Donegal, Ireland Is Named The 'Coolest' Place On The Planet, And Here's Why

Slieve League; County Donegal, Ireland
Slieve League; County Donegal, Ireland | © Tony Webster/Flickr
Alexia Wulff

Every year, National Geographic compiles a list of the world’s coolest destinations: ‘culture capitals, hipster hotspots, wild escapes and places generally keeping it cool’. It just released the Cool List for 2017, and who tops the chart at number one? None other than wildly beautiful Donegal.
Undiscovered nooks and crannies of the Earth always have a unique charm. Whether it’s because of the windswept deserted beaches, small-town folk, or vast untouched landscapes, uncovering new places in the world is far beyond magical. But what makes Donegal extra special is its ‘weather-nibbled coast spotted with sea stacks, Blue Flag beaches and offshore islands’. Marked by rugged coastline and verdant rolling hills, Donegal is not so much of an undiscovered land, but one filled with a rich history that’s beginning to make a comeback. Last summer, scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII were filmed on the rolling hills of the Inishowen Peninsula.

Greencastle, County Donegal, Ireland
Donegal: on the way to Malin head

But there’s more to Donegal than its striking landscapes. There are beaches aplenty – Magheroarty, Ballyhiernan Bay – prime for surfing; historical treasures like castles and fortresses; and Glenveagh National Park, a natural preserve of lakes, woodlands, raised boglands, forests, and mountains. And should you seek to bask in the remarkable vision that is Wild Atlantic Way – a tourist trail that hugs the cliffside overlooking the Atlantic – there’s a ‘short-cut’ version at Horn Head – a 4.5-mile loop that is open for driving, walking and cycling.

Inishbofin, Donegal

Other cities included on the list are Santiago, Chile, which came in second, followed by Finland‘s Helsinki, Greenland, Peru, and Denmark‘s Aarhus.

Donegal, Ireland
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article