Want to visit Theth National Park & The Accursed Mountains in Albania? Discover the best things to do in the Albanian Alps and more with this post.
Theth National Park is a natural beauty.
With a wide variety of natural features, including rock formations, waterfalls, and plenty of flora and fauna, the area is too good to skip.
So, I’ve put this together to save you time. You’ll get all the information you need for your next visit.
Let’s get into it.
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Why visit Theth National Park?
Albania is home to some of the world’s most underrated and unknown natural wonders, and Theth National Park is no different.
With stunning mountains that erupt into the air, aqua rivers flowing between them, and plenty of waterfalls and gorges to enjoy, this national park in the Shala Valley near the Montenegro border is a must-visit.
You’ll love it even more if you’re the outdoor adventure type. The mountainous park covers an area of just over 10 square miles, and there are plenty of hiking, climbing, and swimming opportunities in this pristine quality forest.
Plus, you’ll find all kinds of wildlife. The park contains incredible animals, from golden eagles to black bears.
And that’s not even to mention the cute and historic villages that dot the area.
Overall, Theth National Park is a can’t-miss area of Albania on your next visit.
How to get to Theth National Park
The easiest way to get to the national park is by starting in Shkoder, in northern Albania.
From Shkodra, you have a few options:
- Take a bus
- Hire a taxi
- Drive yourself
For the taxi or the bus, you’ll have to arrange the transportation yourself in the center of Shkodra.
However, if you’re driving, it’s a relatively short drive.
Head northwest out of Shkodra and follow E762 and SH21 to Rruga Nikgjonaj.
There are plenty of signs along the way, so follow them up, over, and back down the mountains as you enjoy the picturesque drive.
In all, the trip takes around two hours.
Hotels in Theth National Park
Depending on the season, hotels can fill up quickly.
So, keep this in mind as accommodation is limited in the national park.
With that said, here are some of the top hotels to check out for your next stay:
- Bujtina Terthorja. A boutique hotel that offers luxurious amenities and outstanding views all around you.
- Guest house PANORAMA. A contemporary hotel with decent amenities and is just a few steps from trails.
- Thethi Paradise. A cute hotel that has comfortable accommodations and easy access to activities.
- Royal Land. A luxurious hotel that’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty around you.
- Guesthouse “Gjin Thana”. A traditional hotel that’ll give you comfortable sleeping options along with breathtaking views.
Top things to do in Theth National Park
- Hike to Valbona Peak and the Valbona Mountains
- Blue Eye of Theth
- Lock-In Tower of Theth
- Visit Grunas Waterfall
- Wander the hiking trails
- Roam the historical village of Theth
1. Hike to Valbona Peak and the Valbona Mountains
This is why everyone comes to Theth National Park, and there’s a reason for it — the famed Valbona-Theth hike.
You can start the hike in Valbona or Theth, and many opt for starting in Theth.
Although, it doesn’t matter which side you start.
The hike is around nine miles with about 2,500 to 3,000 feet of elevation gain. And it takes most people around seven to eight hours to finish, but you can take your time to soak in the views.
And there are a lot of them.
Panoramic views stretch out. Trees and grass line the Valbona Valley’s floor, with colossal stone mountains erupting from it on either side to form a staggering range.
If you’ve seen The Sound of Music, you can picture what it looks like.
You don’t have to hike from Theth to Valbona to see this, though! I walked from Theth to Valbona Peak, turned around, and came back down.
And the views were more than worth it.
If you’re coming to Theth, you have to visit Valbona Peak.
2. Blue Eye of Theth
The Blue Eye of Theth is something you see in pictures and think, “It can’t possibly look like that in real life.”
But this is one of those attractions that matches the pictures perfectly.
The Blue Eye of Theth is a body of (extremely) cold water that is a beautiful aqua blue. Visitors come here to cool off and relax next to the water.
A small restaurant nearby (and vendors along the way) sells drinks and snacks, so you don’t need to bring much.
You can get to the Blue Eye with a tour, which usually involves a van driving you to the entrance point.
Or, you can hike from Theth to the Blue Eye, which I strongly recommend. The trails are apparent and easy to follow.
And the views you get along the way make the sweaty hike (and following swim) worth it.
3. Lock-in Tower of Theth
The Lock-In Tower of Theth (Tower of Nikoll Koçeku) is a valuable piece of the cultural and historical heritage of the region.
It’s been around for hundreds of years and once served as a holding area for prisoners of the Kanun.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Kanun, Albanians followed the traditional oral Albanian laws in the 15th century.
Today, however, it merely serves as a landmark for visitors and Albanians.
Great for a short visit; you can pair this with one of the many hikes you’ll be doing!
4. Visit Grunas Waterfall
The Grunas Waterfall is another excellent option for a hike. The park protects the waterfall, so the area remains clear of trash and as beautiful as ever!
It takes about an hour to hike to the waterfall from Theth, but the calm waters are an excellent reward for the end.
Plus, you’re sure to be joined by other hikers.
So, bring along some snacks and drinks and enjoy a nice picnic next to this beautiful waterfall.
5. Wander the hiking trails
This one is broad, but you could spend an entire day wandering the hiking trails that run through the park.
And you’d still have some left over.
The outdoors draw everyone to this area, and the trails are perfect for spending your short trip enjoying the nature of the area.
You may even get lucky and see one of the endangered Golden Eagles.
I’ll also cover some of the best ones shortly.
6. Roam the historical village of Theth
Theth is a beautiful little village.
With a scattering of hotels and houses, beautiful grasslands, dense forests, and gorgeous mountains surrounding you, it’s hard not to fall in love with nature here. But by roaming the cultural and historical center of this Balkan area, you get to learn more about the region’s historical heritage.
Most of the families in this area have been here for centuries, and they’re proud to call this area home. So, chatting with locals is a perfect way to get even more from the experience and the region.
Nature will always be there, but the people won’t.
Best hiking trails to explore in Theth
- Theth to Valbona
- Grunas Waterfall Hike
- Thethi Paradise Hike
- Theth to Blue Eye Hike
- Valbona Pass Hike
1. Theth to Valbona Hike
The hike from Theth to Valbona is one of Albania’s most picturesque and memorable hikes.
Starting in Theth, the trail takes hikers through lush valleys and small streams. As you make your way up the mountain, you will be treated to spectacular views of the rugged Albanian landscape. Be sure to stop and enjoy the view, and take plenty of pictures.
Once you reach the peak, it’s down into the opposite valley until you reach the small town of Valbona.
You’ll see beautiful forests, occasional animals, and many fellow hikers along the way.
This incredible journey will leave a lasting impression and provide memories that will last a lifetime!
Theth to Valbona Hike Details
- Distance: 10.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 3,200 feet
- Time: 7-8 hours
2. Grunas Waterfall Hike
The Grunas Waterfall Hike is a spectacular outdoor experience.
This hike is a great way to take in the stunning mountain scenery.
You’ll follow the trail through grassy meadows and between tall trees before finally arriving at the waterfall. It’s a perfect hike for a family or someone looking for a relaxing stroll.
The hike is relatively easy and can be completed in just a few hours, making it perfect for both beginners and experienced hikers.
Whether you’re looking for an adventure or simply want to take in some incredible natural beauty, Grunas Waterfall Hike is worth checking out!
Grunas Waterfall Hike Details
- Distance: ~ 1.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 100+ feet
- Time: 1-2 hours
3. Thethi Paradise Hike
Admittedly, this is one I found on Wikiloc.
But, it’s an excellent trail and takes you through the best parts of Theth National Park.
Hike between the enormous mountains, walk along a river and across old bridges and visit the excellent Blue Eye of Theth. Dip into its cool (read: freezing) waters and relax next to it after a challenging hike.
But you’re not finished. After all, this hike isn’t for beginners.
Also, bring plenty of water as you may only come across a few shops or water springs.
Thethi Paradise Hike Details
- Distance: 15 miles
- Elevation gain: 3,300 feet
- Time: 8-12 hours
4. Theth to Blue Eye Hike
I’ve mentioned this place a few times in this post, and that’s because it’s one of the most popular attractions in Theth.
And that’s because it’s worth visiting. Not only for how beautiful the water and the area are — which it is — but also because the hike is equally stunning.
You’ll head south out of Theth, and as you do, you’ll weave in and out of lush forest, wide open green fields, and over rushing gorges. I’d even go as far as to say the hike is better than the Blue Eye.
But maybe I was in a great mood.
Regardless, you should do this hike on your visit.
Theth to Blue Eye Hike Details
- Distance: 5 miles
- Elevation gain: 900 feet
- Time: 3-4 hours
Wildlife you’ll see in Theth National Park
The Shala Valley is home to a ton of biodiversity and wild animals.
From the cute and fun to the scary, Theth’s diverse ecosystem is one of the area’s biggest highlights.
But here are some of the ones to keep an eye out for as you visit this untouched and pristine area of the Balkans:
- Golden Eagle. The most important bird in the area. With a wingspan of up to 7 feet, you can find these birds in the high terrain or gliding above the park.
- Alpine Marmot. A rodent that’s the biggest of its species. You can find them sunbathing on the rocks next to rivers.
- Beech Marten. A small mammal that looks similar to a ferret. You’ll only catch these critters out scavenging for food.
- Red Deer. A beautiful animal that is the largest deer species in Europe. You may sneak up on them grazing in the grasslands.
- Eurasian Brown Bear. The largest carnivore in the park and an apex predator. Give these animals space. You’ll often find them hunting near rivers or streams.
You’ll find plenty of other animals in the area, so keep your eye out.
But, if you’re a nature lover, it’s hard to pass up a visit to this area.
Other top things to do in Albania
- Explore the capital city of Tirana
- Head to the Albanian Riviera
- Visit the City of a Thousand Windows
- Explore the ruins of Butrint
- Ride a bicycle around Shkoder
1. Explore the capital city of Tirana
Tirana is a buzzing up-and-coming city in the heart of Albania.
With a super young population, you can feel the energy as you roam the streets and check out its landmarks.
People buzz by you on scooters, smiling and waving. Restaurants are packed with people as they serve delicious dish after delicious dish. And cafes serve as gathering places for friends to chat and relax.
With its airport being the primary one in the country, you’ll inevitably pass through here.
But be sure to slow down and explore it properly.
2. Head to the Albanian Riviera
Albania’s south has some of the most stunning beaches I’ve visited.
With crystal clear waters, white sands, and a bar nearby to serve up drinks, you’ve got a recipe for a day well spent.
Whether Ksamil, Saranda, Vlora, or Dhermi, each city has a beautiful protected historic center, delicious food, and enough activities to keep you busy for a week or more.
If you want some fun in the sun, this is where to head.
3. Visit the City of a Thousand Windows
The City of a Thousand Windows, known as Berat, is a charming city with a lot to offer.
Most known for its beautiful castle, cobbled streets, and, yes, its windows, the town is a perfect way to experience the area’s culture.
Roam the cobbled streets, duck in and out of the cafes, and wander the churches.
But make sure you visit.
4. Explore the ruins of Butrint
Exploring Butrint allows you to learn about the area’s history.
Most importantly, the Roman history of the area, which had and has a significant influence on the area. Plus, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so why not visit?
As you wander, you’ll pass by ruins that date back a thousand (and sometimes more) years. And there’s a museum where you can view the most important artifacts collected.
I recommend spending part of the day here if you have the time.
5. Ride a bicycle around Shkoder
When you enter Shkoder, you’ll immediately notice all the bikers weaving in and out of traffic.
Small enough you can traverse it on a bike, this small town makes the perfect stopping-off point before you head to Theth.
But that doesn’t mean you should just stop and go. Take your time to roam the streets, visit the restaurants, and explore the area. There’s plenty of culture and history to experience here.
Oh, and make sure you rent a bicycle for at least one day. It’s worth trying.
Theth National Park FAQs
Can you drive to Theth, Albania?
Yes, and it’s straightforward! Theth National Park is easily accessed from Shkoder or Theth.
If you’re coming from Tirana, you’ll head north to Theth first before continuing northwest toward Theth.
If you’re traveling from Tirana, the trip will take around 3 ½ hours to complete.
From Shkoder, it takes around 2 to 3 hours.
In the past, the road to Theth wasn’t paved, which made taking a bigger vehicle a requirement. However, this road has now been paved, and you can take any car!
Why are they called Accursed Mountains?
Many strange tales have come out of the area surrounding the mountains. But the most famous involves a woman and her two sons.
This story also has different versions.
In either version, the mother curses the mountains and blames them for harming her sons. And thus, the legend was born.
However, many say the name comes from the geological features of the mountains. The mountains themselves are staggering and are seen as impossible and wild.
Thus, they were given their name.
Either story you follow, it’s a place you need to visit now before it becomes more famous.
What do you want to do in Theth National Park?
The northern part of Albania was my favorite during my trip.
And it’ll be yours, too.
So, let me know what you plan on doing on a visit to Albania!
And, if you want more, check out my Albania page for all my posts about this beautiful country.