What’s the most beautiful country in the world? A contentious topic that’s guaranteed to provoke thought and possibly heated debate. Given that a whole lot has changed since we last asked Rough Guides’ readers that question back in 2019, we thought it was about time we found out which destinations currently float your boat. Read on to discover the most beautiful countries in the world, as voted by you in 2022.
If you feel inspired to start planning your own 2022 travels Dropdown content as we count down through the top 20, you'll find more food for thought in our overview of the best places on earth to visit in 2022 Dropdown content, all 100 of which are featured in this photo-packed gift book Dropdown content.
A stirring blend of ancient and modern, Japan Dropdown content kicks off our 2022 countdown. High-speed trains make it easy to see a wide variety of sights during your visit - from historic Shinto temples and the serenity of Mount Fuji Dropdown content, to the neon-lit cities of Tokyo Dropdown content and Osaka Dropdown content, to its stunning islands Dropdown content. Indeed, many of you highlighted your love of Japan’s “diversity of scenery”.
Top tip: enjoy a tea ceremony in Kyoto to experience traditional culture.
To start planning your own trip to Japan, check out Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips Dropdown content – all 100% customisable to suit your travel tastes.
A new entry for 2022, Slovenia Dropdown content certainly sparked your soul big style. “It has everything – mountains, lakes, plains, caves, cities, and culture”. One of you summed up Slovenia’s unique blend of culture and cuisine as feeing like a “mini Europe”.
Another gushed: “No other country compares. It's a box of jewels”. And that certainly rings true when you consider Slovenia’s “spectacular scenery”. This is land of fairy tale forests and gorgeous Slovenian lakes Dropdown content, alluring Adriatic coastline Dropdown content, and charming historic cities Dropdown content. With so many unmissable attractions Dropdown content, Slovenia is a once-visited, must-return kind of destination.
Top tip: Take a food tour of capital Ljubljana to soak up the city’s historic sights while scoffing down the best local cuisine.
Another new entry, this. In your words, Portugal’s Dropdown content appeal derives from it being “small country with lots of diverse regions”, with its “very friendly people” mentioned several times, too.
From lively Lisbon Dropdown content and picturesque Porto Dropdown content, to the beautiful Algarve Dropdown content (though Portugal’s best beaches Dropdown content extend beyond this stunning stretch), the country exudes charm. Portugal's restaurants Dropdown content are a magnet for foodie travellers and there are plenty of opportunities to escape Dropdown contentwell-trodden trails Dropdown content, even when visiting tourist hotspots. Dropdown content
Talking of which, if you’re struggling to choose which of Portugal's most popular cities to visit first, read our Porto or Lisbon? guide Dropdown content to help you decide.
Planning to visit Portugal? Wine-lovers would do well to browse our Wines of Portugal Dropdown content and Discovering the Douro Valley Dropdown content trips, with plenty of other (fully customisable) itineraries to consider if, for example, you’re more into historic culture Dropdown content than viticulture.
Indonesia Dropdown content impressed Rough Guides’ readers with its range of natural landscapes and varied cultures. No surprise really, given that this nation is spread across a mind-blowing 17,508 Indonesian islands Dropdown content, hence the country’s incredible diversity of flora, fauna, food and customs.
Bali Dropdown content is known for its temples, world-class surfing – the beaches in Bali Dropdown contentare incredible – while Lombok Dropdown content also boasts incredible beaches, and Borneo Dropdown content offers the chance to see orang-utans in the wild - how’s that for a diversity of experiences? Many of you also highlighted the “welcoming attitude of Indonesian people”.
And if you want a more authentic experience, discover Indonesia off-the-beaten-track Dropdown content. beyond Bali.
Top tip: hike Mount Batur at sunrise - one of our favourite things to do in Bali.
To start planning your own unforgettable Indonesian experience, take a look at Rough Guides’ Tailor-Made Trips, with options ranging from tropical rainforest treks Dropdown content and island-hopping adventures Dropdown content, to Balinese yoga retreats Dropdown content (or you could always create your own trip from scratch with a local expert on hand to help).
India Dropdown content sure ticked your boxes when it came to delivering diverse, exhilarating travel experiences. As one respondent told us, “the different areas of India offer different things – lush rainforest in the south and the beautiful Himalayas in the north”.
While it’s true to say that India can be on the overwhelming side for the first-time visitor Dropdown content, it’s also true that once it gets under your skin, it's very hard to let go. From the floating palaces of Jaipur Dropdown content and the bustle of Mumbai Dropdown content, to beautiful beaches Dropdown content, there's enough to keep you coming back for years. For more inspiration, check out the most beautiful places in India Dropdown content.
Top tip: love nature and wildlife? Kerala’s Pepper Trail hotel comes hugely recommended.
Planning a trip to India but not sure where to start? Let our local experts create your perfect personalised trip Dropdown content.
Thrissur elephant festival, Kerala, India © Tyshchenko Photography/Shutterstock
Boy, has Croatia Dropdown content captured your hearts. This new entry for 2022 had one respondent praising its “islands Dropdown content, mountains, wine, olive oil, history, culture, and THE SEA!”. Another stated: “Croatia is the most beautiful country I have visited”.
In recent years, the emerald wildernesses and mighty mountains of Croatia’s National Parks Dropdown content have seen it emerge as a major adventure destination, while its heritage-rich cities (Dubrovnik Dropdown content, we’re looking at you) offer world-class wining and dining in out-of-this-world surroundings. Croatia has plenty to please culture vultures, too, not least in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital of cool Dropdown content.
Top tip: Many of you mentioned how much you love Croatian cuisine Dropdown content, we recommend taking a food tour whenever you decide to go - from enjoying fine wine and food in Dubrovnik, to discovering Dalmatian delights in Split.
Curious to discover more? Take the hassle out of planning by checking-out Rough Guides' tailor-made trips to Croatia Dropdown content. Whether you fancy epic outdoor adventures Dropdown content, or tasting your way round Dalmatia Dropdown content, our local expert can create your ideal trip.
The eighth-largest country in the world, Argentina Dropdown content stretches from the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls Dropdown content in the north, to the wilds of the southern Tierra del Fuego Dropdown content.
As one reader told us, when it comes to landscapes, you’ll find "anything your heart desires" here, with a corresponding broad range of experiences to enjoy. Soak up Buenos Aires’ Dropdown content cosmopolitan atmosphere, learn to ride in the expanse of the Pampas, explore Mendoza’s Dropdown content vineyards or watch ice calving from Patagonia’s Dropdown content Perito Moreno Glacier.
You’ll be spoiled for choice for spectacular things to do Dropdown content in this “wonderful country of glaciers, waterfalls, deserts and sea”, as one of our readers shared.
Top tip: see a spectacular tango show at the luxurious Galería Güemes theatre.
To start planning your Argentinian adventure, take a look at our Argentina itineraries Dropdown content, all of which can be tailor-made to meet your needs.
Iceland’s Dropdown content raw and rugged majesty sparked an elemental, poetic response in many respondents. It’s a country you loved for its “unspoilt natural beauty”, “empty and challenging landscapes”, and “tremendous waterfalls”.
With a wealth of hot springs Dropdown content with health-giving properties, the chance to witness the northern lights Dropdown content, and a thriving foodie scene in Reykjavík Dropdown content, Iceland is the perfect place to get back to nature and enjoy a range of experiences in one short trip. What’s more, “the people are kind and fun”, as one of you shared.
Top tip: for an unforgettable experience,snorkel between North America and Europe at the Silfra Fissure.
Planning a trip to Iceland? Our local expert is on hand to help. Take a look at our suggested Iceland itineraries Dropdown content.
From its "great wine and food”, to the “range of terrain and variety of landscapes”, many of you feel that Chile Dropdown content “has it all”.
Stretching down South America’s Pacific coast, Chile certainly 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 Dropdown content, well on the way to the South Pole.
Chile’s untouched aspect led to the creation of the world’s first dark sky sanctuary in the Elqui Valley. Throw in the country's world-class wines Dropdown content, vibrant Valparaiso Dropdown content, and the centuries-old moai on Easter Island Dropdown content, and you’ll be sure to come back for more unmissable experiences in Chile Dropdown content.
Top tip: given that wine was frequently mentioned as a reason to love Chile, this sommelier class in Santiago de Chile came to mind.
Need help planning your visit? Contact our local expert to create your perfect personalised trip Dropdown content.
Since the USA Dropdown contentis so huge, it’s impossible to cover all its beauty spots here, so you might want to read our overview of the best places to visit in the USA in 2022 Dropdown content - or check out the weirdest places in the world Dropdown content, quite a few of which are in the USA.
Getting into the wilderness is one way of seeing a range of landscapes (and incredible wildlife). As one reader remarked, “the USA has so many staggeringly beautiful National Parks” (discover our top 40 Dropdown content), while another praised “the majesty of the mountains, the vastness of the plains, and the lure of two oceans.”
Talking of which, the USA has gorgeous beaches galore Dropdown content, spanning the crashing Pacific, the riotous Jersey shore, and the sublime Florida Keys Dropdown content. In between, the cities, deserts, and miles of open highway will stir the soul of any visitor.
Top tip: planning a sojourn in the Big Apple? Get your bearings by cruising around Ellis Island and Lady Liberty.
For more inspiration, check-out The Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places in the USA Dropdown content.
Surprisingly the only African country to make the top 20 (though Namibia Dropdown content received a fair few nominations), South Africa Dropdown content is undeniably stunning, as revealed in our guide to its scenic beauty Dropdown content.
Many of you praised the country’s “sheer diversity of scenery”, and its “raw natural landscape, roads and ocean”. Iconic Table Mountain and penguin-packed beaches lie just a stone's throw from Cape Town Dropdown content.
The wine-growing valleys of the Western Cape Dropdown content enchant with their verdant hills and vintages. And let’s not forget that South Africa also offers some of the world’s best safari experiences Dropdown content.
Top tip: set on the quayside, Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Hotel offers exceptional views of Table Mountain.
Visit South Africa Dropdown content with Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trip to explore exhilerating cities or take a safari (or both).
The words of one passionate respondent reveal everything you need to know about one of Greece’s Dropdown content greatest lures: "the islands Dropdown content are truly special - the white buildings, blue domes, traditional villages, beautiful beaches Dropdown content, and the high cliffs looking down on the incredibly blue Mediterranean Sea.
Throw in the history, gracious people and we just never want to leave”. High praise, indeed. But there’s more to Greece than its impossibly idyllic islands. Many of our Greece-voting respondents mentioned the "wonderful locally-produced food Dropdown content”, and the fact that it boasts one of the richest collections of historic monuments in the world.
To experience Greece in all its glory, take a look at our tailor-made itineraries Dropdown content.
Moving up four places, you praised Australia Dropdown content for its “beautiful diversity in culture" and "friendly, laidback people”.
Australia’s well-known attractions were frequently highlighted, among them Uluru in the Northern Territory Dropdown content, the Great Barrier Reef Dropdown content, Sydney Dropdown content, and the beautiful beaches of both the east Dropdown content and west Dropdown content coast.
Then there’s Australia's lush rainforests Dropdown content, excellent food Dropdown content, and the thrilling possibility of road-trip adventures Dropdown content. Before you go, be sure to find out everything you need to know about driving in Australia Dropdown content, and maybe learn a little local lingo Dropdown content too.
Top tip: whale-watching from Hervey Bay is one of our favourite Australian experiences.
Given the country’s epic scale, it might be worth considering a tailor-made trip to Australia Dropdown content (which can be personalised to suit your timeframe and interests).
From the ethereal fjords mentioned by tonnes of readers, to compact capital Oslo Dropdown content, and “Lapland with its magical atmosphere”, there’s so much to discover in Norway Dropdown content. As one of you said, Norway's “landscape is fantastic.
There are mountains, fjords, waterfalls, breath-taking views, and everything is so clean and beautiful!” Tromsø Dropdown content in the Arctic Circle Dropdown content is emerging as one of the country's top cultural hubs, and also a great place to start your northern lights excursion in the winter months.
Come summer, the glow of the midnight sun bathes everything in golden-red. Norwegians have you under their spell, too. In the words of one of our readers, the “people are caring and rich in culture”.
Top tip: surrounded by mountains in a UNESCO-listed town, Røros Hotell is a stunning place to stay.
To cover the UK, we’ll hand you over to one of our readers: "Scottish mountains and castles Dropdown content, the lakes of Cumbria Dropdown content, the pretty Cotswolds Dropdown content, the rugged coastline, fine cities Dropdown content, rich heritage, Welsh countryside Dropdown content, lush forests, fabulous National Parks, great museums Dropdown content and galleries.
Boating on the river in Cambridge Dropdown content, the dreamy spires of Oxford Dropdown content, the rolling countryside of Northumbria Dropdown content, and the vast beaches Dropdown content of Norfolk Dropdown content. The hidden secrets of Suffolk, the tiny hamlets of Devon and hidden beaches of Cornwall Dropdown content. The pretty Isles of Scilly Dropdown content, and the Jurassic coastline of Dorset Dropdown content”. And breathe. That’s quite some commendation.
Top tip: enhance your UK travels with Rough Guides Staycations guidebooks Dropdown content. Dropdown contentYou might also want to dive into the inspirational Make the Most of your Time in Britain Dropdown content, and discover the most beautiful places in Scotland Dropdown content — as voted by you.
We’ve curated a host of customisable trips to make your UK travel experiences all the more rewarding. How about embracing wild adventures in Wales Dropdown content or Scotland Dropdown content? What about discovering England’s historic highlights Dropdown content, or exploring the Pearls of Ireland Dropdown content? Or you could set off on a Great British road-trip Dropdown content.
The largest country in the EU, France Dropdown content is also one of the most varied - a country you frequently acclaimed for its “amazing landscapes”. Consider the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps Dropdown content, the lushness of the Pyrenees Dropdown content in summer, Provence's purple lavender fields Dropdown content, the golden stone chateaux Dropdown content, beautiful beaches Dropdown content, and sublime food Dropdown content.
Up four places from our previous poll, it’s clear that France's allure remains as powerful as ever, with plenty of secrets to be explored - it’s perfectly possible to get off-the-beaten-track in Paris Dropdown content. For more French food for thought, discover 20 facts about France Dropdown content.
Top tip: located in the heart of Paris, the Résidence Charles Floquet is an elegant place to lay down your head.
From luxury Paris Dropdown content, to the wine traditions of Bordeaux Dropdown content, to the romance of the French Riviera Dropdown content, our France itineraries Dropdown content can be tailor-made to fit you like fine couture.
Jumping an impressive nine places, you adored Switzerland Dropdown content for its “spectacular scenery”, with many readers waxing lyrical about its lakes and mountains. Read our guide to the best outdoor experiences in Switzerland Dropdown content to discover excellent ways to appreciate the country’s beauty.
While adventurers will want to hike the Eiger in the spectacular Jungfrau Dropdown content region, you might prefer to soak up the scenery from a quaint mountain train. Switzerland's “lovely towns” and “beautiful spotless cities” were also mentioned by many of you, including lakeside Vevey and Montreux, well-heeled Geneva Dropdown content, and cosmopolitan Zurich Dropdown content.
Top tip: offering panoramic views of the North Face of the Eiger and the Wetterhorn, staying at Sunstar Hotel and Spa Grindelwald is an unforgettable experience.
Many of you remarked on its epic landscapes and the vastness of its “wide-open spaces”. If you think Canada’s “mountain scenery is amazing”, as one as one respondent enthused.
B.C. mountains draw skiers and snowboarders in their thousands, while the East Coast cities of Toronto Dropdown content and Montreal Dropdown content charm with their world-class restaurants and cosmopolitan vibe.
Then there’s the otherworldly Bay of Fundy Dropdown content, hailed as one of the most remarkable places on earth. Talking of offbeat attractions, Canada's Spotted Lake features in our gallery of seriously weird places around the world Dropdown content.
Top tip: for an experience you’ll talk about for years, try your hand at ziplining at the Niagara Falls.
To enjoy Canada in all its exhilarating wonder, take a look at our tailor-made trip itineraries Dropdown content - curated by local travel guides and fully customisable.
Italy, winner of our previous survey, just missed out on bagging first place this time round. Many of you applauded the fact that it “has something for everyone”, from the marvellous Dolomite mountains Dropdown content, the tranquil Italian Lakes, the rolling vineyards of Tuscany Dropdown content to the sparkling Amalfi coast Dropdown content and the islands Sicily Dropdown content and Sardinia Dropdown content.
Cities like Rome Dropdown content, Florence Dropdown content and Venice Dropdown content throb with romance, while Italy’s beaches Dropdown content and food aren't half bad either. In fact, many of you believe it has “the best food in the world Dropdown content”. Given that Italy has so much to offer, it might be worth reading our guide to the best things to see and do Dropdown content here, these fun facts about Italy Dropdown content or our round up of Italy's most beautiful places Dropdown content.
Top tip: when visiting “magical Venice” (as one of you described it), book a boat trip to the islands of the Venetian lagoon.
Want to experience Italy with fresh, authentic eyes? Our customisable trips Dropdown content are curated by a local expert, and cover the entire country. And if you are planning on your own, check out the best time to go Dropdown content, and in-depth guides such as the best areas to stay in Rome Dropdown content or unforgettable Tuscany experiences Dropdown content.
Nudging Italy from the top spot, New Zealand’s Dropdown content “amazing scenery” had big impact on big numbers of you. The same goes for its “diversity of landscapes”, especially the “contrast in scenery between the mountains and beaches”.
These stunning landscapes play host to thrilling outdoor adventures Dropdown content and awe-inspiring alternative treks Dropdown content. Given that so many of you loved the “wide open spaces”, you might want to read up on Dropdown contentNew Zealand's best road-trip routes Dropdown content. Then there’s welcoming Wellington Dropdown content, a laidback capital that offers visitors a satisfying slice of beach-city life with added art and adventure.
Top tip: Looking for peace and panoramic views? We love Trinity Wharf Tauranga hotel in the beautiful Bay of Plenty.
Book a tailor-made trip to New Zealand Dropdown content to discover why it’s captured the hearts of so many Rough Guides’ readers.
For more opinion and insight from the Rough Guides’ community, read the results of our Rough Guide to 2022 survey Dropdown content and our sustainable travel survey Dropdown content. And remember, whenever you’re thinking of heading, there’ll be a Rough Guide Dropdown content to inspire and support every step of your journey.
If you're inspired to seek out more beautiful places, take a look at Beautiful places you've never heard of Dropdown content. And, if you're travelling with kids, you might want to discover the most magical places to visit with children before they grow up.
Interested in beautiful global culture? View our gallery of traditional dress Dropdown content from around the world.
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Header image: magical Milford Sound, New Zealand © Shutterstock
Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her