Travel experts at National Geographic Traveller have compiled their list of the best destinations to visit in 2017, giving the top spot to the county of Donegal, Ireland, which boasts one of the most dramatic coastal drives in the world, and a starring role in the upcoming Star Wars film.

It’s a destination that doesn’t exactly come top of mind when it comes to sexy vacation hotspots. But the diviners at the British edition of Nat Geo Traveller highlighted “Ireland’s forgotten county” on their annual Cool List 2017 for their British readers.

Expect to see the upcoming release of Star Wars- Episode VIII turn Donegal into a tourism hotspot in 2017 for fans of the franchise. Scenes were filmed at Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula, capturing the dramatic coastal cliffs of the island of Ireland’s northernmost point.

Beyond its starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster, editors also point out that Donegal offers visitors surfing beaches and forms part of the 2,575km coastal Wild Atlantic Way, a route that can be biked, driven or trekked.

A feast for nature lovers, the county boasts the highest sea cliffs in Europe, while history buffs will appreciate the area for its ancient clan strongholds, castles and preserved monuments.

For the selection, editor Pat Riddell said destinations represent “what’s happening in the world, what’s interesting, and most importantly, what’s in it for you?”

Helsinki

Helsinki is presented as an alternative to more popular Scandinavian destinations like Copenhagen and Stockholm. Photo: AFP

Other destinations which cracked the top 10 list included Helsinki, presented as an alternative to more popular Scandinavian destinations like Copenhagen and Stockholm, and Aarhus, Denmark, which will enjoy the spotlight as the European Capital of Culture 2017.

Canada also made the list for feting its 150th anniversary, as did Portland, Oregon, described as the “high temple of American hipsterism”. The list is strikingly different from National Geographic Traveler US, which had previously released its picks for the must-visit destinations of 2017 and included places like Banff, Canada, Ecuador’s Cloud Forests, Seoul, South Korea and Moscow, Russia.

The destinations were listed under categories like cities, culture and nature and not ranked.

Here are the top 10 destinations on Nat Geo Traveller’s Cool List 2017 for their largely British readers:

1. Donegal, Ireland
2. Santiago, Chile
3. Helsinki, Finland
4. Greenland
5. Peru
6. Aarhus
7. Canada
8. Portland, Oregon
9. India
10. South Africa – AFP Relaxnews