Nestled deep within the rugged Albanian Alps, Theth is a picturesque village that seems to have been plucked from a fairytale. This remote and pristine destination is a haven for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. In this ultimate Theth guide, I’ll show you the best things to see and do, where to stay, how to get there and more, ensuring you have an amazing experience in this hidden gem of Albania.
This ultimate Theth guide will help you plan an unforgettable visit, where you can explore stunning landscapes, hike through rugged mountains, and experience the warmth of Albanian hospitality.
Table of Contents
Getting to Theth
Theth is not easily accessible, but the journey is part of the adventure. Here’s how to reach this hidden gem:
- Fly to Tirana – your journey will probably start by flying into Tirana International Airport
You can start your Albania trip with exploring Tirana, Albania’s vibrant capital, just like I did. It is worth to spend at least one night there.
- Transfer to Shkodra – take a bus or hire a private car to reach Shkodra, a city in northern Albania, which is the gateway to Theth.
Shkodra is another city worth visiting. I would spend at least 2 nights there – even more if you have enough time. You should keep in mind that you need one night in Shkodra just for transfer to Theth, because you have to start early in the morning. I’ve spent 3 nights there and it was perfect, because there was enough time to do the day trip to Koman Lake & Shala river.
- Shkodra to Theth – From Shkodra, you can arrange a minibus or hire a local driver for the scenic ride to Theth. The road is winding but offers breathtaking views. Ofcourse, you can drive by yourself, but it is easier if you arrange a minibus.
The best way to arrange the transfer to Theth is by contacting your hotel/hostel or the apartment owner. The bus costs 12 EUR / person and there is only one daily journey, departing at 7 am. The drive takes about 2,5 hours.
The bus from Theth to Shkodra departs at 11 am and they will pick you up in front of the guesthouse.
When to visit Theth
The best months to visit Theth are May, June, July, August & September. April and October can also be a good time to visit, but not as much. I visited Theth in the summer, more specifically in June and the weather was perfect for hiking. It was sunny, but still not too hot and it wasn’t crowded. The days are really long then & the June mornings are my favorite.
Where to stay
Accommodations in Theth are charming and rustic. Options include guesthouses, traditional Albanian stone houses, and campgrounds.
We were staying at the Gjin Thana Guesthouse and I can only recommend this place. This guesthouse is located a little bit higher than some other places and there is amazing view down the valley. The food was delicious – we’ve tried different meals and everything tasted great. They even have a winter garden, so you can still enjoy the view during breakfast/dinner, even if it rains. I could not recommend a better place to stay in Theth and this is my completely honest opinion.
Top Theth activities
Theth is a hiker’s paradise. Explore the Valbona-Theth trail, which takes you through lush valleys, past waterfalls, and over dramatic mountain passes. Don’t miss the iconic Blue Eye, a natural spring resembling an eye-shaped pool. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Grunas Waterfall, which is accessible by a short hike from Theth. Interact with the friendly locals and learn about their traditions. You might be invited to share a meal or coffee with them, offering a truly authentic experience.
The Blue Eye / Syri i Kaltër
The Blue Eye, known as “Syri i Kaltër” in Albanian, is one of the natural wonders and popular attractions near Theth. It is a stunning natural spring located in the heart of the Theth National Park, offering visitors a unique and mesmerizing experience. The Blue Eye is a circular, crystal-clear pool of water with a mesmerizing blue hue. It gets its name from its appearance, which resembles a human eye with a vivid blue iris. The clarity and color of the water make it a surreal and captivating sight. The Blue Eye is a karst spring, which means it forms as a result of the dissolution of soluble rocks, creating an underwater source of freshwater.
The Blue Eye is a natural gem, offering a serene and enchanting escape into nature. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the breathtaking landscapes of northern Albania. It is located in a secluded and pristine forested area, surrounded by lush vegetation and dramatic cliffs. It’s a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts. To reach the Blue Eye, you can follow a well-marked trail through the Theth National Park. The hike is relatively moderate and offers picturesque views of the Albanian Alps, dense forests, and rocky terrain. While the area around the Blue Eye is relatively remote, there are some facilities, including a small cafe and picnic areas. However, amenities are basic, so it’s advisable to bring your own food and water if you plan to spend time there.
Many visitors choose to take a refreshing dip in the Blue Eye’s clear waters. The pool is quite deep, and the water is extremely cold, even in the summer months, due to its source from underground springs.
The Grunas Waterfall, also known as “Ujvara e Grunasit” in Albanian, is another beautiful natural attraction near Theth. It’s a picturesque waterfall located in the Theth National Park, offering a tranquil and scenic spot to enjoy. Grunas Waterfall is a stunning, multi-tiered waterfall cascading down from the high cliffs of the Albanian Alps. It is known for its pristine, emerald-green waters and the lush, green surroundings.
It’s accessible by hiking along well-marked trails, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers. To reach the Grunas Waterfall, you’ll embark on a picturesque hike through the national park. The trail takes you through dense forests, across wooden bridges, and along the banks of the river. It’s a moderate hike, and the journey itself offers fantastic views of the natural scenery.
The pool at the base of the Grunas Waterfall is a popular spot for swimming, especially during the summer months. The water is crystal clear but can be quite cold due to its source from mountain springs, so be prepared for a refreshing dip. The area around the waterfall is an ideal spot for a picnic. You’ll find plenty of natural rock formations and peaceful corners where you can relax and enjoy a meal amidst the beauty of the Albanian Alps.
If you’re not confident about navigating the hiking trails on your own, you can also join guided tours organized by local agencies or guesthouses in Theth. These tours often include visits to the waterfall and other nearby attractions.
Thethi National Park
Theth National Park is a pristine and rugged wilderness area renowned for its stunning natural beauty, remote villages, and excellent hiking opportunities. Here’s an overview of what you can expect when visiting Theth National Park:
- scenic landscapes: Theth National Park is characterized by dramatic mountain scenery, lush forests, and pristine alpine landscapes.It’s part of the Albanian Alps, offering visitors breathtaking views of rugged peaks and deep valleys.
- hiking & trekking: The park is a haven for hikers and trekkers, with numerous well-marked trails that cater to various levels of experience. Popular hikes include the Valbona to Theth trail, which takes you through high mountain passes and offers picturesque vistas. The Blue Eye and Grunas Waterfall are two popular destinations within the park, accessible by hiking trails.
- traditional villages: The park is dotted with charming, traditional Albanian villages like Theth and Valbona. These villages provide an authentic glimpse into rural Albanian life, with stone houses and welcoming locals. You can visit the lock-in tower (Kulla e Ngujimit) in Theth, which provides insights into Albania’s unique blood feud culture and history.
The Theth National Park, which encompasses the Blue Eye, is a protected area, and it’s essential to respect the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles when visiting. Ensure you clean up after yourself and leave the area as pristine as you found it.
Theth Church / Kisha e Thethit
The Theth Church is a small, stone-built church that holds significant historical and cultural importance in the region. It is one of the oldest churches in the area. The church features traditional Albanian architecture, characterized by its stone construction and simple design. It has a cross-shaped plan with a central dome, which is a common architectural style for Orthodox Christian churches in Albania. The Theth Church is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of the village’s cultural heritage. It has been an integral part of Theth’s community life for generations.
The church is situated in a tranquil and serene setting, surrounded by lush greenery and the stunning backdrop of the Albanian Alps. The peaceful atmosphere makes it a place for quiet reflection and contemplation.
Hiking & Trekking Trails
Theth is a hiker’s paradise, offering a variety of stunning hiking trails that take you through the pristine wilderness of the Albanian Alps. Here are some of the most popular hiking trails in and around Theth.
Valbona to Theth trail
Distance: Approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles)
Duration: 6-7 hours
This is one of the most famous and scenic hikes in the region, taking you from the village of Valbona to Theth or vice versa. It offers breathtaking views of rugged peaks, deep valleys, and lush forests. You’ll pass through the Valbona Pass (Qafa e Valbonës), where you can rest and enjoy the panoramic scenery.
Theth to Grunas Waterfall
Distance: Approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) one way
Duration: approx. 1.5 hour
This relatively short and moderate hike takes you from Theth village to the Grunas Waterfall, a picturesque multi-tiered waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. It’s an excellent hike for those looking for a shorter excursion.
Blue Eye Trail
Distance: Approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) one way
Duration: 2-3 hours one way
The Blue Eye trail leads you from Theth village to the famous Blue Eye natural spring, known for its crystal-clear blue waters. The hike offers a chance to explore the stunning Theth National Park and cool off in the Blue Eye’s refreshing pool.
Theth to Ndërlysa
Distance: Approximately 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) one way
Duration: 2-3 hours one way
This trail takes you from Theth village to the village of Ndërlysa, providing an opportunity to explore the traditional architecture and culture of the region. You can also visit the lock-in tower (Kulla e Ngujimit) along the way.
Theth to Peja Pass
Distance: Approximately 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) one way
Duration: 6-8 hours one way
This challenging hike leads you to Peja Pass (Qafa e Pejës), offering stunning views of the surrounding peaks. It’s a longer and more strenuous trek, so be prepared for a full day of hiking.
Remember to check the weather conditions, have a good map or GPS device, and consider hiring a local guide for some of the more challenging hikes. Also, carry sufficient water and food, dress in layers, and be prepared for changing weather, especially if you plan to hike in the higher altitudes of the Albanian Alps. Theth’s hiking trails promise unforgettable experiences and stunning natural beauty for outdoor enthusiasts.
Local cuisine & dining
Traditional Albanian cuisine in Theth reflects the hearty and rustic flavors of the region. While Theth may not have as extensive a culinary scene as larger cities, it offers some delicious dishes and unique food experiences. Because no Theth guide can be marked as ultimate without food recommendations, here are some traditional Albanian dishes you can expect to find in Theth:
- Tave kosi – This is one of Albania’s most famous dishes. It consists of lamb or beef slow-cooked with rice and yogurt, resulting in a creamy and flavorful casserole. It’s often flavored with garlic and herbs.
- Flija – Flija is a special treat in Albanian cuisine and is often prepared for festive occasions. It’s a layered pancake made by pouring thin layers of batter over each other and then baking them. It’s served with various toppings like yogurt, honey, or butter.
- Fërgesë – a dish made with peppers, tomatoes, and cottage cheese. It’s often baked in the oven and can be served as a side dish or as a main course with bread.
- Byrek – Byrek is a popular pastry in Albania, made with thin layers of dough filled with ingredients such as cheese, spinach, or meat. It’s a savory snack that you’ll find in local bakeries and guesthouses.
- Grilled meats – Albanians love their grilled meats, and you’ll find a variety of grilled meats served with fresh salads and flatbread. Many households in Theth bake their own bread, and you’ll likely be treated to delicious homemade bread at guesthouses and local eateries.
- Raki – Raki is a traditional Albanian spirit made from distilled grapes or other fruits. It’s a popular drink to accompany meals and social gatherings.
One of the most authentic and rewarding experiences you can have in Theth is enjoying traditional Albanian meals at guesthouses. Theth is renowned for its warm hospitality, and staying in guesthouses not only provides you with a cozy and immersive atmosphere but also allows you to savor delicious homemade Albanian cuisine. Guesthouses in Theth typically offer hearty, homemade meals prepared with locally sourced ingredients. You’ll have the chance to taste traditional Albanian dishes that are bursting with flavor.
Many guesthouses have their own gardens and livestock, ensuring that the ingredients used in your meals are fresh and organic. You might even witness the process of milking cows or making cheese. Guesthouses typically serve meals in a family-style, fostering a communal atmosphere among guests. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet fellow travelers and bond over delicious food.
Albanian guesthouse hosts are renowned for their hospitable and amiable nature. They treat guests like family, going above and beyond to create a memorable dining experience. Most guesthouses have outdoor seating areas with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Dining amidst such natural beauty enhances the overall experience.
Theth is relatively isolated from the rest of Albania due to its remote location in the mountains. As a result, the people of Theth have preserved many traditional customs and ways of life. The village is famous for its stone houses with slate roofs, which are built in a traditional style. Albanians, in general, are known for their hospitality, and this is especially true in Theth. Visitors are often welcomed with open arms and offered homemade food and raki (a strong alcoholic drink) by the locals.
Although traditional clothing is not as commonly worn in daily life today, you may still see people in Theth wearing traditional attire during special occasions or cultural events. Traditional Albanian clothing is known for its vibrant colors and intricate embroidery.
Traditional Albanian music and dance are an integral part of the culture. You might have the opportunity to experience traditional Albanian folk music and dance during your visit to Theth. The kaba and lahuta are traditional Albanian musical instruments often used in performances.
Weather & What to pack
Weather conditions can vary from year to year, so it’s advisable to check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. If you plan to visit Theth during the summer months, make sure to bring sunscreen, light clothing, and comfortable hiking gear. In spring and autumn, pack layers to adapt to temperature changes, and in winter, come prepared for cold and snowy conditions if you decide to visit during this season. It’s good to know that the road to Theth can be closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall. The Valbona Pass is also closed in the winter months.
If you plan on hiking or camping, consider bringing a backpack suitable for day hikes, hiking poles for added stability on the trails, a water bottle, maps or GPS device for navigation & insect repellent for protection against bugs.
Money & ATMs
Theth is a remote and rural area in northern Albania, so it does not have the same level of banking infrastructure as larger cities in the country. Therefore, it’s essential to plan accordingly for your financial needs when visiting Theth.
Cash is King. While some guesthouses and businesses in Theth may accept credit or debit cards, it’s best to carry a significant amount of cash with you. This is especially important because you may not find ATMs in Theth itself. Before heading to Theth, make sure to withdraw enough Albanian lek (ALL) in Shkodra to cover your expenses during your stay in Theth.
The primary language spoken in Theth, as well as throughout Albania, is Albanian. Albanian is the official language of the country, and you’ll find that most residents in Theth communicate in Albanian. However, due to the growing tourism industry in Albania and the increasing number of international visitors to Theth, you may also encounter some people who speak English, especially in guesthouses, hotels, and businesses catering to tourists. In larger cities like Shkodra or Tirana, you’ll generally find more English speakers.
It’s always a good idea to learn a few basic Albanian phrases or carry a translation app to help with communication, as speaking a few words in the local language can enhance your travel experience and show respect for the local culture. Albanians are known for their hospitality and often appreciate when visitors make an effort to speak their language.
Theth itself is an absolutely safe place to visit. Albania, in general, has a low crime rate, and Theth is a small and tight-knit community. However, it’s still advisable to take typical precautions like securing your belongings and not leaving valuables unattended.
It’s essential to keep a few safety tips in mind when visiting:
- The journey to Theth can be challenging due to winding mountain roads. Drive carefully and be prepared for rough terrain, especially if you’re renting a car.
- Be aware of weather conditions, especially if you plan to hike in the mountains. Weather can change rapidly in this region, so check forecasts and be prepared with appropriate clothing and gear.
- Ensure you have travel insurance. It’s also advisable to carry a basic first-aid kit for minor injuries.
- While the tap water in Theth is usually safe to drink, it’s a good idea to confirm with your host.
- Know the emergency contact numbers for Albania and the nearest medical facilities. It’s also helpful to have a local SIM card or a way to communicate in case of emergencies.
Places to visit nearby
There are many visit-worthy places nearby. One of them is certainly Valbona Valley National Park.
Another place worth visiting was mentioned before at the beginning of this Theth guide. I am referring to the initial location to reach Theth, which is Shkodra. From Shkodra you can visit the Koman Lake & Shala River, another place worth visiting in Albania. Do you know what is the best thing about this? You can do a “round trip” and visit them all!
Shkodra – Koman Lake – Valbona – Theth – Shkodra
Exploring the stunning natural beauty of Shkodra, Koman Lake, Valbona Valley and Theth through a hike is a fantastic adventure. Here’s an option for a multi-day trek that takes you through these remarkable places.
Duration: Approximately 5 to 7 days, depending on your pace and stops along the way.
Start your journey in Shkodra, a city rich in culture and history. Explore the Rozafa Castle and Shkodra’s vibrant atmosphere. Spend the night in Shkodra to rest up for your hike. Take a morning bus to Koman. Embark on a scenic ferry ride on Lake Koman, one of the most beautiful boat trips in Europe. Arrive in Fierza and either camp by the lake or stay in a guesthouse in the village.
Start your hiking adventure from Fierza to Valbona. The trail takes you through lush forests and offers breathtaking views of the Valbona Valley. Spend the day exploring Valbona’s natural beauty and tranquility. Consider hiking to the Valbona Pass (Qafa e Valbonës) for spectacular views.
Begin your trek from Valbona to Theth, an adventure that offers some of the most stunning landscapes in the Albanian Alps. Pass through the Valbona Pass and descend into Theth Valley. Explore Theth’s attractions, including the Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter), Theth National Park, and the Grunas Waterfall the next day. Enjoy traditional Albanian cuisine prepared by your guesthouse hosts and immerse yourself in the local culture and relax in this remote village.
If you are into hiking but you would rather do it as a part of the group, you can check activities here.
I hope you find this Theth guide helpful. Please share to assist other travelers planning a trip to the charming village in the Albanian Alps. Follow me on my journeys & adventures.