Scottish holiday destination of the week: Oban

Fishing boats in Oban harbour. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Fishing boats in Oban harbour. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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AS the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, Oban benefits from plenty of passing trade as visitors stop by the waterfront town before moving onto Scotland’s western isles.

However, Oban’s growing reputation as a tourist destination means that, increasingly, people are taking their time about heading to the harbour.

Arduaine Garden. Picture: Stephen Mansfield

Arduaine Garden. Picture: Stephen Mansfield

The town’s closeness to the sea gives lie to another nickname, the ‘Seafood Capital of Scotland’, that should tempt anyone with an appetite for some of Scotland’s finest produce.

And working off those extra pounds shouldn’t be too difficult thanks to a cluster of outdoor activities on offer showcasing the area’s sealife.

Oban also has a clutch of museums and historical sites of interest to enjoy, such as the 1745 House at Dunollie, a museum and cultural centre, and the Oban War and Peace Museum.

Things to do

Croabh Haven yacht marina, south of Oban. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Croabh Haven yacht marina, south of Oban. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Oban is stuffed with places to eat and drink. A whisky distillery - the Oban Distillery on Stafford Street - is one of many essential stops for anyone who is fond of a nip (or three), while a clutch of bistros and restaurants serve some of the best seafood you’re likely to find in Scotland. Eeusk Fish Restaurant in the town’s North Pier is a favourite with locals, while The Barnbar and restaurant, complete with open fire and playpark and situated beneath a nearby glen, offers an idyllic space in which to enjoy a stream of real ales and whiskies.

Kayaking is a major attraction for visitors to Oban, and is a real draw as it offers unrivalled views of the surrounding area’s islands and natural wildlife. Several companies offer excellent kayak packages. The National Kayak School offers rates starting at £40 per person.

For something more tranquil there’s Arduaine Gardens, a short drive away from Oban and well worth a visit whether you’re a holticultural connoisseur, or someone who just likes flowers.

Diving is also popular on Oban, with sites to suit all levels of expertise. Several specialists operate in the town, so coming across one to cater to your needs won’t be too difficult. We’d suggest embarking on some research before booking anything; speaking to an onsite specialist is best.

How to get there

Prices on trains from Edinburgh will vary - advance single tickets can go as cheaply as £14.60, but an adult one-way fare is more likely to be £38.70. If departing from Glasgow, a single ticket will cost as little as £9.80, up to £22.40.

By car, Oban is a two-hour drive from Glasgow. Following the A82 and A85 should see you swiftly into Oban.


The full gamut of accommodation types are available on Oban, from four star hotels to modest bed and breakfast establishments and tidy hostels. Cottages and chalets are also available if you’re looking for something a little more secluded.

Recommended hotel: The Ranald Hotel, double rooms from £55 per night

Recommended hostel: Oban Backpackers Plus, single rooms for £17 per person per night


Setting aside travel costs, most of your budget will be spent on eating, accommodation and diving and kayaking activities. Rates tend to work out at £40-50 per person for kayaking, but factor in a little more for equipment hire. Diving is more expensive, with most courses starting at around the £250-300 mark.