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Are you planning to hike from Theth to Valbona Peak?
I know the most popular option is to hike between the two towns, from Valbona to Theth or Theth to Valbona, on an 8 hour trek. For me, this came with a problem: what to do with our bags?
Some people leave them at a hostel in Shkoder before they go to the mountains. Others hire a horse and a guide to carry their bags through the pass, and still others choose to carry their heavy bags on their back with them the entire way. However, we opted for the easiest option.
Instead of walking between the two towns, we decided to just hike from Theth to Valbona Peak and back again. That way we got all the same views and didn’t have to change guesthouses or deal with any bag shenanigans at all. I’m actually quite surprised more people don’t opt for this but it isn’t widely talked about.
Theth as a town is more beautiful than Valbona (or so the Dutch travelers at our guesthouse told me) and I personally strongly prefer a jeep or bus ride between Shkoder and Theth over the ferry that’s required to travel from Shkoder to Valbona. I tend to get motion sickness on boats.
Think this option may be right for you?
There are tons of pros to hiking from Theth to Valbona Peak and back again and honestly I can’t think of a single downside. If you’re thinking about this route, here’s everything you need to know!
The hike from Theth to Valbona Peak isn’t easy at all. It’s a very steep uphill on the way to the peak and then a steep return as well. You don’t have to be in amazing shape but some fitness is required. I found this trek much more difficult (but also more beautiful) than the hike to the Blue Eye of Theth.
Distance: 11.7 miles
Time: 7 hours and 15 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Itinerary to Hike From Theth to Valbona Peak
This was our itinerary on the hike, and some milestones you can look out for so you’re not trekking away with no idea how close you are!
I’m an average hiker, so if you’re super fast or super slow, you can adjust your expectations accordingly. This was the itinerary for our hike to Valbona Peak and back to Theth again.
Another quick thing to note is that Theth is very spread out along the river. We stayed at Guesthouse Pashko which was a fairly far walk from the trailhead. So, depending on where you’re located it could cut a mile or more off your hike.
7:45 am – leave our guesthouse
8:15 am – arrive at the trailhead. The sign is on the main road through Theth and says “Valbona Col 6.5 km”
9:45 am – arrive the alpine meadow (this has amazing views. If you can’t make it all the way to the peak I strongly recommend at least hiking to this meadow)
10:30 am – arrive at the mountain cafe, stop for coffee and a pastry
11:30 am – reach Valbona Peak!
12 pm – leave the peak to descend back to Theth
12:45 pm – return to the cafe for another pastry
1:20 pm – back in the alpine meadow
2:30 pm – finish the hike at the trailhead
3 pm – return to our guesthouse
What to Pack for the Hike from Theth to Valbona
This hike definitely isn’t easy so it’s good to come prepared. This is everything I took on my trek to Valbona peak.
- A small backpack (I use the daypack from my Osprey Farpoint)
- Sturdy hiking shoes (shoutout to my Timberlands)
- Refillable water bottles (I always recommend my Vibrant bottle)
- Snacks or a packed lunch (or both)
- Jacket in case a storm rolls in and the temperature drops
How to Hike from Theth to Valbona
When you’re walking to the trailhead, just stick to the main road through Theth and that’s the easiest way to find it. Walk along the river, past the tourism board, past the bridge (but don’t cross it), and keep going. The trail starts on the “Theth side” of the river. The sign is large and obvious and says “Valbona Col 6.5 km.”
From here, it will start with a gradual uphill on the road until you reach the first of two cafes. Stop and fill your water bottle at the fresh water spring (it’s clean and safe, I promise) before you continue. From here, the walk gets a lot steeper and will begin to wind through a shaded forest.
Eventually, you’ll come out at the first marker, the alpine meadow.
This place. Guys. This place is so beyond beautiful.
The flowers were blooming, the sun was shining, and we were surrounded by peaks of the Albanian Alps on all sides. Seriously, this is one of the most picturesque places I have ever been. If you’re not sure that you can make the trek all the way from Theth to Valbona Peak, hiking 1.5 hours up the trail to this alpine meadow is still very worth the effort.
Next, we kept sweating and struggling up the mountainside (at least, I was. Luckily Daniel never leaves me behind) until we reached the next marker at the second cafe.
This place has no roads leading to it and nothing fancy except an awesome view. We stopped for a pastry, two canned Nescafe coffees, and refilled our bottles at the spring again. Then, we sat and rested our feet for a bit before we made the final push to Valbona Peak and the pass that separates the two towns from each other.
The walk between the cafe and the peak has the best views on the trail, and we reached the peak about 45 minutes after leaving it.
The pass was so amazing, and we had expansive views over the valley of Theth that we left behind us and on the other side over the Valbona valley too. Pictures don’t do it justice at all.
The best part of sitting on the peak was the stray dogs who made the hike from Theth as well and relaxed in the shade alongside us.
We only stayed on the peak for 30 minutes but I could spend forever up there enjoying the view.
Pack a picnic to eat while you take in the expansive vistas in every direction. From the pass there’s a final short and rocky push to the peak itself, some people opted to tackle it while others decided they were close enough.
Either way, the view is seriously insane.
Returning to Theth from Valbona Peak
After 30 minutes on the pass and too many photos, it was time to return the way we came. I honestly don’t think we missed out at all by going from Theth to Valbona Peak and back again (instead of continuing to the town of Valbona) because we saw the entire valley from the best vantage point at the peak.
The return was 45 minutes faster than the climb up (even with another stop at the cafe) and I was so happy to reach our guesthouse at the end of the day.
Now it was time to relax, enjoy the sunset, catch the World Cup game with our host family and eat way too much for dinner!
PS after your hike from Theth to Valbona Peak, take a minute to go stargazing after the sun goes down. The lack of light pollution in Theth is really rare, and the stars were unforgettable.
Hike from Theth To Valbona Peak & Back Again
I’m so happy we made this choice. I was a little worried about missing out but I really don’t think we did.
Choosing to hike from Theth to Valbona Peak and back instead of through the pass and to another town totally simplified our trip. We didn’t have to leave anything in a hostel, lug heavy bags though the pass, or hire a horse.
This hike is beyond beautiful, and I’m so glad we did it the way we did. After visiting, I can confidently say that Theth is now one of my favorite places in the world. It’s so peaceful, so relaxed, and has so many great hikes.
If you visit, try the trek from Theth to Valbona Peak and let me know what you think!
PS learn more about this destination and the hikes you can do with The Complete Guide to Visiting Theth and Albania’s Accursed Mountains. Learn how to hike to the Blue Eye in Theth or explore more Albanian cities with 48 hours in Tirana and the guide to visiting the lakeside town of Shkoder.