Itinerary for Northern Albania in 3 days
With an alpine region and narrow single track roads that aren’t suitable for rental vehicles, Northern Albania has some exciting adventures that can be explored in 3 days.
The village of Theth is quicker to access by car than other villages such as Valbone. Theth is a picturesque remote village located in the Thethi National Park in the northern Albanian alps. It is a 3 hour drive from the nearest town of Shkodër and it is inaccessible during winter.
This place is a hidden gem for an active trip!
Want to maximise your time here? Check out my itinerary for 3 days in Theth, Albania
– Getting Around Northern Albania –
Much of Northern Albania is inaccessible during the winter months, which means you can probably guess that the roads aren’t the best during summer either.
A lot of the roads to the alpine towns are single track dirt roads, with boulders and pot holes. I wouldn’t recommend driving your rental car on these roads due to potential damage to the vehicle. You can read more on travelling Remote Albania here.
-Accomodation Northern Albania-
If you are looking for a traditional Albanian guesthouse with great views and home grown produce then look no further than Villa Gjeçaj. You can read our full review for Villa Gjeçaj here.
If you’d like to check out somewhere different in the Theth Valley, then it is worth knowing that a lot of the guesthouses in northern Albania do not have their own webpage, but they do recommend booking through booking.com.
– Day 1 in Northern Albania –
Travel from Shkodër – Theth
If you are looking for a place to stay in Shkodër the night before travelling to Theth, we would 100% recommend Amber Yellow. We were welcomed by Bep’s mum with open arms, although she only spoke Albanian with us, we felt so comfortable. Her homemade lemonade is delicious!
You’ll leave Theth around 07:30 and arrive in Theth around 11:30. Although the road is only 30km, the journey took around 4 hours; the roads don’t allow for fast driving and the driver stopped en-route to collect food and drink supplies for people in Theth. We also stopped for Mountain Tea at a cafe. Timings are more relaxed in Albania; therefore plan around a more loose schedule (i.e. not to the exact hour).
We then checked into Villa Cjeçaj. This place is so idyllic! This then leaves you with a half day.
Grunas Waterfall Hike
The trail takes around 1.5 hours from Theth (including stops for a drink and photos). The trail is is marked, but not well. If you ask in your guesthouse, they’ll point you in the right direction. On the way there is a bar, but if there is no one there then ask at the nearby houses… someone will come to serve you.
Although the trail is short, it is pretty and has some quirky bridges…
Eat Homegrown Produce
Due to its remote location, Theth doesn’t have a multitude of restaurants, but they do have delicious homegrown produce and homemade products that the chef turns into delicious culinary delights, which is why we ate at our guest house “Villa Gjeçaj” all 3 nights. You can read more about it in “Staying at Villa Gjeçaj”
– Day 2 in Northern Albania –
Hike Theth – Valbonë Pass
These views are not to be missed! This hike is on the popular route where hikers trek between Theth and Valbonë on a multi-day tour.
Due to this route being so popular, you might want to opt for an early start and get to the pass before other hikers.
- Ascend Theth (850m) – Valbona Pass Peak (1850m): 1000m / 3 hours –> on the top of the pass there are 3 routes (1. to go back on yourself, 2. turn left to go down the Valbona Valley and 3. turn right and go along another ridge to a peak. We took option 3 which is where we took the photos. This involves a small scramble; therefore sure footing and no fear of heights are required.
- Descend Valbona Pass – Theth: 1000m descent / 2.5 hours. This takes the same route as you came from.
Please note: if you are fit, but not used to mountain hiking, then I would allow 4 hours for this ascent and 3 hours for the descent. The thing that was noticeably different from the hiking in the Austrian and Bavarian Alps was the heat… it was very warm (and that was only in May). But look at those views…
– Day 3 in Northern Albania –
Hike Maja e Zorzit
Maja e Zortit stands at 1663m and gives brilliant views of the Theth Valley. The route is accessible from the centre of Theth and is on the opposite side of the river from the centre.
If you head over the bridge (the only bridge) and take a left along the river, you’ll find the starting point highlighted by red and white striped markers painted to the rock. You can see the starting point here.
The route will take you through forests, scree and the last part is a steep scramble; therefore, confidence and secure footing are requried.
Once at the summit you have 2 options
- Return the way you came (which was our option)
- Follow the ridge. This will lead you to the access road that you took on day one. You can then follow this back to Theth.
- Markings: parts of the route through the forest and meadow are not well marked, therefore it is recommended that if you are not used to these markings or not confident, then take a guide for this tour.
- Weather: this should only be attempted in good weather due to an exposed ridge and a scramble. We got caught in an unexpected thunder and lightning storm overhead while on the exposed summit. The limestone rocks are extremely slippy when wet.
- Dogs might follow you. We had a female and male dog follow us. The male left us to hide during the storm and the female followed us all the way back to Theth where she left us.
- Groceries: there is a small grocery store in Theth (just as you cross the bridge). This is owned by the cafe bar next door and they will open it up when they see you there.
- Currency: most places accept Euros, but small cafe’s do not… it is a good idea to have a small amount of Albanian Lek.
- Clothing: the daytime is warm and the nightime is cool. Through the day, we had normal summer attire and on an evening a lightweight jacket and long sleeves. It will possibly rain, therefore waterproofs are an essential.