In Armenia, you may take a Taxi to go literally ANYWHERE.. We were fortunate to come across a taxi service, via referral from a friend who had used them before which we liked the services very much..
The service is Called Comfort Taxi Services and they're based in Yerevan. The name of our taxi driver was Hovik, a very nice man who drove us around Armenia for 3 weeks. We drove anywhere from Anipemza to the western border, Nagorno Karabakh which is all the way to the east.. We went as high up north as Noyemberian and as south as Khor Virap.. The taxi service charges 100 drams (US $0.20) per kilometer and 1200 drams (US $2.40) per hour of wait time. Although Hovik or any of the members of the taxi services do not speak English, most speak Armenian and Russian. When in Yerevan, ask for Hovik and if you want, you may give my name (Rafi) as a reference.. He will provide you with the best service.
There are other Taxi Services which charge less; as low as 70 drams per kilometers..
Doka Taxi Services charges 150 drams (US $0.30) per kilometer and you will be taken around in a Mercedes Benz.. Their phone number is 555-555. You can give them a try if you wish.
As you walk around in Yerevan or any other cities, you can see mini-buses in different colors packed with people..
They are called "Marshotni" in Armenia and they are all numbered.. The number appears from the side window and each number has a specific route and destination..
Riding the marshotnis is a lot cheaper than taking taxis especially around town.. They charge 100 drams (US 0.20) for the route within the city..
If you're traveling on a budget and spending US $2-3 can hurt the budget, you may take advantage of the marshotnis.. The only problem is knowing which number has what destination.. I didn't get the chance to ride in one but if you ask around, I'm sure you'll come across people who know..
Getting to Armenia is done by either airplane or by crossing the border via Iran in a vehicle or by bus.. While on the road in Armenia, I saw many buses with Iranian license plates.. Suppose they were transfering tourists back and forth, not sure.. Airplane is the best choice flying into Zvartnots airport in Yerevan, capital of Armenia.. Please refer to General information for Airport description and tips..
There is a marshrutka (minibus) at 9.20 from Ortachala in Tbilisi to Vanadzor. It leaves earlier if it gets full, which was the case when I travelled with it. To Ortachala you can take marshrutka 94 and 118 from Marjanishvili (from outside McDonald’s). I arrived at the station around 8.00, bought the ticket and had some tea and bread. At 8.45 the bus was full and left Tbilisi. We were going very slowly and after a while we stopped and the driver fixed the engine. Almost all the way the road was bad with lots of potholes. Before the border the road only became more narrow and it was slowly going up and up, and we did not meet any other vehicles for a long time. The border crossing was Mughanlo.
Getting the visa was easy. I filled in a form and paid 30 dollars, they put the data in the computer and stamped the visa. There was no comments about my Azeri visa.
In Stepanavan the marshrutka stopped outside an office for money exchange and I changed my last laris into drams.
The bus ride took between 5 - 6 hours and the price was 16 lari.
In Vanadzor the bus stopped at the bus station, next to the train station.
From Ortchala in Tbilisi there are also several buses a day leaving for Yerevan.
If you intend to depart Armenia from the Zvartnots (Yerevan) international airport, save 10.000 drams (20$) per departing passanger as this extra airport tax is never included into your ticket price. Although not mentioned anywhere at the airport, first go to the exchange booth (BTW, very bad rates) and pay this tax. You will get a receipt that will enable you to check in. Of course you will get a special extra service for this tax, e.g. a very slow check-in procedure, way too many bored employees standing or walking around the airport, I was almost proclaimed a terrorist just becuse the metal detector always detected a zip of my side trousers pocket, boarding passes were indeed checked more times than necessary and last but not least, due to very slow procedure the plane departure was delayed by almost an hour and the staff put my (and probaly half of other passangers' ) luggage into a wrong plane.
In 2004 probably the cheapest airline flying directly to/from western/central Europe (and thus avoiding a need for a former USSR countries' transit visas) was ČSA (Czech airlines) from Prague, costing "only" 350€. Book the flight as early as possible as the airline seems to be popular among numerous Armenian diaspora in North America.
A cable car goes from Alaverdi up the steep mountain to Sanahin. It goes from behind the post office, just north of the city centre and busstation. Buses comming from Vandazor stops at the cable car stop.
The cable car is not running all day. When I was in Alaverdi, in June 2003, it was running as follow:
07.15 - 09.45
11.00 - 14.00
15.00 - 19.30
23.15 - 23.45
00.15 - 00.45
It is very cheap. One way costs 50 drams.
One of the best ways to see Armenia if you have some extra cash and have limited time is to use country tours. There are several based in Yerevan but I found that the best was Sati tours who do daily tours around Armenia and Karabagh. They offer free hotel pick up and they are very professional. I used them several times and their tour guides are fantastic.
Monday they go to Echmiadzin and Zvartnots and Dilijan and Haghartsin/Goshavank from 6500 AMD to 11 000. Tuesday they go to Vanadzor/Haghpat/Sanahin for 13 000 AMD (I highly recommend this one due to public transport is a hassle). Wednesday they go to Dilijan/Haghartsin/Goshavank for 11 000 AMD and Garni Temple and Geghhard Monastery for 6000 AMD. Thursday they go to Tsaghkadzor/Lake Sevan 9000 AMD and Karaback for a 3 day trip costing a pricy 90 000 AMD. Friday they go Echmiadzin/Sardarapat/Zvartnots for 8000 AMD while Khor Virap/Noravank costs 10 000 AMD. Saturday they go to Oshakan/Saghmosavank/Amberd for 8000 AMD and Lake Sevan/Noradous/Sevanavank for 9000 AMD. Sunday goes to Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery for 6000 AMD. Again I highly recommend them (I usually dont promote tour companies due to price and not a way to do independant travel) but I had fantastic experiences.
I went to Tabriz in Iran by bus from Yerevan. A few weeks before leaving home I booked a ticket via email through Tatev Travel, but not until I picked it up I had to pay for it, 17 000 drams (about 40 dollars). I was going to Tabriz, but the price was the same for Tehran, to where the bus was continuing. There is supposed to be a bus every day, but when I arrived to Yerevan I was told the Monday bus was cancelled and I had to leave one day earlier.
At 10.15, 15 minutes late, the bus left Kilikya Avtokayan in Yerevan. It was a big comfortable and air-conditioned bus with Iranian plates. It is a long journey. A man on the bus was sick and we stopped several times for him to go out (once we stopped by some cherry trees with yummy cherries). After 5,5 hours we passed Goris and a litter further south it was time for food break and we stopped by a restaurant.
The journey through southern Armenia was very long, it doesn’t look so long on the map, but there are many high mountains (with beautiful views) and no tunnels.
The tip is to long, but continues below...
At 20.30 we arrived to the border, where it took two hours on the Armenian side. I was the last one to be ready as the Russian controller took long time to check my passport. Not until everyone was seated in the bus and we crossed a bridge all women took their scarves on. As we arrived on the Iranian side all our passports were collected and we waited. While I waited I changed money at an exchange office and bought some crisps at a shop. Everyone changed the time on their watches back 1,5 hours. At the Iranian side of the border it took 1,5 hours before we were finished and could continue.
Before arriving in Tabriz we stopped for another food break. Back in the bus I wished I was going to Tehran because I wanted to sleep, but suddenly we where in Tabriz and there only I and another passenger left the bus. The driver of the bus asked the other passenger to take me to my hotel in the same taxi as he was taking (even if I don’t speak Farsi and they didn’t speak English) and I was glad for not being left alone in the outskirts of Tabriz in the middle of the night, even if there were other taxis around.
I had been told the bus ride between Yerevan and Tabriz should take 14 hours but it took more than 18 hours. It didn’t feel so long, but it was inconvenient to arrive in the middle of the night.
Taxis are a mixed blessing in Armenia.
AT THE AIRPORT
Odds are, if you jump into one at the airport, you'll start off cursing them. There are MANY con artists there, but they can only rip you off if you let them. Absolutely refuse to pay more than $10-15 for your ride to anywhere in Yerevan. Believe me, $15 is VERY generous, VERY, so try to stick to $10. When you get in, don't let them try to change the price - if they try, or act like it's some misunderstanding, demand either to be taken back, or call the police, do not ever give in, and feel free to involve complete strangers, they will help you (unless you're still at the airport and they may be in cahoots).
IN THE CITY
Taxis basically charge 100 drams (33 cents) per kilometer, but the minimum is usually 600 drams. Most rides in the center won't exceed 600 drams. Most taxis have a taxi meter now, including any that have a logo on the door. Make sure they reset and use it. If they don't have one, note what the kilometers are at the start of the ride. The drivers in Yerevan are usually fine with you handing them 600 drams (plus any tip which you are not obligated to give) and jumping out. If you have any trouble, again don't hesitate to involve strangers, threaten to (or actually) call the police. I've never heard of it getting to that point, but the police will not let them rob you blind.
ANYWHERE IN ARMENIA!! THIS IS THE SECRET
For those who want to go on day trips, consider a cab! You'd never think about it in NYC, but in Armenia, you're in a tiny country, and it only costs 33 cents a kilometer... it gives you a lot of flexibility and is often a great option in a country where public transport schedules may not be convenient or fast - and if you share a ride with a couple of friends, you're styling!
If you need the cab to wait for you, it's $5 an hour standard, and the meters ALREADY count that in the price, nothing extra.
Enjoy, there's lots of very nice cab drivers there believe it or not. Good luck finding them :-)
On 10th January 2013, Armenia relaxed its entry requirements, meaning that all citizens of EU Countries (as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) could enter the country for up to 180 days without a visa.
We took advantage of this new visa-free regime in February 2013, taking a day trip from the Georgian capital Tbilisi to the UNESCO-listed monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat and the historic church of Akhtala in northern Armenia.
We crossed the Georgia-Armenia border by car at the Sadakhlo (Georgia) – Bagratashen (Armenia) border crossing, about an hour's drive south of Tbilisi.
We asked our (Armenian) guide if she was aware of the new visa-free policy and she said: "officially no visa is required now, but we shall wait and see what happens at the border". In the event, the border crossing took a matter of minutes and we entered the country without having to purchase a visa.
Visa information is subject to change over time and anybody planning to visit Armenia in the future should check for up-to-date information.
There is a new website that details all marshutni routes in Yerevan, as well as metro routes and an interactive flight map. This is the most comprehensive source of info available about transportation options in Armenia. There is even a section detailing routes, prices, and departure stations for regional minibuses!
to see most of Armenia and learn most about the culture of this interesting country I would suggest to make day or more day tours by one of the plenty tour agents. My experience with Hyur was absolut first class so I would absolut suggest to give it a try with Hyur tours
Armenia is not only a landlocked country but also a “politically locked” country as the only was to enter this country is by air at the Erevan Zvartnotz International Airport or through the few frontier posts (three road, one train) at the Georgia border and one border post at the Iranian border; the country is totally closed at its borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan.
I entered through road and left via air.
Entering at Chochkan, on the road linking Tbilisi and Erevan is very easy and straightforward; it takes few minutes, but the minibus driver may take his time, have a chat with friends, make some business. . . . Minibus seems to be the best option to go from Georgia to Armenia; there are also buses, but they do not travel every day and the train is said to be very very slow, and it crosses the border at night, and of course, at 2 a.m. you will not escape passport control! Use minibus if you come from Georgia.
If you come from far or overseas, or go there, the International airport is deserved by many international companies and of course, Armavia, the national company. At the Erevan airport, you will have a chance to have a look at the Mount Ararat, and if flying westward, you will soon be over the Pontides and Taurus Mountains and enjoy the views from above.
Minibus is the best option to get around in Armenia, and except very remote places or Nagorny Karabakh, you can go almost every where, you just need to be patient and have some time ahead; whatever, even waiting for some hours is not wasting time when you are in a foreign place, there is always something to look at, or some people who want to have a chat with you, or even you can take advantage of keeping your notes updated! I just was scared at the end of my trip here, in Sisian as the minibus, supposed to leave for Erevan (where I had my flight back to France next morning) at 10 a.m. did not show up, and I began to be scared at 3 p.m. as possibly there would not be a minibus that day. . . . . Finally it arrived, and left soon after for Erevan.
Minibuses are easy to get around, locals know very well the routes and are very helpful, you are never lost on the road in Armenia!
I just can recommend to travel by minibus (not bus, minibus!!), it is cheap, it is fun, you meet people, you discover local restaurants, it is a dive in an aspect of local life!
Picture 1: the sign says Sisian; easy, no? All minibuses have their final destination mentioned, and locals help you to find your minibus.
Picture 2: just in case you need something last minute, there are vendors at the bus station in Erevan.
Picture 3: to the contrary of some preconceived ideas, minibuses in Armenia are not on a hurry, and there are some stops along the way; here we stopped at a restaurant for one hour or so; refreshments, a short walk, and if some wanted there could even be a real meal, but no one dared as cooking takes some time. . . . .
Picture 4: bus station in Dilijan, waiting for the departure to Erevan.
Picture 5: a stop on a road in the Lesser Caucasus: some natural needs have to be fulfilled (emptied would be more appropriate in that case), and there is no problem to ask the driver to stop; everybody enjoys the stop!
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