Garni Temple and the nearby natural wonder dubbed The Symphony of Stones are two sites very near the capital city of Yerevan in Armenia.
However, getting to Garni Temple by public transportation is quite easy. Here’s everything you need to know if you want to take the Yerevan to Garni bus.
Taking the Yerevan to Garni Bus
There are two buses that go from Yerevan directly to the village of Garni where the Garni Temple is located: buses with numbers 266 and 284. They both depart from Gai Bus Station at this location on Google Maps.
To get to Gai Bus Station from the city center of Yerevan, grab bus #63 (100 AMD/0.25$) and get off at Gai Avenue where tucked away between two small patches of a park you will find the buses idling.
Only the two buses (266 and 284) use this station and both go to Garni. The timetable on the official site is a bit unreliable but according to it, there are 3 buses departing at 11:11, 12:11, and 12:59.
However, one bus for sure goes at 10 AM as this is the one I took. It goes all the way to the village of Goght (250AMD/0.65$). Go to the terminus at Goght if you want to visit Geghard Monastery.
If you only want to visit Garni Temple, get off at Garni, obviously.
Which one to visit first: Garni Temple or the Symphony of Stones?
The two sites are not thematically connected in any way. People usually pair them for a visit because of their proximity. You can visit either site first.
One reason you might want to visit the Symphony of Stones first though is that there’s a secret back entrance to the Garni Temple site from a pathway that starts down at the Symphony of Stones’s gorge.
I visited the Symphony of Stones first because I was coming from Geghard Monastery and it is closer to it. Since I hitchhiked, I just asked to be dropped off closer to the entrance and walked the rest.
Symphony of Stones
When you get off the bus in Garni, walk through the village towards this location where you can buy a ticket for the Symphony of Stones.
The entrance fee for it is 250 AMD (0.65$).
After you enter, there is only one path through the gorge with beautiful rock formations on both sides. They are what people call the Symphony of Stones.
The Symphony of Stones is a part of the Garni Gorge where enormous basalt rocks form regular and symmetric penta and hexagons. The unique shapes make it a very photo-worthy location and a must-see site in Armenia.
Walk all the way through the gorge until you reach a small path going up. Take it and follow it until you get to right under Garni Temple.
You won’t be able to see Garni Temple from down under, but there’s another path that slopes around the cliff and brings you straight under the Temple.
Best of all – this way you avoid the official entrance and save a bit of money on a ticket (go buy a ticket if you want to be all clear and support the site of course). Nonetheless, Garni Temple uses discriminatory pricing against foreigners (4x the price for locals), so I don’t even feel bad for not paying.
The Temple of Garni is the easternmost Roman temple still in existence.
It was built by King Tiridates I in the 1st century as a temple to the sun god Mihr. Armenia converted to Christianity in the 4th century (a story you can read about in my guide to visiting Khor Virap) and so the pagan temple had to be either destroyed or converted.
Eventually, it was converted into a royal summer house for the King’s sister.
The temple was destroyed in 1679 in an earthquake and for 3 centuries all the rubble was just lying around.
It was then fully rebuilt with the same rubble in 1975. What you’re looking at today is a very good fake.
Nonetheless, a beautiful fake.
Getting back to Yerevan
To get back to Yerevan, go back to the main road running through Garni.
You will then have two options – wait for the bus to come or hitchhike.
According to the official timetable (take it with a pinch of salt), the bus from Garni to Yerevan departs at 7:36, 8:06, 9:16, 13:46, 14:36, 16:06, and 19:46.
The first three may be too early for a day trip, but the rest are suitable.
As for hitchhiking, practically all cars going west are going to Yerevan, so you should have no trouble hitching a ride back to the capital.