Gegharkunik Marz (province) is situated in the Eastern part of Armenia, surrounding Lake Sevan.
The nature of Gegharkunik province is breathtaking. There are mountains, forests, streams, valleys and hills everywhere you look, making the region a center of eco-tourism.
With tons of hiking trails, Gegharkunik is the ideal place for lovers of the outdoors. In a word, you will experience fantastic weather, fantastic views, fantastic food and drinks in Gegharkunik and all at affordable prices.
What else do you need for a perfect rest? Keep scrolling to find out more about one of the most important regions of Armenia.
Basic Information about Gegharkunik Marz
The stunning nature, mountains and especially lake Sevan make Gegharkunik marz one of the main tourist-friendly provinces of Armenia.
Location and Population of Gegharkunik
Gegharkunik marz is situated in the Eastern part of Armenia at an altitude of 1500-1900m above sea level.
It is the largest province in Armenia with an area of 5,348 km². Approximately 1,278 km² of its territory is covered by Lake Sevan which is the largest lake in the Caucasus and a major tourist attraction of the province and the whole country.
Gegharkunik has 5 urban and 87 rural communities. The center and the largest city of the region is Gavar. The other urban centers are Sevan, Martuni, Vardenis and Chambarak.
The province is almost entirely populated by ethnic Armenians who belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. There are Russian Molokans in villages like Chkalovka and Semyonovka as well.
Industries of Gegharkunik
The agricultural sector is quite developed in Gegharkunik marz. The province is mainly famous for farming and cattle-breeding.
Due to Lake Sevan, Gegharkunik marz has always been the main supplier of fresh fish and the biggest source of fresh water. It plays a great role not only in ecology, but in the economy of the country as well. Recently, beekeeping has significantly developed in the province as well.
Cultural palaces, public libraries, history museum, drama theatre in Gavar and geological museum in Sevan make the cultural life in Gegharkunik province very active.
Gegharkunik Province has 126 public schools. Nowadays, more than 2,400 students are attending Gavar State University, which is the major educational center for the entire province. Students pursue degrees in Philology, Natural Sciences, Humanities, Economics and Education.
Climate of Gegharkunik
The climate of Gegharkunik marz is cold and snowy in winters, while summers are characterized with warm and humid climate.
The Sevan Lake mitigates the winter frost and summer heat. Because of the lake, the average temperature in January is almost the same as in Yerevan. Due to the mild climate, you can enjoy the rich and colorful nature all year round.
How to get to Gegharkunik
The distance between Yerevan and Gavar city is 92 km. So, it is less than two hours-drive from Yerevan to Gavar.
You can also take a mini-van (marshrutka) which departs from Yerevan’s northern bus station to Gavar or Sevan a few times a day.
Take also into account that in hot summer days the Yerevan-Sevan highway is full of cars and because of traffic, it will take more than an hour to get there.
You can also get to Sevan from the train station that connects Yerevan with Sevan through railway. However, this option is for those who have plenty of time at their disposal, since the trip will again take a bit longer.
It will even be more enjoyable if you hitchhike to Gegharkunik province, or carpool with a group of people. These two travel options full of talks and laughter will undoubtedly make your day.
Things to See and Do in Gegharkunik
Thing to See and Do in Gegharkunik Marz #1: Lake Sevan
If you haven’t started planning your trips for the upcoming year, here’s a fantastic place to start. Lake Sevan, the world’s largest high altitude lake and the emerald of Armenia is a must-visit destination for tourists.
The Lake and its mountainous vicinity offer myriad of opportunities for active rest. Here you can go jet skiing, windsurfing or sailing. Sevan is a wonderful place for swimming, tanning, preparing and enjoying fish-barbeque in the picnic areas and campgrounds.
Make sure, you will not have time to get bored in Sevan, and if you do just hop over to the lake for a swim. But remember, even for the most experienced swimmers, it’s not recommended to swim far away from the special mark.
If you’ve decided to spend more than a day near the lake, there is a wide variety of hotels, rest houses and cottages for different prices. You can stay in hotels and spa resorts along the coast of Lake Sevan.
However, if you’re short on cash, you can take a cottage, consisting of several bedrooms or enjoy your time in free public beaches which are safe and clean.
Thus, start packing up your bags and don’t forget to take a camera with you since there are so many stunning views in Sevan worth photographing.
Thing to See and Do in Gegharkunik Marz #2: Try Traditional Cuisine
Close enough to beaches, there are a lot of restaurants in Gegharkunik province, where you can taste traditional Armenian dishes and European continental cuisine.
The majority of restaurants are located on the coast of Lake Sevan.
The chefs of the restaurants will prepare delicious barbecue of fresh fish, as well as lamb and pork, and barbecue of vegetables, with the best traditions of Armenian cuisine.
In the city of Gavar there is a restaurant called “Gavar” where you can taste Khashlama, Gavar Kufta, Tjvegik, Chicken Shish Kebab, Beef Lula Kebab, Sturgeon and finally the Kyavar Baklava, one of the most famous pastries of the town.
Due to the combination of wholesale ingredients and rich diversity of Armenian products you will never forget the unique taste of Armenian dishes.
Thing to See in Gegharkunik #3: Visit Historical and Cultural Monuments
If you are an admirer of religious art and history, there are many ancient monasteries for you to see in Gegharkunik marz, such as Hayravank, Vanevan, Sevanavank, etc.
Hayravank, for example, is a 9th to 12th century Armenian monastery located just northeast of the village of Hayravank along the southwest shores of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province. From this site, you can admire the stunning view of the lake and the distant mountains.
Vanevan monastery is another important piece of Armenian architecture dating back to the 10th century. It is located in the southern part of the village of Artsvanist.
Due to good highway and railway connections with Yerevan, a well-developed tourist industry in the town of Sevan, and the picturesque location, Sevanavank, (located on the northwestern shore of Lake Sevan, not far from the town of Sevan), is one of the most visited sites in Armenia.
Thing to See in Gegharkunik #4: Noraduz Village, Forest of Khachkars
Located in Gegharkunik marz, Noraduz is an ancient Armenian village. The village is famous for its countless cross stones (khachkars). This is why it is called a forest of cross stones.
On the territory of Armenia alone, the number of khachkars surpasses several thousands and you can see most of them only in Noraduz.
So, when you are in Gegharkunik don’t forget to visit Noraduz, where you will see more than 900 khachkars of different styles and periods.
Due to its big collection of cross-stones, today Noraduz is one of the most visited sites of Gegharkunik region.