A comprehensive guide to all wonderful things to do in Theth, Albania. All the info you need for the Valbona Theth hike, as well as other great things to do in Theth.
The Albanian Alps are spectacular. Locally called the Accursed Mountains, this dramatic mountain range connects Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo, in an unspoken way, naturally erasing the borders.
There are many legends as to why the Albanian Alps are called accursed, but none of them are confirmed; the way I see it, nothing is cursed about this incredible place.
Theth, a small mountain village in Northern Albania is one of the most popular gateways for exploring the mountains and a start to many incredible trails. Including the popular Theth Valbona hike.
Surrounded by magnificent peaks, wild waterfalls and unspoiled nature, it is no wonder that it attracts hikers and nature lovers.
I was one of them. I went to Theth to unplug, and recharge. To remind myself that mountains make me happy and that hiking is the best therapy.
In this post, I will tell you about all the amazing hikes and other things to do in Theth and give you all the information you might need for your trip to Theth in Albania. Not only will I tell you how to do the famous Theth Valbona hike, but also what other hikes you can do from Theth, how to get there, where to stay, and what else there is to see in the area.
Table of Contents
Where is Theth?
Theth is a small mountain village located in the Shkodra region of North Albania. Nestled within the Theth National Park, an area of Theth is of outstanding natural beauty. The village of Theth is remote and although the winding road leading there has been recently renovated, Theth is still inaccessible during the winter months.
What is Theth Known For?
Theth is best known for being the starting point (along with Valbone) of the very popular and beautiful Theth Valbona Pass hike – a breathtaking but somewhat challenging trail in the Albanian Alps. The town itself is also known for its outstanding beauty and the famous Blue Eye waterfall.
Is Theth worth Visiting?
I love northern Albania and the Albanian Alps are breathtaking. Theth is a remote and still untouched mountain village that offers tranquilly, beautiful hikes and the most spectacular views.
For anyone looking for a retreat in nature, great hikes and dramatic mountain panoramas, Theth is not only worth a visit, but a must see!
As I wandered through Theth, I also noticed quite a few new homestays and restaurants being built, likely due to the newly renovated road, so the town will surely evolve over time. I am not so sure if this is a good thing, as there are so few remote and unspoiled places left in Europe.
How Many Days for Visiting Theth?
Although the majority of travellers visit Theth for the Valbone pass hike there are quite a few other things to do in Theth and you could stay more than one night.
Most of the travellers stay in Theth for one night to start a Valbone Theth hike early in the morning. The bus from Shkoder arrives in Theth around 10 am which would give you a whole day to explore. You could go on and hike to the Grunas waterfall of a Blue Eye but doing both the day before the actual big hike could be pretty tiring.
For this reason, if you want to make the most of your Theth trip I recommend staying 2 nights. But you can stay longer!
As I arrived in Theth and walked down the remote path to my homestay, I looked around in awe and thought I could easily stay here for a week.
How to get to Theth?
You can only get to Theth by taking a bus or a car from Shkoder. The only other way of getting to Theth is by hiking from Valbone so if Theth is your first stop in Albanian Alps, you will most definitely be starting your trip in Shkoder.
Here’s a list of ways to get from Shkoder to Theth:
Book the minibus at your hostel or hotel. This can be done the night before without any problems. The bus will pick you up between 7 and 7:30 in the morning and drop you off in the centre of Theth at the front of only supermarket in town. Be aware that most hostels and hotels add a small fee to the basic ticket price. If you want to do the Valbone Theth hike (more on that later), many hostels like Wanderers Hostel for example will organise the whole trip for you, including accommodation, guide and return tickets, so if that is what you are after it isn’t worth paying for a little extra.
In case you are returning back from Theth you can book your return ticket with a homestay in Theth. Or you can also just turn up at the same place in Theth at 9 am and buy the ticket with the driver. Arrive a bit earlier though as you want to make sure you get the spot.
You can contact Thethi and Tours directly to book your place. Once you have booked your spot, you will be picked up from the centre of Shkoder in front of the Rozafa Hotel at 7 a.m. The price for a single ticket is €10. The phone number is +355 685656797.
It is strongly recommended that you reserve your seat on the bus in advance. This trip only takes place once a day and is booked up quickly.
Note that there are no official public buses to Theth. There are two private companies that operate minibuses between Shkoder and Theth. The Thethi and Tours has been operating on this route for years and offers the best value.
You can also book a group tour or experience. In this case, you will be provided with transport, accommodation and a guide. You could for example book this full-day Theth, Blue Eye and Grunas Waterfall tour from Shkoder or Tirana, or this 3-day Valbone and Theth tour with accommodation, meals and guide included.
You can also drive to Theth and I have met several travellers who have done this. I have also seen some campers, SUVs and RVs parked around Theth. Note, however, that although the road to Theth is newly paved, the drive takes about 3 hours and the road is narrow and very windy most of the time.
It is not an easy ride. Even in Theth, there are some roads that are very bumpy and gravel. If your accommodation is further away from the main road in Theth, you might have issues driving there.
The cheapest and probably most adventurous way to get to Theth is by hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is safe and very common in Albania. I met a guy who hitchhiked to Valbone (so if someone tells you it’s impossible, don’t believe them). He wild camped, hiked to Theth and then hitchhiked from Theth back to Shkoder.
Where to Stay in Theth?
It is best to book your accommodation in one of the amazing homestays in Theth. In most cases, the breakfast will be included in delicious. Some of the best ones include Bujtina Kometa, Bujtina Terthorja or Kulla e Sadri Lukes where I stayed.
If you are a solo traveller you might be a bit worried after seeing the prices and not seeing any dorm rooms available. Many homestays don’t advertise dorms on booking websites as often the management of rooms online is a bit overwhelming for them. I suggest calling them directly and booking a dorm over the phone. Also, ask for hostel recommendations in your hostel in Shkoder.
I booked a room at Kulla e Sadri Lukes for €40 and as I arrived I was offered a dorm for 20€. You will always pay on arrival so the booking site will not charge you the original price.
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How to Take Theth-Valbona Hike
Theth to Valbone or Vabone to Theth - main differnces
The best thing to do in Theth is take a hike to Valbone. It could be even one of the best things to do in Albania!
It is a bit of a challenging hike but definitely doable and it can take anything between 4 to 8 hours depending on your abilities and amount of breaks.
There are a few ways of taking the Valbone/Theth hike and you can either hike from Theth to Valbone or Valbone to Theth.
If you start from Theth the hike will be steep and challenging from the start but after around a couple of hours or so you will start a slow descent and it’s pretty straightforward from there.
The opinions on which way is better are divided. If the weather is hot, you will hike the hardest part at the start of the trek and in shaded areas if you start the hike from Theth. But I also spoke to hikers who preferred the Valbone start as it felt less challenging and the ascent was less steep.
Theth to Valbone:
To get to Theth you will have to take a minibus from Shkoder which will drop you off at the Theth center. It is recommended you stay overnight in Theth and start a hike early the next day to avoid the heat. But if you are hardcore you can start a trek straight away.
If you decide to hike on the same day, do it only if you are an experienced hiker and can complete it in 6 hours or less. You want to be sure you arrive in Valbone before dark.
There are no late return busses from Valbone so you will have to book a night stay in Valbone and return to Shkoder the next day.
This journey is long but spectacular. The mini bus will take you to Fierza from where you will hop on a 2.5-hour ferry to Koman. Komani Lake is often called the Thailand of Europe, the views are incredible and the lake is stunning!
Once you arrive in Koman the minibus will take you back to Shkoder.
If you buy a return ticket with your homestay or hostel, the ticket will include all parts of the journey and you will be guided from one transport to another. The ticket costs around 25€.
You can also drive to Valbone. Here you will find all the information if you want to purchase a ferry ticket individually or board the car.
Valbone to Theth
The journey from Shkoder to Valbone takes around 8 hours. As I mentioned above, this leg of a journey consists of 3 parts. Bus from Shkoder to Koman, ferry to Fierza, and finally bus from Fierza to Valbone.
Given you arrive in Valbone around 2 p.m., you will only be able to take a hike to Theth the next day in the morning.
Once you get to Theth and check in your homestay, you can stay in Theth as long as you wish just keep in mind that there is only one bus to Shkoder per day which leaves at 9:30 in the morning.
Guide or no Guide
You can do the trek without the guide and in fact majority of hikers do it this way. the trail is well marked and given its popularity, hardly empty.
To be on the safe side be sure to download Google Maps and additionally get an offline-capable hiking app like maps.me or a premium version of a good hiking app like AllTrails.
If you are a beginner hiker or simply prefer to hire a guide you can do so too. You can also inquire about a mule on this website.
If you would like to have everything organised for you you can book your hike via the Wanderers Hostel in Shkoder. It’s the most popular hostel in town and this is one of the main reasons.
Considering renting a car in Albania? If you are travelling in high season, book early. Prices increase the later you book a car. Of course, you can also rent a car at the airport. There are several car rental agencies outside the arrival terminal. You can also negotiate the price.
Tips for the Theth Valbone Hike
The hike is moderate to difficult, depending on your fitness levels. If you are not an experienced hiker, you should start early and take enough time for rest breaks. The view and the whole experience are incredible!
Along the way, there are a couple of cafes where you can buy drinks and snacks and refill your water bottle. These can be a bit pricey, so I recommend packing your own snacks and lunch.
There is a supermarket in Theth, but you can also bring some snacks from Shkoder. Many guesthouses offer a packed lunch that you can take with you, but check this when you book.
Almost all hostels and hotels in Shkoder allow you to leave your main luggage with them for your trip to Theth. Unless you are planning to camp or need a tent, I recommend taking only a small backpack for the hike. If you prefer to take your main luggage with you, you can also rent mules.
Take as much cash as you might need, including enough to pay for your accommodation. There are no ATMs in Theth.
I have found that prices in restaurants in Theth are a bit more on the expensive side. You get the best value for money when you eat with your homestay. In Kulla e Sadri Lukes, where I stayed, we all ate at one table and enjoyed a real feast! The choice of salads, cheese, aubergines, meat, potatoes and fresh bread was overwhelming! Dont miss this experience!
If you decide to do the Theth Valbone walk, be mindful of where you book your accommodation in both locations as this can add an hour or two to the total walking time.
Other Spectacular Things to do in Theth
Take a shorter Hike to Grunas Waterfall
Hiking to Grunas Waterfall (Waterfall of Theth) is a great thing to do in Theth for those who don’t want to hike too much or are short on time. It’s a lovely and very rewarding hike that can be done in a couple of hours depending on where your accommodation in Theth is located.
Grunas Waterfall is a stunning 25-meter-high waterfall characterized by its crystal-clear waters and cascading from a dramatic limestone cliff. The water originates from the melting snow and ice high up in the mountains. There is a little bit of an incline and the last part involved a bit of scrambling, but I have seen whole families do this hike, so only you are moderately fit, you will be fine!
Hike to The Blue Eye of Theth
Similarly to Sarande and the famous Blye Eye there, Theth also houses its own Blue Eye attraction, known as Syri i Kaltër in Albanian.
This pool, deeply nestled within limestone rock, earns its name due to its vivid blue hue at the centre that gradually shifts to lighter blues and greens. The water’s clarity and striking and it’s extremely cold! Visiting Blue Eye is one of the biggest attractions in Theth.
You can hike all the way to the Blue Eye from Theth or you can drive or hitchhike two-thirds of the way.
It is a longer hike (2.5 to 3 hours each way) but it is actually less challenging than the Waterfall. It gets steeper towards the end, but nothing that any moderately fit hiker couldn’t do.
Visit the Church of Theth
The Theth Church is an iconic symbol of Theth. It is an enchanting site with the most spectacular backdrop. Nested within green meadows and encircled by majestic mountain summits, it truly resembles a fairytale.
The church was built in 1892, but from 1917 and during the era of communism served as a school for the children and even a healthcare hub.
Today, the locals continue to employ it as a place of worship, so if you visit, keep this in mind.
Discover The Lock-In Tower of Theth
Theth features one of the few remaining “lock-in towers,” a historic safeguard for male family members caught in blood feuds.
Northern Albanians once adhered to their own tribal code based on the Kanun, a set of customary laws dating back to the 15th Century. The Kanun, containing 1,262 articles, allowed for blood feuds (Gjakmarrja – translating to “blood-taking” or “blood feud,”), enabling “an eye for an eye” retribution in the form of murder as justice for a slain or dishonoured family member.
During feuds, male family members sought refuge in defensive towers called kullas until either threats were eliminated or reconciliation was reached, often mediated by elders.
One such kulla stands near Theth’s main road among guesthouses.
Hike to Qafe e Pejes Pass
I dont know much about this trail but I have heard that it is not for the faint-hearted. But if you are an avid hiker you might want to consider it!
I have seen the signposts for this trail in Theth so I tried to do a bit of research, yet as with all off-the-beaten-path hiking trails in Albainia it was hard to gather some detailed information.
I know that you can reach the pass from Theth and the trail goes on all the way to Montenegro but can also be taken in the direction of Maja Popluks Peak. But you can simply hike to the pass as well.
Please research further if you plan on taking this hike.
Consider the Peaks of the Balkans multiday Hike
Theth is often a starting point of one of the most spectacular multi-day hikes in Europe – The Peaks of the Balkans Trail.
The Peak of the Balkans trail is a long-distance hiking route that takes hikers through the stunning landscapes of the Balkan Peninsula, spanning three countries: Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo. This trail offers a remarkable journey through diverse terrains, including rugged mountains, lush valleys, serene lakes, and picturesque villages.
The trail covers approximately 192 to 197 miles (310 to 320 kilometres), depending on the specific route taken. It forms a loop and it typically takes around 10 to 15 days to complete the entire circuit. The route winds through the Accursed Mountains (Bjeshket e Namuna), the Prokletije Mountains, and the Dinaric Alps, offering breathtaking views of alpine meadows, snow-capped peaks, clear lakes, and traditional mountain villages.
I am planning to return to Albania and complete this trek, so watch this space!
Stay in a Traditional Homestay, enjoy Local Food and Just Stare at the Mountains
Theth is such a spectacular location in Albania that even if you are not a hiker but enjoy spending time in nature, you will love it nevertheless.
Spend your time walking around Theth admiring the surrounding mountains, feast on local food and experience village life – this might just be one of the best things to do in Theth.
Best Time to Visit Theth, Albania
Theth is inaccessible during winter months so the best time to visit Theth is between May and October.
There might still be snow on the trails but during spring and fall, you will experience lower prices and less heat. I was in Theth in July and hiking during the day was hard due to the heat. June and September would be the best months to visit and hike in Theth.
Given Theths location, even in summer months nights are cold. Pack long sleeves and leggings for the night.
Exploring more of Albania?
If you are planning a visit to Theth and hiking the Albanian Alps I have you covered!
In this post, you will find a complete guide and a full list of wonderful things to do in Tirana.
Heading to the beach? Great idea! Here is the list of all the most beautiful beaches near Himare!
Finally, if you are wondering where to stay, here is the list of the most iconic hostels in Albania!
I hope this guide to all the awesome things to do in Theth was helpful and you are packing your hiking shoes as we speak!
I loved Albanian Alps and theth so much that I promised I would be back to do the Big Hike! Maybe I will see you there!
Until then, happy travels!
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