Oban (An t-Òban) in Scotland, translated in Scottish Gaelic, means “The Little Bay”. Tourists love travelling here during the summer months to watch its spectacular sunsets, eat its fantastic seafood, and immerse themselves in its history. There are an extraordinary amount of things to do in Oban!
If you are looking for a great Scottish escape, you will find it in this stunning little town. Oban is known as the “Gateway to the Isles”, and many visitors choose to stay here if they intend to travel to the Inner and Outer Hebrides.
Oban is the biggest town between Helensburgh and Fort William and is a popular tourist hub on the west coast that leads to many of the area’s surrounding islands and historic sites.
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Things to do in Oban
If you plan to spend the weekend in Oban, there is a whole range of activities for you to choose from. This village may be small, but it has a lot of history and events, leading to many things to do in Oban while visiting.
You can dive into this busy town and see ancient standing stones or enjoy boat trips through the Treshnish isles. Experience day trips to even more of Oban’s most fantastic attractions like the Oban War Memorial, Kilmartin Glen, and Dunstaffnage Castle.
From castles to unique recipes, you will discover a lot about Scotland while exploring Oban, and you can be one of the many visitors to the town who love uncovering its secrets.
There are so many things to do in Oban that it can be overwhelming. What exactly you should be doing while on holiday here? See our guide for the top things to do in Oban!
Oban Town Centre
At the heart of Oban sits the bustling centre, home to many of the town’s population and an excellent array of restaurants. Oban’s regular ferry service, airport, and train station make it your gateway to the nearby islands of Scotland’s west coast.
The town has many resources that make it easy to navigate during the busy tourist season. You can give yourself a local’s insight by speaking with the friendly people at the Oban Tourist Information Centre Visitor Centre, or pick up a local newspaper and start your journey through the town fully informed.
Before you set off and experience what Oban offers, make sure to enjoy the many amenities of its town centre, so you’re well prepared for your day of travel.
The iconic McCaig’s Tower in Oban is a prominent local landmark that catches your eye as you wander through the town.
Standing atop McCaig’s Folly, this two-tiered tower was built in 1897 by wealthy banker John Stuart McCaig. Mr McCaig wanted to give back to the community by providing work for local stonemasons and creating a lasting McCaig family monument.
If you’re brave enough to climb up to McCaig’s tower from the centre of Oban, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Oban Bay and the Atlantic Islands; a stunning sight is well worth the trek you take to reach this tower’s summit.
If you’re craving to try out some authentic Scotch single-malt whiskey while in Oban, the Oban Distillery provides an intimate whisky distillery experience that will have you taking home a bottle or two!
You can find the Oban Distillery nestled underneath the cliffs that house the town, with jaw-dropping views of the Firth of Lorn around it. This distillery is also one of the oldest sources of Scotch single-malt whisky in Scotland, making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Take a short meander from the seaside and enjoy taste-testing the most authentic Scottish whiskies around Scotland.
Seafood Capital of Scotland
Did you know that Oban is the ‘Seafood Capital of Scotland’? Oban’s proximity to the water where they source their local seafood delicacies means that you’ll only eat the highest quality seafood while dining throughout its many restaurants and local events.
Foodies adore Oban’s local cuisine! Whether you enjoy a plate of Scottish muscles or freshly caught cod, spending your time here sampling some of the best seafood that Scotland has to offer is a necessary part of the experience.
We highly recommend MacGillivray’s Seafood, The Oban Seafood Hut, Etive, and The Waterfront Fishhouse. Satisfy your seafood craving as you travel through Scotland’s seafood capital.
Oban War & Peace Museum
The Oban War & Peace Museum is one of Oban’s best attractions. It’s run by local volunteers, making it one of the best places to go if you want to learn about the town’s history, the Gaelic language, or more about Oban’s surrounding islands.
Oban War & Peace Museum is also part of the Old Oban Times Building, just off George Street. It’s the perfect spot for Scottish history geeks as it contains unique exhibits featuring artefacts and stunning portraits in their art galleries from the town’s past.
Visitors can gain a real insight into the cultural history of this busy port town and its locals.
This attraction is open every day of the week and is free to enter, so you have no reason not to pay the massive collection at the Oban War & Peace Museum a visit.
A castle surrounded by water is something that many people have only seen in Disney films. However, this dream destination awaits you during your next visit to Oban.
The picturesque Castle Stalker is 25-miles north of Oban on the west coast of Scotland and is one of the premier attractions to visit while making the most of your holiday.
If you are looking to book a boat trip while visiting Scotland, this attraction ticks the box as you can catch a tour of this small island. Castle Stalker dominates the small piece of land with its four grand stories.
Make some time to admire Castle Stalker the next time you see the sights around Oban, and you won’t regret it.
Puffin Dive Centre
A holiday is a perfect place to experience new adventures, and the Puffin Dive Centre has just the thing for you to try! They provide an excellent way to learn scuba diving for all skill levels.
Dive with Scotland’s premier scuba diving company and see Scotland from an entirely different perspective! The Dive Centre has been operating for over 30 years and continues to be at the forefront of diving & water-based training. Check out their official website for more information!
Why not be adventurous this holiday and try out one of the excellent training lessons offered by Puffin Dive Centre while in Oban.
Bonawe Iron Furnace
In 1753, a Cumbrian ironmaster was drawn to a particular patch of woodland near Oban. There he founded the massive Bonawe Iron Furnance, a source of pig iron for the surrounding area.
The woodlands provided him with an endless supply of charcoal to fuel his furnace and water to power the massive bellows. Now, the Iron Furnace stands as a powerful attraction that you can enjoy while travelling through Oban.
You can explore the historic site’s grounds, interacting with the aged stone and tools that the ironmasters of Bonawe used to forge metal. Nearby, you can also find the sites that aided the manufacturing process behind Bonawe, like the manager’s home, housing blocks for workers, and the furnace house itself.
It’s well worth the trip to Bonawe. You’ll undoubtedly find yourself amazed by the incredible process these ironmasters used to create tons of pig iron.
If you want stunning views of the town of Oban, look no further than Pulpit Hill. It’s found on the south end of the town, near McCaig’s Tower, and offers a diverse series of hiking trails.
The hill’s summit ensures a relaxing atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle and has a fantastic panoramic view of the Oban. A climb up this famous hill should take about 20-minutes to reach the top.
Pulpit Hill offers a tranquil alternative to those that want to see the beautiful panoramic views of the city without the company of many others.
Yes, you heard right. The town of Oban has its very own airport that allows quick and easy access to the Outer Hebrides and the rest of Scotland.
Ferries provide excellent slow-paced scenic views of what Scotland has to offer, but if you want to fly the Hebridean way, then a personal aeroplane from Oban Airport is just the thing you need to get to where you need to be going.
The airport provides private charters that allow you to experience travel between the hotspots of Scotland with absolute luxury and ease. If you’re keen to see Scotland from the sky, book a trip from Oban Airport!
Dunollie Castle & Clan MacDougal
Dunollie Castle is one of the best-known attractions in Oban, with its expansive grounds, museum, cafe, and deep history, all bringing thousands of visitors to the Castle every single year.
At Dunollie Castle, you can explore the 1745 House Museum and gain a greater insight into the history of the Castle and its relationship with the MacDougal clan. You can enjoy guided tours that take you through the victories and defeats of the MacDougal’s and the complex weaving process in the Weaving Shed.
Finish off your trip at this excellent destination by sitting down at the Kettle Garden Cafe and admiring the surrounding woodlands and the ruins of Dunollie Castle.
Try Sea Kayaking
Sometimes carving your path through the calm waves of the waters around Oban is the best way to experience the area’s hidden gems. If this sounds right up your alley, consider trying some sea kayaking on your holiday!
Some of the best attractions in Oban lie beyond the coastline, like the giant Fingal’s Cave, Loch Etive, and many more!
The thrill of kayaking through the waters of Scotland is an activity that few get to enjoy while in Oban, so it’s worth adding to your list!
Oban Chocolate Company
When you think of decadence in Oban, only one place comes to mind – Oban Chocolate Company. Step into their veritable chocolate factory and discover sweet and rich tastes like you never have before.
Two young enterprising Scots opened this well-known chocolate shop in 2003 after a trip to Australia, and it now holds some of the best chocolates in Scotland. You can try a tasting, choosing from four to six chocolate, or even attend the chocolate workshop with your family.
For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, the Oban Chocolate Company is the perfect attraction to Scottish-inspired chocolates and take them home as a gift!
Connel Bridge & the Falls of Lora
Spanning over Loch Etive, the Connel Bridge connects two parts of Scotland and is a marvel of engineering and architecture. It was built in 1903 to hold a railway line between the two regions and now acts as a beautiful crossing while you travel through Oban.
Underneath the Bridge are the Falls of Lora, a series of rapids that flow seaward when the tide allows. This destination is top-rated for adventurous kayakers seeking a new thrill and photographers that come to capture this natural phenomenon.
Connel Bridge is not just a way to cross over Loch Etive but also an attraction itself, so make sure to visit this impressive structure when you travel through.
Enjoy a Boat Trip & Seafari
While on land, you only truly get to see half the sights of Scotland. The true beauty of the west coast of Scotland is only revealed when you take a boat trip onto its waters.
Oban has many options, but Oban Sea Tours and Allan’s Boat Trips will offer you an entirely new perspective of Scotland! While aboard these Seafari tours, you can expect expert insight into the historical landmarks of the Oban and the abundant wildlife of the seas.
You have the chance to see leaping dolphins, majestic whales, and a plethora of bird species, including the rare white-tailed eagle. The waters around Oban offer sea life tours unlike anywhere else in Scotland.
A few miles north of Oban lies the expansive Loch Etive, a beautiful loch accessible through either one of the day trips offered by boats or a simple drive to its shores.
The Loch presents stunning vistas to all those that make the pilgrimage to this gorgeous destination, with the wild countryside seeming to roll on forever. You can even occasionally see wild highland cattle grazing on its steep hillsides.
A trip up north to Loch Etive is an excellent way to spend your afternoon while touring the area surrounding Oban offers.
Oban harbour is the very lifeblood of the town. It holds the Calmac Ferry Terminal that allows passengers to move to and from the beautiful harbour towns around Oban, the trade ships that bring and take the bountiful produce, and boat trips that let you experience Oban from the water.
The north pier offers excellent views of this marina. Afterwards, a simple trek through the harbourside Corran Esplanade and streets like George Street, Argyll Street, and Stevenson Street lead straight to Oban’s nightlife and restaurants.
Oban harbour offers an excellent opportunity to enjoy the quality dining destinations that overlook the bustling port. The sunset dinners you can have on Oban harbour and the north pier are incredible.
A picturesque beach found just north of Oban, Ganavan Sands boasts excellent views of the nearby islands of Mull, Lismore, and Morven. It also has a superb coastal walking path perfect for a sunset stroll along the beach.
Ganavan Sands has beautiful sandy beaches and clear blue waters that make you wonder if you’re actually in the Mediterranean! A family day out to Ganavan Sands is one of the best ways to use the summer sun.
Enjoy some time swimming and sunbathing at Ganavan Sands the next time a beautiful clear day comes around during your trip to Oban.
Dive into a taste of the local cuisine found on Oban by taking a trip to MacGillivray’s Seafood. This restaurant and bar boast a delicious array of seafood and incredible local delicacies and beer.
Visitors to MacGillivray’s love how fresh the seafood is at this highly-rated restaurant, with some claiming that MacGillivray’s is “One of the best seafood restaurants in Scotland.”
Take a trip down to MacGillivray’s, and you won’t be disappointed with the excellent quality of the food and service you receive while there.
The long harbourside views granted by the twisting Corran Esplanade are the perfect romantic walk destination in Oban. The Esplanade offers access to the incredible views of the harbour, marina, and the many shops and restaurants that Oban offers.
The Esplanade is also a great place to acquire accommodation during your stay in Oban. Stay in a luxury hotel or hunting lodge that offers easy access to all the amenities you’d ever need while travelling through Scotland.
A visit to the Corran Esplanade while in Oban is undoubtedly a must-do experience you should undertake while in the town.
Dunstaffnage Castle & Chapel
Dunstaffnage Castle & Chapel is one of the most popular attractions to visit while in Oban. The Castle offers an incredible look into the history of the Castle and the region.
Experience one of Scotland’s oldest castles and enjoy the site of many historic battles at Dunstaffnage Castle. With its ancient architecture and mysterious atmosphere, Duntaffnage is a great place to spend a few hours as you explore the region’s deep history.
Ardchatten Priory Gardens
First settled by monks almost 700 years ago, the Ardchatten Priory Gardens were passed down over the centuries and lovingly cultivated.
The Priory Gardens are a tranquil place filled with unique attractions like its herbaceous borders, a rockery, and an expansive flower garden. The Garden is a year-round attraction as different trees and flowers bloom at various times throughout the year, making it a completely different experience when you visit throughout the year.
Don’t miss out on seeing the immense beauty of these gorgeous gardens while you’re in Oban.
Loch Awe & Kilchurn Castle
Kilchurch Castle sits on the edge of the beautiful Loch Awe, creating a picturesque fortress for all those that come to see this mighty destination.
It’s easy to see why Kilchurch Castle is considered one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, with its bold architecture sitting next to the serene Loch Awe and the rolling hills behind it.
Kilchurch Castle was built in the 1400s and has been home to much of Scottish history; making a trip to this iconic site is a must while visiting Oban.
This seafront Cathedral is a stunning piece of architecture that should be high on your sightseeing list while you’re in Oban. The inside of St. Columba’s reveals an even more stunning semblance of pillars and wood that takes you back in time.
The Cathedral doesn’t just draw your eye but is also a functioning place of worship for the locals of Oban, welcoming everyone to their mass on Sundays.
Even if you’re not religiously inclined, a stop by St. Columba’s Cathedral is a great way to admire the religious history of Oban.
Duncan MacDougal built this grand fort in the early 16th century to act as a way to dominate the Sound of Kerrera. Today, Gylen Castle is one of the most notable tourist attractions around Oban.
A brief walk allows you to reach the fort and reveals stunning views as you explore the ancient stones of the Castle itself. The moss-covered rocks of this old structure bring to life the age and history of the site as though you were walking alongside Duncan yourself.
Gylen Castle is a short trip away and is the perfect way to cap off a day of sightseeing.
The Dog Stone
While taking one of the fantastic ferries from the ferry terminal in Oban, you may be lucky enough to see the Dog Stone, a massive protruding chunk of stone that draws the eye.
Myths explain this as the place where Fingal the Giant tied his dog Bran, with the narrower base of the Dog Stone was said to have been carved by the constant friction as Bran tried to free himself from his chain.
The Dog Stone is a mystical attraction to see while in Oban and one of the highlights to check out while experiencing Oban Bay.
Glencruitten Cathedral of Trees
The Glencruitten Cathedral of Trees is Scotland’s only living Cathedral. The Cathedral of Trees is laid out like a church, with hedges and trees as walls and rooms.
This venue is perfect for weddings and celebrations, drawing on the area’s natural beauty to elevate any event you’d like to book here! Even if you’re just interested in walking through the maze of manicured hedges and flora, the Glencruitten Cathedral of Trees is undoubtedly one of the lushest places to put on your to-do list while in Oban.
Watching over Oban and its surrounding waters, the Hutcheson’s Monument is a proud memorial to the entrepreneurial David Hutcheson, erected in 1883.
The monument can be seen towering on the Isle of Kerrera, best viewed aboard the ferries that travel to and from Oban. The Caledonian MacBrayne ferries that you take to see the monument were once the ferries owned by Hutcheson, a poetic coincidence!
You can even pay a visit to the monument if you dock and explore the Isle of Kerrera, a mere stone’s throw away from Oban. Enjoy the sights and history presented by this grand monument next time you’re visiting Oban!
Just east of Oban sits the Historic Kilbride, a collection of ancient gravesites dating back to the 1200s in historical records.
The existing site was made in the 1700s and houses many notable figures of Oban’s history, like prominent chieftains of Clan MacDougal, alongside even more Medieval and modern stones.
Immerse yourself in the history of these prominent clans as you wander throughout the graves and old stone structures of Historic Kilbride. It will likely be a destination you won’t soon forget!
More things to do in Argyll & ButeThinking Of Booking A Trip? Check Our Top Accommodation Options In Oban
If you are visiting with a pet check out Dog Friendly Cottages’ page on Oban.