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:
- >Atlantis Leisure Centre: Oban’s large sports and leisure centre with indoor pool, fitness suite, health suite, tennis, squash, bouldering wall, basketball, Astroturf, sports hall activities (archery, basketball, badminton, 5-a-side, hockey, netball, table tennis, volleyball, aerobics, yoga, karate, kickboxing, gymnastics, athletics etc.). Atlantis also has a crèche, soft-play area, outside play park, cafe and offers family activities, kids parties and clubs
- >Oban Bowling Club
- >Oban Canoe Club
- >The Ice Factor (Kinlochleven)
- >Diving: SAMS students have developed a local dive club at SAMS, also Puffin Dive
- >Atlantis Leisure Fitness classes; Feel Good Fitness Oban;
- > Connel Flying Club
- >Glencruitten Golf Club
- >Nevis Hillwalking Club / Mountain Bothy Association
- >Oban Hockey Club
- >Horse-riding and Riding Club
- >Sea Kayak Oban, Seafreedom Kayak, National Kayak School
- >Stramash outdoor learning and outdoor nursery
- >Oban Lorne Rugby Football Club
- >Oban Sailing Club / Alba Sailing
- >Shinty: Oban Camanachd, Oban Celtic,
- >Skiing: Glenshee / Nevis Range. Members of the Scottish Ski Club may access huts and discounts.
- >Lochaber and Lorn Ramblers
- >Oban Saints Football Club
- >Ballet West
- >Oban Martial Arts Centre
- >Oban Fencing Club
- >Oban Bach Choir and Orchestra
- >Benderloch and North Connel Amateur Dramatics Society
- >Spotlight Musical Theatre Group Oban
- >Lorn Archaeological and Historical Society
- >Oban Gaelic Choir
- >Scottish Wildlife Trust Argyll and Lochaber
- >Taynuilt Gaelic Choir
- >Oban Pipe Band
- >Oban Photographic Club
- >Lorn Garden Club
- >Oban and Lorn Angling Club
- >Argyll Bird Club
- >Evening courses offered through our partner Argyll College UHI in Oban
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.
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.
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
- >Lorn & Islands District General Hospital T: 01631 567500
- >Oban Police 999 in emergency
- >Oban Coastguard HM: 01631 562685
- >Oban Mountain Rescue: in emergency 999 ask for police
- >Argyll and Bute Rape Crisis Centre: For women 0800 121 4685; For men 0800 032 0399
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
- >Argyll Animal Aid (rescue & rehoming) T: 01852 300362
- >Oban Veterinary Surgeons T: 01631 562876 / mobile: 07733 482518
- >Lochandubh Kennel: 01631 720 311 (near Barcaldine)
- >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
- >Relationships Scotland Oban T: 0300 111 0031
- >ADDACTION confidential drug and alcohol advice
- >Samaritans T: 0845 790 9090/9192
- >HOPELineUK provides support, information and practical advice for young people who may be at risk of harming themselves. T: 0800 068 4141 or visit their website www.papyrus-uk.org
- >Bereavement care through CRUSE
- >Solas complementary therapies Argyll
- >Oban Disability Forum, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
- >Osteopath Andrew Pallas, 30 Alexander Place, Corran Esplanade, Oban T: 01631 567054
Oban is proud to be a fairtrade town since 2006. And SAMS is a fairtrade organisation!
Supermarkets / corner shops
Oban has a Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Farmfoods alongside a multitude of small independent shops. Marks and Spencer have expressed an interest in opening a food outlet in the town. Surrounding villages usually have a corner shop for essentials, eg Dunbeg, Connel, Benderloch, Balvicar and Taynuilt!
Oban shops include
Bookshop, newsagents, clothes shops, 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 Skipinnish Ceilidh House turns into a nightclub on Saturday nights.
Places where short-term visitors have stayed before...
Barriemore Guesthouse on the seafront
Corran House Hostel on the seafront
Corriemar House B&B on the seafront
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
Wellpark House on the esplanade
The Wide Mouthed Frog (bar, bistro and beds)
North Connel / Benderloch
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
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:
- >The latest addition to our tourist destination is the 1745 Dunollie House in Oban, could be linked with a visit to the Oban War and Peace Museum and of course the Oban Distillery
- >Go to the islands (Iona, Mull, Colonsay etc) with Caledonian MacBrayne
- >Visit the archaeological sites with museum and cafe/shop at Kilmartin
- >Go for an afternoon to the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary at Barcaldine
- >Explore Cruachan, the 'hollow mountain' and find out about hydro schemes and renewable energy: display, tour and cafe/shop
- >If you are looking for a day or half-day of gorge scrambling, canyoning, canoeing, kayaking, archery or coasteering in and around the Oban area, contact Stramash
- >Go for a walk in Glencoe and learn about its geology and history at the award winning Glencoe visitor centre
- >Sea.fari Adventures offers exciting boat trips from the lovely island of Seil - and build in a trip across to the slate island of Easdale (home to the annual world stone skimming championship) and its museum too
- >Magical wildlife boat trips are provided by Coastal Connection, Argyll Charters and Sealife Adventures
- >Go south to the Craignish peninsula and explore some of the lovely art and crafts available
- >Lovely gardens in the area include: An Cala, Ardchattan Priory Garden, Angus Garden, Arduaine Garden, Kinlochlaich House Gardens, Ardmaddy Castle Gardens.
- >Go island walking: a small ferry takes you from Oban to Kerrera, where you can walk to the tea garden and bunkhouse and visit the ruined Gylen Castle. Or why not take a ferry to Lismore for a walk or cycle - and don't forget to stop at the Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre with cafe. Or go across to the Isle of Luing and visit the Atlantic Islands Centre with cafe and gift shop
- >Learn ice or rock climbing at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven (also available for families!)
- >Visit Inverary: Your tour might include a visit to the Castle and Gardens, the Jail (interactive museum), a trip to the highland township of Auchindrain, and finally some well deserved pub food in the atmospheric George Hotel or seafood in the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.