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.
Vanadzor has a perfect bus connection to all cities in northern Armenia. Lots of options, to name a few: Tbilisi 3500 AMD (14 GEL), daily at 08:30, arrives in Tbilisi at 12:30-13:00; Ijevan 1000 AMD, Gyumri 500 AMD, Stepanavan 400 AMD, Alaverdi 500 AMD, Dilijan 500 AMD, Byrd, Akhtala, Odzun, Spitak, Tashir, Noyemberian. Bus station are adjacent to the train one.
Marshrutkas (minibuses) from Yerevan are inexpensive (AMD 1200) 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 100drams/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 AMD 100 per km plus a starting fee of AMD 500 (2015).
- Marshrutkas (minibuses) are as always available.
- 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 recently renovated in 1999.
- 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.
- Saint Gregory of Narek Cathedral. The groundbreaking service for the new cathedral of the diocese of Gugark took place in May 2002. Later 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.
- The Prelacy of the Diocese of Gougark.
- 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.
- 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.
- House-museum of Stepan Zoryan, 24 Stepan Zoryan st., ☎ +374 51 43093. Tu-Sa 9:00-17:00, Su 9:00-15:00. 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.
- Vanadzor Museum of Fine Arts, 52 Tigran Mets, ☎ +374 322 43938. Tu-Sa 10:00 - 17:00, Su - closes one hour earlier. 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 AMD, guided tours 2000 AMD.
- Vanadzor Botanical Garden. It was established in 1935, occupying southern hilltops of a town where lives more than 600 species of plants.
- Vanadzor Central park.
- 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.
- Sayat Nova park.
- Vanadzor Market. Open air market where is mainly food is sold.
- Lav Teh, Tumanyan street 11a, ☎ +374 94 44 59 90. Friendly, nice and quick restaurant. 4600 AMD for two.
- Pizza "Tashir", 65a Tigran Mets. Popular Armenian restaurant chain serving mostly pizzas, salads, soups, desserts. Pizza slice 250 AMD, salad 700 AMD.
- 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 AMD per plate, mains 2000 AMD.
- Jazz Cafe. 9:00 AM–10:30 PM. Quite decent food, desserts and alcohol cocktails. Pianist plays in the evenings and jazz band on Saturdays nights. Mains 1500 AMD.
- Restaurant "Elkani", ☎ +374 322 41919. Claimed to be a 5-star restaurant.
- "Green House" Hotel, 8d Banak Str, ☎ +374 322 40015, +374 322 20932, +374 91 310070, +374 91 428611. Located in a 5 minute walk from the centre of Vanadzor, Green house hotel is a newly built first-rate building surrounded by the green park with beautiful trees and flowers. Stylish furniture and modern design of the 15 nicely furnished rooms will make you feel at home while staying at the Green House hotel. 10-25,000 AMD.
- "Argishti" Hotel, 1 Batumi Str, ☎ +374 322 42556, 42557 , 42558. 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. 25-35,000 AMD.
- "Gugark" Hotel, central square (At the corner of the central square, a block or two from the bus station), ☎ +374 322 41510. Good no-frills budget option. 10-15,000 AMD.
- Vanadzor Spa and Hotel Complex, 31 Zakaryan St. (close to Botanical Garden). Double from 18000 AMD.
- "Gross" Hotel, ☎ +374 322 4 15 53.
- Kirovakan Hotel, 1 Mashtotsa St., ☎ +374 322 47010, +374 98 417010. 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 14000 AMD.
- Hotel Laguna, 68 Yerevan Highway (A bit out of town, 3.5 km of town center), ☎ +374 322 5-00-09. Offers an outdoor pool, sauna, free WiFi. Very high ratings on a booking sites. Double from 15000 AMD.
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. AMD 600/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 AMD/one washing machine.