Have you decided on your vacation destination for this year yet? It's always such a difficult choice but we've brought you some help with some prize picks from National Geographic's list of the coolest places to visit in 2017.
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 Magheraroarty 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.
Located right next to Donegal castle, the Abbey Hotel is a great base for exploring the town and the amazing surrounding area.
Rooms from $64 (special offer) on booking.com
British Airways launches flights to Chile’s sophisticated capital in January and it’s a hive of activity for 2017, with hotels opening in heritage buildings (such as the new Hotel Magnolia in El Centro) and the reopening of one of the city’s magnificent palaces, Palacio Cousiño — closed since it was damaged by the 2010 earthquake.
The Magnolia Hotel offers a wonderful city centre location and you'll love its elegant vintage-inspired decor.
Rooms from $152 on booking.com
Done Copenhagen? Seen Stockholm? It’s Helsinki’s time for travel love. The world’s second-most northerly capital does both freezing, fairytale winters and bright, leafy summers — so visitors can choose between two very different trips. Are you a cosy cafe and steamy sauna kind of person, or do you prefer bright nights, waterside vibes and midsummer parties? Whenever you arrive, expect to find cutting-edge design, a lava-hot Nordic food scene (start your day with breakfast in the renovated Old Market Hall), surprising Art Nouveau architecture and good coffee as standard.
Why wouldn't you want to stay in a 1900's Art Nouveau castle? The Glo Hotel Art is stunning inside and out and right in the most popular district of Helsinki for visitors.
Rooms from $200 on booking.com
Cruises have been dipping into Greenland for a few years now, but the world’s largest island is beginning to feel established rather than experimental as more and more companies include it on 2017 itineraries. Covered in vast glaciers and largely uninhabited, Greenland is carving a niche as an adventure destination. But the likes of dog-sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are complemented by boat tours around towering icebergs, Inuit cultural experiences and some of the best spots in the world to watch the Northern Lights.
Make it a real adventure with a stay in the Idglo Guest House in a welcoming fishing village in Southern Greenland.
Rooms from $115 on booking.com
British Airways launched direct flights to Lima last summer, where a burgeoning food and culture scene means it’s now a standalone city break. Rafael Osterling (of Miraflores’ Rafael fame) opened El Mercado recently — a simple farm-to-table restaurant rooted in Peruvian cuisine — and darling of the jet-set Jaime Pesaque will open Mayta in 2017. The capital’s hotel scene is blossoming: new openings include Casa Republica in Pacific-edged Barranco, opening in February and the Atemporal ‘hotelito’ in Miraflores. In May, Belmond’s Andean Explorer train will ply its route from Cusco to Arequipa and the ‘second Machu Picchu’, pre-Incan fortress Kuelap, will get more accessible with the imminent opening of a cable-car. LATAM’s new flights from Lima to Jaén, meanwhile, are opening up the north of the country.
Stay in the north of the country in Jaén to access the heart of the peruvian jungle. The Urqu Hotel Boutique is the ideal base.
Rooms from $56 on booking.com
Aarhus is having a 12-month stint in the spotlight as European Capital of Culture 2017. There’ll be performances by the Royal Danish Theatre; performances at the Musikhuset concert hall that include ballet, opera and musical theatre interpretations of three of Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier’s movies; and paintings and installations spanning The Garden — a three-mile visual trail that will curve through the centre and along the coast, examining man’s relationship with nature. There’s also Urban Mediaspace Aarhus, a grand revitalisation of the waterside; Godsbanen, a former railway warehouse reborn as bars and eateries; and Substans, one of three Michelin-starred restaurants in the city.
Want to stay within spitting distance of a beach? The Marselis Hotel sits right on Aarhus Bay.
Rooms from $195 on booking.com
2017 is a hugely symbolic year for Canada — it’s the 150th anniversary of the Confederation, with celebrations including a tall ships fleet sailing along the coast in July, and summer-long events in Charlottetown, where the movement started. But this is a year of openings as well as commemoration — from the zip-line along the gorge edge at Niagara Falls to a ‘seafood trail’ launching in Nova Scotia, and a new UNESCO World Heritage Site in Labrador, Mistaken Point. Add in free national park entry all year, Montréal’s 375th anniversary and the Invictus Games taking place in Toronto in September and it’s clear there’s never been a better time to go.
Montreal is fabulous any year, any time. stay in the Hotel Bonaventure in the heart of downtown and don't miss a minute of the best French-Canadian action.
Rooms from $235 on booking.com
The high temple of American hipsterism has long been the most appealing US city without a direct flight from the UK. That changes in May, when Delta launches a direct route to Portland from Heathrow. It’s a city that has encouraged small-scale enterprise to flourish, leading to a scene where virtually everyone seems to run a food truck, roast their own coffee, brew craft beer or dabble in small-batch distilling. As a result, it’s a far better city for grazing than sightseeing — although it’s the gateway to Oregon, perhaps the most underrated state in the Union.
Being just 11 minutes walk from the beach, 10 minutes from Providence Park and only 3 blocks from the Art Museum, the Paramount Hotel is in a prime downtown location.
rooms from $220 on booking.com
With 2017 sandwiched between the release of two Jungle Book films, now’s the time to really get to know India’s wildlife, particularly its tiger. Earlier this year, a global census revealed tiger numbers had grown for the first time in over a century, with over half of these living in India — what’s more, Indian Railways and IRCTC have just launched the Tiger Express train to help visitors to Madhya Pradesh glimpse their own Shere Khan.
The Tiger Woods Resort and Spa is perfect for excursion into the Kahna Tiger Reserve.
Rooms from $115 on booking.com
South Africa is great value for money, with the rand keeping prices on the ground remarkably low. Wildlife is the obvious reason for going, particularly its accessible Big Five game parks. It’s also possible to go swimming with seals at Plettenberg Bay, observe meerkats in Oudtshoorn, and coo at penguins on the beach in Cape Town. There’s been a much-needed increase in airlift, with British Airways and Thomas Cook launching seasonal flights from Gatwick. Meanwhile, Johannesburg’s downtown renewal projects have had a startlingly positive effect. The likes of the Apartheid Museum tell the horrors of the 20th century, but modern Soweto tells a grand, post-Mandela, poverty-to-prosperity tale, where the black middle-classes have stayed in their townships rather than fleeing to wealthy neighbourhoods.
Right on the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, the Commodore Hotel is at the heart of the action and gives easy access to all the joys and charms of Cape Town.
Rooms from $210 on booking.com
With the 150th anniversary of the Maori Representation Act next year, New Zealand is turning the spotlight on its roots — a new museum at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds (where the Maori’s land ownership was recognised in 1840) opened earlier this year. The British and Irish Lions return in 2017 — their first visit to New Zealand in 12 years and the biggest sporting event in NZ since the Rugby World Cup in 2011. With 10 matches over June and July across seven host cities — from Whangarei to Dunedin — you can see the sights while cheering on your team.
2 minutes from the beach and the wonderful activities of the Bay of Island's, the Bounty Motel is perfect for a seaside vacation and close to the Maori celebrations.
Rooms from $75 on booking.com
While South Korea will spend much of the next 12 months preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it will get an early boost before then with the opening in late 2017 of the Seoul Skygarden — a former bypass converted into a half-mile stretch of raised urban garden, replete with cafes, performance spaces and shops. Seoul’s answer to New York’s High Line is the latest of several high-profile projects to have transformed the Korean capital into one of Asia’s greenest cities.
A visit to one of the world's most exciting capital cities deserves a top-notch hotel like the Sheraton Seoul Palace in the Gangnam district.
Rooms from $140 on booking.com
Düsseldorf is among the best short-range weekend break destinations, with deep historical roots in the art world. A 2016 newcomer, the Philara Collection opened in a former glass factory. Exhibits focus on contemporary art gathered by collector Gil Bronner over a couple of decades, with a new rooftop sculpture terrace coming in 2017. The nearby Flingern neighbourhood has several smaller galleries. Major exhibitions for 2017 include Lucas Cranach the Elder at the Kunstpalast (8 April to 30 July). Meanwhile, one of Europe’s coolest art spaces, Kunst im Tunnel is a single elliptical gallery in a former traffic underpass below the pedestrianised Rhine promenade. Summer dates for the 2017 diary include the Tour de France’s Grand Départ (1–2 July) and the biggest funfair on the Rhine (14–23 July).
As a European business hub, Dusseldorf is packed with 4 and 5* hotels but you can find a more intimate, warm and friendly welcome at the family-run Hotel Schaum, just 10 minutes from the central station.
Rooms from $203 booking.com
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