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. In 2021 the population was 8060.

Ferries from Oban sail to Lismore, Mull, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree, Barra and Kerrara. Kerrara is so close that it's effectively an outlying district of Oban, and therefore described on this page.

1 Oban iCentre on North Pier is the Tourist Information Centre. It's open Nov-Mar 10AM-5PM, Apr-Oct 9AM-6PM, Sunday hours shorter.

Get in edit

By plane edit

Glasgow Airport (GLA IATA) is closest and has a good range of UK and European flights. Hiring a car, turn west onto M8 then cross Erskine Bridge to join A82 north. By public transport go into central Glasgow for the bus or train to Oban. You could save time by taking a taxi from the airport to Dumbarton Central station, where the Oban trains stop: reckon £20-25.

Edinburgh Airport (EDI IATA) by car 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), North Connel PA37 1SW (off A828 north of Connel bridge), +44 1631 572910. This has Hebridean flights from the islands of Coll, Colonsay, Islay and Tiree. It's basically an airborne school bus service, using BNF Islanders, with a 10-kg 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, taking 3 hours 10 min to Oban via Dumbarton Central, Helensburgh Upper and Crianlarich (where a portion divides for Fort William and Mallaig). There are six M-Sa, with the first running north around 5:20AM for 8:40AM, the last at 6:20PM for 9:30PM. Southbound back to Glasgow the first is around 5:20AM, the last at 8:30PM. There's only three trains on Sunday.

Oban railway station is in town centre next to the ferry terminal. It has a staffed ticket office, toilets and waiting room. There is step-free access to all platforms.

By bus edit

By bus: Citylink 975 / 976 / 977 runs six times a day from Glasgow Buchanan station, either via Arrochar, Inveraray and Taynuilt, or via Crianlarich, Tyndrum and Taynuilt, taking 3 hr 10 min to Oban.

Bus 978 runs daily from Edinburgh and takes 4 hours via Edinburgh airport, Grangemouth, Stirling, Doune, Callander, Crianlarich, Dalmally and Taynuilt.

West Coast Motors Bus 918 runs twice M-Sa from Fort William (90 min), where it connects with the bus from Inverness.

Bus 418 runs five times M-Sa across Clachan Bridge to the island of Seil, connecting with the ferries to Luing and Easdale.

The bus terminus in Oban is by the railway station and ferry terminal.

By road edit

From Glasgow follow A82 north to Crianlarich then A85 west to Oban, 100 miles, say 2 hr 30 min as it's a busy undivided highway. From Edinburgh take M9 to Dunblane then A84 and A85 through Doune and Callander.

Connel Bridge, which carries A828 north to Ballachulish and Fort William, is being upgraded in 2023 / 24, and this means periods of closure — check ahead for these.

A good choice in town for overnight parking, if space is available, is the railway station car park. It's out of the usual trajectory of late-night drunks and in 2023 costs £3 for 24 hours. An old sign warns that your ticket expires at midnight, but that's not correct.

By boat edit

McCaig's Tower

2 Oban Ferry Terminal is the port for Calmac car ferries to Lismore, 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. By road you may think you've overshot, as you reach south edge of town, then you come to a sharp right. If you pass the lifeboat station you've gone too far.

Booking ahead is always wise, and it's essential for caravans and motorhomes - these are not permitted to join the unbooked stand-by queue. You'd be sent away to make a booking, and if you couldn't sail that day, at least you'd have accommodation. This rule improves space in the queue but is more about capacity to shoehorn cars into odd spaces on the ferry, that couldn't possibly fit a caravan. The policy applies to all Calmac ports (except a few minor "turn up and go" routes) but is especially relevant to the major outbound port of Oban.

Also with a caravan or motorhome, in summer be prepared at check-in to show a pitch reservation at your destination, else you may be turned away. All the Scottish islands have a problem in summer with visitor vehicles camping illegally on the verges and passing places.

See "Get around" for routes to the nearby islands in Loch Linnhe.

3 Dunstaffnage Marina is the port for small private craft, on A85 five miles north of town. Cruises of the Hebrides often depart from here.

Get around edit

Most sights in town can be reached on foot, but some accommodation is up a fairly steep hill.

West Coast Motors run buses in and around Oban. The only one you're likely to use is the 005 / 405, which runs north hourly M-Sa to Dunbeg (a one-mile walk to Dunstaffnage), Connel bridge, Oban Airport, Benderloch and Barcaldine.

Kerrera: Calmac ferries sail from Gallanach, the jetty 3 miles south of Oban, to Kerrara, taking only 5 min. There are over a dozen ferries daily, year-round; mid-morning and mid-afternoon they're every 30 min. Until end of March 2025 the return fare is £3.70 adult, £1.90 child aged 5-15. Visitor cars are not carried and you don't need one; bikes are free but space is limited.

See edit

St Columba's Cathedral
  • 1 McCaig’s Tower, Duncraggan Rd PA34 5DP. 24 hours. John Stuart McCaig (1823-1902), a local banker, was aiming for something like the Colosseum in Rome. At his death only the granite circular shell was complete, resembling a vast salad-drainer with its lancet windows, and dominating the view for miles around. Inside is simply a public garden and picnic spot where the pipe band sometimes plays, and the museum, art gallery and heroic statues of himself and family never happened. You can approach via "Jacob's Ladder", the steps from the Esplanade. Free.    
  • 2 Oban Hydro was once as distinctive and hollow a monument on the skyline as McCaig's Tower, but has crumbled behind the engulfing jungle. It was built from 1881 as a spa hotel, but they grossly underestimated the cost, and it was abandoned when almost complete. The shareholders might have persevered if they foresaw what people pay nowadays to be assaulted with green mud. A footpath winds up from Rockfield Rd.
  • 3 War & Peace Museum, Old Oban Times Building, Corran Esplanade PA34 5NX (by North Pier), +44 1631 570007. Sa-Th 10AM-4PM, F 10AM-2PM. No, Tolstoy never visited Oban, though the works of Sir Walter Scott were among his influences. This museum describes Oban's role in wartime, and its blossoming in peacetime through tourism. Free, donation.
  • 4 St John's Cathedral (Cathedral Church of St John the Divine), 129 George St PA34 4NT, +44 1631 562323. Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Cathedral hidden among the shops. Building started in 1863 and continued in several phases but lack of funds resulted in the present odd layout, with steel girders propping up unfinished work.    
  • 5 St Columba's Cathedral, 200 Corran Esplanade PA34 5AA, +44 1631 562123. The Roman Catholic Cathedral was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who designed the iconic red telephone box) and built in Neo-Gothic style between 1932 and 1959. In medieval times the area's senior church was St Moluag's on the Isle of Lismore, nowadays a Church of Scotland parish church. The RC Diocese of Argyll and The Isles was re-established in 1878 but bishop and congregation were in makeshift premises, including a tin hut, until St Columba's was completed.    
  • Dunollie Lighthouse is on Ganavan Road 200 yards south of the turn-off to the castle. It's a 20-foot tower first lit in 1892 and more accurately described as a "sector light" - the colour displayed indicates whether you're too far east or west, or correctly positioned entering the narrow channel to Oban harbour.
  • The Dog Stone just north of the lighthouse was once a sea stack and is now on a raised beach ashore. Legend invokes the Bran the dog of Fingal McCool, but truth is stranger: a flash flood in a desert 415 million years ago heaped up boulders that became conglomerated.
  • 6 Dunollie Castle, Dunollie House (a mile north of town off Ganavan Rd), +44 1631 570550. Apr-Oct: Su-F 10AM-4PM. This 15th-century castle is a crumbling stump; its predecessors over 1000 years were repeatedly destroyed. You can clamber up the stairs within. In the grounds are pleasant gardens (dogs welcome) and a small museum. Adult £9, conc £6.50, child £4.50.    
  • 7 Dunstaffnage Castle, Dunbeg PA37 1PZ (bus to Dunbeg), +44 1631 562465. Apr-Sep: daily 9:30AM-5:30PM; Nov-Mar: Sa-W 10AM-4PM. Stout, partly ruined castle dating to 13th century, with nearby chapel of similar date. The 16th-century gatehouse is the residence of the hereditary captain - he's still required to stay here three nights a year. Adult £7.50, conc £6, child £4.50.    
  • 8 Ardchattan Priory, Ardchattan PA37 1RQ. Apr-Oct: W 9:30AM-5:30PM. This was a Valliscaulian monastery, an obscure 13th-century sect. There are scrappy remains of the church and High Cross but the main attraction is the gardens.  
  • 9 Castle Stalker, Appin PA38 4BL (off A828 north of Port Appin), +44 1631 730354. A well-preserved four-storey tower house on a tidal islet in Loch Linnhe, built from 1440. "Stalker" is from Gaelic Stalcaire, a hunter or falconer - King James IV often used it as a hunting lodge in the 1490s. The castle changed hands several times, often with murder involved (the last such being in Sarawak in 1947), and its last military role was as a government stronghold in the 1745 rebellion. It fell derelict from 1800 but was restored 1965-75. Tours are offered Apr-Sept but need high tide for boat access, the low tide causeway is too rough and slippery — see the castle website for availability. The photogenic site is sometimes a film location, best known is as "Castle Aaarrrrgghh" in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. To just admire the exterior, either have a cuppa at Castle Stalker View Cafe to use their car park, or use the free car park a mile north, and pick up the coast footpath. Adult £25, child £12.    
  • 10 Arduaine Garden, Arduaine PA34 4XQ (A816 20 miles south of Oban), +44 1852 200366. Apr-Oct: daily 10AM-5PM. Gardens and woodlands in the care of National Trust for Scotland, a riot of rhododendrons in early summer. Adult £8.50, concession £6.50, child £1, NTS / NT free.

Do edit

Castle Stalker
  • What's on? Read Oban Times or listen to Oban FM on 103.3 FM.
  • Phoenix Cinema is at 140 George St.
  • Atlantis Leisure has a gym, pool and fitness classes. It's up the hill on Dalriach Rd.
  • Day trips to Mull, Iona and Fingal's Cave are run by West Coast Tours, Turus Mara and Staffa Tours. These use the Calmac ferry to reach Mull.
  • Beaches: the coast near town is rocky. Two small sandy beaches are north of Dunollie on Ganavan Road, but the best is Ganavan Sands at road's end. North end of the beach is Ganavan Maze, a symbolic and modern course of concentric stone circles.
  • Boat cruises to St Kilda and other remote Hebridean places sail from Dunstaffnage Marina. These are large live-aboard boats on 7- to 10-day itineraries. (Day trips to St Kilda use small boats from Skye or Harris, but from the mainland would be too far for a day.) Operators include Hebrides Cruises, Majestic Line and St Hilda Sea Adventures. It's best to reserve well in advance.
  • Diving: Puffin Dive Centre is at Port Gallanach PA34 4QH, south of town near the ferry pier for Kerrara. You'll want a drysuit, though in summer a chunky wetsuit may suffice.
  • 1 Isle of Kerrera is reached by a short ferry ride from Gallanach south of town. From the landing pier are two hiking trails: south with Gylen Castle and north with Hutcheson's Monument.
  • Sea Kayak Oban, 8 Argyll Street PA34 5SG (off main street behind Boots), +44 1631 565310, . W-M 10AM-4:30PM. Kayak outfitter leads daily tours and also multi-day trips and courses. You can paddle right out of the harbour or rent a trolley and take your kayak on the ferries. Basic day tour £85.
  • Golf: Glencruiten GC is half a mile east of town. It's a short but hilly parkland course, white tees 4471 yards, par 62.
  • Rugby Union: Oban Lorne RFC play in the amateur leagues at Mossfield Park, east towards the golf course.
  • Shinty: Oban Camanachd play in the MOWI Premiership, the top tier. The playing season is Apr-Oct.
  • Oban Games & Argyllshire Gathering are held at Mossfield Park on the fourth Thursday in August, with the next probably on Th 22 Aug 2024. Lorne Highland Games are no longer held.
  • Royal National Mòd is a festival of Celtic / Gaelic literature, music and culture held in autumn. The next is held in Oban, probably 11-19 Oct 2024, tbc. The 2025 Mòd is in Fort William and Lochabers.

Buy edit

  • Supermarkets are on the retail park south side of town, and include Tesco, M&S, Aldi and Lidl.
  • Fuel: don't venture out to the islands or into the Highlands with a low tank. Tesco Fuel is as cheap as you'll find hereabouts, open daily 6AM-8PM.

Eat edit

Arduaine Gardens
  • Oban Seafood Hut is the green shack by the ferry pier serving seafood to go daily 10:00-18:00. Watch the ferries as you dine al wafto, flapping your hands about to keep off marauding seagulls and midges.
  • Waterfront Fishouse, Railway Pier PA34 4LW (next to ferry terminal), +44 1631 563110, . W-Su noon-2PM, 5:30-9:30PM. Mundane surroundings but this one gets the vote for quality of food and service. Restaurant upstairs, bar food downstairs.
  • Olive Garden by the ferry pier serves steak, seafood and burgers W-Su noon-9PM.
  • Baab is within Perle Hotel on Station Rd serves East Med meze, open Tu-Sa 6-9:30PM.
  • The View at 34 George St has trad pub food and live music, open Su-W noon-midnight, Th-Sa noon-2AM.
  • Cuan Mor, 60 George St PA34 5SD, +44 1631 565078. Daily noon-9PM. Stylish building, upstairs bar and downstairs restaurant for Scottish fare.
  • China Restaurant is at 39 Stafford St, open M-Sa 12:00-14:00, 17:00-22:30, Su 17:00-22:30.
  • 1 Ee-usk, North Pier (Red-roofed building on pier), +44 1631 565666, . Daily noon-2:30PM & 5:30-9PM. Seafood restaurant, decent food but pricey for the quality and portion size, you're paying for the view. Service can be very slow. Mains from £15.
  • Piazza is part of Ee-usk and serves Italian.
  • Coast serves trad fare, mainly seafood, in a former bank at 104 George St. It's open M-Sa noon-2PM, 5:30-9PM, Su 5-9PM.
  • Taj Mahal, 146 George St PA34 5NX (next to cinema), +44 1631 565400. Daily noon-2PM, 5-11PM. Reliable place for Indian food.
  • The Barn is at Cologin 2 miles south, see "Sleep".

Drink edit

Oban is the subject of an ode by the great William McGonagall - see Dundee for his career and other poetic gems. That's mentioned here because it helps you appreciate his artistry if you chug some whisky before reading him, during, after, and even better instead of.

  • The Corrievreckan, Waterfront Centre, Railway Pier PA34 4LW (by ferry terminal), +44 1631 568910. Su-Th 8AM-midnight, F Sa 8AM-1AM. Reliable JD Wetherspoon, named for the whirlpool off Jura, with good-value ale and food.
  • Markie Dans, 1 Victoria Cres, Corran Esplanade PA34 5PN (within Corran House Hotel), +44 1631 564448. Daily 11AM-1AM. Cosy pub with food, dog-friendly, sometimes has live music.
  • Lorne Bar, Stevenson St PA 34 5NA (near Etive Restaurant), +44 1631 570020. M-Th noon-1AM, F-Su noon-2AM. Dog-friendly, does good seafood.
  • Aulay's Bar, 8 Airds Crescent PA34 5SQ (at bridge), +44 1631 562596. Su-Th 11AM-midnight, F Sa 11AM-1AM. Friendly traditional pub, dogs welcome. Bar lunches 12:00-14:30.
  • Whisky Vaults Hotel at 3 Tweedale St has ten rooms en suite but most come here for the whisky bar.
  • Oban Inn, 1 Stafford St PA34 5NJ (opposite visitor centre), +44 1631 567441. M-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Su 11AM-1AM. Friendly quirky place in a Georgian building by North Pier.
  • Oban Distillery, Stafford St PA34 5NH (near TIC), +44 1631 572004. Shop daily 10AM-5PM. Scotch whisky distillery founded in 1794 (pre-dating the town), but in and out of production, with the present run from 1972. It's now part of Diageo and produces a single malt intermediate between the smoky Hebridean style and the sweeter mainland malts. Frequent tours. Standard tour £22.    

Sleep edit

Dunstaffnage Castle

Budget edit

  • 1 Oban Holiday Park, Gallanachmore Farm, Gallanach Rd PA34 4QH (on coast 3 miles south of town), +44 1631 562425. Open Apr-Sept. Pitches for tourers, static caravan hire, camping pods plus tent sites. Well run site with great views. 2-person tent £19, campervan £25.
  • 2 Roseview Caravan Park, Glenshellach Road PA34 5QJ (2 miles south of town), +44 1631 562755. Open Mar-Oct. Plus bunkhouse, bothy and camping pod. No on site cafe or bar. Caravan £24, tent £20.
  • 3 Oban Backpackers, Breadalbane St PA34 5NZ, +44 1631 562107. Hostel open Mar-Oct with 6, 8, 10 & 12 bedded dorms. No private rooms, so families with children must block-book a dorm. Clean, friendly and cosy, but they lock you out between noon and 5PM no matter what the weather. Dorm £25 ppn.
  • Oban Youth Hostel, Corran Esplanade PA34 5AF (next to St Columba's and Oban Bay Hotel), +44 1631 562025. Hostel open all year, dog-friendly. 4-, 6- and 8-bed dorms plus private rooms in a large Victorian building on the Esplanade. Dorm £26 ppn, double room £120.
  • 4 Corran House, Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, PA34 5PN, +44 1631 566040. Open all year, has private guest rooms (but no singles) plus dorms in main building, more private rooms in Ayres Guest House alongside. Markie Dan's Bar downstairs plays loud music until late at night. In 2023 the dorms are only available for block booking. Double (room only) £80.
  • Dana Villa, Dunollie Rd PA34 5PJ, +44 1631 564063, +44 7749 717976 (mobile), . Friendly well-run guest house with rooms en suite. Room only, you take breakfast at the Scot Hotel. Double (room only) £85.
  • 5 Kerrera Tea Garden and Bunkhouse, Island of Kerrara (50 min walk from ferry), +44 1631 566367, . April-Sept. Open Apr-Sep, small bunkhouse (sleeps 7) on the island of Kerrara that shelters Oban harbour; also bell tent. Take ferry from Gallanach 1.5 miles south of Oban (foot passengers only, last ferry at 6PM), this brings you midway along Kerrara then it's a 50-min hike to the bunkhouse near the south tip. They can pick you up from the landing pier. Tent £45 / night.
  • 6 Woodcroft Shepherd's Hut (Woodcroft), Woodcroft, Connel, Argyll, PA37 1RN, . A shepherd's hut on a croft 15 minutes drive (7 miles) from the centre of Oban. Sleeps 2. from £80.

Mid-range edit

Clan chiefs marching to Oban Highland Games
  • Premier Inn, Shore St PA34 4NT (opposite ferry terminal), +44 330 135 9041. Reliable comfy chain hotel just where you need it. B&B double £100.
  • 7 Glenroy Guest House, Rockfield Road PA34 5DQ, +44 1631 562585, . Clean, friendly guesthouse with five doubles and one twin room. No children under 11 or dogs. Up a steep hill, take a taxi if you're on foot and heavily laden. B&B double £100.
  • Oban Bay Hotel, Corran Esplanade PA34 5AE (next to St Columba's Cathedral), +44 1631 564395. Midrange modern hotel, some rooms dog-friendly, great scores for service. B&B double £150.
  • 8 Muthu Queens Hotel, Corran Esplanade PA34 5AG (a mile north of centre), +44 1631 562505. Now a Best Western, clean and well-run. It's often booked out by tour groups. B&B double £130.
  • SGE Columba, Esplanade PA34 5QD (next to TIC), +44 1631 562183, . Simple hotel on the North Pier, so rooms on three sides have sea views, those at the back can be noisy from the pubs below. B&B double £130.

Splurge edit

View of Oban from Kerrara
  • 9 Perle Oban Hotel & Spa, Station Sq, +44 1631 700301. Upscale hotel with views of the sea.
  • 10 Cologin Farm Lodges, Lerags Glen PA34 4SE (off A816 three miles south of Oban), +44 1631 564501. Self-catering in 15 two-bedroom lodges and 4 one-bedroom chalets (let Saturday-Saturday), plus Cruachan Cottage and Cologin Farmhouse (let Friday-Friday). Shorter lets available off season. Dogs welcome in some rooms. With on site bar serving pub food. Chalet £600 / week.
  • 11 Manor House Hotel, Gallanach Road PA34 4LS, +44 1631 566429. Small 4-star hotel in a Georgian building, good restaurant. B&B double £210.
  • 12 Pierhouse, Port Appin PA38 4DE, +44 1631 730302. Excellent little hotel next to ferry pier for Lismore Point, great restaurant. B&B double £250.
  • Airds Hotel quarter of a mile from the Pierhouse also gets rave reviews for comfort and food, similar price.
  • Loch Melfort Hotel, Arduaine PA34 4XG (next to Arduaine Garden, 20 miles south of Oban), +44 1852 200233. Friendly, comfy hotel with great sea views, fronting onto Arduaine Garden. Rooms in the main house are good, those in the new annexe have poor sound-proofing. Dogs welcome. B&B double £250.

Connect edit

As of April 2023, Oban and its approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. Finish any important calls before taking the ferry, as coverage is patchy further west. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next edit

Routes through Oban
Castlebay  NW   SE  END
TireeColl  NW   SE  END
Colonsay  SW   NE  END
Craignure  NW   SE  END
Lismore  N   S  END
Lochboisdale  NW   SE  END
END  W   SE  TaynuiltGlasgow Queen Street
END  W   E  TaynuiltCrianlarich

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.