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Best overseas destinations for 2017

Associated Press logo Associated Press 24/12/2016 Beth J Harpaz

Where should you travel in 2017? Maybe you want to witness the US solar eclipse, take advantage of great exchange rates abroad or get in on the hoopla for big anniversaries in places like Alaska, Germany, Canada or Finland. Perhaps you're looking for a Zika-free beach or a destination unscathed by terrorism.

EVENTS AND ANNIVERSARIES

On August 21, a total eclipse of the sun lasting for more than two minutes will darken afternoon skies across a narrow strip of the United States stretching from South Carolina to Oregon. Nashville is one of the cities that will experience the phenomenon along with a number of national parks. Hotels in many eclipse destinations are sold out.

All eyes are on Washington DC for Donald Trump's January 20 inauguration. An anti-Trump protest billed as a Women's March is scheduled for January 21. While you're in DC, check out the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Timed passes for the museum are essential.

In June, Bermuda hosts the America's Cup sailing race. Just don't think of Bermuda as the Caribbean. It's over 1,500km north of Puerto Rico and too chilly for ocean swimming in January. On the plus side, Bermuda is Zika-free, and its famous Hamilton Princess hotel - aka the Pink Palace - is newly renovated.

Alaska celebrates the 150th anniversary of its transfer from Russia to the US in 2017 along with the centennial of Denali National Park. Alaska cruises, which provide an easy introduction to the 49th state, offer a great introduction.

Canada celebrates 150 years since its colonies were united under the Canadian Confederation, and Montreal marks its 375th anniversary. Don't forget the country's national parks and wild places. Frommer's Travel Guides have singled out the British Columbia archipelago Haida Gwaii, recently visited by Prince William and Kate.

With exhibits, tours and more, Germany marks 500 years since Martin Luther's "95 Theses" critique of the Catholic Church, which launched the Protestant Reformation.

Finland marks 100 years since independence from Russia in 2017. Go for the Northern Lights, design innovation in cool Helsinki, folk culture and saunas.

In Russia, 2017 marks 100 years since the revolution that toppled the tsar and led to the rise of communism. The date was once a major state holiday but today it's a divisive subject, no longer glorified as it once was. With Vladimir Putin's connections to Trump making headlines, some Americans may want to see Putinland firsthand. But visas for Russia can be complicated without help from a travel agency, though there's talk of simplifying the process.

DESTINATION DARLINGS

As concerns about terrorism cast shadows on destinations like France and Turkey, other destinations are coming into the spotlight. Portugal is having a moment, turning up on lots of go-to lists. It's safe and affordable with great food, wine and soulful fado music. The pope visits in May to mark the centennial of a miracle in the town of Fatima, where three children had a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1917.

The value of the British pound has weakened in the wake of Brexit, making the United Kingdom more affordable for many international travellers.

Last tango in Cuba? Some folks want to go now, afraid Trump will restrict travel there. Others are postponing booking, waiting to see what happens.

Mexico remains a top destination for Americans, from cheap spring breaks in Cancun to cultural attractions in places like Oaxaca. But if you're avoiding Latin America and the Caribbean because of Zika, consider Hawaii or Greece.

Tourism to Japan is booming but it's not just Tokyo. Hokkaido, an island known for skiing, turned up on Afar and Lonely Planet lists.

Cape Town, South Africa, is being recommended by Fodor's, Travel and Leisure and Lonely Planet, with a spotlight on the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in September. Exchange rates make it a bargain right now.

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