Theth is Albania’s most famous mountain village. This small village in the Albanian Alps lies within the National Park of the same name, beneath the Prokletije Mountains . Nestled between the peaks of the Shala Mountains, Theth is isolated and, in snowy weather, virtually inaccessible.
Many travellers focus on the beaches and forget that Albania is an inseparable collection of nature, both on the coast and in the mountains. Theth is the best example, whose peaceful haven makes time seem to slow down. It is a common misconception that one day is enough to enjoy Theth, but in the national park there are many nature trails to enjoy, and at least two days are necessary for a pleasant and unhurried stay.
Village of Theth in the Albanian Alps
Legend has it that Theth was founded 400 years ago by 6 brothers. The neighbourhoods of the village still bear the names of these brothers. It is thought that the mainly Catholic inhabitants of Theth fled from the Ottomans by founding the remote village as a refuge to escape conversion to Islam.
After World War II and the political isolation of the country, access to supply markets in Montenegro and Kosovo was closed. The fall of communism led to emigration and a decline in the population, only broken by growing tourism and support for the establishment of guesthouses.
Thethi’s history as a tourist destination began in the 1890s when the Franciscans organised “pastoral” visits. Edith Durham , a famous English traveller and writer who toured the Balkans, visited Theth in 1908 and mentioning its isolation and the hospitality of its people:
‘I believe that no place where human beings live has ever given me the impression of majestic isolation from the whole world. It is a place where centuries wither away; the river could be the source of the world, its banks are the home of elemental instincts, passions that are red and swift’.
During the communist regime tourism was forbidden but the government elite built a residential house for the upper class families. The collapse of the dictatorship brought Theth back as a tourist destination. In 2001, anthropologist Antonia Young unveiled her project entitled “Balkan Peace Park” linking Thethi, Valbona, Plave and Guci to Rugove in Kosovo. This project was an impetus for the restarting of tourism in Theth. Around 2005, the Office for Cooperation and Development of the German Embassy (GIZ) promoted an economic plan for the rehabilitation of some houses in the village to adapt them as guest houses to receive tourists.
From 2005 until now, the scheme has enabled Thethi to have more than 400 beds in the three areas of the valley: Kaprre, Nderlysa and Thethi. In Thethi there are more than 20 guesthouses, most of them concentrated in the centre of Thethi. In reality, there are no high-end hotels, but traditional houses adapted as guesthouses for tourists, with a maximum capacity of 5 to 10 rooms each.
The village is surrounded by high mountains, which allows you to enjoy hiking tours of different levels. In its centre you will find some lodgings, cafés, each one more original than the previous one.
Almost two thirds of the national park is covered with trees. The peaks and mountain passes around Theth are: Jezerca Peak, which is the highest peak in Albania, located just outside the park in the north of the valley (2,679 m high), followed by the Peja Pass (1,776 m), the Dry Peak (2,679 m high), the Peja Pass (1,776 m), the Dry Peak (2,776 m) and the Peja Pass (1,776 m high).543 m), Lugu i Valit pass, Zhapora saddle, Papluka (2,569 m) and Alije (2,471 m) peaks, Valbona saddle (1,876 m) and Mount Valbona (1,966 m ) to the east; forested Mount Zorgji to the south (1. 663 m), Mount Arapi (2,217 m), Mount Boshi (2,415 m), Shtegu i Dhenve (‘Goat Path’, 2,104 m) and Mount Radohima (2,567 m) in the west.
What to see in Theth
Theth is made up of traditional stone and wooden houses surrounded by mountains, and crossed by the river Lumi i Thethit which crosses the small village and serves as a guide to the waterfall of Theth, called Grunas.We can also discover crystal clear pools of the river where we can take pictures or swim
In the inhabited area there is a small church, an ethnographic museum (inside the tower house Lulash Keq Boshi) of life in the mountains, several water mills, and the tower of Nikoll Koçeku . These towers served as both punishment and protection for those threatened by a blood debt according to the Kanun code. In exchange for their cloistered lives, their lives were spared
The church of Theth was built in 1892. During the construction period, attached to the east wall was also the presbytery, where the priest lived. Thanks to the descendants of emigrants from Theth, who live in the United States, the church has been rebuilt today, as it was damaged during the communist regime and was converted into a health and pregnancy centre.
Church of Theth
Nikoll Koçeku Tower
The tower was used to settle disputes in the Shale area. Built four centuries ago, it was used to reconcile the two conflicting parties. When a person committed a murder he had the right to have the case evaluated by an elder. The accused were allowed to remain locked in the tower for 15 days to find an advocate and explain the circumstances of the murder. Unlike the Mirdite tower, where the perpetrators of the murder were locked up for life, Nikoll Koçeku’s tower was a kind of “dungeon” until the trial was over.
Excursions in Theth
The most famous and well-known places in Theth are the Blue Eye and the Grunas waterfall. The Blue Eye of Theth is one of the natural attractions that fascinates travellers. It is a spring from which water gushes out, creating a pool of green and turquoise waters. The Grunas Waterfall is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Albania, with a 30-metre drop from the melting mountain snow. Both are to the south of the village, and can be visited in a single day, although it will be about a 20 km hike.
Grunas Waterfall and Canyon
Route length: 6.5 kilometres
Approximate time: 2 hours
Difficulty level: easy
Ojo Azul – Syri i Kalter
Route length: 20 kilometres
Estimated time: 7 hours
How to get to Theth
It is possible to reach Theth by road after a two-hour drive from Shkodër, covering just 76km, but ascending towards the mountain. From Tirana it is a four-hour drive. Bear in mind that the last part of the access to Theth (15km) is on a mountain road with dirt and gravel pavement, so if you opt for a rental car, it’s best if it’s fully insured or a 4×4.
Another option is the all-terrain vehicles that leave from Shkodër to Theth, or Valbona if you plan to trek to Theth. If you are interested in tours and excursions in English you can write us
Travellers often arrive after walking from Fierze or Valbona, two of the most spectacular trekking routes in Albania for trekking enthusiasts.
Accommodation in Theth
A good way to visit and see the interesting sights is to stay in a guesthouse, whose hosts are hospitable. It’s a good idea to pack an external battery in your suitcase to charge devices such as your mobile phone or camera, as there are frequent power cuts.