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Meet The Beautiful Eastern Country Not Enough Americans Are Visiting

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Americans may be flying abroad in record numbers this year now that international borders have reopened and restrictions have been dropped, but a majority of them still have their hearts set on Mexico, or the cobblestone, fairytale towns of Europe.

Aerial View Of Yerevan, Capital Of Armenia, Caucasus Region

While Mexico is truly a bucket list destination, especially in the sun and sand category, and Europe undoubtedly boasts an impressive list of world-renowned historical cities and iconic sights, there is an entire world of lesser-known options yet to be explored.

If you're looking to escape the crowds and be among a select group of Americans who have dared go further, perhaps this beautiful Eastern country should be next on your travel wishlist:

One Of The Most Ancient Civilizations In The World

Zvartanos Temple Set Against The Backdrop Of A Snowy Mountain Range In Armenia, Caucasus Region

Despite its relative obscurity, Armenia is one of the most awe-inspiring and promising destinations out there. It is located not on one but two continents, and its recorded history spans at least three millennia, with a defining culture and nationhood as ancient as the early Greeks.

Sitting along the Caucasus mountain range, a grey area acting as a natural divide between Europe and Asia, Armenia is both too Eastern to be considered traditionally European, yet too Western, and irrevocably Christian, to fit into the Western Asian stereotype.

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Khor Virap Church Pictured Against Mount Arat In Armenia, Caucasus Region

Armenia is almost entirely surrounded by Islam, bordering Turkiye, Iran, and Azerbaijan to the South and West, but it takes pride in being the very first nation to fully convert from paganism into Christianity in the first century A.D., and for centuries, religion has been central to Armenian identity.

It has impacted not only the architecture through the construction of numerous monasteries and Orthodox churches but also the culture and the locals' way of life.

Etchmiadzin Cathedral In Armenia, The Oldest Cathedral In The World, Caucasus Region

Some of the oldest Christian shrines in the world can be found here, with Etchmiadzin Cathedral's groundbreaking taking place as early as the year 301 A.D. In other words: it is old, preceding America's settlement by 1,306 years.

Certain monuments which pre-date Christian Armenia can also be found across the country, most notably the Temple of Garni, a Greco-Roman temple built in the first century whose Ionic colonnades are virtually intact.

A Historic Nation Rich In Culture And Nature

Greco-Roman Garni Temple In Armenia, Caucasus Region

Other than ancient heritage, Armenia's recent History has been defined by revolutionary movements, in particular those that led to the formation of the now-defunct Soviet Union, of which it was a constituent republic. Needless to say, communist-era landmarks can be found all over the country.

The cosmopolitan capital of Yerevan houses the most iconic monuments, including the Cascade Complex, a limestone staircase with elements of brutalism that has been an integral part of the city's skyline since 1971, and Republic Square.

temple in armenia

Armenia itself is particularly renowned for its painting-like natural landscapes.

More than 90% of the territory is at the height of 1000 meters above sea level, in the Lesser Caucasus, which means it is full of dramatic peaks, scenic lakes, and unique geological formations.

Other than the monumental Caucasus mountains themselves, the top tourist attractions in Armenia are:

A Couple Embracing On A Mountain Top In Armenia, Caucasus Region
  • Yerevan, the capital and largest city, known for its Soviet-era architecture and palatial buildings
  • Sevan, where a historic monastery is set against the backdrop of a serene lake
  • Dilijan, a mountainous region highly sought-after for its spa resorts and wellness retreats
  • The Shikahogh State Reserve, an unspoiled forested reserve offering scenic views
  • Mount Aragats, a dormant, snow-capped volcano that is Armenia's highest peak
  • Noravank, a remote redbrick-built monastery founded in the 13th century
  • Tsaghkadzor, an up-and-coming hotspot for winter sports home to some of Europe's most affordable ski resorts
  • The Upper Azat Valley, a UNESCO-protected site dotted with ancient monasteries
  • Gyumri, Armenia's second-largest city and Yerevan's closest rival in terms of cultural offer: more than a thousand buildings in the historic center are between 300 and 200 years old.
Beautiful Street Lined With Historical Buildings And Old Street Lamps In An Unspecified City In Armenia, Caucasus Region

A True Hidden Gem Unspoiled By Mass Tourism

Armenia has been listed by Forbes as one of the top travel destinations for 2023, not only due to its wide array of cultural attractions but also the hospitality of the locals, the intriguing cuisine, and the low cost of living in major urban centers like Yerevan, only 1.1 times more expensive than the global average.

Tourism is also increasing, with 159,475 foreigners having landed in Armenia in January of this year, up 69 percent from the 94,339 who were registered in January 2022, as reported by the Armenian Tourism Committee. Throughout 2022, 1.4 million tourists vacationed in Armenia.

Woman with backpack on the background of Ararat

Between January and October 2022, Americans were the nationality posting the fourth biggest increase in visitor numbers, though at a modest 4% rate. More Americans are becoming acquainted with Armenia's many wonders, but definitely not that many.

It is a true hidden gem waiting to be discovered, where crowds are not a common sight, prices are fairly reasonable, and nature is yet to be tarnished by development.

Granted, it is not the easiest country to reach, mostly due to the absence of nonstop flights and affordable fares leaving from the States, but low-cost options are plentiful departing from Europe, Turkiye, or other Middle Eastern hubs.

Aerial View Of An Armenian Church On The Shores Of A Lake In Armenia, Caucasus Region Between Western Asia And Eastern Europe

Lastly, Armenia has no COVID entry restrictions in 2023, welcoming tourists irrespective of vaccination status and without any health-related requirements.

Americans are allowed to enter the country simply by presenting a valid passport, and they are normally issued a 180-day entry permit upon arrival.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Magdalena

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

I visit Armenia and Georgia in 2022 from Poland. Georgia too many tourists and people were trying to manipulate my money. Armenia was fun, interesting, and I learned a lot about the rich history. If you like history and culture, you need to go to Armenia. The food was also delicious, they like to eat meat and bread a lot but there are a lot of different foods to if you want to enjoy. I will never visit Azerbaijan though. Azerbaijan is dictatorship of Caucasus and the people there seem very crazy and evil.

I only visited Armenia in the summer, next time I would like to visit in the winter when there is snow.

Daniel

Tuesday 28th of March 2023

will go to Armenia for the 3rd time this year, amazes me every time, i felt really welcoming compared to Georgia (since someone mentioned it)..felt some racism in Georgia maybe because i’m a dark skin Italian guy .

Steve

Monday 27th of March 2023

This was the most beautiful vacation I have been on. The nature is breathtaking. The people are kind. The cuisine is outstanding and the cost is inexpensive.

Dee

Friday 24th of March 2023

This country is soooooo boring. Especially if you visit Georgia first, Armenia will be very underwhelming.

Diane

Monday 27th of March 2023

@Dee, I can't wait to go back! Here are some things you may have missed: LINK

Hussein

Sunday 26th of March 2023

@Dee, the same for Georgia if you visit Turkey first.

EV

Saturday 25th of March 2023

I found Armenia to be a most fantastic trip with so much history. The people of Armenia were so friendly and helpful! The food was delicious and the tours offered there were interesting.... I did visit Georgia and also loved it too.

Al LeFeusch

Saturday 25th of March 2023

@Dee, I completely disagree, i think Yerevan is a wonderful city and the Azat Valley is spectacular. Geghard is easily the most beautiful Monastery I've ever visited.

That said, i am 100% okay with Americans and Brits not visiting Armenia... that's part of what I loved about it haha.

But, seriously, it's a fabulous country, even compared to Georgia.