Moving around in the city: what to know
Many of the beautiful cultural gems are found within close proximity to the city center and are very accessible on foot, so make sure to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes. We offer walking tours in the city to help you get around and inform you on anything you need to know about Gyumri and the Shirak region.
The most prevalent languages spoken in Gyumri are Russian and Armenian, so if you have a question, either know how to speak these languages, or be very patient.
There are many public mini-buses, which can get you to wherever you need to go, and run very often, however, they often are very full and have limited seating. Each one is identified by a number and a list of destinations which is written in Armenian, so know your bus number.
Make sure to visit the historical museums. Gyumri has a rich culture of writers and artists. Make sure to sample some of the local beer. Both Gyumri and Alexandrapol beers are produced locally.
Walk around, get to know the locals, speak to them—this is the best way to get a feel for the city.
What to expect?
The city of Gyumri has a rich history, this is seen in its architecture and other historical monuments. Unfortunately, a devastating earthquake in 1988 destroyed much of the city and, to this day, parts of the city are in rubble and much is left in a state of disrepair.
The majority of the population will dress up very formally for day to day activities, so unless you want to stand out too much, dress appropriately (business casual, at the least).
Many people in Gyumri will stare at you, and talk amongst each other. Don’t take it personally, it is just a normal part of the culture.
Most people speak only Russian and Armenian, however, one may find a few people who can speak a little German or English.
If you can’t communicate effectively, find someone who can, and bring them with you wherever you go.
Type of food
The food in Gyumri and all over Armenia is fantastic. Bread products are very fresh. All products are seasonal, and often locally sourced, and bread is baked fresh daily. Meat on the other hand, can go either way. It is generally processed much earlier, somewhere else, and may have a large percentage of soy-based products in it.
Eating home cooked food is the best way to experience good, authentic regional cuisine. If one eats out, local favorites are pizza (often without tomato sauce), shwarma, lamadjun (Armenian pizza), piroshky, and katchapuri (a Georgian bread shaped like a boat with cheese, eggs, or other fillings inside).
Food is extremely inexpensive when compared to prices in America or western Europe, so eat up. Click here to see some of the restaurants around the city.
Food is not too spicy, nor is it bland, but often has a high amount of fat in it, which some people may need to get accustomed to.
Gyumri’s water is fantastic, with a fresh and clean taste of the mountains. It is much better than the water in the nation’s capital, Yerevan. There are also many drinking fountains located around the city. Despite all this, if your stomach is not acclimated to the water or you are only staying for a few days, it is advisable to only drink bottled water.
Does it rain often?
In the summer months, there is not much rain, and the rain that does fall, is usually in the evening. The days are sunny, warm, and a little humid, but there are many tall buildings, trees, or cafes to shade you.
Rain and cold weather is common for the months outside of summer.
When is best to go?
Summer and fall are the best months to travel to Gyumri.
Summer is good for exploring and walking around and view various performing arts.
Gyumri is much quieter than its European counterparts, so once the sun goes down, most people go home. If someone is seeking nightlife, Yerevan (see tours to Yerevan) is advised for a nice weekend venture.
Gyumri is a nice place to take a walk at night in the summer, with warm nights, safe streets, and the ability to see the stars from the city.
You can also enjoy theatre and musical performances. Gyumri is famous for its cultural attractions, and there are performances almost every night, not to mention the marionette theatre. See a list of all national holidays and cultural events.
Affordable places to stay
There are B&B style options which are affordable for students and others on a budget. See our hotels section and look for Gyumri B&B. That would be a good place to start.