Revealed: the most beautiful country

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While Australia may abound in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare, this, sadly, is not enough to let us be crowned the world’s most beautiful country.

With social media and the ability to share photos only pushing the quest for picturesque travel destinations, Rough Guides has recently conducted a poll on the most beautiful countries in the world. And the results may take you by surprise.

Scotland has taken out the title of the world’s most beautiful country, thanks to its “wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles.” Of the win, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, Malcolm Roughead, commented: “we are delighted that Scotland has received this remarkable accolade from Rough Guide readers, but of course it will not be a surprise to anyone who has encountered our wonderful country.” Adding, “from our awe-inspiring landscapes to our remarkable historic attractions, to our bustling but beautiful urban centres, Scotland takes people’s breaths away.”


With Canada coming hot on Scotland’s heels in second place, our neighbours across the ditch completed the trifecta. Sadly, Australia did not feature in the top 10, or even top 20, which – bias aside – is highly debateable given our unique and varied landscapes.

Take a look at the world’s 20 most beautiful countries below and tell us what you think. Do you agree with the poll results of Rough Guides? What’s the most beautiful country you’ve ever visited?

  1. Scotland
  2. Canada
  3. New Zealand
  4. Italy
  5. South Africa
  6. Indonesia
  7. England
  8. Iceland
  9. United States
  10. Wales
  11. Slovenia
  12. Mexico
  13. India
  14. Finland
  15. Switzerland
  16. Peru
  17. Norway
  18. Ireland
  19. Croatia
  20. Vietnam

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Written by SJ


Total Comments: 18
  1. 0

    Having been to over 60 countries, and only judging scenic beauty I would put Peru on top followed by the U.S. and Indonesia. The best travel experiences are more than just scenic beauty. It’s also about the culture, the people and connections we make with them, plus who we are traveling with. With scenic beauty Australia I am afraid has very little to offer. The big attraction we have is space and wilderness, which we are fast destroying with our high population growth.

  2. 0

    Och mon! Aye t’is true. Scotland is the most beautiful country in the world.

  3. 0

    All very subjective and i seem to keep reading these lists regularly with different countries on.
    Been to both NZ and Norway this year and would put Norway way ahead in terms of raw beauty. Scotland always looks very bleak to me and i disagree about Australia not on the list. We have some amazing coastlines and rainforests. Again its very subjective.

    • 0

      agree Ella, very subjective. If you visited Canada’s west coast you would have a far different view than if you only spent time in the prairie provinces. I also cant see how Iceland could rate higher than Peru. This is obviously just a magazine fill in piece. They must have run out of things to write about the royals (I wish)

    • 0

      I agree, Ella, regarding subjectivity. Does “beauty” include how a place makes you feel?
      I spent a week in Central Australia, wandering around on foot. My partner and I were so entranced we forgot to eat – only ate an orange all day in the sacred Bubia Valley inside Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). The little creek was flowing and the whole area covered in wildflowers. We only met 2 people all day – one was a Japanese guy who had no English, but we realised he’d just scaled some very large boulders, not knowing there was a much easier route via a tunnel UNDER the boulders. He must have missed it because he entered from the opposite direction. It was necessary to rockclimb in at our entry point but the Ranger assessed we were capable, which explains why so few people were inside the Valley.
      Most tourists in Central Australia just look at other people’s bums as they climb to the highest point they can, unless they “conquer the Rock” (reach the top) of Uluru. We respected the First Nation Peoples’ wishes and preferred to walk around this sacred site, which was a very beautiful and interesting 11km walk.

  4. 0

    Given the beauty of Norway I am I staggered in finished so low and I would certainly have had it way ahead of England.
    I think the thing about Scotland is the balance it strikes between the land, the sea and the sky. The weather with cloud movements constantly changing the light in many ways adds to the scenic effect. There is, to me at least, a harmony there that edges out New Zealand, who I would put 2nd, and other majestically beautiful countries.

  5. 0

    Agree Scotland, Canada and New Zealand deserve there placing – but some of the others above Australia – not quite right to me. Switzerland and Vietnam would always be on my list too.

  6. 0

    Scotland certainly is a beautiful country however IMHO,
    Iceland the most spectacular.
    Brazil the most interesting and best for music and people.
    Portugal for food and wine.
    Spain for architecture.
    Antarctica best for serene beauty.

  7. 0

    Beauty, naturally is in the eye of the beholder, whilst being to most of the places on this list, I have to say that in MY opinion Australia is absolutely the most beautiful and diverse place on this earth. Cool mountains and rivers in snow fields, glorious beaches everywhere along coastline – natural wonders, eg., bungle bungles, Uluru, great barrier reef, kakadu, karijini, – Sydney Harbour omg – Opera House.
    The bonus of these places are that you don’t have to travel too far, are not going to encounter horrible pick pockets and you have the safety of Medicare/good medical care.
    Just my opinion, each to their own.

    • 0

      I travel around Australia about seven months of the year – am on the road now, if I was at home (with computer) I’d love to have shared some stunning photography of our beautiful country. Darn.

    • 0

      Oh CindyLou, you can and do encounter ‘horrible pick pockets’ in Australia too in just about ALL the tourist spots. Australia is not immune to nefarious activity.

      And when going overseas travel insurance is a must. That way you can get good medical care anywhere. I would not give up my travel to stay home just in case I might need medicare!

    • 0

      Agree KSS obviously there are pick pockets but, I would argue that the level of risk and incidence is huge in some overseas places, ie Italy, Spain and France. Can’t compare these places to Australia.

      In regard to travel insurance, I have travelled overseas and like all sensible people always have travel insurance. It’s not overly easy to make a claim in some circumstances, ie for theft the insurance company need a police report, which can be tricky to organize given time constraints when you are on a tour.

      I certainly do not “give up” overseas travel, rather, I incorporate an overseas trip into my schedule every 2nd year or so. However, money wise I get much more holiday for my money travelling locally.

  8. 0

    Oh, for me ……. its the Southern Hemisphere and then (second) the Northern Hemisphere of the planet 😉 Both are beautiful but that, of course, depends on your defination of beautiful and not some one elses viewpoint 🙂 Yes, beauty IS in the eye of the beholder 😀 p.s. anywhere is better than my backyard, when I get the urge to travel, but it IS always nice to get back home !!

  9. 0

    After reading all of the comments, I have to agree with most of them in part, all of the countries listed certainly have different types of beauty, but I have to wonder how Australia missed out, maybe the producers of rough guides have never interviewed or got the opinion of the many tourists that come to Australia, just to add a few places not already mentioned, Mungo National Park, dates back to evidence of very early Aboriginal settlement, also where Mungo man’s remains were found, which I believe is the oldest remains found in Australia, I haven’t been to Kings Canyon bug the photo’s I have seen look spectacular. Other countries that I thought were worth a mention Czech Republic, Holland, Germany.

  10. 0

    I think Canada is the most beautiful country in the world and in total contrast Spain is the most beautiful, but every country has a beauty of its own, although it is the individual taste that prefers one to the other.
    Britain has gorgeous places and so do Germany or Austria and France and Italy are also beautiful in their wilderness and their man made places and in Asia or Africa there are magnificent landscapes and man made structures that are extraordinary, so…who is to say is the most beautiful? It all depends on personal preference and taste.

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