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Oban: The Gateway to the Isles

Scotland may be best known for its mountainous highlands, but with over 750 islands off its coast, you cannot truly say you’ve experienced Scotland without hopping aboard a ferry and riding the waves to one of the many Isles that dot the horizon. Where to begin? The town of Oban on the West Coast is our favourite spot to start your island-hopping adventure. 

Puffin on Lunga - near Oban
Puffin on Lunga Copyright reserved

The Town

Oban is a small port town on the west coast of Scotland affectionately known as the “Gateway to the Isles.” This historic town was developed around the Oban Whisky Distillery and is the largest town between Helensburgh and Fort William. The town’s small harbour is used daily by ferries travelling to the nearby isles of Kerrera, Mull, Coll and many more. It is the perfect spot to base yourself for trips all around the Inner Hebrides.

Oban from McCaig's Tower
Oban from McCaig's Tower Copyright reserved

Which Isles can I visit from Oban?

Oban’s perfect position and sheltered harbour mean you won’t struggle to enjoy a seabound adventure. The Isle of Mull towers over the surrounding area with its mountainous terrain and is the perfect spot for any keen Munro Baggers as you have the chance to conquer Ben More, the only Isle Munro outside of the Isle of Skye. The town of Tobermory on the northeast of the island has great food, whisky and the chance to spot majestic White-Tailed Eagles as they glide over the Sound of Mull. 

The smaller Treshnish Isles, just north of Mull, gives you the opportunity to spot seabirds including the adorable Atlantic Puffin during the months of April to mid August, while even out of season a visit to Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa is sure to leave you amazed and with more than enough pictures to make your family jealous. 

South West of Mull you’ll find the isle of Iona, where Scottish Christianity can trace its roots. Dating back to the arrival of Columba in 563, the Isle of Iona is thriving with historical and cultural importance and is also a perfect spot to see some of Scotland’s marine wildlife including Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise and many species of dolphin. One thing is for sure, you probably won’t get to see every island in the area.

Fingal's Cave on Staffa
Fingal's Cave on Staffa Copyright reserved
Leaving Lunga by boat Copyright reserved

Food and Drink

Oban is known across Scotland as one of the best places to get great seafood at a reasonable price and there are plenty of fishmongers out and about selling their fresh catch to the public. Head down to the docks to get it fresh or search for one of the many divine seafood restaurants on the harbour. Just make sure to call ahead, as they do get very busy!

After a great meal, you won’t find it hard to find some nightlife to keep you entertained. The town centre is filled with craft breweries, cocktail bars and historic pubs that will get you well on your way to having a big night out mingling with the locals. You may even learn some Gaelic as 11.3% of the population speak Gaelic. Slainte mhath! 


Accommodation in Oban

Oban is a small town, but extremely seasonal. During the winter months, you can head to some of the larger hotels, but during summer our Oban Backpackers is the perfect spot to lay your head for the night. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff can give you the best advice on what to see in the town and our huge lounge will have you meeting new people in no time. You can learn more about the hostel here!

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