These World Heritage-listed and centuries-old monasteries are located in the Debed Canyon in Northern Armenia, close to the Georgian border. This historically rich area conveniently lies on the main route from Tbilisi to Yerevan. Public minivans or marshrutky are a useful form of transport in the area. If you’re travelling by marshrutky, Alaverdi is the nearest large town to both monasteries and the best place to pick up onward local transport to the sites.
To get to Sanahin, there’s the fun option of a cable car to take you from Alaverdi to Sarahart, a town just 1km from the monastery. For Haghpat, pick up one of the hourly marshrutky from Alavedi, or if you’re feeling energetic after visiting Sanahin, it’s a 7km walk to Haghpat, which takes around three hours. If you’re short on time, you could hire a taxi for the day from Alaverdi for less than £15 to take you to each of the monasteries and other gems such as Kobayr’s ruined 13th-century convent.
You have a couple of transport options for the 180-mile journey from Tbilisi to Yerevan. Marshrutky operate along the route and a train runs from Tbilisi to Yerevan daily in summer and every other day in the off season (late September to mid June) and stops at Vanadzor.
From Vanadzor, you can hop in a taxi to the monasteries or use onward public transport. You will arrive late at night in Vanadzor, so have accommodation booked in advance and visit the monasteries the following day.