Attractions in and around Oban include the War and Peace museum, the Oban Distillery, the Scottish Sealife Sanctuary, the Cathedral of St Columba, Dunstaffnage Castle and McCaig's Tower. To the south of Oban lies Kilmartin Glen, impressive for its standing stones and other Neolithic and Bronze Age features. Also to the south are the remains of the fortress of the Scots at Dunadd, a royal centre of Dal Riata.
Before the 19th century, the area around the bay was sparsely populated by fishermen and quarriers. The town began to grow and prosper with the founding of the distillery in 1794, and the arrival of the railway a century later brought tourism and new opportunities for local industry.
During World War II, Oban was a busy port used by Merchant and Royal Navy ships. There was also a Royal Air Force flying boat base at Ganavan and on Kerrera.
Oban is considered the home of the Gaelic festival, The Royal National Mod, as the Mod was first held in Oban in 1892.