21 beautiful destinations for 2017

National Geographic has just released its annual top 21 places to visit - and we want to see them all. Right NOW.

These handpicked destinations give plenty of food inspiration for anyone thinking about their holiday in 2017.

They fall in to one of three categories: nature, cities and culture. Morocco's bustling markets, Finland's unspoiled beauty and the untamed wilderness of Canada's national parks (pictured above) have all made the cut.

See also: National Geographic Traveller Photo contest winners 2016

See also: Where to go on holiday in 2017

National Geographic Traveler editor in chief George Stone said: "This special issue takes readers on a globe-spinning journey to 21 of the world's best destinations.

"We think this year's list represents a carefully curated selection of forward-leaning places that reveal the bright future of travel.

"This list is all about exploration and discovery. It's not just about where to go, but why to go now and how to make 2017 a year of enlightenment through travel."

See the full list in our slideshow below

National Geographic must-see destinations for 2017
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National Geographic must-see destinations for 2017

Canada’s first national park was discovered on the slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in 1883. Today, Banff is one of the world’s number one destinations, pulling in millions of visitors every year with its range of activities and stunning views.

The South Korean capital offers historic sites dating back to the 14th century and fashionable boutiques for gadget-savvy youths. There are also tiny neighborhoods of traditional cottages to explore, alongside palaces and museums and a 24/7 nightlife.

Discover the natural wonders of the Sea of Cortez on an expedition through the Baja California National Marine Parks. Experience up-close encounters with gray whale mothers and their calves and see bottlenose dolphins before heading on hikes with naturalists or snorkel among sea lions. Pictured: A huge school of Jacks and a diver in the Sea of Cortez.

Via Dinarica is a hiking trail, connecting natural and cultural sights in Dinarids. It is recognized and acknowledged as a great chance and potential for development, especially for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pictured: A hiker on the peak of Matorac in the Dinaric Alps of central Bosnia and Herzegovina,

China's Chengdu city is known for its for it famed specialties: hot-and-sour rice noodles and steamed dumplings, which can be seen being rustled up above in the city's downtown area. Praised as the centre of Sichuan cuisine, foodies should flock to Chengdu in China - 'city of gastronomy'. In the city's surrounding countryside you can also see pandas.

Blanketed in trees and parks, Hamburg is one of Europe’s greenest cities. And the former warehouse district is being transformed into an übermodern place to live, work, and play.

India's stunning national parks feature a host of wildlife - including the tiger - which thanks to these parks is starting to rise in numbers. Although it is rare to see a tiger during a trail, there are often elephants and monkeys to see. Above a four-year-old tigress (Panthera tigris tigris) has returned to the cave where she was born to have her first litter.

Madrid offers a rich range of activities and culture - form 16th-century cobblestoned streets around Plaza Mayor to the über-trendy boutiques of Chueca. Along its glorious boulevard you'll find three of the world’s greatest art museums, including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which exhibits the work of contemporary artists such as Japanese art star Yayoi Kusama.

Historic Moscow, Russia, emerged as a top European city to visit next year. The Russian capital hosts building steeped in communist austerity and laden in capitalist indulgence. The city offers a huge wealth of culture and history, from the city's colourful Red Square to the modern new Moscow-City, the Russian capital is crammed with artistic, historic, and otherwise sacred sites.

Papua New Guinea offers an abundance of beautiful colours and sights on this tropical nation. A patchwork of mountains, jungles, and swamplands, the country is home to some 700 Papuan and Melanesian tribes, each with its own language. Most of the inhabitants are subsistence farmers, although some grow cash crops.

In Switzerland’s Canton Uri, visit in time for the Désalpe festival, which is the cattle’s annual autumn descent from summer mountain pastures. It is the seasonal droving of grazing livestock before winter sets in and is a traditional farming practice thought to date back as far as 3,000 BC. The area also boasts numerous adrenaline-filled activities. In Switzerland’s Canton Uri, visit in time for the Désalpe festival, which is the cattle’s annual autumn descent from summer mountain pastures.

City dwellers may want a chance to disconnect, and tranquil Finland, doused with impossibly picturesque lakes, offers just that.

This almost urban wilderness, tucked in a curve between the ocean and the Chugach foothills, is a favorite stop for migratory birds. Eagles soar overhead while waterfowl nest amid vividly green grasses. Two boardwalks get you closer to the birdlife as well as spawning salmon and wandering moose.

A key Caribbean port of the Spanish from the 16th to 18th centuries, Cartagena is perhaps the finest colonial city in the Western Hemisphere and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999, about 50 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. This site currently occupies 183 square miles, it contains a complex of limestone caves, including the Sterkfontein Caves. The area is filled with archaeological wonders.

The cool Cloud Forests are more lush and cooler than lowland Rainforests. These natural wonders offer an incredible view into Ecuador's wildlife.

The American state offers lively cities, a relaxing coastline and breathtaking mountain scenery. Within the beautiful skyline of Atlanta you’ll have access to the world’s largest aquarium and even see the world’s largest collection of Coke memorabilia at the World of Coca-Cola. Pictured: Piedmont Park, Atlanta.

Under the natural wonders category, Kauai, Hawaii, is rated highly on the prestigious bucket list. The island, praised for its beautiful performance in Jurassic Park, is coated in incredible canyons, hiking trials and inspiring cliff edges. Pictured: Tourists and visitors gather to watch the sunset at Poipu Beach of Kauai, Hawaii. 

With 7,000 years of history, there is plenty to see in Malta, with its beautiful beaches - like Sliema beach in Valletta (above) - ancient ruins and varied nightlife. The Maltese Islands have been described as one big open-air museum. Pictured: Valletta.

One of the world's most vibrant cities, Marrakech is brimming with incredible gardens, snake charmers, markets and more. You won't run out of things to do in this Moroccan city, and if you want to kick back, the sun shines for most of the year. Marrakech offers a delight for the senses, with hawkers calling out to you and beautiful cloths and food up for grabs there is plenty going on in the North African city.

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