How to Get to Khor Virap Monastery, Armenia
How to Get to Khor Virap Monastery, Armenia was originally published in 2023
Probably the most iconic site in all of Armenia is the famous Khor Virap Monastery with the sacred Mount Ararat looming high above.
Funny enough, I never made it to Khor Virap on my first visit to Armenia. I don’t even have a good excuse, I just didn’t get out there.
So on a return trip, I was determined to get to Khor Virap on one of my days exploring around Yerevan on my most recent trip.
Getting to Khor Virap is quite easy, whether you opt to take a taxi, go on a day tour, self-drive, or take the marshrutka out there.
In this quick guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan your trip to Khor Virap from Yerevan.
About Khor Virap Monastery
The Khor Virap Monastery seen today was constructed in 642 AD, but it had originally been built in 301 AD making it an ancient monastery.
The monastery, like many other religious sites around the world, has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years.
The name Khor Virap translates out to deep dungeon in Armenian which it gained because of its famous dungeon on site.
Since its construction, Khor Virap has been a pilgrimage site for Armenians after Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned there by King Tiridates III following his conversion to Christianity for 13 years.
Gregory the Illuminator defied the King and the Armenian pagan religion that was practiced in the area before the arrival of Christianity
Armenia would go on to become the first country in the world to make Christianity its state religion in 301 AD.
Khor Virap Hours
Khor Virap is open from 9 am to 6 pm every day except Easter, Christmas, and the summer months in which it stays open until 8 pm.
What to Wear to Khor Virap
This is a holy site after all, so make sure your shoulders and knees are covered at the very least.
It can be quite hot in the summer months, so I would recommend bringing a scarf to throw over bare shoulders and wearing a long and loose skirt.
How to Get to Khor Virap from Yerevan
Khor Virap is about 45-60 minutes away on average from Yerevan depending on traffic when you opt to make the 43 kilometer journey.
The iconic monastery is located in neighboring Ararat Province near the border with Turkey and is served by several forms of transport including marshrutka (minibus), taxi, or by plain old self-driving.
Khor Virap Bound Marshrutka
This is the cheapest, yet most difficult way to visit Khor Virap (don’t worry, it’s not that hard).
To get the marshrutka to Khor Virap you will need to head to Sasuntsi Davit Train Station, which is located just outside the Sasuntsi Davit Metro Station.
Walk outside and out from the train station and you will see minibuses all around the parking lot.
You’ll need to look for the marshrutka to Ararat here. Most of the signs in the marshrutkas are written in Armenian and on occasion some will have the name in Russian and even rarer in English.
So look for the following signage:
Armenian – Արարատ
Russian – Арарат
English – Ararat
Once you’ve located the marshrutka with the correct sign, get on.
The marshrutka takes about an hour on average to reach Khor Virap from Yerevan.
The Yerevan-Khor Virap marshrutka costs about 500 AMD per seat.
Do note that the marshrutka only goes to Ararat, so from there you will need to walk the remaining 1.5 kilometers to the Khor Virap Monastery.
If you don’t want to walk the remainder, you can usually flag down a passing taxi. If you don’t speak Armenian I would recommend having Armenian downloaded for offline use on Google Translate on your phone to convey your desires to the passing taxi driver.
But for those not wanting to walk and want to get there on the cheap, there is a marshrutka from Ararat to Khor Virap.
Once in Ararat, look for marshrutka number 467, it departs at the same station that you will get dropped off at.
This Ararat-Khor Virap minibus goes at 11:00, 14:00, and 15:00 based on what the owner of the hostel I was staying at in Yerevan told me, (I didn’t take it myself) and it costs 250 AMD.
To return from Khor Virap to Yerevan you will need to do this same process in reverse.
There are taxi drivers usually lurking in the Khor Virap Monastery parking lot who will approach you when you’re leaving so finding a ride back to Ararat is not typically a problem, though feel free to say no and walk back to Ararat and catch the marshrutka back to Yerevan from there.
Taking a Taxi to Khor Virap
It is easier to take a taxi from Yerevan to Khor Virap.
If you speak some Armenian then you may want to try to negotiate your fare with a taxi on the street.
If you do not, I’d recommend using a rideshare app like GG Taxi or Yandex to order a taxi (it also gives the option to make it a return trip as well). I still recommend getting Google Translate in Armenian on your phone offline so that you can communicate any stops you may want to make, or just waiting time at Khor Virap to your driver.
Renting a Car to Go to Khor Virap
If you want ultimate freedom and/or are planning to road trip Armenia anyway, then rent a car.
From Yerevan, head south on the E117 for about 30 kilometers. At about that point, you’ll then take the H11 right to Khor Virap Monastery.
Day Tour to Khor Virap
The easiest option of all is to take a day tour to Khor Virap. There are plenty that go each day in the May-October season and prices are pretty reasonable as they do visit other sites along the way too.
The tours most often are group tours, however, any of these can be booked privately too.
Khor Virap, Areni, & Noravank Monastery Day Trip from Yerevan
$40 per person | 9 hours | Book here
This tour offers the trifecta of sites in Armenia into a single-day tour.
In the morning you will leave Yerevan and will visit the Areni Wine Region and Cave and Noravank Monastery in addition to Khor Virap Monastery.
Areni is famous as the world’s oldest winery and you will get the chance to visit Areni-1 Cave where several artifacts to back up this claim have been discovered.
You also get to visit the Hin Areni Winery and as such will get to taste several lovely Armenian wines paired with traditional Armenian food.
Next, you’ll get a chance to visit one of Armenia’s other famous cathedrals, Noravank Monastery.
Noravank is set in the beautiful red rock-laden Gnishik Canyon, an area known for its brilliant red rocks.
Last but not least you will get to visit Khor Virap on this tour of course.
Khor Virap, Echmiadzin, & Zvartnots Cathedral Tour from Yerevan
$65 per person | 6 hours | Book here
This tour features some of Armenia’s other famous sites in combination with Khor Virap including Echmiadzin, & Zvartnots Cathedral.
First off, see Khor Virap in the morning before heading off to Echmiadzin.
Echmiadzin is Armenia’s holiest city and located not too far from Yerevan.
The highlight of visiting Echmiadzin is getting to see its beautiful churches.
On the way back to Yerevan from Echmiadzin you’ll have the chance to visit the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral that date back to the 7th century.
Things to do at Khor Virap Monastery
Khor Virap Church
The current church on the grounds of Khor Virap was constructed in 1662, though the chapel here had been constructed in 662 and parts of it remain.
Climb the Hill Behind Khor Virap for Epic Views of Mount Ararat
More than the monastery itself, the view of Mount Ararat staggering above makes the site of Khor Virap undeniably beautiful.
While you can get plenty of good views of Mount Ararat from Khor Virap Monastery, it’s worth it to hike the hill behind it for some unobstructed views.
Mount Ararat is sacred to Armenians despite it having been taken from then 1923 by Turkey, they still view it as a part of their country.
Travel hack: If you want to get that iconic photo of Khor Virap with Mount Ararat, make sure and stop in the fields just before reaching the parking lot for Khor Virap Monastery if you’ve got your own wheels. If taking the marshrutka it would be worth it to walk a little down the road to get the photo.
Visit the Dungeon Where Gregory the Illuminator was Held in
When you are inside the Khor Virap Chapel, take the stairs just right from the altar down to the dungeon the location was named after.
Part of the pilgrimage to Khor VIrap includes climbing the stairs down into the dungeon.
Have any questions about visiting Khor Virap?
Ask in the comments section below.