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Each summer, the population of the southwest Scottish seaside community of Oban more than doubles from 8,120 permanent residents to about 25,000 people during the warmest months. Oban may officially translate to 'the little bay' in English, but this picturesque Argyll and Bute community is also known as Scotland's seafood and sea kayaking capital. It takes roughly three hours to drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow to this rural region of southwest Scotland with car hire in Oban.
Who to Book With
The two major car rental establishments in Oban are a Sixt branch and an independent company called Flit Self Drive. Hazelbank Motors both sells and rents vehicles at reasonable rates. Both online and on-the-spot booking are available at most local car hire outlets.
Best Time to Go
Without a doubt, summer is Oban's busiest tourism season, when rental and room rates increase almost as much as the town's population. Spring and autumn visitors may experience cooler and rainier weather, but they will also save a fair amount of money.
Need to Know Essentials
These documents need to be presented prior to rental car collection:
- A International Driving Permit or local driver’s license
- A second form of photo ID Printed confirmation of the rental
- Another photo identification such as a passport
Whether motorists choose to enter Oban via the A83 'Rest and Be Thankful' route past Inveraray or the A82 near Loch Lomond's west side, they will be surrounded by some of Scotland's most breathtaking scenery. Occasional summer traffic jams will be the biggest problems most motorists will encounter when driving in Oban itself.
Car rental may be the most efficient way to arrive in Oban, but the town itself is tiny enough to easily explore by bicycle or foot. Although taxis are the only public transportation around Oban itself, the town also contains a small bus station, a rail station on the scenic West Highland Line, and Caledonian MacBrayne's busiest ferry terminal. This bustling port has earned Oban its 'Gateway to the Isles' nickname.
Oban's rail station lies on Scotland's famous West Highland Line, and at least two First Scotrail trains travel between Oban and Glasgow Queen Street Station each day. Standard advance one-way tickets between Glasgow and Oban cost £9.80 each, while Anytime Day Single tickets between the two destinations are £22.40 each. The Trainline website contains further information on ticket costs and schedules.
In addition to the year round Citylink buses which travel between Glasgow's Buchanan bus station and Oban many times per day, there are also a couple of regular summer bus lines. Service 978 links Oban with Edinburgh and Stirling in summer, while Service 973 provides summer transportation links with Dundee and Perth. West Coast Motors buses travel as far north as Fort William and as far south as the community of Lochgilphead.
Oban Taxis, the town's main taxi provider, not only supplies affordable and efficient taxi service throughout Oban, but also makes regular journeys to the nearest airport and ferry terminal. Weekend 24-hour service, larger six-seat vehicles and guided tours are all available upon request.
Many of the scenic islands off Oban's coast are accessible only by ferry, but road trips are still possible to several equally stunning mainland communities such as Fort William to the north or the Kintyre peninsula to the south. Animal watchers can take their vehicles onto the ferry to the island of Mull, home to a wild bird sanctuary called Wings Over Mull, then drive to Ffionphort to watch for buzzards soaring overhead and otters on the ground.
Wings Over Mull Bird Sanctuary - For over a decade, this sanctuary has been one of the best birds of prey viewing sites in the entire United Kingdom. More than 25 different bird species soar around this perfectly positioned Craignure attraction above the scenic Sound of Mull and beneath two historic castles and the island's second highest hill, Dun da Ghaoithe.
Lochgilphead - Argyll and Bute's administrative centre, Lochgilphead, lies south of Oban along the Crinan Canal's banks at Loch Gilp's end. An Iron Age fort and woodland park stand near Kilmory Castle, where the community council is based. A nine-hole golf course is also situated here.
Fort William - Among Scottish highland communities, only Inverness boasts a larger population than Fort William, situated at Loch Linnhe's head at the foot of Great Britain's highest peak, the 1,342m (4,406ft) high Ben Nevis. The West Highland Way footpath leading to Glasgow and the Great Glen Way cycling and hiking trail both begin here.