Oban, Glencoe, & Glenfinnan, Scotland: Where to Stay, Eat, & Visit! Tour the western coastal town of Oban known as the “gateway to isles.” Drink whisky and watch the sunset over Oban Bay, hike through the majestic mountains in Glencoe, and catch a glimpse of the train over the Glenifnnan viaduct that made the Hogwarts Express famous!
Time to hit the open road.
If you are just joining this mini-series on our travels to Scotland, make sure and check out our first post on Edinburgh. I set the stage on why Scotland needs to be at the top of your must visit list, as well as, a few details that will make your trip a breeze!
In maritime climates, the days are short in the winter and long in the summer. While traveling in Scotland, the sun never appeared to really set until way past ten o’clock; so with the sun, and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we were up with roosters on our second day in Scotland. Even though our internal clock was telling us to go back to bed, seeing the sunshine was huge motivator to hit the road towards our first stop, Oban.
Oban (pronounced OH-Bin) is a known as the “gateway to the isles” and is located on the western coast of Scotland about 2 1/2-hour drive from Edinburgh. As a Pisces, I am naturally drawn to the water, but this quaint town was built because of the famous Oban Distillery. This distillery was built in 1794 and is unusual because most Scottish distilleries are built on large acres outside of town, whereas Oban distillery was built first, and then came the city.
We arrived at Oban after a splendid drive through the Scottish countryside, and went straight to the distillery for a tour. Sadly, you can’t photograph and video the tour, but for an hour we learned the ins and outs of Scottish whiskey. When you hear the term single-malt, it means the whiskey was aged in a single barrel. And it when you hear people say Scottish whiskey, it means it was only barreled in Scotland.
Since the distillery is right smack in the city center, it made for checking into our bed and breakfast a breeze. The Glenrigh House is a seven-minute walk from city center and has the most amazing view of Oban Bay. Our cute room came with a king sized bed, full shower, and a sitting space to enjoy whiskey and admire the views.
Oban is the “gateway to the isles” so many folks use the city as home base for short periods of time while they enjoy excursions out to the many isles during the day. Oban isn’t big by any means so finding a place to eat isn’t difficult. Since it’s on the coast, fresh seafood abundant. We walked from our bed and breakfast to dinner at The Waterfront Fishouse, which also overlooked the bay. The food was spectacular. Fresh oysters, sea bass, cod, and local whiskey to boot!
With the sun still up, we decided to walk off dinner and head uphill to McCaig’s Tower. This tower sits high above the city on Battery Hill and is only a 15 minute walk from city center. The tower was built in the late 1890’s and modeled after the design of the Coliseum in Rome. The purpose of the tower was to provide work to idle masons during the winter months. We were lucky enough to make it in time to watch the sunset – absolutely breathtaking.
The next morning we bid adieu to our fabulous bed and breakfast and made a quick stop at Dunollie Castle just a five-minute walk down the road. This castle was owned by the MacDoughall clan, and although isn’t much to see as it is in restoration; the views are worth the price of admission. Plus, there is a lovely hiking trail leading up to the castle that makes you fee like you are in the movie Robin Hood.
We left Oban with our hearts jonesing for more Scottish history. From Oban we traveled north along the famous A82 motorway. Living in Colorado I am used to seeing rolling hills and mountains, but in Scotland nothing compares to the stunning scenic views along A82. Beautiful lochs (lakes) around every turn, quaint little towns with roadside cafes, castles, and green as far as the eye could see.