Travelling North Armenia and Crossing Overland to Georgia

If you can afford the time or if you’re heading to Georgia overland like us, don’t miss out on the wonderful sights in North Armenia! We know that perhaps by now you might be saturated with churches, but the churches in North Armenia are quite unique and different from the others. Here’s how we spent our time in North Armenia before heading to the Sadakhlo border.

First up, we visited the old Dilijan which gave us a glimpse of how Dilijan was like back in the 19th century. The cobbled floors, stoned walls and tiled roofs gave this place a very charismatic and charming atmosphere, albeit a little commercialised. We heard that in summer, this place would be flocked with tourists!

old dilijan

old dilijan

Watching the talented craftsman in action! Wood carving is very popular in Armenia

After a delightful stroll at the old Dilijan, we proceed to our next destination which was Haghartsin Monastery. During the construction of this beautiful building, an eagle was soaring over the main dome which attributed to its name, “Haghartsin”, which translates as “Dance of the Eagles”.


We proceeded to visit the Goshavank Monastery next but unfortunately, it was under construction and we could not capture a nice shot of it. Otherwise, here’s how it would have looked like!


Photo credits: Travis Witt


Inside the gavit of Goshavank Church

Next up is one of our favourites so far, the Odzun Church. This church was different because of its pink felsite stoned walls! Most of the other churches that we’ve seen were grey, so this was indeed quite refreshing for us! Especially with its picturesque setting of the magnificent ridge as the backdrop, this church quickly became one of our favourites.



We were captivated by the beautiful arches of the Odzun church

From Dilijan, we headed towards Alaverdi and this was one of the most scenic drive that we had in Armenia. The Debed Canyon was definitely a sight to behold, we had to stop the car to capture a picture of this breathtaking view! It was incredible!

Where we stayed in Alaverdi: We stayed 1 night at Iris B&B in Alaverdi and we highly recommend her place to any travellers who are planning an overnight stay in Alaverdi. We love that her house was very cozy, with its wooden walls and flooring. Also, the beds were very comfortable and the hot shower was great! Breakfast was good too! We paid 15,000drum (US$31) for a room with double beds. Oh and from the balcony on the second floor, you could also enjoy a nice view of the majestic Debed Canyon!

Debed canyon

One of the most impressive canyons that we’ve ever seen, the Debed Canyon

The next morning feeling rejuvenated after a great night sleep, we headed to the first attraction of the day – Sanahin Monastery. We were very impressed by this monastery’s remarkable archways within the complex itself. Some people advised to skip either Sanahin or Haghpat Monastery as both buildings were built by the same people during the same era and were very aesthetically similar. But somehow we found it quite different, scroll down further to see our photos of Haghpat Monastery. Our advice would be to visit both if you have the time to!


The beautiful archways of the Sanahin Monastery


Somehow the baren trees add to the atmosphere of this Sanahin Monastery

And here it is, Haghpat Monastery. There are of course some similarities between Sanahin and Haghpat since they were built by the same architect. But don’t you think that both places give you a very different impression?


Love the green fields here at the Haghpat Monastery! Been awhile since we last saw green as we were travelling mostly during winter!


These holes were apparently used for storages in the past, somewhat acting like a fridge.

On our way to our last monastery for the day, we stopped by this special monument for a short while. This was the famous and powerful MiG fighter who was named after its inventor, Mikoyan (the statue on the left of the photo).


And here’s our last monastery, Akhtala, in North Armenia before we head to the Sadakhlo border to Georgia. The monastery was part of a well preserved fortress which played a vital role in protecting North Armenia. The duo rings in the middle was added later on when this site became a very popular place for newly weds to have their photos taken at.


One of the most interesting thing about this church was the frescoes inside of the church building. Almost the entire interior of this building has been covered with colourful illustrations of the gospel. Also, all these were painted using natural ingredients!


And we’re done for the day! We headed straight for the Sadakhlo border where we had our lunch there as well. Sadakhlo was very near Akhtala and it only took around 15 minutes drive to get there. Unfortunately we did not take any photos at the border but we can safely say that it was very easy and fuss free crossing the border from Armenia to Georgia. Took us less than 15 minutes? There wasn’t any bag checks too. Georgian border was amazingly developed, with its high tech gantries and signs.

Essential Information

All of the above were part of our 2 days 1 night tour with Ararat Tour. If you wish to know more about how we spent the rest of our time in Armenia, do check out our post on things to do in Armenia. Or if you’ll only be travelling to Yerevan, you may check out our post on exploring the beautiful “pink city” Yerevan in Armenia 🙂

For more information on the tour, please email or visit their official website.

Hope our post was useful to you! Do drop us a comment if we’ve left out any ‘must see” in North Armenia!