Located on the west coast of Scotland, Oban is known as the “Gateway to the Islands”, and the name is fitting both literally and culturally. Travelers making their way to the Inner Hebrides (and the Outer islands as well) often get there by way of ferries that start in Oban. But this village of just over 8,000 residents is more than a stepping stone on the way out to the isles. It stands as an attraction in its own right, and a blend of the unique cultures of the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides. It is also home to one of Scotland’s most famous brands of whisky.
>> For more information on ferry service from Oban, check out our guide to ferries from Oban to the Hebridesor search here for ferries:
Oban’s pride and joy is the Oban Distillery, producer of fine malts since 1794. The town itself was not founded until the 19th century, making this one of the very few distilleries older than town surrounding it. Oban is considered a western Highland malt, but like the town itself, the whisky mixes in some elements more commonly associated with the islands. A new visitor’s center was built on the premises in 1999, and tours are available, and highly recommended.
Other Attractions in Oban
Whether you make it to a distillery tour or not, there is plenty else to see in Oban. Here are some of the top sights:
- McCaig’s Tower: On Battery Hill, overlooking Oban, is a building strangely reminiscent of Greek or Roman ruins. This tower, however, is not so much ruined as never finished. The builder died partway through construction in 1902, and the tower’s construction was abandoned. Since the frame of the tower has become an icon of Oban, and the most recognizable building in town.
- Diving: Scotland isn’t known globally as a huge diving destination, owing to its cold and often murky waters, but Oban Sound is one of the better dive sites in Britain, and several active dive tour operators in town can help you see the Sound properly.
- Scottish Sealife Sanctuary: Learn more about Scotland’s marine wildlife, as well as creatures from around the world, like two locally famous river otters named Fingal and Sula.
Places to Stay
Though a small town, Oban is quite well set up for tourism, owing to the fact that in the summer, this town of 8,000 can swell with visitors to as much as four times that. Use the search form below to look for hotels in Oban.