Athlone is a large town roughly in the middle of the Shannon Navigation and from here you can head north or south, or a bit of both. Athlone is one of the largest towns on the river with shopping centres, plenty of pubs and restaurants and a golf course. Athlone Castle is now a visitors centre and was refurbished in 2013 and is open to the public. Athlone is the only place on the river where you have to pay for mooring as the mooring is supervised.
Past Athlone is Lough Ree and Glasson is about an hours cruise, a beautiful village known as 'the village of the roses'. There are a couple of good restaurants and pubs here. Glasson is also home to one of the best golf courses on the Shannon. You can moor your boat at Hodson Bay where you can have lunch or dinner in the Hodson Bay Hotel. You can moor your boat at the villages of Portrunny and Lecarrow while traversing the lake.
Two Hours from Glasson is Lanesborough/Ballyleague on the northern tip of Lough Ree. This town straddles the Shannon and the western side is Ballyleague in Roscommon and the eastern side is Lanesboro in Longford. There's a power station in Lanesborough and the hot water stretch just before Lough Ree is famous for fishing but note that stands are in great demand. This is the end of navigation for barges as they can't traverse the Lake.
The next town along the way is Tarmonbarry, with two good restaurants and one pub just after the lock. When you pass through Tarmonbarry Lock you can turn off for Clondra, at the end of the Royal Canal navigation.
About two hours from Tarmonbarry is Roosky with four pubs, one of which does Chinese food. There's a good supermarket here right on the waterside and nice mooring along the river as far as Roosky lock.
Dromod is less than an hour from Roosky. Dromod always does well in the national tidy towns competition and has a picturesque harbour on Lough Bofin. There's a restaurant right at the harbour and two pub/restaurants in the village, all good quality.
Heading North from Dromod the next town is Jamestown, about an hours cruising. Jamestown was once a fortified town and you can still see the remains of the fortification walls. There are two pubs here although one only opens sometimes, and a very good restaurant, the Cottage, about 10 minutes walk from the mooring.
If you like a bit of isolation and cruising then visit Kilglass and Grange lakes on the way down. There a nice pub at the end of Grange Lake called the Silver Eel. Kilglass Lake is home to Shannon River Adventure, and adventure centre with kayaking, canoeing, archery and other land and water based activities. There's a pub close to the adventure centre called the Kon Tiki but food isn't served.
Next is Carrick-on-Shannon, a vibrant town where both Carrick Craft and Emerald Star have bases. I can recommend Carrick Quads, about 40 minutes on a quad bike over courses of various difficulties. There are some good restaurants and pubs here and pretty much always music at weekends. There are also a couple of late bars with loud music if you like that sort of thing.
The next village north of Carrick is Leitrim village, less than an hours cruising. From here you head onto the Shannon-Erne waterway all and try some of the automated locks on the way. Leitrim is a quaint village with some good pub/restaurants and a service block although there's limited mooring. There's also an indoor shooting range with air guns and archery.
On the way to Leitrim you can turn off for Lough Key Forest Park, about three hours cruising from Carrick but be aware that there’s one lock on the way up to the lake that closes at 8:30pm in the summer. If you don’t get through the lock there’s a pub beside the marina near Knockvicar. Lough Key has a visitors centre and you could do the Boda Borg or Zip-It. Be aware that everything up here closes at 5:30pm-6pm but there are some nice walks if you decide to spend the night here. You could head up to the Boyle canal and walk into Boyle, about 20-25 minutes walk from the end of navigation.
Cruising Time: 24 Hours, 6 locks