Oban’s Claim to Fame: What makes our town famous?

We might be biased, but it’s no secret that we think Oban is the greatest wee town on the planet.

It boasts some of the finest food, natural beauty, and has captured the hearts of visitors for hundreds of years. 

But what really puts the little bay in a league of its own?

We’ve rounded up a list of our favourite things that put this town on the map. From world-famous whisky to the fresh seafood that graces our doorstep. So whether you’re a seasoned Obanite or a first-time visitor, take a tour of what makes Oban famous – just don’t judge us for the famous firework fiasco. 

The Gateway to the Isles 

Oban is referred to as The Gateway to the Isles, as it serves as a transport hub, ferring people from Oban to many of the islands in the Inner and Outer Hebrides. 

From its ferry terminal, CalMac transport people to Craignure, Castlebay, Coll, Colonsay, Kennacraig, Lismore, Lochboisdale, Post Askaig, & Tiree. 


When the ‘Little Bay’ isn’t being called the Gateway to the Isles, you’ll often hear people call Oban the Seafood Capital of Scotland and for good reason. 

Whether you’re enjoying a battered fish and chips, some fresh mussels at the pier, or enjoying some seafood in a restaurant, you won’t be disappointed. 


Oban is synonymous with whisky. In fact, Oban as we know it was built around the distillery, which was founded in 1794. Before then, Oban was a small fishing village. 

Oban whisky is famous in its own right. It’s not an uncommon sight to see a bottle of Oban 14-year-old single malt on the big screen in various television shows and movies. 

The distillery was built by brothers John and Hugh Stevenson and is now owned by Diageo. 

McCaig’s Tower

Often referred to as the crown of Oban, McCaig’s Tower is a prominent landmark, which overlooks the Little Bay. 

The tower was built in 1897 by John McCaig to provide work for the local stonemasons and to serve as a monument for the McCaig family, which it has certainly done. 



A trip to Oban isn’t complete without visiting a castle. The main two castles in and around Oban are Dunollie and Dunstaffnage. 

Dunollie Castle is a small ruin, which was occupied by the Clan MacDougall. It boasts spectacular views of Oban harbour and the surrounding isles. 

You can find out all about the clan, castle, and everything in between at Dunollie Castle, Museum and Grounds. 


Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel is around a 10-minute drive from Oban. 

The castle is a must-see for anyone visiting the area and was another stronghold of the MacDougalls.

The castle, which was built before 1240, was captured by Robert The Bruce in 1308 and afterwards remained in royal hands until 1496. 


You can’t mention Oban and famous without mentioning the incident that had the whole world talking about the town. 

Yes, we’re talking about the Oban Firework Fiasco. On November 5, 2011, Obanites gathered at Mossfield to watch the annual Firework display, however, they didn’t expect it to be over quite so soon. 

Due to a technical mishap, all of the fireworks went off at once and the display was over within a minute. 

The video clip has been viewed more than 1.8 million times on Youtube and in the weeks following the display, news stations across the world were showcasing the clip. 


Oban is renowned for its diverse wildlife population. 

The harbour is home to many sea creatures such as whales, basking sharks, dolphins, porpoise, and seals, to name a few. 

Dolphins and porpoise are a common sight in Oban harbour all year round, while other species are more common in the summer. 

An Otter, which has recently been named ‘Ollie’ (Ollie of Dunollie), has recently made headlines after a local charity ran a competition to name him. The otter is no stranger to the spotlight and is regularly snapped on the bay eating octopus. 


When it comes to sports, Oban punches well above its weight. The town is passionate about a number of sports, including shinty, football, rugby, golf, racing, and more. 

Teams from Oban regularly compete at the highest level in shinty and its amateur football team regularly make it to the latter stages of the Scottish Cup. 

We’re also lucky enough to have sporting superstars who hail from Oban.

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