By Nora Menouni from The Art of Exploring
Oban is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the West Coast of Scotland. It’s not hard to see why as its panoramic views over the isles and lochs will sweep you right off your feet. Indeed, the town is spread on the hills surrounding the bay, directly facing the Island of Kerrera.
As the title-holder of the ‘Seafood Capital of Scotland’, Oban attracts many visitors with its renowned gastronomy. Luckily, the town and its surrounding is also not short of activities, here are five things we recommend you do.
1. Watch the sunset from Mccaig’s Tower
The walk to the McCaig’s Tower might be a steep one but the panoramic views over the Oban bay are definitely worth it. This folly reminiscent of the Colosseum was built at the top of the town and it offers the best vantage point to watch the sun go down over the islands.
2. Pretend you’re on the set of a famous fantasy TV show at Dunstaffnage Castle
A ten minute drive north of Oban centre will lead you to one of the oldest stone castle in Scotland. Dunstaffnage castle has a serious Game of Thrones vibe about it with its impressive curtain wall. It was built in 1220 by Duncan Macdougall, and served as a lordly residence for six centuries until it was abandoned in 1810. Being on top of the promontory, the castle boasts breathtaking views of the Dunstaffnage bay and further.
Before leaving, don’t forget to pay a visit to the chapel in the woodlands behind the castle. The path there has a bloody story to tell. Back in the 15th century, John Stewart of Lorn, the castle keeper, got fatally stabbed on his way to the chapel where his bride-to-be was waiting for him. Legend has it that he did survive long enough to complete his vows!
3. Explore beyond Oban
Oban’s position on the coast makes it a strategic base to explore the variety in the Highlands’ landscapes. Oban is known to be the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ and you’ll find such in its port ferries that will take you on island-hopping trips for the day (link: http://www.staffatours.com/boat-tours/departs-oban/three-isles-tour-mull-iona-staffa/)
If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, an hour drive up North will lead you to Scotland’s most iconic site: Glen Coe and its craggy volcanoes.
4. Sample a wee dram of whisky at one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland
The Oban Distillery was established in 1794, before the town was built in the surrounding harbour. Its location makes it unusual as it is one of the few urban distilleries. It produces Oban 14 year old West Highland Malt Whisky, one of the classic Malts selection.
Take a tour there to learn all about the whisky-making process with a guide and get to taste Oban infamous single malt at the end of it.
5. Travel back in time at Dunollie Castle
The gloomy looking ruins of Dunollie castle is a precious feature of the Oban coastline. The history of the castle dates back to the Early Middle Ages but the remains you can see today are actually from the 15th century. Located on a hill north of the town, they also offer an incredible view over the Kerrera Island.
At the foot of the hill lies an 18th century house where the descendants of the Clan Macdougall still live to this day. It is also the home of a museum exploring the family history and rural life through a collection of domestic items.
Other Oban highlights include: the pretty hand-made bath bombs of the shop Purdies, finger-licking fish and chips (in their adorable boxes!) from Oban Fish & Chip Shop, waking up to stunning views over the bay in the Best Western The Queens Hotel, and finding out about Oban history in the War & Peace Museum.
Oban is also the location for the popular Highland Games as well as the final of the Camanachd Cup for Shinty, the Scottish equivalent of the All-Ireland Hurling final. You can see how I got on in my first ever Shinty session below, were you’ll also see the stunning Oban sunset.
Plan your trip to Oban today by checking out the latest hotel deals here. You can also find out more about Oban and the Scottish Highlands, as well as planning your itinerary for any trips by visiting VisitScotland.com.