recommended. When hiking, comfortable walking shoes are important. In winter time, it is best to wear warm clothing and you may also bring rain gears such as rain coats. When visiting religious site, make sure your shoulders and legs are covered and you may be required to cover your head with scarf. In summer time, dress modestly in rural areas as some locals are very conservative.
Safety and Health
Georgia is generally safe a safe destination, but there might be some demonstration and rallies occur in the capital city Tbilisi. It is recommended to stay away to these large gatherings and follow the advice of local authorities. Moreover, crime level is low but there can also be pickpocket incidents in tourist areas. Be mindful of your surrounding at all times.
There are no particular vaccine required when travelling to Georgia. Consider to apply for a travel health insurance before travelling. This covers the cost for any theft, loss, accident and medical problems that may arrive when you travel. Medical Facilities in Tbilisi are available but can be very expensive. Outside the city, medical facilities are limited.
Georgian Lari (GEL) is the official currency of Georgia. It is divided into 100 tetri. Lari bank notes comes in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Tetri coins comes in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Foreign currency is not accepted. Georgia remains mostly a cash-based society. Currency can be exchanged at banks and larger hotels (Euro and US).
ATMs are the easiest way to access your money, when available. They are becoming common, however should only be relied on in Tbilisi, virtually all accept Visa and Master Card, other cards may not be accepted at all machines. ATMs sometimes run dry on weekends. Do not expect to find them in small towns, villages and rural areas.
Tipping is a common practice in Georgia, most especially for the service or hospitality industry.
For most restaurants and coffee shops, 10 percent service charge is added in the bill, tipping is not necessary. If you want to tip or there isn’t any added service charge, you may round up the total
For local guide, you may tip for 10-15 percent or if you feel giving more, it will be appreciated. For driver, 5 percent tip is acceptable.
For hotels, tipping is not expected but if you feel like being generous, you may leave 1-2 GEL to bellman, 5 GEL per day for housekeeper and 5-10 GEL for front desk officer or concierge.
For Taxi, you may just round-up the fare and let the driver keep the change.
Note that for some locals, they might find tipping offensive. If you were invited by a local to any occasion or at any countryside with older people, do not leave a tip.
Do not attempt to take photograph of military bases, building or vicinity of defense installation. Be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing churches and other religious sites.
Internet access is available throughout big cities and resorts in Georgia. Many hotels, restaurants and coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi access, but some you might need to pay. In the capital city Tbilisi, there is also Wi-Fi access in public places like shopping malls, public transport. There are also cyber cafeterias in Tbilisi that are available, when you need a Web Access.
Most mobile telephone work in Georgia and coverage is good in most areas. Before travelling to Georgia, you can check your local provide and switch your phone to global roaming.
Drinking is an important part of the Georgian culture. The country is known to be one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Wine is associated with cultural, economic and religious tradition, Georgians are known to be hospitable and wine plays an important role in that hospitality. Alcoholic beverages like wine, beer and other spirits can be bought and are available in hotels, supermarket and bars and restaurants. In general, it is forbidden to consume alcoholic beverages on the streets and in the parks.
The climate in Georgia depends on the region. Western Georgia has a humid subtropical and in the east is subtropical to temperate. Despite the fact that large influence on the climate of country is rendered by mountains the warm air from the Black Sea reaches the remotest areas of Georgia. The average temperature in January is kept in the range from 3-9°C in the Colchis Lowland in Adjara, and does not go down below -2°C in the Iberian Basin. In mountainous regions, temperatures can fall up to -16-20°C. During summer, the weather is mainly hot and the average temperature in August is 23-26°C for almost territories of Georgia. The maximum precipitation level is in autumn and winter. Snow falls mainly in the mountainous areas in November and does not melt until the late spring.
In Georgia the power plug and socket are type C and type F. Type C is also known as the standard Euro plug. Type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
- Sight-seeing tours and other trekking/hiking activities are operated and led by a local guides and/or local drivers.
- Visit locally run restaurant and markets, where you can purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.
- Minimize use of single-use plastics such as plastic straws and cups. Bring your own tumbler or food container and utensils, as much as possible.
- Stay at local homestays, guesthouses or locally run accommodation to support local economy.
- Whatever you bring to the lakes or mountains, take it with you when you leave and dispose it properly.
- Always keep in mind when travelling to be respectful of local people along with their culture, traditions and their environment.