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These are officially the 20 most beautiful countries in the world

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Emily Reynolds
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And the winner is closer to home than you might think

If you’re thinking of taking a holiday later this year, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s fresh inspiration.

Rough Guides have just released their annual ’Most Beautiful Countries in the World’ list – and there’s plenty to choose from whether you want a far-flung getaway or prefer to stay closer to home.

In fact, four places very close to home have managed to sneak their way into the top 20 – Ireland at number 18, Wales at number 10, England at number 7, and Scotland bagging the coveted top spot at number 1. 

“With beaches that could rival the Mediterranean (on sunny days at least), plus a slew of historic castles, mountains to climb, coast paths to walk, and of course, buttered welshcakes to eat, there’s a host of entertaining ways to spend your days,” the guide wrote of Wales, with England praised for its rolling hills and network of public footpaths. 

The guide also highlighted Ireland’s “green fields and moss-covered walls that seem impossibly vibrant, quiet lakes and hilltop walks that will clear the cobwebs from the foggiest mind,” – though they do note that you might have to take your raincoat.

But it was for Scotland that the guide reserved its greatest compliments.

“Who can deny that the wild beaches, deep lochs and craggy castles are some of the most wonderful and beautiful sights in the world?” the guide wrote. “Add in thousands of years of history, more delicious whisky than you could taste in a lifetime and excellent golfing, hiking, and biking trails and you’ve got a very special place indeed.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Croatia and Italy were all praised for their scenery, culture and vibrant urban centres. 

And if you fancy exploring somewhere slightly further afield, the guide has you covered too.

India was praised for its “unforgettable” cacophony of colours, whilst Peru’s “spectacular” range of scenery and historical sites bagged it a spot in the top twenty.

Meanwhile, in the top three, New Zealand was singled out for its “majestic mountains, breathtaking fjords and amazing diversity of landscape”, and Canada for its “mixture of raw beauty and majestic landscapes”. 

So whether you prefer a city break, a lazy beach holiday or you want to explore nature, there’s plenty of choice – and you don’t even have to leave the country to experience it. Perfect. 

The top 20 is as follows:

  1. Scotland
  2. Canada
  3. New Zealand
  4. Italy
  5. South Africa
  6. Indonesia
  7. England
  8. Iceland
  9. USA
  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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