Things to do in Theth, Albania
Welcome to Theth—a quaint mountain village and one of the best places to visit in all of Albania! The landscape here rivals one you’d find in the Swiss Alps; the dramatic peaks of the Accursed Mountains look over the town and green fields filled with cows and goats.
Tip: The people in the village are lovely and will be very accommodating to help you with anything. You might not be able to speak Albanian, but Google Translate will help you along the way (not a problem, as Albania has the fastest internet in Europe!).
1. Theth Village Life
Local life is very traditional in Theth, and you’ll still see the farmers herding sheep and cows along the remote roads.
Within the village itself, you’ll find one long street that hugs the riverside with sweet houses, guesthouses, and campsites (with good facilities). There’s also a beautiful church close to the edge of town that has some of the best views we’ve ever seen!
The road to Theth, Albania
These days, it’s really easy to access Theth, as the road is newly paved (the road reopened in 2022). Until recently, there was no paved road to Theth, and you could only reach the village by 4×4.
Now you can arrive in a normal car, as although the road is narrow, it’s perfectly safe and smooth. Along the way, you’ll have incredible viewpoints, particularly on the last hour of the trip from Shkoder.
Tip: Although the road to Theth is not super steep, it is windy so if you get travel sick, take some anti-nausea tablets just in case.
We recommend to rent a car in Albania through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your rental car here.
2. Valbonë Pass Hike
Aside from the charming village, the area is famous for the Valbonë Pass hike, a long walk through the mountains, and one of the most rewarding and beautiful parts of any Albania itinerary. The hike moves up through the mountains, passing through forests, grasslands, bubbling streams, and meadows full of flowers and boulders.
As you go, you’ll hear barely any sounds, just the sounds of nature; birds, crickets, and colorful butterflies. We even had a group of friendly dogs following us!
Tip: The hike is best done in the month’s May to October when the weather is good. In the winter, the hike won’t be possible due to the snow.
How long is the Valbonë Pass hike?
To get to Valbonë, it is about 17 km of walking and takes 6-8 hours (depending on how fast you are/your fitness level). We hiked only halfway (to the top of the peak, rather than on to Valbonë), which was about 4 hours to the top and the same backdown. We recommend doing this if you want to follow our Albania itinerary.
Directions to the peak (half-loop)
First, walk straight past the mini market until you see the white and red flag signs on your right. Follow these and begin your ascent up through the forest. From the start to the cafe near the top, it takes around 2.5/3 hours. You can stop here for a drink and a snack and then hike another 45 minutes up to the top of the peak.
In total, it takes around 4 hours. Once you reach the top of the peak, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible views!
Tip: Be aware that en route, you’ll be hiking on steep gravel paths. Always wear good footwear (closed trainers or hiking boots), wear layers of clothing, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
If you want to do the full hike to Valbonë, you can carry on from here. There are around 4 cafes on the route, each one with access to spring water, so bring your reusable water bottle, and you can refill it as you go.
How to return from Valbonë (full hike)
If you’re planning on doing the full hike from Valbonë, pack a daypack with a change of clothes and leave the rest at your accommodation. This is because we recommend staying the night in Valbonë and making the journey back to Theth the next day.
The return journey from Valbonë can be done in 4 stages:
- Go by minibus from Valbonë to the ferry (1 hour).
- Take the ferry from Fierze across the lake to Koman (2.5 hours). This is a beautiful boat ride that will be a highlight of your Albania itinerary. The ferry company ‘Berisha‘ offers packages, including transfers on either side of the ferry.
- From here, you can organize a minibus transfer onto Shkoder (1.5 hours). You can book this with Berisha too.
- From Shkoder, it’s another 1.5-hour transfer back to Theth (on the newly paved road). You can organize this with your accommodation in Shkoder (normally for around 10 EUR).
Tickets for your return journey
You can reserve your minibus and ferry transfer well in advance (make sure to book well ahead if traveling in your own car, as the ferries don’t have that much capacity for vehicles).
Alternatively, book an organized tour to discover Valbonë. This can be easier than organizing your own transfers, as they include your accommodation, transport, as well as a guide to take you through the mountains.
Tip: You can also do the journey in reverse, starting from Shkoder and ending in Theth. Many people prefer to do the hike this way as it’s nicer to get the long journey out the way at the beginning of the trip. The beginning of the path is also said to be easier from Valbonë, so you can ease yourself into the hike.
3. Hike to Theth Waterfall
Just 45 minutes from Theth village is the beautiful Grunasi Waterfall, a huge 25-meter-high cascade that falls from a dramatic limestone cliff. It’s a 45-minute walk each way that crosses rocky paths and follows along the mountain river before heading up into the woods. As you go, discover wonderful views out across the mountain peaks—this is nature at its finest!
Also visit: Historic Krujë Castle
When you reach the waterfall, you can swim in the pool below. However, be aware that the water is freezing! If it’s the summer, bring your swimsuit and brave the water for a refreshing end to your hike. Because of the water droplets here, you might even be lucky enough to see a rainbow at the foot of the falls.
Tip: We recommend walking to Grunasi Waterfall in the morning to avoid crowds and have the most peaceful hike. This hike is also the beginning of the hike you’ll take to the Blue Eye.
4. Discover the Blue Eye of Theth, Albania
You may have heard of the popular Sarande Blue Eye, but Theth also has its very own Blue Eye. The Blue Eye near Theth (Syri i Kaltër in Albanian) is a deep water pool set deep within limestone rock.
It’s said to resemble a blue eye because of its bright blue color in the center that slowly descends out into lighter blues and greens. This incredible color and clear water come as a result of the depth of the water and the vegetation surrounding it, making it one of the most blissful places to swim. Plus, there’s also a waterfall that cascades down into the pool below.
The Blue Eye near Theth is high up in the mountains and much higher than the one at Sarande, making it even colder, but it’s still worth it for a refreshing dip (although we wouldn’t recommend swimming outside of the summer months). What’s more, make sure to visit before 3 PM, as after this time the sun sets behind the mountains, and it will be very cold.
How to reach the Blue Eye of Theth
The hike from Theth itself to the Blue Eye is around 6-7 hours (3 hours each way) and covers a total of 17km. Although it’s a long hike, it’s very beautiful and is a mainly flat route, so it can be done by all levels of hikers. The only steep bit is towards the end, where you ascend to the Blue Eye itself. There are also cafes en route, so you can stop for drinks or a bite to eat as you go.
Driving to the Blue Eye
Don’t fancy the long hike? The alternative is to drive to the village of Nderlysaj and start the hike from there. This hike is only 40 minutes (one way), so it’s much more achievable and will leave you more of the day to do other activities in the area.
If you don’t have a car, you can take a taxi from Theth and ask them to wait for you in the village (this can cost a lot as they’ll have to wait for a few hours) or arrange taxis both ways (sometimes there are shared options available to lower costs). You can also visit the Blue Eye as part of a tour, including return transportation.
5. Visit the Church in Theth
This beautiful church is an icon of Theth and truly looks like something out of a fairytale. The grey-tiled roofed church sits in the middle of an open meadow, surrounded by towering mountain peaks and wildflowers. The story goes that people originally came to Theth to practice their faith undisturbed in the peace of nature, and it’s easy to see why!
The church dates all the way back to 1892, and over the years, it has been a school and even a health center during the communist regime. Nowadays, it’s still used by locals as a place of worship, visible from all around with its rooftop cross.
Visit the church and take some beautiful photos of the surrounding scenery. It’s fine to look inside the church, but be respectful as it’s still a functioning place of worship for the villagers.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Theth
The food in Albania is varied but is generally quite meat-heavy, although there are some veggie options among the traditional dishes. Theth, however, is very small and remote, meaning there aren’t that many restaurants in the village, and it’s the most difficult place to get veggie food.
Despite this, in every guesthouse and hotel, you’ll find a small restaurant/cafe where you can enjoy typical food and drink from Albania (and they’re all very accommodating about veggie options). Either eat at your hotel or spend your days in Theth jumping between the others, deciding which one is your favorite.
If you’re looking for a good cup of coffee, we think the best coffee was at the place we stayed: Gurra Family Guesthouse. There is also one small supermarket in Theth if you need snacks (especially for hiking!).
Tip: you can drink tap water in Albania. Refill your reusable water bottle at your hotel and help reduce plastic waste!
Where to Stay in Theth, Albania
As Theth is such a beautiful mountainous region, it’s very popular for people wanting to camp and enjoy nature. There are plenty of campsites in Theth itself and the surrounding areas, all with great amenities.
However, if you want something a little more comfortable, there are lots of charming guesthouses and hotels in Theth. Everything is very rustic and ‘chalet-like’, in keeping with the traditional mountain way of life.
We stayed at Gurra Family Guesthouse, which was great! We recommend finding a hotel on the main street in Theth and not on the hill leading out of town. Here are all your accommodation options in Theth.
How to Visit Theth
Most people start their journey to Theth in the capital city Tirana, from where you can drive or take the bus (via Shkoder).
The best way to visit Theth is by car. In the past, the last part of the road to Theth wasn’t paved, so it required a 4×4. Recently, the road has been paved, so it can now be driven on by any car. You’ll only need a stronger/better car when driving past the town of Theth, for example, Lumi i Shale. Having your own vehicle also gives you the flexibility to explore the area and road trip using our 2-week Albania itinerary.
We recommend to rent a car in Albania through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your rental car here.
If you don’t have a car, you can arrange a transfer with your guesthouse in Theth or ask your hotel/guesthouse in Shkoder to request a pick-up by shared bus. It will normally collect you between 7 AM – 8 AM in the morning, and it takes about 3 hours to reach Theth. The price is 1200 LEK (10 EUR) per person for a one-way transfer.
Alternatively, you can book an organized tour that will take you to Theth and include other sights in the area too. It’s a great way to meet people and learn more about the area from a local guide!
Getting Around Theth
You’ll spend most of your time in Theth hiking. If you have a car, it makes it easier to visit places like the Blue Eye. However, if you don’t, it’s no problem as your guesthouse will be able to arrange a local taxi for you.
How Much Does Theth Cost?
The prices are very reasonable in Theth, although be aware that in summer the mountains are a popular destination for tourists so hotel rooms may raise in price. However, enjoying nature is totally free! Because the village is so remote, there are no ATMs in the area, so you’ll need to bring enough cash with you to last your trip.
Best Time to Visit Theth, Albania
The best time to visit Theth is between May and October, ideally for 2-3 nights to enjoy all the top things to do. However, it’s good to know that there can still be snow and ice on the roads and hiking paths as late as the end of May!
Because of this, it’s best to visit in the early/late summer months, particularly June and September, when it’s still warm (but hasn’t reached the 40-degree temps of August), and you can enjoy the beautiful hiking, and refreshing waterfall swims.
Remember, it’s a much higher altitude in Theth, so bring plenty of layers as it can get cooler at night.
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What a very useful blog about Albania! I’m planning to visit Albania this summer, 2023.
Since most other blogs/websites recommend not to drive to Teth, it seems this is possible now due to the new road as you wrote.
What kind of car did you rent? A 4×4 or ‘normal’ one? Is it an easy ride, or still challenging?
Hi Annelieke, great choice to visit Albania! Nope, just a simple car. The new road makes this possible. :-) You can see the car (red) in our ‘how to rent a car in Albania‘ article. Have a lovely trip!