When most people think Scotland, they imagine the Loch Ness monster, endless rolling hills covered in thistles, and men in swirling tartan. However, there is so much more to this fascinating and beautiful land, including a visit to Oban.
While the great cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow are definitely worth a visit, for those wishing to stay in a smaller and more charming spot, a visit to Oban on the West Coast of Scotland is the perfect choice.
This bustling ferry port has become one of Scotland’s more popular tourist spots in recent years, and for good reason. Oban, which means “little bay” in Gaelic, is sheltered by the islands of the Inner Hebrides and surrounded by the mountains of the Morvern Peninsula, giving shelter from the wild Atlantic Ocean beyond.
According to the official website, while the town’s resident population is a mere 8,500, Oban has become the unofficial capital of the West Highlands. More recently, however, the town has been dubbed “The Seafood Capital of Scotland,” offering the very best in fresh seafood to be found on the West Coast, a great excuse for the perfect visit to Oban.
Once popular with Queen Victoria, who called Oban “one of the finest spots we have seen,” the town’s popularity has spread, attracting many tourists during the summer season to sample its tasty food, the best single malt whisky, and so much more.
The wonderfully scenic views in the area have captured the imaginations of authors and poets, artists, and composers. According to a recent blog, Oban has even caught the attention of Russian billionaires, as football tycoon Roman Abramovich and his wife, Dasha Zhukova, recently spent a week in the town with their son before heading off to the luxuries of the south of France.
During their visit to Oban, Abramovich moored his luxury $1.9 billion, 557ft private yacht, reportedly the largest ever built, off the Isle of Kerrera in Oban Bay while the family enjoyed their vacation in the town.
Whether enjoying the fresh seafood at the harbor or one of the excellent restaurants in town or exploring the local shops, there is so much to do on a visit to Oban.
Water sports include fishing, scuba diving and sea kayaking. The wreck diving in and around Oban is spectacular, with the Sound of Mull offering some world-class dive sites.
During a visit to Oban, relaxing hill walking and cycling make for the perfect exercise among the stunning scenery or a gentle walk in the Ardchattan Priory Gardens comes highly recommended. For those with history in mind, a visit to the Dunollie Castle is perfect, with stunning views of the surrounding areas.
To learn more about the history of the area, the Oban War and Peace Museum offers much in the way of historical and cultural interest relating to the town during the war years.
The museum is housed within the Oban Distillery, which has been producing whisky since 1794. During a visit to Oban, the distillery is a must-see, where it is possible to learn more about the production of the great single malt Oban whisky and enjoy a sample or two, as Rick Steves did in the video at the end of this article.
The local tourism office has plenty of information about Oban and the surrounding areas and keeps up to date with any functions to be held in the town, including local dancing, cultural, and musical events. From there, all the pleasures and scenic beauty can be explored, making a visit to Oban a dream come true.
[Images: Oban harbor featured image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Stephen Lee / Isle of Mull CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Tom Parnell / Oban harbor close up CC BY-SA 2.0 dun_deagh / Dunollie Castle CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Francesc González / Oban Distillery CC BY-SA 2.0 carpentier_patrick]