A Complete Hiking Guide to the Albanian Alps - 5 Days Itinerary for Hiking Theth and Valbona Trail

A Complete Hiking Guide to the Albanian Alps

5 Days Itinerary for Hiking Theth and Valbona Trail

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"I can not believe I am in Albania" is a sentence I can't stop saying as I hiked along the popular Theth-Valbone hiking trail in the middle of the Albanian Alps.

When one thinks of Albania as a travel destination, it is hard to imagine that a place like the Albanian Alps existed. The mountains surrounding the area of Northern Albania almost resemble those of the Rockies or the Italian Alps.

Due to its stunning snowy peaks, beautiful valleys, and breathtaking canyon, the Albanian Alps is one of the highlights for visiting Albania. It is also a hiking haven where you will find a ton of hiking trails, short and long for you to escape into the wilderness.

One of the most popular hiking trails in the Albanian Alps is the Theth-Valbona trail, which will take you from Theth to Valbona mountain towns or vice versa via the Valbona Pass that overlooks both valleys.

The Theth-Valbona hike is one of the most beautiful hikes you can do in the region and within this guide, I will explain to you in detail how you can hike Theth-Valbona trail independently, which side trips to do, where to stay, how many days to spend, and everything you need to know before hiking in the Albanian Alps.

Without further ado, let's begin with the Theth-Valbona hiking trails and itinerary map:

2 Weeks Backpacking Itinerary For Albania

The Albanian Alps Hiking Trails and Itinerary Map

The Albanian Alps Hiking Trails and Itinerary Map

Albania Travel Video

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When is the Best Time to Hike the Albanian Alps

The Albanian Alps from Valbona Pass on a cloudy day in Albania.

The best time to hike the Albanian Alps is from May - October where the hiking trails are open and you are more likely to get clear days which will make your hike much more enjoyable.

Keep in mind that the weather in the Albanian Alps can change quite drastically at any moment even in the mid-summer months so be sure to check the weather forecast before you embark on the journey.

The weather forecast in the Albanian Alps are pretty accurate and so I recommend you check the forecast about 3 days prior to your journey and plan accordingly.

I was hiking in July and we were stuck in Theth for 3 days due to heavy rainfall. I and a couple of friends decided to extend our trip so that we can outstay the rain, but some had to go back as they didn't have the time, and so if you are determined to hike the Albanian Alps, be sure to leave some wiggle room in case the weather goes bad.

For hiking out-of-season, I would recommend against it as most of the high passes in the Albanian Alps will likely be closed off due to snowfall, and the ferry service across Komani Lake, one of the transportation you will have to rely on, only runs from mid-April to early November.

The hiking season peaks in August (there is a chance there will be a Jazz Festival in Theth during August as well), and so if you want to avoid the crowds, go for May - June or September instead.

Which Way to Hike: Theth to Valbona or Valbona to Theth?

3 hikers walking along the Theth-Valbona trail in Albania.

I got so confused when I was in Shkodra planning the trip as there was a lot of mixed information out there. After doing the hike myself, I can totally say that it doesn't matter. They are both pretty much the same.

My suggestion is to go whichever way you find yourself going. If you find a nice group of friends to do the hike with, go with whichever the group chooses. If your hostel recommended doing one way and there are many people going that way, go with them. The hike is more fun with people, especially if you get stuck in the mountain due to rain as I did.

That said, if you want to choose the most optimal ways for you, there are a few things to consider:

One, there are more hiking trails to do in Theth and so if you are the type of hikers who prefer doing small hikes before doing a longer hike, go from Theth to Valbona.

Secondly, the Theth-Valbona hike levels are not evenly distributed. From Theth to Valbona Pass, it is a 3-hours steep climb straight-up which is perfect for those who like to do the hard part first when you have the energy and relax for the rest of the trail.

But if you are coming from Valbona to Valbona Pass, it is a long but gradual climb of around 4.5 hours, which is perfect for those who like to go slowly and gradually.

Personally, I preferred doing small hikes first before doing larger ones and going fast in the morning when I have the most energy, and so going from Theth to Valbona is the perfect fit for me.

A rough itinerary for those who wants to do Valbona to Theth instead of the other way around.

Since both are generally the same, within this guide, I will stick to the Theth to Valbona route but if you decided to do the other way around, everything I write here will still apply to you and so stick around to the end.

Where to Stay in the Albanian Alps

Shkodra - The Wanderers Hostel (Budget) - 9 USD/Night (Dorm) | Amberyellowbnb (Mid-Range) - 44 USD/Night (Superior Double Room)

Theth - Shpella Guesthouse Theth (Budget) - 17 USD/Night (Dorm) | 33 USD/Night (Twin Room with Private Bathroom) - Excellent accommodation. The best place I could have asked for to be stuck in the rain for 3 days. WIFI is available. Cozy beds, lovely people. Breakfast and dinner here are something I look forward to every day. They are also located nearer to the side trips that I recommend in this guide. Highly recommended!

Valbona - Jezerca Guesthouse (Budget) - 15 USD/Night (Dorm) | 33 USD/Night (Budget Double Room)

How to Get to the Albanian Alps

Mountains in Valbona at sunset in Albania.

The Albanian Alps is located in the Northern part of Albania bordering Kosovo and Montenegro. In order to get to the Albanian Alps, you will have to get to Shkodra, the main city hub before you embark on the mountain.

Depending on where you are coming from, most likely, you will have to fly into Tirana, the capital city of Albania first. There are a few ways you can get to Tirana:

How to Get to Tirana

From the US, you can fly into Tirana via Turkish Airlines through Istanbul, KLM Airlines through Amsterdam, Alitalia Airlines through Rome, and a few other routes that go through Europe.

From within Europe, you can go with low-cost airlines like WizzAir or RyanAir to get you to Tirana. If you are coming from a place that doesn't have a low-cost direct flight to Tirana, it might be worthwhile to travel by land to a city that has one and fly from there instead of relying on expensive flights.

From Asia, the easiest way is to fly to Tirana is through Istanbul via Turkish Airlines. If you want to minimize cost, you can find a way to Turkey and then from there, you can fly with Pegasus Low-Cost Airline to Tirana. Keep in mind that you might have to change airports if you are switching from a regular carrier to a low-cost carrier in Istanbul.

To find a cheap flight to Tirana, I would recommend you use Skyscanner or Momondo to look for the cheapest route and schedule so you can compare and pick the best one.

10 Best Things to Do in Tirana, Albania

How to Get from Tirana to Shkodra

A bus schedule from Tirana to Shkodra, Albania.

From Tirana, you can take one of the many buses going to Shkodra every day from the Northward Bus Station in Tirana.

There are 13 buses running every day between the 2 cities from 7 AM to 5 PM, running almost every hour. The bus costs 300 LEK and will take around 2 hours to reach Shkodra. They will drop you off at Sheshi Demonkracia roundabout located in the city center so you should have no trouble walking to your hostel/hotel.

How to Get from Saranda to Shkodra

Saranda is a big city hub in Southern Albania and if you are coming from Greece by ferry, you will likely end up here. If you are looking to travel from Saranda to Shkodra, you can easily do it in one day without a stopover in Tirana.

First, you will have to get to Tirana by catching one of the many buses bound for Tirana. The buses connecting these 2 cities run from 5 AM to 10 PM. Keep in mind that this schedule may be subjected to change depending on the season you are traveling in.

The journey from Saranda to Tirana will take 5 hours and cost 1300 LEK and the journey from Tirana to Shkodra will take another 2 hours and cost 300 LEK.

How to Get to Theth and Valbona Trailhead

The dirt road in Theth at sunset in Ablania.

The trailhead doesn't begin until you are in Theth which is still quite far away from Shkodra. It can get quite confusing wrapping your head around all the transportation required to bring you to the Albanian Alps and back but do not sweat, I'm here to break the entire trip down into an easy-to-understand step-by-step guide:

Tips: You will be traveling on one bus from Shkodra to Theth and one ferry and 2 buses from Valbona back to Shkodra. To ensure that you have space on this transportation, I recommend you buy all the bus and ferry tickets all in one go from your hostel/hotel in Shkodra. The total price you be around 3,400 LEK.

Getting from Shkodra to Theth

From Shkodra, you will first have to travel by bus on a winding road for 3 hours before you arrive in Theth. If you organize your trip with your hostel/hotel in Shkodra, the bus should come pick you up and your accommodation at around 7:20 AM.

The journey will take 3 hours and cost around 1,200 LEK (10 EUR). Once you arrive in Theth, you can ask your driver to drop you off at your accommodation so you do not have to walk.

Getting from Theth to Valbona

From Theth to Valbona, you will have to hike up to the Valbona Pass for 3 hours and down to Valbona in 4 hours. You can find more detail on what to expect along the trail below.

Getting from Valbona to Shkodra

From Valbona, you will have to travel to Fierze to take the ferry across the Komani Lake. The bus leaves from Valbona at 10:30 AM and you will arrive in Fierze in one hour. The bus costs 700 LEK.

If you bought all your tickets in Shkodra, all you have to do is let your guesthouse know you are leaving on the 10:30 AM bus the day before so they can tell the bus driver to pick you up and you can just show the ticket to the bus driver when the bus arrives.

After you arrive in Fierze, you will have to wait until 1 PM to catch the ferry to Koman across Komani lake. This part of the journey will cost 800 LEK and takes around 2 hours before you arrive in Koman where you will have to get another bus back to Shkodra.

From Koman, you will find many buses waiting for you at the port. Simply get on one, show your ticket to the driver, and you will be back in Shkodra in 2.5 hours. This last leg of your journey will cost you another 700 LEK.

All in all, you will be spending 1200 LEK for your Theth to Valbona journey, 2,200 LEK for your Valbona back to Shkodra journey and you arrive back in Shkodra by 6 PM.

How Many Days to Spend Hiking in the Albanian Alps

Sitting with legs hanging off a cliff in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

If you are only interested in doing only the Theth-Valbona hike and you do not have a lot of time, you can spend a minimum of 3 full days (4 nights) including the 2 nights in Shkodra and one night each in Theth and Valbona, but you will barely scratch the surface of what makes the Albanian Alps so breathtaking.

If you have more time, I would recommend you spend at least 4 full days (5 nights) with 2 nights in Shkodra, 2 nights in Theth, and one night in Valbona, so you will have more time to do some epic side trips in Theth.

Here is a breakdown of the 4-days itinerary in the Albanian Alps:

Day 1: Prepare for the hike in Shkodra and spend the night there.

Day 2: Travel to Theth and Hike Up to Denelle and back. Spend one night in Theth.

Day 3: Hike to the Blue Eye and back and spend another night in Theth.

Day 4: Do the Theth-Valbona hike and spend the night in Valbona.

Day 5: Travel back to Shkodra and spend the night there.

For more detail on the 5 days itinerary and the hiking trails, check out the detail 5 days hiking itinerary in the Albanian Alps below.

How Much Money Do I Need for the Albanian Alps

From the 5-days itinerary above, we can calculate the minimum amount of money you can expect to spend in the Albanian Alps as follows:

Tips: There is no ATM in Theth and Valbona so be sure to take out enough cash in Shkodra before you start your journey. Feel free to use this breakdown as a guide but keep in mind that this is a minimum value (staying in a dorm, eating cheap, etc.) and so be sure to have more money than you need just in case.

Accommodation: 2 nights in Shkodra is 18 USD, 2 nights in Theth is 34 USD, and 1 night in Valbona is 15 USD, so in total, you will pay 67 USD (7,429 LEK) for accommodation.

Food: Food in Shkodra cost around 500 LEK whereas, in both Theth and Valbona, you can expect to pay 500 LEK for lunch and 1,000 for dinner. Breakfasts are included in the accommodations recommended here so for 5 days, you will spend around 4,000 LEK for food.

Transportation: For transportation, a bus from Shkodra to Theth is 1,200 LEK, a bus from Valbona to Fierze is 700 LEK, a ferry from Fierze to Koman is 800 LEK, and a bus from Koman to Shkodra is 700 LEK, so in total, you will pay 3,400 LEK for transportation.

Activities: Hiking is FREE! 😁

Total Budget: 14,829 LEK (134 USD).

Is it Safe in the Albanian Alps

In general, Albania is a very safe country to travel in. There is nothing to worry about when it comes to dealing with people. The only thing to worry about is the terrain in the Albanian Alps.

In the Albanian Alps, you will be hiking on several steep trails and it can be challenging and slippery especially when it rains. A place you have to watch out the most is at the viewpoint of the Valbona Pass, which is a narrow, rocky trail full of slippery small gravel.

When it is crowded up there, people have the habit of trying to squeeze themselves in to get that epic view of the Valbona valley, and so watch your step and watch out for other people's swinging backpack.

Internet in the Albanian Alps

In Shkodra, there is fast WIFI available in most places so you should have no trouble finding one but that is another story in Theth and Valbona since they are both in the mountains. However, if you stay at the guesthouses I recommended, they do have reliable WIFI in the common area that you can stay connected.

For the phone signal, you will get an unreliable 3G speed that will fall back to EDGE most of the time in Valbona and Theth, and there are no phone signals in any of the hiking trails so do not expect to rely on them when you are hiking.

If you are looking to buy a local sim card anyway, you can buy one in Shkodra. I would recommend getting the Vodafone Z package, a one-month validity sim card with 5.5 GB of regular data, 10 GB for social network usage, 400 minutes and SMS which cost 1500 LEK + 100 LEK for a new sim card, especially if you are planning to travel in Albania more than 2 weeks.

If you are traveling in Albania for only 2 weeks or less, I would recommend you get the 14-days validity Vodafone Tourist sim that gives you 10 GB of data and 500 mins of calls for 1300 LEK.

For more information about Albania local sim card: Albania Prepaid Data Sim Card.

Travel Insurance

If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Albania, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure.

Get a Quote from World Nomads

Things to Prepare for Theth-Valbona Hike in the Albanian Alps

An opened Corny granola bar while hiking in Theth-Valbona in Albania.

  • Cash: This is very important as there is no ATM available in Theth and Shkodra. Be sure to bring enough cash for the entire trip with a few extra just in case you get stuck due to heavy rainfall. Check out our cost breakdown of the Albanian Alps here.
  • Minimal Toiletries: Proper shower and bathrooms are available in the guesthouses in Valbona and Theth so prepare some toiletries for the trip.
  • Sunblocks and Sunglasses: The sun can get pretty strong up there so do put on sunblocks before the hike. Sunglasses are recommended especially for the trail from Valbona Pass to Valbona which goes through a river bed full of blinding white rocks and gravels which reflect light.
  • Water bottles: Make sure you carry with you a 2 liters bottle because the hikes you will be doing can be from 5 to 7 hours so prepare accordingly. You can refill your water at your guesthouse.
  • Snacks and Lunch: In Shkodra, be sure to buy some hiking snacks (granola bars, etc.) for the 5 days you are going to be in the mountains. Some light meals (ham, bread, peanut butter, etc.) are also recommended so that you can prepare lunch for the hikes. You can buy bread from your guesthouse, so no need to take one off if you don't want to
  • Sturdy Shoes: There are many steep trails with loose gravel, especially when you are approaching the Valbona Pass, and so I would recommend you wear sturdy shoes that can handle that kind of terrain.
  • Wind-proof and insulating jackets: In can get quite cold in the mountains even in Theth and Valbona especially at night or when it rains so be sure to have warm layers with you. A fleece and a windproof jacket are enough if you are hiking in the summer.
  • Maps.me: All the hiking trails I recommended here are also available on Maps.me, which is an app I highly recommend you get before you start hiking. You can download Maps.me here: Android | iOS.
    Make sure you download the offline maps before you hit the trail.

5-Days Albanian Alps Hiking Itinerary

Day 1: Prepare for the Hike in Shkodra

The empty G'juhadol street in Shkodra, Albania.

Hiking Time: 0
Difficulty: No hiking required today
Where to Stay: The Wanderers Hostel (Budget) - 9 USD/Night (Dorm) | Amberyellowbnb (Mid-Range) - 44 USD/Night (Superior Double Room).

In order to hike the Albanian Alps, you will first have to make your way to Shkodra, one of the oldest cities in the Balkans. Depending on where you are coming from, the trip from Tirana to Shkodra should not take longer than 2 hours and so you should have some time on your arrival day to prepare yourself for the hikes and see some of the cool sights in Shkodra.

A woman riding a bike through G'juhadol Street in Shkodra, Albania.

To prepare for the hike, you can refer to my Things to Prepare list above. If you are looking for a good place to buy some supplies before the hike, SPAR Supermarket located at the end of G'juhadol Street is a great place to start.

The colorful Kole Idromeno street in Shkodra, Albania.

Once you are done with the preparation, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the city. From SPAR Supermarket, walk to the other end of G'juhadol Street and you will be in Kole Idromeno street, one of the main attractions in Shkodra, full of restaurants in cafes to indulge yourself in.

Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity in Shkodra, Albania.

Right around the same area as Kole Idromeno street, be sure to check out St Stephen's Catholic Cathedral, Ebu Bekr Mosque, and Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity as well while you are there. These are some of the prettiest structures you will find in Shkodra.

Rozafa Castle in Shkodra, Albania.

Looking for a great place to watch the sunset? Rozafa Castle, located 1.5 km south from Shkodra City Center, is one of the best places to do that. Two hours before sunset, start making your way to the castle and when you are there, do not enter the castle (it is probably closed by then anyway) but climb up the hill to the side of the castle instead and watch the sunset from outside the castle wall.

If you do not fancy walking for 1.5 km, you can also rent a bike from your hostel/hotel and ride to Rozafa Castle as well. With a bike, you can also go further and check out the old Mesi Ottoman Bridge to the north of the city or ride along the Lake Skadar to Zogaj and back.

Before you end the day, be sure to organize all your transportation with your hostel/hotel to the Albanian Alps. You can book all the buses and ferry in one go with your accommodation for around 2,400 LEK.

You will receive the tickets for trips from Valbona to Fierze (bus), Fierze to Koman (ferry), Koman back to Shkodra (bus) where you can give to the driver later. For the trip from Shkodra to Theth, you can pay directly to the bus driver when you arrive tomorrow.

For accommodation in Theth and Valbona, you might be able to get by without booking during the shoulder seasons but if you are there in the mid-summer months, I highly recommend you book them before you embark on the journey. The good ones (the ones I recommended in this guide) get booked out really fast.

Thankfully, you can book the accommodation on Booking.com now as they recently got a reliable internet connection in both places.

Day 2: Travel from Shkodra to Theth and Hike to Denelle in Theth

Fushe Thethi part of Theth at sunset in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

Hiking Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate - Steep Climb at First but Easy towards the End
Where to Stay: Shpella Guesthouse Theth (Budget) - 17 USD/Night (Dorm) | 33 USD/Night (Twin Room with Private Bathroom).

After a night in Shkodra, you will be departing for Theth in the early morning where the bus you book yesterday should come and pick you up at your hostel/hotel around 7 - 8 AM.

The mountains from the viewpoint between Shkodra and Theth in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

My bus came and picked me up at my hostel at around 7:20 AM so be sure to wake up early. I asked my hostel to prepare my breakfast for the trip so you can do that too. Otherwise, the bus will stop at a viewpoint halfway to Theth so you can buy some snacks and coffee from there as well.

A new hotel being built at the viewpoint between Shkodra and Theth in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

The journey will take 3 hours, 1.5 hours on a paved road to the viewpoint and another 1.5 hours on a mountainous road to Theth. If you are staying at Shpella Guesthouse, which I highly recommend, let your driver know so they can drop you off there.

The view from Shpella Guesthouse in Fushe Thethi in Theth, Albania.

There are 2 areas in Theth, the town center (if I could call it a town) and Fushe Thethi in the outer rim of the town where Shpella Guesthouse is located. It is only a 15-minutes walk from one another but the view is so much better in Fushe Thethi hence why I recommend Shpella Guesthouse.

The Church of Thethi
from Fushe Thethi in Theth, Albania.

Shpella Guesthouse is also located close to all the side trips we will be doing today and tomorrow so that is another reason to stay in the outer rim of Theth rather than at the center.

A 3 EUR lunch at Shpella Guesthouse in Theth, Albania.

After a 3 hours journey from Shkodra, you should arrive in Theth by 11 AM which should give you ample time to do some hikes before the sunset. A hike I would recommend you do is the Denelle Trail which will take you up a mountain allowing you to see the other side of the valley.

Denelle is located in a large field hidden away in the mountains in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

The hike ends in Denelle, a giant plain surrounded by mountains and in the midst of that, you will find a warm welcoming family of 5 and their settlement where you can refill your water enjoy the view with their lovely daughters.

A view of Theth from the Denelle trail in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

The trail begins from Fushe Thethi just east of Shpella Guesthouse and continues east towards a rocky river bed where you will have to cross to the other side.

An opening approaching Denelle from Theth in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

From the other side of the river bed, the trail is a 3-hours straight-up hike through a thick forest where you will able to occasionally take a break and admire the view of Theth and all the surrounding valleys from above.

Me standing on a rock along the Denelle trail overlooking the valley in Theth in the Albanian Alps.

If you think this view is nice, I would recommend you go up first and come back down to this same spot on your way down a few hours before the sunset. The light will be amazing then and you should be able to capture some epic photos as I did 😁.

A giant cross at the viewpoint along Denelle trail in the Theth, Albania.

The viewpoint is about halfway into the 3-hours hike so you are still a long way until you arrive in Denelle. Continue to hike up further and you should arrive at an opening where you will find yourself in the middle of a large plain surrounded by mountains.

A large field at Denelle camp in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

Looking up from Theth, it is hard to imagine that this place existed high up in the middle of all those beautiful peaks. Continue walking a bit further into the plain and you will see a small camp where the warm-welcoming family of 5 awaits you.

The lovely kids of the family living in a large tent at Denelle camp in Theth, Albania.

Congratulations, you are at the end of Denelle trail so you can relax a bit, ask the family to fill up your water, and explore the surrounding area. After you are done taking photos, make your way down the same way.

The valley in Theth from a viewpoint along Denelle trail in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

It should be another 2 hours before you arrive back in Theth. Along the way, be sure to look out to the breathtaking valleys towering over Theth and watch as the sun retreats away.

Sunset over Theth from Denelle trail in Albania.

The hike to Denelle is moderate to hard but tomorrow, we will be doing an easier hike to the Blue Eye that consisted of 90% flat trails and only 10% steep climbs.

An amazing dinner at Shpella Guesthouse in Theth, Albania.

After a hike, congratulate yourself with a feast worthy of a champion. At Shpella Guesthouse, every evening, the mother of the owner of the guesthouse will cook a large feast where everyone will gather around a large table and eat together.

The mother of the owner of Shpella Guesthouse preparing an oven to cook for the guests in Theth, Albania.

They will prepare around 5 - 6 local dishes where you can eat as much as you want. It is 8 EUR per person which is expensive for Albanian standards, but the price makes sense if you consider that you are in the mountains and the food is plenty, delicious, and you can eat until you collapse! I highly recommend the dinner at Shpella Guesthouse.

The Milky Way and the night sky in Theth, Albania.

After an epic feast, be sure to go out into the night and check out the night sky before you end the day. Walk a little towards the road connecting Theth center and the outer rim and you will be away from artificial light and you will have the entire Milky Way to yourself 😉. This is why I always carry a tripod!

Day 3: Hike to the Blue Eye in Theth

The Blue Eye in Theth, Albania.

Hiking Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Easy - Mostly Flat But Long
Where to Stay: Shpella Guesthouse Theth (Budget) - 17 USD/Night (Dorm) | 33 USD/Night (Twin Room with Private Bathroom).

After a good night's sleep, have an epic breakfast at Shpella Guesthouse and set off on to the Blue Eye, one of the most popular hikes to do in Theth. Due to its popularity, you can expect many more people doing this hike than the one I recommended the day before.

The beginning of the Blue Eye trail in Theth, Albania.

The Blue Eye trail begins just South of Shpella Guesthouse, where you will have to walk down along the right bank of the river until you cross the rocky river bed you crossed yesterday (at a different point). From here, you will have the option to either continue to the Blue Eye or check out Theth Waterfall.

My friend Linday standing among the crowds under Theth Waterfall in Albania.

It is just another 5 minutes side trip and so I would recommend you visit Grunas Waterfall first and then the trail should merge back to the Blue Eye trail. It is quite crowded for my liking though but it was still quite a nice view to see.

A hiking trail from Theth to the Blue Eye in Albania on Maps.me.

Be sure you keep checking your Maps.me after the waterfall. Me and my friend Lindsay got lost quite a few times before we found ourselves on the right track.

The trail along the river from Theth to the Blue Eye in Albania.

After the waterfall, you will be walking along a flat trail for 2 hours until you will have to cross the river to a small settlement called Nderlysaj and from there, it is another 30 minutes walk and a 15 minutes steep climb to the Blue Eye.

Me looking at the Blue Eye in Theth, Albania.

After around 3 hours, you should arrive at the Blue Eye where you can stop for lunch, swim in the dreaded cold water of the Blue Eye, or sit at the small cafe they have there.

The clear water of the Blue Eye in Theth, Albania.

Despite the temperature of the water, the Blue Eye is a stunning natural phenomenon to look at even if you don't plan to swim. The water is extremely clear and the fact that it is tucked away in a lush green forest, the Blue Eye is one hell of a photogenic place.

The Blue Eye in Theth from above in Albania.

After taking a break at the Blue Eye, you can start heading back the same way to Theth. In general, the hike to the Blue Eye itself is very easy and not very demanding but the trail is long and you will be hiking for about 6 hours in total for the hike so do prepare your gear accordingly.

The trail back from the Blue Eye to Theth in Albania.

After the hike, you will have the evening to freshen up, have an amazing dinner at Shpella Guesthouse, and socialize with the people at the guesthouse. For some reason, Shpella Guesthouse attracts the best people!

The cloudy mountains in the Albanian Alps, Albania.

When I was there, we were stuck at Shpella Guesthouse for 3 days due to heavy rainfall and I met some really awesome people that we ended up hiking together after the rain stopped. If you are looking to socialize in Theth, the Shpella Guesthouse dinner table is a great place to start 😉.

Day 4: Hike from Theth to Valbona

Me looking over the Valbona valley from Valbona Pass in the Albanian Alps.

Hiking Time: 7 hours
Difficulty: Hard - Steep and Long Trail
Where to Stay: Jezerca Guesthouse (Budget) - 15 USD/Night (Dorm) | 33 USD/Night (Budget Double Room).

Today is going to be a big day and probably one of the reasons why you are visiting the Albanian Alps in the first place. We are tackling the famous Theth-Valbona hike that will take you through some of the most stunning trails in the area.

Theth-Valbona trailhead in the Albanian Alps.

From Theth, you will have to make your way up north heading towards Theth Center but instead of crossing the river and follow the road, you stick to the right bank of the river until you have to cross it on foot and then follow the trail until you are at the intersection.

The Theth-Valbona directional sign in Theth, Albania.

Turn right at the intersection and then follow the trail, cross the river bed again and you should see a sign directing you to the trailhead of Theth-Valbona hike.

The forest along the Theth-Valbona trail in the Albanian Alps.

From the trailhead, it is a 3-hours steep climb that goes straight-up to Valbona Pass, the highest point of the trail. It is a long strenuous hike so take it slow and take a break often if you have to.

An exposed trail at the beginning of the Theth-Valbona trail in the Albanian Alps.

The trail at the beginning is mostly exposed but 30 minutes in and you should be in a forest which should help you with the heat. This part is definitely the hardest of them all but once you reach the Pass, it will a simple stroll from then to Valbona.

One of the viewpoints along Theth-Valbona trail in the Albanian Alps.

There are a few awesome viewpoints along the way so be sure to keep an eye out for one. Also, do not forget to look back once you are about to approach Valbona Pass.

The beautiful mountains along the Theth-Valbona trail  in the Albanian Alps.

After 3 hours of climbing, you should arrive at Valbona Pass where you can continue to climb up further to an actually viewpoint to get that epic panorama shot. Be very carefully here as the trail is narrow and covered in slippery gravel.

Me at the viewpoint of Valbona Pass in the Albanian Alps.

Once you are done taking photos and chilling out at the pass, you can continue down the mountain and through the valley to Valbona. It is an easy stroll from here on out but it is still quite a long way to go until you arrive in Valbona.

The owner of Simoni Cafe preparing ice coffee for hikers on Theth-Valbona trail in Albania.

Along the trail, you will find quite a few cafes that you can stop and take a break at. I recommend Simoni Cafe if you are looking to stop for a bit after making your way down the Pass. For only 2 euros, you can get yourself a glass of their delicious ice coffee, a beer or raki if you need a shot of that to wake you up 😉.

2 hikers walking along the river bed in Valbona, Albania.

From Simoni Cafe, it is another 2.5 hours walk down the mountain and along the rocky river bed until you arrive at a paved road. Depending on where your accommodation is, you might have to walk further along the road for another 45 minutes to get to the end of Valbona.

Me lying down on the road in Valbona after hiking the Theth-Valone trail in Albania.

Jezerca Guesthouse that I recommended is located right at the end of Valbona so you will have to walk for another 45 minutes to get there. Do not worry, once you see the road, you will want to continue on. The surrounding view in Valbona is pretty epic.

The mountains from Jezerca Guesthouse in Valbona, Albania.

Along both sides of the road, you will see a ton of breathtaking mountains, lush green forest, and cute little local farmhouses that should keep you occupied until you arrive at your guesthouse.

A farm house in Valbona, Albania.

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for a few of the 170,000 bunkers that scattered throughout the country in Valbona. There are quite a few of them hidden away along the road here.

Me and my friends having dinner at Jezerca Guesthouse in Valbona, Albania.

After you arrive at your guesthouse, freshen up, eat dinner, and be sure to let your guesthouse know that you are going on the 10:30 AM bus the next day. Make sure you still have the tickets you bought earlier with you. If you somehow lost it, you can buy another one at the guesthouse in Valbona.

Day 5: Travel from Valbona to Shkodra

A mountain in Valbona at sunrise in Albania.

Hiking Time: 0
Difficulty: No hiking required today
Where to Stay: The Wanderers Hostel (Budget) - 9 USD/Night (Dorm) | Amberyellowbnb (Mid-Range) - 44 USD/Night (Superior Double Room).

Valbona is especially beautiful in the morning and so if you sleep in the day before, be sure to wake up early and walk around the town at sunrise before your departure.

Goats walking along the road in Valbona, Albania.

From your guesthouse, a bus will come and pick you up at 10:30 AM (sometimes a bit earlier) and they will drive you to Fierze, a town where you will have to catch the ferry across the Komani Lake.

Me walking along the road in Valbona, Albania.

The bus journey from Valbona to Fierze is about an hour and you should arrive in time for the 1 PM ferry to Koman. At Fierze, they will drop you off right at the port where there is a restaurant you can sit in and wait for the ferry.

The ferry across Komani Lake in Fierze, Albania.

After you get on the ferry, it is another 2-hours journey across the Komani Lake. The view is quite amazing throughout so be sure to find a seat outside.

The view of Komani Lake from the ferry in Albania.

On the ferry, you can buy water, soft drinks, and some light snacks in case you run out during the hike. After 2 hours on the ferry, you should arrive at the port in Koman around 4 PM.

A large cross on a rock in the Komani Lake, Albania.

At the port, there will be several buses waiting for you. You can get on one of them, give the driver your ticket, and they will take you back to Shkodra in 2 hours.

The mountain range in Theth at sunset in Albania.

Congratulations! You have finally completed the epic Theth-Valbona hike in the Albanian Alps! From Shkodra, you will arrive too late to catch any bus out so you will likely have to stay overnight and then catch a bus the next day.

And there you have it, a complete hiking guide to Theth-Valbona and the Albanian Alps. If you are looking for a unique hiking trip with the beauty that matches those mountains in the Alps in Western Europe but at quarter the price, the Albanian Alps is the place to be. If you have any questions regarding the hikes in the Albanian Alps, feel free to ask me in the comments below.

Further Reading for Albania

Looking for more information for your trip to Albania? Here is a collection of articles about Albania that will help you with your trip planning:

The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.

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