Date:October 21, 2020

Top 25 Of The Most Naturally Beautiful Countries In The World

Every country in the world has something to offer—think local cuisine, groundbreaking architecture, and much, much more. But beauty is a hard thing to quantify, which is why we let the World Economic Forum do much of the work for us: Every year, the foundation releases their Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, a survey that ranks the world’s countries based on various factors, from safety to life expectancy—and yes, even natural resources. The latter takes into consideration details like total animal species, a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and “attractiveness of natural assets”—and 2019’s results are as stunning as ever.

These countries offer a plethora of natural and human-made sights that are only captivating. Whether you’re drawn in by rolling countryside, unspoiled islands or soaring mountain peaks, there’s sure to be a country in this list that you’ll fall in love with.

1# Costa Rica

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It’s easy to sink into the pura vida (pure life) when you’re surrounded by misty waterfalls, deserted beaches, and protected jungles. In fact, more than a quarter of Costa Rica enjoys some form of environmental protection. Cocos Island National Park, the only island in the eastern Pacific with a rainforest, is a world-class diving destination replete with hammerhead sharks, giant manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins. La Amistad National Park is another uniquely diverse site, with cloud forests, glacial valleys, and a rare tropical alpine grassland (say that five times fast). It’s also home to Cerro Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica.

2# New Zealand

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New Zealand is no stranger to breathtaking landscapes, with towering mountains, turquoise lakes, and more than 9,000 miles of windswept shores. Just look towards the resplendent fields of pink and purple lupins at Lake Tekapo; or Milford Sound, a mountainous fjord where you can live out all of your Lord of the Rings fantasies. The splendor also extends below the surface to the Waitomo glowworm caves (leave it to New Zealand to make even worms look beautiful).

3# Switzerland

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Switzerland flaunts several breathtaking sceneries and natural surroundings that make it one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From urban cities like Zurich and Geneva to lakeside towns of Montreux and Vevey, Switzerland won’t leave a chance to mesmerize you completely. The tall mountains, vivid wilderness, and pristine lakes of this country deserve international attention. It won’t come as a surprise that Switzerland welcomes lakhs of tourists from across the world every year.

4# Spain

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Aside from its world-class beaches (like Playa de Las Catedrales in Galicia, pictured), Spain is home to 15 national parks, including five in the Canary and Balearic Islands. Doñana National Park is home to five threatened bird species, plus scenic marshes and sand dunes. Teide National Park has the tallest mountain in the country (Mount Teide) and third-tallest volcanic structure in the world (Pico Viejo).

5# Mexico

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Home to 67 national parks, more than 5,000 miles of coastline, and landscapes ranging from deserts to snow-capped volcanoes, Mexico ranks high on this list for a reason. The state of Oaxaca lays claim to wild, crowd-free beaches and Hierve el Agua, a set of natural rock formations and mineral springs. Down in the southern state of Chiapas, the Sumidero Canyon astounds with 3,000-foot cliff walls, caves, and waterfalls. Mexico also takes great lengths to protect its wildlife: the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve northwest of Mexico City welcomes millions of butterflies every autumn, while the whale sanctuary in El Vizcaino is an important reproduction site for grey and blue whales.

6# Australia

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Australia’s natural beauty is unrivaled—from the Great Barrier Reef to the wild isolation of the Outback to the Winelands of Victoria. Witnessing the majesty of Uluru should be on every traveler’s bucket list, whether viewed from above by helicopter or from a distance at ground level during the technicolor sunset. Another must-see? Tasmania. The island state’s mountain wilderness and a pristine coastline are remarkably beautiful.

7# Greece

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Greece may be best known for the architecture of Athens and coastal scenes of Santorini, but there’s a lot more to the country than its immediate associations. Each of the 6,000+ islands and islets offers swoon-worthy vistas, from the cliff-lined beaches of Zakynthos to the epic sunrises in Mykonos. Not a beach bum? Pay a visit to Epirus, the mountainous, forest-filled region in northwestern Greece.

8# Kenya

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There are plenty of reasons to head to Kenya, and we’re not just talking about its bevy of resorts and safari camps. The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley is the ultimate place for wildlife spotting, with cheetahs, giraffes, black rhinos, and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. Mount Kenya is the second highest peak (after Kilimanjaro) and one of the most impressive landscapes in Africa, with glacial lakes and forested slopes.

9# Thailand

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The number of foreign visitors to Thailand has doubled in the past ten years, and it’s easy to understand why. There are literally hundreds of islands offering something for every type of traveler, whether it’s the lush jungles of Ko Kut or the crystal-clear diving waters of Ko Tao. To catch sight of wild elephants and tigers, dramatic waterfalls, and some of the world’s oldest rainforests, venture inland to the wondrous Khao Sok National Park.

10# Philippines

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There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines, and they easily number among the most beautiful in the world. The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan encompasses mangrove forests, one of the world’s most impressive cave systems, and an underground river. The Chocolate Hills of Bohol Island consists of an estimated 1,776 grass-covered domes that are mysteriously uniform in shape. The rice terraces of both Banaue and the Philippine Cordilleras provide panoramic views of every shade of green imaginable.

11# Croatia

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Poised between the Balkans and central Europe, Croatia is a land of limestone caves, undulating fields, and white pebble beaches. The country’s most famous waters are found inland at the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a system of waterfalls, caves, and 16 terraced lakes that cover the entire blue-green color spectrum. The Adriatic Sea coast is truly unrivaled, speckled with more than 1,000 islands surrounded by impossibly clear water. The Dinaric Alps provide even more sublime views and help contribute to Croatia’s overall landscape—the craggy peaks and caverns near the coast transition to rolling farmland in the northeast Hrvatsko Zagorje region.

12# Montenegro

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