More and more people are discovering how amazing Armenia is! Tourism and travel numbers are constantly increasing here. Before you head out, it’s essential to understand the safety and travel concerns specific to this country.
Armenia is near Georgia and Turkey in the southern part of the Caucasus region. It’s got phenomenal mountain ranges, incredible landscapes, and gorgeous cosmopolitan cities.
It’s also a relatively small country, so you can see much of it within a week or so. But is Armenia safe to visit?
There are a few things that you should keep in mind before you travel to Armenia. Making yourself a hard target for criminals is key and understanding potential risks are at play will make your vacation all the more enjoyable.
Is Armenia Safe to Visit?
Armenia is reasonably safe for tourists, with minor violent crimes happening in the larger cities.
However, when you visit, you’ll still have to deal with petty theft and crimes of opportunity. There are also some political and social issues that you should know about before you go.
The best thing you can do is enroll with your embassy in case something happens globally. Armenia has consistent tension with its neighbor Azerbaijan, and it’s not all that far away from Ukraine.
Aside from the political unrest, it’s an excellent call to practice general safety precautions. Leave your valuables locked up in your hotel room or home, and don’t flash jewelry while you’re out and about.
If you need to check directions on your cell phone, duck into a nearby shop instead of pulling it out on the street. A little precaution will go a long way in this relatively safe country.
Crime in Armenia
Armenia tends to have pretty low crime rates, although it has been increasing over the last few years. Petty crimes and crimes of opportunity are the most common.
Don’t leave your bag, purse, or cell phone unattended, and keep valuable items and money in your front pockets. If you’re in a crowded place, it’s a good idea to keep your bag on the front of your body rather than wearing it as a backpack.
Occasionally crimes can happen on public transportation, such as buses or trains. Instead of stowing your valuables in overhead areas, consider having them on your person, especially for overnight transportation.
If you’re walking around after dark, especially in larger cities like Yerevan, it’s a good idea to know where you’re going and only take authorized transportation.
Use authorized ATMs rather than random ones you might find on street corners or in grocery stores. Some ATMs have skimmers, where criminals can grab your bank information and take money out of your account.
Additionally, you could run into an issue where the ATM doesn’t work correctly or eats your card. If this happens at a bank, you’re more likely to be able to go inside and retrieve it, which could be more difficult with a non-traditional ATM.
It pays to get pricing upfront in Armenia, as occasionally tourists are charged more. This commonly happens in areas where there’s plenty of tourism, like larger cities.
Additionally, drink spiking does happen in Armenia from time to time, but that’s common worldwide. Occasionally taxis will try to overcharge you or not use the meter. Avoid this by using licensed taxis and always knowing where you’re going.
You can download an offline map to check the route, and don’t be afraid to question the taxi driver if you think they’re taking you the long way around.
Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods
Armenia does have some conflict with its neighbors, especially Azerbaijan. Therefore, it’s a good idea to steer clear of places like the Nagorno-Karabakh area near the border.
Additionally, avoid dark and deserted places in the cities at night in general. You might run into territorial dogs in the countryside, so hikers should always try to stay vigilant.
Unfortunately, Armenia does have its fair share of natural disasters. It’s right in the southern part of the Caucasus mountains, so earthquakes happen from time to time. Usually, these earthquakes are not terrible and don’t cause significant damage, but they can be scary.
Additionally, there could be floods or landslides if the weather has been stormy. The infrastructure in Armenia isn’t as excellent as in other parts of the world, so bear in mind that roads may be closed due to bad weather.
If you’re traveling during a rainier part of the year, keep your eyes on the forecast, especially in the mountains. Additionally, mountainous areas can get unpredictable in terms of weather.
It can change drastically from one moment to the next, so keep your eyes open for any big chances and always check the forecast if you’re going on a long and especially multi-day trek.
There’s political unrest between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so avoiding those border areas is a good idea. Additionally, the unrest is a sore topic in Armenia, so don’t bring it up to locals if you can avoid it.
There are also occasional protests in Yerevan. Foreigners are actively dissuaded from involving themselves in these rallies or demonstrations.
Not only can they be dangerous because of the authorities, but large groups of people are unpredictable and may sometimes get violent. In general, just steer away from anything political or any demonstrations.
If you see them, avoid getting involved or interacting. Armenia’s history is long and complicated, and it’s difficult for foreigners to comprehend the depth of these sorts of situations.
Drugs are completely illegal in Armenia, so you should never try to import or buy illegal drugs while you’re there. Foreigners are not exempt from these laws. Your embassy might not be able to intervene on your behalf.
Stay on the safe side by avoiding drugs or drug-related activities altogether when visiting Armenia. The Armenian Ministry of Culture regulates the export of specific souvenirs and cultural items.
If you’re purchasing art or historical items, you might want to check with them to make sure that it’s okay for you to bring home. Generally, regular tourists will not run into too many problems with this one, but if you’re an art lover with deep pockets, you’ll want to keep it in mind.
Photographing military installations is strictly forbidden. If you have any doubt as to whether something is a military operation or not, err on the side of caution or at least ask before you snap a picture.
You could be arrested for doing this. Armenians are warm people, but public affection is still not something that they are okay with.
If you’re traveling with your partner, try to avoid being too touchy-feely in public. As with many of Armenia’s other official and unofficial rules, erring on the side of caution will serve you well with this one.
Things to Consider
Think Armenia sounds safe enough to visit? These helpful tips will help you navigate Armenia easier and have a much better time while you’re there:
- Learning a few words in Armenian will make the trip much easier
- Western food will be more expensive when you’re here, so eat as the Armenians eat
- Always use a taxi with a meter so you can ensure you’re not being overcharged
- Consider getting a local guide to help you find your way around and see the sights
- Visit local markets for good deals and don’t be afraid to haggle within reason
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s understandable to have plenty of questions about visiting Armenia, especially since it’s just recently landed on the tourist map.
These questions and answers will help you feel most comfortable in the country and can aid you in avoiding problematic situations while you’re there.
Can I get a visa on arrival to Armenia?
Most people can get visas on arrival in Armenia. If you’re traveling from much of Europe or the United States, you do not need to apply in advance.
However, citizens of other countries might need to, so it’s a good idea to check your specific rules before visiting Armenia.
Visa on arrival means that you’ll get a stamp in your passport right as you get to the border. These stamps allow you to stay in the country for three months or 90 days.
Should I tip in Armenia?
Tipping is a tricky subject in Armenia. Whether or not you should do it essentially boils down to what service you’re getting. In larger hotels, tipping service people is kind.
As more westerners visit Armenia, it’s becoming more and more customary. Tipping service staff, like beauty professionals, is a good idea. While it’s not totally mandated like in the United States, it’s still widely accepted as a nice practice.
The same goes for local tour guides, especially if you embark on a multi-day hiking trip.
Will my credit cards work in Armenia?
You’ll be able to use your credit cards in most big cities like Yerevan for accommodations and large restaurants. Street food vendors and smaller retailers might not accept them.
If you’re in a more rural area, you could find yourself limited to cash. It’s a good idea to carry some Armenian dram with you just in case.
There are ATMs all throughout the country, although you should practice smart ATM use by only using those affiliated with banks. Bring extra cash with you if you’re visiting a more rural area and are wary of using the ATMs there.
When should I visit Armenia?
Many people like to visit Armenia during the summer and early fall when you can do a lot of wine tastings and hiking is best.
However, Armenia tends to get pretty cold during the winter, so unless you want to get in a lot of winter activities, you should stick to the warmer months.
Is Armenia safe for women?
Armenia tends to be very safe for women, mainly because things like catcalling are very strongly frowned upon.
In larger cities, drink dosing can be a problem. Keep your drinks in sight and avoid dark or unfamiliar places at night.
So, Is Armenia Safe to Visit?
Armenia is a spectacular natural paradise full of so many cool things to do and see. It’s also a relatively safe country – more so when you take certain precautions. Keeping to tourist areas is a good idea, as is limiting your city exploration to daytime.
Keep your belongings secured and close by to avoid pickpocketing and theft. Remember that your credit cards may not work everywhere. Don’t let that push you to use unfamiliar ATMs, which can be rigged with card skimmers.
Keep communications with strangers short and friendly (another reason it’s great to learn a few Armenian phrases). Be alert for potential scams! Stay diligent and keep your wits about you. You’ll have a fantastic time.
Overall, Armenia is very safe, and you can have a fun and enjoyable vacation there, even as a solo female traveler. There’s no reason not to explore this beautiful country.