There’s nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so we asked our community of travellers to vote once more for the most beautiful country in the world. Here are the results (in reverse order). Whether you’re drawn in by rolling countryside, unspoiled islands or soaring mountain peaks, there’s sure to be a country in this list that you’ll fall in love with.

20. Nepal

Nepal is the mythical city of Kathmandu, fluttering prayer flags and Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries, all set against one of the world’s most spectacular backdrops – the Himalayas. One of you told us: “This country is blessed by Mother Nature,” and we’d have to agree. But it’s not all temples and spirituality. Adventure seekers can find a thrill rafting the waters of the Bhota Koshi, and then there’s the trekking – of course. Head out for a hike in Annapurna or psych yourself up for Everest, considered by many as the ultimate adventure challenge.

Planning a trip to Nepal? We can help! Try our new tailor-made travel service and enjoy a fully personalised itinerary designed just for you. 

Most beautiful country in the world Boudhanath in Nepal morning SunriseBoudhanath temple in Nepal morning Sunrise  © Nitipol Temprim/Shutterstock

19. Spain

From the beautiful coastline of Catalunya to atmospheric Andalucia and the historic walled cities of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain is a country with many different faces. As one of you noted in our survey: “It has almost everything.” What each region shares in common are the promise of spectacular landscapes, and the readiness to celebrate no matter what the event. To experience the true essence of Spain, time your visit to coincide with one of the countless saints days and festivals that crop up throughout the year. Join the world’s biggest wine fight in beautiful Rioja, celebrate carnival against the spectacular backdrop of Playa La Conca in San Sebastian or watch the Semana Santa parades fill the picturesque streets of Seville. 

For trips to Spain, try our new tailor-made travel service and enjoy a fully personalised itinerary designed just for you. 

Most beautiful country in the world Ronda and its historic bridge in the late afternoon sun. Province of Malaga, Andalusia, Spain The dramatic surroundings in Ronda, Andalucia © Stefano Valeri/Shutterstock

18. Chile

Stretching down South America’s Pacific coast, Chile packs a lot of variety into a relatively small landmass. That’s thanks to the enormous change in latitude from north to south, from 17° below the equator to 56°S in Patagonia – well on the way to the South Pole. You praised it for the “sheer variety of scenery and untouched beauty of most of the country”. It’s this untouched aspect that led to the creation of the world’s first dark sky sanctuary in the Elqui Valley. Throw in world-class wines, bustling Valparaiso and the centuries-old moai on Easter Island and you’ll be sure to come back for more.

For trips to Chile, get in touch and we can connect you with a local expert to plan your ideal holiday. 

Most beautiful country in the world House on the island in the national park Torres del Paine, lake Pehoe, Patagonia, ChileLake Pehoe, Torres del Paine national park, Patagonia, Chile © Sunsinger/Shutterstock

17. Argentina

The eighth-largest country in the world, Argentina stretches from the spectacular Iguazu Falls in the north to the wilds of the Tierra del Fuego. You’ll find whatever landscape your heart desires here. Soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere in Buenos Aires, learn to ride in the wide-open expanse of the Pampas, explore the vineyards of Mendoza or watch ice calving from the Perito Moreno Glacier – the choice is yours. Wherever you go you’ll be struck by what one reader called the country’s “majestic geography”.

See the best of Argentina with Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips. 

Iguazu Falls, Northern Argentina ©  Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

16. Indonesia

Indonesia comes in at number 16 in this poll, impressing readers with its range of natural landscapes and varied cultures. The nation is spread across a mind-blowing 17,508 islands, leading to an incredible diversity in flora and fauna as well as food and local customs. More than 500 different languages are spoken in the country. Bali is known for its temples and world-class surfing. Lombok boasts incredible beaches, while Borneo offers the chance to see orangutans in the wild. This sentiment was echoed by one reader who commented that the best thing about Indonesia was its diversity. “Every island has something unique to offer.”

For unforgettable trips to Bali, Lombok and more, get in touch with Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips.

Pura Lempuyan Temple in Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia © Shutterstock/Nikita Shchavelev

15. South Africa

Surprisingly the only African country to make this list, South Africa – which takes up the size of France and Spain combined – is undeniably beautiful. You’ll find the iconic Table Mountain and beaches where penguins roam just a stone’s throw from Cape Town. The wine-growing valleys of the Western Cape will enchant with their verdant hills (and delectable vintages). Durban is coming into its own as a must-visit destination, and of course, you’ll find some of the best safari experiences in the world in South Africa. One reader explained the best thing about South Africa: “Wherever you travel you will always see mountains.”

Visit South Africa and explore the cities, safaris and more with Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips.

Most beautiful country in the world Lion's Head, Cape Town, South AfricaLion’s Head mountain, Cape Town, South Africa © Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock

14. Brazil

One reader described Brazil as “luscious, gorgeous, colourful, varied” – which should go some way to explaining the country’s appeal. A beach culture that’s second to none, the incredible diversity of the Amazon rainforest and the sensory delights of Rio de Janeiro are just a few of the highlights. Brazil is huge – bigger than the contiguous United States – so it’s no surprise to find such varied terrain. While there are no major mountains, the country is blessed with almost every other type of landscape, ripe for exploring.

Rough Guides Trips can pair you with a local expert in Brazil to plan a fully personalised experience. 

Fishermen cruise along the Amazon River © Videos2Worship/Shutterstock

13. Switzerland

With its breathtaking scenery and great hiking, Switzerland is an unsurprising entry on our list. From the quaint lakeside towns of Vevey and Montreux to Geneva’s old-money gravitas and cosmopolitan Zurich, the population centres are quite handsome too. Lakes and mountains deserve their share of the attention, whether you’re hiking the Eiger in the spectacular Jungfrau region, or enjoying the scenery from one of the quaint (but punctual) mountain trains that traverse the country. As one reader commented: “Its landscapes of mountains and lakes are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.”

A train glides through the Jungfrau region, Switzerland © Gaspar Janos/Shutterstock

12. Australia

From beautiful beaches to misty mountains and the incredible visual impact of Uluru, Australia is a new entry on our list. Several of you mentioned the bright colours that illuminate the landscape in casting your vote. One of you commented: “the countryside looks like it’s on a Vivid camera filter”, while another praised “the ‘in-your-face’ colours of the landscapes”. With devastating wildfires sweeping the country for the past several months, Australia’s beautiful, incredibly varied flora and fauna are under threat like never before and bring into focus the need to properly address the issues around climate change.

Most beautiful country in the world Ayers Rock, AustraliaUluru basking in the afternoon light, Australia © Uwe Aranas/Shutterstock

11. India

India is sometimes described as a “Marmite” kind of country (you either love it or you hate it), but plenty of you are enthralled by this diverse nation. It’s true that India can be overwhelming for the first-time visitor. The noise, the sheer number of people, the cacophony of colours are unforgettable, but for many, once India gets under your skin it’s very hard to let go. You described it in the poll as:  “A country of extraordinary contrasts – vibrant colours, lush vegetation, beautiful buildings and exquisite temples.” From the floating palaces of Jaipur and the bustle of Mumbai to sprawling tea plantations, rushing waterfalls and beautiful beaches there’s enough to keep you going for years of visits. 

Planning a trip to India? We can help! Try our new Rough Guides Trips and enjoy a fully personalised itinerary designed just for you.

Most beautiful country in the world Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India- Sunrise at the Mehrangarh Fort and Jaswant Thada Mausoleum with the blue city in the backgroundMehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India © Marcel Toung/Shutterstock

10. Japan

A fascinating mix of ancient and modern, Japan has entered our list at number ten. High-speed trains make it easy to see a wide variety of sights on any visit – from historic Shinto temples and serenity of Mount Fuji to the neon-lit cities of Tokyo and Osaka. You praised the “snowy peaks, blue skies filled with birds of prey, cherry blossom-lined parks and streets, clear streams, beaches and tiny islands, endless countryside, lush greenery that felt tropical, bamboo forests”. With the country set to host the Olympics in 2020, Japan’s many treasures are set to take centre stage this year.

We’ve just added Japan to our list of Tailor-Made Trips destinations! Get in touch now to plan your holiday.

Most beautiful country in the world Nachi, Japan at Seigantoji Pagoda and Nachi FallsNachi, Japan at Seigantoji Pagoda and Nachi Falls © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

9. France

France is both the largest country in the EU and one of the most varied. Consider the snow-capped peaks of the Alps, the lush green of the Pyrenees in summer, the vibrant purple lavender fields, golden stone chateaux, windswept beaches and half-timbered houses. And we haven’t even mentioned Paris. As one reader commented, “Every turn you take brings picture-postcard scenery.” If you’re prone to discounting France as good for nothing beyond family camping holidays, take a deeper look – you’re sure to be intrigued by what you find.

Experience a lesser-known side to France with Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips. 

Most beautiful country in the world Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire, FranceChateau de Sully-sur-Loire, Loire Valley, France © Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock

8. Iceland

Iceland is a non-mover at number eight in our poll. With its windswept beaches, hot springs and volcanic mountains, you no doubt already know what makes Iceland so special, but we’ll list a few of the reasons anyway. A wealth of hot springs with health-giving properties, the chance to witness the elusive northern lights, and a thriving foodie scene in Reykjavík mean you can enjoy many different experiences in one short trip. The country is steeped in folklore, starting with the hidden people, or huldufólk, that many islanders believe are real. Some even build miniature houses for them. Visit for yourself to see how “the different parts of it seem like different planets”, as one of you commented.

Planning a trip to Iceland? We can help! Try our new tailor-made trips service and enjoy a fully personalised itinerary designed just for you. 

Volcanic rock formation of Dyrholaey near Vik in stormy weather southern IcelandDyrholaey Volcanic rock formation near Vik, Iceland © Umomos/Shutterstock

7. The USA

The USA is such a huge country, it’s impossible to cover all of the places where you’ll find beauty here. As one reader said, “It’s got everything from beaches to deserts, mountains to flats, breathtaking views of arctic-like scenes in Alaska to warm and vibrant Southern California – and some of the most iconic cities in the world.” Getting into the wilderness is a great way to see the country; and one that provides great wildlife spotting opportunities. Of course, the USA also has gorgeous beaches galore – from the crashing Pacific waves to the riotous Jersey shore. In between, the cities, deserts, and miles of open highway will stir the soul of any visitor.

Explore more of the USA with Rough Guides Trips

Sunrise in Hunts Mesa navajo tribal majesty place near Monument Valley, Arizona, USASunrise in Hunts Mesa near Monument Valley, Arizona, USA © Bill45/Shutterstock

6. Norway

From the ethereally beautiful fjords to the compact capital, Oslo, there’s so much to discover in Norway. As one of you said in our survey, Norway boasts “Stunning mountains, glorious coastline, breathtaking fjords and a madly underrated and quirky capital city.” Tromsø, in the Arctic Circle, is emerging as one of the country’s top cultural hubs, and also makes a great place to start your northern lights excursion in the winter months. In summer, the eerie glow of the midnight sun bathes everything in red-gold colours. Further south, boat trips along the fjords will provide endless photo ops.

Most beautiful country in the world Lofoten islands in Summer time, NorwayLofoten islands in the Summertime, Norway © Whatafoto/Shutterstock

5. Canada

Dropping from second to fifth place in this year’s poll is Canada: home of lumberjacks, beavers and maple syrup (if you believe everything you read). Of course, there’s much more on offer in Canada, not least its mixture of raw beauty and majestic landscapes. The Yukon Territory is a place of great wilderness, while B.C. mountains draw skiers and snowboarders in their thousands. The turquoise colours of Lake Louise are an Instagrammer’s delight, and the East Coast cities of Toronto and Montreal charm with their great restaurants and cosmopolitan atmosphere. You praised the “Majestic scenery, laid back lifestyle, wildlife [and] great outdoors.”

Most beautiful country in the world Elk in Jasper National Park, Alberta, CanadaAn elk in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada ©  Weekend Warrior Photos/Shutterstock

4. Greece

With luminous turquoise water that rivals the Caribbean on a sunny day, Greece is a magnet for beach bunnies. But let’s not forget, this is a country with many facets including one of the richest collections of historic monuments in the world. We’re big fans – Greece was the subject of the very first Rough Guide in 1982. And it seems you are too, as the country climbs to fourth place in our poll. According to your comments, you love the “amazing transparent sea,” “the atmosphere”, “deep heritage,” and what one reader considers the “best beaches in the world”.

Marble Beach in Thasos, Greece © Porojnicu Stelian/Shutterstock

3. United Kingdom

Some of you on social media lamented our choice for grouping the United Kingdom together, but we chose to do so this time around to highlight the diverse beauty that the different corners of our collective nations offer to visitors. Many of you praised the “amazing variety of landscapes in a small area”. Of your favourites, the Lake District, Scottish Highlands and Welsh coastline were recurring themes. If you live in the UK and tend to travel abroad for holidays why not plan a staycation and explore some of the beautiful places right on your doorstep.

Most beautiful country in the world Lazy afternoon in the CotswoldsA summer afternoon in the Cotswolds ©  SScott514/Shutterstock

2. New Zealand

In second place is New Zealand. You chose it for the “endless beautiful landscapes”, and the respect residents show for nature. Here you can taste deliciously crisp white wines in the South Island’s Marlborough Region. Or, indulge your inner daredevil with bungee jumping in Queenstown, then tap into chilled out beach-city life in Auckland. From golfing to mountain biking, outdoor adventures come as standard in this famously friendly country.

For trips to New Zealand get in touch with Rough Guides and we’ll connect you with an experienced local expert. 

Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand  © Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

1. Italy

Few countries receive as many accolades for their beauty as Italy, which has taken the top spot in this year’s poll of the most beautiful countries in the world. From the rolling vineyards of Chianti to the sparkling Amalfi coast and the mountains of Trentino, this relatively small place has a host of different landscapes. Roman ruins scatter the country, meaning you’ll feel connected to Italy’s storied heritage everywhere you turn. Cities like Rome, Florence and Venice throb with romance, and rooftop villages will connect you with long-held traditions. Of course, there’s also the food, from bright, fresh vegetables on market stalls to the green-gold of cold-pressed olive oil. Several of you noted that Italy has the world’s highest number of Unesco Heritage Sites. Others commented on the “lovely towns and cities as well as scenic rural areas”. Put everything together and you’ve got one very special country.

Planning a trip to Italy? We can help! Try our new tailor-made trips service and enjoy a fully personalised itinerary designed just for you.

Scenic views outside Siena, Tuscany © StevanZZ/Shutterstock

Share

Book Your Trip To South Africa

Get your dream travel planned & booked by local travel experts

At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Learn Morechevron_right

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Related Travel Content

Sign up for weekly travel inspiration

Sign up to our newsletter for weekly inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs