Going Local in Oban Scotland

McCaig's Tower Oban Scotland

Oban is not a normal place. The small of town of fewer than 10,000 souls grew around the distillery of the same name. Today, in addition to whiskey, the town is a popular seaside retreat on the west coast of Scotland. I made a point to visit this strange little hamlet not for the spirits, but as a stop on my pilgrimage to Iona.

During my brief stay in Oban I was fortunate enough to enjoy an evening festival at one of the strangest landmarks in Scotland, McCaig’s Tower.

The Tower was built at the beginning of the 20th Century by wealthy Scottish banker John McCaig. McCaig based the design on the Roman Colosseum, although only the outer walls were completed.

Oban is pretty, but also boring for a young guy fresh out of college. Rather than settle in at the pub, I decided to make the steep ascent to the Tower to enjoy the  refreshingly cool summer evening. As I made my way up to the Folly, as locals call it, I noticed that I wasn’t alone. Scores of people, tourists and townies alike, were joining me for my quiet evening stroll.

When I reached the top I was pleasantly surprised by an evening of Scottish celebration, featuring the Oban Pipe Band and Highland dancers. It was a wonderful evening of song and dance and for the first time on my trip I felt a part of the community, rather than a cultural interloper.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

7 Responses

  1. Keith

    Loved Oban when we were there last year, even though it was raining. We made the pilgrimage to the distillery before heading back to Inverary.

  2. M.banks

    Yes – after two days in Oban I was ready for passtimes outside the pub! (I also visited during an Iona pilgrimage.)


  3. Ferry to Europe

    Bored in Oban…Really? There is stunning beauty all around you.

    The Roman Colosseum is a very odd structure on top of the hill – so out of place.

  4. Matt Long

    Wow, I really didn’t think so many people had visited Oban! 🙂 It is a charming place. David – when I was 22, it was a little slow for me. 12 years later, I think my perspective would be different. Regardless, I still had a great time. My days spent in Oban, Mull and Iona were very special.

  5. lara dunston

    Well, I haven’t visited Oban, but I do love that serendipitous feeling of stumbling onto a local festival, don’t you?

    Thanks for entering our Grantourismo competition this month! Good luck!

  6. ExplorerDad

    A great part of the world – nice whisky too.

  7. M.banks

    “Passtimes outside the pub” refers to nighttime. Otherwise I enjoyed the nature from morning to dark! McCaig’s Tower (A.K.A. “The Roman Colosseum”) is quite nice (and has an amusing little history). Would love to visit during the festival!


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