From centuries-old pubs to a booming restaurant scene, Athlone is a bustling, vibrant destination surrounded by some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Ireland…
Athlone is a town layered with little surprises. As you wander the streets around the left bank, duck down quiet alleys or amble the leafy paths along the River Shannon, you get the sense of a place rooted both to its past and to the waters that flow through it. Explore the nature trail along the Shannon banks, gaze upstream and it doesn't take much to imagine Brian Boru and his army appearing through the watery mists back in 1001… Beneath the calm, you can almost hear the echo of centuries defined by sieges and raids, battles and attacks.
It's this feeling of history being by your side that gives Athlone its unique appeal: old town walls sit next to modern architecture; new craft beers are served in ancient pubs; and a 12th century castle stands guard over a gleaming new contemporary art gallery. In the vibrant left bank of town, medieval history forms a fascinating backdrop to streets lined with everything from chat-filled traditional pubs to a super little Lebanese restaurant called Al Mezza. It's pure charm.
As you'd expect from such a buzzy hub, Athlone's magnetism keeps you entertained with a rush of great things to do, but venture beyond town and you're into some of the most picturesque liquid landscapes in Ireland…
A short hop north and the Shannon opens into vast Lough Ree, a natural playground that's as rich in wildlife as it is in history. Here, secret islands harboured Vikings and holy men while today the lough is a magnet for pleasure-seekers from kayakers to foodies. Moor up at points along the way, and you access glorious woodland walks, stylish restaurants and atmospheric old pubs where days drift into night beside the glow of an open fire.
Head south and you're into the majesty of the mid-Shannon. Beneath a seemingly endless sky, soft smudges of green, rippling blue waters and pale reeds create a feeling of pure escape, while the spellbinding monastic site of Clonmacnoise keeps the past close to the surface.