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Top 10 to do in Oban

From Mountain Biking to Castle, find out the Top 10 to do in Oban on your next travel adventure to Scotland’s West Coast.

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“Wow check out that view. Wait, look over there” punctuated the air around every corner as I tried to focus on the road as we took in the views on our drive from Edinburgh to Oban. 

As we crested the final hill and wound down into Oban itself we couldn’t get over the beauty of the area. What a fantastic location and setting for a quick getaway only 2.5 hours drive from Edinburgh on the west coast of Scotland.

Arriving late in the evening we pulled into the Oban camping and caravan park, located just a couple of miles south of Oban overlooking the water, and were immediately told that my company car with its sign writing was not welcome. Not that they hated our business, it was just a policy to not allow commercial vehicles on site. We weren’t the only ones either.

We were allowed to set up our campsite and then park a half mile down the road and wander back along the country road. A reasonable request and one we had to obey anyway as all the other places were full! 

A quick trip back into town saw us at Ee-Usk Pizza restaurant for a fantastic zuchinni starter and yum pastas. Highly recommend checking it out on the pier with some great views over the harbour and amazing staff who squeezed us in before the kitchen closed. Although we do advise booking ahead as they get very busy.

Island of Kerrera across the harbour

We woke to a warm but overcast day. Perfect for exploring the wee Island of Kerrera on our mountain bikes.

Kerrera is located just a short 5 min ferry ride (£5 return) from the ramp near the campground and runs basically every half hour. Unless he has stopped for lunch at 12, then its good luck or a swim.

Unfortunately he can also only take a dozen at a time so be prepared to wait a trip if its a nice weekend like we did.

The only cars allowed on the Island are owned by the approximate 30 locals. But there is no reason for one anyway as the entire Island of Kerrera is only 6 miles long so can easily be walked in a few hours.

We decided to take in the northern tip first to check out the Obelisk which is visible from Oban and is a memorial dedicated to David Hutcheson, founder of the steamer company. Although it all appears to be private land, the locals didn’t mind us biking everywhere provided that, as in any rural setting, you make sure you shut every gate you go through.

I wouldn’t recommend taking a bike that isn’t a half decent mountain bike as it does get rough in patches although nothing was unrideable.  Just watch out for the sheep raisins on the ground flicking up leaving a nice trail up your back!

Biking on Kerrera with Oban in the background

After the monument we took a wrong turn and ended up biking through chest high bracken and carrying our bikes up a mental hill. Good times…

I just wish I had a towel for a swim and cool down in the crystal clear water.  I’m sure I would’ve regretted it but will remember to pack a travel sized one next time we travel.

We ended up cruising along the coastal road to take in Gylen Castle.  It was abandoned in 1647 after Cromwell’s forces laid seige to it.  We are suckers for a castle and this was no exception with it perched high on the cliffs overlooking the sheltered bays.

Could just imagine staying there many moons ago.

Final stop was the tea house for a tasty and well deserved homemade banana chocolate and pineapple cake with ice cold orange juices to wash it down.  We missed the ferry by seconds and were rewarded with a short sharp downpour, but it was nice to cool off.

Absolutely buggered so fish and chips were the call on the pier at the reasonably priced tasty Cuan Mor restaurant.

Gylen Castle

Rain. The only downside to camping in a ten year old tent. 

Adela held her doubts about the weather-proofness of said tent while I assured her if it leaked we would just jump in the car, unfortunately still 1 mile down the road since we couldn’t park on site. I could just imagine how fun that would be at 3 in the morning.

4.30am in the morning and “Cole its leaking!”. A single drop had managed to squeeze through and plopped on Adela’s cheek. I groggily told her just to shift over a bit. The tent held and we slept on.

As it was absolutely pouring in the morning we made a quick getaway from the campground and hit the tourist route. We managed to fit in MacCaig Tower with stunning views over Oban and is a must, even if the climb up is a steep one.

Along the coast, within a short walk or cycle is the overgrown Dunollie Castle perched on the northern entrance of the harbour. 

Following another tasty feed, this time at Dolce Vita cafe for a big brekky and amazing deluxe hot chocolate we took off back to Edinburgh. The final stop being Dunstaffnage Castle (15 mins out of Oban) which is great for getting up on top of the battlements to look over the harbour. An indomitable structure that was built over 800 years ago on the skinny peninsular.

Its amazing to think that NZ was not even inhabited then!

Dunollie Castle in the rain

In Summary – The Top 10 to do in Oban :

  1. A walk or cycle on the Island of Kerrera (even if its only for the cakes at the end);
  2. Fish and Chips on the pier as it is billed as the seafood capital of the world;
  3. Dunollie Castle;
  4. MacCaig’s Tower with its stunning views out to the other Islands and over Oban;
  5. Dunstaffnage Castle;
  6. A cycle along the coastline taking in the secluded beaches including Ganavan Beach;
  7. The Oban Distillery for a wee dram;
  8. Sea kayaking (which we planned to do on Sunday if it didn’t rain);
  9. Relax with no worries;
  10. And last but not least… The Island of Kerrera (it’s so good it gets on here twice).
If you have been to Oban then let us know your Top 10 to do in Oban in the comments below.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Adventure Travel

Your Top Destinations For No-Contact Water Sports

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While it can be hard to stay cooped up inside throughout a beautiful summer, there are plenty of other places you head to for some fun in the sun before colder temperatures set in. The best news? If you’re an American, you don’t have to leave the continental US or mess with self-quarantining.

Lake Tahoe, California

A classic vacation spot, Lake Tahoe has it all for visitors. Great climate, little rain, a background of mountains, and one of the largest, most serene lakes in the US. This makes Tahoe not just a great place for spring break partying, but also for some amount of isolation, or at least a bit of peace and quiet. You can find yourself reflected on the water and reflect upon the world around you while out on the lake. Because of the still waters there, it is also a wonderful place for paddle boarding. In case you are looking for quality gear for water sports, you can look into Gili Sports.

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are another classic vacation destination, especially for anyone who loves water sports. The weather remains mild in North Carolina all year round (with the notable exception of hurricane season), so it makes for an outstanding destination through any season. Kitty Hawk, famous for the Wright Brothers first flight, is an outstanding destination, as well as smaller towns like Currituck. You will find slightly rougher currents out in the Atlantic Ocean. However, paddle boarding is also popular here, as is windsurfing.

New Braunfels, Texas

The city of New Braunfels has a river entirely within its limits, the Comal River. This allows for many water sports activities, with tubing as one of the most popular choices. In these times, tubing is a popular choice, as it is a great activity for families that doesn’t involve a lot of contact with strangers. New Braunfels has a huge German influence, with its largest water park named the Schlitterbahn.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Although there is a city in Florida named Venice, the city of Fort Lauderdale is often referred to confusingly as the “Venice of Florida.” This nickname was won because Fort Lauderdale has nearly as many canals as its famous Italian counterpart. Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of beach coastline, but if you add in all the city’s canals and lakes, that puts it at 300 miles of coastline. Fort Lauderdale is also a magnet for yachts, so you can paddle board or kayak past boats in the harbor you’ve only dreamed of. Summers in South Florida can swelter, but there’s also a reason that old folks go down in the winter.

Seattle, Washington

Although it is a huge metropolis, Seattle also offers some of the most pristine coastline in the country. Although it gets colder in the PNW than it might get anywhere in the southeast, the climate in Seattle stays relatively mild. One advantage of Seattle over more southern spots is its glacial lakes, which offer a beauty that few islands can replicate.

Even as the summer wanes, there are so many places in the continental US that you can get out and enjoy the water.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated and they are cities on our list to visit again once the Coronavirus allows. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy and we want to change that after Coronavirus. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them to learn about while stuck at home due to Coronavirus:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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