Hike from Valbonë to Theth: The Adventurous Albanian Alps Hike


The trek from Valbonë to Theth is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in Albania. The 17km journey meanders through small mountain villages, across trickling streams, and vast swaths of forest.

If you’re planning a trip to the Albanian Alps, this article will help you with the logistics and preparation of your hike from Valbonë to Theth.

About the Valbonë to Theth Hike

If you plan to do this hike, you’ll want to set aside three days for it, as you’ll need a full day for hiking, as well as a day on each side to get to and from the towns that have trail heads. The hike itself is anywhere from 5 to 10 hours depending on your fitness level.

Distance: 17.5 kilometers
Time: 5–10 hours
Signage: White and red stripes

The Difficulty of Valbonë to Theth Hike

If you’re an experienced hiker, this trek is considered moderately difficult. As long as the weather is good, you don’t need ropes or other gear. Some parts are quite steep, but nothing is particularly dangerous.

There are some strenuous sections along the way, especially near the mountain pass. It is recommended to be fairly fit as this will avoid a need to make numerous stops to catch your breath.

If you feel unfit for this trek or you want to make it a bit easier on yourself, you can arrange luggage transportation through your hostel to avoid the need to carry a heavy backpack.

What to Bring

Don’t take too much. You have to carry everything you bring with you on your back during the hike, so we recommend leaving most of your luggage behind in Shkodër.

Carry only a daypack with what you need during the three-day journey. This is what we suggest bringing:

  • Clothes and hiking shoes: You’ll want shoes with a good grip that will be comfortable for a long trek and lightweight, breathable clothing. Ideally, go for a wicking fabric to help keep you cool and dry. Our suggestion: wear the same clothes for three days, and only pack clean socks and underwear. You’re sitting on a bus for most of day 1, and nobody’s going to care if you’re bit stinky on your return journey. If they do, you’re never going to see them again anyway!
  • Water bottle: You’ll be able to refill your water bottle in any of the lush mountain streams, so no need for a large water bladder or water rationing on this journey.
  • Food: There are not that many opportunities to get food during the hike. It is recommended to do some shopping beforehand. Think of meal bars, bananas, nuts, dates, and chocolate. That said, there is at least one cafe along the path, so you’re unlikely to be left starving if you forget.
  • Hat and sunscreen: During the hike from Valbonë to Theth the sun can be quite strong. A cap or hat is a must to keep cool and sunscreen is a must-have to prevent burning. Transportation to and from the trailheads

Getting to the Valbonë to Theth Hike

Shkodër is the most common starting point for hiking from Valbonë to Theth, as it’s the closest major city. This also makes the entire route a large circle, so you can do it in either direction, starting your hike at either Theth or Valbonë.

Valbone to Theth map for Albania hike

Map of the three-day journey between Shkodër, Valbonë, and Theth, Albania

We’ve chosen to go counterclockwise, traveling first to Valbonë and then hiking back to Theth. The reason is simple: the trip from Shkodër to Valbonë is a minimum of five hours of buses and ferries, while Theth back to Shkodër is only a two-hour minibus ride. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do after spending a full day hiking is spend a full day traveling!

Day 1: Travel day to Valbonë (5+ hours)
Day 2: Hike from Valbonë to Theth (5–10 hours)
Day 3: Travel back to your starting destination (2 hours if Shkodër)

Public transport

Shkodër → Valbonë

This is likely the most cumbersome part of the journey, as it involves taking a bus to Komani Lake, a ferry several hours up rive, and then hopping on another bus to get to the Valbonë city center. You’ll then still need to navigate to your hotel or hostel for the night.

We recommend booking tickets with your hostel in Shkodër for the first part of the journey. If you choose to start your journey in Theth, your hostel in Valbonë can help you with booking these tickets. Alternatively, you can use Komani Lake Ferry website.

Bus from Shkodër → Komani Lake (2 hours, €6)
Ferry up river → Fierzë (2+ hours, €5)
Bus from Fierzë → Valbonë (1.5 hours, €6)

Theth → Shkodër

There is no public bus that runs from Theth to Shkodër, so arranging transportation between the two is mainly done through guesthouses run by families with minibuses. The minibus will coordinate who leaves at what time and from which guesthouses they pick people up. There is often no set time for this, so it is best to check with your guesthouse.

The journey from Theth to Shkodër takes about 3 to 4 hours. It starts on a dirt road full of bends and potholes, and the road becomes paved once you get closer to the Shkodër. Once in Shkodër you’ll be let out at Sheshi Demokracia square in the city center.

Minibus from Theth → Shkodër (4 hours, €10)

Taking your own car

There is no road between Valbonë and Theth, so it is pretty hard to do this trip by car, as you’ll need to leave your car at one destination and come back for it. If you do take your own car, we recommend traveling to Valbonë, hiking to Theth, and then hiking back to Valbonë to collect your vehicle.

Be aware, the road from Shkodër to Komani Lake is not paved everywhere and can be in quite a bad state at some points.  The road between Fierzë and Valbonë is fortunately much better. Keep in mind that the ferry is often quite full and you may have to maneuver a bit to squeeze your car between the other vehicles. If you don’t feel confident doing this, one of the ferry employees can probably do this for you.

Alternatively, you can drive around the river, straight from Shkodër to Valbonë. This is easier likely easier, though it’s less of an exciting adventure and doesn’t save loads of time.

Option 1

  • Drive from Shkodër → Komani Lake (2 hours)
  • Ferry up river with car → Fierzë (2+ hours)
  • Drive from Fierzë → Valbonë (1 hour)

Option 2

  • Drive from Shkodër → Valbonë (5 hours)

In theory, you can also drive to Theth with your own car, but it is far from easy. The road from Shkodër to Theth (SH21) starts well, but not far before Theth it changes into an unpaved and often narrow road along considerable chasms. There are people who do this with a regular car, but ideally, you need something with 4-wheel drive 4WD.

How much does it cost to do the Valbonë to Theth hike?

As far as hikes go, this one isn’t cheap (i.e. most hikes are basically free), but it’s affordable by Western standards. Transportation and accommodation for two nights is going to run you between €60 – €70.

Transportation costs

Public transportation costs for reaching the start point and getting back afterward are fixed. You need to purchase bus and ferry tickets and arrange the minibus transport afterward.

Bus to Komani Lake: €6
Ferry to Fierzë: €5
Bus to Valbonë: €6
Minibus to Shkodër: €10
Total transportation cost: €27

Accommodation costs

Accommodation costs vary, depending on your choice to stay in a hotel, Airbnb, or hostel. Still, you can expect the prices to start at around €20 per person per night.

Where to stay

In Valbonë there are quite a few hotels and hostels where you can spend the night before the hike. In Theth, you are more likely to stay in guesthouses. If you travel in the low season, a reservation is not necessary, but we recommend making reservations during the high season.

Where to Stay in Valbonë

Check out Villas Jezerca!


Villas Jezerca in Valbonë is a beautiful holiday home that offers its guests a range of benefits. The property provides free WiFi, and guests can enjoy the beautiful garden, shared lounge, and terrace. Some units have a seating area and balcony, providing an extra element of relaxation.

The on-site restaurant offers guests delicious Mediterranean cuisine, and there are several accommodation options available. For those traveling by air, Pristina International airport is just 138 km away, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.

The location of Villas Jezerca is rated 9.4 for a two-person trip, making it an ideal choice for couples looking to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing holiday. The property has been welcoming guests through Booking.com since March 11, 2019, and continues to be a popular choice for travelers. If you’re looking for a comfortable and convenient stay in Valbonë, Villas Jezerca is an excellent option.

Where to Stay in Theth

What to eat in Valbonë?

Valbonë is a beautiful village located in the Albanian Alps and is a popular destination for hiking and outdoor activities. When it comes to food, the traditional cuisine of Valbonë is influenced by the region’s rugged terrain and agricultural traditions.

Here are some traditional dishes you can try in Valbonë:

  1. Tave Kosi – This is a delicious lamb and yogurt casserole that is a favorite in Albania. The lamb is cooked with garlic, onion, and rice and then baked in a yogurt sauce.
  2. Flija – This is a traditional Albanian dish made of layered crepes with a mixture of cheese and butter between each layer.
  3. Kacamak – A cornmeal-based dish that is similar to polenta, Kacamak is a staple food in the northern Albanian region. It is typically served with cheese, yogurt, or butter.
  4. Byrek – A savory pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.
  5. Mish Pule Me Oriz – This is a classic Albanian dish made of baked chicken or lamb with rice and vegetables.
  6. Bakllavë – A sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough, chopped nuts, and honey syrup.
  7. Raki – Albania’s national drink, Raki is a strong spirit made from distilled grapes or plums. It is often served as an aperitif or digestif.
Tavë Kosi is an Albanian dish of baked lamb and rice

These are just a few examples of the traditional cuisine you can enjoy in Valbonë. You can also find plenty of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as delicious homemade cheeses and bread.

Looking for another exciting trip? Check out our guide to San Cristobal!

Frequently Asked Questions on the Hike from Valbonë to Theth

How long does the Valbonë to Theth hike take?

The hike from Valbone to Theth can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours depending on your pace and the trail conditions. It is a 10-12 km hike with an elevation gain of around 800m.

When is the best time to do the Valbonë to Theth hike?

The best time to do the hike is during the summer months of June to September when the weather is warm and the trails are dry. The autumn months of September to November can also be a good time to hike, but the weather can be more unpredictable.

What is the difficulty level of the Valbonë to Theth hike?

The hike from Valbonë to Theth is considered to be moderate to difficult. It involves hiking up and down steep mountain paths, and there are some sections that can be quite challenging. However, it is a well-trodden trail and is manageable for most fit and experienced hikers.

Is it necessary to have a guide?

It is not necessary to have a guide to do this hike, as the trail is well-marked and there are other hikers along the way. However, having a guide can be helpful if you are unfamiliar with the area or want to learn more about the history and culture of the region.

What should I bring on the Valbonë to Theth hike?

It is important to bring appropriate hiking gear such as sturdy hiking boots, a backpack, and warm and waterproof clothing. You should also bring plenty of water, snacks, suncreen, and a first-aid kit. There are cafe’s along the way so pack cash to buy anything you want on the way. Additionally, you may want to bring a camera and binoculars to take in the stunning views along the way.

Are there any accommodations or restaurants along the way?

There are a few guesthouses and restaurants along the trail, but it is recommended to book in advance, especially during peak season. There are also camping areas along the route if you prefer to camp. Be aware that there is no electricity or mobile phone coverage in some areas along the trail.

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