Sevan is a city in Lake Sevan Region, Armenia. The main town is about 3 km from the lake shore, where there's a string of tired, Soviet-era hotels and amusements. The main reason to visit is to see Sevanvank monastery, and other lakeside churches; most visitors come on day-trips from Yerevan.
The lake is at 1900 m altitude and is fresh water, partly freezing in winter. In pre-industrial times it was much larger and deeper, but in Stalin's era it was drained unsustainably for irrigation and hydro-electric power, and its water quality and environs were degraded. It's now being rehabilitated and the water level is creeping back up.
Minibuses (marshrutka) depart from Yerevan North Bus Station to Sevan a few times a day, taking an hour. You can also get relatively close to town by taking minibuses towards Vardenis, Dilijan, Ijevan or Noyemberian and getting off part way, but getting to town might be a little complicated with the latter three. Taxis from Yerevan or elsewhere charge 100 drams / km. Tbilisi looks close on the map but there are no regular minibuses: take these between Tbilisi and Vanadzor then a taxi over the hills to Sevan.
Train services to 1 Sevan railway station are suspended.
Walking around the city is easy by foot. Taxis are plentiful if necessary.
- 1 . Spectacularly located on top of what was once an island crag (hence "kghzi", meaning island), but which became a peninsula when the lake was drained in Stalin's era. Steep, rough steps lead up to the monastery, built of crude black stone, with sweeping views over the lake. The interior has a beautiful old altar used for services by the new seminary down the hill. Free.
- Hayravank Monastery is on the lake shore 12 km south of Sevan. It's a 9-12th C complex with church, chapel and "gavit" or entrance hall, surrounded by many "khachkars" - elaborately carved gravestones. Nearby are remains of a Bronze Age settlement.
- 2 Noratus Khachkar Cemetery. 20 km south of Sevan, near Gavar, is Noratus village, with the largest khachkar cemetery in the world. Elaborate carvings describe the lives and often gruesome deaths of those buried here. With a small burial chapel. Another 500 m south is the tiny church of Daputs Vank.
The area has swimming of course, but there is also wind surfing on the lake, and some sail, paddle and row boats. Hiking and camping opportunities are endless as well.
If you live in Yerevan, and are in this area, you can buy fresh fish, crawdads, marinated fish patties that you can take home to barbecue/fry immediately or freeze, and smoked fish.
Fish! And of course crayfish/crawdads. These are the main products of the region, and whether you eat the fish barbecued, fried or smoked, it will be delicious. The crawdads with a beer are excellent as well. The Harsnaqar hotel complex near town has some unbelievably good crawdad kebabs, which aren't cheap, but might be worth splurging on.
There are some fast food place in town, and cafes, but most of the good places to eat are on the shores of the lake, a bit north.
There are no special places to drink here aside from a few cafes, but wherever food is served, alcohol is available. Most places have a limited selection of vodkas, cognac, wine and beer.
Although there are some hotel options in the city, your best bet is to find accommodations at one of the lakeside hotels, camp, or stay in Yerevan.
- Dilijan — popular forest resort known as the "Little Switzerland" of Armenia.
- Shorzha — village on the eastern shores of Lake Sevan with some very nice views and relaxed, quiet atmosphere.
- Vardenis — tucked away city in the southeast corner of the lake. There are a few small monasteries and chapels, mountains and valleys that only those making it this far will have a chance to see.