Great Scottish DrivesHighlands Scotland

Great Scottish Drives: Glasgow to Oban

drive to oban

The drive from Glasgow to Oban is one of the best in Scotland

Road trips are often the name of the game when it comes to the Highlands of Scotland. Very difficult to adequately experience without a car, there is an obvious temptation to head north and just see where the road takes you. There have been much worse ideas. Trying to identify the best routes is no easy task but Glasgow to Oban is one of the most straightforward and accessible, even for first time visitors to Scotland.

What makes this route so special? Well the fact that it incorporates fabulous Loch Lomond would be a good start. One of the most visually appealing spots in the country, this drive takes you along the western shore of the Loch and you will reach it within about 30 minutes of leaving the city. A mistimed twist of the wheel as you frantically try to find your camera at the bottom of that bag on the passenger seat and into the water you shall go I assure you. The drive is winding but spectacular as you take in the many peaks on the Loch including Ben Lomond itself.

drive glasgow to oban roadtrip loch lomond

glasgow to oban drive loch lomond

Leaving the Loch behind the drive north continues. You can choose whether to head directly west into Argyll and follow the coast via Inverary and Loch Fyne or head further north first before turning west. On this occasion I go for the latter – the more direct option. A busy route in summer, it is also spectacular in winter when the roads are empty and a rainbow of colour is visible in the glens you pass through. Reds, greens, yellows and browns are there beneath the mist and are completed with a dusting of snow on the peaks. This is Scotland. This is what I think of when I talk about the Highlands and the great Scottish outdoors.

loch awe glasgow to oban drive

st conan kirk glasgow to oban drive

drive glasgow to oban kilchurn castle

Next up is Loch Awe. You might think having just driven the length of the bigger Loch Lomond another Loch might leave you saturated but it really looks and feels completely different. Long and thin, the northern route is flanked by some magnificent peaks including Ben Cruachan. Stop by St Conan’s Kirk for a quick look at one of Scotland’s most beautifully structured buildings and for immaculate views over the water. If you have time, Kilchurn Castle is also one of the most stunningly located castles in Scotland on Loch Awe’s northern shore. After this, the next stop is Oban itself, the gateway to the isles. Ever-popular with travellers heading to the likes of Mull and Iona or even to the Outer Hebrides, Oban is a constantly bustling place. If you’re looking for more inspiration of this kind – take a look at my thoughts on top things to do on the Isle of Barra.

glasgow to oban

glasgow to oban drive

By the time you arrive in Oban chances are you will be hungry. As you would expect there are many choices for fresh fish but I recommend Oban Fish and Chip Shop. As good fortune would have it Oban Distillery is on the same street, how thoughtful! Take a look at the video below for the view from McCaig’s Tower that overlooks the town. It’s well worth the uphill walk from the centre although possibly before you’ve started on the whisky.

The journey length for this route to Oban is a little over 2 hours, but you would be mad not to stop at several points described above for photos. Don’t rush. At no point in the journey is the drive hugely challenging and the roads are generally in pretty good condition.

If you were making a return journey, you could simply retrace your steps or drive directly south from Oban to Lochgilphead and then Inverary. This route will eventually return you to Loch Lomond and has plenty of highlights too. You can read about my Glasgow to Inveraray (or vice versa) drive and possibly combine the two. Keep up to date with my Scotland travel blog too for similar journeys in and around the area.

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  1. We did this drive, although in a bit different way. We drove up from Glasgow and loved Loch Lomond. We stayed the night at a B&B in Dalmally and then drove east and north to Bridge of Orchy and through Glen Coe before driving back south to Oban and returned to Glasgow on this drive. It was a day of stunning scenery.

  2. Thanks Lance. Yes there are a few routes to take in the area, none of which will disappoint. Squeezing Glencoe in is a great shout if you have the time!

  3. I am looking for some advice. We are doing a fairly extensive trip of Scotland and the islands in May and will be doing the Durness to Ullapool route. On our last day we will be driving from the Ardnamurchan peninsula to Glascow to catch our plane home. We are wondering which route would be the most picturesque. Do we take the coastal route alongside Loch Linnhe or across through Glencoe? Either way we will be going past Loch lomond.

  4. Hi Neil, this is very helpful to me as a plan a 6 day drive from Glasgow to Edinburgh. We are going via A82/A85. Our itinerary is fairly packed but I would love your opinion on how feasible it is.

    – Arrive in Glasgow on 9/1 staying through 9/3
    – Leave in the early morning to drive to Inverness on 9/3. On the way to Inverness we are looking to stop at Oban, drive through Glencoe, stop at Fort William, Loch Ness then on to Inverness.
    – Stay overnight in Inverness (any recommendations for pub/restaurant for dinner or/and a B&B?)
    – 9/4 early start on our way to Dundee stopping at Aberdeen (any suggestions for a day hike on the way to see some sights? and or B&B in Dundee)
    – 9/5 from Dundee to Edinburgh (any suggestions on day hikes or must see stops on the way?)

    Would love to get your opinion. Thank you.

    1. Hi Antonette,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ll drop you an email with some thoughts on your itinerary as there’s quite a lot in there ;-). Neil

  5. Hi I would love some help!
    We are driving from Manchester Uk to Oban and staying on Mull for a week then returning with two days to drive and stay somewhere.. we love the coast and dramatic views! We also have two dogs! So from Oban we want the most dramatic drive back done to England.

    1. Hi Sam, I’d head inland past Loch Awe, then south via Inveraray before working east to Loch Lomond. Loads of places to stop en route. If you want to stay coastal cross over from the Erskine Bridge (before Glasgow) onto the M8 headed towards Greenock and keep on the coastal road all the way south through Ayrshire and into D&G. Eventually you can head east via Dumfries before joining up with the M6 south into England. If you’ve time for such a drive will be an awful lot nicer than the direct route!

  6. We took Neil’s advice last year and enjoyed the Loch Lomond/ Inverary/Kilchurn castle/ to Oban drive so much I’m doing it again this year! Stop in the wee village of Luss for picturesque charm and an easy view of Loch Lomond.

  7. A helping hand, please! We are driving from Glasgow, and will be staying two nights at Aultguish Inn, Garve in early June. We need to catch a flight departing Glasgow at 1325. How much time should we allow to make the drive and turn in the hired car at Glasgow airport? I fear it will be a spectacularly early morning! Thanks, Joel and Barbara Gordon

    1. Hi Joel, allow at least 4 hours driving time to Glasgow Airport from up there. Roads in good condition but delays always possible and work on-going still on the A9. You’d want a couple of hours at the airport to return car, check in etc. So….absolute latest you’d want to leave would be 7.30am, but I’d allow an extra hour. Good luck and have a great trip!

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