19 Top Spots for Drinks and Vegetarian Eats in Yerevan

19 Top Spots for Drinks and Vegetarian Eats in Yerevan

19 Top Spots for Drinks and Vegetarian Eats in Yerevan

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Armenian cuisine as a whole isn’t always the most vegetarian friendly, but if you’re heading to Yerevan, you will be able to get yourself plenty of delicious vegetarian food. You’ll find local fare, modern fusion cuisine, rich coffees, and plenty of falafel! So where are the best spots you should try out? After spending two weeks in the city, here are our top spots for vegetarian eats in Yerevan!

Vegetarian Eats in Yerevan

Lavash Restaurant

If you want to see your lavash being made in front of you in the traditional tonir methods, this is your place. Try to bag yourself a table near the tonir so you can watch it all going on! Lavash is a traditional Armenian flat bread that is cooked inside a tandoor style oven.

The ghapama from here is a must. This is a traditional celebratory dish where rice, dried fruits and nuts are baked inside a whole pumpkin. Try the muhammara (marked as walnut paste on the menu for us English speaking folks), and the Yerevan wine. A beautiful meal all round.

Anteb

Budget-friendly Anteb serves up West Armenian fare in a casual setting, and absolutely everything we ordered was delicious. Try the garlic paste, muhammara, veg lahmajun, hummus, mtafayeh (spiced, sumac potatoes) and you must get a puffy sesame bread! You get little plates, so you can mix and match and try a bit of everything. We went back twice!

vegetarian eats in yerevan

Eat and Fit Healthy Food Cafe

Vegetarian and vegan options here. We’ve had the hummus platter (pots of different flavoured hummus), guacamole bowl, but the real star of the show was the summer rolls with cashew butter sauce. Wow, were these good. Fresh and crunchy with the smooth, creamy sauce – lovely. We also went for breakfast, and I cannot recommend the matzoon (Armenian yoghurt) with granola and fruit highly enough.

Elie’s Lahmajun

This is a really local, budget-friendly place with no frills. It’s a real place with authentic, delicious food. The falafel is crisp and the hummus is so smooth and creamy, it’s like butter!

Hummus Kimchi

Some of the tastiest non-local food we came across in Yerevan. This place specialises in Middle Eastern and Korean flavours, and they do them well! We tried a Korean sticky aubergine dish, and a tahini aubergine dish and both were great. The restaurant is hidden off the main road up a set of stairs, and has a really hipster feel to it. A great spot for something less traditional.

La Poutinerie

Just around the corner from Hummus and Kimchi, is a small hut that serves different types of poutine (a Canadian dish of chips topped with gravy and cheese curds). We combined a visit to both places to have a Korean, Middle Eastern, Canadian fusion meal.

Mama Jan

This is such a cute little place! It feels like you’ve gone to Grandma’s house; it’s really cosy and homely. If you’ve not tried syrniki, give them a go here. You find these cottage cheese pancakes all over the ex-Soviet republics, and here they are served with Armenia’s favourite apricot jam. The sweet and savoury combination here is a really interesting contrast!

Art Cafe

Tucked away in a little courtyard, you will find art galleries, studios and a couple of cafes. Art Cafe serves a few veggie options (we tried the omelette wraps which were huge and really tasty), and they have a quirky outdoor seating area.

Al Darwandy

Falafel wraps, pide, salads. Close to the Cascade, this place makes a great spot to stop for a canteen-style lunch.

Froze Gelato

THE best place for ice cream and sorbet! We went back here several times to try all the flavours, and I can report that every single one was great. The cones used are super crisp and crunchy, not those Styrofoam-textured ones that get soggy really quickly.

GUM Market

Just wandering around GUM Market is an experience in itself. This local food market has rows upon rows stacked high with dried fruit, nuts, lavash, cheeses (some of which are definitely an acquired taste!), fresh fruit and veg. You will be handed plenty of tasters to help you decide on your final purchase.

Drinks in Yerevan

Beatles Pub

Not somewhere for food, but great for a drink. Beatles Pub is an underground bar with plenty of seating and obviously Beatles music and Beatles themed décor. Great for a Kilikia beer or a glass of Armenian wine in a lively atmosphere.

Dargett Craft Beer

Not a budget-friendly bar, but it serves local craft beers with interesting flavours. The apricot beer is of course a must-try (Armenia is apricot country), and there is also a tropical smoothie beer. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: erm? But it was pretty good! And even though the beers themselves are expensive, if you ask the guy behind the bar nicely, he’ll be able to give you free ‘tasters’.

Kondi Hayat Café

You should definitely head to Kond district while you’re in Yerevan. This is the oldest part of the city, and is authentic, raw and real. The area is very run-down, with dilapidated buildings, but there has been a real effort to brighten the place up with vibrant street art. Kond is full of great opportunities for street photography as well as a great spot for coffee and gata (traditional Armenian sweet cake). Kondi Hayat Cafe has an outdoor seating area with views over the city, and the owner is really friendly. Even though he didn’t speak much English, he came and sat with us to have a chat through Google translate!

Coffee House

You’ll find takeaway Coffee House stands all over the city. The coffee is great and affordable. Make sure you give the baristas your name, so that they can write it on your cups in Armenian!

Melody

Super budget-friendly coffee place at about 200 AMD per Armenian coffee (40p!). Good and strong.

Andrew’s

Another great spot for Armenian coffee. Beautiful interior décor that has a street art type vibe, and a few tables outside too overlooking a park.

Lumen Coffee 1936

Not necessarily my favourite spot for coffee (the one I ordered was quite sour and pricey), but it is interesting just to sit in the cafe. I understand that the space used to be a bookshop, and it still has all the original features. A very small spot with pricey coffee, but a really beautiful place.

Salut

We only had drinks and snacks from here (the cheeseboard is good!), but this place has outdoor seating right at the bottom of the Cascade. Sit here with a drink and some cheese just before sunset and watch the Cascade light up as the darkness sets in.

Have you tried any of these? Or are there any other spots for vegetarian eats in Yerevan that we need to try next time we visit?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations and questions.

Thanks for reading!

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Top Tips for the Tbilisi to Yerevan Train

Top Tips for the Tbilisi to Yerevan Train

Top Tips for the Tbilisi to Yerevan Train

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For a budget backpacker, an overnight journey always feels like a win because you save on a night’s accommodation! And while you save money, you often lose the will to live once you arrive at your destination because you are so knackered from the night before. Now, don’t get me wrong, this overnight train isn’t strictly an exception to the rule; you will be tired. But, because of the timings of border crossings, and the (half) decent sleeping conditions, you’ll likely be in a better state than you were expecting when you get to the other side. Also, this is an experience in and of itself!

We have put together this guide to share all our tips on taking the Tbilisi to Yerevan train overnight, and hopefully answer the questions that you might have.

How long is the journey?

Our journey took about eleven hours. Obviously, if there is a hold-up at the border for whatever reason, the time could vary, but this gives you a general idea. The train leaves Tbilisi Central Station promptly at 20:20, and we arrived into Yerevan Railway Station at about 07:00 the next day.

What are the sleeping arrangements like?

Well, it depends on your ticket. Fancy first class is two beds in a cabin, second class is four bunks in a cabin, while third class is an open carriage with loads of bunks (only ever two bunks high). We travelled in third class, and honestly, it was pretty good. Everyone was given a beige sheet, pillow and pillowcase, and the bunks themselves were comfortable enough.

tbilisi to yerevan train

What facilities are on board?

There are toilets and evidently a shower (because we were given a towel with our bedding), but we didn’t try it out.

There is nowhere to buy food on board, so you need to buy everything that you would need for the whole journey in Tbilisi beforehand. Some people brought small kettles with them. Others brought litre bottles of vodka. There is a water dispenser, but I would still recommend bringing your own water.

The top bunks have access to a thin window, while the bottom bunks have a small table in between them. Each bunk has power outlets, reading lights, a couple of hooks to hang up jackets and a pocket to put your important stuff in while you sleep.

The bottom bunks have luggage storage under the bunks, while the top bunks have luggage storage above the bunks. So if you have heavy bags, it’s better to go for the lower bunks.

night bus from Plovdiv to Istanbul

How is best to buy tickets?

We bought our tickets at Tbilisi Central station as we didn’t have much luck working out how to do it online. When you reach the station take the escalators to the top floor, and take a ticket from the machine. (There was no one there when we arrived, but still, we were asked to take a ticket.)

Make sure you have cash and your passport with you. If you need cash, the Liberty ATM on the floor below by the Turkish coffee stand does not charge withdrawal fees.

Our third class tickets cost 85.8 GEL each. 

I would always recommend booking the tickets at least a few days in advance. Having said that though, there were people buying tickets on the day while we were waiting for the train; they got on with no problems.

How often does the train run?

Now, this is something that is forever changing. Back in the olden days (I mean 2022/23), the train ran every evening in the summer months, and every odd-numbered date in the winter months. This year (2024), my understanding is that the odd-numbered date rule has remained throughout the whole year of 2023 and into 2024. My advice would be to assume that you can travel only on the 1st, 3rd, 5th etc. of each month, and plan your accommodation around this just in case.

What is the Georgia border crossing like?

You should get to the Georgia border crossing at around 22:00. Everyone had to get off the train and queue to have passports checked and stamped. Once everyone has a stamp and is back on the train, border security walks the full length of the train to double check all the stamps have been issued. The whole process took 60 – 90 minutes.

What is the Armenia border crossing like?

We got to the border at around 00:30. The border guards came on to the train with portable passport checking devices. They scanned everyone’s passports, and stamped them on board. We were the only non-Russian speakers on the train, and so we were unable to communicate with the border guards. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise, because they couldn’t ask us any questions! Again, this probably took about 60 – 90 minutes.

Arrival into Yerevan

So, the rest of the journey is smooth sailing until you reach Yerevan at around 07:00, so you could get a good five hours of solid sleep.

Onward travel in Yerevan

Yerevan Railway Station is right next to Sasuntsi David metro station, so you can use this to get into the centre of the city. The metro starts running at around 07:30, so no need to rush off the sleeper train! You’ll need to pay 100 AMD in cash for a plastic token to ride the metro. There is an ATM in the metro if you haven’t got any local currency yet.

Otherwise, you can jump in a taxi. I would recommend downloading GG Taxi, a local Armenian taxi app so that you don’t have to barter with the drivers. You’ve only just entered the country, you don’t know the going rate of a taxi ride, haven’t got a grasp of the new currency yet either, and are tired, which means that taxi drivers are likely to rip you off! Sasuntsi David metro station supposedly has free wifi. If not, see if a local could call you a GG, you can jump in and pay in cash.

So what was the whole experience like overall?

It was pretty painless actually. The train left on time, the beds were comfortable enough, the border crossings were smooth. My main criticism is the fact that the third class area doesn’t have much ventilation which means that their gets very breathy and sweaty. It didn’t seem the healthiest especially in the post-COVID era.

But would I recommend it? Yes. It was an experience to get the old Soviet train to take you from A to B, and it was more comfortable than a marshrutka would have been.

Don’t fancy an 11-hour sleeper train?

I get it, it’s not everyone’s bag. There are a few marshrutkas that run this route every day from Avlabari and Ortachala bus stations in Tbilisi. They tend to leave when they are full, so turn up early and prepare yourself for an hour or so’s wait. The marshrutka will then arrive into Kilikia bus station in Yerevan.

The journey is quicker than the train, and cheaper than the train, so if you’ve done the old Soviet train thing, and are just looking to get the journey done, this alternative might be for you. 

Marshrutkas are small, have little leg room or luggage space, can get really uncomfortably packed and claustrophobic, and the drivers are generally not the most cautious.

Fancy giving this route a go? Or have you already travelled this way? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

Thanks for reading!

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The Complete List of 24 Things to Do in Yerevan

The Complete List of 24 Things to Do in Yerevan

The Cascade

The Complete List of 24 Things to Do in Yerevan

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Yerevan is Armenia’s capital city. Situated relatively centrally, Yerevan is not only full of fascinating things to do, but is the perfect location to base yourself to explore the rest of the country. You can reach Echmiadzin, Sevan, Dilijan within a couple of hours’ journey!

We spent over two weeks exploring the city and compiling this ultimate list of things to do in Yerevan: Armenia’s vibrant and exciting ‘pink city’.

Climb the Cascade for Outrageous Views of Mount Ararat

You will see this at the top of everyone’s lists for Yerevan; it is THE quintessential thing to do. Even though the mountain is no longer on Armenian territory due to land border changes after the Turkish-Armenian War of 1920, it is still the symbol of Yerevan, and Armenia. It has religious significance as it is believed that Noah’s Ark landed on the top, creating the dip. As well as this, you will see Armenia’s two largest brandy producers are called ‘Ararat’ and ‘Noy’ (Noah).

cascad at night, things to do in yerevan

At the bottom of the Cascade is a garden full of sculptures that can be politely called ‘quirky’. So have a wander through here first and take a look. Then, head up the travertine stairs of the Cascade complex. On the outside, you will see Soviet style sculptures and water fountains as you progress to each new layer of the steps. If the steps are too much, there is an inside escalator that can take you to the top. 

Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with phenomenal views stretching across the city and the peaks of Ararat as the perfect backdrop!

Wander Higher Up to Reach Victory Park and Mother of Armenia

When you get to the top of the Cascade, there is a walkway off to the left. Walk this way, up the road and then up a set of metal stairs that take you to a higher viewing platform. Once here, cross the main road to get to Victory Park.

It is a classic Soviet style fairground with ferris wheels, bumper cars etc. Carry on walking through the park to see the huge Mother of Armenia statue. There is an eternal flame memorial and another great viewpoint over the city.

mother armenia, things to do in yerevan

Learn about the Armenian Genocide

Yerevan’s Armenian Genocide Museum has done an excellent job of explaining the horrific events of 1915. We spent a couple of hours here reading all the information as we had such little knowledge of it previously. The exhibits and stories are raw and real, and even though they may be uncomfortable to read, it is a vitally important topic to understand when visiting the country.

Before you leave the area, make sure you see the memorial complex on top of the museum with its eternal flame.

Entrance to the museum is free.

Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Museum, things to do in yerevan

Shop for Retro Souvenirs at Vernissage

This isn’t just another market, I promise! There are so many interesting stalls here selling everything from padlocks from Soviet times, pomegranate themed souvenirs, to beautifully hand-made jewellery. We spent hours wandering around all the stalls, and I bought a pair of handmade earrings with the Armenian alphabet on; they are my favourite pair of earrings from our travels so far! (I try to buy a pair in each country).

And Then Wander Round the GUM Market Tasting All the Armenian Specialities

We paired our Vernissage visit with a visit to the GUM market, and it ended up lasting the whole afternoon. See rows upon rows of dried fruit, nuts, cheeses, lavash bread, fresh fruit and veg all displayed beautifully. The vendors will inevitably shower you with tasters so that you can try before you buy.

Armenian cheeses are some of the most interesting looking and tasting that we have ever tried (some look hairy and green!). Make sure you head to the cheese counter and give some a go before deciding which one you want.

Armenian cheese, GUM market, things to do in yerevan

Grab a Takeaway Coffee from a Coffee House Stand and Get Them to Write Your Name in Armenian

You know when you go to a fancy coffee shop, and they write your name on the cup? Well, each time we bought a coffee from Coffee House, they would ask us our names and then write it for us in Armenian! It’s only a small thing, but we loved it.

Coffee house, things to do in yerevan

Take a Free Walking Tour to Get to Know Yerevan and Armenia Better

This free walking tour is really informative, and provides you with a better insight into the history of the country as well as the current political situation, recommendations on restaurants, things to do, day trips etc. Top tip that we learnt from this tour – a nightclub, does not mean what a nightclub means back home; it actually means a strip club. That’s not a mistake you want to make!

Wander Kond District and Stop for a Coffee

The one thing missing from Yerevan that I always love exploring in a new city, is an old town. And unfortunately, the old buildings of the central district were removed during the Soviet occupation. This means that Yerevan feels relatively knew despite being one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places! To get close to an ‘old town’, you need to head to Kond.

Now Kond isn’t you typical old town, but it is full of character with its dilapidated buildings and winding narrow alleys. Kond is built into a hill, so you’ll need to take a set of steep stairs from the main part of town to get there. Take a wander round to see the interesting buildings and the new street art, before stopping here for a proper local cup of coffee with the friendliest host. Even though we did not share a common language, he sat with us while we drank our coffee and ate our gata (more on that later), and we used google translate to communicate.

kond, things to do in yerevan
kond, things to do in yerevan

Witness the Ancient Manuscripts at Matenadaran

As someone who loves a good book, finding a museum full of loads of ancient handwritten books was fascinating! The building in which all these masterpieces are housed is an absolute beauty in itself, but the collection of manuscripts really was mind-blowing. We spent about an hour exploring. Entrance costs 1500 AMD.

matenadaran, armenian scripture museum, things to do in yerevan

Take a Drink from a Pulpulak (or maybe don’t!)

A pulpulak is a distinctive drinking water fountain you will see all around the city. Yerevan, and Armenia for that matter, has no shortage of running water, so these are always free-flowing. And while I love the idea, we did see some stray dogs jumping up on to the water fountains for a drink. Maybe drink from the pulpulaks that look least stray dog accessible!

pulpulak, things to do in yerevan
dog drinking from pulpulak, things to do in yerevan

Eat Everything Apricot

Armenia is the land of apricots. If you are around during apricot season, you have hit the jackpot! Otherwise, you can get your hands on apricot jam, dried apricots, apricot brandy, apricot sweets, apricot wine, apricot beer. The list is endless.

Feast on Falafel Wraps

Yerevan knows how to do falafel, and we took full advantage of this, essentially becoming Yerevan falafel wrap connoisseurs. We ate an obscene number of falafel wraps during our two week stay in the city because they are so tasty, convenient for on-the-go, and fully veggie/vegan. Full Yerevan restaurant guide is on its way!

See the Intricate Tiling of the Blue Mosque

The last functioning mosque in Yerevan is a beautiful one. Tiled domes and archways, a peaceful garden courtyard area. Even though it’s on the main road, it’s tucked away and is actually really quiet.

blue mosque, things to do in yerevan
blue mosque, things to do in yerevan

Find Kond Tunnel

Now, this is a weird one. There is a huge, long pedestrian tunnel that goes from the main centre of Yerevan to the outskirts of town. This makes it on to the Yerevan to-do list because of the photos you can take with the crazy zigzag lighting. The tunnel is long and dark except for this lighting, and isn’t the most pleasant experience, but you’ll get some interesting photos and the tunnel will lead you to the creepy abandoned children’s railway.

kond tunnel, things to do in yerevan

Try Not to Be Creeped Out by the Abandoned Children’s Railway

This feels like something straight out of an apocalyptic horror film. Head down the dramatic staircase to the old station, and you’ll see small Soviet trains waiting on the tracks. You can even head into the train though, I was more than happy just to take photos from the outside!

abandonec childrens railway, things to do in yerevan

Take a Break and Order a Proper Armenian Coffee

Ok, top tip, Armenian coffee is not Turkish coffee. Armenian coffee is Armenian coffee. It’s thick, dark, strong, and aromatic. You can get it for dead cheap at Melody, or more regular pricing at somewhere like Andrew’s.

armenian coffee, things to do in yerevan

Grab a Beer at an Underground Bar

Two places that we really liked (partly because I have scouse blood), are the Beatles Pub, and the Calumet Ethnic Lounge next door. The Beatles Pub has a great atmosphere and can get pretty busy, so you might even want to book a table. Calumet Ethnic Lounge is very much rough and ready in comparison (more of a budget backpacker vibe), and they’re next door to each other, so you can hop from one to the next.

the beatles pub, things to do in yerevan

Photograph the Quirky Soviet Design

Chess House, Opera Theatre, Moscow Theatre, the Central Post Office in Republic Square (and stained glass window inside), the metro stations, Yerevan train station, Kilikia bus station. Yerevan is full of this intriguing style. Hunt down these examples and then keep an eye out for more!

soviet stained glass in yerevan post office
soviet frieze, things to do in yerevan
soviet architecture, things to do in yerevan

Visit the History Museum of Armenia

This is the history museum in Republic Square, not to be confused with Yerevan History Museum (the second one is not worth your time!). Super informative and plenty of exhibits including the world’s oldest leather shoe.

While we were there in March, there was renovation going on, so we’d be interested to know what it is like now. Outside the museum are many plaques talking about the history of Armenia, and how the size of the country has decreased to only 10% of what it was. It also has detailed info on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

the world's oldest leather shoe, things to do in yerevan

Wander the Ruins of Erebuni Castle

Erebuni Castle is very much in ruins, but there are a few spots that have artwork that has been preserved. And the views of the city from here are great too! Underneath the castle is a small museum that is worth exploring too.

erebuni castle, yerevan, armenia
yerevan city views from erebuni castle

Try Armenia’s Famous Gata

This tasty sweet treat is great paired with a coffee, or even served as a dessert. Gata is a cake that has a layer of butter, sugar and vanilla running through it. We have had some really pretty gata that have designs baked onto the top, and others that almost look a little croissant-esque.

menemen and simit, batumi

Drink Armenian Wine and Brandy

Armenian wine can be anything from white to red to pomegranate to apricot! The varieties are endless. Pomegranate is my favourite because of its sour note. But brandy (or cognac as it is referred to by locals) is hugely popular in Armenia too. The two major brandy factories are both in Yerevan – Ararat and Noy – and they offer tastings and tours if that’s your thing.

armenian wine, yerevan
ararat brandy, yerevan

Eat the Armenian Vegetarian Classic Dish – Ghapama

Ghapama is a dish that you need to share between a few people. It is a whole roasted pumpkin filled with rice, dried fruits, and nuts. It’s so decadent! We found this beauty at Lavash Restaurant. But this isn’t the only reason to head to Lavash Restaurant.

ghapama, things to do in yerevan

Watch Lavash Being Cooked in a Traditional Tonir

Lavash Restaurant in Yerevan has a tonir inside the restaurant where bakers use the traditional methods to bake the flat bread. It really is fascinating to watch the lavash that you’ve just ordered being baked in front of you!

Have you been to Yerevan? Is there anything I should add to this list? Or maybe you’ve planning your trip at the moment?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations and questions.

Thanks for reading!

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