My husband and I will be visiting Yerevan in May and arriving at Zvartnots Airport just after midnight. Any suggestions re: car hire options to get to the city center? I've read that you need to be careful about "illegal" taxis. Is it clear when you exit the airport what taxi's are legit? We're joining a tour group one day later and they want to sell us a very expensive private transfer, which is not something we normally use when traveling. Any thoughts on how to do this safely w/a taxi? Also, any suggestions on things we should make sure to see with our one "free" day in Yerevan? Our tour is focused on botanical interests. We will be based in Yerevan for 5 nights and are scheduled to visit: Garni Temple, Botanical Gardens, Matenadaran Museum & Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. (After that we travel elsewhere in Armenia and Georgia.) Is the Armenian Genocide Museum a must-see?
You will doubtless be very tired on arrival, so the private transfer could well be a good idea, and spare you from anxiety about trustworthiness of taxis. Could you check with the tour company whether other participants are arriving on the same flight, with whom you could share the cost of the transfer?
A very fine dispay of Armenian rugs used to be hidden away in a little-signposted gallery of the History Museum, and for me that made up for the tedium of the rest. But that was some years ago: they may take more pride in that aspect of their culture now.
As for the Armenian Genocide Museum, all I can say that my ability for coping with the documentation of the extremely sad events proved to be limited. I sought refuge in the surrounding gardens, the superb but also sad view of Mount Ararat (knowing that to many Armenians it is a bitter reminder of loss of country), and above all in the circular enclsure of the perpetual fire - where I had one of the most memorable moments of my life as a large butterly flew in, circled several times in the rising heat of the flame and finally took its leave. My heart was bursting with all that I had seen and read in the display stands, but that image remains with me as a symbol of ultimate hope.
Thank you for your very moving recollection. FYI, we will be flying into Yerevan from Paris, where we're stopping for 4 days to start getting over jet lag, so we may not be as tired as if we had come directly from the U.S.. The tour company's other participants are arriving a day later and that is when they are providing a free group transfer. They want to charge us $50 per person, $100 total, which seems like a complete rip off. I've identified a transfer company on the Lonely Planet site for $45/vehicle that holds up to four people. We may do that. We're also going to check with our Yerevan hotel to see if they have a transfer service, but we don't yet know which hotel the tour company is using. We love rugs and will keep an eye out for them at every opportunity! We still cherish our rugs from a Turkey trip 7 years ago.
Yes, definitely check with the hotel, once you know what that is.
Have a wonderful stay there!
In Georgia will you be with John Graham Tours? I have so much enjoyed the 2 tours I did with him and can highly recommend them.
Thanks for the rec. re: John Graham Tours. We are taking a tour that is run by Betchart Expeditions and covers both Armenia and Georgia. However, I have read about Graham Tours' musical aspect to some tours and might consider one of their trips in the future. (I happen to be a professional musician.)
You'll get Georgian singing (both spiritual and secular) on all John's tours, and very likely some traditional instruments as well. John was personally responsible for the revival of the traditional chant (suppressed duirn Communism) in many Georgian monasteries. On my first tour with him, back in 2011, he was being welcomed in many places to teach the new monastics how to chant. Lots of short videos on his website.
I've been to Armenia and Georgia many many times. There has never been a time when I felt unsafe in Armenia, different story in Georgia. You can arrange a private transfer for about $15 per group. I think that is very very reasonable. if you contact your hotel they maybe able to arrange transfer as well. Many connecting European flights land at Zvartnots after midnight you will not be the only one going to the city center. The Genocide Museum is a must see. The gardens surrounding are beautiful and you can see the entire city from there. you are going to love Armenia and the food, it's amazing.... Lots and lots to see. If you have the time make sure to see Lake Sevan and spent a night or two in Tsaghkadzor.... Enjoy your trip.