Mountains in Theth National Park

Visiting Theth National Park: Everything you need to know

Visiting Theth National Park feels like stepping into the pages of a fairytale. Your story begins with the sweeping drive, which takes you higher and higher into the Albanian Alps, zig-zagging back and forth on nail-biting switches. Then suddenly, almost without warning, you round a bend and you’re staring down on a patchwork of pitched roofed buildings, dwarfed in the valley by the surrounding mountains. On either side, colossal grey peeks poke through the snow, as it loses its battle with the sun.

Spending time in Theth National Park was a really special part of our 10 day trip to north Albania. We loved waking up and enjoying a homemade breakfast with breathtaking views and our hike to Theth Blue Eye was one of the highlights of our trip.

If you’re planning on visiting Theth National Park, I hope this guide will give you an idea of what to expect. You’re in for a treat!

Things to do in Theth

While the surrounding mountains are the obvious attraction, there are a few notable things to do in Theth. Perhaps the most famous is the small lock-in tower, which stands in the centre of the village. In the past the tower was used when families were involved in a vendetta. If a man had wronged another family he could lock himself in and live in the tower safely, until his family had agreed to restorations with the other party.

You can go into the three storey tower and climb the simple wooden ladders to the upper floors. The small windows provide a little daylight, but its easy to imagine how isolating a long stay here would have been.

There is also a shingled church nearby. Its claim to fame is that the writer Edith Durham (author of High Albania) stayed in 1908.

Slate church in Theth National Park

If you have time, you can enjoy a 45 minute walk to Theth waterfall. Plus, of course, one of the area’s most famous attractions is the Blue Eye.

Hiking to the Blue Eye Lagoon from Theth

Hiking to the Blue Eye Lagoon from Theth is not for the faint-hearted. However, it is definitely a trip worth doing for the simply stunning view at the end.

It’s possible to walk to the Blue Eye from Theth itself, which is an 18km/11 mile round trip. But if you would prefer a shorter two hour round trip, you can drive to the start of the trail. This is what we decided to do, as we were hiking with our two little adventurers.

Be warned, the hike is not very well marked and involves quite a lot of scrambling over rocks. It also gets very hot, as there isn’t much shade along the way. So make sure you go prepared with plenty of water and sun protection.

However, despite the challenge, the crystal clear pool which greets you as you turn the final corner makes everything worthwhile. Dipping your toes in the icy cool water is the best feeling! 

We were lucky that we visited at the very start of the tourist season and had the place pretty much to ourselves. But in summer it, understandably, gets very busy. So I would recommend starting the hike early if you can.

For more information, check out: Hiking to the Blue Eye in Theth: Everything you need to know.

Visiting Blue Eye Theth as part of a 10 day itinerary for north Albania

Visiting Theth with kids

Visiting Theth with kids is really fun. I’m sure most children will love the novelty of staying in a traditional guesthouse, many of which has a pet or two (ours had deers!) Our little adventurers also loved the hike to the Blue Eye, especially our six-year-old who loves scrambling over rocks.

As with everywhere in Albania, children are always welcomed. All of the people we met were so friendly and our little adventurers were very spoilt with fresh juices and fruit platters. One thing to be aware of is that food options may be more limited in Theth, as supplies either have to be produced locally or brought in from Shkoder. This means that many of the guesthouses serve a set menu at breakfast and dinner.  

If you’re planning on visiting Theth with a baby, the roads and paths are not suitable for pushchairs. So a carrier or sling would be more practical. We love travelling with the Osprey Poco LT Child Carrier which folds flat when not in use and is easy to travel on a plane with.

Where to stay in Theth

Most of the accommodation options in Theth are small guesthouses. The buildings are made from the local grey stone, with wooden tiles. Their shape is designed to allow the heavy snow falls to run down them as it melts. There is a saying in northern Albania: “God and the guest above all else” and you really will be treated well during your stay.

If you’re travelling in Albania with kids there are lots of family options. We chose a family room at Thethi Paradise, which is on the mountainside. Our little adventurers loved that it felt like our own house. It had a double bed and bathroom downstairs and two single beds upstairs.

Traditional guesthouse in Theth National Park

Heaters are provided to keep the room cosy at night and we were lulled to sleep by the sounds of running water and the distant laughter of other guests.

We also had a lovely dinner one evening down in the valley at Bujtina Polia. This is one of the longest running guesthouses in the village and the friendly owners are very knowledgeable about the area.

For visitors looking for a little luxury, Hotel Thethi opened its doors in 2024.

Driving to Theth

Driving to Theth was one of the things we were most concerned about when we considered driving in Albania. However, the previous unpaved road was replaced in the last couple of years with a tarmaced one, so it was nowhere near as bad as we had imagined.

However, I would say that whoever is driving needs to be a confident driver. The road to Theth is still very narrow and not quite wide enough for two cars to pass at many points. This means one driver will be required to reverse or squeeze in very close to the edge of the road. (Which is fine when you’re next to the mountain, but quite scary when you’re the car on the outside. This passenger may have let out a few squeals on route!)

There is also the potential for rocks slides. We discovered that a few areas of the road had recently been damaged. On these sections we found ourselves driving over rocks and rubble. For this reason, I would recommend hiring a 4×4 car if you’re planning on driving to Theth.

Having said all of that, driving to Theth will provide you with the most amazing views. Looking down into the surrounding valleys is truly special. Rounding the corner and getting our first view of the village was one of my favourite moments.

If you would prefer to leave the driving to someone else, there are plenty of organised trips from Tirana, Shkoder and Durres. These tours all have good reviews:

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Does Theth get busy?

We visited Theth at the very start of the season (April) in an unseasonably warm year. Usually in April there is still snow in the area and many routes aren’t safe to hike. So places start to get busier from May onwards. If you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Albania, I would say the shoulder seasons are when you can expect the perfect combination of fewer crowds and warmer weather.

In the summer months Theth does get very busy, as it’s altitude means that it is cooler than some of the hotter towns and cities. It is also a popular season for hikers keen to walk the popular Theth to Valbona trail.

If you’re planning on visiting Theth in the summer, I would recommend booking your accommodation in advance, as there are limited options in the area. 

You should also be prepared that tourism in Theth is expanding at a huge rate and locals are doing their best to keep up with it. However, the kindness and hospitality of northern Albania remains strong here. 

I hope you found this post about visiting Theth National Park useful. If you’re planning a trip you might also like to read Travelling in Albania: Everything you need to know before you go.

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Visiting Theth National Park