When there are 193 vastly different countries, it seems almost impossible to narrow down a list of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Beauty is subjective. Though it lies in the eye of the beholder, and some of us may love snow-capped mountains over ultra-modern skyscrapers, or crystal-clear oceans over historic buildings, some locations are just awe-inspiring enough that many of us can agree to be the most beautiful countries in the world.
But do they make great places to study at?
Benefits of studying in the most beautiful countries in the world
Studying abroad is not only an opportunity to get a superior education in a foreign land but also a chance to live in a different culture and environment.
You can get these in a lot of countries — but studying in the most beautiful countries in the world offers comes with special perks. These include:
- Improved well-being: Spending 120 minutes each week outdoors can lead to better health and a greater sense of well-being than people who didn’t get out at all.
- Decrease stress: One study found that a stroll through a city park reduces stress, helps you concentrate better and improves mental health outcomes.
- Avoid diseases: Spending time in green spaces, like hiking or kayaking on a lake, can reduce the risk of asthma, allergies, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others.
- Live longer: Being amongst “green vegetation” were associated with decreased mortality, according to one study.
“Nature is not like a pill you get prescribed by your doctor that you have to take in small doses every day,” said Dr. Mathew P. White, an environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter Medical School, to The New York Times.
“What matters most is that you’re able to fit it into your lifestyle.”
And in the most beautiful countries in the world, you can fit being healthy, mentally and physically, and feeling great while getting a good education.
10 most beautiful countries in the world:
Below is a list of 10 countries chosen for having both exceptional and breathtaking natural landscapes and some of the best universities in the world.
As seen in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and sworn by anyone who’s visited, New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Source: William West/AFP
1. New Zealand
From its 9,000 miles of breezy shores to its turquoise lakes cutting through mountains, New Zealand boasts some of the most intriguing landscapes in the world.
Lake Tekapo may just be one of the most colourful places in the world, with brilliant blue glacial waters and never-ending fields of pink and purple lupins.
New Zealand’s also bursting with a plethora of galleries and museums contributing to the country’s cultural and artistic identity. The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa highlights the rich history of the Māori people and their importance to the national identity of New Zealand.
It is no wonder that US News ranked New Zealand the most beautiful country in the world. If you want to further your studies here, the country is home to many top universities. This includes:
- The University of Auckland
- University of Otago
- Victoria University of Wellington
Greece’s islands and islets exude an enchanting atmosphere of whimsical charm and awe-inspiring beauty.
They are home to the world-renowned beaches of Mykonos and the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, which boast crystal-clear waters that have earned them the ranking of the second most beautiful country in the world according to US News.
While these coastal paradises are often the first images that come to mind when considering Greece, the country has much more to offer.
Greece offers quality education for international students looking to study abroad. Intrigued? Pick from three of the best universities in the country:
- University of Crete
- National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
- Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Sunset or not, the village of Manarola in the “Cinque Terre” glows ethereally all day long. Source: Olivier Morin/AFP
Italy is highly acclaimed for its otherworldly pastas, picturesque pastel villages, and stunning — yet fragile — architecture like the Duomo Cathedral in Milan.
While these dazzle, so do its world heritage sites, the most in the world. These include Padua’s Botanical Gardens and Cinque Terre, i.e. five villages perched on a hillside looking like they’ve been painted by Caravaggio.
Close to these places of beauty are universities, where international students need not haveextensive knowledge of Italian making it accessible to students from different backgrounds.
Below are the top universities you can earn your degree at while indulging in pizza and gelato and the top universities in Italy:
- University of Padua
- University of Bologna
- Sapienza University Rome
The 4506 meters high Weisshorn mountain is surrounded by gusts of wind in the Swiss Alps prior to the start of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, on February 26, 2022. Source: Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Switzerland has long been known as a winter wonderland, attracting tourists from all around the world. However, its beauty extends beyond the winter season. During the warmer months, the country has lush valleys and shimmering emerald lakes.
Then there are the majestic mountain ranges, boundless horizons, and cascading waterfalls.
Lord Byron describes Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley in a journal entry from 1816 having “entered upon a range of scenes beyond all description, or previous conception.”
Want to earn your degree while studying in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? Here are the top universities in Switzerland to consider:
- ETH Zurich
- University of Zurich
- Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
People sit on a terrace-cafe in front of La Concha bay at sunset on December 17, 2022 in the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian. Source: Ander Gillenea/AFP
Spain is perhaps the most exceptionally diverse country globally, offering many experiences, from charming white Mediterranean villages to sophisticated urban centres.
This captivating country is also known for its rich cultural heritage, historical festivals, siestas, and mesmerising flamenco dancers.
However, Spain has much more to offer. It boasts fantastic hiking trails that span the entire nation, stunning beaches catering to all types of beachgoers, and an endless variety of delectable jamón serrano.
What could be better than all that? Enjoy all of this and more when you choose to study at one of the top universities in Spain:
- University of Barcelona
- Autonomous University of Barcelona
- Pompeu Fabra University
Japan presents students with a captivating and culturally rich environment, showcasing beautiful architecture, state-of-the-art technological innovations and delicious sushi.
These are juxtaposed against ultra modern conveniences — like the bullet train and robot waiters as well as historical treasures, as nearly every city is adorned with ancient Buddhist temples.
Yet, it all works together.
This harmonious blend ensures that whether you are a fan of contemporary manga or hold a fascination for the ancient ways of the samurai, Japan offers something that caters to your interests and passions.
Choose from one of the best universities in Japan to study as you explore the country’s beauty:
- University of Tokyo
- Kyoto University
- Osaka University
A photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows fish swimming through the coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Source: William West/AFP
With its enticing opportunities for snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, hiking adventures in the vast outback, and exploration of the city of Sydney, Australia is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations for travellers.
Students are drawn to its universities, which offera wide range of majors such as business, humanities, and the sciences.
During breaks, one can bask in the sun, explore fascinating wildlife, and enjoy the pristine waters of Bondi Beach.
Choose from one of these world-class universities to study in one of the most beautiful countries in the world:
- University of Melbourne
- University of Sydney
- University of Queensland
Tourists ride elephants on a beach on Thailands island of Koh Chang, on April 9, 2023. Source: Jack Taylor/AFP
This beautiful country offers a diverse range of attractions, from pristine coastal stretches to the lush forests of Koh Kood and the bustling city of Bangkok.
Frequently listed among the most beautiful countries in the world and featured as a top 10 must-visit destination, Thailand boasts world-class beach towns, including Krabi, Phi Phi Island, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Pha Ngan.
However, Thailand is more than just a country to visit on holiday. The country offers quality education programmes for international students looking to study abroad in Asia.
Here are some of the top universities in the country:
- Mahidol University
- Chulalongkorn University
- Chiang Mai University
Sunset seen from a stretch of the BR-230 (Transamazon highway) in Labrea, Amazonas State, Brazil, on September 16, 2022. Source: Michael Dantas/AFP
Brazil is blessed with both remarkable natural beauty and contrasting urban landscapes. It is home to one of the world’s most stunning cities, Rio de Janeiro.
However, Brazil’s true treasures lie in its abundant natural wonders. The sheer magnitude of the Amazon rainforest is beyond comprehension, and the horseshoe-shaped Iguaçu Falls, often adorned by vibrant rainbows, stand as one of the most awe-inspiring sights on the planet.
The Amazon rainforest is also a sanctuary for remarkable species such as jaguars, woolly spider monkeys, ocelots, piranhas, giant water lilies, and mangroves.
The country’s world-class institutions include:
- Universidade de Sao Paulo
- Universidade Estadual de Campinas
- Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
A view of Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world called by locals The Potholes, and South Africa’s rightful claim as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Source: Alexander Joe/AFP
10. South Africa
The country is home to an extraordinary diversity of landscapes, ranging from the breathtaking Blyde River Canyon to the majestic peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains.
Known for its iconic safari destinations, South Africa offers a blend of superb weather, stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and a rich tapestry of cultures.
The country boasts a multitude of beautiful sights in every province. Marvel at the vibrant displays of wildflowers in Namaqualand, explore the dramatic heights of the Drakensberg Mountains, indulge in the wine-growing valleys of the Western Cape, witness penguins roaming on pristine beaches, the grandeur of the Blyde River Canyon, and ascend the iconic Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.
Interested? You can enjoy the beauty of South Africa as you study at one of its top universities:
- University of Cape Town
- University of Witwatersrand
- Stellenbosch University