It’s all in the title: which is the world’s most beautiful country?
You tell me which and why, and I’ll make your answers into a beautiful gallery on RoughGuides.com.
Well I’m very biased, but I really think Japan… It’s sort of got everything! I particularly loved visiting Akita in the winter, going to an onsen on top of the mountain and watching snow melt in the steam of the bath. Or perhaps my favourite was visiting Takachiho gorge, tucked away in the green mountains of Miyazaki, Kyūshū. Or maybe staring right to the bottom of the unbelievably clear Biwa-ko, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, surrounded by mountains.
Despite the concrete buildings hastily put up after the war, and despite the insane population density in the big cities, Japan is still in my view the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and huge areas of it are pretty untouched (partly due to the very urban population). The country has a huge domestic tourism industry, and it’s not hard to see why – I almost feel like I wouldn’t bother leaving if everything from subtropical island retreats to snowy mountains via mini-deserts (ok, huge sand dunes…) were available without having to cross a border!
Probably a very typical answer, but the United States is simply spectacular. From Yosemite Valley to the Grand Canyon, from Yellowstone to the Everglades, from Maine’s seaboard to the waterfalls of Maui… And so much if it protected for posterity with the world’s best national park system.
In fact, you really can narrow down to the great state of Oregon. Marvel at the azure blue of Crater Lake. Gape at the haystack rocks and tide pools along the coast. Soak in the majesty of Columbia River Gorge. Smell the thousands of blooms in Portland’s Rose Garden. Be amazed by the glacier-covered peak of Mouth Hood. Sample the delights of the Willamette Valley: the world’s premier pinot noir region. Cycle past volcanoes and pines in the high desert. And every town over 5000 people has a local brewpub. It’s a simply gorgeous place, and one that could use a little more love on roughguides.com!
I think the United States. And I’m from the UK so I swear there’s no bias involved. I just think the sheer size and diversity of the land is outstanding. It also has some of the most spectacular, otherworldly sights in the world, and trust me, I have traveled to many places. Even the extremely beautiful countries of Iceland and China could not compete in the otherworldly beautiful landscapes and diversity categories. One has not lived until they have gazed upon the scorching dunes of Death Valley, boated through the Everglades, stared up at Mount McKinley, or watched the lava spew from the many volcanoes of Hawaii. Contrary to popular belief, it does have many very beautiful cities and small towns. Even some areas of suburbia in America look really pretty. And by no means does America have the ugliest cities in the world. I have heard many people claim this, and I just can’t help but wonder if they’ve been to America. Sure, America does have a smattering of run-down streets, infested with Walmart stores and McDonald’s, but how exactly is that worse than the congested, smoggy cities of Asia? The extremely crime-ridden, dirty slums of South America. Hell, the slums of cities like Berlin look much worse than the ones I saw in New York or LA. It also has fantastic nightlife amongst it’s large collection of world-class cities, it has some beautiful wildlife, and it has a different climate, landscape, or topographical feature for everyone. It is a vast country. If you don’t like desert landscapes, leave the southwest and go to the Great Plains , and while you’re at it see the Badlands. If the Arctic landscape of Alaska just isn’t your thing, go to somewhere tropical like southern Florida, Hawaii, or even the territory of Puerto Rico. It’s amount of natural wonders is unmatched by any other country, and I still have so much more that I need to see!
Oh, this is a tricky one. I’m tempted to choose the easy option and say the Maldives. It was the most beautiful place I have ever been, but in a very conventional, postcard kind of way. If pushed, I would say Iceland. It had a bleak beauty offset with some amazing natural sights (Gullfoss Waterfall is probably one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen).
A few people have mentioned the US and I’ll admit Yosemite is pretty breathtaking.