Eight must-do things when visiting Oban

Whether you’re visiting Oban for the first time or a seasoned traveller who knows the streets like the back of a seagull, we’ve got you covered.

The Little Bay has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to pack your itinerary full of landmarks and activities or if you’re looking to grab a fish supper and watch the world go by. There’s an Oban for every occasion.

To help you plan ahead, I’ve compiled a list of eight things I think everyone should do when visiting Oban. However, take it with a pinch of salt and vinegar and make your trip unique to you.

Check out a castle

We’re lucky in Oban to have an array of castles in and around the town. Dunollie Castle, pictured above, is a 20 minute walk from the train station and is the oldest building in Oban. The current castle was built in the 13th century, however, Dunollie has been a defensive site for thousands of years. 

The site is now home to the Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds and is a centre for Scottish culture and heritage and home of the Clan MacDougall.

If you’re willing to travel a little further a field, you can also visit Dunstaffnage Castle, which is located in Dunbeg – a 10 minute drive from Oban.

This castle, which was built in 1240 by the MacDougalls, has a rich history. It was captured in 1308 by Robert The Bruce and was a royal asset until 1496.

Dunstaffnage Castle is one of Scotland’s oldest stone castles and as legend goes, it’s “haunted” by the green lady.

Go island hopping

It’s not called the Gateway to the Isles for nothing. While Oban itself is stunning destination, it’s also a stepping stone. In Oban, you’re only a ferry away from exploring a number of incredible islands, such as Mull, Iona, Lismore, and Coll.

You can spend the day exploring the beautiful beaches on Mull, cycling around Lismore, or exploring the famous Iona Abbey.

Eat world-class food

If seafoods your thing, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, you’ve come to the perfect place: The seafood capital of Scotland.

Whether you’re getting messy with a seafood platter on the pier or dressed to the nines eating lobster in a restaurant, Oban has it all. And by all, I mean the freshest seafood that money can buy.

However, it’s not all about the sea, Oban is home to countless great eateries. So much so, that when you ask a local for a recommendation, they might struggle to pinpoint just one.

And don’t get me started on the fish and chips.

Visit McCaig’s Tower

This goes without saying. When I say must-do, I really mean it for this one. This is Oban’s crown and the walk is well worth the view.

Not only do you get a stunning overview of Oban, but you can also see out to Kerrera, Lismore, and Mull.

The tower was commissioned for £5,000 by John Stuart McCaig in 1897. The wealthy banker wanted to create a lasting monument to his family and provide work for local stonemasons during the winter months.

Work halted in 1902 when Jon McCaig died. If finished, the building would have showcased a museum, a central tower, and statues of himself and his family.

Although McCaig’s Tower wasn’t finished as per the plans, it is still something to admire. Inside the building is a well-kept garden, pathway, and a viewpoint that might just take your breath away.

Watch the wildlife

We’re very fortunate that a lot of species like to also call the Little Bay home. Whether it’s seals, whales, birds, porpoises, basking sharks, or otters, you are never alone in Oban. You just have to take a stroll along the shore and count how many friendly faces you see – you’ll run out of fingers pretty fast.

An otter became so famous during lockdown that a competition was held to name the friendly mammal. In the end, the community to name him Ollie, which is very apt as he often chooses to chow down on his meals at Dunollie.

Head out to Ganavan Sands

If you see a tint of blue in the sky, that’s your signal to grab a bucket and spade and head out to Ganavan. There you’ll find a stunning, sandy beach with views over to Mull.

With plenty of parking, public toilets, a sports pitch, and the beginning of a scenic cycle path that connects you to Dunbeg (think Dustaffnage Castle), it’s a great family day out.

Watch the town transform at night

Oban is known for its stunning sunsets across the bay, however, at night, the town transforms into something special.

McCaig’s Tower illuminates, strip lights reflect off the bay, and the sound of live music can be heard pouring out of pubs on every corner of the town.

Enjoy a dram in Oban Distillery

A trip to Oban isn’t complete without a visit to Oban Distillery. Oban has a lot to thank the distillery for.

Its renowned single-malt is famous across the world and the town as we know it today was built around the distillery, which was founded in 1794 and actually pre-dates Oban itself.

Before then, the little bay was a small fishing village. Although still beautiful, it wasn’t the hub of activity that you see today. Oh, and it’s pronounced Oh-bin.

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