Although accommodation options are somewhat limited, making the decision to stay a few nights in the area will allow you to much better appreciate and explore what Armenia has to offer, without sitting in a car all day back and forth from Yerevan.
Alaverdi is surrounded by the following important suburbs and villages, which will also be considered in this article: , , , , and . Alaverdi itself is actually just a transport hub, and you are better off staying on top of the canyon.
- Marshrutkas between Alaverdi and Vanadzor (1 hr, 500 dram), Stepanavan (2 hr, 700 dram), and Gyumri depart daily. To Vanadzor: 09:00, 10:30, 11:00, and 13:00.
- Furthermore, almost all transport to and from Tbilisi passes through this town.
- Yerevan (3 hr, 1,700 dram).
By taxiThere are numerous taxis waiting for your negotiations.
By thumbIt is easy to get around and into the Alaverdi canyon.
Bus Station for OdzunTo get to Odzun catch a bus going to Vanadzor (every round hour), 200-300 dram. There is at least one bus at 14:00.
Useful marshrutka routes (the last go at 19:00):
- Marshrutka #3 – from the train station through the entire city along the Debed River.
- Marshrutka #5 – from the bus and train stations to Sanahin suburb, every 15-30 min, 100 dram.
- Marshrutka #063 – between Alaverdi and Haghpat, 200 dram
- Alaverdi to Haghpat: weekdays 08:15, 09:00, 10:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30, 17:30, and weekend 09:00, 13:00, 17:00
- Haghpat to Alaverdi: weekdays 07:30, 08:35, 09:30, 11:00, 13:00, 14:05, 15:30, 17:00, and weekend 08:30, 12:00, 16:00
- Marshrutka to Akhtala Monastery: 12:00, 300 dram.
By cable carThere is a funicular (even though actually a cable car) between Alaverdi and Sarahart. The cable car operates at the following times: 07:00-10:00, 11:00-13:30, 15:00-19:30, and 23:00-00:30
As of 2019, the cable car is broken and locals are not confident on a timely repair.
By taxiA taxi to Odzun is officially 1,500 dram, even though it is just 10 km. But it is uphill and often taxi drivers demand 2,000 dram from tourist. Do not fall for 2,000.
Otherwise, the going rate, as always, is 100 dram per kilometre, at least when not climbing up.
Also it's possible to charter a taxi to Haghpat Monastery and Akhtala Monastery together for 5,000 dram. Or to Odzun church and Kobair Monastery together for 5,000 dram. But with the beautiful canyon landscape, you are better off hiking parts of the way. There is always enough taxis around to take one where you finish.
12th-century bridge of SanahinFrom this bridge you can walk up to the top of the canyon and further to Sanahin monastery.
Church of Saint Gregory of NarekNew town church completed in 2001.
Akhtala Monasteryaddress: Akhtala VillageThis beautiful fortified monastery has exquisite frescoes, large fortifications, great carvings and interesting ruins. Not many visit it yet, but that will likely change in time.
Khorakert Monasteryaddress: Jiliza VillageA long, hard trek from Alaverdi, over a mountain dirt road, the peak of Mt. Lalvar, and hitting the Georgian border, this monastery is has a very cool cupola unique to Armenian architecture in a lush forest—few makes it this far.
Khuchapi MonasteryIf you make it to Khorakert, you should be able to make it to this soaring, majestic and lost work of architecture, further along the border.
Kayan BerdRuins of a small black fortress built in 1233.
Haghpat Monasteryaddress: Haghpat VillagePart of the same UNESCO site as Sanahin, you'll have a hard time choosing a favourite. The labyrinth of passages, chambers, khachkars and views will leave you wondering how this masterpiece was built.
Sanahin Monasteryaddress: Sanahin VillageUNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. This wonderland of incredibly well preserved Armenian architecture has stood for almost a thousand years, with little change. You can sense how the place must have buzzed with activity. Sayat Nova, the famous bard, used to sing here. The name literally means "older than that one", referring to Haghpat. This is due to the competition between those two monasteries. However, both pretty originate much from the same time.
Museum to the Migoyan brothersaddress: Mikoyan StArtyom Migoyan the famous aeronautical engineer, designer of the MIG fighter series, while his brother become Premier of the USSR. The museum reopened in 2017 after renovation. The price includes a guided tour in English (translated folders in German, French and Spanish are also available at the museum).
DseghOne of the oldest and famous villages in Armenia with the basilica church and its ethnographic museum. In the village cemetery there are lots of other cross stones, memorials and ruins of a small 7th-century basilica church.
St. Grigori Monasteryaddress: south of Tumanyan town, 2 km north of Dsegh villageSurp Grigori can be accessed from the highway below it (this trail starts at confluence of Debed and Marts rivers), or from the fields above the cliffs. The hike is a little longer from below, but the road is much better, shorter and easier to find. This one has much more of the lost to time feeling, and due to the hike, and the very few that venture out here, you'll likely have it to yourself. If it weren't for the graffiti, the feeling you just discovered beautiful ruins in the jungle would be hard to shake.
Tumanyan’s house-museumDsegh is birthplace of Armenian writer Hovhannes Tumanyan’s (1869-1923) and this museum is devoted to him.
Karasun Mankants church12th century
Sirun Khach Khachkar
Odzun Basilica Churchaddress: Odzun VillageA huge basilica, which has withstood the tests of time for 1,300 years, the church in Odzun is a beauty. There is an interest memorial on the site with carvings telling a story, and a large village surrounds the church.
Horomayri Monasteryaddress: near OdzunThe monastery is built in part at the top of the cliff, in part halfway down. At the top, there is a three-chambered chapel. Below, the walls of the canyon form one of the four walls of the structures. There are caves within the monastic complex, khachkars and carvings. St Mark's Church was built by the Princes Zakare and Ivane Zakarian in 1187. The other buildings were built by Abbot Samuel in 1206.
Kobayr Monasteryaddress: Kober VillageThe partially collapsed church once had magnificently exposed frescoes - which are now being covered again as the complex is restored. The setting is really nice, as are the views. Well worth the 15-min walk up the slippery wet slopes of the canyon.
Ardvi Monasteryaddress: Ardvi VillageMonastery built in 8-17th centuries consists of two small churches and a belfry surrounded by low-height walls. There is also a tetrahedral monument, khachkars (cross stones) and ruins of dwellings.
St. Grigori Bardzrakash MonasteryThere are only ruins of the monastery left, but they make a great picture, especially when the local cows are feeding inside of the ruins. A nice hike up to this monastery from Tumanyan village. Make sure to take the right turn—if you are not ascending, then something is wrong. Hike further for a nice viewpoint.
- Hike, bike, climb, camp, 4x4, photography...
Sanahin to HaghpatFollow any of the paths from one monastery to the other. The shortest trail with least distance on paved roads is 9 km and takes about 2-3 hr. It takes you through the steep gorges, a small mountain river and the village Akner.
Odzun to KobayrA spectacular hike along the canyon cliffs with great views, especially during afternoon hours. It goes by Horomayri Monastery. Start your descend down the trail directly from Odzun. 6-7 km, 2 hr.
If you are arriving from Georgia directly, exchanging money or finding an ATM might be an issue. In Sanahin village, there is no ATM, but one shop at the main square next to Sanahin Bridge exchanges money (at a poor rate). Down in Alaverdi seems to be a bank. However, US dollars and euros seem to be accepted also by hotels.
- A few cafes near 12th-century bridge of Sanahin serving some simple snacks. Nice views over the river. Cheap: coffee is 200 dram.
- Barbecue resturants along the highway.
- Sanahin Bridge Hotel has a lounge bar.
Lalvar Hoteladdress: Engelsa st., 5
B&B Irisphone: +37425323839 or +37491088812address: Baghramyan st. 65Friendly, family-run B&B. Comfortable, clean but smallish rooms with shared bathrooms. It is also possible to camp. The owner also organise dinners parties gathering all guests together. Nice setting and fantastic views over the river. Excellent meals. Can be a bit noisy.
Parisis B&Bphone: +37491257323address: Jravazan st. 2Parisis B&B is in the ccentre of Alaverdi, in residential building (apartments). Historical sights, such as Haghpat, Sanahin, Akhtala, Odzun, Ardvi and Kobayr are easily accessible by public transport. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all areas. The bed and breakfast has a sun terrace and views of the mountains. You will find a shared kitchen and 24-hr reception at the property. Alaverdi Central station is located within a 2-min walk from the property. Next to Parisis B&B are located Alaverdi Hospital, VTB and Ardshin banks and also ATM. From street side, take the last entrance.
Anna Maria Hotelphone: +374 55359170Simple hotel run by friendly owner. It occupies the first floor of a 5-storey building. A bit rundown from the outside and very cheap. Inside simple rooms, a common dining room. Beware there are no radiators inside, so in winter the rooms get cold and only electric portable heaters heat the air in the rooms. Free Wi-Fi included.
Mini House HostelA gem in this region. The lounge is nicely decorated and invites for a comfy chill. Only 5 rooms, so reserve ahead.
Sanahin BridgeA hotel with lounge bar opened in 2014. Modern design. Only 4 rooms. Charming lobby. Extremely nice personnel. Wi-Fi.
OdzunThere are several B&Bs scattered around the village, including:
Odzun B&Bphone: +374 10 25 31 41
Vahagn Davtyan B&Bphone: +374 10 25 31 41
Alvard Nersisyan B&Bphone: +374 10 25 31 41
Amalya Nalbandyan B&Bphone: +374 10 25 31 41
phone: +374 95 717404address: Odzun VillageA Soviet rest house built in 1971 that has been renovated. Offers large modern rooms and cottages. Open-air swimming pool, billiards, tennis, volleyball and football fields, children playground. For some it's proven to be a very cheap and convenient spot to rest, with breakfast included. Surrounding forest and splendid views over the mountains worth a visit on its own. Transfer from the city is free of charge.
Aleksan Qocharyan B&Bphone: +374 10 25 31 41Shared facilities: kitchen, washing machine, tea/coffee maker.
Flora Simonyan B&Bphone: +374 10 25 31 41Family run place with simple but quite decent rooms. Can prepare some meals.
phone: +374 93413705Quite good rooms. Nice owners. Fantastic view of Debed river canyon. There is also a restaurant with delicious national food very moderately priced.
phone: +374 55 210-210Clean hotel surrounded by nature, with beautiful views. Restaurant.
phone: +374 91 604082A tent city for nature and extreme lovers. Amazing view from your tent, fantastic hospitality and service.
Karo Yerznkyan B&B
Eteri Guesthousephone: +374 99 744 918A few new rooms. If you need to find an owner, she works in Akhtala monastery.
Guest House Artemiphone: +374 94 433725address: Tumanyan st. 2 build. 5, Tʼumanyan villageNice modern rooms in a private house
Anoush Hotelphone: +374 253 68181, +374 93 472281, +374 93 504637address: Vanadzor-Alaverdi Highway, 21st kmA beautiful little complex, started as a barbecue restaurant, it quickly became a dependable fixture of the area. Right by the highway and overlooking the Debed River and the forests beyond, the building is built in the traditional local style and is a fun place to watch life go by in this region.
Lori Rest Housephone: +374 10 566014Cold water, toilet, bathroom and hot water in some rooms. Satellite TV set, telephone in the lobby. FB meal is included in the price. Playground, parking lot, café, shop. Café, tennis, billiard, football, volleyball
address: Dzoraget Village, Vanadzor-Alaverdi HighwayLuxury western hotel, with excellent comfortable rooms, design, views. Luxury prices as well. There is also a restaurant with a full (and expensive) menu.
There are 2 mobile operator stores in town, VivaCell MTS and Ucom, both located near the bus station. Beeline sim cards can be bought from the grocery store nearby.