This National Park In Europe Is A True, Unspoiled Hidden Gem With Breathtaking Views

Travelers making their way to Europe in pursuit of stunning views won't want to overlook Albania as a vacation destination. In addition to a rich cultural heritage and an array of historical landmarks to check out, Albania is home to 15 national parks. Each park provides wonderful reasons to discover beautiful terrain when visiting Europe, but there's something exceptionally breathtaking about the vistas at Theth National Park.

Situated in the northern portion of the country, Theth National Park first opened in 1966 and continues to be a place locals and visitors alike flock to in pursuit of wildlife spotting, beautiful scenery, and exciting access to outdoor recreation opportunities. No matter how you plan to enjoy the park and its many views, you'll have more than 10 square miles to explore upon arrival. Natural beauty abounds here thanks to the fact the park sits within the greater Shala Valley and showcases the Albanian Alps.

The diversity of natural features and landmarks found within this relatively small national park is often what makes it so impressive to outdoor adventurers. It's a hidden gem that still manages to appeal to anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 foreign tourists each year, according to Thethi-Guide. During a single visit, you can encounter everything from rivers and unique rock formations to sweeping valleys and lush forests. Cascade chasers can spend time exploring the park's mountain waterfall known as Blue Eye, which is named for its unmistakable vibrant hue.

Pair hiking adventures and incredible scenery

One of the best ways to make the most of beautiful views across Theth National Park is to explore the many trails that maze their way across the terrain here. For most visitors, admiring the diverse landscapes is priority number one, so, before your trip, you'll want to make sure you've packed your hiking boots. The park's pathways provide access to vistas that will inspire, whether you're a novice hiker or a highly-experienced trekker looking for your next challenge.

If you're in the mood for a leisurely stroll through the park with waterfalls to admire along the way, the Grunas Waterfall and Canyon Trail is a great place to start. This trail spans 4.58 miles along its partial loop route and has an elevation gain of just 663 feet. It's a picture-perfect trail for visitors who are excited to walk along the river and enjoy forested surroundings as they explore.

Another inviting option for those who are looking to maximize the views while hiking is the Theth Waterfall Trail. Not much longer than the Grunas Waterfall and Canyon Trail, this route spans 5.18 miles of terrain, but the difference lies in the total elevation gain of 2,793 feet. While this trail certainly takes a little more vertical effort to complete, the reward is found in the gorgeous cascade to admire at the end.

Local wildlife viewing that's sure to inspire

While the dynamic landscapes at Theth National Park are always exciting, it might just be the local wildlife that keep you coming back time and again. The lush ecosystems that make up the majority of this park provide important habitats for a variety of wildlife year-round. A visit to Theth National Park could be your opportunity to set your sights on a brown bear or even a gray wolf. The park is also home to wild goats, roe deer, lynx, and chamois. If you're a birding enthusiast, don't forget your binoculars, because it's estimated this national park hosts upward of 50 bird species, including golden eagles and lesser kestrels.

Opportunities to see brand-new wildlife wander through the park are vast during a springtime visit when flowers are in bloom and the time for hibernation comes to a close. Fall is also a great time to visit the park before wildlife tucks themselves away for the season and when the fall foliage viewing is at its best. No matter when you plan to visit, you can access Theth National Park from Tirana in just about four hours. Alternatively, some visitors choose to fly into Podgorica Airport in Montenegro and drive across the border into Albania, which makes the travel time to Theth National Park by vehicle just two and a half hours.