The country of Armenia is a unique destination in the Caucasus Mountains, with spectacular landscapes and a rich historical tradition. A little less than two million people visit each year.
Most visitors stop in Yerevan, the capital, which has historic landmarks such as the World War II monument and a rich café culture. When exploring the rest of Armenia, you can see beautiful landscapes such as the wild forest of Shikahogh State Reserve and the mineral springs of Dilijan national park.
The countryside is dotted with important historical landmarks, such as the monasteries around Lake Sevan. Armenia is a beautiful and rewarding place to visit, but some visitors are worried about visiting due to safety.
Especially after the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan, you may be wondering if the country is still safe to visit. Here’s our take.
Is Armenia Safe to Visit in 2024?
Yes. Armenia is still very safe to visit. The country has a fairly low level of crime and the level of crime affecting tourists is even lower. The only exception is that you should avoid some areas that are sensitive geopolitically, such as the borders with Azerbaijan.
Most countries advise their citizens that Armenia is safe to visit. The Australian government places most of the country under a Level One travel advisory, telling citizens that they only need normal safety precautions except in certain regions with elevated threats.
These travel advisories list a few common problems that tourists may encounter during a visit, such as:
- Bag snatching
- Vehicle break-ins
- Civil unrest
Other countries are more cautious about their travel advisories for Armenia, especially given recent geopolitical events. The United States advises its citizens to exercise increased caution when traveling here due to the risk of armed conflict.
All governments advise their citizens to avoid traveling to certain regions of Armenia completely. The reason why certain areas are considered too dangerous to visit is due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Nagorno-Karabakh was an Armenian ethnic exclave surrounded by Azerbaijan that broke away from the other country after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. In 2020, Azerbaijan reopened hostilities over the exclave and conquered part of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The situation escalated further in late September 2023, when Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh fully and thousands of Armenians fled the area. Although a ceasefire was declared formally, there are still occasional eruptions of border hostilities.
Some Armenians also fear that Azerbaijan is planning an invasion of Armenia itself. While the risk is present, it isn’t inevitable and Armenian officials are calling for calm.
For now, it is safe to travel to Armenia as the risk of further escalation of the conflict is low. The conflict has taken its toll on the safety of Armenia, even though there was little fighting in Armenia proper.
The former exclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and land borders with Azerbaijan are too dangerous to visit. There are also protests in Yerevan and other bigger cities, as many people in Armenia blame the government for not reacting properly during the war.
Protests can turn violent with clashes between police and protesters, so it’s better to avoid any demonstrations you come across while in Armenia.
Another problem that you should look out for in Armenia are natural disasters, especially if you are planning to go hiking or trekking; it’s in an active seismic zone and has a high risk of earthquakes.
Research earthquake safety protocols before you visit. If you are going somewhere remote, make sure that you know emergency rescue numbers and tell someone where you are going so they can arrange a rescue operation if necessary.
Crime in Armenia
Armenia is a country with a low to medium crime rate. Most severe criminal incidents don’t affect tourists. However, there are some crimes that you should be aware of before visiting the country.
The good news is that the violent crime rate is fairly low. According to World Bank data, the homicide rate is 2.19 incidents per 100,000 people, which is a fairly low rate.
In fact, this homicide rate is lower than in many cities in the United States. Low homicide rates are usually indicative of low violent crime rates overall, which is a good sign.
According to some sources, such as the World Population Review, Armenia’s crime rate is one of the lowest in the world at 22.79%. The country’s prime minister has even referenced this statistic in his speeches.
However, critics point out that the World Population Review is not a very reliable source. Other crime statistics in Armenia are more troubling. In 2022, the crime rate rose by 24.2%. What’s troubling is that grave crimes recorded the highest rise, although all sorts of crime increased that year.
However, part of this was due to a recent change in Armenian laws, which added new offenses to the criminal code. Most offenses, about 84%, are low- to medium-gravity crimes.
This includes petty theft and computer theft, although crimes against property overall decreased. There was an increase in violence and homicide, but most of these cases were situations where the victim and assailant already knew each other.
According to the Organized Crime Index, Armenia has one of the lowest levels of organized crime in the region. Mafia-style groups and criminal networks are fairly common, and some are powerful enough to de facto control parts of Yerevan or even influence the government.
However, these types of criminal activity rarely affect the average tourist unless you deliberately get involved in criminal activity. Armenia has a moderate property crime rate.
For example, the burglary rate is 115.2 incidents per 100,000 people. Petty theft and other crimes of property are the offenses that tourists are more likely to encounter.
The societal factors pushing people towards this type of crime, such as unemployment rates and poverty, are fairly high and people sometimes turn to crimes of opportunity. Armenia’s criminal profile has mixed results.
While some statistics point to the low crime rate, others point to a worrying increase in crime. Tourists don’t have to be hypervigilant, especially in areas outside of Yerevan where the crime rate is even lower, but it’s good to take some precautions to protect your property.
The crime that tourists are most likely to encounter in Armenia is petty theft. Crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching occur in Yerevan, and sometimes in other bigger cities and towns.
Tourists are sometimes targeted because they are perceived to be more affluent than locals. The government of the United Kingdom warns its citizens about the risk of theft in its travel advisory for Armenia.
It mentions that thieves target people who show signs of affluence, which sometimes includes tourists. Thieves operate in popular tourist areas, in crowded streets of Yerevan, and on inter-city trains, especially those crossing the Georgian border.
Travel advisories offer precautions to prevent becoming the victim of this kind of theft, including:
- Avoiding using an ATM after dark
- Only using secure ATMs and making sure that you cover your PIN
- Not putting all of your valuables in one place so that even if a theft occurs, it isn’t fully devastating
- Putting spare credit cards, cash, and your real passport in your hotel safe
- Avoiding signs of affluence, such as large wads of cash or expensive jewelry
Common-sense precautions that you would take anywhere else are usually enough to deter thieves in Armenia as well. Put your valuables somewhere where a thief cannot slip it out of your pocket without you noticing (that means no wallets or phones in your back pants pocket).
Be careful when people bump against you repeatedly or come up to you in the street to distract you as those are common pickpocket tactics.
Another common crime in Armenia is burglary. This crime primarily affects locals, although it can also affect tourists. The Canadian government warns against burglary in its travel advisory for Armenia.
Vehicle burglaries are very common and sometimes target tourists, as thieves tend to hit up cars with rental plates. Most thefts occur at night, so take particular care where you park your car overnight.
Opt for a secure parking lot or parking garage over street parking when possible. Take precautions to prevent vehicle break-ins when you can. Make sure that there is nothing in your car that will attract a thief.
Never, ever leave valuables such as your passport unattended in your car, even if you’re just stepping out to pump gas. Never leave anything visible in your car that may attract a thief, even small things such as loose change.
Always lock your doors and roll up your windows. Burglars sometimes target vacation homes and rentals, so make sure that you lock your doors.
Avoiding Bad Areas
In Armenia, you should avoid going within three miles (five kilometers) of the land border with Azerbaijan due to the risk of border conflicts. Avoid traveling to the Nagorno-Karabakh exclave due to ongoing violence (travel there may not even be possible).
Other parts of Armenia have a risk of armed conflict, including:
- Yeraskh village in Ararat
- The eastern part of the Tavush region
- The eastern part of the Gegharkunik region
Ask a local for advice if you are planning to travel outside of Yerevan to see which areas are safe. Yerevan also has some unsafe neighborhoods, including Davtashen, Erebuni, Arabkir, and Nubarashen. Avoid exploring unfamiliar areas after dark.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for visiting Armenia:
- Armenia has a high rate of traffic deaths. Road conditions tend to be poor, especially outside of Yerevan. Only rent a car and self-drive if you are a very experienced driver. Don’t drive after dark.
- Be careful of touts. Street vendors and people selling services such as tours can be very aggressive on the streets of Yerevan. Say no and move on. If someone is trying so hard to get you to buy something, this means that its own merits are clearly not enough of a selling point.
- Armenia’s land borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are closed. Keep that in mind when planning your travels.
- Theft on public transportation is common. Always lock your compartment in trains and make sure that your belongings are stored in safe places. Keep an eye on your bags when traveling in minibuses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other questions that people tend to ask about Armenia’s safety:
Is it safe to travel to Armenia now?
It is still safe to travel to Armenia now, despite the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, some regions of the country need to be avoided due to the risk of armed conflict.
What should I be careful of in Armenia?
In Armenia, be careful of the risk of petty theft and other forms of property crime. Make sure that your valuables are secure when you are out and about.
Is Yerevan a safe place?
Yerevan is generally a safe place. However, it has the highest crime rate in Armenia and is the part of the country where the most theft occurs, so you should be careful when walking around.
Is it safe to go to Armenia at night?
The answer depends on where you are. Some parts of Yerevan are safe at night and are lively well after dark, while others should be avoided after the sun goes down. You definitely shouldn’t drive in Armenia at night due to the poor road conditions.
What are the risks of Armenia?
Right now, there is a risk of armed conflict with Azerbaijan. There is also a risk of earthquakes and other natural disasters.
So, Is Armenia Safe to Visit?
Despite the challenges the country is facing, such as tensions with its neighbor Azerbaijan, Armenia is safe to visit. Just avoid regions near the border due to the risk of armed conflict and watch your valuables.