Sisian is a city in Southern Armenia, in Syunik region.
Sisian is a town located on river Vorotan with a weather always cooler than Yerevan. It is a good base to visit multiple attractions in the area such as the Ughtasar mountain, and the thousands of petroglyphs on top, the monastery of Vorotnavank, Tolors reservoir and the church inside it, Zorats Karer, Shaki waterfall and others.
- Yerevan – Several marshrutkas a day. The ride takes about 4 hours.
- Goris – 1 or 2 a day (2,000 dram, 45 min), potentially coming from Stepanakert (4,000 dram).
Walking around town is easy enough.
- St. Gregory the Illuminator church, Adonts St.6a (on the North side of town). The church was built by the ruler of Syunik Kohazard in 6-7th century.
- 1 Sisian History Museum, Adonts St. 6a, Sisian, Syunik, ☏ , email@example.com. Tu-Su 11:00 - 18:00. It's notable for its rich archaeological and ethnographic exhibits such as pots, jugs, rugs, national costumes, arrow-heads, sculptures, etc. In the park in front of the museum there is a rich collection of cross-stones and rocks with petroglyphs brought from Ughtasar mountain. 300, 400 dram. Guided tour in English or Russian 1,500-2,000 dram.
- 2 Ughtasar Petroglyphs (Visits possible only between July-September due to snow. You can hike there or hire entire jeep for 25,000 dram suitable up to 4 people, travel time is about 2 hours). Mountaintop is scattered with rocks with petroglyphs carved on their surface, with up to 10 or 20 on some boulders. People, animals, dancing, and hunting scenes that are 5 to 8,000 years old. Due to the fact that the site is located close to the border with Azerbaijan, advise locals before going and preferably take a guide with you.
- 3 Zorats Karer (Carahunge) (N 5km, just off the highway by one of the roads to Sisian). It is Armenia's older and cruder answer to Stonehenge in England. Big rocks, some with holes carved in the tops, form a couple of overlapping ovals. However, the observatory claims are weak, and instead the site is a proven burial place. Take a knowledgeable guide if you really want to learn about it.
- 4 Shaki Waterfall. With an 18 meters high waterfall, it's a nice place for a picnic on a hot day. Be aware that since the waterfall was diverted for the needs of a local hydroelectrical plant, the waterfall runs on schedule. Normally, during the touristic season, you are fine to visit during the daytime.
- 5 (Down the river from Sisian, about a half an hour (due to road conditions, not due to distance)). Fortified monastery. Rarely visited by foreigners, it's quiet and interesting.
- 6 Aghitu Memorial (Right on the road to Vorotnavank Monastery). This centuries-old Armenian memorial is a few stories high and a bit out of the ordinary.
- Shamb Hotsprings. A bit past Vorotnavank Monastery, and not really all that hot, it's a popular place for locals to go swimming, and a picturesque spot.
- 7 Vorotnaberd Fort Ruins, between the villages of Vaghatin and Vorotan. One of the oldest fortresses. Fortress is often referred to as Davit Bek's Castle, because his troops were also fighting against the Turkish conquerors.
- 8 Tanahat Monastery Ruins (Karmir Vank).
Bike, hike, swim, explore.
- 1 Take pottery classes at Sisian Ceramics studio, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. It's a pottery studio where they make demos and lessons on how to work with clay and on the pottery wheel. You can also learn how to make jewelry from clay, paint on pottery and on batik as well.
- 2 Take cooking classes at Hatsatun by Sisian Ceramics (right above the pottery studio), ☏ , email@example.com. The owners of the pottery studio opened a small eatery above the studio where everything is served in clay pots and plates they make themselves. They also provide cooking classes of various local dishes.
- 3 Explore and cook with Wild Gastro (Vanki Tak) (take a sharp right before reaching Vorotnavank monastery down to the river), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a great place to relax in a tranquil eco setting. The owner plans trees and breeds fish that he later puts into the river. They have a greenhouse where they grow asparagus and other things. You can take a cooking class to learn to cook asparagus in a special way, wrapped in a willow bark.
- Hike and camp with a local guide from Sisian to Tatev (MyTent Tours, Katya Babayan) (meeting point can be agreed with Katya), ☏ , email@example.com. Katya is a hiking guide in Sisian. She can accompany you to various sites like Ughtasar, Shaki etc. but her flagship direction is a 2-day hiking trip from Sisian to Tatev Monastery. It's very cool hike where you can see and learn about Vorotnavank, Aghitu, Tatev Monastery. Katya is also knowledgeable about local herbs and you can pick some on the way and brew tea later in the evening when camping in the village of Ltsen.
- 4 Learn the history of family trees and make one for your own, Adonts St. 6a, Sisian, Syunik, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Sisian History Museum provides a workshop on the history of family trees (they also have a few interesting examples at the museum) and how to make your own. It's a fun and useful workshop that can be enjoyed with the whole family.
- Hike and take a jeep ride with locals in and around Sisian (Basen), A. Manukyan 2, ☏ . The owner of the Basen Hotel, Hasmik, is also a trained guide. Hasmik guides herself or may organize your trip with other local guides. Trips include literally every direction in the area like petroglyphs, Shaki waterfall, Vorotnavank, etc. They have jeeps that can take you atop mountains by off-road routes.
The art school has some kids arts and crafts on sale sometimes, and Ashot, the well known local painter who is heavily influenced by the petroglyphs also sells his paintings out of his studio.
- Sisian Ceramics. Pottery studio, clay everything including jewelry.
- Sisian History Museum Shop. The museum shop was renovated and opened anew in August 2021. It has many handmade works by artists and artisans from across Armenia.
The hotels are the best place to have a bite, or a barbecue joint. Hatsatun by Sisian Ceramics is another place to have a lunch or a dinner.
- Basen Hotel Complex, 1-5 Manukyan Str, ☏ , . Reasonably priced, nicely remodeled hotel with a very nice restaurant and spacious rooms. 9,000 dram/person.
- Dina Hotel, 35 Sisakan Str., ☏ , . Cheap. Soviet hotel which has been well maintained and is still a pleasant place to stay. Quite an exception to the dozens of other Soviet hotels which are unbearably bad. Ask for a "Lux" room for an in-room toilet. 9-11,000 dram, without shower and lavatory 3,000 dram.
- Hotel, 1 Gai District, ☏ , . 6,000 dram per person.
- Lalaner, 29 Sisakan Str, ☏ , 5600, . Sauna, Restaurant, Bar, Café, swimming pool. 15-35,000 dram/room.
- Sisian Hotel, ☏ . Cheap, clean place, not much changed since Soviet times, but helpful and central. The Sisian Hotel is in the center of Sisian town. The hotel offers 31 rooms including two luxury suites. All rooms are traditionally furnished, and are equipped with telephone, color TV, and hot showers are available. Hotel serves traditional Armenian cuisine 3x daily. Can also cater for other requests from guests staying at the Hotel such as regional tours and transportation.
- Goris — the last major town in Armenia for travelers continuing to Karabakh and also entering point to Tatev Monastery.
- Jermuk — spa town where much of the country's mineral water comes from.
- Kapan — not the most interesting town. Vahanavank Monastery is in its close proximity.
- Yeghegnadzor — small town close to spectacular canyon and monastery in Noravank, the impressive Smbatabert Fortress/Tsakhats Kar Monastery area and the old silk road caravanserai of Selim.
- Tatev — a small village with a major monastery of Tatev located there on the edge of a cliff. Devil's bridge and Tatev Hermitage are also nearby. There is a cool 2-day hiking route from Sisian to Tatev.