Oban is the main town for this region of Argyll and known as the gate way to the isles. The town has a wide range of shops supermarkets and amenities and most visitors wish to spend at least one day there. It also offers a leisure centre with swimming pool, cinema and sandy beach just north of the town.
With shops on one side and view across the harbor and out to mull on the other Oban can be a beautiful place to relax and take in the sights. Which if you are lucky can include whales and dolphins. There are plenty of places to eat out and enjoy the views, with sea food not surprisingly being a speciality.
McCaig’s Tower is a colosseum like folly that sits above the town. It was built from 1897 to 1903 to provide employment to the town, but was never completed as John McCaig, the philanthropic banker funding the project, died. ‘Jason’s ladder’ are the steps behind the distillery that take you up from the centre of town to visit the unusual structure, and see the fantastic views over Oban Bay, Kerrera Island and beyond to the Island of Mull.
Dunollie Castle and grounds are located at the north end of the town towards Genevan sands. It is a pleasant stroll from the centre to Dunollie, with a walk-way from the war memorial. Dunollie House has a museum with treasures that were gathered by Hope McDougal over many years. There is a cafe here too, and the chance to go up to the ‘castle’, more of a tower up on the hill overlooking the Firth of Lorne.
Ganavan sands are located beyond Dunollie, and is a fantastic sandy beach, where you can also play in the water. A cycle path connects Ganavan sands to the village of Dunbeg that is further to the north.
From the south end of Oban is Puffin Dive Centre, and the ferry to the island of Kerrera. The ferry takes just five minutes, but takes you to an island without tarmac roads. Kerrera has a lovely 6 mile circuit that can be walked or mountain biked, taking you around some spectacular scenery. At 2 miles (or 4 miles) is the Kerrera teagarden, which is open during the main season, serving all home made fare, including home grown vegetables, whilst you sit in a flower garden. Though there is a barn to shelter from the odd rain shower if you need it.
Oban distillery is a firm favourite with many visitors. They offer tours and include cask tasting, so you can experience everything about the ‘water of life’ as the Scots call whisky.
Oban boasts many independent tearooms, most serving home made scones, cakes and lunches. The chocolate factory only serves ‘sweet stuff’ such as waffles, and the most delicious chocolate fondue, while sitting comfortably with wide views over Oban Bay. Other popular places are The Little Potting Shed who can cater for all gluten, dairy free and lots of free diets, with the most delicious vegetarian lunches. Julie’s is popular with locals, as is Little Bay overlooking Oban Bay with lots of outside seating, Kitchen Garden and Bossards.
Oban has a community run cinema, Phoenix Cinema, with many locals volunteering to keep this excellent facility for the community. They have invested into 3D and digital technology, as well as luxurious seating. There are two screens, with the small screen taking less than 20 people, providing an almost private viewing. Book on-line facility only.