Oban Attractions: Things to See and Do on Your Holiday
The picturesque resort town of Oban has a permanent resident population of just over 8,000. During the late autumn and winter months, it appears no different from any other seaside towns in Scotland. However, come spring and summer, Oban comes alive with as many as 25,000 tourists who flock to the coast. This is when Oban is at its finest.
If you’ve never been before, you might be interested to know that Oban is the largest town between Helensburgh and Fort William, in the Argyll and Bute area of western Scotland. It sits on the Firth of Lorn and is skirted by multiple islands including Kerrera, Mull, and Lismore. The area’s natural coastal surroundings make it a haven for those who want a holiday focusing on the great outdoors.
We hope you plan to visit Oban in the near future. To that end, we have put together a list of attractions for you to consider. There is a lot to do and see, making for a very enjoyable and exciting Oban holiday.
1. Marine Wildlife Tours
Oban is all about the relationship between man and sea. As such, it is difficult to truly appreciate the area without enjoying a marine wildlife tour via one of the many available boat operators. Clyde Cruises offers the best tours. Our Oban Cruises take you out to the best spots from which you can see whales, dolphins, spectacular birds and more. Along the way, you will also see a number of historic castles that have played very important roles in the development of Scotland.
Most of the boat tours are no longer than a couple of hours in length. They are just long enough to give you plenty to see without wearing you out. Clyde Cruises even offers you an enhanced experience with tea, coffee and snacks on board. A marine wildlife tour is a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon.
2. Scottish Sealife Sanctuary
As long as we are talking about marine life, we should mention the Scottish Sealife Sanctuary located on the shores of Loch Creran. The sanctuary is a state-of-the-art aquarium and seal rescue facility with many activities and educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. While at the sanctuary, you can observe seal feeding demonstrations before embarking on one of the many nature trails located on the property. Alternatively, spend your time indoors taking in more than four dozen marine displays. The sanctuary even has a dedicated play area for the kids.
3. Trike Tours
Land lovers can explore the local area on foot, on bike or by car. However, for a truly unique experience, consider a trike tour from one of a number of area companies offering the service. Trike tours offer you an open-air experience that will change the way you think about guided tours. Some of the shorter tours can be just about 30 minutes, while longer tours can be several hours. We know of one company that offers a daylong tour that includes all of the local Oban area as well as trips to surrounding towns.
If you plan to do a trike tour, you might want to wait until you arrive in Oban before booking. Remember, weather is always a concern on the west coast. It is best to book when the chances of good weather are the greatest – unless you like cool temperatures and a cold breeze in your face.
4. Island Parrot Sanctuary
Just a short trip across the water, by way of the Oban-Kerrera Ferry, takes you to the island of Kerrera at which you will find the Island Parrot Sanctuary. The sanctuary offers you an opportunity to see and interact with more than 60 birds that were either abandoned by owners or deemed unsuitable to remain in captivity due to behavioural traits. The sanctuary staff rehabilitates the birds before finding new homes. They welcome visitors and, if you’re willing, donations to help keep the charitable organisation operating.
5. Atlantis Community Leisure Centre
Perhaps it is not normal to recommend a local gym as a holiday tourist destination. Then again, the Atlantis Community Leisure Centre is more than just a local gym. It is a rather large and extensive facility that is a tourist destination in its own right. Atlantis includes a 25m, four-lane swimming pool, children’s splash pool with a dolphin slide, poolside flume and sauna, 30-station gym with the latest equipment, courts for badminton, basketball, football and table tennis, a climbing cube, and so much more.
You might also be pleased to know that the centre offers free lockers and the Atlantis Café for light snacks and refreshments. If you are interested in an organised exercise activity, there are opportunities for Zumba and Body Step, among others. The Atlantis Community Leisure Centre is the perfect place to spend a few hours on a day when the weather is not so nice.
6. Dunstaffnage Castle
Just north of town is Dunstaffnage Castle, a 13th century structure and one of the oldest castles in Scotland. Most of the property is owned and maintained by Historic Scotland, although the castle’s gatehouse is the private property of the Captain of Dunstaffnage.
A visit to the castle gives one a good sense of what life must have been like in the days when Scotland was ruled by individual clans. It is a large and imposing structure that echoes with the ghosts of past battles and memories of political intrigue. The castle is open the public daily from mid-morning until late afternoon; it is closed on Thursdays and Fridays during the winter months. Our cruises leave from Dunstaffnage Marina, with great views of this historic castle.
7. Oban Distillery
If you know anything about Scottish whisky, you absolutely must take a guided tour through the Oban Distillery. You will learn about the complex process required to make excellent whisky on tour that concludes with a sample the distillery’s 14-year-old single malt and ginger whisky. The distillery is open daily from February through until December.
We have given you just a few suggestions for things to see and do in Oban. There is a lot more we were unable to get to. Needless to say that there is plenty to keep you busy on your Oban holiday. We hope to see you in town this spring or summer and remember not to leave until you have tried out our Dolphin, Whale and Castles Cruise or taken a trip to see the fabulous Corryvreckan Whirlpool.