Looking for the best things to do in Theth, Albania? We’re sharing all you need to know in this post!
Theth is a small mountain village in the Albanian Alps, known for its green valleys, gushing turquoise rivers, and spectacular mountains.
With its incredible natural beauty and variety of outdoor activities, from hiking and swimming in the rivers, it is the perfect place to escape and relax in nature.
During our visit to Theth in May, we spent a couple of days taking it slow, hiking, and making the most of this wonderful place. We both agree that it is one of our favorite places in Europe!
In this post, we’re sharing the best thing to do in Theth, as well as practical information like tips on what to pack and how to get there.
A Quick Note About the Roads in Theth
The main question most people have about visiting Theth is how do I get there? There is still a lot of confusion about the road to Theth and driving around Theth itself. We’ll answer those questions here.
First of all, YES, the road from Shkoder to Theth is complete. This is a newly paved road that makes it accessible for all types of cars to drive on. You do not need a 4×4 vehicle to get to Theth anymore.
Second, the roads in Theth are a mix of gravel and asphalt; however, you can still easily get around with a normal car. We drove a Hyundai Elantra all around Theth and had no issues.
Finally, the road to the Blue Eye in Theth is paved now, so you can drive directly to the Blue Eye hike trailhead without having to hire a 4×4 vehicle.
9 Best Things to do in Theth
1. Hike to the Blue Eye
One of the absolute best things to do in Theth has to be the Blue Eye hike.
The Blue Eye in Theth National Park, not to be confused with the Blue Eye near Saranda in southern Albania, is a natural pool of beautiful turquoise water that is several meters deep.
You can swim in the pool and river during the summer months or simply enjoy the views of the surrounding nature. There is also a cafe just above the Blue Eye where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat.
The river just below the Blue Eye is calm and is a great spot to set up a picnic, read a book, or to go swimming for a couple of hours.
There are two options for getting to the Blue Eye: you can either hike from Theth or drive to the trailhead and hike from there.
Hiking from Theth village to the Blue Eye
The hike from Theth village to the Blue Eye is about 18km round trip and takes 5-6 hours in total. From Theth, you’ll follow the trail along the left side of the river until you reach the small village of Nderlysaj.
You can also combine this hike with the Grunas waterfall hike if you’d like to visit both at the same time. We suggest downloading Maps.Me, an offline maps app, and following the well-marked route on the app to get to both the waterfall and the Blue Eye.
Nderlysaj village has restrooms and a few cafes, so you can stop for a break here before making your way up the mountain to the Blue Eye. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the Blue Eye from Nderlysaj.
For the most part, the hike is moderate and flat. The last 30 minutes of the hike is the steepest part, so save some of your energy for the last bit!
Driving from Theth to the Blue Eye
If you have a car, then we suggest driving to Nderlysaj and then hiking to the Blue Eye from there – it takes around 45-minutes from here to get to the Blue Eye.
This will save you a lot of time (4 hours round trip), so you can spend more of your day relaxing by the river at the top of the hike.
The road is paved from Theth to the village, and you can park your car for free in the gravel parking lot across the river from the town.
2. Visit the Grunas Waterfall
No visit to Theth would be complete without hiking to the Grunas waterfall, also known as Theth waterfall. This 25+ meter waterfall falls from a steep limestone cliff into a small pool of water and is worth the hike to get there.
The hike starts from Theth village and takes you along the Shala River for about 15-20 minutes until you reach a narrow, red bridge. From the bridge, you’ll make your way up into the mountain, passing a cute stone house and cafe along the way.
The trail is fairly well-marked with a red and white striped marker, but there are a few diverging paths, which can be a bit confusing. We found that in the end all of the paths lead to the same spot.
The last 10-minutes of the trail is quite steep and there is a bit of a rock scramble to reach the top. Once you make it to the top, the view of Grunas waterfall is spectacular.
The hike is moderate and takes around 50-60 minutes each-way. There were people of all ages doing the hike, so it’s quite doable for anyone.
3. Check out Theth Church
Built in 1892, the church of Theth is one of the most popular sights to visit in this beautiful village. Known for its majestic views of the Albanian Alps towering over the church, it’s best to visit at sunset when the lighting is just right.
The church is located in the center of the town and is easy to walk to from most guesthouses. During the spring, the field surrounding it is filled with colorful wildflowers making the whole experience even more magical.
Throughout the years, the church has served as a church, a school, and even a hospital during the communist regime. It has survived turbulent times and remains a functioning house of worship to this day.
The church is open for weekly service; otherwise, it remains closed most of the time. We spent about 45 minutes walking around and admiring the views. Experiencing it in person is definitely a “pinch me” moment.
4. Go to the Lock-in Tower of Theth
Standing as a stark reminder of a turbulent past, the Lock-in Tower, or “Kulla e Ngujimit”, is a unique part of Theth. The blood feud tower dates back to over 400 years ago and has a somewhat dark history.
The Lock-in Tower was built as a fortress for men seeking refuge during the ‘Kanun’, a period marked by blood feuds and tribal conflicts. The ‘Kanun’ was a traditional code of honor, enforcing an eye-for-an-eye justice.
If a man was targeted by a rival family, he could seek sanctuary in the Lock-in Tower, a safe house of sorts.
Today, the tower stands as a symbol of the past, a testament to the harsh laws that once governed Albanian highland life. You can step inside and explore the tower’s rooms, which are a chilling reminder of the lengths to which people went for protection.
5. Hike from Theth to Valbona
Hiking the Theth to Valbona pass is one of the best things to do in Theth. This 17km hike takes a full day to complete, 6-8 hours in total, and guides you up over the Accursed Mountains for spectacular panoramas of rugged mountain peaks and wide valleys.
Important info before you hike
A quick word of caution: this hike is becoming increasingly busy throughout the year and people are hiking without doing their due diligence beforehand. We had planned to do this hike at the end of May; however, we had to cancel last minute due snow.
The week prior to us arriving in Theth, we read an article that said two women had died earlier that week from falling down a narrow portion of the pass. There was still snow on the trail, and they were not prepared with the right equipment. Unfortunately, a man just a couple weeks before this also died on this narrow stretch of the hike.
With that being said, be extra cautious during the spring months, particularly in May and early June. We suggest asking about the weather conditions prior to hiking in Facebook groups, such as Peaks of the Balkans or Albania Travel Info. You can also reach out to your guesthouse in Theth for an update on conditions as well.
If you are determined to hike the pass, even with snow, then we highly recommend getting a guide who has the right equipment. You can find a guide through your guesthouse.
Hiking during the summer months is not a problem if there is no snow. The trail is safe and easy to follow – it’s only one particular stretch of the hike that unfortunately causes fatal accidents during the spring months.
How to hike the Theth to Valbona pass (full hike + half hike)
Full hike: The hike is a one-way route and can be done in either direction, either from Theth to Valbona or Valbona to Theth. Plan on a full-day for the hike, most people do it within 6-8 hours, and bring extra food and water just in case.
There are several cafes along the way that serve snacks and have water re-fill stations if needed.
Half hike: Another alternative is to do a round-trip hike from Theth to Valbona Peak and then back down to Theth in one day. This takes 4-hours each way and is a good option if you want to spend the whole time in Theth.
There is a cafe about 45-minutes from the peak where you can take a rest, refill your water bottle, or grab a snack if needed.
Getting from Valbona to Schkoder
The journey from Valbona to Shkoder takes a few steps. First, you’ll take a minibus to Fierze on Lake Komani from Valbona, which takes 1-1.5 hours. This can be arranged by your accommodation in Valbona.
Second, you’ll take the ferry across Lake Komani to Koman. The ferry ride takes 2.5 hours and costs ~800 Lek ($8) per person. We highly recommend booking your ferry tickets in advance, especially during the summer months. You can book your tickets online through Berisha.
Once you arrive in Koman, you’ll take a final minibus back to Shkoder, which takes 2 hours. This can be arranged through your accommodation in Shkoder, or you can arrange this through the Berisha tour company mentioned previously.
You can book a package through Berisha that will arrange your transportation from Valbona -> Fierze -> Koman -> Shkoder.
Overall, the journey takes almost an entire day to get back to Shkoder from Valbona.
6. Enjoy the views from your guest house
After a day of exploring Theth’s wonders, there’s no better way to unwind than kicking back at your guesthouse and soaking up the views. Imagine sitting on a wooden terrace, a warm cup of tea in your hand, as you gaze out at a landscape that seems to belong to a fairytale.
We stayed at Molla Guest House up above the town. The view from our balcony was spectacular with endless views of the Accursed Mountains and the valley.
If you can make time for it, we suggest planning a relaxing afternoon at your guesthouse. It’s worth it.
A little tip: Ask your guesthouse for some “mountain tea” – it was our favorite drink in Albania. It’s made of herbs and foliage from the mountain or hillside and is the perfect blend of soothing ingredients.
7. Visit the Ethnographic Museum of Dukagjini
The Ethnographic Museum of Dukagjini is one of the lesser-known things to do in Theth and is nice to visit if you have some time to spare. This museum was once the home of Lulash Keq Boshi and is literally built on top of a rock.
Today, you can step into the past and tour around this traditional house made of stone. The rooms are decorated in typical Albanian style, featuring hand-woven rugs and more. If you’re looking for a cultural activity in Theth, then we recommend visiting this museum.
8. Eat some local cuisine
Aside from a couple of restaurants in the center of Theth, most people opt to eat at either their guesthouse or another guesthouse in the village. Much of the local cuisine in Theth is simple and hearty yet delicious.
You’ll find everything from steak, freshly grilled trout, chicken, and traditional dishes like byrek (a stuffed pie) or fergese (a baked pepper and cottage cheese dish).
Our guesthouse came with a not-so-light breakfast. An array of cheeses, vegetables, and eggs were served with Petulla, a traditional fried bread.
We opted to stay at our guesthouse for dinner, and we are glad we did. All of the food was fresh and home-made by the owner’s wife.
Soup was served as a starter, followed by a huge platter filled with cheeses, byrek, bread, olives, salads, and more. After the starter, we were practically full, but there was more.
The main dish was a whole trout and fries the first night. And the second night was an entire steak with potatoes. Let’s just say there is no shortage of food in Albania.
Our dinner at the guesthouse was €20 per person, and we think the price was well worth the quality and experience.
9. Wander around Theth village
One of the best things to do in Theth is to take the time to truly absorb the simplicity of life and the beauty surrounding you. We made sure to have a couple of hours where we could wander around some of the trails connecting the guesthouses in the village.
There is something about taking it slow and living in the moment in places like Theth. It truly grounds you and makes you realize how lucky you are to be in such a gorgeous place.
How many days do you need to stay in Theth?
We suggest spending a minimum of 2 days and 2 nights in Theth to get the most out of your time there. If you are in a rush, then you can easily do almost everything on this itinerary in one day, aside from the hike to Valbona.
2-day Theth Itinerary:
- Drive (or take the minibus) from Shkoder to Theth.
- Hike the Grunas waterfall + Blue Eye
- Check out the Theth church
- Visit the Lock-in Tower
- Hike to Valbona peak and back from Theth
- Relax in the afternoon at your guesthouse in Theth
3-day Theth & Valbona itinerary:
If you are planning to hike the Theth to Valbona pass, then we suggest doing that on day 3.
- Drive (or take the minibus) from Shkoder to Theth.
- Hike the Grunas waterfall
- Check out the Theth church
- Visit the Lock-in Tower
- Hike to the Blue Eye
- Visit the Ethnographic museum
- Relax at your guesthouse in the afternoon
- Hike the Theth to Valbona pass
- Spend the night in Valbona
When is the best time to Visit Theth?
The best time to visit Theth depends on what you want to do. If you just want a relaxing mountain vacation where you can relax, read, and enjoy slow village life, then you can visit anytime of the year.
The roads may be closed during the winter months (you can reach out to a guesthouse in advance to ask), so spring, summer, and fall might be best.
If you plan to do some hiking, such as the Theth to Valbona pass, then late June through September is the best time to visit. The weather is usually warm and without snow this time of the year.
We visited in late May, and the weather was overcast with some rain showers throughout the day. For us, we thought the temperatures were perfect for hiking. The only downside was the snow on the trail to Valbona.
How do you get to Theth?
The most convenient way to reach Theth is to drive a rental car from Shkoder to Theth. The drive takes around 2-hours in total. The road is newly paved and safe for any type of vehicle to drive on.
If you do not have a rental car, then you can take a minibus from Shkoder to Theth. You can either arrange this with your accommodation in Shkoder, or you can book a transfer through Berisha.
Check out our full-guide on driving to Theth here.
Where to stay in Theth?
One of the joys of visiting Theth is staying in one of the local guesthouses. These family-run establishments offer a warm, hospitable experience that makes you feel right at home.
Built in traditional style with stone and wood, these guesthouses offer cozy rooms with modern amenities. Many also feature terraces or gardens where you can relax and enjoy the stunning views of the mountains.
Breakfast is usually included in your stay, and you can also eat a home-cooked dinner for an extra cost. The dinner at our guesthouse cost €20 per person, and most of the ingredients were grown by the owners or locally sourced. It truly was some of the best food we had in Albania.
Here are some of our recommendations on where to stay in Theth:
Molla Guesthouse – Amazing views and fantastic food. We spent 2 nights here and plan to stay here again when we go back. We only recommend staying here if you have a car, as it’s a bit out of the way from the center of town.
‘Gurra Family’ Guesthouse – Wonderful location and modern amenities. This highly-rated property is run by a local family and is in a great location for hiking the Theth to Valbona pass.
Guesthouse Marashi – One of the most centrally-located guesthouses with easy access to the Grunas waterfall and Blue Eye hikes.
Tips for visiting Theth, Albania
- Pack food – Most guesthouses in Theth offer breakfast and dinner. If you want snacks for hiking and lunch, then we suggest picking up some food in Shkoder before heading to Theth. There is a minimart in town, but the food options are limited and it’s a bit pricey.
- Bring a book – Plan to have some downtime in Theth, so you can relax and read a book for the afternoon.
- Bring hiking shoes – Make sure to bring hiking shoes if you plan on doing any hiking in Theth. Some of the hiking trails are fairly steep and rocky, and you’ll need sturdy and comfortable shoes to make it through.
- WiFi is limited – Yes, there is wifi at the guesthouses, but it’s spotty. Plan to go offline during your time in Theth, so you don’t have to worry about relying on the internet connection.
- Bring cash – Make sure to bring enough cash to pay for your guesthouse, any transportation, and food. Some guesthouses take card – make sure to ask in advance to make sure you’re prepared.
Theth, Albania Frequently Asked Questions
Should I visit Theth or Valbona?
There is more to do in Theth, so we suggest visiting Theth instead of Valbona. If you are hiking the Theth to Valbona pass, then you can spend a night in Valbona before heading back to Shkoder.
Is there a grocery store in Theth?
Yes, there is a mini-market in the center of Theth village. It has the basic necessities, but the prices are quite high. We suggest picking up any food essentials in Shkoder before heading to Theth.
Can you stay in Theth National Park?
Yes, some of the guesthouses are located in Theth National Park with easy access to hiking in the area.
More Information for your Albania Trip
GJIROKASTER: This historic city is well worth a visit. Read our post on the best things to do in Gjirokaster to help plan your day in this town.
Albania Travel Planning Guide
Albania Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Albania? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.
Albania Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Albania? Yes! We rented a car in Albania for one month and it is the best way to see the country. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.
Albania Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Albania, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Albania, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. We even had to rely on it for data to get some work done, and it worked great!
Albania Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Albania? We booked all of our hotels through Booking. All of the hotels were responsive through the messaging tool, and there are endless options to choose from. Note – some hotels in Albania require you to pay in cash. Make sure to message the hotel in advance to be prepared with the correct form of payment.
Drinking Water in Albania – Wondering if you can drink the tap water in Albania? We were advised to not drink the water by our hotels, so we ended up buying bottled water instead.