Destinations,  Europe,  Trains, Planes & Rideshares,  Travel Diary,  United Kingdom

How to get from Glasgow to Oban (and back)

Oban is a seaside town up the coast of Scotland, a few hours from Glasgow and Edinburgh. I went up there because I’d booked a long stay in a small town nearby, and Oban is a popular weekend destination. Getting to Oban from Glasgow using public transportation is super easy, and I used both methods during my trip.

Journal date: July 1-3, 2022

Staying in Oban for a weekend

If you’re in the Glasgow area of Scotland (or even Edinburgh!) than I do recommend coming up to Oban for a few nights. It’s a super cute town and there’s interesting nature activities to do, plus a beach if the weather is warm enough.

I booked a few nights at Muthu Alexandra Hotel and I recommend it for solo travelers. It’s located at the far end of Oban’s boardwalk area, but not SO far from the train station/center of town that you’d struggle to get there. Decent rooms and okay showers, with a pool open during the warmer seasons. Also has lovely staff who didn’t mind me sitting in their lobby for four hours waiting for my train out of town.

As for sightseeing, I did my usual thing of walking around town and exploring ruins, which I quite enjoyed. Oban has a few interesting old things to see, plus a small artsy community doing fun public art, so it’s worth walking around and exploring.

Click to enlarge the photos:

You can also book boat tours or even take a ferry over to a nearby island, Isle of Kerrera or even the Isle of Mull, and stay there for a night or two. If you want to stay on an island, be sure to book accommodation well ahead of time– I tried to be spontaneous but everything was booked up for the whole time I was in the area, unfortunately for me.

If you go walking a bit out of town, you can also go see the Dog Stone and the Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds.

Transit to and from Oban

Here’s how to get to Oban from Glasgow and back again using public transportation.

Option 1: Train

Scottish Rail has a train going directly from Glasgow to Oban, and that route in particular is said to be one of the most beautiful. My ticket cost £28.20 / $35 USD for an unreserved seat for a journey of about 3.5 hours.

The train to Oban leaves from Glasgow Queen Street, the smaller of the two Glasgow stations and the one with the least amount of seating. I got nervous and showed up way too early, spent £8 on a huge slice of a cookie cake and then managed to find a seat where I people-watched until my train came.

To be honest, this was the most crowded train I’d been on in the UK– turns out it was the start of summer holidays, so there was a lot of people leaving the city to go into the countryside and do hiking or fishing or whatever. I found a seat on a 4-person table kind thing, and ended up having a nice conversation with a PhD student from Poland.

The Oban train station is teeny-tiny, but it IS staffed. It’s also right in the center of town, so you can easily walk to your hotel or catch a bus if you’re staying further out.

Option 2: Bus

After my long stay in Taynuilt, I took the bus back down to Glasgow and it was MUCH cheaper than the train, about $20 USD and still about 3 hours of transit time. The bus route goes further inland than the train route, so if views are important than you’d still want to take the train– but the bus route is fairly pretty as well.

The Citylink 975/976/977 runs daily between Glasgow and Oban, with one morning run and one afternoon run. The website often has sales and coupons, and if you’re keen to use a bus to go visit lots of little rural tourist places in Scotland, they even have a discount pass which’ll save you some money.

Riding the Citylink bus is much like any other long-haul bus. The driver will open the bottom storage area for any suitcases, then check your ticket at the front of the bus. The seats aren’t assigned so just find somewhere with a good view and settle in.

The bus stops at a bunch of little towns before finishing in Glasgow, and it was interesting seeing all the different little places before landing in a big city again.

Interested in overland travel using public transportation? Here’s some more posts from my adventures around the world:

Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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