Scotland ranks highly on the travel experts' list

Lonely Planet has named Brazil as the top country to visit in 2014 – followed by the somewhat surprising candidates Antarctica and Scotland.

While the combination of hosting the World Cup next year and the buzz of Olympic preparations for 2016 makes Brazil a fairly obvious candidate for the top slot – the travel experts say Scotland ranks so highly thanks to its own “jam-packed schedule of world class events”.

Click here for a gallery of Lonely Planet’s 10 best countries to visit in 2014

The Commonwealth Games are to be held in Glasgow next year, while the Ryder Cup will take place at Gleneagles. 2014 will also see Scotland host a “Year of Homecoming” – a year-long programme of events celebrating Scottish culture and traditions - while annual experiences such as Highland Games and Edinburgh Fringe will also lure travellers.

Scotland was also commended for its “buzzing” cities such as Edinburgh – “the most Gothic city outside Transylvania” - and for “stunning scenery that inspired poet Robert Burns”.

Speaking of the Scotland placement, VisitScotland’s Mike Cantlay said: “It's clear that 2014 is Scotland's chance to shine on the world stage, and to have this commendation from Lonely Planet is a fantastic seal of approval.”

He added: “From the bells bringing in our year-long Homecoming celebrations on Hogmanay, to the biggest ever sporting events to take place in Scotland - the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and the Ryder Cup, this could be the greatest ever chance for our country to be seen as a globally recognised, must-visit destination for many years to come.”

Antarctica was another location to rank surprisingly highly, but Lonely Planet justified its placement by saying visitors have a chance to take life on and follow in the path of other intrepid explorers.

Lonely Planet’s 10 best countries to visit in 2014

1. Brazil

2. Antarctica

3. Scotland

4. Sweden

5. Malawi

6. Mexico

7. Seychelles

8. Belgium

9. Macedonia

10. Malaysia

Click here to read Lonely Planet's 2014 guide to the 10 best value for money destinations