Official Sightseeing
Tours of Scotland since 1907

Panoramic view of Oban Bay

Oban Gateway to the Isles

If you want a place in Scotland with lots to do, seafood aplenty, and easy access to many other fabulous Scottish locations, we have one word for you: Oban.

Panoramic view of Oban

Oban is located in Argyll and Bute, alongside the Firth of Lorn on the west coast of Scotland. The word Oban has its origins in Gaelic, namely “An t-Òban”, which translates to Little Bay.

Oban is a vital transportation hub between the Scottish mainland and the Hebrides (Inner and Outer). You may also hear of Oban being referred to as the “unofficial capital” of the Western Scottish Highlands… and by the end of this blog, we hope you will be able to see why!

Oban Attractions

When it comes to things to do in Oban, you’ll never be short of places to visit and activities to enjoy. Although we couldn’t cover them all here, we will examine a few of the highlights to pique your interest and hopefully get you started!

McCaig’s Tower

McCaig's Tower from Oban Bay

It would be impossible to visit Oban without coming across the mighty McCaig’s Tower. Sitting proudly atop Battery Hill, a local Oban resident, John Stuart McCaig, built this instantly recognisable landmark towards the end of the 19th century.

Its purpose was to ensure that stonemasons in Oban had work throughout the year (as opposed to just being able to work seasonally), and work continued until the death of McCaig in 1902.

The climb from the town centre to McCaig’s Tower is rewarded with spectacular views over Oban Bay towards the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull. And for those who appreciate a good view, we can also recommend Pulpit Hill.

Dunollie Castle

Dunollie Castle

A trip to Scotland isn’t complete without visiting at least one castle, and Oban doesn’t disappoint. Dunollie Castle is the seat of Clan MacDougall and boasts many woodland walks in the grounds for visitors to enjoy.

You can also spend time at the Dunollie Museum and take in the thousands of artefacts and objects on offer.

Yet one of the main reasons to visit Dunollie Castle (other than to see the Castle Ruins) is to enjoy the views. Oban Bay has never looked so spectacular!

Oban Distillery

Whisky Tasting at Oban Distillery

In the heart of the town is Oban Distillery. However, don’t let the fact that this is a small scotch distillery or one of the smallest Scottish whisky creators fool you. The two stills at this distillery are responsible for creating four Oban whiskies, each with distinct notes and flavours.

Although a wee dram of each is always advisable, the “Oban 14 Years Old” single malt whisky achieved the ultimate status of being one of six classic malts that are representative of the West Highland region back in 1989.

And whether you have one dram or several, you’ll be enjoying the results of a whisky-distilling process that has been perfected for two hundred years. No wonder it tastes so good!

Hebridean Air Services

For something a little different, why not book yourself a tour of Oban… by air? Take to the skies with the Hebridean Air Services. Depart from Oban Airport and enjoy unrivalled views of all this Scottish town has to offer.

Seafood Eateries

Being a seaside town, Oban is also known for its seafood offerings. Sometimes dubbed the “Seafood Capital of Scotland”, it’s no surprise that when you type the search term “Oban seafood” into Google, you’ll get back over half a million results!

Oban Seafood Hut

The number 1 spot for seafood restaurants on Tripadvisor is taken by the “Oban Seafood Hut”, which you’ll find on the pier near the ferry terminal. It's the ideal place to grab some delicious seafood as you explore.

If you’re looking for a seafood experience, you won’t forget, why not book a table at The Pierhouse Hotel? Found in the Michelin Guide, this is a truly decadent way to enjoy your seafood when you visit Oban. 

Then there is Ee-Usk, a creation by the MacLeod family, which takes advantage of all the delicious fresh seafood in the region, with amazing views over Oban Bay to enjoy as you eat.

There are so many different eateries to try in Oban, too many to list here… all we can say is to set lots of time aside for eating and drinking on your trip!

Ferries from Oban

Ferries berthed in Oban

One of the best ways to travel across Scotland is by ferry. If you aren’t familiar with the term “island hopping”, let us introduce you. Oban is ideally situated to enable you to jump on a Caledonian MacBrayne (affectionately known as CalMac here in Scotland) ferry to explore some famous Scottish islands near and far.

A day trip from Oban to Mull and Iona is an easy option. Take the ferry to Craignure, hop on a coach for a spectacular drive through Mull, and then catch a second ferry to the little island of Iona, where you can explore the ancient Abbey, Nunnery and stunning beaches.

Hebridean Voyages

If you want to venture further afield, there are regular services to Coll, famous for its unspoilt beaches and Tiree, a windsurfer’s paradise.

If you want to venture further afield, it’s possible to set sail for Barra and South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides.

Things to do near Oban

If you don’t want to journey too far, there are many things to do on Oban’s doorstep, including ancient sites, colourful gardens and historic castles. Here are some of our favourites:

Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle

Immerse yourself in the storied past of Dunstaffnage Castle, a majestic fortress perched on Scotland’s coast. Built circa 1220, it’s among the oldest stone castles, echoing tales of Clan MacDougall and Clan Campbell.

King Robert the Bruce seized the castle in 1308, and it remained under Royal control for over 150 years. In 1746, Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape “over the sea to Skye”, was held here before being transferred to the Tower of London.  

Explore the ruins, chapel, and gatehouse, open daily, and let the panoramic sea views transport you through time.

Scotland’s Birthplace

Kilmartin Glen

For those of you who love your history, you’ll want to go back in time with a trip to Kilmartin Glen. This is where ancient Scottish Kings were crowned and is an archaeologist’s dream, with over 350 sites to explore that are both prehistoric and historic.

From standing stones to burial cairns, there is so much to explore here.

Arduaine Gardens

Step into the enchanting world of Arduaine Garden, a botanical paradise on Scotland’s rugged coast. Spanning twenty acres, this garden is a treasure trove of exotic plants, from tender rhododendrons to vibrant azaleas and magnolias. Revel in the year-round beauty with a visit to the cliff-top viewpoint, offering breathtaking vistas over the Sound of Jura.

Kilchurn Castle

Kilchurn Castle

This 15th-century ruin on the shores of Loch Awe was once the stronghold of the Campbells of Glenorchy and has witnessed the rise and fall of one of Scotland's most powerful clans. Kilchurn Castle was transformed from a comfortable residence to a garrison fortress during the Jacobite Risings. 

Visitors can explore the tower house, barracks and chapel. There are stunning views of the surrounding landscape to enjoy while experiencing the charm and mystery of one of Scotland's most photographed castles.

Ben Cruachan

Ben Cruachan is more than just a mountain. It is a marvel of engineering and a testament to human ingenuity. At 1,126 metres, it is the highest peak in Argyll and Bute, offering stunning views of Loch Awe and Loch Etive. But inside its granite heart lies a secret: a massive power station that harnesses the power of water to generate electricity for Scotland.

Visit Ben Cruachan, the Hollow Mountain, and discover how this incredible feat of engineering was achieved. Explore the kilometre-long tunnel, see the giant turbines, and learn about the history and future of renewable energy in Scotland.

Explore Oban and the Western Highlands with Scottish Tours

Discover the many delights of Oban for yourself on a one-day tour from Edinburgh or Glasgow.

If you have more time, Oban and the picturesque Western Highlands are featured in several multi-day tours, such as the popular 5-day Road to the Isles itinerary.

Click here to see all our Scotland Tours. Book today.