Oban offers a wide variety of attractions to suit everyone from scenic boat trips to historical sights, museums, castles, restaurants, coffee shops and much much more! Scroll down to discover what Oban has to offer.
Oban is a scenic seaside town on the West Coast of Scotland. The first known inhabitants in Oban have been traced back to the Mesolithic age, as far back as 10,000 years. One of Oban’s oldest sites is Dunollie Castle. Situated on the entrance into Oban bay, the castle can be traced back to the Early Middle Ages. Oban was little more than a natural harbour up until 1793, when John and Hugh Stevenson arrived. The Stevenson brothers transformed the fortunes of Oban by building a distillery, which is still situated at the heart of the town. The town was then spurred on again in 1880 with the arrival of the railway which was vital in exporting Oban’s whiskey and seafood. These key events helped to transform Oban into a thriving town.
The name Oban translates from Gaelic as ‘little bay’. A natural harbour sheltered by the island of Kerrera, the town is known as ‘Gateway to the Isles’ and boasts numerous connections to the islands on the West Coast. From Mull, Lismore and Kerrera which are in close proximity to Oban and also others slightly further afield including Coll, Tiree and Barra. With daily ferries to the islands from Oban it makes the town an ideal base for island hoping.
Oban is the ‘Seafood capital of Scotland’, with local fishing boats based in the town catching a variety of fish and shellfish. This can be sampled widely across the town from on-the-go establishments situated meters away from the fishing boats that have landed the catch to restaurants offering both the outstanding seafood and a comfortable setting. Oban showcases the quality of seafood the West Coast of Scotland has to offer.
Oban’s most notable feature is McCaig’s tower which overlooks the town. The tower was commissioned by local banker John Stuart McCaig. Work began on erecting the tower in 1897 and continued until his death in 1902. McCaig’s tower was constructed to provide work for local stonemasons in the area, due to lack of work and used local Bonawe Granite. It is thought that the tower was intended to be a museum or gallery dedicated to McCaig’s family but due to his death the structure was not completed. The structure boasts similarities to Greek and Roman structures, including the colosseum in Rome.
A visit to McCaig’s tower provides panoramic views over Oban bay, across the Firth of Lorn and of the islands of Mull, Kerrera and Lismore. The stunning views from the tower make the climb up Battery Hill worthwhile.
The distillery is situated in the heart of Oban and was established by brothers Hugh and John Stevenson in 1794. This brought prosperity to the town as at the time of their arrival, the town was relatively small and undeveloped. Oban is one of the oldest and smallest distilleries in Scotland. The distillery offers tours which provide an insight into the production of their whiskey.
St Columba's Cathedral stands on the East side of Oban. Built by Sir Giles Gilbert, the cathedral is a blend of Gothic and Romanesque styles. The interior of the building has impressive wide-open spaces giving a sense of the importance of the cathedral to the locals.
Oban’s location is ideal for those who like to explore the great outdoors as it is located close to some of Scotland's most scenic and iconic sights, with many picturesque coastal walks close to the town.
If you are looking for something more challenging there is Ben Cruachan. The Munro is the highest point in Argyll and is a 25-minute drive from Oban. The summit offers stunning views across Argyll. Also known as the “hollow mountain”, Ben Cruachan was partially excavated to house a large hydroelectric power station which opened in 1965.
Situated 50 minutes from Oban, Glen Coe is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and variety of climbing routes to suit all abilities. The area boasts some of the best climbing in Scotland but the scenery alone makes a visit worthwhile.
The town of Fort William is situated 1 hour and 10 minutes north of Oban and is located at the foot of the highest point in the UK, Ben Nevis. Ben Nevis is part of the Grampian Mountains which attracts climbers to the area to take on some of the challenging peaks. In addition to climbing, Fort William is widely known for offering an array of outdoor activities, including mountain biking and motorcycle trails. It’s an ideal visit for those looking for a thrill-seeking activity.
If you want to explore the West Coast of Scotland further and see what else it offers we recommend a trip with Staffa Tours. The tours depart from Tobermory and Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull and from the Isle of Iona. The tours visit the unique and breathtaking island of Staffa, home to the infamous Fingal’s cave.
Experience the cave that has attracted many visitors, including Queen Victoria and Felix Mendelssohn, to this remote island. Some tours also visit the Island of Lunga. This is home to vast seabird colonies during their breeding season and includes the puffin which can be seen in abundance on the island. On route to the islands, sea life is also plentiful with regular visits from dolphins, whales and basking sharks. Staffa tours provide scenic and wildlife-rich tours for those wanting to explore the islands on the West Coast of Scotland.
This popular wildlife cruise leaves from the picturesque town of Tobermory, an easily accessible location with great transport links and commodities making it the heart of Mull. As well as travelling via Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan on mainland Scotland, this tour provides the perfect destination points to enjoy an excursion suitable for all the family to enjoy.
Oban Sea Tours