- For other places with the same name, see Oban (disambiguation).
Oban (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Òban) is a town in Argyll and Bute on the northwest coast of Scotland. It's a transport hub and most visitors are passing through on the way to the Hebrides, only staying overnight if ferry / train schedules make that necessary; conversely, Hebrideans come here for shopping and other necessities. The main reason to regard Oban as a destination in its own right is for sea sports, including kayaking, scuba-diving, wildlife-watching and fishing. It also has great local sea food.
The main ferries from Oban are to Lismore, Mull, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree and Barra. There are also several little Islands of Loch Linnhe, so close to shore that they're effectively outlying districts of Oban, and that are therefore described on this page. These are Kerrara, Seil, Easdale, Luing and Scarba.
The TIC is 1 Oban iCentre on North Pier. It's generally open Nov-Mar 10:00-17:00, Apr-Oct 09:00-18:00, Sunday hours shorter.
- Glasgow Airport (GLA IATA) is closest and has a good range of UK & European flights. Hiring a car, turn west onto M8 then cross Erskine Bridge to join A82 north. By public transport you could go into central Glasgow for the bus or train to Oban. But you can save some time by taking a taxi from the airport to Dumbarton Central station, where the Oban trains and buses stop: reckon £20-25. (They don't stop at Dumbarton East station.)
- By car Edinburgh Airport (EDI IATA) doesn't take much longer and has more destinations. It's west of the city so you turn straight onto M9 north.
- 1 Oban Airport (OBN IATA) (at Connel). This has Hebrideanair flights from the islands of Coll, Colonsay, Islay and Tiree. This is basically an airborne school bus service, using BNF Islanders, with a 10-kg total baggage limit. Oban has no flights from the mainland UK network.
Trains from Glasgow Queen Street run up The West Highland Line to Oban, taking 3 hours 10 min, via Dumbarton Central and Crianlarich. They're every three hours or so M-Sa, with the first running north around 05:20 for 08:30, the last at 18:20 for 21:30. Southbound back to Glasgow the first is around 05:20, the last at 20:30. There's only 3 trains on Sunday.
Scottish Citylink Bus 976 runs from Glasgow Buchanan St to Oban via Dumbarton, Arrochar (on Loch Lomond), Inveraray and Connel, taking 3 hours. Three buses a day run M-Sa, two on Sunday.
Bus 918 runs twice a day M-Sa to Fort William (90 min), with a 20-min connection to the onward bus to Inverness (another 2 hours). No Sunday service.
Calmac car ferries ply regularly from Oban to Lismore, Mull, Coll, Tiree, Colonsay and Barra. There's also a weekly ferry to Islay, but you're better sailing via Kennacraig. See the island pages for details of these and alternative routes. Oban ferry terminal is next to the railway station.
See "Get around" for routes to the nearby islands in Loch Linnhe.
Most sights in town can be reached on foot, but some accommodation is up a fairly steep hill.
West Coast Motors run buses in and around Oban. The only one you're likely to use is the 005 / 405, which runs north hourly M-Sat to Dunbeg (a one mile walk to Dunstaffnage), Connel bridge, Oban Airport, Benderloch and Barcaldine.
Kerrera: Calmac ferries sail from Gallanach, the jetty 3 miles south of Oban, to Kerrara, taking only five mins. There are over a dozen ferries daily, year-round; mid-morning and mid-afternoon they're every 30 min. Visitor cars are not carried and you don't need one; bikes are free but space is limited.
Seil Island is 20 miles south of Oban and connected by a bridge. A lane branches off to Ellenabeich (Bus 418 runs here from Oban four times M-Sa), with a ferry to Easdale. From the south tip of Seil a car ferry makes the 220-yard crossing to the island of Luing every 30 min. Boat trips sometimes venture beyond, to Scarba and into the straits, site of the seething whirlpool of Corryvreckan. At the right state of tide, its roar can be heard ten miles away. Just beyond is the north tip of Jura, but there's no transport across the straits from here, you have to get in via Islay.
- 1 McCaig’s Tower, Duncraggan Rd PA34 5DP. 24 / 7. John Stuart McCaig (1823-1902), a local banker, was aiming for something like the Colosseum in Rome. Only the circular shell, dominating the view for miles around, was completed by the time of his death, so within is simply a public garden and picnic spot where the pipe band sometimes plays. The grand interior and heroic statues of himself and family never happened. Free.
- 2 Dunollie Castle, Dunollie House PA34 5TT (A mile north of town off Ganavan Rd). Apr-Oct: M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 12:00-17:00. The castle is just a crumbling stump, but there are pleasant gardens and a small museum. Adult £6.
- 3 Dunstaffnage Castle, Dunbeg PA37 1PZ (On coast 5 miles north of town, take bus to Dunbeg). Apr-Sept: daily 09:30-17:30, Nov-Mar: Sa-W 10:00-16:00. Stout, partly ruined castle dating to 13th century, with nearby chapel of similar date. The 16th-century gatehouse is the residence of the hereditary captain - he's still required to stay here three nights a year. Adult £6.
- 4 War & Peace Museum, Corran Esplanade PA34 5PX (by North Pier). Mar Apr & Nov: daily 10:00-16:00, May-Oct: M-Th 10:00-18:00, F-Su 10:00-16:00. Museum describing Oban's role in wartime and peacetime. Free, donation.
- 5 St Columba's Cathedral, Corran Esplanade. The Roman Catholic Cathedral is prominent on the Esplanade. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who designed the iconic red telephone box) and built in Neo-Gothic style between 1932 and 1959. It's the more interesting of Oban's two cathedrals; its predecessor was St Moluag's on the Isle of Lismore, nowadays a Church of Scotland parish church.
- 6 St John's Cathedral (Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, Ard-eaglais Eòin an Diadhair), 129 George St PA34 4NT. Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Cathedral hidden among the shops on George Street. Building started in 1863 and continued in several phases but lack of funds resulted in the present odd layout, with steel girders propping up unfinished work.
- 7 Arduaine Garden, Arduaine PA34 4XQ (A816 20 miles south of Oban). Mar-Jan daily 09:30-16:00. Gardens and woodlands in the care of National Trust for Scotland, a riot of rhododendrons in early summer. Adult £7.50, NTS / NT free.
- Oban Distillery, Stafford St PA34 5NH (near TIC), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily Dec-Feb: 12:00-16:30, Mar Apr Oct Nov: 09:30-17:00, May-Sept 09:30-19:30. Scotch whisky distillery founded in 1794, now part of Diageo. Frequent tours commended by reviewers, if they're booked out on the website try phoning, they may have availability. Standard tour £12, one hour.
- Boat trips to Mull, Iona and Fingal's Cave are run by West Coast Tours (formerly Bowman's), Caledonian MacBrayne, Turus Mara and Gordon Grant Tours.
- Boat cruises to St Kilda and other remote Hebridean places sail from Dunstaffnage Marina. These are large live-aboard boats on 7-10 day itineraries. (Day trips use small boats from Skye or Harris, but it's too far for them to venture from the mainland.) Operators include Hebrides Cruises, Majestic Line and St Hilda Sea Adventures. They're all fully booked for 2019 and have little availability for 2020.
- Diving: Puffin Dive Centre is at Port Gallanach PA34 4QH, south of town near the ferry pier for Kerrara. You'll want a drysuit, though in summer a chunky wetsuit may suffice.
- 1 Isle of Kerrera is reached by a short ferry ride from Gallanach south of town. From the landing pier are two hiking trails: south with Gylen Castle and north with Hutcheson's Monument.
- Sea Kayak Oban, 8 Argyll Street PA34 5SG (off main street behind Boots), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W-M 10:00-16:00. Kayak outfitter leads daily tours and also multi day trips & courses. You can paddle right out of the harbour or rent a trolley and take your kayak on the ferries. £75 / day.
- 2 Seafari Adventures, Easdale PA34 4TB (20 miles south of Oban, follow B844 onto Seil Island). Daily 08:00-20:00. Trips by high-speed RIB around the islands.
- Oban Live is a music festival usually held in late June. It was cancelled for 2020 and the future of the event is in doubt.
- Oban Games & Argyllshire Gathering are held at Mossfield Park Oban on the fourth Thursday in August. The next are on Thurs 27 Aug 2020.
- Lorne Highland Games were traditionally held at the same venue in late June. However they were cancelled for 2019 and 2020 and look unlikely to resume.
- Etive Restaurant, 43 Stevenson St PA34 5NA (by main roundabout), ☏ . W-Su 18:00-21:30. Small Scottish restaurant, fine dining.
- Waterfront Fishouse, No1 The Pier PA34 4LW (next to ferry terminal), ☏ . Daily 12:00-14:00 & 17:30-21:00. Mundane surroundings but this one gets the vote for quality of food and service. Restaurant upstairs, bar food downstairs.
- Eeusk, North Pier PA 34 5QD (Red-roofed building on pier), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 12:00-15:00 & 18:00-21:00. Seafood restaurant, decent food but pricey for the quality and portion size, you're paying for the view. Service can be very slow. Mains from £15.
- The Barn is at Cologin 2 miles south, see "Sleep".
- Buy fresh seafood from the kiosks on the Railway Pier and dine al wafto - waving your hands about your head against marauding gulls and midges.
- Oban is the subject of an ode by the great McGonagall - see Dundee for his career and other poetic gems. That's mentioned here because it will help if you also chug some whisky: before reading him, after, and even better instead of.
- Markie Dan's Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, PA34 5PN open 11:00-01:00 Su-Th, F Sa to 02:00.
- Lorne Bar, Stevenson Street PA34 5NA. M-Th 12:00-01:00, F-Su 12:00-02:00. Dog-friendly, does good food.
- Cellar Bar Corran Esplanade, open Su-Th 12:00-23:00, F Sa to 00:00.
- Aulay's Bar, 8 Airds Crescent, PA34 5SQ. Daily 11:00-00:30. Friendly traditional pub, dogs welcome. Bar lunches 12:00-14:30.
- 1 Oban Caravan & Camping Park, Gallanachmore Farm, Gallanach Rd PA34 4QH (on coast 3 miles south of town), ☏ . Open April-Sept. Pitches for tourers, static caravan hire, camping pods plus tent sites. Well run with great views. Tent £18.
- 2 Roseview Caravan Park (formerly Oban Divers), Glenshellach Road PA34 5QJ (2 miles south of town), ☏ . Open Mar-Oct. Plus bunkhouse, bothy and camping pod. No on site cafe or bar. Caravan £24, tent £20.
- 3 Oban Backpackers, Breadalbane St PA34 5NZ, ☏ . Hostel open Mar-Oct with 6, 8, 10 & 12 bedded dorms. No private rooms, so families with children must block-book a dorm. Clean, friendly and cosy. Around £20 ppn.
- Backpackers Plus, Old Church, Breadalbane St PA34 5PH (In church next to Oban Backpackers), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hostel open all year, with dorms and private rooms. Large communal area with kitchen, dining area, and lots of seats and beanbags. Clean and friendly. Dorm £22 ppn, rooms £27 ppn.
- Oban Youth Hostel, Corran Esplanade PA34 5AF (next to Oban Bay Hotel), ☏ . Hostel open all year, dog-friendly. 4, 6 and 8 bed dorms plus private rooms in a large Victorian building on the Esplanade. Dorm £21 ppn, room £75.
- 4 Corran House, Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, PA34 5PN, ☏ . Open all year, has private guest rooms (but no singles) plus dorms in main building, more private rooms in Ayres Guest House alongside. With Markie Dan's Bar. Dorm £20 ppn, rooms from £80.
- Dana Villa, Dunollie Rd PA34 5PJ, ☏ , (mobile), ✉ email@example.com. Friendly well-run guest house with rooms en suite. B&B double £90.
- 5 Kerrera Tea Garden and Bunkhouse, Island of Kerrara (50 mins walk from ferry), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. April-Sept. Open April-Sept, small bunkhouse (sleeps 7) on the island of Kerrara that shelters Oban harbour; also bell tent. Take ferry from Gallanach 1.5 miles south of Oban (foot passengers only, last ferry at 18:00), this brings you midway along Kerrara then it's a 50-min hike to the bunkhouse near the south tip. They can pick you up from the landing pier. Tent £45 / night.
- Glenroy Guest House, Rockfield Road PA34 5DQ, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Clean friendly guest house with five doubles & one twin room. No children under 11 or dogs. Up a steep hill, take a taxi if you're heavily laden. B&B double £80.
- 6 Oban Bay Hotel, Corran Esplanade, Oban PA34 5AE, ☏ . Undergoing refurbishment, rooms at front are nicely done up, it's a mess at the back. B&B double from £135.
- 7 Queens Hotel, Corran Esplanade, Oban PA34 5AG (a mile north of centre), ☏ . Now a Best Western, clean and well-run. B&B double from £100.
- Columba Hotel, Esplanade, Oban PA34 5QD (next to TIC), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. As it is on the North Pier, rooms on three sides have sea views, some rooms at the back can be noisy from the pubs below. B&B double from £110.
- 8 Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges, Cologin, Lerags Glen PA34 4SE (Off A816 three miles south of Oban), ☏ . Self catering in 15 two bedroom lodges and 4 one bedroom chalets (let Saturday-Saturday), plus Cruachan Cottage and Cologin Farmhouse (let Friday-Friday). Shorter lets available off season. Dogs welcome in some rooms. With on site restaurant and bar. Chalet £400 / week.
- 9 Manor House Hotel, Gallanach Road, PA34 4LS (Half a mile west of railway station), ☏ . Old-style 4-star hotel, good restaurant. B&B double from £200.
- 10 Pierhouse, Port Appin PA38 4DE, ☏ . Excellent little hotel next to ferry pier for Lismore, great restaurant. B&B double from £250.
- Airds Hotel quarter of a mile from the Pierhouse also gets rave reviews for comfort and food.
- Loch Melfort Hotel, Arduaine PA34 4XG (next to Arduaine Garden, 20 miles south of Oban), ☏ . Friendly comfy hotel with great sea views, fronting onto Arduaine Garden. Dogs welcome. B&B double from £200.
- Sail west on a ferry. A day trip is enough to see Lismore; Mull and Iona can be done as a day trip but deserve longer. Further away are Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, Barra and Lochboisedale on South Uist.
- Go north to Fort William for Ben Nevis, and routes to Loch Ness and Skye.
- Go south to Tarbert (for ferries to Islay) and Kintyre. On the way see Arduane Garden, the extensive prehistoric area of Kilmartin and the island of Gigha.
- Go southeast towards Glasgow, seeing Inveraray, the Cowal peninsula and Loch Lomond.