Armenia travel guide
It might be a small nation, but Armenia is big on character. Its 20th century history was troubled and relations with neighbouring Turkey are still fractious to put it mildly – although a visit to the country today is more likely to be dominated by its medieval treasures than its more recent past.
The welcome is rarely anything less than warm – and usually accompanied by brandy – and the countryside itself is often breathtakingly beautiful. Tourist numbers are generally low, but you’ll find yourself wondering why.
This is a country with serious historical legacy. Christianity arrived in AD 301 and Armenia proudly calls itself the world's oldest Christian nation. Religion still tends to play a large part in visitor itineraries – from the centuries-old monasteries that stud the hilly Lori region to the mists-of-time bibles at the wonderful Museum of Ancient Manuscripts – but Armenia is changing.
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the country has re-embraced its traditions while moving on. Much of this progress is focused on the capital city of Yerevan. Loomed over on clear days by Mount Ararat across the border, it is the nation's hub of cultural activity and progressive thought, with a lively modern arts scene and plenty of large-scale redevelopment.
Armenia has a large diaspora population – there are thousands of Armenian Americans – and a lot of wealth has been brought back into the country as a result. But the passions that underpin life here, from patriotism to religion, chess to cognac, aren’t the sort that cost millions. Cafe culture has been perfected and it's de rigueur to spend inordinate amounts of time lingering over a conversation. Armenian food is another treat – expect mounds of grilled meats and vegetables straight from the nearest garden.
Around the country, travel highlights include the charming little town of Goris and the arty mountain settlement of Dilijan, but exploration anywhere in Armenia is likely to reap rewards.
29,743 sq km (11,484 sq miles).
3,026,048 (UN estimate 2016).
102.8 per sq km.
President Vahagn Khachaturyan since March 2022.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan since 2018.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Areas where FCDO advises against travel
Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice.
FCDO advises against all travel to within 5km of the full eastern border between Armenia and Azerbaijan
M16/H26 road between Ijevan and Noyemberyan
FCDO advises against all travel along the M16/H26 road between the towns of Ijevan and Noyemberyan.
Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Armenia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Armenian Embassy in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Armenia.
Passport validity requirements
If you are visiting Armenia, your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
You can visit Armenia without a visa up to 180 days per year.
To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you must register with the Administration Department for Passports and Visas (OVIR).
Address: Davtashen, 4th District, 31/2 Building, Yerevan, Armenia 0054
Telephone: +374 11 36 1394, +374 11 36 9140
Applying for a visa
Apply for an e-visa from the Armenian Embassy in the UK.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Armenia guide.
There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Armenia. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Armenia
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in Armenia, attacks cannot be ruled out.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved. Consular support is severely limited in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Although a ceasefire exists, the eastern border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is closed. Russian peacekeepers have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh, but tensions remain.
The border areas between Armenia and Azerbaijan also contain mines and unexploded weapons. Any foreigner within 5km of these borders is likely to be stopped by the police or the military.
Protecting your belongings
Crime levels are low. There are occasional incidents of pickpocketing, bag-snatching, theft from cars and burglary involving foreign nationals. To help protect your belongings:
- leave spare cash, passports and valuables in a safe place
- carry a copy of the photo page of your passport rather than the original document
- when using ATMs check no one is watching or following you
- take particular care if using an ATM after dark
Laws and cultural differences
Always carry a copy of your passport as ID.
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
If you use illegal drugs, you can get fines and a long prison sentence. The penalty for smuggling drugs is a prison sentence of between 4 and 10 years.
It is illegal to use, possess or trade marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products. You can be prosecuted for having these substances even when they are prescribed for medical purposes.
Using cameras and binoculars in secure areas
Do not photograph sites such as military bases, equipment and installations. These are considered sensitive areas and visitors have been detained and questioned for attempting to photograph them.
Same-sex relations have been legal since 2003 but are still viewed with disapproval by many Armenians. LGBT+ people in Armenia tend to be discreet about their sexuality. Local LGBT+ groups occasionally suffer from verbal and physical harassment. Physical contact between members of the same sex, such as holding hands and kissing, are common signs of friendship in Armenian culture, and not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
Armenian society does not tolerate unsociable behaviour such as being drunk, particularly during the late evening and through the nighttime. Whilst it is not illegal to be drunk, it is not socially acceptable. British nationals have been detained for drunken behaviour.
Avoid hailing taxis on the street as there is a risk of being scammed for high fares. You can download the GG taxi application on your phone upon your arrival. GG is considered a reputable taxi app service in Armenia.
Public transport is often overcrowded, particularly in Yerevan. Yerevan buses are modern, but local buses in the regions may be old and poorly maintained.
If you travel on the cross-border train service between Armenia and Georgia, secure your valuables, do not leave the compartment unattended, and lock the door from the inside.
If you are planning to drive in Armenia, see information on driving abroad. The guide lists driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of.
You’ll need to have both a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) and your UK driving licence to drive in Armenia. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. You can buy an IDP in person from some UK post offices – find your nearest post office branch that offers this service.
The standard of driving is poor. Be prepared for drivers who drive recklessly and ignore traffic laws. Roads are in a poor state, particularly in the coldest months, from November to February. If possible avoid driving outside of cities and towns in the dark because of the poor condition of the roads and lack of lighting.
If you are walking, be careful when crossing roads and use subways where available.
The UK Air Safety List (ASL) lists all known airlines in Armenia that do not meet international safety standards and are banned from operating commercial air services to, from, and within the UK. Check the UK Air Safety List when considering which airlines to fly with. The list is maintained by the Department for Transport, based on advice from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
The UK has placed sanctions on Aeroflot, Rossiya Airlines and Ural Airlines. It is now illegal under UK law for any British national or British company to do business with these airlines. This includes the purchasing of flight tickets.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
There is a risk of earthquakes. The last serious earthquake was in 1988 in the Lori region in the north. It killed between 25,000 and 50,000 people, injured thousands and left several cities in ruins.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
This section has safety advice for regions of Armenia. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.
FCDO advises against all travel to within 5km of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This is because of Armenia’s dispute with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
M16/H26 road between Ijevan and Noyemberyan
FCDO advises against all travel along the M16/H26 road between the towns of Ijevan and Noyemberyan. This is because of Armenia’s dispute with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The land border with Turkey is closed, although there are scheduled direct flights between Yerevan and Istanbul.
Travelling in the South Caucasus can be unpredictable and infrastructure is sometimes in a poor state of repair. Plan your travel carefully.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Call 911 and ask for an ambulance with an English speaker.
You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Armenia guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Armenia, including Mount Aragats (4,090m elevation) and the lakes of Aragats (approximately 3,000m). Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Armenia
Public medical facilities and treatment is generally sufficient, but can be of a lower standard than you would expect in the UK, particularly outside Yerevan. Private hospitals in Armenia are of a good standard but can be more expensive. Treatment is not recommended for anything other than minor or straightforward ailments. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Armenia.
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Armenia.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Armenia
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Armenia
- dealing with a death in Armenia
- being arrested or imprisoned in Armenia
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you’re in Armenia and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy Yerevan.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.