Travel Report: Cool Spots Around Oban, Scotland.
July 2019. Having already posted a bunch of travel reports from the key sights in Oban, it’s now time to mop up the best of the rest, with my handpicked locations from across this lovely Scottish town. So sit back, put your feet up and let me show you my Cool Spots Around Oban.
Oban is a cool cafe town fully geared towards ensuring tourists never go without a good cup of coffee. On our first morning, Natalie and I popped into Oban Chocolate Company for a much needed caffeine injection and something sweet.
If like me you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’d be hard pushed to find a more comprehensive cafe than this family owned shop located at 34 Corran Esplanade. From muffins, cakes and pastries to handmade chocolates, they’ve got pretty much every base covered.
Cool Spots Around Oban.
As much as I like me some chocolate, I wasn’t able to stuff my face with it for breakfast. Hence I opted for one of their fresh scones with raspberry jam. Besides, I did get a little chocolate fish with my latte. It’s also a lovely place to hang out, with wooden tables, leather sofas and a small play area for kids.
For pub grub, Coasters Bar & Restaurant is just a few doors down from Oban Chocolate Company. The atmosphere is lively, especially in the evenings when they show live sports. Reviews however seem mixed, with some patrons bemoaning the service and prickly staff.
Into Seafood? Then you absolutely must head down to Calmac Pier and check out Oban Seafood Hut. This unpretentious market restaurant has been here for years, the brainchild of local fisherman John Ogden. Even if seafood isn’t your thing, it’s well worth coming for a look just to drink in the vibe.
Seagulls flap overhead as tourists patiently line up. The smell of fish and garlic wafts through the air as an elderly man serves hot buttery mussels from a simple burner. They also do prawn sandwiches, whole lobsters, crab and giant seafood platters.
There’s not much in the way of seating. As a result, people tend to just park themselves on the side of the pier itself. Don’t worry about finding Oban Seafood Hut, just look out for its distinctive green colour. In fact, Ogden’s signature green hut is so precious to him that he took another local seafood vendor to court after the guy changed his mobile restaurant from white to green. According to Ogden this confused tourists, and the judge agreed!
For evening drinks, it doesn’t get much better than Markie Dans Pub and its lovely beer garden. They advertise themselves as “the best beer garden in town” and while I haven’t personally tried all of Oban’s beer gardens, I have a feeling their claim is right on the money.
Natalie and I came here one night for cocktails. The place was heaving and yet we just about managed to grab the last few chairs by the ledge overlooking the green and Oban Bay beyond.
I doubt it’s possible to get a sunnier evening in Oban than we did that night. Sipping on our Markie Dans cocktails, we looked on as a local boy and girl threw out a loose tune on a guitar and violin. In the background on the grass, there was frisbee throwing, tennis and general lounging. Not a care in the world….
Inside Markie Dans, you’ve got diner booths, a pool table and sports cable channels. They regularly have live music too and that night we got to see an awesome Celtic band smashing through a stomping set. They really did have the place rocking!
In addition to the Oban sights reviewed individually on Leighton Travels this past week, I should also say a quick word on Oban War and Peace Museum. Free to enter and with friendly staff, this little museum provides a decent overview of the town’s history. Expect plenty of authentic costumes, black and white photographs and artefacts aplenty. Moreover, there are dedicated sections on the town’s fishing industry and the building of McCaig’s Tower.
Just across the road, literally half a dozen steps from Oban War and Peace Museum, you’ve got The Oban Distillery. With just two stills, this place proudly describes itself as “one of the smallest Scotch distilleries”. Dating back to 1794, today it produces the famous Oban 14 Year Old, one of The Scottish Highlands’ six Classic Malts.
George Street is the place to head for Oban’s largest and most interesting collection of stores and boutiques. To see some very cool local art, head to The Jetty Gallery, a small but a vibrant space showcasing work by both established and emerging artists.
The Jetty Gallery has paintings, sketches, sculptures, ceramics and creations made from glass, wood and jewellery. Some of the pieces here are very expensive, but generally the store caters to all price ranges.
Don’t let the town’s specific sights dictate your itinerary! For me one of the great joys of Oban is simply exploring the residential streets in and around McCaig’s Tower. The townhouses here are just gorgeous and more often than not come complimented by sculpted gardens and resting seagulls.
Just wander up and down the streets and see what you can find. This grand townhouse, with its churchy spire, stands on Duncraggan Road.
Finally, our wanderings brought us face to face with the authoritative form of Greystones B&B on Dalriach Road. Grand and baronial on the outside, you’ll certainly be surprised at how modern the interior is. Some of the rooms have sea views. In the unlikely event I ever come back to Oban, a stay here would surely beat my experience at The Lancaster.
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