National Geographic Traveller named Couty Donegal on their 2017 "Cool List" and we couldn't agree more. As they say themselves. up there "it's different."

Donegal claimed the top spot on National Geographic Traveller's "Cool List" of recommendations for people who love to travel back in 2017.

Among the other “culture capitals, hipster hotspots, wild escapes, and places generally keeping it cool,” County Donegal beat other great destinations to visit such as Greenland, Sudan, and Seoul.

Explaining why it gave Donegal, the Irish Republic’s most isolated county, the nod the magazine said:

With a weather-nibbled coast spotted with sea stacks, Blue Flag beaches, and offshore islands, Donegal is a land that feels undiscovered. Last summer, scenes for 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' were filmed on the Inishowen Peninsula. But this area of Ireland is also expecting 2017 to be a big year; there’s an array of reasons to visit, from surfing beaches in Magheroarty and Ballyhiernan Bay to Horn Head – a driving, walking or cycling loop that squeezes the 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way into a 4.5-mile nutshell.

Surfing in Co Donegal. (Ireland's Content Pool)

Surfing in Co Donegal. (Ireland's Content Pool)

Speaking to the Irish Times, editor Pat Riddell said the county deservedly won the magazine's No. 1 place, “We considered many destinations for our Cool List 2017, but we felt Donegal was in a real sweet spot – off-radar and hard to access, but on the cusp of a breakthrough.

“On the one hand, you have big pushes like the Wild Atlantic Way and the recent visit of 'Star Wars'; on the other, you only have to drive a few miles to have a beach or a road completely to yourself.

“It’s a warm-hearted place, but wilderness always feels just a stone’s throw away. And it is wilderness . . . world-class wilderness. We think it’s due a big year.”

It was an announcement that particularly pleased Orla Carroll who works with Fáilte Ireland promoting the west coast: “One of our key objectives for 2017 will be to boost visitor growth in the northwest stretch of the coastal route.

"We know Donegal is cool and now we’re delighted that the rest of the world is hearing the same.”

Malin Head, Co Donegal. (Ireland's Content Pool)

Malin Head, Co Donegal. (Ireland's Content Pool)

* Originally published in 2017, last updated in May 2021.

Travel facebook
Traveling to Ireland

Are you planning a vacation in Ireland? Looking for advice or want to share some great memories? Join our Irish travel Facebook group.