Telegraph Travel has conducted an extensive research study to ascertain which country is, officially – and objectively – the most beautiful on Earth. After crunching the data, our experts determined the United States to be the most glorious of all.
However, Telegraph readers were eager to give their verdicts in the comments section on which country they believe to be the most attractive. Many countered that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and simply cannot be measured on facts alone. Among readers’ top picks were Great Britain, the USA, Italy and South Africa.
From family ties to rich histories, readers offered their reasoning for what they deem to be the most beautiful country – read on to see what they had to say and join the discussion in the comments section.
Does America deserve the top spot?
In his ode to the winner, Telegraph Travel’s Chris Leadbeater wrote: “Big can definitely be beautiful, and in its enormity, the USA offers just about every style of geographical beauty you could wish to run through your camera and your social-media feed. It deals in soft golden sands where the Pacific seems to nuzzle the edge of California, but also in sprawling dunes and grey rocks, where the Atlantic throws itself at Massachusetts and Maine. It pushes at the clouds where the Rockies bare their teeth in Colorado and Montana – inviting you to hike in the warm months, or ski in the cold. It forges far out into winter in the harshest, most remote parts of Alaska, but exists in some apparent eternal summer where Hawaii rises from the sea.” Readers were inclined to agree.
@ Paul Sutcliffe
“I have driven east, west, north and south, covered 20,000 miles over four months and I have never driven and had to stop to admire the view in any other country like America. It absolutely deserves the number one spot.”
“I would always put the USA at the top. The Adirondack National Park alone is 20 times the size of the Peak District – utterly beautiful. It contains all the best bits of the British countryside and more – especially the New England colours in autumn.”
“For years I’ve thought the USA national anthem should not be the Star Spangled Banner but America the Beautiful. A much better tune, inspiring words, and an accurate description.”
What about Great Britain?
We’re huge fans at Telegraph Travel of the beauty on our doorstep, and few countries of a similar size can boast such a wealth of glorious landscapes, from the rugged, wave-lashed coast of Cornwall to the snow-capped peaks of Scotland, via rolling Cotswolds hills, jagged Peak District tors, mist-shrouded Cumbrian meres and eerie East Anglian fens. Yet the UK only came 19th in our study – an underestimation, according to some readers.
“Purely scientifically and objectively: England is the most beautiful country on Earth because it contains Old Winchester Hill where I asked my wife to marry me in 1976. Also, Eastbourne, where my three children were born and West Sussex where I live near one of my daughters and her family, with my other family members only one hour away.
“There are also the South Downs, Dorset, the Cotswolds, Shropshire, Kent and Devon.”
“In my opinion, we British have one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Plus, we have so much history. For instance, travel down the Welsh Marches and you can feel the history all around you. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
“The most beautiful place on earth is the British Isles. Not because it is objectively the most lovely place but because it is my home. There is the chocolate box countryside in Oxfordshire, wild Cornish cliffs and moors and our relatively gentle mountain landscapes. Home is home and touches you the most.”
Why South Africa should rank higher
Even lower down the ranking was South Africa, which came 29th (below, among others, Germany). Our expert to the country, Pippa de Bruyn, says: “It is the diversity of South Africa’s geography that makes it such a fascinating destination. From the Kalahari Desert in the north, where black-maned lions pad across sienna dunes, to the Overberg coastline that sees the annual return of Southern Right whales to calve and nurse their young; from the soaring majesty of the Drakensberg peaks to the iconic flat-topped mountain that embraces the port city of Cape Town. This is an extraordinary country to which you will want to return again and again, as so many do.” Several readers also sung its praises.
“South Africa should be up there. It has so much – game reserves, the Drakensberg, spectacular coastlines, Cape Town, Cape Peninsula, wine lands and lovely people.”
“South Africa is a beautiful country and arguably the most beautiful in Africa. Very few countries are in the same league.”
“South Africa is arguably the most beautiful country, with beaches, mountains, forests, vineyards and deserts. Not to mention the enormous national parks full of animals that are not to be found on any other continent.”
Europe’s most beautiful country? It should be Italy
In our ranking, Norway was the top scoring European country, finishing sixth overall, ahead of Italy, which was ninth. Few of us can resist a holiday in Europe’s most elegant country. Especially not those of us who – like the following readers – dream of a nice glass of chianti on a warm evening, a sunny stroll through a broad piazza, a day of high art in glorious galleries, a villa in the Tuscan hills, or lunch on an Amalfi terrace.
“I’ve worked, lived and travelled through 85 countries, from the north of Greenland to the southern tip of Africa. For me, Italy is the most beautiful – stunning scenery, architecture, climate, not to mention the attitude to life of the people and driving is still fun.
“There is plenty of all of this in many other countries, but only found altogether in Italy. The year living halfway between Rome and Naples was magical.”
@ AJ C:
“Italy and Greece are at the top for me. In all round beauty: visually, culturally, romantically and emotionally, but above all unique and unsurpassed.
“The USA may be the most diverse in terms of landscape differences; but beauty is much more than the landscape and much deeper both visually and culturally.”
Any other business?
Where was Switzerland? And what about France?! Here’s what a few other readers had to say.
@ Thomas Hobbes:
“It’s a bit of a mystery to anyone who’s ever been there how Switzerland manages to place below Germany and Denmark.”
@ Elizabeth Foster:
“They don’t get a mention here but the most beautiful countries I have been to are Yemen and Afghanistan, now both tragically destroyed by humans. They had colourful cultures and especially magnificent mountains, and in Yemen’s case, extraordinary architecture.”
@ Patrick Cazalaa:
“France not in the top 10! And even behind Spain. This is not serious.”
@ John White:
“I am Australian and I love my country, but there is a huge amount of nothing in between the scenic bits.”
@ John Callaghan:
“Kyrgyzstan is mountainous, mostly unspoilt, unknown and beautiful, and with a unique culture.”
@ Oliver Tattersall
“It’s strange that Norway features so high (rightfully so) along with Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, but Finland is not mentioned. Helsinki is mighty fine as far as capital cities go and the north of the country is as good as anywhere you’d find on this planet.”
@ Steven Attree:
“Costa Rica lower than UK? Someone has been smoking or drinking too much.”