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View of Theth church from Bujtina Pllumi Theth guesthouse
View of Theth church from Bujtina Pllumi Theth guesthouse

Theth is a mountain town nestled in northern Albanian — a storybook village of striking peaks, rolling green valleys, and roaming cows and sheep. Located in Albania’s Shkoder region in the Shala mountains, Theth is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, including the Valbone to Theth hike, a visit to Theth is one of the best things to do on a road trip in Albania.

Prepare for your trip to Albania

Theth: The Basics

  • Location: Northern Albania
  • Best time to visit: May – October, when the Theth to Valbone trek is open
  • Currency: Both Euros and Albanian Lek (ALL) are accepted in both Theth and Valbona. As of August 2023, $1 USD is equal to 94 Albanian Lek (ALL). For the sake of this article, all conversions into dollars will be based on the exchange rate at that time. 
  • Getting there: There is a road connecting Shkoder and Theth by rental car, shuttle bus (12€) or guided tour
  • Lodging: Book your accommodation in Theth well in advance, guest houses book up quickly
Horses in Theth village
Horses in Theth village
Swimming holes near the Blue Eye of Theth - a great day hike from Theth village
Swimming holes near the Blue Eye of Theth – a great day hike from Theth village

How to get there

Previously it was very difficult to get to Theth, as you needed a 4×4 to reach the village. However, a new road was recently opened making it super easy for any type of vehicle to reach the village. The ride currently takes between two and three hours from Shkoder to Theth. Shkoder is considered the gateway to the Albanian Alps.

If you are starting your journey in Tirana, you can either rent a car and drive or take the public bus from Tirana (Tirane) to Shkoder. The journey takes approximately 2 hours, without traffic. But plan for traffic.

You have four options for getting to Theth:

01) Bus from Shkoder – the most popular way to get to Theth is by taking the bus from Shkoder. You can purchase a ticket at any guesthouse or hostel. The ride costs 12€ as of August 2023.

This is the option that I recommend if you plan on hiking the Theth to Valbone Pass trek, as you won’t want to have a car in the mountains with you. There is no road connecting the parks of Theth and Valbone.

The ride from Shköder to Theth is extremely picturesque, as you drive through windy mountain roads. But speaking of windy, I recommend taking something if you tend to get carsick. 

02) Drive yourself – if you have a rental car or your own car, it is definitely possible to drive yourself to Theth from any of the major cities in Albania, or a nearby European country. This is a good option if you’re not planning to do the full Theth to Valbone pass. Or if you want access to nearby things to do, without the hike involved to reach them.

Book your rental car in advance

03) Join a tour – there are tons of a multi-day tours that explore Theth and the surrounding Albanian Alps. This is a great option if you’d like to leave planning all of the little details to someone else. Here are a few of the most popular tours:

04) Hike from Valbone – forget the cars altogether and reach the charming town of Theth on foot. This is what we did! We made our way with public transportation to Valbone, and then hiked the 9 mile pass to Theth. The Valbone to Theth hike is one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done, and one that I definitely recommend doing!

Where to stay in Theth

One of the best parts of visiting Theth is staying at the traditional, family-run guest houses. You’ll find these lodging options sprinkled throughout the town. Most guesthouses only have a handful of rooms available, so I highly recommend you book your room in advance. Especially if you are planning to visit Theth during the summer months. 

Because we booked our rooms only 6 weeks in advance, we found it nearly impossible to find a guesthouse (with good reviews) to stay at for two consecutive nights. For this reason we ended up staying at two different places in Theth. While I usually don’t love moving around so much, I’m so happy that we had the opportunity to stay at both of these guest houses because they were each incredible. 

Overall we found the lodging in Theth to be relatively affordable, although more expensive than nearby Valbone. A room in Theth for two people is typically between 35-80€.

Bujtina Pllumi Theth 

I think Bujtina Pllumi Theth has to take the prize for our favorite guesthouse we stayed at in the Albanian Alps. Located right by the famous church in Theth, the location was perfect. Not too far from the trailhead for the Theth to Valbonë trek, but also not too far from the trail to the Blue Eye. 

The rooms are super affordable and Franco and Leka are the nicest hosts. Franco speaks perfect English (and French) and is super helpful with anything you need. Plus, the 12€ set dinner they served was some of the best we had in Albania. 

Guesthouse “Gjin Thana”

While this guesthouse is a bit pricier than other options, its location at the top of a hill offers some of the best views of Theth. We booked a room with an incredible mountain view and it was worth every penny. 

One thing that is nice about Gjin Thana is that they have a full menu to choose from, rather than a set dinner. The food was the best we had in the mountains, and only cost us $14.50 for 2 people for dinner.

View from the restaurant at Guesthouse 'Gjin Thana'
View from the restaurant at Guesthouse ‘Gjin Thana’
the amazing food at gjin thana theth
Even if you don’t stay at Gjin Thana, make sure to stop by the restaurant for a meal

Camping in Theth and the Albanian Alps

The good news, if you’re traveling to Theth on a budget, or just looking for a bit more adventure, there are no laws against wild camping in Albania. This means that you are free to camp wherever you’d like. And there are some amazing spots.I recommend setting up camp along the river in between Theth village and the Blue Eye. This is a popular camping area with amazing views.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Theth is between late June and October. During the rest of the year you’ll likely find snow in the mountains and on the roads, making the trails impassable.

July and August are the peak season in Albania, and the Albanian alps, but if you are looking for less crowds then I recommend visiting in June, September, or early October.

Cost for visiting Theth

We spent $230 per person for 4 nights, 5 days in Theth and the Albanian alps. This included all transfers to and from the mountains from Shkoder and to Tirana, lodging, food, and plenty of wine and beers. This number could have been lower if we booked further in advance. When we booked 6 weeks in advance, most guest houses were already full. Because of this we book mostly triple and quadruple rooms, even though we were only two people.

Here are some averages costs:

  • Guesthouse for two people: $35-80
  • Beer or wine: $2 a glass
  • Set dinner menu: $10-13
  • Packed lunch: $4
  • Public transportation to and from: $50

Where to eat in Theth

The most common thing to do is to dine at your guesthouse, as each of the guesthouses offers dinner options of its guests. A few have a restaurant, that is also open to the public like Guesthouse Gjin Thana, but most just offer a set dinner menu to its guests. Set menus usually cost between 9-12 and come with a ton of food including salad, byrek (traditional pasty), veggies, cheese, meats, and more. Just chat with your guesthouse host when you arrive.

Additionally, some guesthouses offer a packed lunch for hikers (usually around 3.5).

Otherwise, you can find a few restaurants and one small mini mart in the center of town, right near the trailhead to the Theth to Valbone trek. This is a good place to stock up on any snacks you may want for your hikes.

Theth to Valbone Pass Trek

Other than its storybook charm, Theth is best known for the famous hike along the Valbonë Pass. A steep hike between the towns of Theth and Valbonë. 

There are a number of different ways to tackle the Theth to Valbonë hike. 

01) If you are starting in Theth then you can hike the full hike, which takes 6-8 hours, ending in the charming town of Valbonë. If you have the time then I highly recommend spending at least a night or two in Valbonë. To head back to the city you can either hike back to Theth along the same route, or go directly to Shkröder via a minivan + ferry + bus combo ticket. 

Ferry to Valbone
Ferry to Valbone

02) You can hike just to the Valbonë peak (3-4 hours) and then turn back instead of continuing to Valbonë village. While this is a good option if you have a car in Theth, I personally wouldn’t recommend it. The peak to Valbonë section of the hike is by far the most beautiful section and shouldn’t be missed!

03) If you need to get back to Theth but don’t want to do the hike twice you can make your way from Valbonë to Shkröder by public transportation, and then take a 2 hour bus back up to Theth. Definitely possible but a super long journey, that will likely need to be done over two days. You’re better off leaving your rental car in Shkröder throughout if you plan on doing the full Theth to Valbonë trek. 

View from the pass on the Valbone to Theth hike in the Albanian Alps
View from the pass on the Valbone to Theth hike in the Albanian Alps

Blue Eye of Theth

If you’re planning a trip to Albania then you may have read about the Blue Eye in Sarande. Theth has its very own Blue Eye, and a hike here is one of the most popular things to do in Theth. 

This hike is approximately 6 miles in each direction, for a total of almost 12 miles from start to finish. It usually takes about 6-7 hours to complete, not counting the time you spend at the Blue Eye. However, it can definitely be done faster. We managed to finish the hike in under 5 hours, not including our time hanging out at the Blue Eye. 

On the way you can pass two of the best things to do in Theth – Grunas waterfall and Grunas canyon.

The Blue Eye of Theth, a great day hike from Theth
The Blue Eye of Theth, a great day hike from Theth

The trail is relatively flat, with a 1,400 ft elevation gain (and equal descent) if you’re hiking the full trail from Theth village to the Blue Eye. It is suitable for any fitness level, just take your time. There are a lot of areas that aren’t protected by the sun, so make sure to bring enough water and sunscreen if you’re hiking during the summer. 

If you’re not interested in the full hike, or your legs are tired from hiking the Valbonë to Theth trail, then you can opt to take a taxi or drive to the village of Nderlysaj instead. From here it is just a 30-40 minute hike to the Blue Eye. 

Make sure to negotiate the cost with your taxi driver ahead of time, as the prices can be quite high for the short drive. You’ll also want to make sure you have a pickup scheduled for your return back to Theth. 

If you’d rather not deal with all of the logistics, you can book a tour of the area that includes a stop at the Blue Eye. 

The trail from Theth to the Blue Eye
The trail from Theth to the Blue Eye
Mountain views in Theth, Albania
Mountain views in Theth, Albania

Visit the iconic Theth Church (Kisha e Thethit)

One of the most popular things to do in Theth is to pay a visit to (and photograph) the beautiful Theth church. Over the years this beautiful church has been iconic. The tiny church, located right in the town, is set against a spectacular mountain backdrop.

church in theth
Famous Theth church in the center of town


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Visiting Albania? Here are some other articles to check out:

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