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Oban or Inverness

I will be in edinburgh and have a car and want to spend 3 nights in one of these two places but can't decide which to chose. Just wanted insite on either. Thank you!

Posted by
2091 posts

I think either one is a good choice. From Oban you can do the 3 island tour out to Iona, Mull and Staffa, the whisky distillery and from Inverness you can do Cullodin Battlefield and make day trips to castles or hiking in the highlands. Perhaps, there is a bit more to do day trip wise, from Inverness.

Posted by
556 posts

Oban is nice, but it is really a jumping off place for a day trip to the islands. There is a lot more to see and do from Inverness.

Posted by
3430 posts

I have not been anywhere in Scotland that I didn't positively love , but Inverness is the clear choice of the two .

Posted by
4897 posts

Why depend on the preferences of strangers? Take a moment and think about what interests YOU. If you list some of your interests and the types of things you like to do, people could give you better answers.

Posted by
942 posts

Hi, katie,

My vote is for Inverness, as well. It's a gritty town, especially the central area, but it's a great stopping off place for going elsewhere. From Inverness, you're within a couple of hours drive of Skye; the North Coast 500 (which starts and ends at Inverness Castle); the towns along the Moray Firth; Ullapool; Glen Torridon; Applecross; and even Aviemore. All of these can be done as a day trip, or you can have a stroll along the Ness Islands and Nessbank, and enjoy a good night's music at The Gellions.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your time in Scotland!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
48 posts

Depends on what you'd like to see, but I much preferred Inverness to Oban. As others have said, if you want to head out to the islands you'll want to stay in Oban. If you want to see the highlands, stay in Inverness. I found the town of Oban to be very touristy and not really my style, plus I wasn't going out to see the islands. Inverness was charming and a great jumping off point for things I wanted to see in the highlands like Culloden, the Leault Working Sheepdogs, distilleries, etc.

If you love the great outdoors - OBAN - is the clear winner! Great for wildlife watching - puffins, seals, beautiful isles. This is a place for boat trips. Bring a backpack with picnic supplies and compact binoculars and camera.

If you want pubs, restaurants, look for nessy (more likely to see her after some scotches), easy strolls around a small city, shopping, place to do laundry, Culloden museum and battlefield, Clava cairns - then INVERNESS is the clear winner!
I hope this helps you decide. I'm a puffin fan myself.

Posted by
5668 posts

So, Inverness gives you access to Culloden Field and that great historic story of Scotland. You can also easily do a trip to Loch Ness and in addition to Nessie visit Urquhart Castle. Also, you can do a boat tour of the Moray Firth and possibly see dolphins. I would say that the biggest advantage is that you have more choices from Inverness than you do from Oban. Personally, I would not stay in Oban, but rather I view it as a transit point to get to Mull where you can visit the castles or the distilleries or take a boat trip, or got to Ioan and Staffa.

Pam

Pam,
I have a question for you. Are there hotels and restaurants on Mull? That is, is it easier to use Mull as a launching point to see the Isles than Oban? My family and I have stayed in Oban and used Oban as a base. We enjoyed Oban very much.

Posted by
942 posts

Hi, Sunbaked in Florida,

I'll answer for Pam - Yes, there are hotels and restaurants on Mull, but the hotels fill up fast. The greatest concentration of hotels and restaurants is in Tobermory. The second largest concentration is in Fionnphort. However, there are small hotels and B&Bs on the island, mostly along the eastern side. There is one hotel in Pennyghael, and at least one in Salen. There used to be a nice hotel/restaurant in Calgary. I don't know if it's still there.

During high season, you pretty much have to book a table on Mull if you want to have supper there. However, there is an excellent (and I do mean that!) fish and chip van at the pier in Tobermory. Absolutely delicious fish, and if the weather is fine, you can enjoy your meal on the pier, out in the fresh air. But watch out for divebombing seagulls. Don't drop any of your chips, or hold them at arm's length! If you're staying in Fionnphort, the Keel Row is quite nice, and reasonably priced. I don't know whether or not they take reservations - they didn't the last time we were there, and we were seated and served quickly (mid-evening).

Oban is certainly a prettier town than Inverness, and it's much more compact. It's a stopping off point for not only Mull, but also Barra, South Uist, Coll, and Colonsay. And from Mull, you have a choice of ferries to Lochaline or Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. You wouldn't be able to use Mull as a starting point for anywhere else except Ardnamurchan, as Mull is the terminus for the ferries. You can, however, take a small ferry to the Isle of Ulva, off Mull's west coast. That in itself is an adventure. If you do go to Ulva, be sure to read Thomas Campbell's poem "Lord Ullin's Daughter" before you go.

That said, there are more choices of things to do from Inverness.

I'm sure that whatever you decide to do, you'll have a wonderful time!

Mike (auchterless)

p.s.: Don't do a day trip to Mull. Stay overnight, if you can. Savor the island, especially the western part. If you're driving, take the B8073 out of Tobermory, toward Dervaig and Calgary. Once you get to Gruline, you have the choice of taking the B8035 eastward to Salen, or the B8035 westward along the shore of Loch na Keal to Pennyghael. The latter is the shorter, and more scenic route.

Wow! Thanks for that thorough response. I'm a nature gal. I'm thinking wildlife boat trips to Staffa and Lunga like we did from Oban. We started in Oban (Cal-Mac ferry). But, then we had to make a transfer in Mull. A shuttle van drove us in Mull to a small boat. My husband is a big fan of Iona which I would like to hike around and explore more thoroughly (even spend a night).

Posted by
942 posts

Hi, Sun-baked,

You didn't say when you're going to Scotland, but if you want to spend the night on Iona, there is very limited accommodation. Best to book as far ahead as possible. If you're unable to find anything on Iona, there are several B&Bs in Fionnphort. That way, if you wanted to go back to Iona the next day to see what you didn't see, you can walk to the ferry for the short trip over. Plus, from Fionnphort, you can watch the sunset over Iona.

We stayed at the Caol-Ithe a couple of years ago, and it was very nice. We had an en-suite double, and the breakfast was excellent. However, I believe that the B&B has changed owners since our stay. I've heard that the Seaview is quite good as well.

If you do decide to go to Ulva, there is an eagle watch set up between Gruline and Oskamull on the B8073. Last time we were there, the twitchers (bird watchers) kindly let us use their scope to see a nesting eagle. Ulva has some excellent low level hikes.

I've been reading the Rick Steves travel guide to Scotland. I don't know why he gives Mull such short shrift. He treats it as merely a stopping off place on the way to Iona and Staffa. There is so much more to the island than the A849 between Craignure and Fionnphort!

Anyway, have a wonderful time!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
5668 posts

I would agree that Oban is more picturesque than Inverness, but I would argue that there are more restaurants and music in Inverness. Also, from Inverness, you can do day trips in multiple directions. Check the weather forecast: If it is a total downpour in the west head to the Cairngorms, or over to Elgin or up to Dornoch. If the weather is good in the west head to Ullapool or over to Torridon.

I am not surprised to hear that Mull fills up. It's a lovely island and I would rather spend a few nights there than in Oban. There are wildlife boat rides, there are castles, there is the distillery, there is the boat trip to Staffa and Iona. And that is just what I found on my three-day stay. I stayed in Tobermory so it was a bit of a haul down to Fionnphort to catch the tour of Staff and Iona, but I like Tobermory a lot. The Mishnish in Tobermory. Of course, I will admit some prejudice as I was in the Mish the night after 9/11 and was treated so very kindly by staff and others. I was the only American there at the time. It was on Mull that I really encountered the kindness of the Scots. (Okay, the host of the guest house was a little weird, but you can't have perfection!

Posted by
24 posts

I haven't been to Inverness and have only driven through Oban, but I went to Mull two years ago and loved it. We spent one night in Tobermory at a nice B&B and the next day went on a cruise to Lunga and Staffa. Lunga had lots of Puffins which were fascinating to see up close. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. We were there in May and had beautiful weather.

We're going back this July and August and this time, we're spending two nights in Tobermory instead of just one. I know how hard these travel decisions can be, so good luck!

Posted by
5668 posts

I agree! Go to Mull if you are in the West. :) Inverness makes a nice base for for day trips to the west, north, east and south to the Cairngorms. I loved Mull and I thought Tobermory was delightful.

Posted by
942 posts

Hi again, Sun-baked,

As you said that you'd already been to Oban, there's another way to get to Mull that will take you through some stunning scenery, and you'll get to experience sailing in to Tobermory harbour.

Take the A830 out of Fort William, heading toward Mallaig. At Lochailort, turn south on the A861, heading toward Salen (not to be confused with the Salen on Mull). At Salen, head west on the B8007 to Kilchoan, where you can catch the ferry for Tobermory. The B8007 is one of the most scenic and exciting roads in Scotland. It ends at Ardnamurchan Point, which is the westernmost point on the British mainland.

The Kilchoan to Tobermory ferry operates about seven times a day. It doesn't take advance reservations - at least it didn't in 2016, but it's usually never busy.

Check out Duart Castle on Mull. I've been to enough Scottish castles to last a lifetime, but this is a good one. The grounds, overlooking the Sound of Mull and Loch Linnhe, are really attractive, and you can watch the CalMac ferry sailing in to/out of Craignure..

However you travel to Mull, enjoy it. As they used to say in those Cunard Lines ads back in the 1950s (I'm showing my age! :(), "Getting there is half the fun!"

Mike (auchterless)