Albania travel: How to hike from Theth to Valbona

… and how not to!

One of my most memorable, most adventurous and most amazing days on my “Travel for recovering tour” were in Theth. You’ll find the whole story below which includes a cemetery, a ride in a car’s boot, a bridge that was actually two beams, a lovely German couple and a French guy.

But before that let’s jump to the useful part and see how to hike from Theth to Valbona.

Your perfect base is your accommodation in Shkoder. Almost every single hostel can help you to organize your Theth-Valbona hike. Make sure to choose Our Way Hostel or Bulldog Hostel & Club because they can surely help you.

Which way to hike

You have two options (obviously) for hiking: from Theth to Valbona or from Valbona to Theth. The latter is easier and less steep, but whichever you choose, I can highly recommend spending at least one full day in Theth. And again: I highly recommend it.

Wondering why? Keep reading and find all of the wonderful reasons some paragraphs later.

Let’s say you feel you’re a badass and don’t care about steep and exhausted hiking trails so you picked the Theth-to-Valbona way. Your trip will be like this:

  1. Taxi from Shkoder to Theth – it’s a 3-hour ride and costs you 10 EUR. Don’t order a private taxi, let your hostel do this.
  2. Spend a whole day in Theth because it’s amazing and there are so many things to do – please find it below and stay there for a night.
  3. On the 2nd day take the hike to Valbona.
  4. Get a ferry on Koman lake to Shkoder, which takes about 3 hours (your hostel will help you to organize it)

You might be surprised to hear that the Valbona-Theth option is its reverse.

How to prepare for your big hike
  • The trail is clearly marked so you can’t miss it – even I didn’t.
  • It is always better if you have hiking shoes but you can also do it in running shoes.
  • There are 3 cafés on the way where you can take a little rest, but make sure that you have plenty of water with you
  • Bring an extra jacket, pullover or scarf – nights are pretty chilly there even during summertime

Just soak up every beauty around you, it is a view that you want to enjoy the fullest and the longest.

Other things to do in Theth

This lovely village is as remote as you can imagine, especially during the winter, when the snow can cut off access there. There are only a café and a little shop where you can buy some food or drink.

To help you imagine how it looks exactly, here is a photo of the main road:

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There is a Visitor centre in the middle of the village – you cannot miss it – where a lovely lady helps you by letting you know all the information about your options around the region. My favourite and most recommended hikes are:

  • The Blue Eye – It’s a shorter hike, like 6 hours in total with a short break at the Blue Eye, which is a popular destination so you will find a lot of people there.
  • Grunas waterfall – it is only 45 minutes walk from Theth. There is no mark on the way, but just simply follow the only route in Theth and you’ll see the waterfall after 20 minutes.
  • Other hikes – Well, my story with Theth started a little bit quirky so I had the possibility to hike around a bit. There are plenty of well-marked hiking trails literally everywhere around the village.
Where to stay in Theth?
Booking.com
Where to stay in Valbona?
Booking.com
Storytime – photo journal: Amazing adventures in Theth
a.k.a. when it turned out that I’m as strong as a marshmallow

As I mentioned above these few days in Theth were one of the most memorable adventures on my “Travel for recovering” tour. All started with some little experiences on the way to the village, like a bunch of little stops when our driver loaded the car’s boot with food, drinks and household materials because this is how the food delivery works there.

Or seeing a prison’s enormous walls with some motivation quotes such as “Just because you made a mistake, doesn’t mean you are a mistake”.

Or when so many sheep surrounded us – well, I’m a girl from the city.

The taxi just arrived and my first task was to find my guesthouse, so relying on Maps.me, started to follow the route.

It was a little surprise when I had to go through a river which crossed the road, but it was still fine. But when I had to climb so many hills through the shrubby I started to presume that something was wrong.

Yeah, here I want to say that if someone tells you to leave your big backpack in the city and not bring it with yourself on your hike, just take this advice. I didn’t do so and once the perfect moment just came when I realized that I shouldn’t have gone hiking with a more than 10 kg heavy backpack, especially knowing that I’m as strong as a marshmallow.

My own lovely words just echoed in my head, words which I was saying back in Skadar: “I love owing things and keep all of my stuff with me.” So let me say when you are hiking in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where the hell you go, your stuff’s value is greatly reduced.

But finally Maps.me gave me a sign that I arrived. And I was there:

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Yes, it’s a cemetery.

Hm…

Hmmmmmm……

Alright, panicking won’t help so let’s restart the map. I was still in the right place, at least according to the map.

There were no people around me. There were no houses around me. I was literally in the middle of nowhere. Alright so let’s get back to the village, but wait there is a car that is coming towards me.

Yaaaaaay, I have been rescued!

After I stopped them and presented all the ballet movements from the Nutcracker’s all three acts – no English speaking person in the car – I jumped into the car’s boot with the hope that they would take me to my guesthouse.

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The car stopped, the door opened, Gabi and her pack got out of the boot to find the next adventure: a bridge. Yeah, Guys, I’m not joking, I’m not even kidding, this thing below is a bridge – officially – and somewhere on the other side there was my guesthouse between a cow and a corn field.

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I was almost taking the first step on the bridge when they honked at me. Probably they noticed how experienced I am at climbing these kinds of bridge-like structures, so a man came to me to show me the proper technique of how not to fall off from the bridge into the river and stones. I couldn’t be grateful enough.

Well after I got across, another climbing and one more – just for sure – I arrived! The only thing that I could do was just to smile like an idiot. I enjoyed this little adventure so much!

After I finally hung my backpack I decided it was such a good time for exploring so here come some photos that will leave you totally speechless

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While I was walking around, I spotted a little structure: stones of balance. When I got closer I found another one, then another one and some more. Jumping from rock to rock, crossing a little river, climbing up and down, I had such a great time while I was following these little stones. Finally, I ended up in the middle of nowhere (again) where I found a mini waterfall. I guess sometimes it is not about the destination, but the journey.

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A creepy guesthouse

So why don’t I recommend my guesthouse to any of you: the owner was quite creepy and his sister/friend/girlfriend/wife or whoever she is, was even more. Plus they have bed bugs, a huge hole on the room’s floor which welcomes every single creature that wants to get in. And it is one thing that it wasn’t funny for him to say that he wanted to sleep with me, but which was even worse when I realized that it wasn’t a joke.

I planned to spend two nights there but then reduced it to only one. My last – and actually only one – night I met a funny French guy and a lovely German couple, so I could get out of the place with them. The thing is leaving Theth is not that easy because there is not any public transport and all of the taxies are pre-ordered the previous day. I tried to join the taxi that the German couple used, but there was no more space.

So lucky that it happened in Albania!

Why? Because Albanian people are simply and genuinely kind and always ready to help anyone.

So the taxi driver arranged another car for me. The truth is that there wasn’t any space in that car either, but I could sit in the place of a broken seat.

So three hours later I finally arrived in Shkoder and got a new purple bruise on my shoulder and on my head caused by the car’s window, but I was also enriched with some amazing and memorable experiences that I will never forget!

If I ever go back to Albania, I’m sure, Theth will be a place where I will spend a week – at another accommodation.

How to hike from Theth to Valbona Albania 2
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