According to my recent poll results on Instagram more than 70% of my followers would have trouble finding Armenia on a map ?. FYI, its a landlocked country nestled between Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran.
There are many awesome reasons to visit Armenia. There’s even more incentive when you don’t have to blow your budget to have some fun. Here’s my list of the top 8 free things that I enjoyed in Yerevan:
1. Yerevan Cascade
The Cascade is made up of 572 giant limestone steps that will give you a great workout by the time you make it to the top. I enjoyed stopping at every level that I climbed to take pictures and to catch my breath… don’t tell anybody ?. Every step gives you a different perspective of the city but the view at the top is the ultimate reward. Panoramic views of central Yerevan and a full view of Mount Ararat is definitely worth the thigh burn ?. The good news is that you can opt to take the escalator instead if you aren’t keen on sweating to the top.
Even if you don’t want to take the escalator, it’s a good idea to head inside the Cascade to check out the art gallery. I saw some cool Chihuly and Swarovski pieces. The view from the top at night is not to be missed, the city is full of lights.
2. Singing and Dancing Fountains
I really enjoyed checking out these beautiful fountains in Republic Square. They seem to happen every night from Spring to Fall approximately between 8 pm and 11 pm. The square fills up with tourists and locals alike waiting to enjoy the water show set to music ranging from classical to rock and everything in between. Everyone is intrigued by the colorful lights and some are moved to dance along with the music.
3. GUM Market
This is my favorite food market in Armenia. First off, plan on arriving hungry because you will be stuffed with samples. Everything is on display from live chickens to a variety of colorful spices. My favorite part was the front section boasting the most attractive and tasty Armenian fruit and nut treats including sujukh (walnuts strung together and coated in syrup).
This is an excellent open air market to check out Armenian culture. The market is filled with lots of Pomegranate souvenirs, the symbol of Armenia. You can find relics from soviet times and many beautiful traditional Armenian handicrafts. I had to peel myself away from the jewelry section, I kept revisiting the beautiful earrings and rings made from apricot and walnut trees. There is a ton of silver jewelry here and very reasonably priced. Remember this only remains a free thing to do if you leave empty handed ?.
5. The Obelisk
Beyond The Cascade lies the Monument to 50 Years of Soviet Armenia. Armenia declared it’s independence from the Soviet Union on September 21st 1991. The monument is massive and hard to miss while driving through the city. I enjoyed stopping by as I was able to meet many friendly foreigners here and take unobstructed pictures of the city.
6. Water Fountains
There is nothing better than having access to free, delicious, clean water on a hot day. Armenia is known to have some of the best tasting water in the world and you can have access to it from the Pulpulak a.k.a. public water fountains throughout the city. Some of the fountains are rather detailed and fancy looking but they all contain that wonderful sweet tasting water. You might be thinking, but is it safe to drink the water? From my personal experience as an American, I drank water from the fountains from the first week I arrived in Yerevan, something I won’t dare to do in NY, and I never felt sick. Of course it’s up to your own discretion but it’s great to save money on buying bottled water plus it’s tasty!
7. Watch Fresh Lavash Baking
Lavash is a delicious, soft, traditional flatbread that reminds me more of a wrap. It is the most popular bread in Armenia and will be served with every meal. Many times, Lavash is placed at the bottom of a meat dish and soaks up all the flavors. You can observe the beauty of this bread being made right before your eyes at countless restaurants and even at the aforementioned GUM market. It’s cool to watch as the flattened dough is slapped into a large, circular, in-ground oven.
I also loved visiting SAS Food Court where everything was freshly made right behind the counter so you can see it. The donut making pulled me in. I promise you that it will be impossible to leave without buying one food item – but it’s so worth it!
8. Go for a Stroll
Take a walk through the city or join a free walking tour. The main city of Yerevan is a circle and I always ended up near The Opera House, which is a beautiful building. Be sure to observe the architecture, Yerevan is known as “the pink city”, because of the color of the stones used for building. I also enjoyed stumbling upon an outdoor art gallery and speaking with the artists. Armenia has plenty to offer culturally and historically. Enjoy your visit!
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