Yerevan is frequently compared (and even more often outshined) by its neighbor Tbilisi. The capital of Armenia is so, so different though: it’s only their neighborly status and Soviet shared history that unites them.
Due to complex geopolitical issues, Armenia is a less visited backpacker destination, but I dare say it has a lot to offer. Most trips begin in Yerevan where a third of the population lives and most of the cultural and historical landmarks are concentrated.
You can easily spend a full week in Yerevan, but I will share with you my 2-day guide to visit Yerevan as cheaply as possible. Yes, it’s easy to spend little to no for 2 days in Yerevan!
Best case scenario, you will arrive in Yerevan in the early morning of Day 1 and be able to make the most of it. This is easy for most backpackers who come from Georgia, as the overnight train arrives at the main train station in Yerevan (Sasuntsi David) at around 7 AM.
It costs more than the bus but is very comfortable and convenient. Buy a ticket from the ticket counters on the third floor of Tbilisi Central.
Check in or leave your luggage in a hostel. I booked a very cheap hostel which I couldn’t even find, so I canceled and stayed at Envoy Hostel in the city center after all. Great value for money: probably the best hostel in Yerevan. Just don’t book their tours – they are quite expensive.
Read how you can visit the attractions around Yerevan.
Morning Day 1
Dedicate the morning to the city center. Have a cheap coffee from one of the hundreds of vending machines around (100AMD/0.23EUR) and wash it down with some free water from one of the 1500 water fountains called “pulpulak” due to the sound the water makes.
Go to Republic Square right in the center of the city and notice the pink hue of the buildings. Yerevan is called The Pink City for a reason – it’s mostly built using local limestone in this color. You really won’t see such buildings elsewhere.
2800th Anniversary Park
Walk towards the small garden on the west side of the park (Shahumyan Public Gardens) and then take a stroll in the park commemorating the 2800th anniversary of the city in 2019. Yerevan is famously older than Rome by about 30 years and Yerevanians are quite proud of that fact.
At the far end of the park, you will stumble upon a massive statue of Aleksandr Myasnikyan – a Soviet-Armenian politician from the early years of the USSR.
Turn left and enter the English Park with its beautiful fountain and peculiar statues. It’s one of the oldest parks in Yerevan and hosted the first football match in Armenia in 1920.
Turn around and walk 10 minutes to the Blue Mosque – an exquisite 18th-century mosque that’s also the only active mosque in Armenia. There are very few Muslims in Armenia and currently, the mosque complex is a cultural center of the Iranian Embassy.
Grab lunch in one of the cafes or street vendors opposite the Blue Mosque on Mashtots Avenue.
Afternoon Day 1
Since you’ll be very close, you might as well visit Yerevan’s oldest neighborhood- Kond. It’s really a weird place to visit if you’re coming from the city center as the contrast is huge. It feels much more like the province than the capital city.
Remember how I mentioned that Yerevan is 2800+ years old? Well, the longest continuously inhabited part is indeed Kond.
Unfortunately, it’s slowly losing its character. During Communist times hundreds of residents were relocated to make way for new buildings while nowadays you can easily see that not much effort is put into preserving it.
After spending an hour in Kond, go back to Mesrop Mashtots Avenue – one of the main thoroughfares in Yerevan.
Stroll up the street to reach the Opera House (~20 minutes) where you can get a cheap ice cream or a crepe from a street vendor.
From the Opera House square walk up (8 minutes) to the beginning of the Cascade – probably the most famous Yerevan sight.
It’s a giant multiple-level staircase made of (you guessed it) pinkish limestone. Building started during Communism and is technically still not finished.
In total, it’s 572 steps from the bottom to the top and if you’re tired at this point of the day I’d totally understand. There are a lot of buses and marshrutkas that you can take from Mashtots Avenue to Victory Park (which is also worth a visit if you have the time) and then walk the cascade from top to bottom.
The view from the top is worth it, so no matter which way you decide, make sure to get there before sunset!
Phew! That’s a lot for day 1. If you feel it’s too much, leave part of it for day 2. Or just stay more nights :).
Morning Day 2
Start the day by going to The Vernissage. It’s an open-air market where you can buy all sorts of souvenirs and works of art. Even if you’re doing Yerevan for free, you can still just do “window shopping” and the Vernissage is the place to go in Yerevan.
Continue your walk through the Circular Park which wraps around the city centre. It should take you about 25 minutes to reach the Yeritasardakan subway station. The park is nothing special, so if you’re not a fan of walking, skip it and go back to Republic Square.
Okay, so this is not totally free, but at 100AMD/0.23EUR it’s worth not just as transport, but also as a tourist attraction. Board from Republic Square or Yeritasardakan and get to General Andranik for lunch.
If you, like me, are a big fan of subway systems, you can ride the metro more and visit all the stations. It only has 10, so it won’t take long.
Afternoon Day 2
From General Adranik you can either get bus #33 (again, not completely free, but transport is cheap) or walk 35 minutes to Hrazdan Stadium. I opted to walk.
You get nice views on the bridge over the Hrazdan river and it’s funny how the two biggest brandy factories in Armenia (Noy and Ararat) are opposite each other on the two ends of the bridge.
You can visit for a tour, but they are very expensive.
This is THE must-visit place in Yerevan! At the top of the hill, you will find the Memorial Complex dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War.
It’s a solemn place to remind visitors of that dark age in Armenian history, but also to symbolize the rebirth of the Armenian people.
The Genocide Museum nearby is free to enter. It tells the comprehensive history of the Genocide during the War and I can’t recommend it enough.
Evening Day 2
Cool streets in the city center
Make your way back to the center and go for an evening walk along some of the main shopping streets of the city.
Visit Abovyan Street and get surprised by the giant spider at Charles Aznavour Square. Stroll down Northern Avenue and listen to the buskers or find cheap food on Pushkin Street.
Day trips around Yerevan
Are you staying in Yerevan longer? You really should! There are many places to visit around it on a day trip.
The two I can recommend are Khor Virap (save on organized tours by going by bus – it’s all explained in the linked article) and Geghard Monastery, which you can combine with Garni Temple and the Symphony of Stone and visit by yourself.