Why not try something different this year and head east to Armenia. Here you'll find everything from volcanoes and ancient monasteries to one of the oldest wineries in the world!
Untouched beauty awaits
Sandwiched between Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia is a small country in the Caucasus region with a long and turbulent history. Today, it's growing in popularity for tourists for many reasons: the stunning geography, ancient preserved architecture, friendly locals and the interesting cuisine just to name a few. Keep reading to find out more about Armenia, and visit this beautiful, unspoiled country now before the secret gets out and the masses start to flock.
Yerevan is Armenia's capital city, and it's full of things to see and do. Among many other attractions, the top sights in Yerevan include Republic Square (pictured), the Blue Mosque and the many churches dotted around the city. Old Yerevan is particularly picturesque, surrounded by a beautiful crescent of parks, where you'll find fairgrounds, sports facilities, and a Holocaust memorial monument. Yerevan is perfect for a weekend city break, but it's also a great base for a more adventurous trip, as day trips can be taken to the nearby mountains and other picturesque spots.
Armenia is widely accepted to be the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century, so it's no wonder the country is full of the remains of old monasteries, churches and other religious sites. Tatev (pictured) is a 9th century Apostolic monastery complex, perched on a plateau in the south of Armenia, and is one of the most popular spots among tourists. Another monastery complex, Noravank, is situated in a little further northwest than Tatev, and dates back to the 13th century.
Lake Sevan in eastern Armenia is the country's largest lake, and it's also a great place to see even more monasteries and old church ruins. One that's really worth visiting is the Sevanavank Monastery (pictured) overlooking the lake, making for a stunning backdrop. Also dotted around the lake are several restaurants, water sports facilities and beaches. A tour around Lake Sevan is the perfect way to enjoy the Armenian landscape in summertime!
This is just one of Mount Aragats' four peaks, one of the highest points in the country. The mountain's name roughly translates to Throne of Ara, who was a legendary Armenian hero, thought to have been so handsome that the Assyrian queen began a war against Armenia in order for him to be brought to her to marry him. The mountain is clearly very special to the people of Armenia, having been featured on banknotes, works of art and in poetry throughout the years. Atop the mountain you'll find the famous Alphabet Park, where letters from the Armenian alphabet are carved out of stone, standing proudly to commemorate the creator of the Armenian language, Saint Mesrop Mashtots.