A Guide To: McCaig’s Tower

McCaig's Tower
I give it...

The Out About Scotland complete guide to McCaig’s Tower

What’s this attraction all about?

If you intend to visit the west coast islands by ferry then you’ll inevitably travel from the terminal at Oban, and while there you might take the time to look across the town and up at the hilltops surrounding it.

You’ll be surprised, and possibly a little confused, to see a Roman-style colosseum dominating the skyline. This is McCaig’s Tower, and If you have the time I recommended you take a short walk up the hill to discover what this structure is all about.



What can you do there?

McCaig’s Tower is well signposted within the town and the walks to the top of the hill on which it sits reward visitors with beautiful panoramic views across Oban and beyond. As you walk up the winding path towards the summit you can enjoy the extremely well-kept gardens that are maintained by Oban council, and these continue right inside McCaig’s Tower itself which has plenty of open space for children to play and lush grass that’s perfect for a summer picnic spot.

The tower stands some 220 feet above sea level, and you can get some pretty amazing photos through each of the archways which look down upon the town lying at its feet. 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 which prove stunning views across to the islands of Kerra, Lismore and Mull.

Thankfully the monument is completely free to visit which makes it a perfect place to kill some time if you’re waiting for a ferry, and if you’ve got kids they’ll love watching the numerous ships sailing in and out of Oban harbour. McCaig’s Tower is both an unusual and unique place to visit, and I’d recommend taking a look if you have some free time while you’re in the town.


The history of the attraction

McCaig’s Tower is the work of the philanthropist John Stuart McCaig who oversaw its construction from 1895 until his death in 1902. John McCaig was a very wealthy banker who wanted to keep the stonemasons of Oban employed in the quiet winter months, as well as building a monument to the McCaig family that would last through the generations.

The monument was designed by McCaig himself and built from Bonawe granite at the not-inconsiderable cost of £5000, with subsequent plans to include a museum and art gallery inside. 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 the Oban skyline.


What I liked about this attraction

  • It offers fantastic views across Oban and beyond
  • It’s free!
  • It’s an interesting structure and offers a great photo opportunity

What I didn’t like about this attraction

  • I haven’t got any negative comments about this attraction

Getting there

Travel to Oban by road is approximately 100 miles (2½ hours) northwest of Glasgow, 130 miles (3¼ hours) west of Edinburgh and 55 miles (1 hour) south of Fort William.

To get to the tower, from Chalmers corner on George Street head up Argyll Street, then to the left of the Congregational Church start picking your way up the 144 steps of Jacobs Ladder and turn left at the top.

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Contact details

Prices and opening times

McCaigs Tower is open all year round and is free to enter.




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Craig Smith

Craig Smith is your guide to the best attractions in Scotland. He loves exploring the Scottish wilds and is happiest when he's knee-deep in a muddy bog in the middle of nowhere.

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