Theth, Albania Travel Guide
Discover where to go, what to do, and how to get to Theth, Albania, a remote and once-forbidden hamlet nestled within Albania’s Accursed Mountains.
As you round the bend, your vehicle lurching through space as it attempts to traverse the ungroomed road before you riddled with jagged rocks and boulders, your eyes will surely widen and your jaw will surely part. Serrated, bare, sandstone peaks pierce the cerulean sky like sharp canine teeth, towering over the valley below that expands to the horizon into a swirling, melting glimmer of golden nothingness. Suddenly, you become completely and utterly aware of your position among these peaks, precariously perched on the precipice between awestruck and mesmerized. A wave of peace and serenity washes over your body like the sun bathing the deep expanse below, a sensation of majestic isolation unrivaled by any other. Where are you? Above Theth, Albania in Albania’s Accursed Mountains, of course.
Albania is certainly the most beautiful country you’ve never heard of, filled with towering mountains, pristine beaches, and unique cities. To experience the best of the nation’s unmatched landscapes, be sure to visit the remote village of Theth. The rural settlement is sure to surprise all who visit with friendly people and water bluer than you could ever imagine.
Getting to Theth
Because Theth is so isolated, there are generally only two ways to get there: by foot and by vehicle on one road.
By foot: For adventurous types who seek some of the most beautiful and rustic views in the world, the Peaks of the Balkans hike between Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania may be of interest. Theth is along this route, allowing you to stop for anywhere from a few hours to a few days to explore this hidden jewel. Check out the Peaks of the Balkans website for more info.
By vehicle: The only way to get to Theth by vehicle is a single, one-way rocky road that winds around the side of a mountain. This road is so rough that only a vehicle with off-road capabilities can handle it, and so as such, the best way to travel to Theth is to book a tour that operates out of a major city like Tirana. I traveled with My Albania “Nature Explorers,” and although the group is technically operated by and for Albanians, I got by with a very limited knowledge of Albanian phrases. These tours usually last 1-3 days, and this is what I would suggest. Not only is this the best way to get to Theth, but it’s also the best way to explore Theth: with a tour, you usually get transportation round-trip, hearty traditional meals, accommodation in a family-owned guesthouse, and a guide for your hikes all included in the price. An all-inclusive weekend tour of 2 days and 1 night will usually cost you no more than €60.
Isolation tower: This traditional stone building stands alone as a reminder of the blood feuds that once plagued the northern Albanian highlands. Those next in line to be killed in a blood feud would be kept in this “locked tower” which served as a safe haven. This tradition of violence is in the past, however, and Albanians have always been and continue to be incredibly hospitable to passersby.
Stone church: This church is an icon for the village of Theth and appears in most images online of the tiny hamlet. Make sure to snap some of your own photos with the picturesque mountains in the background; it looks like something out of a fairy tale.
Meadows: Lush fields and meadows dotted with sheep, goats, cows, and horses fill this village, providing even more perfect photo opportunities in front of the towering peaks which isolate Theth from the rest of the world.
Waterfall: Less than an hour’s hike away from the isolation tower lies a beautiful waterfall cascading over soft, green moss nestled into the peaks surrounding Theth. The hike is not groomed and as such will require a decent amount of hiking experience along with a solid pair of hiking boots; however, the view at the end is well worth the effort.
The Blue Eye: “Syri i Kaltër,” as it’s called in the Albanian language, is a brilliant blue pool filled with fresh, cold mountain water about a two hour hike in from the trail head in the valley. To get to the trail, you will most likely want to take a separate van from central Theth, as the ride is about a half-hour long. You can ask about this transportation where you’re staying. Again, this trail is mostly ungroomed, and can be precarious at times as it winds along the side of a mountain cliff. As long as you have hiking experience, a good pair of shoes, and are sure-footed, you shouldn’t have significant trouble with this hike. It is sure to inspire you with equal parts awe and amazement.
Guesthouse cuisine: Most guesthouses you will stay at in Theth will serve you traditional Albanian gastronomy straight from their own farms, including freshly-made butter, yogurt, honey, milk, and meat. It may be a little different from the food you’re used to, but give it a try – you might be surprised by how delicious it is! Even as a pretty non-adventurous eater, I enjoyed these meals that provided a unique insight into customary Albanian cuisine.
Bar cafes in the village: Bar cafes are everywhere in Albania, and although it’s a small and remote village, Theth is no exception. Stop at one while strolling through the town and you’re sure to be met by friendly families and nice cup of espresso.
Bar cafes on the trail: Believe it or not, there are people who actually live way back in the mountains of Theth in even more remote locations than the village itself; the only way to get to and from these settlements is the precarious two-hour trail you hike along the mountain cliff. It’s truly amazing that these families continue to live in such isolation, and even more amazing is the fact that they operate bar cafes to serve hikers. You can enjoy a drink, snack, or meal in little treehouses perched over The Blue Eye – talk about unique!
Like with all traveling, the journey is the destination. Don’t miss views of expansive meadows and valleys, abandoned buildings, lonely churches, snow-capped mountains, and hidden lakes on your way to and from Theth.
A very special thanks to My Albania “Nature Explorers,” Neri, Lori, Edi, Gerta, and everyone else on my group tour – each of you was so friendly to me and truly made me feel welcome as the only foreigner in the group. I highly suggest these guys for a fun, truly authentic Albanian experience on your visit to Theth!