Please sign in to post.

Short stay in Oban. Ferry to Isles or Highland Tour?

I posed this question earlier but on the England forum. I thought I'd re-pose the question here for better insight.

I will be having a one-night stay in Oban on my way to Inverness and will have the following day to do one of the following: I could take a ferry to Mull and tour that island before coming back and taking the 3+hr bus ride to Inverness or I could take a highland tour from Oban of Glencoe and Fort William before taking the bus to Inverness out of Fort William. I am at a loss about how best to spend my time. I love both ideas but want to get a feel for what others recommend. Either experience I'd only have about 6 hours time to do before needing to head out.

Posted by
552 posts

Personally, I would do a day trip to Mull and Iona. You will see more of the highlands when you get to Inverness. Though, if you only have six hours I'm not sure you can do it. The day tour I did left just before 10am and was back around 6pm. If you want to do it on your own without a car take a look at this site http://www.isle-of-mull.net/information/travel-around-mull/. I'm not sure how much ground you could cover in a few hours. The ferry ride over is about 45 minutes.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, binkaboo,

Unless you hire a taxi to ferry (Sorry about that!) you about Mull, you'd most likely be better off heading up to Fort William. The ferry from Oban to Craignure is 50 minutes, plus you have to add in embarking and disembarking. There should be buses at Craignure to take you to both ends of the island, but it's about an hour to Tobermory, and an hour to Fionnphort. So you're two hours on the ferry round trip, and two hours on the bus round trip. So there's four out of your six hours gone, and you don't have time to wait for another bus, so the only time you have on the ground on Mull would be the time between the Craignure bus arrives in Tobermory/Fionnphort, and when it makes its return trip to Craignure. Or you could spend time in Craignure, which would take all of about 15 minutes. However, if you just want to tour Mull by bus, then this plan is doable.

Plus you have to factor in the bus schedule from Oban to Inverness. There are only two buses daily (9:50 a.m. and 3:55 p.m.) that make the entire trip. On the other hand, there are six buses daily from Fort William to Inverness. Your time would be better spent taking a Glencoe tour from Oban which terminates in Fort William, or taking the early bus from Oban to Fort William and taking a Glencoe tour from there.

Hope that helps!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
940 posts

Hi again, binkaboo,

If you do decide to visit Mull, and don't mind getting up early, there is a possibility.

You could take the 7:30 ferry out of Oban, which arrives in Craignure at 8:20.

Take the 8:25 bus (don't worry - the bus waits for the ferry), which puts you in Tobermory at 9:15. You'd have three hours on the ground in Tobermory before boarding the 12:15 bus back to Craignure. That bus will bring you back to Craignure at 1:00 p.m., which will be enough time to catch the 1:30 ferry back to Oban.

The 1:30 ferry reaches Oban at 2:20, which gives you plenty of time to explore Oban before catching the 3:55 p.m. bus to Inverness.

Unfortunately, the Fionnphort bus doesn't run as frequently, so catching the 8:25 bus from Criagnure to Fionnphort would only give you 45 minutes there before you had to return to Craignure. Not enough time to visit Iona.

Please note that these times are from Tuesday to Friday. There are different schedules on other days.

Do you have accommodation in Oban yet? I can recommend an excellent B&B if you haven't.

Hope that's not too much information!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you Anita and Mike for your input. I wish I had gotten on to the Scotland forum earlier. The information and insight you've provided me has been invaluable. I will be staying at Kilchrenan House for one night. I am thinking about just taking the ferry over to Mull, walking around a bit then heading back to Oban for a whiskey distillery tour and getting to know the city before getting on the bus to Inverness. Mike, the information you gave me was not too much. You mentioned that the Glencoe tour ends in Fort William, is that the one for West Coast Tours? I have been trying to confirm information with them but have had trouble getting them to reply back to me and due to a time difference by the time I get up they are already closed.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi again, binkaboo,

West Coast tours do a tour of Glencoe, Fort William, and Glenfinnan, but apparently only on Wednesday and Friday. If that works with your timing, you could make arrangements to be dropped off in Fort William after the Glenfinnan segment, in order to catch a bus to Inverness, as the tour bus gets back to Oban after the 3:55 bus has already left. It means that you'd be taking your luggage with you on the tour bus, so I hope that you are traveling light.

If Wednesday or Friday don't work into your plans, they (West Coast) may be able to recommend an alternative.

If you do decide to take the ferry to Mull and just walk around for a bit, there isn't much to see in Craignure - just a small supermarket, a charity shop, a few houses, a hostel, and the ferry terminal. That's it. Craignure exists almost solely as a terminus for the ferry, as it's easy to reach from Oban, and is almost equidistant from both ends of Mull.

Best of luck with whatever you choose to do!

Mike (Auchterless)