McCraig’s Tower, also known as McCraig’s Folly, is a prominent landmark in the coastal town of Oban in Argyll & Bute. Built in the late 19th century, the structure was commissioned by a wealthy local philanthropist and banker, John Stuart McCaig. He intended to employ local stonemasons during the winter months to commemorate his family and to create an art gallery and museum.

The tower, which resembles a colossal Roman amphitheatre, offers a panoramic view of Oban Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its grand design, the construction of the tower was never completed due to McCaig’s death in 1902. The structure that stands today is primarily the outer wall of what was meant to be a more extensive building.

Mccaigs Tower
Address:Duncraggan Rd,
PA34 5DP
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:No on-site parking
Free roadside parking and paid car parks in Oban
Facilities:None. Toilets, food and drinks available in Oban


If you’re planning to visit Scotland’s west coast islands by ferry you’ll inevitably travel from the terminal at Oban. While you’re there, take the time to look up at the hills surrounding the town and you’ll see a Roman-style colosseum dominating the skyline to the northeast.

This is McCaig’s Tower, a popular landmark with an outstanding viewpoint, so if you have time before your ferry departs I recommend taking a short walk up the hill to see this unusual structure close up.

Perched on the summit of Battery Hill, McCaig’s Tower has been a landmark in Oban for over 120 years. It was the brainchild of local banker and philanthropist John Stuart McCaig who intended it to be used as a centre for the arts, but it was never expanded beyond what we can see today after he died in 1902.

What was left behind is a unique landmark that’s now mostly used as a viewing platform across Oban and the surrounding islands. While it’s not exactly the biggest attraction in Scotland it’s well worth making the 10-minute walk from the town centre to see it, especially as entry is free.

McCaigs Tower View

The Highlights

1: Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of visiting McCaig’s Tower is the breathtaking panoramic view it offers. From the vantage point of the tower, visitors can enjoy stunning views of Oban Bay, the town of Oban, and the surrounding islands and mountains.

2: Inside the tower, visitors will find a peaceful garden filled with a variety of plants and flowers. These well-maintained gardens provide a tranquil space for relaxation, and in addition, the gardens are a great place for a picnic.

Visiting Tips

1: The tower is just a 20-minute walk from the ferry terminal, so it’s a good place to explore while you’re waiting for the next ferry. If that sounds like too much hard work you could always visit Oban Distillery instead, which is located in the middle of the town centre on the High Street.

2: Looking for food in Oban? The fishing town is famous for its fresh shellfish, and one of the best places to find it is the Oban Seafood Hut situated between The Corryvreckan pub and the Calmac building at the harbour.

3: There’s another historic attraction located just outside of Oban that’s worth visiting. To learn more, read this article – Dunstaffnage Castle.

McCaig's Tower Oban

Tourist Information

McCaig’s Tower is well signposted from the town and the walk to the top of the hill on which it sits rewards visitors with beautiful panoramic views across Oban and beyond. As you stroll up the winding path towards the summit you’ll see well-kept gardens that are maintained by Oban council, and these continue inside McCaig’s Tower which has plenty of open space for children to run around.

The tower stands some 220 feet above sea level so you’ll have the chance to capture some amazing photos through each of the archways which look down at the town below. Rising to 45 feet, the walls of the tower extend to a 600-foot circumference with 94 arches built into the walls in two tiers that provide stunning views of the islands of Kerra, Lismore, and Mull.

The monument is completely free to visit which makes it a perfect place to spend time while you’re waiting for a ferry, and if you have children with you they’ll love watching the ships sailing in and out of the harbour.

Oban McCaigs Tower


For such a remote location, this part of Scotland had more than its fair share of wealth back in the day, such as the industrialists who built the nearby Bonawe Iron Furnace. McCaig’s Tower, on the other hand, was the brainchild of philanthropist John Stuart McCaig who oversaw its construction from 1895 until he died in 1902.

John McCaig was a very wealthy banker who wanted to keep the stonemasons of Oban employed during the quiet winter months, so he commissioned a building to serve as a monument to the McCaig family that would last through the generations. The monument was designed by McCaig himself and was built from Bonawe granite at the not-inconsiderable cost of £5,000, with subsequent plans to build a museum and art gallery inside the outer wall.

However, upon his death, it was decided by the remaining family to cease construction, and so only the outer walls were ever completed. Even so, it’s still an impressive monument and certainly worthy of its dominant position on Oban’s skyline.


Travel to Oban by road is approximately 100 miles northwest of Glasgow, 130 miles west of Edinburgh and 55 miles south of Fort William.

To get to the tower, from Chalmers Corner on George Street head up Argyll Street, turn left at the Congregational Church, walk up the 144 steps of Jacobs Ladder, then turn left at the top. Alternatively, you can drive to the base of the tower by following the Fort William road, then take Deanery Brae and follow the signs to the small car park at the foot of the tower gardens. The address is Duncraggan Road, PA34 5DP.

McCaigs Tower Oban

Things to Do

Breathtaking Panorama: Start your visit to Oban at McCaig’s Tower with its stunning scenic views of the town and surrounding islands. The tower offers an unobstructed panorama of the town, its busy harbour, and the distant islands of Mull, Lismore, and Kerrera. The view is even better at sunset when the sky turns into a canvas of colours, making it a perfect spot for photographers.

Historical Exploration: Immerse yourself in the history of McCaig’s Tower. Built by John McCaig in the late 19th century, the structure was intended to be a lasting monument to his family. Though it remains unfinished, the tower’s architectural design and the story behind its creation provide a fascinating insight into Oban’s history.

Botanical Walk: Within the tower’s walls lies a delightful wee garden, filled with a variety of plants and flowers. Take a leisurely walk from the town centre and relax with a coffee while gazing at the scenery. The tower also makes a great picnic spot if you sit in the stone archways.

Local Exploration: After visiting the tower, explore the surrounding area of Oban. The town is famous for its seafood, whisky distillery, and beautiful coastline. There’s even a beach at Greenacre Bay on Ganavan Road (a 2-minute drive or a 15-minute walk from the war memorial on Corran Esplanade).

McCaigs Tower Oban

Things to Do Nearby

Dunstaffange Castle. Castle Grounds, Dunbeg, Oban PA37 1PZ. 10-minute drive.
This is a 15th-century castle overlooking Ardmucknish Bay. Dunstaffnage Castle was the stronghold of the MacDougall clan. The castle is relatively intact and offers visitors the chance to walk around its semi-restored rooms and vaults on a self-guided tour.

Oban Harbour. Oban PA34 5QD. 8-minute walk.
Oban is a historic coastal town that grew around its fishing industry which is still thriving today. The town is the largest in the area and there is a selection of pubs, restaurants and gift shops in the high street along with the west coast island’s main ferry terminal.

Oban War and Peace Museum. Old Oban Times Bldg, Corran Esplanade, Oban PA34 5PX. 7-minute walk.
A small independent museum that depicts Oban’s industrial and maritime heritage with a series of exhibits and displays.

Dunollie Museum & Castle. Dunollie House, Oban PA34 5TT. 6-minute drive.
A ruined tower house that is the ancestral home of clan MacDougall. The attraction features a heritage museum, woodland walks, ornamental gardens, a café and a gift shop. Dunollie Point is a short walk away which has scenic views over Oban Bay.

Ganavan Bay. Oban PA34 5TB. 10-minute drive.
A scenic point north of Oban that has a wide, golden-sand beach and a large car parking area. The surrounding fields are a popular site for holiday caravans. Rough tracks follow the coastline all the way to Connel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the McCaig Tower named after?

McCaig’s Tower in Oban is named after John Stuart McCaig. He was a wealthy Scottish banker and philanthropist who commissioned the construction of the tower.

Why was McCaig’s Tower built?

McCaig’s Tower was built by wealthy local banker John Stuart McCaig as a monument to his family, and also to provide work for local stonemasons.

What are McCaig’s Tower opening times?

McCaig’s Tower is open all day, 365 days a year. There is no fee to visit the tower.

How old is McCaig’s Tower?

McCaig’s Tower was built in 1897, making it 125 years old as of 2022.

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.