Getting there & away
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.
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 (54 07 56; 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; 62 16 70; 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 (AMD21,600, about 72 hours, 4am Wednesday and Sunday) and Istanbul (AMD26,300, 41 hours, 1pm Wednesday and Saturday) can take days and are for extreme travellers only. Buses to Batumi (AMD10,000, 14 to 20 hours, 7am Monday and Friday), Tbilisi (AMD3700, about nine hours, 8am and 10am daily) and Tabriz (AMD17,000, 27 hours, 10am daily; book in advance through Tatev Travel) also depart from Kilikya Avtokayan.
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 (54 42 05; 15 Tumanyan Poghots)
Hertz (58 48 18; 7 Abovyan Poghots)
Europcar (22 94 95; 8 Kievyan Poghots) Also has a desk at Golden Tulip hotel.
The imposing Yerevan train station (information 184; 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 (3½ hours), on through Vanadzor (8½ 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 Naxçıvan 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; an open-seating (bench) ticket costs AMD480. 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.
Zvartnots Airport (flight information 187), 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 café 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.