Visiting Oban, Scotland

Oban: a quiet port town in the Scottish highlands. Specializing in seafood, whisky, and local history, this little municipality is a scenic gem. Set in a great location, Oban is great for doing a lot of exploring. Fortunately, it’s not quite as busy as some other places in Scotland.

View from the port in Oban Bay, Scotland. A beautiful seaside town.

McCaig’s Tower

Within Oban limits, the first thing you’ll probably spot is McCaig’s Tower. Hike up to the top for the most amazing views of the Bay.

John Stuart McCaig designed and erected the Tower because he wanted to leave a family legacy behind before his passing. He originally intended the structure to be a museum or gallery, but only the outer walls were completed by John’s death in 1902. It was decided that the outer walls would remain, with a surrounding garden. Although unfinished, the Tower is indeed a legacy to the wealthy banker.

Walking up to McCaig's Tower in Oban, Scotland. A long hike up a steep set of stairs.
The garden outside McCaig's Tower in Oban, Scotland.
McCaig's Tower in Oban, Scotland. Modelled after the Coliseum but not completed, and turned into a beautiful garden.
View of Oban Bay from McCaig's Tower in Scotland. A beautiful seaside town that is the gateway to the Hebrides.
View from the top.
Hanging out at McCaig's Tower in Oban, Scotland. Travel girl sitting in a window sill.

Oban Distillery

Next on the list of Oban’s must-see’s is the Oban Distillery. The whisky itself has an impressive history; check it out here on their website. Personally, I find their single malt has a beautiful mix of sweet Highland and smokey island flavours, and is well worth the try.

The distillery has a very interesting tour of their operations, and are very proud about the fact that they have never moved or expanded.

View from above the distillery on our way up to McCaig's Tower in Oban, Scotland.
The distillery from above on the path to McCaig’s Tower.
Oban Distillery in Scotland.

Shops & Dining

The little town is home to many unique shops and places to eat, all located in a very walkable downtown area. Most of the stores reflect the essence of Oban life. There are sporting goods, whisky, and touristic shops. I picked up some cute, handmade gifts at Room 15 on Stafford Street.

Downtown Oban, Scotland.  St John's Cathedral.

Each restaurant has a touch of the sea, with some of the best seafood I’ve ever had.

I highly recommend the Waterfront Fishouse Restaurant and the Cuan Mór. The Fishouse has the best mussels (and fish) you’ll ever eat, and the Cuan Mór has an all around great menu with a beautiful aesthetic. Both restaurants have amazing views of the Bay.

Dinner at the Fishouse Restaurant in Oban, Scotland. Places to Eat in Scotland.
The Fishouse.
Delicious seafood in Scotland. Baked clams.
Scottish mussels in a white wine cream sauce.
Scottish seafood is the best.
To die for seafood carbonara in Scotland.
Chocolate and Vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Cuan Mór restaurant in Oban, Scotland. Where to eat in Scotland.
Cuan Mór
An Cuan Mór - Atlantic Ocean seafood restaurant.

The Isles near Oban

From Oban Bay, you can hop on a ferry and visit one of the many islands nearby. Read more about our Three Isles Tour here for the best natural phenomenon in the Hebrides, featuring puffins! Other islands you can visit include:

  • Kerrera: home to the ruins of Gylen Castle, Hutcheson’s Monument, and a beautiful Glen.
  • Lismore: a tranquil place, famous for its cattle
  • Luing: a small historic island, filled with quiet village life
  • Scarba: near the infamous Corryvreckan whirlpool, which you can see from the highest parts of the isle.
  • Seil: its island status is much debated because it’s connected by a 200-year-old bridge.
  • And many more, farther isles.
The view of Oban Bay in Scotland. Lots of sailboats in the Hebrides.
Isle of Mull ferry from Oban, Scotland.
View from McCaig's Tower in Oban, Scotland. What a beautiful island from this port city.
Isle of Kerrera from McCaig’s Tower.

Nearby Oban

Inland, near the outskirts of Oban, lies Dunstaffnage Castle & Chapel. The 13th-century MacDougall stronghold is filled with history and surrounded by natural beauty. It’s one of the oldest castle ruins in Scotland. Unfortunately, I missed this one on my trip to Oban.

There are so many things to see within an hour of Oban, including the Ardmucknish Bay, Loch Etive, Fort William, Glencoe, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, and Inverary (just to name a few).

View of Hutcheson's Monument in Oban Bay, Scotland on the isle of Kerrera.

Where to Stay in Oban

We stayed in a sweet little AirBnB during our time in Oban. Get $45 CAD off a home booking of $95 CAD or more and $17 off an experience of $63 or more with my coupon code. We went with AirBnB because all the (limited number of) hotels were already booked, but it ended up being a great experience AND we saved a ton of money. Although I couldn’t find the exact house we stayed in, there are still many great places on the website.

Final Thoughts

Oban is a true port and gateway to Scotland.

Oban port in Scotland.

The town is exquisite, and makes for a worthwhile trip. Even though there is still so many places in Scotland I must get to, I would definitely return to this picturesque seaside town. Above all, I would go back for the food.

Have you ever visited Oban? Is there anything you would add to this list?

Pleasant ivy curving up a window sill in an English garden, in Oban, Scotland.

Check out my other Scotland posts here.

14 Comments

  1. Taima Ramsey
    February 6, 2019 / 9:16 pm

    The images are stunning. Looks like such a cute place to visit. I love discovering new places.

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      February 6, 2019 / 9:34 pm

      Thank you so much! I love to take photos wherever I go 🤗

  2. Caroline
    February 8, 2019 / 4:38 pm

    This is such a darling place. I only visited Edinburgh up to now and have so much still left to see in Scotland. Will be adding this spot to my Scotland wishlist! Thanks for sharing.

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      February 11, 2019 / 9:41 pm

      Edinburgh is my favourite city! But the rest of Scotland is not to be forgotten.

  3. February 11, 2019 / 4:18 pm

    That town looks SO precious! And that food looks delicious – now I want to book a flight to Scotland!!

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      February 11, 2019 / 9:42 pm

      Scotland is a must-see! Every town is beautiful in its own way, and I never ate any bad food.

  4. February 17, 2019 / 4:22 pm

    Saving this guide for when I visit Scotland!

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      February 20, 2019 / 3:48 am

      Thank you! Scotland is an amazing trip:)

  5. February 22, 2019 / 5:24 pm

    Your photos are so dreamy! Definitely adding it to my list of places to go this year 🙂

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      February 22, 2019 / 6:58 pm

      Thanks so much! Let me know if you go, I’d love to follow your journey!

  6. February 22, 2019 / 11:51 pm

    You had me with the ice cream.

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      February 26, 2019 / 1:56 am

      Haha ice cream makes everything better!

  7. Kay
    April 29, 2019 / 9:31 pm

    It seems super affordable, and I love that is still a great Scotland destination, but with a fraction of the crowd! The seafood especially looked delicious!

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      May 2, 2019 / 6:00 pm

      It’s a pretty incredible place to go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *