Last week on Twitter and Facebook, we asked you to vote for the world’s most beautiful country, and it’s no surprise that Vietnam made the top twenty. From the impressive rock formations of Ha Long Bay to the terraced fields of mountainous Sa Pa, Vietnam has a huge wealth of easily accessible natural beauty. Don’t forget that you can toggle these captions on/off, using the ‘i’ icon at the bottom right of your screen, to see these stunning photos in all their glory.
This fashionable jewel of Europe attracts tourists from all over the world thanks to á-la-mode destinations such as Dubrovnik and Hvar, and – as @okemp1989 put it on Twitter – “that coastline”, which stretches almost 2000km.
The Rough Guide to Ireland says it all: “Among the romantic preconceptions visitors bring to Ireland, it is their expectations of the landscape that are most likely to be fulfilled.” Even the locals were campaigning Ireland’s beauty in our poll, as Meraid Griffin made her vote on Facebook, adding “but I’m biased” – we think you’re allowed to be though!
We’ve all heard of the Norwegian fjords and are familiar with Norway’s capital Oslo, but there’s so much more so Norway than these beauties. As @TheCultureMap said on Twitter: “glaciers, northern lights, midnight sun, jagged peaks, waterfalls, the list goes on!”
This geographically varied country is a well-worthy winner of a spot on the top twenty. Even one of our editors tweeted: “Amazon jungle, deserts, snow-capped mountains – oh, and that stunner, Machu Picchu!”
With breathtaking scenery and great hiking spots, it had to be on the list. As @g_sehringer said on Twitter: “you can’t leave out Switzerland when talking about beautiful countries – truly gorgeous”.
Perhaps one of Europe’s most enigmatic countries, there’s a lot to love in Finland. According to our readers “the skies, the forests, the mysticism, and just about everything else” make it one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
India is a Marmite kind of country (you either love it or you hate it), but there are plenty of you who love it. Some can’t handle the mayhem, but Facebook fan Marie Kirby loves it for the culture and chaos, and Twitter follower @Breathedreamgo said “India is culturally the most beautiful country in the world”.
Historically home to one of the world’s great civilizations, Mexico is not short on culture, history or natural beauty. On Facebook, Atanska Ileva-Matova said: “Beautiful nature, ancient temples, great food. So much to see and explore.”
Not only did you vote Slovenia as one of the top destinations to visit in 2014, but you’ve now crowned it in the top twenty most beautiful countries in the world. On Twitter, @RivCotSlo listed just a few of the elements that makes Slovenia so special: “Mountains, forests, lakes, seashore, old towns, friendly people, and great food.”
Another country voted as a top destination for 2014, it appears there’s a lot of love for this little country among our readers. As well as the stunning mountains and forests, @Dylan1969 expressed his love of the castles and history on Twitter.
As such an enormous country with such a diverse landscape, the USA had to appear in this list. It’s impossible to mention all of the places where you’ll find beauty in the United States, but DrewV on the Rough Guides Community noted Yosemite Valley and Grand Canyon National Park, adding “and so much of [the USA] is protected for posterity with the world’s best national park system”.
Descriptions such as “dramatic landscapes” and “uncommon beauty” graced the Twitter feed of @IceSif for this poll. With black beaches, hot springs and volcanic mountains, Iceland is a worthy contender in the top ten most beautiful countries.
While the Rough Guide has it right, “no one enjoys knocking England more than the English”, we’re also a pretty patriotic nation and are proud of the landscapes we live among, from the Lake District to the shores of Cornwall. Tweeting Rough Guides, @BenAitken85 thinks even the X53 bus route along the Jurassic Coast can unearth beauty.
Bali in Indonesia was one of our best-value destinations to explore in 2014, and now it gets more recognition for the beauty of its landscapes. On Twitter, @lukmanaul chose Indonesia for its seas and islands, while @astrie_sulastri picked out the mountains and heritage.
5. South Africa
Surprisingly the only African country to make this list, South Africa – which makes up the size of France and Spain combined – offers plenty of opportunities to find beauty. On Twitter, @Allafrica01 said: “South Africa has to rate as one of the best with all the variety from wildlife to beaches.”
Tweeter @Turpin101 was enamoured by Italy for its lovely landscapes and towns, while others were captivated by its history and romance radiating from the big cities and small mountain villages.
3. New Zealand
In third place is New Zealand, and Heather Bates put it superbly on Facebook, mentioning its rolling green hills, majestic mountains, breathtaking fjords and amazing diversity of landscape from one island to the next.
Holding second places is Canada: home of lumberjacks, beavers and maple syrup. But there’s much more on offer in Canada with its mixture of raw beauty and complex unexpected landscapes. @ToursByLocals said on Twitter: “So many beautiful places in the world, but I’m still blown away by our hometown in BC, Canada.”
And finally, the world’s most beautiful country is revealed: Scotland. Who can deny that these wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles – not to mention the impossibly stunning Glencoe – are possibly some of the most wonderful and beautiful sights in the world?