Theth Albania

Theth has emerged as a village worth visiting, featuring an iconic small Catholic church nestled amidst the sharp peaks of the Shala Valley. While the village has expanded its capacity to accommodate hikers from around the world, it has retained its authentic mountain architecture and hospitality.

With its central church surrounded by vast fields, the village exudes a unique charm, nestled amidst rugged rocky peaks and intersected by the Shala River, teeming with trout and other alpine river fauna. Throughout the village, guesthouses and hotels warmly welcome guests from across the globe. Theth represents a remarkable revival of village life through tourism. Despite a significant wave of migration that nearly depopulated the village, it has found new vitality along the Peaks of the Balkans trail.

The village is situated between Valbona and Cerem.

Visiting Theth: What you need to know

Theth nowadays is a small remote touristic village within the County of Shkodër-Albania. In  2015 after local government reforms it became part of the municipality Shkodër, and has been declared a Protected Historic Center by the Albanian Government as a National Park. Local tradition asserts a single common ancestor for the community (one Ded Nika) and suggests that the population moved to Theth some 300 to 350 years ago in order to preserve their Christian Roman Catholic Traditions. Visiting Theth in the early 20th century, the traveller Edith Durham said:

“I think no place where human beings live has given me such an impression of majestic isolation from all the world”.

Theth remains remote. The single road leading there from the village of Boga has been recently paved and upgraded but is still mostly impassable during the winter months until April, depending on the snow amount. Although the Kanun i Leke Dukagjini (traditional Albanian Code/Law) remains influential, Theth boasts one of the very few remaining “lock-in towers”, a historical form of protection for families that were “in blood feud”.

Brief overview of The Theth National Park

Thethi is located between high and steep mountains that offers many trails where you will not need to take a transfer. It is surrounded by high mountains and stunning passes, starting from Qafa e Thana, Shtegu i Dhenve, Radohima, Sheniku, Papluku, Maja e Ali, Gafa e Peja, Gropa e Bukur, Gafa e Jezerca, Maja e Zeze, Maja e Zorgji , that hide in their interior countless encounters with climbers, speleologists, botanists, geographers and many Alpine enthusiasts, on whom this area leaves indelible impressions. In addition to gazing at the spectacular limestone rocky mountains surrounding the village you will also do a hike in Nderlyse next to naturally created rock tubs with crystal clear and glacial water of the mountain river of Shala. Apart from the lock-in tower, other attractions include spectacular waterfalls, a working watermill (still used to grind the local inhabitants’ corn) and a modest ethnographic museum.

The natural resources of this area are connected together with the cultural and historical heritage of local residents, thus forming the most important bases for the development of tourism.

Travel Arrangements

There are different options to make travel arrangements. The very easy and convenient way to make travel arrangements is through the Tour Agency. They are specialised to offer many and different touristic packages tailored and suitable for every tourist. Based on the tourist’s requirements and days planned to spend on Peaks of the Balkans trail the tour agency will plan a specific program that can best suit the customer/tourist.

Transportation options

Transportation is also part of the packages and programs, always previously agreed with the customer/tourist. Upon the customer’s request the agency can arrange transportation or transfers even from places where it is not planned by the package or program.   

Accommodation choices

Accommodations can vary based on the type of the accommodation facility. Theth lately is becoming a real outdoor touristic centre with numerous hotels, guesthouses, hostels, coffee shops, etc.

The accommodation structures offer types of rooms based on the customer requirements and needs, private single, twin bed rooms, double rooms, multi bed rooms as well as private rooms for a small fee difference.

Exploration of The Theth National Park

Theth remains remote and somewhat isolated, located in the Shkodra region. The single road leading there from the village of Boga has been recently paved and upgraded but is still mostly impassable in case of heavy snow falls during the winter months until April. Population decline represents a serious long-term challenge for the community. The population has been greatly reduced over the past few decades and the majority of those remaining occupy Theth only during the summer months. However, the community has a nine-grade school and recent efforts have been made to stimulate tourism. A number of local families offer board and lodging to visitors who come to Theth to hike in the National Park – or merely to admire the mountain scenery.

Apart from the refuge tower, other attractions include spectacular waterfalls, a working watermill (still used to grind the local inhabitants’ corn) and a modest ethnographic museum.

Potential extra places to explore.

Some of the popular destinations are deep in the surrounding mountains, such as the Blue Eye hike close to Theth. You may decide to pay a driver to drop you off at a trailhead, or even halfway down a trailhead. We would suggest hiking the trail in full, but this is an option! You can inquire about this with your guesthouse host.

Description of popular trails: Church in the centre of Theth

Visit the church in the village, which is beautifully surrounded by all the mountains. Enjoy one of the restaurants and observe the stone houses where the local people live. One of the favourite things to do in Theth is to observe the farm animals grazing in a full tranquillity.

See the Grunas waterfall

This is a short one hour hike from Theth, and therefore a fun and easy thing to do in Theth. Again, you will walk through the beautiful nature of Albania and breathe in the crisp mountain air.

The waterfall has a vertical drop around 25 metres. The water flows through limestone rocks and falls into a blue/green pond, forming a charming scenario. Flow rate varies according to the season. In late spring and early summer after snow melts the waterfall shows its real power and potential becoming a real wild waterfall.

Hike to the blue eye

This is probably the most popular attraction in Theth, Albania. The blue eye is a water spring deep in the mountains of Albania. The water is incredibly blue, clear and cold! It looks extremely tempting to jump in and swim, but, think twice before you decide to take a swim in it. It is so cold, you really don’t want to be in there.

A day hike Theth to Fusha Denellit (Denelli Meadow) and back to Theth.

“Fusha e Denellit” refers to a specific area or feature within the Theth National Park, which is located in the outskirts of Theth.  It is a meadow and a specific landmark with old abandoned timber shepherd huts within the park, known for its scenic beauty or particular interest where the locals used to take livestock for grazing in a highland. It is one of the favourite places among day-hikers.

Difficulty levels and durations

Levels of difficulty can vary based on the trail. In overall they are mainly categorised as moderately difficult.  Durations can go from 1 hour up to 4 one way hikes. Contact us for an itinerary

Natural Attractions

Grunas Waterfall which is one of the most popular natural attractions and it is very close to Theth, just 2 km distance and 1 hour away, Blue eye natural stone pool with a small glacial water waterfall, 8.5 km and 3 hours away from Theth.


Grunas Waterfall, distance 2.2km 45 min from Theth Church premises.

Blue Eye natural stone pool & waterfall, distance 8.3km, 3:15hr.

Flora and fauna

The fauna of Theth Park is rich and diverse. There can be found about 20 species of mammals, 50 nesting species, nearly 10 species of reptiles and 8 species of amphibians.

Very interesting is the presence of mammals and birds which are very related with the habitat of high forests and the ecosystem of alpine mountains Among the largest mammals of the park are the brown bear, wolf, chamois goat, roe, fox, hare etc.

In higher forest among the birds largely dominate Fragillidae family members (4 types), and Paridae (4 species). Other components are rarer typical elements of the high forest such as woodpeckers (3 types), a reptile of trees (Sitt Europea), etc..

On the ground floor other types of shrubs can be found like (Erithacus rubecula), ouzel (Turdus merula), (Lanus collurio), etc.. General condition of habitats is relatively good.

Cultural Sites

Refuge Tower of Nikoll Koçeku

It is an old tower where more than 300 blood feud conflicts are reconciled. It was used by the inhabitants from all of the areas of Shale. This tower was built four centuries ago and was used to reconcile the parties who were in blood feud conflict. When a person committed murder, he had the right to get one committee led by the old and respectful village leader to evaluate the disputed case.

The church of Theth

In the year 1917, it was At Shtjefen Gjeçovi (Albanian Roman Catholic Priest) who opened the first school in the Albanian language for Thethi kids. An unusual and beautiful church built in 1892 and still stands at the same spot with the same foundations until this very day. The inhabitants of Thethi, from its inheritance, have been Roman Catholics. So, one of the first buildings here was the church. One of the most legendary priests, not only for Theth and the Catholic Church but the whole of Albanian culture, was Father Shtjefen Gjeçovi. The other priests of this church also followed this tradition. The year 1921 was an official date recognized by the government of the time as the school’s opening year, with Father Marjan Prela in charge. The Education Minister of the time was Ahmet Zogu, through an internal order, set aside the sum of 100 golden francs for the education of the children of Theth.

Ethnographic Museum

The Ethnographic Museum of Thethi (house of Lulash Boshi) is also a valuable cultural inheritage. Buildings made of stone, standing tall and strong, which are known for their defensive character. One of the more unique towers is the tower of Lulash Keq Boshi, which was built at the top of jagged rock, 9 metres tall. An unusual element of the guest room is the fact that it has an open fireplace, wooden ceiling and is treated with a lot of care. Usually, this room is more beautiful than in other areas of the building. This shows the Albanian tradition of preparing the best for guests.

Thethi religious holidays

Thethi has 2 big religious holidays which are celebrated according to the Albanian tradition (customs), August 16th is the feast of Assumption of Mary and is celebrated with the daughters married away from the village, and on this date, inhabitants of the Theth who are living elsewhere come back in the family where they grew up together with their relatives. December 26th is the holiday of Saint John and it is celebrated among villagers of Thethi and their relatives. It is one of the most important religious holidays of Shala and is celebrated in a traditional way.

Theth Village

Visiting Theth: What You Need to Know

Theth is a small remote tourist village located within the County of Shkodër, Albania. After local government reforms in 2015, it became part of the municipality of Shkodër and was declared a Protected Historic Center by the Albanian Government as a National Park. Local tradition suggests a single common ancestor for the community (one Ded Nika) and indicates that the population migrated to Theth some 300 to 350 years ago to preserve their Christian Roman Catholic traditions. Edith Durham, a traveler visiting Theth in the early 20th century, remarked: “I think no place where human beings live has given me such an impression of majestic isolation from all the world.”

Theth remains remote, with the single road leading from the village of Boga recently paved and upgraded but still mostly impassable during the winter months until April, depending on snowfall. Although the Kanun i Leke Dukagjini (traditional Albanian Code/Law) remains influential, Theth boasts one of the very few remaining “lock-in towers,” a historical form of protection for families involved in blood feuds.

Brief Overview of Theth National Park

Theth is surrounded by high and steep mountains, offering numerous trails accessible without the need for transfers. The area features stunning passes and attractions like Grunas Waterfall, a working watermill, and a modest ethnographic museum. The natural resources and cultural heritage of Theth form the foundation for tourism development.

Travel Arrangements

Tour agencies offer convenient travel arrangements with tailored packages suitable for every tourist’s needs. Programs are customized based on the tourist’s requirements and planned duration.

Transportation Options

Transportation is part of the packages and programs, with arrangements made in advance according to the customer’s preferences. Additional transfers can be arranged upon request.

Accommodation Choices

Theth offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and coffee shops. Accommodation types vary, catering to different preferences and needs.

Exploration of Theth National Park

Theth remains remote and isolated, with efforts made to stimulate tourism. Attractions include spectacular waterfalls, a working watermill, and a modest ethnographic museum. Additional destinations within the surrounding mountains, like the Blue Eye hike, offer further exploration opportunities.

Description of Popular Trails

Several popular trails offer opportunities to visit cultural and natural attractions like the church in the center of Theth, Grunas Waterfall, and the Blue Eye natural stone pool. Each trail offers unique experiences and durations ranging from one to four hours. Contact us for GPS files or guided tours

Natural Attractions

Theth boasts natural attractions like Grunas Waterfall and the Blue Eye natural stone pool and waterfall, offering scenic beauty and opportunities for exploration.


Grunas Waterfall, located 2.2km from Theth Church premises, and the Blue Eye natural stone pool and waterfall, located 8.3km away, are popular natural attractions.

Flora and Fauna

The Theth Park is home to a rich diversity of fauna, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The habitat supports various species, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the area:

Mamals and birds: Brown bear, Gray wolf, Eurasian lynx, Wild boar, Chamois, Roe deer, Red fox, European badger, European pine marten, European otter, Wildcat, European hare, European hedgehog, Golden eagle, Griffon vulture, Eurasian eagle-owl, Alpine chough, Rock partridge, Alpine salamander.

As the most important plants are: Bosnian pine, European beech, Macedonian pine, Silver fir, Scots pine, Black pine, Swiss stone pine, Juniper, European yew, Rhododendron, Mountain arnica, Alpine pasqueflower, Yellow gentian, Edelweiss, Alpine bellflower, Mountain avens, Alpine aster, Alpine saxifrage, Yellow mountain saxifrage, Hellebore.

Cultural Sites

Cultural sites like the Refuge Tower of Nikoll Koçeku, the church of Theth, and the Ethnographic Museum offer insights into the region’s history and heritage. Theth also celebrates religious holidays, maintaining cultural traditions and customs.

The History and Population of Theth

The first official mention of Theth dates back to a document from 1485 originating in Shkodra, where the village consisted of seven houses. During the sixteenth century Ottoman invasion, the ownership of the valley shifted from the Sandjak of Shkodra to Peja. Today, Theth is part of the district of Shkodra. Local lore suggests that migration to Theth from the lower Shala valley occurred around 300 to 350 years ago to avoid forced conversion to Islam. Although the individual hamlets of Theth are not exclusively affiliated with a single tribe or clan, each is primarily dominated by a particular family that owns the surrounding Alpine pastures.

Customary Laws, Myths, and Legends

Until recently, the mountain regions of northern Albania remained isolated, not only geographically and communication-wise but also in terms of jurisprudence. Ottoman jurisdiction did not extend here; instead, the region followed the Code of Lekë Dukagjin, a set of traditional laws passed down through generations and not officially codified until 1933. Elements of the ‘Kanun’ are still observed by some locals today.

Traditional Albanian Architecture

Albanian architecture reflects the country’s diverse cultural history, influenced by various civilizations. From classical antiquity to the modern era, Albania’s urban landscape has evolved, incorporating elements from Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians, and Italians. Despite the socialist period’s impact, Albania’s architecture is transitioning into modern European styles.


Albanian cuisine, representative of the Mediterranean, emphasizes olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and fish. In the northern region, dishes are influenced by rural, coastal, and mountainous origins, featuring meats, fish, and locally grown ingredients like potatoes, maize, beans, and cherries. Traditional dishes include roasted meat, chowder, and kacamak, among others.

Interaction with Locals

Engaging with Theth’s friendly locals offers an authentic experience, where visitors can learn about local traditions, share meals, and enjoy hospitality, including the famed local liquor, raki.

Recommended Activities

Theth offers a range of activities, from hiking and exploring waterfalls to cultural and religious experiences. Visitors can learn about local history at the ethnographic museum, visit the Roman Catholic church, and enjoy picnicking amidst the scenic surroundings.

Photography and Birdwatching

Theth’s natural beauty makes it a haven for photographers, with opportunities to capture the picturesque landscapes throughout the year. Birdwatching enthusiasts can spot various species, including partridges, eagles, falcons, and owls, in the region’s diverse habitats.

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