Family Outdoor Activities in Athlone

Located beside the River Shannon and with a rich medieval history, Athlone is a great location for family activities both indoors and outdoors. Here we look at some of the family outdoor activities in the town...

The Old Rail Trail Greenway

A challenging but rewarding experience for older kids and teens who are confident cyclists, this trail either starts or ends in Athlone, with Mullingar Town at the other end of the trail. The path consists of arched bridges and tunnels, and cyclists are surrounded by the lush green tones of the plants and grasses either side of the trail.

You can stop off at Moate to visit the Dun Na Si Amenity and Heritage Park, with a lovely playground, sensory garden, and a chance to refuel. You can hire bikes, including helmets and bike locks, from Buckley Bikes in Athlone.

Lough Key Forest Park

Less than an hour’s easy drive north of Athlone, Lough Key Forest Park offers adventure for the entire family. You can walk among the treetops on Ireland’s only canopy walk or sail through the trees at speed on ziplines at Ireland’s first high-wire aerial forest adventure.

You can hire a bike for a traffic-free cycle through the Forest Park, a distance of about eight kilometres, or head for the hills on an electric bike to explore.

Lough Key also offers a one-hour boat tour where you can experience the history and tranquillity that Lough Key and for younger children, there’s a chance to drive their own mini jeep across a specially designed trail with little wooden bridges in an enclosed area so they cannot drive off into the woods.

The Old Rail Trail Greenway

Be a Viking for the day as you sail with Viking Mike in a 21-metre long replica Viking Knarr up north for about 75 minutes to Lough Ree, the Lake of the Kings, or down south for 90 minutes along the River Shannon to Clonmacnoise, the most famous monastic site in Ireland.

Along the way, hear about Viking battles and history while enjoying the spectacular scenery and wildlife. With sailings every day from the quayside at Athlone Castle - weather and water levels permitting – this is a great way to get the family out on the water. Sails usually end the first weekend of November before starting again in the Spring.

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Athlone Equestrian Centre

Just out of town, the Athlone Equestrian Centre offers treks through the beautiful Moydrum forest for riders of all abilities, including an excellent cross-country course along woodland paths beneath a canopy of trees and passing the historical remains of Moydrum Castle.

Horses and ponies are carefully chosen by the instructors to meet the needs of your family, with staff considering factors such as ability, age and confidence levels. Treks, which must be booked in advance, include the use of helmets, boots, and body protectors.

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Belvedere Parkland Bat Walks

In collaboration with Bat Conservation Ireland, Belvedere Parkland offers illustrated talks on Bats, dispelling all of the myths and detailing just how marvellous these tiny mammals really are is followed by a guided bat walk with use of Bat Boxes (which allows you to hear the bats, hunt, and communicate with each other) around Belvedere parkland.

This is great for children and adults, though the walk is weather permitting since bats are rarely out in the wet or cold. Entry is free, with donations if desired to Bat conservation Ireland.

Shannon Banks Nature Trail Walk

This unique nature trail walk starts at the quay wall at the rear of Athlone Castle and covers a distance of about five kilometres. It is a looped bi-directional walk which takes you along the banks of the River Shannon and then for some part along the old Athlone Canal before returning to the river bank along the grassy Big Meadow which supports a surprising diversity of wildlife.

There are four information boards along the trail detailing flora, fauna, wildlife and fish. See if you can spot the bat houses and bat boxes on the trail and look out for Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Coot and Grey Heron on the old canal route.