Garni and Geghard: the Perfect Day Trip from Yerevan

Armenia

Published on 10 April 2024

The best day trip from Yerevan is undoubtedly to visit Garni and Geghard, and the Symphony of Stones; a Greco-Roman temple, a UNESCO listed 4 th century church, and a bizarre rock formation. And it’s completely achievable independently, so there is no need to book on to a guided tour with loads of other people and limited time at each spot. We spent six weeks in Armenia making several trips from Yerevan, and the Garni and Geghard trip takes the top spot! This travel guide will give you all the info you need to make this day trip from Yerevan.

Looking for things to do in Yerevan? Read this post here.

Or maybe looking for the best vegetarian spots and cafes? Check out this post.

First Stop: Garni Temple

Travel Yerevan to Garni

The bus to Garni leaves from a small bus station a little out of town called Gai. It is in the wrong location on Google Maps, but someone has very helpfully added a marker for ‘the real Gai Bus Station’, so make sure you search for this one instead!

Take a GG Taxi (a local Armenian taxi app) to the real Gai Bus Station, which is close to a Mercedes Benz shop.

Get on bus no. 266, which leaves every hour on the hour. It costs about 500 AMD (prices may have increased, but it still gives you a rough idea), and will take about 45 minutes to reach Garni.

Pay for your ticket on the bus and ask the driver to let you know when to get out (or follow the journey along on Google Maps).

Also, I would recommend against sitting anywhere near the back. This is a very bumpy ride.

Garni Gorge, Garni and Geghard

History of Garni Temple

As Armenia was the first country to declare itself Christian back in the 4th century, most historic religious structures around the country are also Christian. However, this temple actually predates Christianity in Armenia!

It is believed to have been built back in the 1st century when Paganism was practised. It survived the conversion to Christianity, and several occupations until an earthquake hit in the 17th century. The temple was rebuilt and completed by 1975. It has a Greco-Roman colonnaded style, which is unique in the country.

uchisar castle

Exploring Garni Temple

The entrance fee for Garni Temple is 1500 AMD.

Garni temple sits overlooking the Garni Gorge, which means that you get beautiful panoramic views too. Wander round the temple, take in the views, but also make sure you step into the ruins of the Roman bath. It seemed that most people didn’t realise that this was here, but you’ll see what is left of mosaic decoration that lined the bottom of the baths. You won’t need much time to explore Garni Temple – 45 minutes should be plenty.

garni temple, garni and geghard

ancient mosaic of bathhouse at Garni temple

Second Stop: Geghard Monastery

Travel Garni Temple to Geghard Monastery

From Garni, you’ll have to find a taxi as it’s realistically too long to walk (unless you’re not doing this just as a day trip from Yerevan). We walked down the road a bit from the Garni Temple entrance to a small coffee place. While we were waiting for the coffee, we got chatting with the woman serving us. And she mentioned that her Dad would be able to take us!

So she called up Dad, and we arranged 3000 AMD for a drop off at Geghard, he would wait an hour for us, then take us for a quick look at the Symphony of Stones, and then drop us back at the bus stop.

Otherwise, you will be able to find a driver outside of the temple; just be aware that this is the prime spot to pick up a taxi so you might have to do a bit of bargaining to get the price down to a reasonable amount!

You could always try your hand at hitchhiking. Geghard Monastery is situated at the end of a road, not a through road, so anyone going that way will be going to see the monastery.

There is no bus to take you from Garni to Geghard, though it would make an absolute killing if there was a shuttle running this route!

interior of geghard monastery, day trip from yerevan

History of Geghard Monastery

It is understood that the beginnings of this monastery date back to the 4th century, but the current building dates back to the 13th century. The monastery is UNESCO listed and sits on the site of a sacred spring in a cave that still flows to this day. 

Geghard means ‘spear’ in Armenian, and the monastery holds this name as it housed what is believed to be the spear that wounded Jesus. It became a pilgrimage site for this reason, but the spear is no longer kept in the monastery. Instead, you’ll find it in Echmiadzin Cathedral which is the oldest cathedral in the WORLD, and makes another great day trip from Yerevan!

geghard monastery, day trip from yerevan

Explore Geghard Monastery

There is no entrance fee.

The monastery is located at the end of a road in a valley, and like with Garni Temple, the views are outstanding. There are several rooms and stairs and passageways to explore, so make sure you take a look round everything! You’ll see impressive rock carvings, ancient inscriptions, the sacred spring, and khachkars (cross stone – an Armenian intangible cultural heritage artform recognised by UNESCO). 

Make sure you go up the steps round the left of the monastery as it will take you through a passage to a room above the main part of the monastery.

And also make sure you head through the archway to the right of the Monastery where you’ll see a picturesque arched bridge running over a stream.

Is it Armenia’s most impressive monastery? 

I honestly think so. I was absolutely blown away by its decoration, how well it has all been preserved, and its stunning location.

You’ll need about an hour to see everything here.

Third Stop: Symphony of Stones

Travel from Geghard Monastery to the Symphony of Stones

Get the taxi driver to take you back to Garni via the Symphony of Stones.

Explore the Symphony of Stones

There is a small entrance fee of 200 AMD.

From the ticket desk, walk down the path, but remember to look up! In the cliff face you will see hexagonal shaped tubes of rock that are entirely natural. It is similar to the of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, just the other way round (so sticking out of the cliff as opposed to out of the ground).

You’ll need about 15 minutes here. It’s a quick one, but a really interesting rock formation to view!

symphony of stones, garni and geghard

Back to Yerevan

Tell your taxi driver you are heading back to Yerevan and he will drop you at the nearest bus stop (there are several in Garni). Wait until you see the 266 bus, and jump back on.

Arrive back at the real Gai Bus Station, and order yourself a GG Taxi back to your accommodation.

Have you been to Garni or Geghard?

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

Thanks for reading!

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