If you’re making a trip to Scotland to see the amazing wildlife and nature on offer, then you’re probably going to come through a little town called Oban. Oban is on the west coast of Scotland; and visitors to the town will enjoy beautiful views over the harbour and ocean beyond, as well as a raft of excellent dining options around the harbour.
You can get a taste of Oban in the gallery below. However, you’re likely going to be here as the access point to somewhere a little further afield, because Oban is also known as the ‘gateway to the Hebrides’.
For those who may not know, the Hebrides (a collection of islands sitting off the west coast of mainland Scotland) has some of the most spectacular wildlife and nature experiences in the United Kingdom. We have a full post on the Hebrides coming up so if you’re interested to know more check that out.
But wait… before you jump on the ferry and begin your Hebridean adventure, you need to read this post. Because if you rush off to the boat too quickly you could end up missing some absolute gems in and around the Oban area.
So, if Oban is on your route, we’ll make sure you know all the best things to do before you set sail.
Top things to do around Oban
When you’re doing a road trip, it’s very easy to type your next destination into google maps and just look for the fastest route. None of us want to spend more time driving than we have to. However, there are a number of places where taking a slightly longer route can be worth every extra minute behind the wheel… and Scotland is definitely one of those places (if only google allowed you to choose the ‘scenic’ route instead of the fastest or shortest).
So our first recommendation starts before you even get close to Oban.
- When you are planning your route into Oban we highly recommend taking the road through Glencoe. Whether you are coming from Fort William in the North, or the Trossachs & Glasgow to the south, the stretch of road from Tyndrum to Glencoe is probably going to look a little out of your way. But trust us when we tell you… this is possibly the most scenic drive in Scotland. Coming from Tyndrum this magical road winds its way through the most picture perfect highland scenery, before descending down towards the ocean, through a breathtaking valley road with amazing photo opportunities at each turn of the road. Spectacular walks zig-zag across the countryside and there is a great chance to see wild deer and even some highland cows as you wander through the hills.
If you can plan your route to Oban along this road then great. If not, it’s a wonderful half-day trip from the town that you definitely won’t regret.
- A little closer to Oban, near the town of Appin, sits another star attraction of the area, Castle Stalker. Set on a small island just off the coast, Castle Stalker has to be one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland. For those of you who remember Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the castle may seem very familiar. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, you’ll still love the picture perfect setting of this magical place.
- Castle Stalker is only accessible by boat and trips go from April to October. Don’t worry if you miss the tour though, it’s still worth a visit for the spectacular view from shore.
- Castle Stalker is believed originally to have been the site of a Fortalice (a small fortified building) belonging to the MacDougalls when they were Lords of Lorn, and built around 1320.
- Our final attraction is a little closer to Oban, in fact it’s sat right above it. McCaig’s Tower is a large monument built in 1897 by John Stuart McCaig. It’s also happens to be the perfect spot to enjoy sunset with a bottle of wine while you watch the boats coming and going across Oban Bay.
Where to stay in oban
With early morning ferries and late night arrivals you are going to need a great spot to stay the night. Sat right on the waterfront looking over the harbour, the Perle Oban is our recommended place to stay when exploring the area. The location can’t be beaten, being just steps from the ferry and boasting sunset and harbour views from the bar, restaurant and many of the rooms. The hotel has been completely renovated recently and the service was absolutely faultless. After arriving from our basking shark trip they had hot towels waiting for us (very much appreciated after swimming in the Scottish ocean), and the food in the restaurant (the restaurant is called 1882) is amazing. We couldn’t be happier to recommend this place to our followers.
Where to park when visiting the Hebrides
If you’re off exploring the islands without your vehicle then you are going to want somewhere to secure it while you are away. If you are happy to pay for a little extra security then the car park at the ferry terminal is just $5 per day. However, if you’re looking to save a little and don’t mind a short stroll then add Oban sailing club on Gallanach Rd to your GPS. Gallanach Rd starts at the ferry terminal and heads out of town along the waterfront. If you’re coming from the town then drive past the houses (leave those spaces for residents) and as soon as you see the sailing club start looking for a spot. We visited in the middle of summer and found a spot easily. Returned 4 days later and we had an easy 5 minute walk back to the car.
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Take care and keep an eye out for our next article, as we head out to see in search of basking sharks in the Hebrides.