Armenia is one of the few countries in which I have not yet cycled. So, when I was approached by Astghik of Arratour about a guest post on the subject, I said yes straight away! I always love reading about new places, and I hope you do also.
Not many people consider cycling in Armenia, which is a pity. The country offers vivid and unforgettable impressions to the cyclist. Beautiful landscapes, interesting mountainous routes, ancient architectural monuments – it has it all. So, if you are planning a trip to Armenia keep reading, as we describe 2 great cycling routes in Armenia.
Cycling Routes in Armenia – Yerevan – Garni – Geghard –Yerevan
Distance – 80 km (round trip)
The climb of the day – 1000m
Difficulty – 5/5
Season – May-September
This cycling route will allow you to enjoy spectacular scenery, and visit the most popular attractions of Armenia. It starts from the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. Take the road that leads to Geghard Monastery (M4) and continue on. Along the way, enjoy the amazing views! Before reaching Geghard somewhere after 27 kilometers, you will find yourself in the village of Garni (Kotayk region). This is an ideal place to take a break, and have a snack in a local restaurants. The village also has important and unique historical sites.
Here you can visit the only surviving Hellenistic temple of I century AD. This attracts large numbers of tourists every year, and has an admission price of 1000 AMD ($ 2). This is included in almost all tour packages to Armenia if you decide not to cycle. After seeing the temple, take the route of the village and enjoy the amazing “Symphony of stones”. This natural monument is located in Garni gorge and it represents great basalt columns, formed due to the action of volcanic lava. From afar this natural complex of columns looks like a giant organ.
Continuing on, in another 10,7 km you will reach the last destination of the journey . This is the monastery of Geghard, which is an incredible place partly carved out of a rock. It really does feel as though you are transported back in time here! The temple of Geghard, built in the IV century, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
In this mountainous region, it gets dark very rapidly so try to return to the city before the nightfall. Those who wish to break their journey can stay overnight in Garni village, and continue back in the morning. If you only choose one of the cycling routes in Armenia during your stay in the country, it should definitely be this one!
Cycling Routes in Armenia – Yerevan – Bjni – Sevan – Dilijan – Goshavank- Yerevan :
Distance – 150 km (round)
Season – June to September
Difficulty – 5/5
This is the longer of the two cycling routes in Armenia, and follows the road Yerevan- Sevan (M-4). For cyclists, the road is suitable and easy with wide shoulders. For almost the entire length, it has a parking line, so you will be able to keep away from the traffic. With an average speed of 16-20 km / h, it should take around 4 hours to reach the town of Sevan.
Before reaching Sevan though, it would be better to take a break in the town of Bjni. Here, there are a number of interesting things to see. In the eastern part of the village on a hilltop, there is the beautiful 7th century St. Sarkis church. On the top of a rocky promontory, you can visit another famous Astvatsatsin Church (Mother of God). Bjni has also many unique khachkars. These are cross-stones included into the UNESCO world heritage list. These unique masterpieces are the symbols of Christianity, and each of them has its own unique pattern and history. In Armenia, there are about 40,000 khachkars that survive today.
From Bjni the way continues to Sevan, which is about 35 km. This small town is famous for the amazing lake, which is considered to be the pearl of Armenian nature. It is also one of the highest and largest freshwater lakes in the world. Its azure waters shine under the sun, and the scene is completed by picturesque wooded mountains and hills. The climate here can be a little changeable. In summer, it is hot during the daytime. In the evening it may be chilly and windy. Those who wish and have enough time can reach the northern shore of Sevan called «Shorzha». This place is considered the cleanest and the most comfortable for a rest. There is even a good area for camping. The distance from Sevan town to Shorzha is about 46 km.
Lake Sevan has a range of accommodation, from hotels through to camping. Many people are tempted to stay longer than they planned because of its beauty. You will find this a lot when taking cycling routes in Armenia! In the peak of the season, there are all sorts of activities on offer. Go out on catamarans, yachts, boats to enjoy the lake, hike in the surrounding area, and of course cycle! One suggestion, is to visit the monastery of Sevanavank, located on Sevan peninsula. This amazing monastery built in 874 differs from the other Armenian monastery complexes. It is small and has modest architecture. But the highlight of the monastery is a magnificent view of the lake and surrounding area.
We recommend continuing the way to Dilijan located at the distance of about 35 km from Sevan. It is a cozy green resort town of Armenia known for its beautiful nature and healing fresh air filled with pine aromas. You can get there either by the old pass from the side of Covagyugh and Semenovka villages, or by reopened tunnel. This last option is not recommended for cyclists though.
This small picturesque town of Dilijan has a well-developed infrastructure, and a range of accommodation. The same day the travelers can visit the natural and historical gems surrounding Dilijan. Take the road leading to the east and in 15 km you will see a small lake of amazing beauty. It is called «Parz» wich is translated as «clear». The water here is clean and transparent, and the old trees surrounding the lake lean their majestic kronas and reflect in the water. Not far away there is a small Gosh village with its ancient Goshavank Monastery. The village offers some options for an overnight. The next day the cyclists can finish their journey and return to Yerevan.