While the site where Oban now stands has been used by humans since at least Mesolithic times, the modern town of Oban grew up around the distillery which was founded there in 1794, and the town was raised to a burgh of barony in 1811 by royal charter. Sir Walter Scott visited the area in 1814, the year in which he published his poem The Lord of the Isles, and interest in the poem brought many new visitors to the town. The arrival of the railways in the 1880s brought further prosperity, revitalising local industry and giving new energy to tourism. Shortly afterwards McCaig's Tower, a folly and prominent local landmark, was built.
In modern times the town has continued to be a popular tourist destination and an important ferry port, acting as the hub for ferries to many of the Hebrides.
As well as offering visitors lots to see and do within the town, the surrounding area is also rich with attractions for tourists, from the dramatic scenery of the coast and mountains to the fascinating histories of the local castles and ancient religious sites. There are also many activities available for families and those interested in more active pursuits.