Transport in Yerevan
Yerevan can be reached by air from many countries, by road from Georgia and Iran, and by rail from Georgia. If you’re travelling to Karabakh, you must come through Yerevan. While there are a couple of arduous bus services to Turkey via Georgia, and flights to Istanbul, the land border is closed. There are no direct routes to Azerbaijan; it’s most easily reached via Georgia.
Most visitors to Armenia begin their stay in Yerevan, the vast majority arriving by air at Yerevan's Zvartnots Airport. Even if you arrive some other way Yerevan is a logical point to start exploring the country. Apart from the fact that most transport delivers passengers to the city, there is much to be said for starting in the capital, which has the best sources of information, much of the cultural life and is where bookings (for accommodation, hire cars, etc) can most easily be made if not arranged in advance. Many of the important historical sites can be reached in day trips from the capital and all transport to the provinces goes through Yerevan.
AIR Zvartnots Airport, 11km from Yerevan, is Armenia’s major airport. The main terminal looks like a Soviet scale model of the space station in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; hi-tech in conception but low-tech in construction materials. A new US$100 million terminal was opened in 2006 with much fanfare. The new arrivals hall has a money exchange and booths for ArmenTel and VivaCell if you want to buy a SIM card for your phone. The check-in counters are still in the old terminal, but the departure lounge (with a cafe and free wi-fi) is in the new terminal. The airport tax when flying out of Zvartnots is AMD10,000, payable when you check in.
Bus - Buses are generally cheap and slow old Soviet models, and while they may be half the price of a marshrutka they’re often twice as slow as well. Buses mostly serve on village and suburban routes. The main bus station is the Kilikya Avtokayan (6 Admiral Isakov Poghota), past the Yerevan Brandy Company on the Echmiadzin road, which has international bus services and buses to Gyumri and the towns of the Ararat Plain. The Hyusisayin Avtokayan (northern bus station; Tbilisian Mayrughi) is on the Tbilisi Hwy, 4km from centre, and serves Sevan and Dilijan. Buses from the Kilikya Avtokayan to as far as Moscow (about 72 hours, 4am Wednesday and Sunday) and Istanbul (41 hours, 1pm Wednesday and Saturday) can take days and are for extreme travellers only. Buses to Batumi (14 to 20 hours, 7am Monday and Friday), Tbilisi (about nine hours, 8am and 10am daily) and Tabriz (27 hours, 10am daily) also depart from Kilikya Avtokayan.
Car & Motorcycle - Several agencies rent out cars in Yerevan, including big names like Europcar and Hertz. A three-day rental ranges between AMD56,000 and 176,000 depending on the make and model of your car; you can get anything from a Lada to a Japanese 4WD. It’s also possible to hire a driver with the car. EET (15 Tumanyan Poghots), Hertz (7 Abovyan Poghots), Europcar (8 Kievyan Poghots) Also has a desk at Golden Tulip hotel.
Marshrutka - Yerevan is the hub of the national network, and marshrutkas (minivans) leave from spots around the city, from a kerb to a minibus station to one of the main bus stations. For transport all over Armenia they’re fast, reasonably efficient and not much more expensive than the buses. The following list is obviously subject to change but it should assist. Ask ‘Vor tegh marshrut gnoom eh?’ (What is your destination?). Drivers and helpers will often guide foreigners to the right van or put you in the front seat. Try to arrive about 30 minutes before departure to make sure you get a seat. Marshrutkas almost always leave on time and may even depart a few minutes early.
Train - The imposing Yerevan train station (Sasuntsi Davit Hraparak) is off Tigran Mets Poghota south of the city centre, with the Sasuntsi Davit metro station underneath. The booking office is on the ground floor to the right. Information boards are in Armenian and Russian, but some of the staff speak English. The main route loops west and north through Gyumri (3,5 hours), on through Vanadzor (8,5 hours) and Ayrum near the border (11 hours) and on to Tbilisi (16 hours). There are a couple of local trains to Yeraskh (near the Naxjevan border) and to Hrazdan. Trains leave for Tbilisi on even days at 7pm, arriving theoretically at 9.40am, though a couple of hours late is normal. There are also trains every day to Gyumri at 8am and 4.50pm. There are separate classes for the train to Tbilisi; open seating costs AMD3700, kupe (standard) compartments cost AMD5500, while SV (deluxe) compartments cost AMD12,000. Bedding costs AMD1000 in kupe compartments but comes free with SV class. The toilets aren’t great and the carriages aren’t new, but it’s a very pretty ride. Book compartments a day ahead, and take food and drinks with you.
To/From Zvartnots Airport - Minibuses and buses from Zvartnots (Place of Angels) Airport leave from the car park 300m from the main terminal. Yerevan minibuses 107 and 108 (AMD150, every 20 minutes, 8am to 6pm) run between the airport and Barekamutyun Hraparak (which has the Barekamutyun metro station). Bus 201 goes to the airport down Mesrop Mashtots from the Opera House (AMD150, every 30 minutes, 7.30am to 5.30pm). Alas for public transport users, many flights come and go at night. The price of a taxi to and from the airport turns on whether you arrange it in advance or chance it with the cowboys outside arrivals. A taxi might cost AMD5000 from the airport, but going from town to the airport you’ll probably pay just AMD2000. If you arrive on the last flight you’ll have more bargaining power as drivers will be eager to get home. The trip takes about 15 to 20 minutes to central Yerevan.
Public Transport - Yerevan has tonnes of public transport. There are no special passes and you pay as you go – but it’s cheap, and it takes you right into the bustle of urban life. The cheapest are the city minibuses (marshrutkas), renowned here and across the developing world as the worst drivers on the streets. There are hundreds of routes, shown by a number in the front window. They do stop at bus stops, but you can flag one down anywhere on the street. You pay AMD100 when you leave. Ask to stop by saying ‘kangnek’. Women travellers should try to sit near the front and next to a female passenger if possible. There are also buses following numbered routes and trolleybuses running on electricity from overhead cables. Bus and marshrutka tickets cost AMD100 to AMD200. Bus 32, which goes from Kilikia bus station up Mashtots, past the Opera House and to the northern bus station every 20 minutes or so, is useful. Best of all there’s the clean, safe and efficient Yerevan metro (AMD50; working hours 6.30am-11pm; trains every 5-10 min), which runs roughly north–south through these underground stations – Barekamutyun, Marshall Baghramian, Yeritasardakan, Hanrapetutyan Hraparak, Zoravar Andranik near Surp Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral and Sasuntsi Davit station at the Yerevan train station. The line continues west and south on ground level to stations in the industrial suburbs.
Metro - The metro consists of one line together with a short branch in the southern suburbs. It is safe, efficient and cheap. The main line runs from the north side of the city across the central district and out to the south. The stations most likely to be of interest to visitors are, from north to south: Marshal Baghramian (near the British embassy); Yeridasardakan ('Youth') on the green belt east of the Cascade; Hanrapetutian Hraparak ('Republic Square') which is not actually on Republic Square but is behind the art gallery at the west end of Vernissage; Zoravar Andranik ('Commander Andranik') opposite the foot of the slope leading up to the cathedral; and Sassountsi Davit ('David of Sassoun') adjacent to the main railway station. The first section from Baregamatyun ('Friendship') in the north to Sassountsi David was opened on 7 March 1981. The system was then extended south to Gortsaranayin ('Factory') in 1983, Shengavit in 1985 and Garegin Nzhdehi Hraparak ('Garegin Nzhdeh Square') in 1987. The branch to Charbakh was opened after independence in 1996 to make a total of 13.4km of route with ten stations. An extension into the northwestern suburbs is under construction which will cross the Hrazdan River on a bridge, but no work has been carried out on it since 1989. Most of the existing route is underground with only two stations, Sassountsi Davit and Gortsaranayin, built above ground. Trains are usually formed of two coaches although the platforms were built to accommodate five-coach trains, and run every five minutes from 06.30 to 23.00. A flat fare of AMD50 is charged and entry to the platforms is by plastic tokens which can be purchased from the ticket office at any station. The maps of the route can be confusing since they show not only the operating part of the system in red but also some projected extensions in blue. When on a train it is impossible to read the names of stations since the signs are carefully positioned so as to be invisible from the trains. It is therefore necessary to listen to the announcements or else count the number of stops. The entrances to stations are marked on the surface by the blue letter If which is capital M (for Metro) in the Armenian alphabet.
Taxi - Taxis are cheap and plentiful, from wellloved Ladas to late-model Benzes. There are two types – street taxis and telephone or call taxis. Neither type carries meters, so you should set the price before starting off. You’ll see numbers for call taxis stencilled on buildings everywhere. Tourist publications such as Yerevan Guide carry listings for many companies. A ride within the city centre in a street taxi costs AMD500 anywhere for the first 5km and then an extra AMD100 for every kilometre thereafter.
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