Vanadzor (Armenian: Վանաձոր) is capital of Lori Marz, in the North Central part of Armenia. Vanadzor is Armenia's third largest city, with a population of about 105,000 people. There are a few old churches, however big part of the city has been built during the time of the Soviet Union with a grand central square, a humongous old Soviet chemical factory which has been idle for decades, and a river running through the somewhat narrow valley, surrounded by hills.
Most of the attractions in Lori are along the Debed River canyon to the north, or around Stepanavan, and although Vanadzor can be used as a base to explore these due to its perfect transport connection, finding a place closer to them might be preferable.
The bus station is adjacent to the train station. Vanadzor is well connected by bus from all cities in northern Armenia. Lots of options, to name a few:
- Tbilisi 4000 dram (updated August 2018) (14 Georgian lari), daily at 08:30, arrives in Tbilisi at 12:30-13:00
- Ijevan 1000 dram, Gyumri 500 dram
- Stepanavan 400 dram
- Alaverdi Adigaz 500 dram
- Dilijan 500 dram
- also from Byrd, Akhtala, Odzun, Spitak, Tashir, Noyemberian
Marshrutkas (minibuses) from Yerevan are inexpensive (1200 dram) and will take you to Vanadzor in a couple of hours. They depart from Kino Rosia, above the Zoravor Andranik metro station, across from the national cathedral in Yerevan.
Shared taxis in Yerevan leave from the same spot as marshrutkas, and are a bit more comfortable, fast and a little more expensive. Virtually any taxi in Yerevan will take you there for 100 dram/km, which adds up to about 12,500 dram, unless you're a good negotiator.
Center of the city where lies almost all main attractions is quite miniature and walkable. You'll need to get a transportation if heading to some outer monasteries or perhaps to Botanical Garden (which is about 1.5 km from the center).
- Taxis are available, and practical for visiting sites in the nearby area. Majority of the taxis are equipped with meter, but you might want to agree on the price beforehand to avoid being scammed, but it's close to impossible here. Taxis running on gas are less expensive than those on petrol. Expect to pay about 100 dram per km plus a starting fee of 500 dram (2015).
- Marshrutkas (minibuses) are as always available.
- 1 Church of the Holy Mother of God (Karakilisa Church) (by the river on the north end of town). Very old black and orange stone Armenian church. It is one of the nicest examples of historic architecture in Vanadzor. It was built in 1831 and then renovated in 1999.
- 2 Russian church of the Nativity of Virgin Mary (right next to the train station, and if you take a marshutni to Vanadzor, this is where you'll likely start your visit). A very nice old church with a golden dome built in 1895.
- 3 Saint Gregory of Narek Cathedral. The groundbreaking service for the new cathedral of the diocese of Gugark took place in May 2002. In 2003, His Holiness Karekin II; the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, conducted the blessing service for the foundation of the cathedral. The construction of the cathedral was completed in 2005 and named after Saint Gregory of Narek, to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of his Book of Lamentations.
- 4 The Prelacy of the Diocese of Gougark.
- 5 Train Station. If you want to get a taste of the Soviet Union, head to the train station right by the Russian Church. Classic Soviet architecture of its time, which has remained virtually untouched since the collapse of the USSR. The train which used to connect Vanadzor with all of Eastern Europe and the world, now only gets you as far as Tbilisi, so the crowds are gone, but the shell is still there.
- Mashtots Hill Archaeological Site. Archaeological site dating back to the 4th-3rd millennia BC.
- 6 Lori-Pambak archaeological museum, 1 Tigran Mets st.. Museum shows items found in Lori region and as itself is divided into 3 departments: archaeology (covering the earliest periods of human civilization in this area, displaying items such as swords, furniture, ornaments), ethnography (agricultural equipment, rugs, carpets) and new history department which focuses on the 19th-20th centuries and prominent people of that time.
- 7 House-museum of Stepan Zoryan, 24 Stepan Zoryan st., ☎ . Tu-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 09:00-15:00. Stepan Zoryan was a Soviet Armenian writer. The museum in his honor was opened at the writer's own house in 1972. It shows how author lived and wrote his works.
- 8 Vanadzor Museum of Fine Arts, 52 Tigran Mets, ☎ . Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 10:00-16:00. 1,700 paintings and sculptures are exposed to public in this 3-floor Soviet building. They are mainly works of local artists of wide range of genres. 500 dram, guided tours 2000 dram.
- 1 Vanadzor Botanical Garden. It was established in 1935, occupying southern hilltops of a town where more than 600 species of plants are found.
- Vanadzor Central park.
- 2 Park. It has a pond where lots of locals swim in its murky waters. Peddle boats are available for rent. There is also a small cafe serving coffee, drinks and desserts.
- 3 Sayat Nova park.
- Vanadzor Market. Open air market where is mainly food is sold.
- 1 Lav Teh, Tumanyan street 11a, ☎ . Friendly, nice and quick restaurant. 4600 dram for two.
- 2 Pizza "Tashir", 65a Tigran Mets. Popular Armenian restaurant chain serving mostly pizzas, salads, soups, desserts. Pizza slice 250 dram, salad 700 dram.
- 3 Restaurant "Tiflis".
- 4 Restaurant "Nshkhark".
- 5 Restaurant "Tagavoranist".
- 6 Cafe "Lori".
- 7 Restaurant "Oasis", Tigran Mets Ave. Big portions, tasty dishes, one of the best options to eat in town. European and Armenian cuisine. Open air terrace. Salad bar 2000 dram per plate, mains 2000 dram.
- 8 Jazz Cafe. 09:00–22:30. Quite decent food, desserts and alcohol cocktails. Pianist plays in the evenings and jazz band on Saturdays nights. Mains 1500 dram.
- 9 Restaurant "Elkani", ☎ . Claimed to be a 5-star restaurant.
- 1 [dead link] "Green House" Hotel, 8d Banak Str, ☎ , , , . A 5-minute walk from the centre of Vanadzor, Green house hotel is a first-rate building surrounded by the green park with beautiful trees and flowers. Stylish furniture and modern design in the 15 nicely furnished rooms. 10,000-25,000 dram.
- 2 "Argishti" Hotel, 1 Batumi Str, ☎ , , . The hotel "Argishti" is a three-storey building, located in the center of Vanadzor Town. The interior part of the hotel has been designed with the elements of the national style and coloring. The hotel rooms have bathrooms, with all necessary components, refrigerators, color TVs, satellite, telephones and hair-driers. It has an International telephone communication. 25,000-35,000 dram.
- 3 "Gugark" Hotel, central square (At the corner of the central square, a block or two from the bus station), ☎ . Good no-frills budget option. 10,000-15,000 dram.
- 4 B&B "Marina".
- 5 Vanadzor Spa and Hotel Complex, 31 Zakaryan St. (close to Botanical Garden). Double from 18,000 dram.
- "Gross" Hotel, ☎ .
- 6 Kirovakan Hotel, 1 Mashtotsa St., ☎ , . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Rooms have cable TV, free WiFi, private bathroom. Splendid views of the mountains. 24-hour front desk. Table tennis. Double 14,000 dram.
- 7 Hotel Laguna, 68 Yerevan Highway (A bit out of town, 3.5 km from the town center), ☎ . Offers an outdoor pool, sauna, free WiFi. Very high ratings on a booking sites. Double from 15,000 dram.
There is only one laundry in Vanadzor.
- Bakmar Laundry, Tigran Metz Avenue (After you pass the main square of Vanadzor, "Gugark" Hotel and main Post Office, follow straight along the main street. In around 8-10 minutes of walking on the right side of the road, you will see a sign with painted Dolphins. That's the entrance to Bakmar Laundry. Or just simply ask locals, everybody in town know where Bakmar Laundry is located). 09:00-18:00. 600 dram/kg.
While the cheapest option could be if you stay in "Gugark" Hotel, where you can ask for laundry service. Cost depends on negotiation, but could be as little as around 500 dram for one washing machine.