Athlone in Winter: Whiskey, Water Taxi and Walking

Medieval Athlone is one of those towns that shines out of season with enticing experiences to attract visitors at every time of year. It’s at the heart of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. It’s easy to get to, close to Dublin and is a veritable cornucopia of activities to do, places to go and things to see. Take a trip to Athlone and you’ll be a convert to this enchanting town.

Taking to the water might not be top of your list at this time of year, but Athlone offers something you just might find very appealing indeed – immersing yourself in a floating hot tub with a glass of bubbly in hand as you cruise down the River Shannon. Or hop aboard Ireland’s only water taxi and arrive in style for your night out. The river taxi runs between Athlone town and various points at Glasson and Hodson Bay including several hotels. 

Add in award winning restaurants, cafés and pubs plus some serious options for retail therapy and it’s easy to see why Athlone is top of the short break stakes. The quality of accommodation is outstanding, both in the town and in the scenic Shannonside hideaways of Glasson and Hodson Bay. Glasson Golf Club designed by Christy O’Connor Junior is both scenic and challenging. 

Award winning restaurants abound in Athlone and the surrounding area. The choice is very broad, from fine dining to ethnic fare and a more casual experience. Check out Thyme with its coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand, The Fatted Calf, The Left Bank and Kin Khao or The Villager in lovely Glasson village where time seems to stand still. 

Park up the car in the historic town core and everything you could possibly need is within easy reach. Shopping is a real pleasure with all the high street brands a teenager’s heart could desire as well as beautiful traditional department stores and specialist shops. A wonderful selection of eateries is just around the corner and towering Athlone Castle stands guard over the River Shannon as it has for centuries. It’s open for tours and is well worth the visit. Next door the Luan Gallery showcases national and international artists in an incomparable riverside setting.

Historic Athlone hides many secrets within its ancient streets and Vincent of Athlone Guided Tours knows every single one. His 90-minute tour through the winding medieval core is a fascinating insight into the town’s history, folklore, military and industrial heritage.

On the wonderfully named Custume Quay lies Athlone’s only brewery. Dead Centre Brewing offer a combined experience including brewery tour, beer tasting and pizza. Now there’s a combination that’s hard to resist.  

If whiskey is more your style, visiting Kilbeggan Distillery is an exceptional experience. Founded in 1757, the tour is a journey through Ireland’s oldest distillery with its iconic waterwheel and steam engine. A tasting of three whiskeys on the viewing platform concludes this special experience. Real whiskey lovers will adore the Bottle Your Own experience, allowing you to bring hope a truly unique souvenir. 

8/06/2013 Kilbeggan Distillery Photography. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

Or take a day trip out of town with Heart of Ireland tours who offer bespoke, ready to go and customisable day and multi-day tours for you to start your adventure and explore Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. 

Athlone really is the leading staycation destination in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Try it and see. 

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