Oban ‘Little Bay’
Oban is overflowing with superb restaurants, cafes, bars, traditional pubs, and independent shops showcasing a wonderful array of fresh local produce and crafts. Wildlife trips and ferries leave regularly from the bustling harbour to nearby Mull, Staffa, Iona and beyond – with deserted islands, ancient castles and monasteries to discover. At every turn Oban treats you to epic scenery, mountains, sandy beaches, wild skies, lush hills and an amazing diversity of wildlife. The whole family is catered for with castles, historical houses and gardens, world renowned Oban Distillery, Sealife Centre, beach, museum, cinema, theatre, leisure centre & swimming pool, 2 soft play areas and a selection of supermarkets including M&S.
Dining and drinking
Known as the “Seafood Capital of Scotland” Oban’s fresh fish, lobster, oysters, scallops, mussels and langoustine are world class. This region is also famous for its fabulous steak, organic vegetables and fruit (finest raspberries in the world!) Treat yourself to fine dining at the Manor House Hotel or enjoy the freshest local catch at Ee-Usk or Waterfront Fish House; you are spoiled for culinary choice with Scottish, Italian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, and European restaurants. Finish the night with a whisky at Auley’s Pub, Trad. music session at Markie Dans or cocktails at the Perle Hotel on the quayside. If you are catching a ferry, arrive early so you can indulge in the famous al-fresco seafood bars on the pier before you set sail.
Boat trips to the Western Isles
Oban is ideally located for exploring the isles. Closest island, Kerrera, is a couple of minute’s boat-ride away, whilst nearby Mull, Iona and Staffa can be visited as a daytrip or longer. No trip to Mull would be complete without visiting Tobermory or Duert’s Castle; Iona to find stunning white beaches and visit the Abbey - birthplace of Christianity in Britain and burial place of Scottish Kings; Staffa to visit Fingal’s Cave and Lunga to see the puffins. Other island trips include Coll, Tiree and Lismore. From Cuan Ferry, it’s a short crossing to the utterly tranquil Luing and Easdale. The Luing Atlantic Islands Centre gives a wonderful taste of island life through the ages with displays, events, gift shop and café overlooking the ocean.
Castles, attractions and gardens
Oban boasts castles, places of historical intrigue, gardens, famous distillery and incredible architectural landmarks. The clan seat of the McDougall’s ‘Dunollie Castle’ sits proudly above the bay, whilst McCaig’s Tower (iconic Oban landmark based on the Rome Coliseum) leaves a lasting impression. Lit up by night, it casts a magical ambience over the town. Take a tour of Oban Distillery and sample a dram or two at the tasting bar. Explore the War and Peace museum and enjoy a day at Arduaine Gardens (National Trust) in its utterly peaceful setting overlooking the sound of Jura. The temperate climate allows for spectacular displays of plants, known as ‘plantsman’s paradise’. Other attractions near Oban include Dunstaffnage Castle, Dunbeg Marina, Inverarary Castle and jail, Inverawer Smokery and Country Park, Cruachan Hollow Mountain, Loch Lomond…to name a few.
Deer, dolphins, whales, basking sharks, seals, otters, puffins, porpoises, Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, buzzards and seabirds are to be found in abundance. There are many opportunities to explore freely on foot, or take part in incredible wildlife trips by boat with companies such as Seafari. Boats offer visitors the opportunity to get up close to these species, and perhaps even view Minke whales or puffin colonies. Pony trekking from Achnalarig Riding Stables is a great way to experience the wilder areas. For the intrepid, get up close to the second biggest fish in the world – the basking shark - with Basking Shark Scotland’s single, 2 or 3 day excursions. For a tamer experience, the Sealife Centre is a wonderful way to spend the day, helping to feed the otters, seals, and learn about the natural habitats of sea creatures in these waters.
The great outdoors and sports
A wonderful way to take in the town is with a guided ‘walking tour’, or simply freely wander the hills with views to the sea and islands beyond. There are 20 ‘Munros’ (mountains higher than 3000 ft) within a 45 minute drive of Oban, whilst gentler walks include Ganavan, Dunstaffnage, Ben Lora, or Ardchattan Priory Gardens. Cycling, rock climbing, fishing, sailing, and golf are well catered for. Plenty of watersports are on offer with scuba diving, water skiing and wind surfing. Oban is one of the world’s top sea kayaking destinations, with stunning scenery and excellent opportunities to get up close to wildlife. Discover towering cliffs, enormous sea caves and find seals, porpoises, whales, otters and eagles. The nearby Gulf Stream and unpolluted waters of the Firth of Lorne give the perfect conditions for watersports all year round.
Oban for children
The town is brilliantly geared to children, with many restaurants offering free children’s meals. There is a fabulous leisure centre with two swimming pools and flume, climbing wall, gym, tennis courts, soft play and café. Its outdoor Play Park caters for children big and small. ‘Go Bananas’ at Bridge Café is another soft play area with great menu and comfy sofas. Head to Ganavan Sands armed with bucket, spade and kite on a windy day. Discover secrets of the ocean at the Ocean Explorer Centre (with interactive displays, ice cinema and café) or Sealife Centre, where children can feed otters and seals in incredible loch side surroundings. The Puffin Dive Centre offers diving for children 8 yrs plus; 1 to 1 tuition with full kit supplied, while the National Kayak School have kids kayaks and ‘doubles’. Catch a kid’s movie during the daytime at the cinema, or experience a fun taste of Gaelic with simple songs and magical stories at a ‘Gaelic Book Bug’ session, held at Furan Gaelic Centre.
Music, Arts & entertainment
Oban hosts festivals throughout the year, namely the Highland Games, Winter Festival, Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival, Festival of the Sea, West Highland Yachting Week and music extravaganza Oban Live. Music is a big part of the town, with bands playing in pubs and dancing nights at Skippinish Ceilidh House. Check out the Rockfield Centre for cultural events, Arts exhibitions and workshops. The Corran Halls puts on a wide range of shows and concerts (previously hosting Ed Byrne, John Bishop, iconic 90s band James, The Poozies and Ballet West). For pipe band concerts, ceilidhs, Traditional and classical music events, Argyll Gathering Halls is an atmospheric venue, and do catch a lunchtime recital or evening concert at one of the two cathedrals. This area is wonderfully rich in Gaelic culture; at every turn you’ll experience the passion, music, story telling, arts and mythology of Celtic culture. The Gaelic language is both spoken and celebrated here, with many events and workshops…visitors are always warmly welcomed!
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