The busy port town on Oban is known as ‘The Gateway to the Isles’. Look out over Oban Bay from The View and you’ll see ferries to the Scottish islands coming and going at all time of the day and night.
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. But you don’t need to head out to far-flung places to enjoy an island adventure from Oban. There are plenty of wonderful Scottish islands that are within day trip distance of Oban. Here are five of the best!
1. 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. Just 7 km long and around 2 km wide, the island is a walkers’ and cyclists’ paradise, with quiet roads and stunning scenery. Don’t miss the the ruined Gylen Castle, a small tower house built in 1582. The Kerrera Tearoom and Bunkhouse is a great spot for some refreshments.
2. 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 or on foot. Lismore is a great place to spot wildlife such as seals, peregrines and otters.
3. For many visitors to the West Coast of Scotland, a trip to Mull & Iona is a highlight of their holiday. The ferry from Oban to Mull takes around 40 minutes, so it’s definitely within day trip distance. You’ll need to head to the Ross of Mull to catch the passenger-only ferry to Iona. Mull has the towering peak of Ben More, Duart Castle, sparkling sands and a rich cultural life while dreamy Iona is the cradle of Christianity in Scotland. Look out for Mull’s famous sea eagles. Once you’ve had a taste of everything that these beautiful Hebridean islands have to offer, we’re pretty sure you’ll be back for a longer visit!
4. Cross the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ to the Slate island of Seil, which lies some 12 miles south of Oban. If you fancy leaving the car behind, you can catch a West Coast Motors bus from Oban to Clachan Seil. This island makes for a fabulous day trip from Oban. As well as stunning scenery and wonderful walking, there’s a wealth of history to discover. And there’s no need to worry about ferry timetables. It’s separated from mainland Argyll by the thinnest of channels, which is spanned by the delightful ‘Clachan’ humpback bridge. You could also take a wildlife-watching boat trip from Seil with Sealife Adventures and from Easedale with Seafari Adventures.
5. From Seil you can also visit the neighbouring Slate islands of Easdale and Luing. Catch the passenger ferry to Easdale from the small pier at Ellenabeich. Head to the small village of Cuan at the island’s southern tip for the five-minute ferry crossing to the island of Luing. As well as abundant wildlife and stunning views to Mull, Scarba, the Garvellachs, you’ll find the Atlantic Islands Centre on Luing which tells the story of these diverse and fascinating Atlantic isles. Tuck into fabulous local food in the café and enjoy some excellent exhibitions. If you fancy being a world champion, then try the World Stone Skimming Championships, which is held every year on the last Sunday in September on Easedale.
Of course there are lots of other islands to visit if you have a few days to spare. Coll & Tiree., the western-most isles of the Inner Hebrides are magical places, each with something different to offer. The journey to Coll takes around 2 hours 30 minutes while the ferry from Coll to Tiree takes around another hour. You can also reach the Outer Hebridean island of Barra by ferry from Oban. The crossing takes around four hours. From here you can catch a ferry to Uist, Harris & Lewis.
Oban itself is a fantastic place to spend a few days, with plenty of shops, bars and cafés. 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.
Find out more about things to see and do in Oban & Lorn and Mull, Iona, Coll & Tiree.