Donegal has been named by National Geographic Traveller (UK) as No. 1 place for 2017 in it’s an annual “Cool List” of recommendations for people who love to travel. Among plenty of 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 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."
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 north west 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.”
If this inspires you to plan a trip to Donegal, check out our top five places to visit in County Donegal.