Scotland doesn’t spare any of the dramatics. Twisting roads carved through dense forests, open up to hilly countryside’s, leading to dramatic coastlines. In Scotland you’re either in awe marveling at the landscape, having a panic attack navigating the tiny, tiny roads, or picking your jaw up off the ground from the gorgeous scenery. Everything from the highland cattle, to the men in kilts entertaining you with their bagpipes. From the whiskey to the hot and flaky fish and chips found around the country. Scotland is a one of a kind country that should be on everyone’s bucket list, and visiting Oban is no exception.
Oban is a small town located on the western coast of Scotland. It’s a small resort town most famous for its whiskey distilling, fresh fish, and being the gateway to the islands that are scattered throughout the sea. While Oban is a destination on its own, it’s only a 2+ hour drive from Glasgow and a 3-hour drive from Edinburgh, making it an ideal weekend trip from either city. Below you’ll find the best things to do in Oban.
Top Things to Do in Oban
When I left the Lake District and drove north up to Scotland – Oban to be exact – I witnessed firsthand what it felt like to “fall in love with a country”. As I crossed the border the bright blue skies and lush green rolling hills welcome me into their country. The wind whispered, “Welcome to Scotland, we’re glad you’re here”. Sheep dotted the hillside, the sun showed, and I rolled down my windows – in November – to get a smell of the fresh, crisp, Scottish air.
Five hours later, and quite a bit of scare from driving a truck through Loch Lomond, and I finally pulled into the seaside town of Oban. The gateway to the Inner Hebrides and the town with the best seafood in the country! (Their words, not mine). Hearing the waves crash, smelling the fresh, salty air, and seeing the glimmer of lights from the main street, this town was full of promise.
If you visit Oban, I recommend a stay of 48 hours so you can spend one day spent walking the seaside town, and one day visiting the Inner Hebrides.
2-Day Oban Itinerary
- Day 1: Exploring the Oban attractions
- Day 2: Exploring Isle of Mull
Day 1 – Exploring the best things to do in Oban, Scotland
Oban is a small town, only 1.6 square miles, and easily walkable in a short timeframe. Check into your hotel, and mosey your way up and down the street taking it all in. Start by walking 1-mile north to Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds. Dunollie is an old castle that has views overlooking Oban, the island of Kerrera, and the outlying islands. Upon leaving Dunollie, walk along the coast back towards Oban. Make your first stop at Oban Distillery, a whiskey distillery established in 1794. This small distillery ships whiskey all over the world and their main exports go to the UK, USA, and Asia. You can go for a cocktail, a whiskey tasting, or a tour.
Once you’ve tried true Scottish whiskey, head to McCaig’s Tower for views over the town. The walk up to McCaig’s is short but steep, but the views are worth it and the entrance is free. Take a picnic or a bottle of wine and enjoy your time at the top before coming back down. Before ending your day don’t miss the chance to have an authentic fish and chippies experience. There are tons of places around town, but I recommend Nories.
Day 2: Discovering Things to Do Near Oban – The Inner Hebrides
The “Hebrides” is what is referred to as the Inner and Outer island chains. The Inner Hebrides lie southeast of the Outer Hebrides and are made up of 35 inhabited islands and 44 uninhabited islands. Luckily, getting to the Inner Hebrides from Oban is a quick and easy day trip. You’ll want to prepare at least one day before departure, buses and ferry schedules vary each day of the week and are quite unpredictable. You’ll want to make sure that when the ferry drops you off on an island, a bus will be available to pick you up and take you into town.
Tip: Once you’re in Oban, walk down to the ferry terminal the day before departure. Someone will be able to walk you through which ferry to get on, which bus to get on, and how to get back. You can purchase your ticket ahead of time at the counter.
Islands Worth Visiting
Isle of Mull – The second-largest island of the Inner Hebrides, the fourth largest island in Scotland. Mull is only an hour ferry ride away from Oban. There are different things you can do when visiting Mull, but because of the times of buses and ferries you can typically only choose to do one thing per day; unless you’re spending the night or you take your car. I spent the day exploring Tobermory, the capital of Mull. Once getting off the ferry, you have to catch the bus – cash only for a ticket – for an hour ride northeast. You will then have the good part of the day to eat and drink your way down the brightly colored street before returning to the bus.
Isle of Staffa – Staffa is a small, uninhabited island in the Inner Hebrides, lying west of Isle of Mull. You can take the ferry to the Isle of Mull or Isle of Iona to catch a boat to Staffa. A big draw to this tiny island is going inside Fingal’s Cave, a National Nature Reserve.
Oban is the perfect introduction to visiting Scotland. If you have extra time I’d recommend renting a car and driving north to Inverness and back down south to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Or head down south to England to see the beauty of the Lake District, and the English countryside as you make your way down to London.
If you’re looking for more road trip tips or UK itineraries make sure to read:
Overall Oban is a cozy and quiet beach town. It’s small, friendly, and easy to acclimate to whether you’re a first time visitor to Scotland or you’ve been before. The town is full of friendly Scots, incredible fish and chips, and a copious amount of whiskey. Plus the location of Oban makes it easy to visit the islands off of the west coast. It’s situated in a place that allows you to easily visit the islands off the west coast. If you find yourself in Scotland with some time to explore, do yourself a favor and make Oban a priority stop.
For more on Oban, Scotland make sure to check out my Instagram posts/highlight reel by looking for “Oban” in my saved highlights