From rugged snow-capped mountains to sweeping verdant valleys, crumbling medieval monasteries and traditional villages, Armenia’s dramatic landscapes, rich culture and quirky capital, Yerevan, are just a threehour flight from Dubai. With its troubled Soviet past now more than 20 years behind it, Armenia not only has a treasure trove of contrasting historical gems to visit – spanning from the prehistoric Zorats Karer (the ‘Armenian Stonehenge’) to the 5th-century St Paul and Peter Church and the imposing Soviet-style Mother Armenia monument – it also offers excellent hiking options, snow sports, wine tasting and a buzzy, offbeat selection of restaurants and nightlife in Yerevan. Based in the capital, it is easy to arrange sightseeing tours of the key hotspots via an agency such as Envoy Tours, through which you can book anything from one-day trips into the countryside to visit ancient caves and 10th-century fortresses, to package tours that whisk you off for five days for skiing and sightseeing. Most tours include a homemade lunch cooked by a local family in their own home, which offers an authentic glimpse into the lives and hospitality of Armenian villagers. Day tours start from around Dh140 including lunch, see www.envoytours.com. Accommodation in Yerevan spans from decent and clean private hostel rooms with en suites from Dh112 per night (envoyhostel.com) to swanky rooms at the impressive Multi Grand Hotel (multigrandhotel.com) available for around Dh560 per night including breakfast.
NEED TO KNOW
Flights to Yerevan take approximately three hours, 20 minutes. Direct flights start from around Dh1,100.