Island Hopping from Oban

Oban, the largest town in Argyll & the Isles, is known as ‘The Gateway to the Isles’. CalMac, Scotland’s largest ferry operator, provides an extensive service from Oban to the Inner and Outer Hebrides and lots of other companies offer boat trips from the town. So if you fancy an island adventure on the west coast of Scotland, there’s no better base than Oban. Here’s why.

The Inner Hebrides

Beautiful Kerrera is Oban’s closest island neighbour and can be seen from most parts of the town. The ferry journey from Oban to Kerrera takes just a few minutes. The island is a walkers’ and cyclists’ paradise, with quiet roads, stunning scenery and a dramatic ruined castle. Lismore is another nearby island that’s well worth the short ferry journey, with wildlife, fascinating historical sites and glorious views. It’s only ten miles long, so easily explored by bike.

For many visitors to Oban a trip to Mull & Iona is a highlight of their holiday. Mull has the towering peak of Ben More, sparkling sands and a rich cultural life while dreamy Iona is the cradle of Christianity in Scotland. The ferry from Oban to Mull takes around 40 minutes. Head to the Ross of Mull to catch the passenger-only ferry to Iona.

For something even more remote, take a trip from Oban to Coll & Tiree. These western-most isles of the Inner Hebrides are magical places, each with something different to offer. The epic journey to Coll takes around 2 hours 30 minutes. Watch out for dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and whales on the way – this is prime cetacean-spotting territory. The ferry from Coll to Tiree takes around another hour. Don’t forget to bring your sun cream. Tiree is officially one of the sunniest places in Britain!

Image: Tobermory Lighthouse on the Isle of Mull

The Outer Hebrides

To experience life on the edge, don’t miss the chance to visit the Outer Hebrides. You can reach Barra, the most southern of the Outer Hebrides, by ferry from Oban. The crossing takes around four hours. From here you can catch a ferry to Uist, Harris & Lewis. Check out CalMac’s island-hopping tickets.

Cross the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’

You can reach one island by bridge! The Isle of Seil, one of the Slate Islands, lies some 12 miles south of Oban. It’s separated from the mainland by a sea channels which is spanned by the humpback Clachan Bridge, also known as the 'Bridge over the Atlantic'. Seil is a lovely island to explore and has a fascinating history. From Seil you can catch the small passenger-only ferry to Easdale, which lies about 200 metres off the coast. Head to the Puffer Bar & Restaurant for fantastic seafood.

To discover a new perspective on the Atlantic islands of Argyll, take the three-minute ferry crossing to the Island of Luing from North Cuan on the southerly tip of Seil. As well as abundant wildlife and stunning views to Mull, Scarba, the Garvellachs, you’ll find the Atlantic Islands Centre which tells the story of these diverse and fascinating Atlantic isles. Tuck into fabulous local food in the café and enjoy some excellent exhibitions.

Explore Oban

When you want to take a break from island hopping, there’s lots to see and do in and around Oban. It’s a bustling place that’s full of life during the day, with streets packed with individual shops and cafés, and alive at night with convivial live music bars and ceilidh nights at The View.

Known as ‘Scotland’s Seafood Capital’, it’s the place to sample fresh seafood. Head north to visit two picturesque peninsulas – Benderloch and Appin – and see Castle Stalker, one of Argyll’s most romantic castles.

Places to Stay in and around Oban

Here are some of our top recommendations for places to stay in and around Oban:

Find out more about things to see and do in Oban & Lorn and Mull and Iona