Rice terraces in rice harvest seasons at Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.
Chan Srithaweeporn—Getty Images
By Bobbie Edsor/Business Insider
September 17, 2017

Rough Guide has released an updated list of the most beautiful countries in the world, as voted for by their readers.

The travel company— known for their guides, e-books, and blog — listed the top 20 destinations on their website on Monday.

The list includes everything from stunning tropical landscapes like Indonesia and Vietnam, to icy retreats such as Norway and Finland.

Surprisingly, the number one spot was claimed to somewhere a little closer to home — Scotland.

England, Ireland, and Wales also made the top 20 list thanks to their “romantic” rural landscapes and historic sites.

Scroll on to see the 20 most beautiful countries in the world, as votes for by Rough Guide readers, alongside stunning photos which justify each country’s place on the list.

This article originally appeared in Business Insider.

20. Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, July 7, 2017.
Brais Seara—Getty Images

Landing the top spot and the title of most beautiful country in the world, it is Scotland’s ragged hills and heathered highlands that won over Rough Guides readers.

In the list that reveals the top 20 most beautiful countries, as voted for by its readers, Rough Guides states: “Who can deny that these wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles are some of the most wonderful and beautiful sights in the world?”

19. Canada

Rue Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Canada
Klaus Lang—Getty Images/All Canada Photos

Canada’s vast wilderness includes world renowned, waterfall-haven Niagra Falls and lake-filled Banff National Park in the Rocky mountains.

Rough Guides praises the North American country for its “raw beauty and majestic landscapes”, which its readers ranked the second most beautiful country in the world.

18. New Zealand

The famous Mitre Peak rising from the Milford Sound fiord, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

One Rough Guides reader defines the magic of New Zealand’s varied sites that earn the country third place in the list by its “rolling green hills, majestic mountains, breathtaking fjords and amazing diversity of landscape from one island to the next”.

17. Italy

Colorful houses in Burano village, Italy.
Hin255—Getty Images/iStockphoto

Culture, community, history, and natural beauty all meet in this European nation, with one Rough Guides reader picking up on the romance that floats through the air in the small towns and vast cities alike.

Each with their characteristic styles and ways of life, Italy’s many regions all boast their own variations of Italian food, language, culture, and landscape.

16. South Africa

Wildebeests running wild in South Africa.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whether it’s the inquisitive wildlife, sprawling vineyards, hidden-gem beaches, or the bustling towns and cities, South Africa’s varied and breathtaking landscape earn the country fifth place on the Rough Guides’ list.

15. Indonesia

Sunset at the Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia.
kovgabor79—Getty Images

Indonesia ranks in the top 10 most beautiful countries in the world, with one reader choosing it for its myriad islands, while another favouring the country’s mountains and proud heritage.

14. England

Durdle door in Devon, England on a sunny summer day in June 2017, showing the beach, the stone arch, and tourists enjoying the sun..
Getty Images

England climbed to seventh place in the Rough Guides’ reader ranking, thanks to its stunning coastlines and historic sites. Visitors can take a bus ride along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, or visit the fossil beaches in Cornwall or the Isle of Wight to find their own piece of preserved, national history to take home.

13. Iceland

Blue Lagoon geothermal open air spa pool in Iceland.
Mark Whitaker—Getty Images

With its volcanic mountains, black sand beaches, and number of natural hot springs, Iceland’s unique and dramatic landscape was ranked the eighth most beautiful place in the world in the Rough Guides list.

12. USA

Hiker and Sandstone Rock formations, Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona, United States of America
Neale Clark/Robert Harding—Neale Clark/Robert Harding

Each state’s varying and characteristic landscape makes the USA the ninth most beautiful country in the world, according to Rough Guides readers.

Boasting peaks to canyons, metropoles to wastelands, there are few places across the vast nation that aren’t worth getting the camera out for — especially national parks and landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, which are “protected for posterity with the world’s best national park system” according to one Rough Guide reader.

11. Wales

Tourists in village of traditional Welsh stone cottages with Welsh slate roofs, Beddgelert, Gwynedd, Wales
Tim Graham—Getty Images

Described on the Visit Wales website as “epic”, Wales’ trademarks hills and lush valleys are truly the stuff “of Legends” to Rough Guides readers.

In addition, the number of castles, heritage sites, and quaint villages add to rather than interrupt the vast landscape of wild greens and cool stone.

10. Slovenia

City of Ljubljana center aerial view, capital of Slovenia.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

This small European country is has an endless number of historical and cultural sites that will leave visitors reaching for the camera.

Whether it’s the mirrored waters of Lake Bled — a glacial lake equipped with hot springs and a tiny, church-topped islet, or the stunning, baroque architecture lining the streets of Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. Slovenia’s natural landscapes partnered with its unique national identity makes the country one of the most beautiful places in the world, according to Rough Guides readers.

9. Mexico

Most famous landmark of Yucatan and iconic symbol of Mexico. Kukulkan is the name of a Maya snake deity that also serves to designate historical persons.
JoseIgnacioSoto—Getty Images/iStockphoto

One Rough Guides reader states that Mexico has it all when it comes to history, breathtaking sites, and deeply-engrained, enchanting culture: “Beautiful nature, ancient temples, great food. So much to see and explore.”

8. India

Crawford Market, Mumbai, India
Peter Adams—Getty Images

Whether it’s the beautiful cultures or lush landscapes, Rough Guides readers have a soft spot for India, and it was voted the 13th most beautiful country in the world.

7. Finland

Man walking in snow covered forest, Riisitunturi, Lapland, Finland
Peter Adams—Getty Images

One Rough Guides reader believes that “the skies, the forests, the mysticism, and just about everything else” earn Finland’s stunning Nordic landscapes a place in the list.

6. Switzerland

Off-piste skier in powder snow, Engelberg, Switzerland
Geir Pettersen—Getty Images

Switzerland’s mountainous landscape, snowy runs and hiking trails offer plenty of opportunities for visitors to get out into the wild and actively enjoy its stunning landscapes.

5. Peru

Montana de Siete Colores, or Rainbow Mountain, Vinicunca, Cusco Region, Peru.
sorincolac—Getty Images/iStockphoto

Rough Guides readers were won over by Peru’s eclectic and varied landscapes — with everything from the stripey peaks of Rainbow Mountain, the perilous steps of the ancient Inca Trail, leafy rainforests, snow-capped summits, and many deserts, Peru has it all.

What’s more, Peru made it onto Business Insider’s recent list of 100 trips everyone should take in their lifetime, according to the world’s leading travel experts— proving that it really is a must-see getaway, regardless of what you’re going in search of.

4. Norway

Northern lights over the Reine village in Lofoten islands of Norway in winter time.
WanRu Chen—Getty Images

Whether it’s the glacier peaks, the bustling cities, or the Northern Lights that brings visitors to Norway, few are left dissapointed upon departure — Rough Guides readers included.

3. Ireland

Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood.
gareth wray—Getty Images

Among its dewy hills and rocky coastlines, Rough Guides readers are rarely left disappointed — even if they are left a little wet.

One guide states that, “Among the romantic preconceptions visitors bring to Ireland, it is their expectations of the landscape that are most likely to be fulfilled.”

2. Croatia

Famous Old Town of Dubrovnik in Croatia
Getty Images

The terracotta skylines of Croatia’s tourist traps like Dubrovnik and Split against the deep blues of the Adriatic sea make for great tourist snaps, and won over Rough Guides readers earning a place on the list.

1. Vietnam

Rice terraces in rice harvest seasons at Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.
Chan Srithaweeporn—Getty Images

Vietnam’s wild and impressive landscapes, including the terraced fields of the Sa Pa mountains, earn the Southeast Asian country a place in the Rough Guides readers’ top 20.


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