Hiking Valbona Pass on the Valbona to Theth hike was the highlight of my summer spent traveling through the Balkans.  The Valbona Theth hike is a A to B day trek that takes you through some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Albania.

If you’re a subscriber and reader of my blog (appreciate your support by the way), you would know that I love hiking, trekking and being in the mountains.  I always try to experience a big hike or trek in every new country that I am exploring.  In Albania, this meant trekking through the Accursed Mountains (Albanian Alps) on the Valbona to Theth trek.

I like to plan and be overly prepared when I embark on physically demanding journeys such as these.  In this post, I will go over 24 things to know before hiking Valbona to Theth or in reverse hiking Theth to Valbona.

This Albania hiking guide will cover everything you need to know and need to plan for including accommodation recommendations, what to pack, when to go and much, much more.  In conclusion, this will be the only post you’ll need to read about the Theth Valbona trek, ensuring the best possible experience.

Whether you are an experienced trekker or novice hiker looking for a challenging adventure in Albania, hiking through the Valbona Pass guarantees an unforgettable experience filled with adventure, beauty and memories that will last a lifetime.

Hiking Valbona to Theth Trek

For full transparency, I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post which gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to make a purchase. As always, I would never recommend a product or service that I didn't truely believe in. If you find this post useful, you can also treat Jess to a cup coffee by clicking the icon on the bottom of the page. This will allow me to continue to create more content for you to enjoy ☕️. 

Valbona National Park
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: 1 Day
  • Distance: 9.5km from Rrogam to Theth (15-16km from Valbona village, from trailhead to trailhead)
  • Peak Elevation: 5,760 feet at Valbona Pass
  • Total Cost Per Person: Roughly $175 per person based on a 3 night trip.

The Theth to Valbona hike is an adventure through the Albanian Alps.  This region is known for its pristine natural beauty and untouched landscapes.  The rugged mountain peaks, crystal-clear rivers and panoramic vistas make this hike a paradise for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

The Valbona to Theth trek covers a distance of up to 10 miles and can be completed in a day, although many hikers like myself choose to take their time and spend a few days exploring each area.

The trail starts in Valbona Valley and takes you up and over Valbona Pass.  The trail takes you through rocky terrain, dense forests and peaceful meadows before finally arriving in the traditional village of Theth.

Valbona Pass is where you will hit the peak elevation of 5,760 feet.  To stand on top of the pass is a small detour from the trail to Theth (Thethi).  We left our bags near the trail and made the short but steep climb to the top of the peak.  At this point, you’ll be pretty tired but don’t miss out on the bragging rights and the accomplished feeling of being able to stand on top of one of the tallest peak in the Albania Alps.

Once over Valbona pass, it’s all downhill from here.  There are a few steep sections but nothing that a sturdy pair of hiking boots and small steps can’t tackle.

Valbona Theth Vlog

Would you rather see for yourself what it’s like.  Joe and I filmed our entire trip as we adventured through the Albanian Alps.  You can check out the Valbona Theth hike vlog above after you read this post.

Also please subscribe or give us a thumbs up.  It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free content for you to enjoy 🙂.

Valbona Theth Hike Map

Here is a Valbona Theth Map of the hiking trail.

Valbona Theth Hiking Trail

24 Things to Know Before you Hike Valbona to Theth

Now that you’re inspired to tackle the Valbona also known as Valbone to Theth hike, let’s get you prepared for an adventure of a lifetime.

Valbona Theth Trek
Im Jess Traveling in Theth, Albania

Which Direction – Valbona to Theth or Theth to Valbona?

Since the Valbona to Theth hike is a point A to point B trail, you can hike it in either direction.  I personally hiked from Valbona to Theth instead of the later Theth to Valbona.

Which direction is better?  I’ve heard positives about both directions, just depends on who you talk to.  The most popular direction is Theth to Valbona.  In my opinion, hiking from Valbone to Theth is the best direction and here’s why.

  • If you’re not a huge hiker, you can arrange transportation to the trailhead which will lop off about 4 kilometers of your hike.  If you were hiking in the reverse, you would have to walk the entire way to find your guesthouse in Valbona.
  • It takes longer to get from Valbona to Shkoder (van-ferry-van) versus Theth to Shkoder (van only).  It’s always nicer to get the longest travel day out of the way first, thus after your Albania Alps adventure all you have to do is ride a minivan about 2 hours back to Shkodër.
  • It’s easier to arrange transportation from Theth back to Shkoder last minute versus the other way around.
  • You’ll spend the second part of the hike when the sun is most powerful mostly in the shade of the forest.
  • Theth is more of a village or at least it’s more concentrated together, spending the end of your trip in Theth is more “scenic”.  There is also a lot more to do in Theth (i.e. Blue Eye Waterfall, Thethi Church & Grunas Waterfall).
  • Valbona to Theth trailhead will be far less crowded than Theth Valbona trailhead.
Start of the Valbona Theth Trek

Where Does the Theth Valbona Hike Start

If you are hiking from Valbona to Theth, the official trailhead starts in Rragam.  Rragam is about 4 kilometers away from guesthouses in Valbona.  There are a few different ways you can reach the trailhead – hike, arrange a taxi or hitchhike half way.

Originally we were going to arrange a taxi to drop us off at the trailhead which we were quoted 30 Euros by our guesthouse.  This seemed pretty costly for a ride that would take less than 10 minutes.

We decided to try and hitchhike our way to the trailhead instead.  Within one minute of sticking out our thumbs, we were picked up by a ‘#vanlife’ guy.  This started our day out on a huge high.  Especially since we were pretty beat up from hiking Maja Rosit the day before. ← This Valbona hike peaked at 8,300 feet which is 2,500 feet higher than Valbona Pass!

If you are hiking from Theth to Valbona, you’ll be stoked to know that most guesthouses are located a lot closer to the trailhead than in Valbona.  Any of the guesthouses will be able to point you in the right direction but here’s the pinned trailhead on maps.me.

Valbona Pass

Best Time to Hike Valbona Pass

The best time to Hike Valbona Pass is during dry/hiking season which runs May to October.  July and August are the peak months, which mean higher crowds and hotter days.  For obvious reasons, it is not possible to hike during the winter months.

My advice is to embark on this journey during the shoulder season May – June or September – October.  There will be less crowds and the weather won’t be as brutal as peak season.  I hiked Valbona Thethi mid June and had amazing weather.

Beautiful Scenery on the Theth Valbona Trek
Views on the Thethi Valbone Trek

How Long is the Valbona Theth Trek

The Valbona to Theth trek covers a distance of up to 10 miles and can be completed in a day but you will want to give yourself at least a day in Valbona and a day in Theth to explore these scenic, remote, mountainous villages.  Of course spending a few days in each place is even better, which I will discuss in the next section.

The entire hike took Joe, myself and our new friend Ed a total of 8 hours to hike.  We also stayed in a village which was a 30 minute walk from Theth (I don’t recommend this 😅), stopped and flew the drone several times, enjoyed a long, cold coffee at Simoni Cafe and vlogged the entire way which tacked on several hours.  I also hiked Maja Rosit in Valbona National Park the day before and gave myself major blisters, so my steps were slow and little.

Most people will complete the Valbona Theth hike anywhere from 5 – 10 hours depending on a number of factors.  I.e. where you stay in Theth, if you get a ride to the trailhead in Valbona, how often you stop, etc.  Experienced hikers will be able to crush this hike in as little as 5 hours.  Start early and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Thethi Church
Hiking Maja Rosit in Valbone National Park

How Many Days – Albanian Alps Itinerary

Most people spend 3 days in the Albania Alps trekking the Valbona pass on the second day, with Valbona National Park and Theth National Park as the bookends to their 3 day adventure.  I personally spent 6 days on this adventure which I go into more detail in this post – Albanian Alps: 3-5 Day Hiking Itinerary for Valbona & Theth National Park.

If time is on your side, I recommend spending more than 3 days in the Albania Alps, there are plenty of other hikes and things to do in Theth and Valbona National Park that you won’t be able to experience unless you spend more time in Valbone and in Thethi.

Here’s what my itinerary looked like ↓.  Fore more details about a specific activity/event click on the blue links below.

Day 1:

Day 2:

  • Hike Valbona National Park

Day 3:

Day 4 & 5:

  • Theth Village, Theth Church & Theth Waterfall
  • Trek to Blue Eye Waterfall

Day 6:

  • Transfer from Theth back to Shkoder to pick up your luggage.
Im Jess Traveling at Grunas Waterfall
Exploring Valbona National Park
Hiking Valbona Pass

What is There to See on the Valbona to Theth Hike

The Valbona Theth hike provides stunning panoramic vistas, majestic mountains and lush greenery.  Along the way, you’ll encounter the gorgeous mountain views, tranquil meadows and dense forest.

Valbona and Theth village are two of the most beautiful places in Albania.  In the traditional village of Theth, you can explore ancient stone houses and the iconic Thethi church.  As well as the Blue Eye and Grunas waterfall.

Valbona is a bit more spread out and it’s a lot harder to explore without your own set of wheels.  If you have extra time in Valbona make sure to hit up some of the hiking trails, the views will not disappoint.

Lake Koman Ferry

How to Get to Valbona (Komani Lake Ferry)

Shkoder is the gateway town to hiking the Albanian Alps.  Most people breeze through the town, only spending one night before the early wake up call to start the journey to Valbona via the Komani Ferry.

If you have more time, I’d spend a full day exploring Shkoder as it has lots of cultural charm and natural attractions to explore.  If you want more information about Shkodër, check out the articles below.

📍 Read Next:  Best Things to do in Shkoder

Okay, back to the main point, how to get to Valbona from Shkoder.  The journey requires one roughly 2 hour minivan transfer to the ferry terminal at Koman.  From here it is a 2.5 hour scenic ferry ride on Koman Lake to Fierze.

Once the ferry has docked in Fierze, there’s another 1 hour minivan transfer to Valbona which the van will drop you off at your booked accommodation.  Try to resist the urge to sleep, the drive is breathtakingly beautiful as you wind along the gushing river.

The Komani Ferry Line runs everyday from Koman – Fierze at 09:00 am and from Fierze – Koman at 1 pm.  You can book tickets ahead of time with your accommodation in Shkoder, it’ll be a package deal or do it yourself online here.  You won’t save any money by arranging tickets yourself as it’s the same price.

Pickup from Shkoder is at 6:45am.  The Komani Lake Ferry is also a car ferry so if you plan on driving yourself, book car ferry tickets well in advance.

🎟️ Tickets Prices:

Bus from Shkoder to Ferry Terminal – 800 Lek (7€)

Komani Ferry to Fierze – 1000 Lek (10€)

Fierze to Accommodation in Valbon – 800 Lek

I don’t know if the Komani Lake Ferry just has an excellent marking program or it was just an extremely busy day, but when I rode the ferry, it was PACKED!  Joe and I ended up crawling over a car to snag a spot against the railing.  There was absolutely no room to move around.

I did see a few other ferries that were completely empty like this one Ferry Rozafa.  It doesn’t look as easy to book online so maybe if you contacted them for tickets, it’d be a better experience with far less people.

Shkoder, Albania

How to Get Back to Shkoder from Theth

To return to Shokder to from Theth is more simplified than getting to Valbone.  It’s one minivan ride to Shkoder which on the new road takes about 2 hours.

Minivans leave at 10 am in front of the only “grocery store” in Theth (mini market Jezerca) and cost 1200 Lek (12€) pp.  You can pay in Lek or Euros.  I booked our transportation from Theth the night before we left via whatsapp with Thethi Transportaion.  They were very prompt on the response and spoke perfect English, here’s the #355 69 556 7089.

You can also book transportation back with your accommodation in Theth, there were several minivans, all the same price and seem to all work together in some sort of fashion.

📚 Read Full Post:  Theth, Albania Travel Guide

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    What if I’m Driving

    There is no road that connects Valbona and Theth, that’s why the Theth Valbona hike is so popular.  If you are driving, you can drive from Shkoder to Theth which is about a 6 hour drive and from here, hike from Theth to Valbona, stay the night in Valbona and then hike back to Theth the next day.

    Or you can drive to the Komani Ferry Terminal and transport your car to Valbone via the ferry like I mentioned earlier.  Hike to Theth, stay in Theth for one night then hike back to Valbona to pick up your car and ride the ferry back to Shkoder.  Both of these options mean that you would be hiking Valbona Pass twice, which doesn’t sound to appealing.

    Another possibility is leaving your car parked in Shkoder and making the trip via the public transportation listed above and pick up your car when you return to Shkoder.  You could also hike up to Valbona Pass and turn around and hike back.

    Trekking Valbona to Theth
    Exploring Valbona National Park

    Luggage Storage for the Valbona Theth Hike

    Where to store your luggage?  For obvious reasons you won’t be trekking with all of your luggage up and over Valbona Pass.  We stored our bags at the Bed Station Hostel for 6 Euros a day per bag.

    You can book luggage storage online here.  The hostel is located in the middle of the pedestrian street which is central to most hotels in Shkoder.

    The Theth Valbona Hiking Trail
    Valbona Theth Trail

    What is the Trail Like?

    The trail is well marked and if you are starting in Valbona, it begins on a paved road for until you reach the mostly dry riverbed which takes you to the trailhead of the Valnona to Theth trek.  This section is about 5 km, roughly an hour and a half.  The riverbed is a rocky terrain and there is a part where you have to strategically step on specific rocks to cross the river.

    From the Valbona Theth trailhead, you’ll begin to ascend up the mountain through a wooden area passing a few small farms until you reach Simoni Cafe.  At this point, you’ll be ready for a proper break.  Here you can grab a cold frappe coffee, fill up your water bottle and use the toilet.

    From the cafe, you’ll begin your last final push and ascent to the top of Valbona Pass.  This is the most difficult part of the hike as it winds up the stony mountain face.  Don’t forget to look back as it offers amazing views!

    Im Jess Traveling on Valbona Pass

    Once atop Valbona Pass, you’ll be tempted to continue on your descent down the mountain.  Don’t do this just yet.  Drop your bags near the trail and clammer up the slippery path to top of the peak.

    There’s nothing quite like standing on the tippy top of one of the highest peaks in the Balkans.  Warning, this small detour trail is steep, slippery and slidey especially on the way down.  Slow and steady wins the race.

    The descent down to the next cafe takes about 45 minutes.  Then it’s another 2-3 hours down, down, down through a dense, wooded, peaceful forest.  There are a few steep sections but again, nothing you can’t handle.

    Beautiful scenery trekking Valbona to Theth

    Parts will be Grueling – Difficulty?

    Overall the hike isn’t too difficult.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a few grueling parts on the ascent and the last 2 miles seem to last forever but nothing even a novice hiker can’t handle. 

    Peak elevation at Valbona Pass is only 5,760 feet so altitude sickness shouldn’t be a problem.  If you pack smart and light, the breathtaking views and memories far outweigh a few moments of when you’re gasping for air.

    Cafe Simoni on the Valbona Theth Trek

    Food and Water on the Trail

    Would you believe me if I told you that there were a couple cafes along the trail where you can order coffee, frappas, water, beer and even rajika?  Yep, 3 cafes to be exact, I think this was my favorite part of the hike.

    If you’re trekking from Valbona to Theth as I did, the first cafe (Simoni Cafe) you’ll encounter is after you’ve already clocked in some elevation gain, just before your last push.  It will be a sight for sore eyes

    The cafe is shaded with benches and tables.  We ordered iced frappa coffees and it was luxury in a glass.

    1st cafe on the trail
    Fresh water on the trail

    There is a fresh natural water spring that you can drink out of and full up your water bottle.  #winning There is no livestock at this elevation so you don’t have to worry about the water being contaminated.

    The toilet here is also one of the nicest bathrooms I encountered in all of Albania.

    The other 2 cafes are after the Valbona Pass.  I personally didn’t stop at these cafes but the first one we came upon on our way down the mountain, we ran into some girls from our homestay in Valbona and they said the pancakes were out of this world.

    Is There Cell Service?  Wifi?

    Cell service was hit and miss.  For the most part, you’re able to get service but there were definitely a few parts of the trek where you were without it.  I also didn’t have an Albanian SIM card so it could be a different story if you have one.

    Theth Church in Theth
    River in Theth

    Do You Need a Guide on the Valbona to Theth Hike?

    You don’t need a guide to complete the Valbona Theth Trek.  The trail is well marked and fairly popular so you won’t be alone on the trail. 

    It is possible to hire a mule to carry your bags if you’re carrying too much weight.  You can stow your bags in Shkoder (I’ll go into more detail about storing your bags next) and if you pack smart, you shouldn’t need to hire a mule.

    If you are short on time or want to join a small guided trek to meet fellow trekkers, check out the tours below.  They have 5 star reviews, work out all the small details for you and have English speaking guides.

    The Albanian Alps

    Do I Need a Map?

    The Valbona to Theth trail is well marked so a physical map won’t be necessary.  If you type into GoogleMaps Valbona Theth Hiking Trail, the trailhead will pop up.  You’ll still have to get yourself to the trailhead whether you walk, arrange a taxi or hitchhike like I mentioned earlier. Maps.me also works great.

    There’s a visitors center in Valbona that you can stop in and scan a QR code which will give you all the information that you need.  Here you’ll also be able to look at a physical map that is hanging on a wall so you’ll have a better idea of where you’re going.

    Cow on the Valbona Theth Trail
    Cow on the Valbona Theth Trail

    Can I Hike the Valbona to Theth Hike Solo?

    You can definitely trek solo.  We saw several solo trekkers and hiked with one the whole way to Theth.  We met him in the van that picked us up hitchhiking as he was hitchhiking too!  Hi Ed 👋 .

    As always with solo hiking, let someone know where you’re going, bring a medical kit, enough snacks and what not.  It’s super easy to meet people on the trail, so I have a feeling you won’t be trekking by yourself for much of the hike.

    Grunas Waterfall
    Hiking in the Albanian Alps

    How Much Does it Cost

    If you are traveling on a budget, the Valbona Theth Trek is a great thing to do Albania. Below I’ll list the average cost of this excursion based on 3 nights – 1 night in Valbona and 2 nights in Theth.

    Transportation:

    • Getting to Valbona from Shkoder via the Komani Ferry – 2800 Lek.
    • Theth to Shkodër – 1200 Lek
    • Optional Ride to the trailhead – 30 €
    • Total = 30-69 € PP (33-76 USD)

    Accommodations in Valbona and Theth:

    • Valbona Accommodations – average $40
    • Theth Accommodations – average $60 per night
    • Total = 127 € or $140

    Food:

    More than likely breakfast will be included in the price of your guesthouse.  Most guesthouses will also offer dinner for 10-12 euros per person.  Portions are plentiful and who can say no to a home cooked meal?!

    • Dinner – 30 €  or $33 Per Person

    Other:

    • Snacks, waters, victory beers – $30
    • Luggage storage in Shkoder  – 6 €
    • Total = 33 € or 37 USD

    Grand Total = $173 per person.  This is splitting the cost of a room, not including a ride to the trailhead and pricing dinners out at 10 Euro per person.  Of course this can be more or less depending on what style of accommodation you book and if you stay longer than 3 days.  I’d bring a little extra cash as well for miscellaneous expenses and for emergencies since there are no atm machines in Theth or Valbona.

    Valbona Theth Hiking Trail

    Cash is King

    Shkoder will be the last place to take out money before you start the journey to Valbona or Theth.  Understandably, there are no ATM machines in Valbona or Theth, so make sure you bring ample cash to pay for your accommodations, food and victory beers along the way.

    If you’re in a real pickle, the mini market Jezerca in Theth can give you cash back if you charge your bank card for something in the store.  I never had to resort to this but I’m sure the fee is pretty hefty, but it’s nice to know that there is a safety net if you are in a pinch.

    Accommodation in Valbona
    Accommodation in Theth

    Accommodation on the Valbona Theth Trek

    There are plenty of guesthouses in Valbona and Theth to choose from depending on your travel style and preferences.  Most if not all the accommodations in Valbona and in Theth will require you to pay cash once you arrive at the property.  Breakfast will also be included in the price of accommodation.

    These are the best places to stay in Valbona and the best places to stay in Theth for all budgets.

    Valbonë:

    Theth:

    Camping

    Camping on the Valbona Theth hike is pretty common.  There are a handful of campgrounds in Valbona and campgrounds in Theth, many of which have showers and what not.  A lot of the guesthouses allow you to pitch a tent at their place as well for a small fee, which comes with breakfast.

    Our new friend Ed was camping on this trek and he found a campground higher up on the trail to pitch his tent.  It was probably like a 20-30 minute walk down to Theth but he was leaving the next morning so it didn’t matter and I was super jealous of him as we were still 2 miles from our stay.

    Valbone, Albania

    How to Prepare for Hiking Valbona to Theth

    As I’ve mentioned earlier, even if you are a novice hiker, you can complete the Theth Valbona hike so training isn’t totally necessary.  Of course, being physically fit will be beneficial for this hike.  Make sure you book your accommodations in advance, buy snacks for the trail in Shkoder (options are limited and much pricier in Valbonë) and get ready to unlock some core memories.

    Theth to Valbona Hiking

    Pack Smart, Pack Light

    If there is one thing I’ve learned about trekking, it’s to pack smart and to pack light. I unfortunately learned this the hard way when I trekked my first multi-day trek on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

    Here are a few key items you should bring with you on the Valbona Theth Hike.

    It’s so Worth It

    Parts will be tough, packs will get heavy, but it’s so worth it!  You will pass through and witness some of Albanias most beautiful landscapes.  As they say, the views are worth the climb or maybe I just say that 🤔.  So tighten up your laces, charge your gopro and set out on an adventure that you’ll never forget.

    Top of Maja Rosit Peak in Valbona National Park

    Tips Recap for Valbona to Theth Hike in the Albania Alps

    • There are no Atms in Valbona or Theth.  Bring ample cash.
    • Comfortable, broken in and sturdy hiking shoes are a must.
    • If planning on taking your car on the Komani Lake Ferry book your tickets weeks in advance.
    • Stow your luggage in Shkoder here.
    • Accommodations will require a cash payment when you arrive at the property.
    • Breakfast will be included in the price of accommodation.
    • Pack light.

    Lastly, if there’s anything I missed that you think would be beneficial to future hikers, let me know in the comments below.  I try to keep my guides as up-to-date as possible, so share your experiences and any useful information that could help out your fellow travelers. 

    If you are planning your trip to Albania, I spent 1 month traveling around this beautiful country so check out the travel guides below.

    Albania Travel Tips

    📍Plan your Trip:

    🗺 How long to travel Albania?

    🛂 Visas: Up to 90 Days on arrival for most countries.

    ☔️ Best Time to Visit:  Peak season = July & August.  May, June, September & October = Less crowds & costs.

    💰 Average Daily Budget: Expect to pay 50 USD’s a day for basic accommodations, sit down meals at a cafe and entrance fees.

    ⛺️ Albania accommodation Guides:

    🪂 Highlights

    🧳 What to Pack: What to Pack for Albania

    🎥 Watch our Albania Series on YouTube

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    ↓ Other Noteworthy Hikes Around the World ↓

    Looking for more worldwide trekking adventures?  I have only just started to properly document all of my hiking/trekking excursions.  Below are a few hikes that stand out from the rest.

    15 Things to Know Before Hiking the Salkantay Trail

    Trekking Colca Canyon | World’s Second Deepest Canyon

    Hiking through the World’s Largest Dormant Volcano 

    Hiking Acatenango Volcano – Overnight Trek in Guatemala

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