Echmiadzin Travel Guide

Discover the key attractions, best things to do, food and drink scene, local culture and customs, safety tips, transportation logistics, and nearby destinations of Echmiadzin, the spiritual center of Armenia.

Introduction to Echmiadzin

Echmiadzin, also spelled Etchmiadzin, is a city situated in the Ararat Province of Central Armenia. Known as the spiritual capital of Armenia, Echmiadzin has been home to the Armenian Apostolic Church since the 4th century when Saint Gregory the Illuminator established the first Armenian church here. Today, visitors can explore the numerous churches, monasteries, and museums that make Echmiadzin a UNESCO World Heritage site.

List of Places to Visit in Echmiadzin

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Echmiadzin Cathedral: The mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Echmiadzin Cathedral was built in the 4th century on the site where Saint Gregory the Illuminator saw a vision of Jesus Christ.
  • Saint Gayane Church: Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Saint Gayane Church was built in the 7th century and is dedicated to a Christian martyr who was killed during the reign of the Armenian King Tiridates III.
  • Saint Hripsime Church: Built in the 7th century, Saint Hripsime Church is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and is dedicated to a Christian virgin and martyr. The church’s architecture is an excellent example of Armenian classical style.
  • Echmiadzin Treasury Museum: Located inside the Echmiadzin Cathedral, the Treasury Museum contains a collection of Armenian religious artifacts, including cross stones, liturgical vessels, and manuscripts.
  • Echmiadzin Museum of History: This museum displays artifacts and documents from the Armenian history, including exhibits on the medieval kingdoms, the Armenian Genocide, and the country’s Soviet era.

Natural Attractions of Echmiadzin: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Mount Ararat: Situated in close proximity to Echmiadzin, Mount Ararat is a dormant volcano that is the national symbol of Armenia.
  • Zvartnots Temple: The ruins of Zvartnots Temple, located 10 km from Echmiadzin, offer scenic views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Armavir Wetlands: A unique natural attraction in Echmiadzin, the Armavir Wetlands is a reserve located near Metsamor, which is a protected breeding ground for various bird species. Visitors can come here for birdwatching, hiking, and nature walks.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Echmiadzin

Echmiadzin is surrounded by nature reserves and mountain ranges, making it an ideal destination for hiking and biking enthusiasts. Some of the most popular trails include:

  • Hiking in the Armavir Wetlands Reserve: With its rich flora and fauna and scenic surroundings, the wetlands offer visitors the chance to hike amidst nature.
  • Biking on the Ararat Valley Trail: This 60 km trail is ideal for experienced bikers looking to explore the valley surrounding Mount Ararat.

Best Things to Do in Echmiadzin: Activities and Tours

  • Attend a Church Service: Echmiadzin is the spiritual center of Armenia, and visitors can witness church services and traditional ceremonies here.
  • Participate in Wine Tasting: Armenia has a long and rich history of wine making, and visitors can taste their way through different varieties of Armenian wines.
  • Take a Tour of the Local Markets: The local markets of Echmiadzin offer a glimpse into the daily life of locals and provide visitors with the opportunity to buy local handicrafts and souvenirs.

Week-Long Itinerary for Echmiadzin

Day Activities
Day 1 Visit Echmiadzin Cathedral, Saint Gayane Church, and Saint Hripsime Church
Day 2 Explore the Echmiadzin Treasury Museum and the Echmiadzin Museum of History
Day 3 Hike in the Armavir Wetlands Reserve
Day 4 Take a Wine Tasting Tour
Day 5 Visit the Armavir Open-air Museum and Metsamor Archaeological Museum
Day 6 Attend a Church Service and participate in cultural activities and events
Day 7 Take a day trip to Mount Ararat or Zvartnots Temple

Food and Drink Scene of Echmiadzin

Must-Try Dishes

  • Khorovats: Grilled meat, usually pork or lamb, seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Harissa: A traditional Armenian porridge made of wheat grains and meat, often served with bread.
  • Dolma: Stuffed grape leaves with rice, meat, and herbs.

Local Beverages

  • Armenian Brandy: Armenia is known for its brandy with its trademarked Ararat brand.
  • Armenian Wine: Vineyards have been growing grapes and producing wine in this region for over six thousand years.
  • Tan: A traditional yogurt drink made of yogurt mixed with water and salt or sugar. This drink is incredibly refreshing, especially after a long day of exploring the city.

Where to Stay in Echmiadzin: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Echmiadzin has a range of accommodation options that cater to various budgets and preferences. Some popular options include:

  • Ararat Hotel: A 3-star hotel located in the heart of Echmiadzin, with comfortable rooms and a restaurant serving Armenian cuisine.
  • Youth Center Akhtamar: A budget-friendly hostel that provides a cozy and friendly atmosphere with beautiful surroundings and a perfect location.
  • Old City Hotel: A boutique hotel that combines modern amenities with traditional Armenian architecture and decor.

What to Buy in Echmiadzin: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Armenian handmade carpets: Authentic handmade carpets have been produced for centuries in Armenia, and visitors can find beautiful and unique items to bring home.
  • Armenian Wine and Brandy: Visitors can purchase a bottle of Armenian brandy or wine to share with friends back home.
  • Local handicrafts: Traditional Armenian handicrafts such as pottery, jewelry, and woven textiles make for great souvenirs.

Local Culture and Customs of Echmiadzin

Armenia is known for its rich cultural heritage, and Echmiadzin plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting Armenian culture. Visitors should keep in mind the following customs and practices:

  • Dress modestly when visiting religious sites.
  • Avoid discussing politics or the neighboring countries’ ongoing tensions.
  • Learn some Armenian phrases to show respect and appreciation for the local culture.

Best Time to Visit Echmiadzin

The best time to visit Echmiadzin is from April to June and from September to November, when the weather is mild, and the sky is clear. July and August can be hot, and the crowds are at their peak.

Do’s and Don’ts of Echmiadzin


  • Dress modestly when visiting religious sites.
  • Taste the local wine and brandy.
  • Try traditional Armenian dishes.


  • Provoke political discussions.
  • Venture to unmarked areas without an experienced guide.
  • Insist on using credit or debit cards as cash is still a commonly used form of payment.

Safety and Health

Safety in Echmiadzin

Overall, Echmiadzin is a safe destination. Visitors should still exercise caution and take necessary safety measures, such as:

  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Keep valuables secure.
  • Be aware of pickpocketing in crowded areas.

Health in Echmiadzin

Visitors should take typical safety precautions to maintain their health, such as:

  • Drink bottled water.
  • Wear sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Seek medical attention if necessary.

Getting to Echmiadzin: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Echmiadzin

  • Zvartnots International Airport: Located about 16 km from Echmiadzin, Zvartnots International Airport is the largest airport in Armenia.

Bus Stations Near Echmiadzin

  • Echmiadzin Bus Station: Located in the city center, Echmiadzin Bus Station serves both local and international routes.

Other Options

  • Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Echmiadzin and are a convenient way to get around the city and travel to nearby destinations.

How to Get Around in Echmiadzin

Walking is the most popular and convenient way to get around Echmiadzin. Taxis and minibusses are also available for those who prefer not to walk.

Where to Go Next from Echmiadzin: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Yerevan: The capital of Armenia located only 20 km away from Echmiadzin. Yerevan offers visitors endless museums, restaurants, and cultural events.
  • Garni: A village located 30 km from Echmiadzin, home to the only pagan temple left in Armenia built in the 1st century.
  • Aknalich: A village located 10 km from Echmiadzin, home to the 7th-century monastery of Saint Hovhannes.


Echmiadzin is a fascinating destination for those seeking to experience Armenian history and culture. From UNESCO World Heritage sites to outdoor adventures and local wine and delicacies, Echmiadzin has plenty to offer visitors. By following our travel guide, visitors can make the most of their time in Echmiadzin and explore the city’s hidden cultural and natural treasures.