Oban is ideal for discovering the beautiful Inner Hebridean islands that are scattered around its coastline but there is much more to the town than being the ‘Gateway to the Isles’. With castles to discover, lochs and coastline to explore and a variety of top attractions to visit, you can pack a lot into your holiday in Oban. The wonderful Isle of Mull is a short ferry ride from Oban; a first-class wildlife watching destination and home to spectacular landscapes and secluded beaches.
The picturesque town of Oban gazes out onto spectacular west coast scenery, with the Isle of Mull a short hop away and the Isle of Kerrera sitting prettily close to the mainland. All the routes to Oban have a collection of treasures to enjoy: the loch-side A828 south from Fort William; the mountain-clad A85 from Tyndrum and the northern tip of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park; and the rugged and coastal A816.
Coming from the north, you can soak up the sights of Loch Linnhe as you follow its journey south. Make sure you stop at the viewpoint for Castle Stalker – a 14th century castle in a picture-perfect setting surrounded by the waters of an inlet on Loch Linnhe, Loch Laich. The road then crosses Loch Creran, with gorgeous loch views as the backdrop to your travels. The ever-popular Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary is located on the edge of Loch Creran – a fantastic family attraction. Passing Benderloch and Ardmucknish Bay, the A828 then crosses the Connel Bridge (look out for the Falls of Lora) and meets the A85 which continues down to Oban.
From the direction of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, the A85 weaves along through wonderful mountain and forested landscapes before curving around lovely Loch Awe. Ruined Kilchurn Castle at the head of the loch is a fantastic photo opportunity. The journey takes you under the shadow of Ben Cruachan and alongside Loch Etive, before arriving at Connel Bridge. A short drive from the bridge takes you to the atmospheric Dunstaffnage Castle, a 13th century castle which is well-worth the brief detour off the A85.
The A816 winds up from the south from Lochgilphead, passing the fascinating Kilmartin House Museum, stunning Loch Melfort and offering sweeping views of the island-studded coast. The Isle of Seil lies just off the A85, looping back down the B844, and is a beautiful place to explore, hinged to the mainland by Clachan Bridge (the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’). Approaching Oban from the south, you arrive straight into the centre of town where you can explore the inviting harbour front. Dunollie Castle can be found a mile to the north of the town, its ruins left to look out to sea.
There are plenty of things to see and do during an Oban self self catering holiday. As well as exploring the nearby castles, you can head to the coliseum-style McCaig’s Tower for fantastic views of Oban and the islands hunched on the horizon. Pulpit Hill also offers panoramic views that include the arches of McCaig’s Tower, and often with a Caledonian MacBrane ferry flitting in and out. Give your taste buds a treat at Oban Distillery and one of the many fabulous seafood restaurants (Oban is known as the seafood capital of Scotland as well as the gateway to the isles). Nearby Isle of Kerrera is ideal for walking and cycling, and just around the corner Loch Etive waits to be explored by boat.
The natural landscapes of loch and mountain, moor and coastline on Mull are home to a variety of wildlife, and the island is a renowned wildlife-watching hot-spot. Mull is said to be the best place in the UK to see golden and white-tailed eagles, and you could also spot sea birds, otters, red deer, seals, dolphins and whales during your travels around the island. If you’d rather join an organised tour there are plenty of wildlife walks and tours from which to choose.
A popular wildlife boat trip from Mull is out to nearby Staffa and the Treshnish Isles. Aside from wildlife trips, you could also hop over to the lovely Isle of Iona with its fascinating abbey or take a short ferry ride to the Isle of Ulva off Mull’s west coast.
Wander in the picture-perfect harbour town of Tobermory, with its multi-coloured line of seafront houses, curl up in front of a crackling fire, enjoy the tranquility of the island’s many beaches… however you choose to spend your holiday, Mull is the perfect place to unwind away from the busyness of everyday life.