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.
The main ferries from Oban are to Lismore, Mull, Colonsay, Coll, Tiree and Barra. There are also several little Islands of Loch Linnhe, so close to shore that they're effectively outlying districts of Oban, and that are therefore described on this page. These are Kerrara, Seil, Easdale, Luing and Scarba.
The TIC is on North Pier. It's generally open Nov-Mar 10:00-17:00, Apr-Oct 09:00-18:00, Sunday hours shorter.
- Glasgow Airport (GLA) is closest and has a good range of UK & European flights. Hiring a car, turn west onto M8 then cross Erskine Bridge to join A82 north. By public transport you could go into central Glasgow for the bus or train to Oban. But you can save some time by taking a taxi from the airport to Dumbarton Central station, where the Oban trains and buses stop: reckon £20-25. (They don't stop at Dumbarton East station.)
- By car Edinburgh Airport (EDI) doesn't take much longer and has more destinations. It's west of the city so you turn straight onto M9 north.
Oban AirportThis has Hebrideanair flights from the islands of Coll, Colonsay, Islay and Tiree. This is basically an airborne school bus service, using BNF Islanders, with a 10 kilo total baggage limit. Oban has no flights from the mainland UK network.
By trainTrains from Glasgow Queen Street run up The West Highland Line to Oban, taking 3 hours 10 min, via Dumbarton Central and Crianlarich. They're every three hours or so M-Sat, with the first running north around 05:20 for 08:30, the last at 18:20 for 21:30. Southbound back to Glasgow the first is around 05:20, the last at 20:30. There's only 3 trains on Sunday.
Oban station is in town centre next to the ferry terminal.
Scottish Citylink Bus 976 runs from Glasgow Buchanan St to Oban via Dumbarton, Arrochar (on Loch Lomond), Inveraray and Connel, taking 3 hours. Three buses a day tun M-Sat, two on Sunday.
Bus 918 runs twice a day M-Sat to Fort William (90 min), with a 20 min connection to the onward bus to Inverness (another 2 hours). No Sunday service.
Calmac car ferries ply regularly from Oban 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.
See "Get around" for routes to the nearby islands in Loch Linnhe.
With your own boat, use on A85 five miles north of town. Cruises of the Hebrides often depart from here.
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-Sat 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 five mins. There are over a dozen ferries daily, year-round; mid-morning and mid-afternoon they're every 30 mins. Visitor cars are not carried and you don't need one; bikes are free but space is limited.
Seil Island is 20 miles south of Oban and connected by a bridge. A lane branches off to Ellenabeich (Bus 418 runs here from Oban four times M-Sat), with a ferry to Easdale. From the south tip of Seil a car ferry makes the 220 yard crossing to the island of Luing every 30 mins. Boat trips sometimes venture beyond, to Scarba and into the straits, site of the seething whirlpool of Corryvreckan. At the right state of tide, its roar can be heard ten miles away. Just beyond is the north tip of Jura, but there's no transport across the straits from here, you have to get in via Islay.
address: Duncraggan Rd PA34 5DPJohn Stuart McCaig (1823-1902), a local banker, was aiming for something like the Colosseum in Rome. Only the circular shell, dominating the view for miles around, was completed by the time of his death, so within is simply a public garden and picnic spot where the pipe band sometimes plays. The grand interior and heroic statues of himself and family never happened.
address: Dunollie House PA34 5TTThe castle itself is just a crumbling stump, but there are pleasant gardens and a small museum.
address: Dunbeg PA37 1PZStout, partly ruined castle dating to 13th C, with nearby chapel of similar date. The 16th C gatehouse is the residence of the hereditary Captain - he's still required to stay here three nights a year.
address: Corran Esplanade PA34 5PXMuseum describing Oban's role in wartime and peacetime.
address: Corran EsplanadeThe RC Cathedral is prominent on the Esplanade. It was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who designed the iconic red telephone box) and built in Neo-Gothic style between 1932 and 1959. It's the more interesting of Oban's two cathedrals; its predecessor was St Moluag's on the Isle of Lismore, nowadays a C of S parish church.
address: 129 George St PA34 4NTScottish Episcopal (Anglican) Cathedral hidden among the shops on George Street. 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.
phone: +44 1631 572004address: Stafford St PA34 5NHScotch whisky distillery founded in 1794, now part of Diageo. Frequent tours commended by reviewers, if they're booked out on the website try phoning, they may have availability.
- Boat trips to Mull, Iona and Fingal's Cave are run by West Coast Tours (formerly Bowman's), Caledonian MacBrayne, Turus Mara and Gordon Grant Tours.
- Boat cruises to St Kilda and other remote Hebridean places sail from Dunstaffnage Marina. These are large live-aboard boats on 7-10 day itineraries. (Day trips use small boats from Skye or Harris, but it's too far for them to venture from the mainland.) Operators include Hebrides Cruises, Majestic Line and St Hilda Sea Adventures. They're all fully booked for 2019 and have little availability for 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
phone: +44 1631 565310address: 8 Argyll Street PA34 5SGKayak outfitter leads daily tours and also multi day trips & courses. You can paddle right out of the harbour or rent a trolley and take your kayak on the ferries.
address: Easdale PA34 4TBTrips by high-speed RIB around the islands.
- Oban Live is a music festival usually held in late June. It's cancelled for 2020 but there may be an alternative event on Ganavan shinty pitch on 6 June 2020, tbc.
- Oban Games & Argyllshire Gathering are held at Mossfield Park Oban on the fourth Thursday in August. The next are on Thurs 27 Aug 2020.
phone: +44 1631 564899address: 43 Stevenson St PA34 5NASmall Scottish restaurant, fine dining.
phone: +44 1631 563110address: No1 The Pier PA34 4LWMundane surroundings but this one gets the vote for quality of food and service. Restaurant upstairs, bar food downstairs.
phone: +44 1631 565666address: North Pier PA 34 5QDSeafood restaurant, decent food but pricey for the quality and portion size, you're paying for the view. Service can be very slow.
- The Barn is at Cologin 2 miles south, see "Sleep".
- Buy fresh seafood from the kiosks on the Railway Pier and dine al wafto - waving your hands about your head against marauding gulls and midges.
- Oban is the subject of an ode by the great McGonagall - see Dundee for his career and other poetic gems. That's mentioned here because it will help if you also chug some whisky: before reading him, after, and even better instead of.
- Markie Dan's Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, PA34 5PN open 11:00-01:00 Su-Th, F Sa to 02:00.
address: Stevenson Street PA34 5NADog-friendly, does good food.
- Cellar Bar Corran Esplanade, open Su-Th 12:00-23:00, F Sa to 00:00.
address: 8 Airds Crescent, PA34 5SQFriendly traditional pub, dogs welcome. Bar lunches 12:00-14:30.
phone: +44 1631 562425address: Gallanachmore Farm, Gallanach Rd PA34 4QHOpen April-Sept. Pitches for tourers, static caravan hire, camping pods plus tent sites. Well run with great views.
phone: +44 1631 562755address: Glenshellach Road PA34 5QJOpen Mar-Oct. Plus bunkhouse, bothy and camping pod. No on site cafe or bar.
phone: +44 1631 562107address: Breadalbane St PA34 5NZHostel 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.
phone: +44 1631 567189address: Old Church, Breadalbane St PA34 5PHHostel open all year, with dorms and private rooms. Large communal area with kitchen, dining area, and lots of seats and beanbags. Clean and friendly.
phone: +44 1631 562025address: Corran Esplanade PA34 5AFHostel open all year, dog-friendly. 4, 6 and 8 bed dorms plus private rooms in a large Victorian building on the Esplanade.
phone: +44 1631 566040address: Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, PA34 5PNOpen all year, has private guest rooms (but no singles) plus dorms in main building, more private rooms in Ayres Guest House alongside. With Markie Dan's Bar.
phone: +44 1631 564063, +44 7749 717 976 (mobile)address: Dunollie Rd PA34 5PJFriendly well-run guest house with rooms en suite.
phone: +44 1631 566367address: Island of KerraraOpen April-Sept, 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 18:00), 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.
phone: +44 1631 562585address: Rockfield Road PA34 5DQClean friendly guest house with five doubles & one twin room. No children under 11 or dogs. Up a steep hill, take a taxi if you're heavily laden.
phone: +44 1631 564395address: Corran Esplanade, Oban PA34 5AEUndergoing refurbishment, rooms at front are nicely done up, it's a mess at the back.
phone: +44 1631 562505address: Corran Esplanade, Oban PA34 5AGNow a Best Western, clean and well-run.
phone: +44 1631 562183address: Esplanade, Oban PA34 5QDAs it is on the North Pier, rooms on three sides have sea views, some rooms at the back can be noisy from the pubs below.
phone: +44 1631 564501address: Cologin, Lerags Glen PA34 4SESelf catering in 15 two bedroom lodges and 4 one bedroom chalets (let Sat-Sat), plus Cruachan Cottage and Cologin Farmhouse (let Fri-Fri). Shorter lets available off season. Dogs welcome in some rooms. With on site restaurant and bar.
phone: +44 1631 562087address: Gallanach Road, PA34 4LSOld-style 4-star hotel, good restaurant.
- Sail west on a ferry. A day trip is enough to see Lismore; Mull and Iona can be done as a day trip but deserve longer. Further away are Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, Barra and Lochboisedale on South Uist.
- Go north to Fort William for Ben Nevis, and routes to Loch Ness and Skye.
- Go south to Tarbert (for ferries to Islay) and Kintyre. On the way see Arduane Garden, the extensive prehistoric area of Kilmartin and the island of Gigha.
- Go southeast towards Glasgow, seeing Inveraray, the Cowal peninsula and Loch Lomond.