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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > Scotland > Scottish Highlands > Argyll and Bute > Oban

Oban

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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 Mull, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree and Barra. However there are 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 Lismore, Kerrara, Seil, Luing and Scarba.

Oban Harbour from McCaig's Folly
Sunset at Oban looking towards the islands of Kerrara and Mull

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.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 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, where the Oban trains and buses stop: reckon £20-25. (Not Dumbarton East though - trains only stop at Dumbarton Central.)
  • Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK IATA)
  • 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). 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 kilo total baggage limit. Oban has no flights from the mainland UK network.

By train[edit]

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-Sat, 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.

2 Oban station is right in the centre of town on the Harbour wall.

By bus[edit]

Scottish Citylink Bus 976 runs from Glasgow Buchanan St to Oban via Dumbarton, Arrochar (on Loch Lomond), Inveraray and Connel, taking 3 hours. There's three buses a day M-Sat, two on Sunday.

Bus 918 runs twice a day M-Sat to Fort William (90 min), with a 20 min connection to the onward bus to Inverness (another 2 hours). No Sunday service.

By boat[edit]

Calmac car ferries ply regularly from Oban to 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.

With your own boat, use Dunstaffnage Marina a few miles north of town.

Get around[edit]

Most sights in the town can be reached on foot, but some places to stay are up a fairly steep hill, and you may prefer to take a taxi (available outside the station).

West Coast Motors provides bus service in and around Oban.

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 mins. Visitor cars are not carried and you don't need one; bikes are free but space is limited.

Lismore: Calmac ferries sail from Oban to Achnacroish, midway along the island, taking an hour. Year-round there are four sailings M-Sat and two on Sunday; times vary with the tides. Cars are carried and bikes are free but space is limited. There's also a short ferry route between Port Appin 15 miles north of Oban to Port Ramsay the jetty at the north tip of Lismore.

You need a car to reach Seil Island 20 miles south, as it's connected to the mainland by a bridge. A little car ferry makes the 220 yard crossing from Seil to the island of Luing every 30 mins. Boat trips (but no ferries) 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 from here, you have to get in via Islay.

See[edit]

St Columba's Cathedral
  • 1 McCaig’s Tower. John Stuart McCaig - ". an eccentric testator.". This tower looks over the Oban bay. It takes about 15 minutes to walk up the hill by one of several signposted routes on roads, or by steps. There are good views of Kerrera and Mull and looking up the Sound of Mull. On Tuesdays and Thursdays each week during the summer the Oban Pipe Band play at the tower for about an hour from 8pm until 9pm. Admission is by donation. There are a few benches but if you want one of these get there early. If you are highly sensitive to insect bites then bring some miggie repellant to fend of Scotland's national pest. McCaig's Tower on Wikipedia McCaig's Tower (Q2100945) on Wikidata
  • 2 Dunollie Castle. Ancient seat of the MacDougalls of Lorn. A small castle situated at the far end of the bay from the station - just walk in and up the hill. Dunollie Castle on Wikipedia Dunollie Castle (Q43374) on Wikidata
  • 3 Dunstaffnage Castle. A castle about three miles north of Oban (buses leave from outside the station). Open daily in summer 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm daily except Thursday and Friday in winter. Dunstaffnage Castle on Wikipedia Dunstaffnage Castle (Q178522) on Wikidata
  • 4 War & Peace Museum (On Corran Esplanade, just North of the North Pier, next the Regent Hotel.). Open daily 10.00 - 16.00 Mar - Nov.. Museum detailing Oban's role in world wars. Free admission, donations accepted..
  • 5 St Columba's Cathedral, Corran Esplanade. The Roman Catholic St Columba's Cathedral is prominent on Corran Esplanade. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who designed the iconic red telephone box) and built between 1932 and 1959. The more interesting of the two cathedrals in Oban. St Columba's Cathedral on Wikipedia St Columba's Cathedral (Q723359) on Wikidata
  • 6 Cathedral Church of St John the Divine. The Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Cathedral Church of St John the Divine is hidden among the shops on George Street. Building started in 1863 and continued in several phases but lack of funds resulted in the present slightly confusing layout. St John's Cathedral, Oban on Wikipedia St John's Cathedral (Q2942356) on Wikidata
  • 7 Oban Distillery, Stafford St, +44 1631 572004, e-mail: . Tours are every 20 minutes so long as at least 2 people are present. Tours can be booked on their website. £7.50 adult, £3.75 child (8-17 years). Oban distillery on Wikipedia Oban distillery (Q982708) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

Fingal and Sula, Canadian river otters
  • Scottish Sealife Sanctuary [1]- See Fingal and Sula the Canadian river otters, common and grey seals and many other sea creatures. Around six miles north of Oban.
  • Sea Kayaking Tours, 8 Argyll Street (5 mins from the station behind McT's), +44 1631 565310. This is a well known kayak school & outfitter with daily tours and also multi day trips in this stunning sea kayaking area. You can paddle right out of the harbour or they will rent you a trolley and you can take your kayak on the ferries for free £75/day.
  • 2 Isle of Kerrera (See "Get around" for ferry). There are two great hiking trails on the island (South with Gylen Castle and North with Hutcheson's Monument). The little ferry from Gallanach lands you at the start of the two trails. Kerrera on Wikipedia Kerrera (Q501198) on Wikidata
  • Lorne Highland Games are held at Mossfield Park Oban in late June. The next event is on Sun 23 June 2019.
That's followed by the Argyllshire Gathering, same venue, with the next on Thurs 22 Aug 2019.

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Etive Restaurant, 43 Stevenson St PA34 5NA. Scottish Restaurant
  • Waterfront, No1 The Pier, PA34 4LW. seafood restaurant upstairs & bar with bar food downstairs.
  • Eeusk. The red-roofed building on the North Pier. Specialises in seafood. Main courses (evening) from £11.95 to £59 for the Grand Platter (for two). Open 12-3pm and 6-10pm.
  • 2 The Barn, Cologin, Lerags By Oban, PA34 4SE (2 miles out of Oban).
  • Buy fresh seafood from the kiosks on the Railway Pier and eat al fresco.

Drink[edit]

  • 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.

Sleep[edit]

Dunstaffnage Castle

Budget[edit]

  • Glenroy Guest House, Rockfield road, PA34 5DQ, +44 1631 562585, e-mail: . Family-owned guest house just 5 minutes walk from the city centre. Rooms from £26 ppn (breakfast included).
  • 1 Oban Backpackers. Private hostel, relaxed, fun, clean and cosy. Landrover day tours of 'hidden Argyll' available leaving daily. from £16.
  • 2 Corran House, Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, PA34 5PN, +44 1631 566040. small ensuite dorm rooms and private guest rooms, sea-front location. Beds from £18, rooms from £40.
  • Backpackers Plus. The hostel is centrally located (approximately a 10 minute walk from the ferry terminal). The communal area is huge and includes a kitchen, dining area, and lots of seats and beanbags to relax on. The dorms are also very spacious and start from £16. Each bed has its own power socket and light. There is also a selection of budget private rooms, some of which are boutique en-suite. Bathrooms are very clean. Excellent free wifi connection, free breakfast (toast, spreads, cereal, milk, tea, coffee). This hostel has a really nice atmosphere.
  • 3 Oban Youth Hostel. A SYHA hostel. 4, 6 and 8 bed dormitories housed in a large Victorian building, on the Esplanade. Great sea views. Within easy walking distance of the town centre.
  • Kerrera Tea Garden and Bunkhouse (About 50 minutes walk from the ferry). Easter - Sept. Not in Oban, but 5 minutes by ferry down the peninsula. On the island sheltering Oban harbour, looking out to Mull.
  • Dana Villa (On the "B&B street" as you drive into town, about a 5-minute walk from the centre), +44 1631 564063, +44 7749 717 976 (mobile), e-mail: . More of a guest house than a simple B&B, with a breakfast menu (part of it buffet-style), TV, hair-dryer, suction fan in bathroom, etc. £90 double room.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 4 Oban Bay Hotel, Corran Esplanade, Oban, PA34 5AE, +44 1631 562051. Rooms from £47 ppn
  • 5 Queens Hotel, Corran Esplanade, Oban, PA34 5AG, +44 1631 562505.
  • 6 Columba Hotel, The Esplanade, Oban, PA34 5QD, +44 1631 562183. 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. Rooms generally £50-80 per room..
  • Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges, Cologin, Lerags Glen, PA34 4SE, +44 1631 564501. self catering accommodation just under 3 miles from Oban - chalets from £300 per week.

Splurge[edit]

  • Manor House Hotel, Gallanach Road, Oban PA34 4LS (Half a mile west of railway station), +44 1631 562087. Old-style 4-star hotel, good restaurant. B&B double from £200.

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Oban is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.