The Outsider's Insider

A Guide to Living in Yerevan

Getting Around this Crazy Town September 20, 2010

Filed under: Transport — outsidersinsider @ 12:36 pm
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So, I am actually back in action!  Sorry about the long delay between posts, lots going on…

Getting around Yerevan can be a mixed experience.  At times it is easy and pleasurable, and at other times can be incredibly frustrating.  Yerevan itself, divided into the Small Center (basically the inside of the circular park seen in the map), the Big Center (the area outside the park)  and, I guess, what could be called the suburbs (everything else), is not really all that large.  Yerevan is a very maneuverable city, the main drawback being the lack of street signs, either at all or, if they exist, in English.  Luckily, the city is filled with easily identifiable landmarks…so it’s very common to be given directions that include things like ‘Turn left near the sculpture that looks like a woman holding a jar.’

'Turn left here.'

So,  my favorite form of transport in the city is what I call the Number 11 bus….MY LEGS!  Since Yerevan is fairly small, and I live in the Big Center, it’s very easy to walk almost everywhere I need to go.   This is, by far, the most pleasurable way to get around the city.  The main consideration is being careful when you are crossing the street.  Pedestrians are rarely given the right of way by drivers, though it is better than it was when I came here four years ago!  Back then crossing the street was an exercise in survival!  To walk from one end of the Small Center to the other should only take about 15-20 minutes, and there are fun things to look at along the way.

Yerevan Map

The next logical way to get around town would be to drive.  Now, my husband and I don’t own a car nor have either of us ever driven in Yerevan, so I may not be the best adviser in this field!  I can tell you what I know, and my readers who have had this experience can add their wisdom in the comments section.   My husband says that in Armenia you drive by the millimeter….meaning everything (other cars, people, etc) is only a millimeter away from your car at all times.  Traffic can be atrocious, and rules of the road generally do not apply.  Parking is hard to find in the center of town, so be prepared.  That being said, I think once you get out of the city it’s not nearly so bad.  Driving yourself is the best way to see the countryside.

Yerevan Traffic (I do have to admit that they have fixed this particular intersection, though some others like still exist

The metro is my preferred form of transport when I don’t walk.  The metro in Yerevan is clean, VERY cheap (1 ride is 50 drams….about 12 cents), and a great place to cool off in the hot days of Yerevan’s summer.  Unfortunately, the Yerevan Metro only has one line but it easily takes you from one end of the city to the other.  I have included a link below to all the important details regarding the route, station names and other important info.   The info is basically up to date.  The only major change I would note is that it is now possible to buy a Metro card.  It allows you to pass more quickly through the turnstiles without needing to buy a token.  The price for rides is the same but with the bonus of being able to win 20 free rides.  They post winning card numbers every month.  Look for this sign at the entrance to Metro stations.

Metro Entrance Sign

Inside of A Metro Car

The Train Arriving

My other main form of transport is taxi.  I don’t usually call a taxi service; I just flag one down on the street.  Some words of advice….Make sure you only flag one that has yellow license plates because these are legit companies and are less likely to overcharge you (notice I said LESS likely).  The minimum fare is generally 600 drams (a little less than $2).  Usually the fare rises by 100 drams per kilometer after the first 4 or 5 km.  My second piece of advice would be to never ask the price if there is no meter.  If you know that you have gone less than 5km, just hand the driver 600 drams (or 700) and get out of the car!  There are several companies that I would recommend if you are planning on calling a taxi service:

Taxi Busy 21-10-00                    Taxi Tour 49-99-94  (they definitely have seat belts)

You can also use a taxi service to take you out of town, but I would call and ask for the prices.

And finally, the WORST way to get around town….BUS or MINIBUS.  Now, I have to say that this system has improved greatly since some routes started using actual full-sized buses.  The problem lies in the ‘marshrutkas’ or minibuses.  If you like to stand in a van with three times the number of people that the van was designed to carry, or possibly have someone sit on your lap….and run the risk of the van catching on fire or running over a pedestrian (by the way, pedestrians….cars may give you the right of way sometimes but minibuses won’t), then the marshrutka is for you!  The full-sized buses are generally fine, if a bit crowded at the expected rush hour times.  Both the minibus and the regular bus will only cost you 100 drams.  The main benefit of the bus system is that you can get virtually anywhere in the city.  I found a helpful route list here:

Marshutkas Waiting

I think this one has seen better days, but at least it's not crowded!

I also want to mention that you can also take a trolley bus, but, trust me, you can walk faster than they move!  Of course, if you happen to see this completely amazing trolley bus, ride it just for fun!

The Coolest Bus Trolley Bus EVER!

Thanks for snapping these pics Kirstin!

Pink curtains painted on, flames and Mount Ararat painted on the back….this is just too cool!

That’s all I have in terms of getting around town…anyone with any ideas or suggestions please feel free!!

And as we say in Armenian… Bari Janapar!