Top 4 Things To Do In The Albanian Alps
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When you’re in Albania, a visit to the Albanian Alps can’t be missing on your itinerary. Everyone will find something interesting there. Nature lovers will get to spend an amazing time in the mountains, those seeking some relaxation will get to have a rest in a quiet place next to calming rivers, and those who want to challenge themselves doing some hikes will enjoy some of the best hiking trails in the Balkan peninsula.
After visiting Albanian Alps, I have to say that it is one of the most beautiful places of Albania. I’ve put together a list of the top 4 things you have to do when spending some time in here.
It contains activities for those looking for a relax, walking, experiencing Albanian tradition, those who want to do some light but also serious hiking. I’ve also included logistics, prices, and information on how to get around and what you have to keep in mind when visiting these mountains.
Let’s head to our list.
List Of The Top 4 Things To Do In Albanian Alps
- Theth Village & Albanian Tradition
- Grunasi Waterfall
- Blue Eye – Syri I Kalter
- 2-Day Valbona Valley Itinerary Hike & Lake Koman
1. Theth Village & Albanian Tradition
Theth is a charming village located in the heart of the Albanian Alps. Not a long time ago, there was no proper road leading to this small place, so you can imagine how remote it is. Nowadays, it’s becoming more famous among visitors and locals are building a road connecting Theth with other villages.
Nevertheless, it’s still quite unspoiled, and if you’re seeking a quiet place, want to disconnect, enjoy a few days in nature, and relax, this is a perfect spot in Albania to do so.
Theth offers many activities and is also a starting point for many hikes and things you can do in the Albanian Alps. It has nice accommodation spots, traditional cottages, but also more modern huts if you want to treat yourself.
It’s worth spending 1 day in Theth village, just walking around, going to the river, and enjoying its sounds. Then walk towards the church or to some remote hill and enjoy the stunning views of its valley and the Albanian Alps around.
How To Get To Theth
You can get to Theth from the city Shkodra. If you’re staying in Shkodra, tell your accommodation to reserve a spot in a van for the next day. The van will drive you directly to Theth with other visitors. You can also drive there on your own. However, I wouldn’t recommend this option.
Just keep in mind the road is curvy a very tiny, quite scary for some to drive. To learn more about how to get from Shkodra to Theth, check out my Albania road trip itinerary (day 10.).
What To Do In Theth
I highly recommend that you wake up around 7am and go for a walk early in the morning. The village is so quiet at that time, you’ll barely meet anyone. Maybe just a man riding a horse or the first jeep driving down the valley.
You’ll get the chance to connect with nature, feel the fresh air, and just relax in the quietness of the Albanian Alps. I absolutely loved this experience, and I am sure you’ll love it as well.
Theth village is also a perfect spot to enjoy Albanian culture. You’ll experience traditional dinner and breakfast in your accommodation, connect to locals, chat with them, and see how people live in this remote village.
2. Grunasi Waterfall
If you want to do an easy walk, you can do so by going towards the Grunasi waterfall. It takes about 1 hour on foot to reach the waterfall from Theth. It’s an easy walk and a perfect way to enjoy the Albanian Alps if you don’t like walking too far or don’t feel like hiking a lot.
3. Hike To The Blue Eye – Syri I Kalter
All right, I am going to be honest with you here :D. Albanians don’t really tell you directions, even if you ask. If you ask them where the Blue Eye is located, they’ll tell you just go to the right. That’s it. So then you go right and follow the road, and after 5 minutes, there is a crossroad leading 4 different ways. And you basically have to idea which one you should choose.
This is just a short story from my personal experience hiking in Albanian Alps. It was a lot of fun, but just be prepared that locals don’t give you precise directions. But no offense please if you’re an Albanian reading this.
That’s why I highly recommend you download offline maps like MAPS.ME on your phone before your hike to avoid getting lost.
How To Get To Blue Eye From Theth
The way to a Blue Eye from Theth is not the nicest walk. Again, we just started walking in Theth and thought it would be a beautiful hike until we reached the Blue Eye. But you’ll rather walk on the road with so many jeeps passing by until you reach the restaurant ‘Lulash Zelna’ and a cottage next to a river.
Then we realized that most people just take a minibus or a jeep from Theth and drive directly to this restaurant. From there, you’ll walk to the Blue Eye in about 45 minutes uphill.
So you can either walk the entire way or just take a jeep or minibus from Theth to the ‘Restaurant Lulash Zelna’. From there, just walk uphill until you reach the Blue Eye. This hike is quite popular, so you can just follow the people walking there as well.
If you want to walk from Theth, I suggest you stay on the left side of the river (directon Blue Eye). It’s a much nicer walk. You’ll walk alongside the river, through a valley, until you reach the restaurant.
If you stay on the right side of the river, you’ll walk on the road avoiding jeeps and minivans driving to the restaurant, which is not so enjoyable. So stay on the left side of the river and follow offline maps.
Blue Eye – Syri I Kalter
Blue Eye is a natural phenomenon in the Albanian Alps. In the Albanian language, they call is as Syri I Kalter.
You can swim in there, but the water is freezing cold. It’s an easy walk, and you don’t necessarily need hiking boots for it. You would also manage it wearing sandals, but I recommend putting at least some proper shoes on. The way is slightly rocky, so it’s better to wear shoes.
In Albania, it gets very hot in summer and people are selling some refreshing drinks on the way so you can get some.
Just enjoy the hike and after, have a nice lunch in the restaurant ‘Lulash Zelna’ enjoying stunning views of the Albanian Alps. You can also bathe and swim in the local river.
Drive A Jeep Back To Theth
If you are in the Albanian Alps, you can’t miss driving in a jeep. It’s an unforgettable experience. When I was there, they were constructing the road, so the jeep had to pass by huge trucks, cars and minibuses passing by.
Moreover, driving on the rocks and tiny road next to a canyon was so much fun. You definitely shouldn’t miss driving a jeep in the Albanian Alps.
So I recommend you walk from Theth on the left side of the river to the ‘Restaurant Lulash Zelna’ in the morning and then to the Blue Eye. Enjoy the Blue Eye and swim in it or in the local river, then get back to the restaurant and have some lunch. After, I suggest you take the jeep back to Theth from the restaurant. You’ll absolutely love it.
Price per jeep one way: 3000LEK – try to share the jeep with other 3 people
Price per Minibus/Van one way: 1000LEK – share with others
4. Hike 2-day Itinerary From Theth To Valbona & Lake Komani
This is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Albanian Alps. Count at least 2 days for it. If you want to spend 1 day enjoying Theth, add one more day to your itinerary. You’ll start in Shkodra, and from there, you can do it in 2 different ways.
Either you get to Theth or drive to Komani Lake, where your adventure starts.
Starting Your Hike In Theth
Let’s have a look at the hike if you start in Theth. From Theth, you’ll do a hike through the Valbona Pass. Firstly, prepare yourself for a 3-hour rather steep hike up until you reach the peak.
After, you’ll start descending to the Valbona Valley, where you’ll spend the night. The entire hike takes around 7 hours (3 hours hiking up and 4 hours descending to the Valbona Valley).
You can spend the night in Valbona and prepare yourself for the next adventure tomorrow.
On the second day, you’ll take a bus in the morning from Valbona, which will drive you all the way down to Fierze. Fierze is a small town next to the Komani Lake, which you’ll be crossing. Then hop on the ferry and enjoy the ride with stunning views of the Albanian Alps until you reach Koman.
Finally, take another bus back to Shkodra in the afternoon/evening.
This is the suggested itinerary if you want to start your trip in Theth.
Let’s have a look how it looks like if you start in Shkodra/Koman.
Starting Your Hike In Koman/Valbona
From Shkodra, you’ll take a bus in the morning to Koman. After, catch the ferry and enjoy the ride across Komani Lake. In 2 hours, you’ll reach Fierze. From there, take the bus directly to Valbona, where you can stay overnight.
On the next day, prepare yourself for the Valbona – Theth hike. It’s slightly different than the hike you would do from Theth to Valbona.
If you start in Valbona, you’ll walk around 4 hours through the valley until you start hiking up the steep mountain to reach Valbona Pass. Then, you’ll descent down to Theth.
Which Hike Direction Is Better?
I would personally start this itinerary in Theth. You can first do some smaller hikes to the Blue Eye and the waterfall and enjoy Theth. Then, on your third day, you can hike to Valbona.
If you do it the other way around, the hike from Valbona to Valbona Pass is very steep. In contrast, from Theth to Valbona Pass, it is continuously ascending.
However, it’s up to you which way you want to go. Both ways are beautiful so decide for yourself which one suits you better.
Information About Bus Drives, Prices & Duration
Van/minibus from Shkodra to Theth: 1200LEK – takes approx. 3hours 30 minutes (with a stop)
Don’t forget to tell your accommodation the night before that you want to take the minibus the next day. They’ll reserve a spot for you.
Hike from Theth to Valbona: free – takes approx. 7 hours
Van/minibus from Valbona to Fierze: 700LEK – takes approx. 1 hour, bus leaves at 10:30am
Don’t forget to tell your accommodation the night before that you want to take the minibus the next day. They’ll reserve a spot for you.
Ferry from Fierze to Koman (across Komani Lake): 800LEK – takes approx. 2 hours
Bus from Koman to Shkodra: 700LEK – takes approx. 2hours 30minutes
Where To Buy Tickets For Koman Ferry & Albanian Buses?
As I mentioned in my article about Albanian buses and getting around Albania, you don’t have to buy tickets in advance. In Koman, you’ll just hop on the bus, and somebody will either collect the money on the way, or you’ll pay the driver when getting off the bus. Just do what others do :D.
In Shkodra and Valbona, you’ll, however, have to tell your accommodation that you want to take the minibus the next day, and they’ll reserve a spot for you in the van. Don’t forget about it.
The bus from Koman to Shkodra will already be waiting for you once you get off the ferry. So just hop on one, and it’ll drive you to Shkodra. No need to book anything in advance.
For the minibus from Shkodra to Theth and Valbona to Fierze, your accommodation will tell you once the minibus arrives, so just hop on, and you’ll pay the driver at the end of the journey.
Don’t forget to have cash with you – there is no ATM in Theth neither in Valbona and other places in the Albanian Alps. Some people also accept EURO, but it is generally better to carry Albanian Lek with you.
These are the top 4 things you can do when visiting Albanian Alps. Pick some of them based on your current needs and interests. However, if you like to have a precise itinerary, here is what I would suggest you do.
Suggested Albanian Alps Hiking Itinerary
1. DAY: Shkodra ⇒ Theth
Take the minibus from Shkodra to Theth in the morning. Once you get to Theth around lunchtime, check in to your accommodation. Leave this day for yourself to explore the village and enjoy its atmosphere.
I recommend you walk to the waterfall and back, which takes about 1 hour (one way).
In the evening, have a nice traditional Albanian dinner in your accommodation. Enjoy the fresh air sitting in the garden of your accommodation, have some Raki to better digest, and go watch the stars at night. They are amazing.
2. DAY: Blue Eye
On the next day, I recommend you do the hike to the Blue Eye. Walk on the left side of the river until you reach the ‘Restaurant Lulash Zelna’. Have some refreshments and continue to the Blue Eye.
After, get back to the restaurant and enjoy some local food. Once you’re ready, get a jeep back to your accommodation in Theth. Remember, the jeep drive is one of the must things to do when visiting Albanian Alps. So much fun and a bit of adrenaline, too.
Enjoy your evening again in Theth with some traditional food.
3. DAY: Theth ⇒ Valbona Valley Hike
On the third day, you can start the Theth – Valbona hike. Take it easy, immerse yourself into the nature and stunning views around. In the afternoon, you’ll get to Valbona, where you can stay overnight.
Don’t forget to tell your hosts to book a seat in the minibus to Fierze for tomorrow. Enjoy another evening in the Albanian Alps in Valbona.
4. DAY: Valbona ⇒ Fierze ⇒ Komani Lake ⇒ Shkodra
According to the itinerary I described above, today is the day when you’ll get back to Shkodra. Enjoy Lake Komani, spectacular views, chat with locals and reflect on your trip in the Albanian Alps.
Important Things To Keep In Mind In The Albanian Alps
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s important to carry cash with you for this trip (the best is to have Albanian Lek, which is local currency).
Another thing to keep in mind is to reserve the spots in a van/minibus a night before your drive. You’ll have to do so in Shkodra (when you want to get to Theth the next morning) and in Valbona when you want to drive to Fierze and then catch the ferry the next day. So don’t forget to tell your accommodation and book a seat.
Also, don’t forget to have the offline maps on the phone if you want to walk and hike in the Albanian Alps. It’ll be much easier to get to your destination this way.
Don’t expect some fancy hotels in Theth and Valbona. These villages are still remote, and people live their traditional way. It will take a few years until maybe some fancier hotels are constructed. Honestly, I hope they won’t be building too much because they have such a charm just the way they are right now, with less infrastructure.
All in all, enjoy your stay and immerse yourself in Albanian culture and traditions while you’re there.
What To Pack For Albanian Alps Visit
- Cash – Albanian Lek
- Waterproof jacket
- Long-sleeve tights/hiking tights
- Shorts with T-Shirts
- Maps.me on the phone
- Smaller backpack
- Bottle for water
Organized Tours To The Albanian Alps
If you like to do a tour of the Albanian Alps, including many highlights mentioned in this article, I recommend the following two excursions organized by Get Your Guide.
One of them is a 2-day trip to the Theth National Park. With this excursion, you’ll get to see the Grunas Waterfall, Blue Eye and enjoy Albanian traditions.
The other tour is for 4 days, with which you get to do the same things as for the previous ones. In addition, you’ll see a canyon and stop in one of the best agro farms in Albania, Mrizi I Zanave.
More Tips For Albania Travel
I hope you’ll get the most out of Albanian Alps. They are truly spectacular, so choose some of the top things to do and enjoy your trip. Let me know down in the comments what you did and what the highlight of the trip was for you. If you want to see more of Albania, get my Albania road trip for 10 days to explore this beautiful country.
I also have a list of different itineraries for your trip to Albania. Choose one based on your interests. It has an itinerary for history and culture lovers, nature and beach lovers, or gastronomy and food fanatics.
For general information about Albania, its most beautiful places, economy and budget you’ll need and food you have to try, check out my Albania travel guide.
If you want to experience more of Albanian culture and traditions, visit Fishte village and experience their unique agrotourism. You can stay in the local hotel and taste traditional food. Do it, for instance, as a day trip from Tirana. If you want more information about this day trip from Tirana, check out my article, day 4.