- Hiking / Trekking
- Ski resort
- Place or Historical Monument
Though nicknaming the town of Dilijan the Armenian Switzerland, or Little Switzerland, perhaps involves something of an exaggeration, I do have to admit that this is undoubtedly one of the nicest little places in the whole country. Dilijan sits perched up in the green hills of Dilijan National Park. A spa town, it contains adorable traditional-style wooden houses with pointed roofs, steep paved streets, and benefits from wonderful views of the surrounding mountains.
Already an Armenian tourist destination during the Soviet era, it used to attract all the country's intelligentsia. Dilijan is today just as popular a destination, as can be seen from the fact that the many hotels and guest houses in the town are receiving ever increasing numbers of visitors. With incredible monasteries such as Haghartsin and Goshavank lying just a few kilometres away, Dilijan also serves as a very good base from which to explore the surrounding region.
I spent three days in Dilijan exploring the surroundings with 16 inches of snow (it was late November), and I loved it!
For those who love hiking, Dilijan is the perfect place. The majority of your hikes in this area lead you to the monasteries, often perched high in the mountains with an incredible view of the valley. The national park is also worth seeing; some beautiful hikes in an alpine setting await you.
Personally, despite powdery knee-high snow, I have beautiful memories of Dilijan. I booked my nights in a guest house a few steps from the city centre. This is an excellent way to go if you want to immerse yourself more in the local life. Most of the time, they offer to share their breakfast and dinner.
In the evening, the city is quieter, however there are a few restaurants. If you know some basic Russian, restaurant owners will be even more thrilled to welcome you.
If you're touring Armenia during the summer months, Dilidjan will be a welcome break for those of you seeking some quiet in a cooler climate.
You can easily tour the town in an afternoon. Even so, it's well worth staying over to make the most of its calm and enjoy some local dishes in one of the town's restaurants or guest houses.
What's more, Dilidjan is in a national park, so offers some great walks, be it to Parz Lake or the incredible 13th Century Haghartsin Monastery. The monastery is quite far away from Dilidjan, but you can get there by taxi from the town. Another option is to ask the taxi driver drop you off at the beginning of the road that leads to the monastery. You can then do the 2hr walk to the monastery, although it does get steep at times. You'll need to take along enough water, but it's well worth the effort.
The road winds its way through a forest and you'll find little shelters with picnic spots along the way. We met a family who invited us to share their meal. It was one of the most unexpected, enjoyable moments during our trip.