• View of Oban bay taken from a ferry to Mull
    Oban on the horseshoe bay
    whisky, seafood, ferry port, home of the Royal National Mòd
    What's not to like???
  • Undergraduate student with diving gear emerging from the Lynne of Lorn behind the laboratory
    Clean waters on the doorstep
    perfect for diving, sailing and kayaking
    SAMS students have their own diving and sailing club
  • Student climbing up a wall in the Scottish Highlands, roped up with helmet
    Wild Scottish Highlands
    heaven for walking, climbing and skiing
  • image showing...
    Explore Scottish history, heritage and culture
    Visit castles, ancient monuments and battlefields

Our Area

Oban is a small coastal university town with around 8500 people but due to its thriving tourist industry in the summer, its growing student population and as a rural hub it provides more facilities and services than its size would suggest.

Oban is connected via trains and buses to the main Scottish population centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh (both of which have international airports). A small airport at near-by Connel and the busy ferry port connect the town to many of the diverse Hebridean islands.

The town has a hospital, a high school, numerous primary schools, nurseries, a modern leisure centre, a public library, and many pubs, shops and restaurants. The town hall (Corran Halls) hosts touring and local cultural performances, festivals, fairs and conferences, and there is a two-screen modern cinema.

The stunning scenery offers access to many outdoor pursuits.

Students usually find it relatively easy to gain temporary or permanent part-time jobs.

Information on Oban as a tourist destination:

The Argyll & Bute Council website has information on services such as schools, transport and leisure.

Oban is surrounded by a stunning environment and abundant wildlife. The area is also steeped in history and legend - as evidenced by the 350 ancient monuments, some dating back to the Neolithic, ca 45 mins south of Oban in Kilmartin Glen. The area was part of the Gaelic Scottish-Irish over-kingdom of Dal Riata in the 6th and 7th century and there is currently a resurrection of the Gaelic language on the west coast of Scotland and in particular in the Western Isles.

Oban lies towards the northern end of the Argyll and Bute Council area, bordering the Highland Council area and the ferry port connecting it to the Western Isles. As such living in Oban is a perfect base from where to explore the entire western parts of Scotland.

How far from Oban to...

  • >Crianlarich (Trossachs National Park - walking) - 40 miles
  • >Crinan Canal (boating) - 36 miles
  • >Edinburgh - 129 miles
  • >Fort William (Ben Nevis: walking, climbing, skiing, mountain biking) - 44 miles
  • >Glasgow - 92 miles
  • >Glencoe (climbing, skiing, walking, history) - 34 miles
  • >Glenfinnan monument (and 'Harry Potter' viaduct) - 60 miles
  • >Inverness - 110 miles
  • >Isle of Barra - ferry crossing: 4 hrs 45 mins
  • >Isle of Coll - ferry crossing: 2 hrs 40 mins
  • >Isle of Iona (resting place of Macbeth, birthplace of Celtic Christianity) - 46 mins ferry to Craignure, 71 mins bus to Fionnphort, 10 mins ferry to Iona
  • >Isle of Mull (Craignure - wildlife) - ferry crossing: 46 mins
  • >Isle of Skye (walking, history) - 165 miles
  • >Isle of Tiree (windsurfing, July music festival)- ferry crossing: 3 hrs 50 mins
  • >Kilmartin (archaeology) - 30 miles
  • >Loch Ness (Drumnadrochit) - 94 miles
  • >Stirling (castle, William Wallace monument etc) - 86 miles

The great outdoors

You will be able to do most kinds of sport in the area. At SAMS we organise many lunchtime activities such as yoga and meditation classes, while others go running, swimming, cycling, diving or kayaking and others again play frisbee or table tennis for example.

Some local clubs and facilities are listed below:


Other clubs


Many students and staff choose to cycle to the institute and a new cycle track from Oban's Ganavan beach is a pleasant and safe way to make the three mile journey. SAMS has a roofed bike shed and a bike repair station. 

Local bus services

Most students and visitors stay in Oban. There is a regular bus service - operated by West Coast Motors - from Oban to Dunbeg, the village adjacent to SAMS. Just catch the 405 from Oban and it will take you to Dunbeg - or occasionally all the way down the road to Dunstaffnage / SAMS - for as little as £2! West Coast Motors runs several other lines throughout the highlands.

Local taxi services

Several taxis operate in the area such as Alba's Taxis (01631 566 676); Argyll Taxis (01631 565 293); Etive Taxis (01631 566 880); Lorn Taxi (01631 564 744); Tower Taxis (01631 569 999); West Coast Taxis (01631 563 777).


There is easy access to the islands through Oban’s Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal. 

Train and long-distance buses

There are regular buses and trains running to Glasgow and Fort William, and connections from there to the rest of the country. For general public transport information for Scotland visit the Traveline Scotland website.

Air travel

The Oban and the Isles Airport in North Connel currently has scheduled flights to the the islands of Coll, Colonsay, Islay and Tiree. It also offers scenic flights of the area in the summer as well as flying lessons. Private pilots and commercial charters from around the UK and Europe can also land.

The nearest international airport is Glasgow International, which is two hours by car away from the institute. Edinburgh Airport is three hours car journey away from Oban.


Medical and welfare

Provisions at SAMS

  • >Several staff welfare officers (part-time) for students and staff
  • >Dedicated student support and welfare officer
  • >Several members of staff are trained in first aid and basic fire-fighting
  • >A dedicated Health and Safety Officer ensures the safest possible working environment 

Emergency services

General practitioners and dentists

  • >Lorn Medical Centre Oban T: 01631 563175
  • >Taynuilt Medical Practice T: 01866 822684 (surgeries in Taynuilt, Connel & Dalmally)
  • >Shore Street Dental Surgery, Oban T: 01631 563006
  • >Argyll Square Dental Practice, Oban T: 01631 562791
  • >West Highland Dental Studio, Oban T: 01631 565050



  • >Scottish Episcopal Church: Oban Cathedral Church of St John T: 01631 562323
  • >Roman Catholic: Oban St Columba’s Cathedral T: 01631 562123
  • >Church of Scotland Centre, Glencruitten Rd, Oban T: 01631 562405
  • >Lorn Christian Fellowship T: 01631 710208
  • >Oban Free High Church, Rockfield Rd, Oban T: 01631 562154

Other support services

Oban is proud to be a fairtrade town since 2006. And SAMS is a fairtrade organisation!

Supermarkets / corner shops

Oban has a Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Lidl, Aldi and Farmfoods alongside a multitude of small independent shops.   Surrounding villages usually have a corner shop for essentials, eg Dunbeg, Connel, Benderloch, Balvicar and Taynuilt!

Oban shops include

Bookshop (Waterstones), newsagents, clothes shops (including Fat Face, M&Co, New Look), outdoor pursuit shops, charity shops, shoe shops, sports shop, anglers' corner, chemists, homeware shops, pet shops, garden centres, health food shop, hairdressers, sweet shops, ice cream parlour, whisky shop, jewellery shop (and repair), cobbler, bike shops, garages, butcher, dive store, chandlery shop, gift shops, beauticians, photography shop, cycle shop, wool & needlecraft, and art galleries.

There is also a minibus, car and bike hire business.

Cafés and restaurants

The town is full of places to eat, from small take-away cafes, chippies and an open-air seafood shack at the harbour to top end restaurants and everything in between. Oban is often referred to as the Seafood Capital of Scotland, so make sure to check out if that is an accolade it deserves! There are small local businesses like the Oban Chocolate Company to sample or chains such as Costa.

Pubs and nightlife

There are at least eight pubs in the centre of Oban, ranging from the traditional Oban Inn to the large Corryvreckan (Wetherspoons), and many surrounding villages have their own olde-worlde pub too. Apart from meeting the locals you might encounter live music, DJ entertainment or sport on the big screen. 

The View is a ceilidh house, music and event venue.

Places where short-term visitors have stayed before...


Backpackers Plus

Barriemore Guesthouse on the seafront

Corran House Hostel on the seafront

Corriemar House B&B on the seafront

Manor House 

Oban Backpackers

Oban Bay Hotel and Spa on the seafront

Oban Youth Hostel on the seafront for en-suite dorm and family accommodation

Perle Oban boutique hotel on the harbour opposite the bus and railway station

Ranald Hotel 

Rowantree Hotel

Royal Hotel 

The Scot

Wellpark House on the esplanade

Dunstaffnage Marina

The Wide Mouthed Frog (bar, bistro and beds)


Ards House

Falls of Lora Hotel

Oyster Inn

Ronebhal B&B 

Strumhor B&B 

North Connel / Benderloch

Lochnell Arms Hotel

The Isle of Eriska Hotel: for those looking for luxury


Ardtorna, eco-friendly 5 gold star B&B 


Blarcreen luxury guest house on Loch Etive in countryside


Camp sites and chalets

Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges 

North Ledaig Caravan Park

Oban Caravan and Camping Park

Roseview Camping and Caravan Park

Tralee Bay Holidays Lodges and Caravans

Tours and trips around Oban

The area provides opportunities for many exciting weekends, days or half-days out. Here is a small selection of possible tours - for more visit Great Days Out: