Advice for tourists on what to do in Yerevan no matter the age or taste " />

A walk around Yerevan: A guide for first-timers

Advice for tourists on what to do in Yerevan no matter the age or taste

If you see magnets in the forms of pomegranates or grapes in duty-free stores, as well as transparent containers filled with Armenian air and earth, then you are at Yerevan’s airport – Zvartnots. Welcome to Armenia.

You can familiarise yourself with Yerevan right from the very heart of its capital. In Republic Square there are dancing and singing fountains, the city’s main chiming clock, the Museum of History and the National Gallery.

From the square, it is worthwhile to go up Abovyan Street where there are several old buildings constructed from the same pink tuff which is mentioned in almost all the songs about Yerevan. Some of the buildings unfortunately did not survive, but Abovyan street will still lead you to old Yerevan.

• Photostory. A use for old, out of order buses has been found in Yerevan

• Armenian street fashion: Stylish, not necessarily expensive

• Video: Old songs renewed

There are many souvenir shops where you can buy souvenirs with images of pomegranates symbolizing Armenia, grapes, apricots, khachkars (stone crosses), duduks and the biblical mountain of Ararat. Behind these shops you will see an authentic old Yerevan courtyard with a wooden staircase and grapevines.

Armenian cuisine is found almost everywhere. There are plenty of places in Yerevan where you can order tolma – ground beef wrapped in grapevine leaves, harisa – porridge made of chicken meat and wheat which is cooked for a long time, spas – soup made of matsun (yogurt) which is good for digestion, or even a traditional barbecue meat wrapped in aromatic crispy lavash pita bread.

Continue walking along the Northern Avenue and you will stumble upon modern Yerevan: high-rise buildings, modern architecture, Western-style cafes and brand shops.

While walking, please look around. You may meet a local Yerevan celebrity – Levon, the grandfather on roller skates. All young people and tourists in Yerevan take selfies with him. By the way, address him only by his first name – Levon does not like to be called grandfather.

At the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet building you can rent a bicycle and ride several circles around the building – an area called the Square of Freedom. However, it will only be possible if  the next meeting of an opposition party is not taking place there.

If you come in the morning, you can meet a gray-haired man in a military uniform. Stay a while. Grandfather Sasun is a war veteran who feeds pigeons in the morning and will invite you to join him.

The so-called Cascade complex is located near the Opera House. Street concerts are performed here in summer and jazz bands play here too. It is surrounded not only by modern cafes, but also by interesting examples of modern sculpture.

The Cafesjian Centre for the Arts is where masterpieces of world art are exhibited. Thanks to the centre, modern sculptures are installed in the Cascade’s park: The Roman warrior by Fernando Botero, Sitting figures by Linna Chadvika and Hare on the bell by Barry Flanagan.

Visually, the Cascade is a tall staircase with flights resembling an amphitheater with a beautiful view of the city. You can observe Yerevan at night from here, and drink a glass of Armenian wine in the cafe located right there.

If you are a wine connoisseur, then in addition to the café at the Cascade you should visit Sarian street where you will be treated with wine in small street cafes.

You can even see how Armenian wine is made and try it right from the barrel in the Yerevan Ararat Brandy-Wine-Vodka Factory. You will have an interesting excursion there, learn about the origin of wine, the intricacies of its preparation and you can also leave your signature on big old barrels next to the autographs of celebrities that visited the factory.

You can also spend an evening in one of Yerevan pubs or clubs. Yerevanians like underground pubs where you can drink beer, listen to live music – both Armenian and foreign, meet and communicate with local young people and tourists. There are many pubs in Parpetsi and neighboring streets. Here you will find a pub according to your taste – mostly in the basements of high-rise buildings.

Before leaving, please do not forget to buy sudzhuh, basturma or lavash. They will not spoil on the way and can be safely packed in a suitcase.

More on JAMnews