After travelling Europe for 7 months with some incredible experiences, the Theth to Valbona hike, and our entire time in Theth, quickly became our top recommendation and favourite (and scariest) adventure so far.
We spent 5 amazing days immersed in mountains, nature and village life. Our guesthouse was amazing and the people of Theth were incredibly warm and hospitable.
During our 5 days in Theth and Valbona we did a lot of hiking! But I should mention that you can experience these mountain villages during the summer months without hiking, if hiking isn’t your thing.
How to get to Theth and the Albanian Alps
The city of Shkoder is a great starting and finishing location, and is often referred to as the gateway to the Abanian Alps. Whilst in Shkoder you can visit Rozafa Castle, cycle around Shkoder Lake and dine at some nice restaurants.
Ask your hotel, hostel or Airbnb host to help organise your trip into the Albanian Alps. We stayed at The Red Bricks hotel in Shkoder, they were incredibly helpful and made us feel right at home. We had a 4×4 (4WD) taxi organised for us, and we left our luggage at the hotel for the 5 days we were gone, for no additional fee.
There are a few different ways you can do this trip. The way we did it was to get a taxi from Shkoder to Theth, hike over the mountains to Valbona, then get the ferry back to Shkoder. You can also do this in the opposite direction, the time we were there most people were starting in Valbona, however after experiencing both villages, we were happy with our decision to stay a few days in Theth first. Another option is to just go to Theth or Valbona – this is an ideal option for those that don’t enjoy hiking but want to spend a few days relaxing and enjoy the village life and surrounding nature.
Getting to Valbona by car is possible as there is a sealed road the entire way, however this isn’t the case for Theth.
To get to Theth you will need a 4×4, and it’s only possible to drive to Theth during the summer months when the snow has been cleared from the road.
Our experience of arriving in Theth was memorable. We did this trip towards the end of May which is the start of the season for the Albanian Alps, and we were told that there would still be snow on the mountains but not in the villages.
Our driver picked us up from the hotel in Shkoder, and as we drove up into the mountains the views were spectacular. Up near the top of the mountains the snow had been cleared to either side of the road, so we were driving through high walls of snow.
As we started to descend the mountain we reached the end of the cleared road and had to make the rest of our way to Theth on foot. We were warned of this in advance and that was fine with us, after all we were there to hike! We said goodbye to our driver and he told us “1 hour, Theth” while pointing us down the road.
As we started walking we saw the three excavators clearing the rest of the road and after we passed them and continued walking through the snow we realised just how beautiful our surroundings were. This was a very enjoyable walk and I recommend walking part of the way to Theth, even if the roads are open. You might want to get dropped off a little closer than we did, since our instructions of “1 hour, Theth” turned into a 5 hour walk! We think the driver might have meant there was still a 1 hour drive ahead, or he didn’t realise quite how long the walk would take. Either way, it was still an enjoyable, yet unexpectedly long, hike into Theth.
Where To Stay In Theth
Before we left Shkoder our hotel advised us not to book any accommodation, just turn up in Theth and take a walk to see what area we liked and see what deals the guesthouses could offer us. On one hand, this was good advice because all the places we looked at booking online were closed or not ready for guests when we arrived. However, I think in peak season it might be better to book online.
Once we arrived in Theth we needed to find a guesthouse. Along the road to Theth we had come across a young guy who owned a guesthouse in the centre of Theth town and he offered us a place to stay. However, we already knew from some research that we wanted to stay on the other side of Theth for the more picturesque surroundings and views, and it’s also closer to the hikes that we wanted to do.
We ended up walking past the centre of Theth straight to the other side, and after missing the main turn of the road we either had to cross a makeshift bridge over the strong currents of the river or walk back 1km to meet the turn of the road. We opted for the bridge, and even if you don’t have to cross this bridge, I recommend doing it at least once while in Theth.
After visiting a couple of guesthouses we ended up staying at Bujtina Polia. They were able to accommodate us, which was great, and they offered us a good deal as well – 25€ per person per night, including breakfast, picnic lunch, and dinner. We had a simple yet perfectly enjoyable private room with a balcony, pine bathroom and skylight above the bed which was amazing for watching the stars.
Our guesthouse had amazing views of the mountains which we enjoyed over breakfast each morning, and some nice pets including 3 very friendly dogs, some chickens and pigs. The lady and young man who took care of us and fed us everyday were very friendly and cooked up enough delicious food to keep us full for days!
Hiking In Theth – Waterfalls, Rivers and the Blue Eye
We spent 3 days in Theth and had already planned out our itinerary – day 1, arrive in Theth and check out the village – day 2, walk to Blue Eye with a detour to the Thethi waterfall – day 3, hike up to. However, after seeing how beautiful our surroundings were, and after a big second day of hiking, we decided to skip the 3rd day hike up to …. and instead relax by the river. So this ended up being our itinerary: