view of oban through a stone window of mccaigs tower

Oban is fondly known as the “Seafood Capital of Scotland”. The town’s location is hugely significant on Scotland’s west coast, its sheltered harbour provides a haven for boats of all sizes and serves as a gateway to the Hebridean islands.

Visitors are drawn to this Victorian town for its cultural richness, maritime charm and welcoming locals. As such, Oban is a dream for nature lovers, photographers, and history enthusiasts who enjoy a wonderful variety of activities, including a few that might be considered somewhat unusual activities. Here’s a selection of our favourites.

Unusual things to do in Oban

Basking Shark Scotland offers one-of-a-kind wildlife adventure boat tours from Oban. The team of passionate marine biologists are leading the way in eco-conscious and educational adventures. The basking shark tours take place over multiple days during the summer months. Beyond basking sharks, they offer day tours to see whales and dolphins, a guided swim in Fingal’s cave, and kayak or stand-up paddle boarding in serene shallow lagoons.

Whisky aficionados can refine their palate at the Oban Whisky Distillery. Established in 1794, it’s one of Scotland’s oldest and smallest distilleries. The location was chosen for its harbour, and the town itself subsequently grew around the distillery. The distillery tour is both entertaining and educational and visitors take home their tasting glass, a treasured keepsake.

The Puffin Dive Centre promises an underwater escapade unlike any other, perfect for seasoned divers or newbies. Explore Scotland’s aquatic wonders, discover shipwrecks and colourful kelp forests, and encounter marine life including seals, lobsters and more.

A five-minute ferry crossing from the mainland is Kererra Island, a tranquil escape from bustling Oban. Kerrera is a paradise for walkers and cyclists with a ready-made 10km circuit that starts and finishes at the main ferry port. The island is perhaps best known for Gylen Castle perched high on ancient sea stacks with sensational views across the bay. The castle ruins are open to visitors and The Kerrera Tea Garden and Marina are both great pit stops for lunch en route.

Island hopping on the Scottish West Coast

Isle of Kerrera off Oban Bay

Places to see in Oban

Oban is a treasure trove of sights offering a glimpse into Scotland’s fascinating and often turbulent history. McCaig’s Tower, the town’s iconic landmark is easily recognisable as it resembles a Roman colosseum. Perched upon a hill, the panoramic views of Oban Bay and the neighbouring islands are sensational and worth the climb.

A visit to Dunollie Castle is a captivating insight into Oban’s past, highlighting mediaeval architecture and offering tales of clans and chieftains. Visitors can wander through the grounds, absorbing the echoes of time’s passage. The Dunollie Museum is a cultural gem. It beckons curious minds to explore the region’s history and Gaelic heritage. Discover the historical significance of the MacDougall clan through interactive displays, ancient artefacts and maritime tales. A celebration of Scottish culture and its enduring legacy.

St. John’s Cathedral is a testament to the importance of faith and worship in the region. Built in the 19th century, this elegant cathedral displays intricate design and craftsmanship, capturing the essence of the Gothic Revival. The tranquil ambience serves as a spiritual haven. The stained-glass windows, detailed carvings, and soaring spires create an awe-inspiring atmosphere of reverence and beauty, encouraging reflection and connection.

Uncover the poignant story of the town’s role during World War II and its pursuit of peace at The Oban War and Peace Museum. The museum explores the local impact of global conflicts, highlighting stories of bravery, sacrifice, and resilience. Discover artefacts, personal accounts, and memorabilia that bridge the gap between past and present, reminding visitors of the enduring quest for a better world.

Things to do in Oban at night

As the sun sets over Oban, the town’s vibrant energy continues into the night. With a variety of superb seafood restaurants and traditional pubs, there’s something to suit everyone.

Dine by the harbour at one of the popular restaurants overlooking Oban Bay. Savour the finest of Scotland’s natural larder and indulge in deliciously fresh seafood and locally sourced seasonal foods. The harbour is picture-perfect at night, illuminated by twinkling streetlights and the open sky. The Northern Lights can be seen from here at times, so don’t forget your camera.

Oban’s thriving live music scene is served up in the town’s cosy pubs and bars. Traditional Scottish folk melodies and modern tunes are brought to life through talented musicians, guaranteed to have you toe-tapping and enjoying a lively jig. The variety of genres caters to all music tastes. A warm welcome from the locals will complete this evening of musical discovery and camaraderie.

a birdeye view of mccaigs tower in oban at night, with green lights shining

Mccaig’s Tower, Oban at night

Places to visit near Oban

Just to the north of Oban is Ganavan Sands, a hidden coastal gem. The picturesque beach with soft golden sands and pristine blue water is a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy town. Framed by rolling hills and lush greenery it’s a paradise for nature lovers, and the perfect spot to connect with the raw beauty of Scotland’s west coast.

Just a short ferry ride from Oban are the mystical isles of Mull and Iona. Mull is a rugged gem teeming with sensational landscapes. The colourful harbour town of Tobermory is exceptionally charming, and Duart Castle stands as a living testament to its legendary heritage. Iona is revered as a spiritual haven and the iconic Iona Abbey is rich in history. Both islands are home to incredible seascapes and wildlife such as eagles, porpoises, and whales.

Seafari Adventures provide exhilarating boat trips, and (if you are lucky) close encounters with minke whales, dolphins, seals, and sea birds. The trips depart south of Oban from Easdale, and they are recognised as being eco-conscious, educating passengers on marine ecosystems and conservation. It is possible to visit the Corryvreckan, one of the world’s most powerful whirlpools that has captivated seafarers for centuries. Notorious for its treacherous nature it attracts thrill seekers who are determined to witness the raw power and untamed beauty of the sea and the natural world.

The Corryvreckan Whirlpool with blues skies in the scottish west highlands

The Corryvreckan Whirlpool

Oban is just a 30-minute drive from Loch Melfort. With such a variety of activities to enjoy it’s the perfect destination for a day trip, and a unique evening experience when staying at the hotel.