One thing that is definitely not lacking in Yerevan is outdoor cafes. This is both one of my favorite things about the city and one of my least favorite things! I will start with the negative side, because, as we all know, it is better to finish up on a positive note!
The overabundance of cafes in Yerevan has led to most of our lovely (and sometimes not so lovely) parks to be absolutely overrun with café on top of café on top of café. The majority of those are little more than plastic lawn chairs and tables unceremoniously plopped down anywhere there is space. Locals also complain about this, but the summer café culture is really part of the lifestyle here.
On the other hand, Yerevan is absolutely home to some of the best outdoor cafes you will ever come across. Yes, service here is not the best (a little slow and not so smiley), but the coffee and ice cream are fresh, and the beer is usually cold! I love the culture of lazily passing a Sunday afternoon with friends, eating pizza, having drinks, and listening to kids play in the background!
I’m not going to mention specific cafes here, mainly because I think that you should decide what places you really like for yourself! I just want to mention the best areas in town for finding an abundant selection of good, or at least decent, places.
One of the favorites is, of course, the Cascad (you know…the giant staircase smack in the middle of downtown) area. While none of the cafés stand out as phenomenal, you can’t beat it for location! The view of Cascad is great, and it’s a particularly fantastic spot for people watching. You get a good mix of people walking around. Plus, the gardens and sculptures are pretty nice! There are two or three cafés on either side…so you can really take your pick!
From Cascad, if you walk towards the Opera, you will find at least one large café, and once you cross Mashtots Ave, you will actually having a hard time choosing which café to take a seat in! I have been to most of the cafes surrounding the Opera and Swan Lake, and they are all pretty good. Of course, it always depends on what you like….I, for one, need to carefully check out the chairs for comfort and I always need to be in the shade!
Abovian Street, running through the heart of Yerevan, also has quite a few cafes. You’ll find most of them above Tumanian Street, there are a few below Tumanian to Republic Square, but not many. In Republic Square the only café that you will really find is at the Marriott Hotel. It’s pricey, but I hear it’s the place to go for networking!
Remember, at some of the cafes, the sofas and big comfy chairs are considered to be VIP, and there may be an additional charge for sitting there!!
All in all, summer may be hot in Yerevan, but it’s the best time to really experience the culture. People watching is a great lazy day activity…all done sitting in a comfortable café and drinking a cold beer!