In the summer months, this sleepy fishing village on Scotland’s west coast comes alive as the population can explode to over 20,000. And with travel mag centerfold good looks, easy access to the region’s wealth of beautiful islands and lakes, and home to some of the best Scotch in the world, it’s no wonder! Let’s visit Oban!
Visiting Oban? Here’s What To Do
There’s really so much to do, this place could keep you busy for days. Here’s a list of our must-see’s when visiting Oban.
Visiting Oban? Take a Stroll:
Oban literally means “Little Bay” in Gaelic, and there’s no doubt that the horseshoe-shaped namesake is the town’s centerpiece and focal point. Known as “Gateway to the Isles,” Oban’s harbor teems with ferry activity, especially in the summer months. Take a stroll along the water’s edge, salt-tinged sea in the air, colorful city architecture guiding the way, and you’ll likely never forget the charms of stunning Oban.
You can see Roman ruins towering above Oban’s skyline from nearly any point in town. The thing is, these ruins weren’t built by Romans, but a local banker named John Stuart McCaig back in 1897, who designed these stone walls to resemble the Colosseum of Rome. Take a stroll to the top of Battery Hill and ponder why some call this structure, “McCaig’s Folley.”
Visiting Oban? Book a Tour!
Visiting Oban? Eat, Drink, Be Happy!
Ok, we’ll admit it… Our fascination with and eventual visit to Oban was born of a deep love for the delicious whiskey that is distilled here. And truly, history shows that we aren’t the only ones… It wasn’t until 1797 when the distillery was built that the city began to flourish. When visiting Oban, DO NOT MISS the tasty and informative distillery tour.
Oban Fish and Chips
When in Rome, you eat pizza. When in the “Seafood Capital of Scotland”, eat fish and chips! There’s no wonder that lines extend out the door for a takeaway box of this flaky, golden goodness. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss the deep-fried haggis!
Visiting Oban? Take a Day Trip!
Thinking Loch Ness? Consider Loch Lomond instead. Roughly 1.5 hours inland from Oban, this freshwater lake is the largest in the UK. Flanked by the Munros mountains that seemingly dive directly into crystal-clear depths and surrounded by the wooded glens of Trossachs National Park, this could be the most beautiful lake in Scotland.
Just 25 minutes from Oban, Loch Linhe is actually a saltwater “sea pool.” Linhe is also part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, and an opportunity to see the iconic, island-bound Castle Stalker in person should not be missed.
Visiting Oban? Bonus!
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Oban travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Oban
Getting to Oban: FLY
Oban’s nearest international airport is Glasgow Airport, about 3 hours away. If planned in advance, you can find reasonable direct flights to Glasgow from most major cities in Europe including Dublin for $8, Berlin for $15, Barcelona for $19, or London for $19 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner. You can also find limited domestic flights from select UK airports into Oban Connel Airport, but ticket prices can run well over $100.
Glasgow Flight Deals
Getting to Oban: TRAIN
Trains throughout Europe are a great option. You’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and the trains are typically very comfortable. With cheap flights available from most major European cities to Glasgow, we recommend flying in, then finishing your trip by rail with Scotrail for about $40.
Getting to Oban: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. Bus travel is generally less expensive and the ride from London is just $60, but the trip to Oban takes just over 12 hours.
Glasgow Airport to Oban City Center
Fly into Glasgow Airport which is located about 97 miles from Oban’s City Center. How will you get there?
From Glasgow Airport:
Outside the airport terminal building, take the airport express bus operated by Citylink to the Buchanan Bus Station in the Glasgow City Center. Tickets are about $4 and can be purchased via the mTicket app, online or onboard. Take one of 4 daily Citylink departures from the Buchanan Bus Station to Oban. Tickets should run about $29 for the 3-hour ride.
Outside the airport terminal building, take the airport express bus operated by Citylink to the Queen Street Station in the Glasgow City Center. Tickets are about $4 and can be purchased via the mTicket app, online or onboard. Take one of 3 daily departures from the Queen Street Station to Oban. Tickets should run about $40 for the 3-hour ride, but if purchased far enough in advance, discounts of up to 50% are not uncommon.
Known as “Gateway to the Islands,” Oban is a busy ferry port with regular ferries to and from many Scottish islands. For more information, including destinations and timetables, visit the Calmac website.
Getting around in Oban
Taxis are readily available in Oban, especially near the train station and ferry port. You can also reserve a taxi by phone.
Walkscore.com gives Oban a score of 82, calling it a “Very Walkable”. We also found this to be true and highly recommend walking in Oban.
With ten lines and affordable rates, Oban’s West Coast Motors bus system is a good option for getting around in Oban. Check the website for a full list of routes and rates.
Where To Stay in Oban:
Where To Stay in Oban: HOTELS
With prices ranging from $62-$225/night, from budget to luxury, you’re sure to find the right hotel in Oban. We’ve found some great hotel deals using Priceline’s sister site, Agoda.com.
Oban Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Oban: HOSTELS
With just four hostels in Oban, you should probably book ahead. Prices generally start around $20/night, depending on your choice of private or ensuite room. Hostelworld always has great deals, especially in Oban:
Oban Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Oban: AIRBNB
We love using Airbnb. From private rooms to entire homes, Airbnb is represented in all parts of Oban and the average Airbnb price is only $113/night. If you’re a first timer to Airbnb, use our coupon for $35 off your first night’s stay.
Where To Stay in Oban: NEIGHBORHOODS
Oban is a beautiful little port town that is filled to the brim with art galleries, boutique shopping, and excellent restaurants. The entire area is very walkable, so you should be pleased with any location within the old town.
Oban Travel Tips:
Oban Travel Tips: Tipping
Tipping in Scotland is the general practice in restaurants, taxis, and upmarket hotels. At restaurants tip 10-15% in cash, only if they haven’t already included a service charge. At hotels, leave $1-$2 per day, and for taxi drivers round up.
Oban travel tips: Money
Scotland’s national currency is the Pound and is currently exchanging at .81GPB to $1USD. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are readily available.
Oban travel tips: Insurance
Traveling to Oban is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.