Conveniently located just a 2-hour drive from the bustling center of Glasgow, Oban gives you a taste of the Scottish Highlands, whilst offering a manageable travel time from Scotland’s central cities. Once a small village with only a few fishermen’s cottages, the historical town is now a firm favourite amongst tourists. Its friendly size makes getting around on foot a pleasurable experience, and there’s plenty of things to see and do during a weekend in Oban ….
What is Oban famous for?
Oban is known by two names: the ‘Seafood Capital of Scotland’ and the ‘Gateway to the Isles’. The first is self-explanatory. The later can be attributed to the reputation the town has built with tourists for being an ideal starting destination to the islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides.
Photo by: Phil DuFrene
Things to see and do in Oban
If you’re looking to spend a weekend in Oban, there are a couple of itinerary options for you to take advantage of.
For those looking for a quieter weekend, we recommend the lazier approach that allows for a couple of days exploring the town and its close surroundings. From cafes and gardens, to old monuments and local beaches, there’s plenty to take your pick from.
If adventure is what you’re looking for, why not hop on a ferry and take a short trip across to one of the nearby islands (Kerrera is only a 5 min boat journey!)? Island exploration is a great way to see a little bit more of Oban’s coast without needing to stray too far.
Below, we’ve complied a list of ways to fill your weekend in Oban …
In and around Oban
McCaig’s Tower is a famous structure that opened in 1902, sitting proudly atop Battery Hill and watching over Oban town. Inspired by the Colosseum in Rome, the full construction was never completed due to the death of the famous Banker, John Stuart McCraig, who commissioned the work. The tower is a magnificent place to watch the sunset and offers visitors inspiring views across to the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull in the distance.
A little shop with a great reputation! This popular visitor attraction promises cakes, hot drinks (you MUST try their hot chocolate) and tasty treats, all handmade in their little factory in Oban. It’s a lovely wee place to stop on a blustery day, or to catch a little sugar hit after a morning of exploring. Visit their website for more details.
Dunollie Museum, Castle, and Grounds
Just a 5-minute drive (or 25-minute walk) from Oban town centre, the remains of Dunollie Castle date back to the 15th century and used to be the most important fortress of the Chiefs of Clan MacDougall.
Overlooking Oban town harbour, the local whisky distillery offers informative tours and tasting, led by charismatic Ambassadors. One of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, it’s also in the top 20 worldwide for single malt sales and should not be missed, regardless of whether you’re a whisky enthusiast or whisky newbie.
Photo by: Ayack
Ganavan Sands beach
Take a 2-mile walk up the coast to Ganavan Sands for beautiful views across the North-West coast. The pretty white beach are a peaceful place for dog walkers and the stroll can be combined with a trip to the aforementioned Dunollie Castle. Take your nets and buckets for rock pool investigations!
Outside of Oban
Jump on one of the early morning ferries to Kerrera to ensure there’s ample time to explore this small island just of Oban’s coast. The boat trip across is only 5 minutes long, and visitors can go by foot or bike. Once there, follow the South trail to Gylen Castle ruins and be sure to stop off at Kerrera Tea Garden (the only café on the island) for lunch.
You might know Castle Stalker by its other name (it starred as “The Castle of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh” in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Now privately owned, the castle sits quite majestically on a tidal islet on Loch Laich and is only a 30-minute drive from Oban.
Photo by: Shaun Coward
Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel
Can’t get enough of castles? At only 3.5 miles from Oban, Dunstaffnage Castle is manageable on foot, but inevitably faster by road. The former stronghold of the MacDougall clan is a large and handsome structure built in the early 1200’s. Stairs climb to the top of the castle walls and overlook the ruins in the courtyard, whilst information boards explain the purpose of each room.
The beautiful Arduaine Gardens are located just South of Oban next to Loch Melfort Hotel, proudly showing bright blooms and fragrant scents to all who visit. As part of the National Trust for Scotland, these coastal gardens bring a touch of the exotic to Argyll. Located on the rocky shores, they benefit from the warmth of the North Atlantic Drift, which allows an unusual range of plants to bloom in this part of the globe.
Easdale Wild Swimming
Easdale is a car-free island about a 30-minute drive South of Oban. The tiny little island used to be slate quarry but is now popular with Highland visitors and those interested in trying their first Scottish wild swim. Read more about wild swimming in Easdale and other Argyll locations in our blog post: Wild Swimming in the West Scottish Highlands.
Image by: Andrew Buchanan
Accommodation near Oban
Looking to escape the crowds of Oban town after a busy day of sightseeing? Take some time to relax during your trip with a stay at Loch Melfort Hotel. Located just an easy 30-min drive South of Oban, our country house hotel offers spacious rooms with dreamy balcony views across the Scottish Inner Hebrides. We want to make sure guests feel comfortable and at home, and we encourage this with plenty of cosy comforts and the option to bring your faithful furry friends (take a look at our dog-friendly rooms).
Come say hello to our resident Highland cows and be sure to feed our friendly goats. One of them is particularly cheeky and adores jumping the fence to greet children and nibble grass from their hands.
Finish the evening with a seat in our newly furnished restaurant. We take the greatest of care when choosing our produce and take pride in offering fresh Argyll seafood and mouth-watering local venison (we also happily cater to dietary requirements – just speak to one of our team about your needs). View our full menu here.
*Please note, due to current Covid restrictions, some of the above locations may be limiting tours and opening times. Please see individual websites for updated information.