Athlone’s beauty is intrinsically linked to the water that surrounds it, from the fast-flowing Shannon to the sun-dappled shores of Lough Ree. Cruising this part of the island is all about long, lazy days stopping off at lakeside restaurants, drifting past mystical islands where Vikings defended forts and monks founded monasteries, and enjoying the thriving wildlife that gives the lake and river a mesmeric appeal.
Take a trip on the lough
There’s a very good reason travellers seek out Lough Ree and the Shannon – the waters here are truly beautiful, with quiet moments of shimmering grace giving way to the vast majesty of Ireland’s longest river. Justly popular as a cruising destination, the area is also home to a wonderful array of pleasure-boat trips that offer civilised, scenic and relaxed on-the-water experiences.
A great bet for relaxed day trips along the Shannon is the River Run Pleasure Cruiser, with a comfortable interior that’s enclosed, heated and even has a bar! For something a little special, book in for a trip with Viking Tours Ireland. This gorgeous replica Viking Ship follows the route the Vikings took from Athlone to Clonmacnoise back in the 9th century. It’s a magical, evocative and memorable way to arrive at this monastic site and owner Michael McDonnell will keep you entertained throughout with his knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for the area.
Or try out Barracuda Boat Trips, which offers both a slow cruise and an adrenaline-packed, high-speed powerboat experience, as well as fishing trips, evening river taxis and dining cruises.
Adventures on the water
Adventurous types need look no further – this is destination fun. In the summer, the area springs into action with kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and pedal boats, all of which can be rented from Baysports on Lough Ree. It’s the perfect way to connect with nature, reawaken your sense of discovery and be at one with the elements. Baysports also piles on the fun in the summer months with a huge floating waterpark boasting the highest floating waterslide in the world.
Fancy something a bit more high-octane? Head north from Athlone to the River Inny, where white-water kayaking gets the blood pumping.