Hiking Ljubljana's holly mountain - Šmarna Gora
Living in one of the greenest and smallest capitals has upsides as well. Like having plenty of options for a quick trip or hike when you feel you need to recharge the batteries. But there is one on top of this list and it is called Šmarna Gora or Saint Mary's Hill.
First of all it is one of those hikes, that you can rarely be alone. Doesn't matter if it is six in the morning, nine in the evening, summer, winter, bad weather, Monday, weekend...there will be people, especially on the most commonly used route. From families with little kids, older locals, couples, groups of friends, fit athletes running up, those trying to loose weight, you name it. Saturday and Sunday mornings are like pilgrimage. So why is it so popular?
1. It is near the town: Less than 10 km from center of Ljubljana. Drive with a car 15 minutes, cycle for half an hour or take Ljubljana's public bus. Click here for Google Maps of parking and also nearest bus station called Tacenski most (bus lines 1 and 8). Start of the most common trail is here.
2. Not too easy, not too hard: From 303 m above sea level you ascend for 366 m to the top at 669 m. It is steep most of the way but it will take you from 35 min - 1h 20 min maximum. Everyone can do it, but still requires some effort.
It is obvious that people have always been bragging with how fast they can run to the top of Šmarna Gora. In June 2019, already 24th edition of the race called Record of Šmarna Gora took place. Slovenian record was broken, Timotej Bečan needed only 11min and 13s for the ascend.
3. Amazing views from the top: On a clear day the view stretches across the whole Ljubljana basin, the entire town, looking north and west to the Julian Alps and Kamniško-Savinjske Alpe and much more. In winter when Ljubljana is often covered in fog, the peak of Šmarna Gora might stick out of it, offering much needed sun and vitamin D.
For those visiting Šmarna Gora for the first time it is worth checking out the church that sits on top. Mentioned already in the 14th century, later also got a protective wall around it. It was unpleasant times of Turkish invasions and it served as a safe ground to hide and fight for residents of villages around the hill.
Otherwise no need to bring sandwiches with you, because family Ledinek has been running a guesthouse with drinks and home made - local - traditional dishes since 1974. Oh yes, and on the weekends famous "miške" donuts type of pastry - typical "bribe" that parents use for their kids to hike to the top. :)
Things to see nearby: Whitewater kayaking course on Sava river, Zbilje lake, Škofja Loka