Yerevan

by Ucman Scher
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Cascade, Yerevan

Yerevan – Solo Gay Trip Guide to the Capital of Armenia

When it comes to gay travel to Yerevan, I didn’t find much online. I decided to take on the challenge and made my way to Armenia for my solo trip to Yerevan. Yerevan is the capital of Armenia and the biggest metropolitan area with more than a million people living here. There are a lot of things to do in Yerevan, I have had an amazing time. It is a perfect mix of soviet era architectural boom mixed with its own brand of Christianity.

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Arno Babajanyan statue

Statue of the famous Armenia composer, Arno Babajanyan

Fun Fact: Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century.

Check out my country guide about Armenia for all your travel questions. Also, check my posts about Lake Sevan, Dilijan & Tatev for more information on what to do.

Fun Fact: While Yerevan is the capital is Armenia since 1918, it is the fourteenth capital of the country.

Instagram Stories

Check out my Instagram stories from Armenia here.

Getting to Yerevan

Yerevan has the biggest international Airport of Armenia; Zvartnots international Aiport (EVN). It is not a big airport and easy to navigate. It also has good Wifi and happens to be quite close to the city. The immigration staff was also very friendly and nice and the visa was quick to get on arrival.

Check this guide to find the best flight deals wherever you go.

You can take the shuttle bus (201) from the airport to the city which runs around the clock and you can find the details here. If you prefer to take a taxi, I’d recommend coming out of the airport and you will be approached by people in the parking lot. It is unofficial but much cheaper than the official airport taxi.

There are also buses coming in from Iran, Georgia & Turkey as well as a train that runs between Tbilisi and Yerevan every other day.

Getting Around in Yerevan

The city centre is quite small and you can easily walk around on foot. As an added advantage the centre is in a circular shape which brings things closer to each other. I used either a local taxi app/uber or walked everywhere along with the metro a couple of times.

Trolleybus in Yerevan

Trolleybus in Yerevan

Note: Be careful with jaywalking as there are fines for that in Yerevan.

For metro, you will need plastic tokens from the station, there is no app for it that I know of and also no electronic tickets. It is quite simple and reliable though.

Uber works quite well along with GG which is a local taxi app.

Fun Fact: In the Soviet era, for a city to be granted a metro, it was supposed to have a million people due to which Yerevan didn’t qualify. When the official visit was going to happen the mayor of Yerevan started bringing in people from nearby towns and cities with the lure of free stuff for the day, it seemed like Yerevan really couldn’t cope with the booming population. It was noticed and Yerevan was granted its metro system in the 1980s.

Check out all the different modes of transportation you can use in a new city.

Food in Yerevan

Fun Fact: The orange colour in the flag of Armenia comes from Apricots which is the national fruit.

Food in Yerevan is generally very good with plenty of local dishes that come with fresh grilled vegetables and warm bread. There are plenty of options in most places. The city centre is full of great restaurants.

I don’t think it is a breakfast country but the rest was amazing. Even in far off places, the quality of food was great. I still love Jingyal bread which is two thin layers of bread with mountains herbs as filling. There’s plenty here for meat eaters, fish lovers and vegetarians.

Jingyal or Zhengyal bread

In Yerevan, there are a lot of international restaurants especially Georgian restaurants. Armenian food is quite similar to Turkish food, but don’t say it or you won’t get a happy reaction and you don’t want to piss off people who handle your food.

Khinkali

Another amazing thing was the plenty of fresh fruits especially melons and watermelons. It is also vital you try some apricots here.

Fun Fact: The orange colour in the flag of Armenia comes from the colour of Apricots which is the national fruit.

Armenia might not get as much limelight as its neighbour Georgia but they do have some good quality wines and you can visit wineries to taste the local production. I have been told it is quite good. While I am not a wine person myself so can’t vouch for the quality but why not give it a try?

I absolutely loved Vostan Restaurant which had a beautiful courtyard as well as Pandok which had a great selection of regional Armenian dished.

Where to Stay in Yerevan

I stayed near the Opera on Tumanya Street which was very central and very easy to walk to from there. Most of the tourist attractions were closeby and it was safe to walk around in the night. The crime rate is generally very low in Armenia any way. I’d recommend staying around there. I used Airbnb for my stay.

Check this guide to find the best accommodation in a new city.

Opera, Yerevan

Best Time to Visit Yerevan

Winters and summers both can be pretty harsh in Yerevan with little respite. The best time to visit is spring and autumn. I visited at the end of August and beginning of September which was just the perfect time with temperature hovering between 25-30 degrees. What else do you want from your solo trip to Yerevan?

Want to plan your perfect trip? Read this guide.

old house Yerevan

Beauty in dereliction, Yerevan

How Many Days Should I Spend In Yerevan?

You can rush around and see most of the stuff in 2 days but I’d highly recommend three days because there are a lot of nooks and crannies of this city which are very interesting. It used to a sleepy small town before it became the capital and the boom that came with it.

Free Walking Tour Yerevan

The Free Walking tour of Yerevan was a truly unique experience. You can book it here. The guide met us in Republic square. He was clearly not in a good mood and as the tour went on, he became grumpier with some people leaving. At which point he passed quite rude remarks about a French family who left which were also quite racist. Apart from that he was stiff as a board and didn’t like being interrupted or wanted to stop for questions. The information he provided was amazing though and the tour was very informative. I’d say it was because he was going through something bad that day and hopefully your experience will be more positive.

Armenian motif work in a window

Armenian motif work in a window

Gay Yerevan

Do I really need to say a lot about how acceptable homosexuality is in the country that prides itself on being the first officially Christian country on the planet? Being gay is not a crime in Armenia but that doesn’t mean it is not a taboo in the society. Everyone except 1 guy was living in the closet. There are no specific gay bars and clubs here in Yerevan either. I think there was a Pride but it didn’t end well so not sure if that will return.

Read about staying safe during solo travelling.

Gayest statue in Yerevan

Gayest statue in Yerevan

Things were different on Grindr though. There were plenty of guys there most of them without faces. Catfishing and fake profiles are common, be careful. The few guys I met were absolutely lovely and helped me with things and showed me around. I have a very soft spot for Armenian friends of mine whom I am still in touch with. In terms of general attitude, I didn’t really feel unsafe or threatened. I would say, despite it not being a \gay city’ a solo trip to Yerevan is a must.

How to Explore Yerevan

Yerevan is quite a unique city with three different spots which act as the heart of the city centre; Republic Square, Opera and Cascade. You can spend enough time here at each of them per day. As I mentioned before, the centre of Yerevan is in a circular shape with most places located pretty close to each other. You can spend the first day exploring around Republic Square. The second day around Opera and third day for Cascade and victory Park.

Learn more about all the ways you can use to explore a new city.

Yerevan architecture

Architecture is a wonder in Yerevan

Top 10 Things To Do In Yerevan

These are in order of proximity to each other and not in order of preference.

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral

There are a lot of churches in Armenia and a lot of them in Yerevan but honestly, you get really saturated by all the monasteries because of the sheer number. This one is the biggest church and dedicated to Saint Gregory the illuminator.

Now I know why you’d think I am crazy starting a solo trip to Yerevan with the cathedral in gay travel to Yerevan context but it is an architectural

Fun Fact: St. Gregory was the Christian saint who was prisoned in Khor Virap in a narrow dungeon type hole. He miraculously cured the King of his illness and converted him and his entire country to Christianity. The very first Christian country in the world.

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral

It was a beautiful sunny morning and I had arrived in Yerevan the night before from Dilijan. It was time to see this gorgeous city and I decided to do it with the Cathedral. I arrived at the beautiful gardens that surround this behemoth of a building. The sun was very pleasant and the walk to the main gate was amazing. The building is gigantic and has an imposing presence. It is actually a complex with three churches built together beautifully.

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral

There were barely any people that Wednesday morning and I got the place to myself almost. The interior was rather simple and in line with the brown exterior. I roamed around a bit and then headed to my next stop to see the Republic Square.

Republic Square

Republic Square is the centre of the city. With its singing fountains in the evenings to people selling tours to a different part of Armenia, it is an alive and bustling place. From the church, I took the longer route and passed through Myasnikyan Square and Shahumyn Square eventually arriving at the Republic Square.

yerevan park

The walk to Republic Square

The square is actually in two parts; a central over the roundabout and another square-ish area with fountains. It was supposed to be the perfect Soviet Central square. The square has five main building all made by the local stone in pink and yellow. These are government building as well as the Mariott hotel. The other side is host to the National Museum and National Gallery.

Fun Fact: The square used to be called Lenin Square in Soviet times.

In the evenings, the fountains are used to produce ‘The Singing Fountains‘ with water and light. It draws quite a crowd especially kids and families and even if the fountains aren’t special, the excitement is definitely amazing. It is a great place to watch people in the evenings. Another not-to-be-missed-thing checked on my solo trip to Yerevan List.

The areas around the square are quite different with some really grand buildings, I spent a whole evening going around exploring and didn’t get bored at all.

Republic Square Metro Station

The metro station that serves the square is a little outside the square but another must visit in Yerevan. The exterior is a fine example of grand Soviet brutalist architecture. The statues, the giant flower at the entrance, the entire place is a fascinating wander lost in time with the building around moved on to newer times. I grabbed some gata bread from a kiosk and sat there to soak some sun and enjoy the grandeur of this metro station.

Khachkar Park – Garegin Nzhdeh

If you are not going outside Yerevan, this should be firmly on your list. It should be on the list of everyone be it a solo trip to Yerevan or another visit. It is a few minutes walk from the Republic square metro station. It hosts beautiful replicas of Khachkars. Khachkars are stones with Armenian crosses. these are intricately decorated and most of them are unique. A walk around here is simply superb. I spent an hour here and then a little time in the adjoining flea market that was happening on the day.

Kond

Kond was the last stop of the day for me. I have no idea how it crept into my itinerary especially for a solo trip to Yerevan. I am just grateful it did. It is located on top of the hill and I walked there after a nice afternoon nap. Kond is one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Yerevan and far from the grandiosity of the cathedral or Cascade. As I entered, the houses shrunk, the streets became narrow, the possessions modest but there was a sense of peace there.

I sat down in a corner watching some women cutting vegetables outside their house with children playing around. It was serene and beautiful. Some guy was carrying a big gallon of water presumably because they didn’t have running water. I love these moments, seeing people with nothing content with their lives.

A window in Kond

A window in Kond

They didn’t even notice me as I sat at a distance enjoying the light changing shades, giving way to darkness. It was the best part of the entire trip for me.

Northern Avenue

It was another beautiful day in Yerevan and I was in the mood for a relaxed breakfast in the sun. Day 2 of this solo trip to Yerevan was chilled. I decided to head to Northern Avenue which is the main pedestrian street with a lot of restaurants and shopping malls. the entire area is full of activity. I grabbed some amazing breakfast with Jingyal bread and walked around for a bit returning later in the evening when this area along with the neighbouring streets becomes very lively. A lot more restaurants had opened by now. There were lots of families, young generation and kind looking at the expensive stuff offered in the stores.

Northern Avenue, Yerevan

I don’t think you need to look for this area, there is no way you will be able to miss this.

Charles Aznavour Square

Chess is a serious topic in all post-Soviet countries including Azerbaijan and Georgia but Armenians take it very seriously. If you don’t trust me, head to the Charles Aznavour square. A beautiful central square, a stone’s throw away from the Northern Avenue. It is home to the Moscow Cinema, a weird zodiac fountain which seems even weirder within the Soviet architecture and a giant game of chess. It is actually taught as a subject in schools and there are proper exams. Throughout the time I was there, I didn’t see it free including a match between two very young boys. It was embarrassing for me how good they were.

The square is another gem in the city. I am not sure if it was a permanent exhibition but there was a display of sculptures; a bear, a spider and more made of old machinery. Another great place to get acquainted with Armenia and Armenians!

Swan Lake and Freedom Square

Another short walk from the square and I arrived at an interesting spectacle in Swan Lake. There were three girls filming themselves to a pop song with perfect choreography. Very impressive seriously! I can’t dance to save my life honestly. The freedom Square and Swan Lake are actually part of the Opera complex. It has become the new city centre since its opening. It is the perfect place to sit and chill in open-air cafes and bars in the evenings.

The swan lake has a lot of concerts and events including the famous Kanye West concert when his Armenia wife brought him with her. Almost everyone I came across and talked about the beauty of this park told me this, I am not sure these innocent Armenians actually know what Kanye dear si up to. That aside the entire area is very modern and different. Far from the traditional Soviet brutalist architecture (apart from the Opera of course), it is quite pleasant with plenty of greenery and water. There are a lot of restaurants around as well for good food in the evenings.

Opera

The Opera of Yerevan is a giant building, another mammoth but this is actually two buildings in one. the entrance from Freedom Square is the Opera & Ballet Theatre and the other side is a concert hall. It is also lit very nicely in the evenings when it comes alive. I checked but there were no shows in English, perhaps another time! For now, I was happy to enjoy the exterior of this building which was supposed to be twice as beautiful as the Opera house of Dresden after which it was modelled. Something told me it was another Soviet claim but who cares, eh.

Since I lived quite close to it, I got to see it quite a lot actually and it sort of grew on me with time and towards the end, I actually really liked the area and the building.

The Cascade, Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Museum

This is the third centre of Yerevan and equally interesting. It was day three of my solo trip to Yerevan and I headed to the cascade. The cascade is a mixture of grandeur mixed with the hanging gardens of Babylon with lots of gorgeous sculptures at the base and museum and art space throughout the entire structure. The cascade is shaped like a giant staircase with fountains and green spaces.

When I arrived in the morning it was quite a nice day. After some tea and breakfast around, I headed to the base which is made up of many sculptures. From the small ones to massive teapots and lions. Some of these are from international artists and very loved. It is an interesting space and very well kept. The area opposite is great with nice cafes, I remember sitting there in the afternoon eating a platter of melon and watermelon with fresh lemonade, how I miss that time!

I started climbing the stairs but the sun had other plans, it got very hot that day and I ended up taking the elevators inside the museum space which are free. The sculpture park is actually part of the museum.

Eventually, I got to the top. It was beautiful with great views of Yerevan and I could see all the way to the Victory Park and Mother Armenia. The top-level of Cascade wasn’t completed and there is a giant pile of industrial rubble but it somewhat adds to my beauty of the place. Not sure I’d like it that much if it were perfect.

I visited the Victory Park and Mother Armenia and then came back to spend the evening here with a Grindr buddy.

Free traditional Armenia Dance

It was evening and we had a special event today; Free traditional dance lesson at the cascade. You can find the details here. It happens during the summer months around 7pm every last Friday and Saturday of the month. When we started, the atmosphere became utterly electric and ecstatic. It was an amazing scene and there were so many people that even a bad dancer like me didn’t feel bad. It was pure joy. Another happy memory from my solo trip to Yerevan!

Nearby: If you also get time, do check out Matenadaran which is the museum and research institute for the preservation of Armenian manuscripts. It has the statue of Mesrop Mashtots honours the inventor of the Armenian alphabet.

Victory Park & Mother Armenia

I took a taxi to go see this park. It actually reminded me of the Mother Ukraine in Kyiv. The surrounding area shows the signs of victory; the military equipment used for the liberation of Armenia. Since I am a total pacifist, I didn’t bother one bit with the same old guns and helicopters display and moved on to see the steely, strong mother Armenia. She is my third after seeing one in Kyiv and the second in Tbilisi, Georgia. While the general theme remains the same, the placement of the sword was different for her. It feels like she is guarding something and expecting a thief soon. It is an interesting statue though with great views of Yerevan again.

Mother Armenia

Mother Armenia

While Yerevan isn’t really famous for gay travel, I think it is a great city to visit. It has a lot to offer with really friendly people, great food and hopefully, soon enough they will be more open-minded towards our LGBT partners with an increased influx for gay travel in Yerevan and Armenia. A solo trip to Yerevan is a great way to explore this beautiful city and understand Armenia.

Read more tips and tools you can use during travelling.

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