Nothing gives you an appreciation of the tranquillity of Irish countryside quite like cycling through it, so jump on your bike and take to the Old Rail Trail, a converted railway track that goes along the Athlone to Mullingar Greenway at the heart of Ireland's Ancient East. It's an easy cycle – 11km and about 45 minutes or so, depending on speed – to the village of Moate, where you can tuck into tea and cake at the Tuar Ard coffee shop before your return leg. Back in Athlone, take lunch in the tiny but perfectly formed Fine Wine and Food Co, before crossing the River Shannon for a stroll back in time around Athlone Castle.
As must visits go, Clonmacnoiseis up there with the best! Jump on the Viking Toursboat in Athlone (seasonal), otherwise, it's about a 30-minute drive to the 6th century monastic site. Verdant scenes frame your riverside view, while this seat of medieval learning holds the remains of early saints and ancient kings, including the last high king of Ireland, Rory O'Connor. Back in Athlone, make a dinner date at Thyme Restaurantfor great modern-Irish dishes cooked to perfection.
To get a full appreciation of Athlone's location, wildlife and connection to the river, simply stroll along the banks as the sun rises or head to the Luan Galleryand check out its latest contemporary collection, while admiring the expansive river views it enjoys as its backdrop.
It's worth nipping into St Peter and Paul's Church (often called Athlone Cathedral) – just opposite the Luan – to gaze at the Harry Clarke Studios stained glass windows, which illuminate the interior. Then, once again, head back to the river towards the shopping centre for lunch at the acclaimed Fatted Calf.
After lunch, make your way for around 14km along Lough Ree and you'll come to Warren Point Looped Walk, which brings you through woodland and along the shores of the lough on a historic trail. Keep watch for the remains of an Anglo-Norman castle and the walled town of Rindoon. Heading back in the direction of Athlone, drop into the Derryglad Folk Museumfor a whirlwind tour through Ireland's folk history…
It's history of a different kind at Sean's Barin Athlone, reputed to be the oldest pub in Ireland, before dining out at the nearby The Left Bank Bistro.
Whether you want to whoosh down an inflatable slide into the lake, or enjoy a morning paddle boarding or kayaking, Baysports at Hodson Bay should be your go-to for on-the-water fun. You'll have worked up an appetite after that, so head to the Hodson Bay Hotel for a chilled-out lunch in the Waterfront Carvery Bar.
Batteries recharged, it's only a short drive to the Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park in Moate, where you can explore the exceptional history of the area. Stroll through wetlands, pay a visit to the Blacksmith's Forge, find your ancestors or check out the art in the park! In fact, you may want to plan out in advance what parts of the heritage and amenity par, given there are 27 acres to cover and plenty to do in between!
Legs well stretched, detour to the village of Glasson for a pre-dinner drink at the super-charming Grogan's pub, followed by a tasty feast at The Villager. With its buzzing summer pizza garden, this award-winning gastropub is the perfect place to toast the end of your trip.