Set in the scenic Firth of Lorn, the port town of Oban is known as Scotland's seafood capital. Its horseshoe-shaped bay is ringed with restaurants where you can put this to the test, looking over the water to the neighbouring islands of Mull and Kerrera. There's plenty of natural beauty here, as well as historic castles and one of the country's oldest whisky distilleries. Oban is the gateway to the rugged islands of the Hebrides archipelago and you'll find opportunities for sea sports including kayaking and scuba diving.
Oban hostels are full of character. You can stay in a Victorian terrace on the seafront, in colourful modern dorms or in a former church with original beams and stained-glass windows. Expect free Wi-Fi and shared kitchens, which sometimes have extras like spices and oils for cooking your own food. Most have common rooms where you can play pool, swap books or simply make new friends. Look out for a Oban hostel with dog-friendly rooms and secure cycle storage too.
The busiest part of Oban is concentrated around its harbour and this is where you'll find the railway station and attractions such as the Oban War and Peace Museum. The north of town has lots of seafront accommodation, whilst the southern side has supermarkets, the main ferry terminal and Oban Sailing Club. Tranquil Kerrera Island, home to the picturesque Gylen Castle ruins, is a short ferry ride away.
Many visitors come to tour Oban Distillery, which has been producing whisky since 1797. Ivy-covered Dunollie Castle, the ancestral home of the Clan MacDougall, stands imposingly on a cliff and dates back to the 13th century. Behind the castle, you can get a feel for a more contemporary laird's life in the 1745 house. One of Oban's more unusual landmarks is McCaig's Tower, built at the turn of the 19th century in the style of Rome's Colosseum. It's a short walk up the hill and has spectacular views.
The closest airports are Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland's capital. From Glasgow Airport, take a bus to Buchanan Bus Station and head from there to Oban. You can also catch a train from Glasgow Queen Street Station, which runs along the scenic West Highland route. From London, you can take a direct coach for 12 hours or a scenic train ride with a couple of changes. For keen cyclists, Oban is on Route 78 of the National Cycle Network. In town, it's best to walk, cycle or get a taxi. Ferries run between Oban port and the islands.