Oban (pronounced O bin) is known as the Seafood Capital of Scotland. So, if you love seafood, you're in the right spot. It's a beautiful little waterfront town on Scotland's northwest coast with a harbor in a sheltered bay. Because of its location, it also serves as a gateway to many of the Hebridean islands. Bubbly Tourist stayed two nights here but could have also done everything we wanted in one full day instead of two. Read on to discover the must see places and things to do in Oban as part of the best Scotland Itinerary.
Our Scotland itinerary includes these Must See Places to visit in Oban
1. Eat fresh seafood
Given it's the seafood capital of Scotland, this is an obvious thing to do. Situated right on the harbor, there is no shortage of restaurants serving fresh caught fish and seafood in Oban. One place that we'd recommend is the Oban Seafood Hut (Green Shack) right on the pier. It's a very casual place where you walk up to the outdoor counter and select which fresh seafood you'd like. We had the fresh oysters and sat at their outdoor picnic table shared with other guests. Or perhaps, you'd enjoy a pint while you sit and take in the beautiful view of the harbor? Markie Dans Pub is one of the many places where you can chill outside and take advantage of the views.
2. The Oban Distillery
The Oban Distillery, founded in 1794, is a must-do in Oban. It is one of the oldest single malt whisky distilleries in Scotland. The distillery was built before the town of Oban sprang up in the surrounding harbor. It is nestled right in the city center and provides two types of tastings: one that is a tasting of four whiskies and the other a tour of the facility plus a smaller tasting. We did the tasting only which included learning how to properly drink whisky ( yes, that is a thing!). That information in itself was worth the price in admission. It's a nice facility with a very busy store on ground level where you can pick up merchandise and (of course!) whisky. Highly recommend. Fun fact: Whisky can be from Scotland and Whiskey (with the "e") is from the US. For the purposes of our blog, we have adopted the Scottish spelling.
3. Walk along the harbor
With the city situated right on the harbor, it's an easy and short stroll from the pier up along the bay on the Promenade. There are historical markers with QR codes that help guide your tour. On the north end of the bay, there is also a trail that cuts through the woods for a short walk to the Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds. It's quiet and picturesque!
4. Scottish music and dancing
When in Scotland, you gotta get a dose of the bagpipes, so why not go someplace where you can listen to a band play some real Scottish music? We went to the View Oban to listen to Scottish music and watch the lads and lasses dance traditionally. This restaurant and bar is conveniently located right on the Promenade. Grab a spot out on the upstairs deck where you can also watch the sunset over the harbor with a drink in hand.
5. Buy some Argyll
If you like fine woolen argyll patterns on your clothes or bags there is a nice shop in town. And you won't have to go to the Isle of Harris - where Harris Tweed is made - to buy some. Bubbly Tourist picked up a very nice vest / waistcoat in town.
6. Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel
The Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel is a ten minute drive out of Oban, but was worth it as we had a delightful walk along the castle grounds and saw the blue bells blooming in their glory. You can walk the grounds, woods and see the old ruined chapel for free. If you want to go into the castle, there is a fee. There are not many tourists, so it's quiet and peaceful. We saw several locals meeting there, so there must be something about its serenity that attracts!
Where to Stay in Oban
Bubbly Tourist stayed at No17 The Promenade on Corran Esplanade which is in town but just a little north of downtown Oban making it still easily walkable to downtown. It's a perfect location because it's on the water, it has excellent TripAdvisor reviews, it has onsite parking, the rooms are large, cozy and comfortable, the restaurant is excellent for breakfasts and dinner, and it's away from all the busy traffic downtown. Highly Recommended!
Directions to Oban
Oban is 3 hours west from Edinburgh. Following our Best Scotland Itinerary, we stopped first at Stirling Castle coming out of Edinburgh, and then drove for 2 hours to arrive along the coast in Oban.
On the way to Oban, Bubbly Tourist stopped in the town of Stirling which is about an hours drive from Edinburgh. Whether it's part of your full journey around Scotland or a day trip from Edinburgh, this is a castle full of history that gives credence to the quote "He who holds Stirling, holds Scotland".
At Stirling Castle, you'll learn about Scotland's amazing history and about the fighting amongst themselves and with the British. You'll also see the Royal Apartments and will learn about the crowning of Mary Queen of Scots and that she spent four years of her life here, effectively making it her childhood home. Stirling Castle gives you great 360° views of the surrounding countryside. It is geographically located where the lowlands meet the highlands. From the castle, one can see for miles and back in the day prepare for an encroaching troops. Stirling's key position as the lowest bridging point of the River Forth before it broadens towards the Firth of Forth made it a focal point for travel north or south. For this, Robert the Bruce quoted "He who holds Stirling holds Scotland". Bubbly Tip: Book in advance and get an excellent guided tour inside and out of the castle.
Best Scotland Itinerary Continued
Next Location: Scotland's Isle of Skye...
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