Are you considering a day trip to Armenia from Tbilisi? Maybe you’re wondering whether it’s even possible, and which parts of Armenia you can visit from Georgia? Let us share our experience of taking an organised tour to see monasteries in the mountains, abandoned Soviet factory towns, relics of the occupation days, and a delicious meal in local family home.

We tried this Armenia day trip personally, we paid for it ourselves and we have not been paid for this review. This page contains affiliate links, which means we may make a small commission from bookings at no extra cost to you. We always given honest, genuine travel recommendations.

This tour is for you if:

  1. You want to see Armenia while you are visiting Georgia but have limited time.
  2. You are interested to learn about Armenia’s culture through a historical lens.
  3. You like tours with a mixture of historical landmarks and beautiful scenery.
  4. You have an interest in Soviet history and its legacy in former bloc countries.
  5. You want to experience traditional Armenian dining in a family home.

Quick links to book this day trip to Armenia: Viator | GetYourGuide

Is Armenia worth visiting?

Armenia might not be the first country on your bucket list to visit, but it is a very interesting place to explore if you are the curious type of traveller.

If you like to visit authentic destinations with unique cultures and fascinating histories, then Armenia is definitely worth visiting. You will also love it if you like natural scenery. The country is set among a rugged mountain landscape that is guaranteed to impress, and this also provides a setting for various hiking trails.

As Armenia doesn’t have a lot of tourism, the local culture feels very distinct and authentic. There isn’t a show put on for visitors, as you might experience in other places.

This also means that there isn’t a well developed infrastructure for tourism, so visiting Armenia can require a bit more effort and planning.

Inside Akhtala Monastery, Armenia
You can see the magnificence of millennia-old monasteries on a day trip to Armenia

Can you visit Armenia from Georgia?

Georgia and Armenia share a border, and you can travel between the two countries overland if you have a valid passport. The border is about 90 minutes’ drive south of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.

Public transport in Georgia outside of the cities is sparse and infrequent, and it’s not easy to travel to Armenia in this way if you are just looking to visit on a day trip to the northern part of the country.

There are transport connections between Tbilisi and Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. You can travel from Tbilisi to Yerevan by flight, train or bus, but these options are more suitable if you are travelling more slowly, such as a longer backpacking trip. For example, the overnight sleeper train from Tbilisi to Yerevan takes over 10 hours.

If you’re hiring a car in Georgia, you could drive across the border. However, we wouldn’t recommend this unless you are very comfortable and experienced in driving on narrow mountain roads!

The easiest way to visit Armenia from Georgia is by booking an organised tour, which is what we did.

Book the day trip to Armenia from Tbilisi

With the north of Armenia being within close reach of Tbilisi, it’s possible to take a trip to see historic sites and natural landmarks in this region, such as the sprawling Lake Sevan and an array of religious buildings high in the hills.

You can even take a day trip all the way to Yerevan. There is one tour company that does this from Tbilisi, but it is a real mammoth of a trip that takes 17 hours! We originally booked to try it, but we decided to change to a shorter tour as it became difficult to fit into our schedule. (Reality… we booked onto a full day wine tour in Georgia the day before, and we didn’t fancy such a long day trip with a hangover!)

What do you need to bring for a day trip to Armenia?

First of all, the most important thing to bring with you is your passport! As long as you have that, you will be ok. It will be hard to forget, as the tour company will remind you several times before setting off.

The northern region of Armenia is mountainous, and so we recommend wrapping up warm, especially if you visit outside of summer. But be sure to check the weather forecast before your trip.

I also wore my hiking boots, which turned out to be a good decision, as we had to walk over muddy ground at a couple of the monasteries.

It’s worth bringing some loose cash, especially dollars or euros, but this isn’t essential. I’ll explain a bit later about how the currency exchange works at the border.

Finally, make sure you bring a camera! You are going to see some truly unique sites and stunning scenery, and I am sure you will want to capture the moment.

Day trip to Armenia photography
We had plenty of free time to explore and take photos

Our day trip from Tbilisi to Armenia

We took a full day trip (around 10 to 12 hours) from Tbilisi to the north of Armenia, which included visits to three monasteries and a homemade lunch with a local family.

There were also some fascinating additional sites in the itinerary, such as a stop at an abandoned Soviet town, and a museum about two famous Armenian aeroneutical engineers with a genuine original Soviet-era warplane on site.

We booked this tour on Viator, which is where we find and book a lot of our travel experiences. You can also book the same tour on GetYourGuide, which we use frequently ourselves as well.

The tour begins officially at 9am, but you will be asked to arrive 30 minutes early at Avlabari metro station. This isn’t just to make sure everyone is there on time; the tour guides need to take you to their offices and check everyone has their passports before setting off.

Our tour guide was Len, from Georgia, who was friendly and informative from the very beginning. He clearly has a deep knowledge of Armenia’s history and geopolitics, and was very happy to share it with us. Throughout the day he told us interesting stories on the minibus rides between locations, and gave an entertaining explanation at each stop.

Once you set off, it takes around 90 minutes to 2 hours to reach the border depending on traffic. We got lucky with a clear road, and after whizzing through the beautiful Georgian countryside it was time to enter a new country.

Day trip to Armenia driving
The trip involves some heart-in-mouth mountain drives with views!

Crossing the border from Georgia to Armenia

The border point for crossing into Armenia on this tour is on the Bagratashen–Sadakhlo road, which is the main route for traffic between the capitals (Tbilisi and Yerevan). We had anticipated the border crossing might be difficult and time-consuming, as we’ve found with some other places on our travels. But it turned out to be super quick and efficient.

Before we arrived at the border, Len explained everything that would happen. First, you arrive at the checkpoint to exit Georgia. At this point we got out of the minibus, taking our bags with us, and most importantly our passports.

Passport control took less than five minutes, and then we hopped back on the minibus, before being driven a short distance to repeat the process again to enter Armenia. In total, the whole border crossing took no longer than 15 minutes.

Georgia Armenia border crossing
Crossing the border between Georgia to Armenia was a quick and simple process

If you have visited Azerbaijan previously, then this process might take a bit longer. Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been poor for a long time, and Len explained to us that we would likely be asked a lot of questions if we had an Azerbaijan stamp in our passports. Ultimately, though, there should still be no problem entering the country.

Len did tell us one anecdote about a guy who got stuck in no man’s land between the two borders. He was an Armenian who was ejected from the country, but then after Georgia refused his entry, Armenia wouldn’t take him back. Stories like these are very rare though, and extremely unlikely to happen to tourists.

Exchanging currency for Armenia

The national currency in Armenia currency is the dram. Straight after crossing the border into the country you will have a chance to obtain some currency.

Firstly, there is an ATM immediately after you pass through passport control in Armenia. The mininum withdrawal is the equivalent of about US $10.

After this, we were driven in the minibus to a small nearby supermarket, which had a currency exchange. You can change Georgian currency to Armenian here, but as Len explained to us, you will get a better rate if you exchange dollars or euros.

Armenia currency exchange supermarket close to the border
The supermarket close to the Georgia-Armenia border where we could change currency

As Armenia has had a strained economy for many years, the exchange rates have slid quite drastically, and prices have become lower as a result for visitors. However, this is a situation that can change at any time so it’s worth checking the currency exchange rate before you travel.

It’s not actually essential to get any Armenian currency for this day trip. During the day there aren’t many moments when you can buy anything, and you only really need money if you want some souvenirs.

We decided to get $10 worth of dram, which we ended up spending on some Armenian whisky and a fridge magnet. Drinks and snacks were extremely cheap – we bought a Twix for the equivalent of about 40p / $0.50.

Stop 1: Akhtala Monastery

The first stop on our day trip was Akhtala Monastery, a 13th century church surrounded by hills and mountain slopes specked with old Soviet architecture.

As you wind your way up to the monastery on the narrow roads, you will be excused for thinking you have stepped into a post-apocalyptic alternative reality. Much of the Armenian landscape bears the remnants of the Soviet past, with many factory buildings having long been abandoned.

Akhtala Monastery, the first stop on our day trip to Armenia
Akhtala Monastery, the first stop on our day trip to Armenia

At Akhtala Monastery you will see some interesting monuments and ruins around the grounds, before taking an eerie journey into history as you step inside the church. Magnificent frescoes are painted onto the inner walls, but many have faces missing. Len explained the reason for this, but we’re not going to spoil all the secrets of the tour in this review!

We appreciated the steady pacing of the day’s itinerary. There were no long drives between stops, and we were given a nice amount of free time at each place to absorb the location and take some photos.

Stop 2: Haghpat Monastery

The second site we visited was the magnificent Haghpat Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 10th century, this complex has withstood the ravishes of time and multiple invasions of foreign empires. This makes it even older than Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, which we found quite incredible.

You need to walk over gravestones to enter the church, but don’t worry; this is actually considered an act of respect in Armenia. Len told us how he tried to avoid them when he first visited, and the locals laughed and knew he must be Georgian.

Alex and Lisa at Haghpat Monastery
Marvelling at the scenery outside the historic Haghpat Monastery

The church reopened to the public in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union, and is still in use today.

Next to the church is another 10th century church building that served as a library. On the inner walls you can still see the black charring from when the books were burned by Mongol invaders in the 13th century. It’s another mind-boggling step back in time, and a place where you can quietly contemplate how life might have been in another era.

Stop 3: lunch at a local family home

Most organised tours we’ve done over the years have taken us to restaurants for lunch, but that wasn’t the case with this Armenia day trip. Instead, we were invited into the home of a local family for a traditional sit-down meal.

Armenian food revolves around meat, and our main lunch dish was barbecued pork and chicken. This was brought out after we had already had a chance to fill our plates with an array of side dishes, which included many meat-free options.

The banquet included some traditional vegetable fritters, cheeses, salads and breads, and there was more than enough for everyone, with plenty left over at the end! We definitely weren’t left hungry.

Agriculture is a huge part of Armenia’s economy today, and you could tell that our food was fresh from the farms.

It was great to experience a traditional Armenian meal and the customs of a family home, rather than just another restaurant trip.

Stop 4: Mikoyan Brothers’ Museum

This is an optional stop in the itinerary, but we were glad it was included in ours, as it added an extra dimension to the tour. The Mikoyan brothers were aeronautical engineers who developed pioneering aircraft designs that had a big influence on the Soviet Union.

At the entrance to the museum is a genuine original MiG 21 aircraft from the Soviet days, which stands looking out onto the mountains. Solemn statues pay tribute to the two brothers, and you can learn all about the innovations they made in aircraft design.

Original MiG 21 aircraft, Mikoyan Brothers’ Museum
The original Soviet MiG 21 aircraft at the Mikoyan Brothers’ Museum

Relations between Armenia and Russia today remain close, and Len explained to us that Armenians can opt to have dual citizenship with Russia. We were surprised to learn that around 30–40% of Armenians cross the border to work in Russia, and send their earnings back home.

This museum was one of the examples we encountered that reflected the affinity that continues between the two countries.

Stop 5: Sanahin Monastery

The third and final monastery of the day trip was the 10th-century Sanahin Monastery, which has UNESCO World Heritage Site status together with Haghpat.

Monks live at the monastery, and we were fascinated to hear from Len about the lifestyle sacrifices they choose to make, as well as the distinction between white monks and black monks.

Cracks in the architecture of the monastery show the marks of earthquakes over the years. Armenia is susceptible to seismic activity, and there is a small-scale (but very noteiceable) tremor every couple of weeks.

Stop 6: Alaverdi, an abandoned Soviet town

The final stop on our Armenia day trip is one that will live in our memories for a long time. We descended to a place called Alaverdi, a town that has been frozen in time since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

High above the town, cable cars dangle from a line, where they have hung slowly decaying for more than three decades. On the side of a river bank stands a colossal old copper factory, creepily silent and empty, with its chimneys and engine houses crumbling in time.

Alaverdi abandoned copper factory
The huge abandoned Soviet copper factory in Alaverdi
Alaverdi abaondoned cable car
Cable cars have been hanging from the sky in Alaverdi since 1991

We had some spare time to soak in the atmosphere of Alaverdi, and there was also a pathway up the far side of a riverbank where we could climb for an elevated view.

Alaverdi is very close to the border, so when we were finished exploring it was just a short drive to the crossing before making the drive back to Tbilisi. And after such a fascinating day, we had plenty to talk about with the group on the way back!

FAQs about visiting Armenia from Tbilisi

Do I need a visa to visit Armenia?

You may need a visa to enter Armenia depending on your nationality. For example, coming from the UK, we can enter Armenia without a visa and stay for up to 180 days. The same is true for US citizens, but if you are from Canada, you need a visa to enter Armenia. Check out the full list of visa-exempt countries for Armenia to find out more.

Is Armenia safe?

Armenia is generally a very safe country for foreign visitors. Crime rates are low, and any violence against tourists is pretty much unheard of. But, as with any destination, be sure to exercise caution. The border region between Armenia and Azerbaijan is known to be volatile, and can be hit by outbreaks of violence. It’s not likely your itinerary will take you anywhere near the border area though – this day trip, like all Armenia organised tours, goes nowhere near it.

Where is cheaper, Armenia or Georgia?

Costs in Armenia are generally much lower than Georgia for travellers. We found that our money went a lot further as soon as we crossed the border. The cost of living is also lower in Armenia than Georgia.

Can you visit Yerevan from Tbilisi?

The drive time from Tbilisi to Yerevan, the Armenian capital, is about five hours with good traffic. You may be surprised to hear that it’s actually possible to make this journey on an organised day trip. There is one company we have found that offers a day trip from Tbilisi to Yerevan, which also includes visits to the northern monasteries and Lake Sevan. As I mentioned above, we originally booked this tour before we decided to rearrange our plans for a shorter one.

Have you visited Armenia from Georgia before? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Looking to discover Georgian wine? Check out our review of a unique wine tour in Georgia we took that blew our minds!

Interested in taking a remote working trip to the Caucasus? See our guide to taking a workation in Tbilisi, Georgia.

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We took a day trip to Armenia from Tbilisi, Georgia, to see the country's historic monasteries and Soviet legacy + lunch in a family home. #armeniadaytrip #visitarmenia

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