"What's the best country you've ever travelled to?" ... is a question I've often been asked - and never found it easy to answer. "Depends," I would say, "what you focus on, scenery, food, people, ..."
Then one day I thought I can't carry on evading that question for ever, so I sat down and tried to tackle the question a bit more systematically. I came up with a list of 10 criteria that are important for travelling in a country and awarded all the countries I could judge points between 1 and 10 for each of the criteria, calculated the averages, and voila, there I had it: a fairly consistent personal ranking list.
But then I thought that some of the criteria shouldn't really have the same weight as others - it distorts the picture ... So I produced a second set of broader criteria and a second ranking list. And indeed some rankings were different, not least at the very top! Other countries meanwhile performed more or less exactly the same in both lists.
So here are both lists for you to peruse:
NOTE: on both lists, only those countries are included which I had the feeling I could judge on the basis of the criteria suggested. I've been to more countries than appear in these lists, but those missing are precisely the ones where I didn't feel I could make a fair judgement - maybe because I've only been to one single non-representative place in that country and/or maybe just for a short stopover. Thus, e.g. Slovenia
do not (yet) feature here.
Obviously, this isn't an exact science, far from it ... often points were allocated by rough guesswork rather than assured conviction. And some criteria applied better to some countries than to others to begin with. Moreover, it's all based on my personal
experiences - and they need not be such that they do the whole country in question full justice. For example: I've ranked the USA
rather low on the wildlife front. But of course I am aware that the country does have great wildlife ... only that's in parts that I've never been to myself (the Everglades, say) or simply haven't been lucky enough (e.g. not seeing any bears in Yellowstone).
Or think of judgements about food & drink
- by definition these are very much matters of personal taste
... and in my case there's also the specific perspective of semi-vegetarianism
that shapes my judgements (so that carnivorous countries such as Kazakhstan
or Slovakia had no chance of scoring well on this front).
Bear all those caveats in mind when going through these lists - and don't be offended if a country dear to yourself didn't score as highly as you would have liked. It can be that I had just been unlucky when I went to that country and didn't get an appropriate impression.
So from the start this exercise never had a chance to yield a perfectly fair and balanced ranking. That was not the point anyway, however, as it is all about my own personal judgement. And I do not demand or expect that anyone should follow my views in this respect. It's only to give people an idea ... and finally an answer, in fact more than one simple answer, to that old question "what's your favourite country, then". Now you can see for yourself.