If you’re around Ljubljana, among the many things you’ll see is Šmarna Gora. It’s one of the country’s premier hiking trails and among the most accessible locales too. If you love hiking but seldom have the energy to do them, this place is for you.
Šmarna Gora is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a short hike. It’s easy to traverse, with multiple trails and a relatively easy difficulty level. It’s excellent for people looking to practice hiking before they go for more technical climbs.
If you want to hike around Ljubljana, Smarna Gora is the place to visit. If you’re visiting the Old Town and have a day off, spending half a day on it would energize you. Here’s why.
Understanding the History of Šmarna Gora
Before we delve into the specifics of hiking in Šmarna Gora, a little bit of history can help us appreciate it better.
Šmarna Gora or Mount Saint Mary is a small mountain north of Ljubljana. The mountain is supposedly an inselberg, which is a rock formation. It has a gentle slope, with an abrupt rise.
The mountain is famous for its two peaks, which people say look like a woman’s bosom. The two peaks are Šmarna Gora or Mount Saint Mary to the west and the other being Grmada to the east. They’re part of what is known as the Šmarna Gora District.
There are surrounding villages to the locale, including Vikrče and Spodnje Pirniče to the west. You’ll find Zavrh pod Šmarno Goro to the north and Šmartno pod Šmarno Goro and Tacen to the southeast.
The entirety of Ljubljana itself is directly south-southeast of the mountain. From Castle Hill, you will see a beautiful vista of the mountain system.
The Many Trails Around Mount Saint Mary
Šmarna Gora and Grmada’s general history goes back to Ljubljana’s early settlement, having Emona as a Roman outpost. While there are innumerable paths between both slopes and the city, these have only surfaced over the past few years.
Some paths to the slope have existed for centuries. These trails were there during a time when the mountains offered both bountiful harvests of wood. There were also recordings of people visiting it as a pilgrimage trail.
Around the last years of the 19th century, people visited Šmarna Gora as a pilgrimage site. There were two historic trails to the mount itself, both with differing uses.
The trail from Zavrh is the path favored by locals and merchants. They use it to supply large loads to various locales. This worked as a type of trade route that allowed access to various other villages.
The second trail comes from Tacen, starting from the village church to the church. This trail acts as a pilgrimage trail for the faithful. While the Tacen trail is not for the common folk, it’s the most used trail for the mountain.
People who wanted to go to religious services frequented the Tacen trail. They also used the trails for transporting wine, a crucial product for the Gora district at the time.
Historic Trails Along The Slopes
Similar to today’s routes, there are multiple trails available in Šmarna Gora even back in the day. The issue, however, were the landowners. Many didn’t want random people trespassing their private property.
To prevent trespassers, they planted bramble and brushwood to deter people from coming. They eventually stopped and settled, accepting the changes to the locale.
Much of the modern trails focused on Šmarna Gora having trip trails rather than pilgrimage trails. Many of these trails were easier to use compared to the steep and rocky slopes of Grmada. To access Grmada, most hikers needed a week’s worth of preparation.
Grmada was so technical that it was the cause of many hiking accidents during the early 20th century. To improve access to Grmada, many hiking masters like Vilko Mazi and Josip Novak suggest new trails that will allow people to climb safer. These became the Mazi Trail and the Freedom Trail.
Traversing Šmarna Gora
Šmarna Gora is one of the best hiking trails in Ljubljana. Among the many hikes and hills in the area, it is the most popular hiking destination for many things. It is more commercialized than many hiking trails, but for a reason.
The slope is famous for its picturesque locale, together with good food and relaxation spots. Among the best times to visit it, however, is very early in the morning.
The 1200 ft (366m) elevation of Šmarna Gora takes around 40 minutes to climb. The trail is more accessible than most paths, and it’s magical to see the sunrise for the day. It is breathtaking, which is the perfect time to take pictures of yourself or with friends and loved ones.
The colors are unique, and the people you’ll see along the way will have positive energy you would love to have. If you live around Ljubljana, an hour’s hike a day to Šmarna Gora can help you keep healthy.
It’s always essential to plan your day ahead if you plan on going to Šmarna Gora. For generally fit people, the trail will take at least half an hour to traverse one way.
If you live around the city center of Old Town, you would need another 30 minutes by bus to reach the district. If you want to catch the sunrise, a good 1.5 hours should have you set for the sunrise.
If you’re an inexperienced hiker or have existing knee problems, Šmarna Gora can be a little difficult. The incline and decline are sharp at some points, so you would want to be limber when going up. When possible, a walking stick can be a useful tool, especially for those with bad health.
Reaching The Top of Ljubljana’s Best Hike
To get to the top of Šmarna Gora, you have several choices to pick. At the moment, there are as many as 15 active trails for the slope. The most easily accessible trail still starts at Tacen, which you can access via bus #8, dropping off at Tacenki Most.
The earliest start for the #8 bus line operates at around 5:20 AM. There’s a good chance that you can catch the sun rising by the time you reach the peak. Once you’re there, there’s a lot of things to do.
Once you reach Tacenski Most, all you need to do is follow the trail with red-white circular markings. These will lead you to the top, but if you’re lost, there will be people who can help.
As you go up the trail, you’ll see your perspective change slowly. Everything opens up, and most of the colors will change from night blue to a pinkish, orange-ish hue. As time passes by, you’ll likely reach the top and see the Kamnik-Savinja Alps on a clear day.
Can I Hike Šmarna Gora With My Kids?
For families who are looking to hike Šmarna Gora with their kids, it is possible. The answer is definitely yes; you can bring your kids with you up to the top. While smaller kids can find it a bit more difficult, toddlers should have no problem with the trail.
If you’re lucky to have kids who like long walks, they’ll have many possible activities once you reach the top. There’s a nice playground with a spectacular view up there, with different slides and games they can play. They’ll also find time to relax and enjoy the awesome vista.
What Should You Expect Once You Reach The Peak
What should you expect once you reach the summit of Šmarna Gora? You have a few things you can do, depending on the weather and what activities you want.
Among the many things you’ll see on top, you’ll see a baroque church, a gostilna, and a wishing bell.
For starters, the Gostilna Ledinek is an institution for hikers of Šmarna Gora. A gostilna is similar to a pub, but it’s more rustic and offers less alcohol. When you visit Ledinek, you’ll be glad to find traditional Slovenian dishes and pastries.
You can get everything from jota, Zelje z zganci, struklji, to gibanica. You can get your fill at Ledinek and spend more of your time taking pictures.
Want to make sure that you get the optimal view when visiting? It’s best to visit the website for Šmarna Gora before making a schedule. They have weather information and even life feed of what the top of the hill looks like.
Once you’re up top, you’ll also see a paragliding platform with the city right at the bottom. While not many paragliders go here anymore, it’s a great place to take many breathtaking photos.
Šmarna Gora is one of the best hiking spots around Ljubljana and Slovenia too. It’s an easy trail for everyone, which one of the most accessible trails and best views. If you’re visiting Ljubljana, this is the place to go for a quick hike.
If you’re visiting Šmarna Gora, do a little bit of research, some good prep, and you’ll be ready to go. Enjoy some of that good food on the peak and savor the view with photographs and memories.
Looking for more places to visit around Ljubljana? There’s an entire world out there waiting for you. From natural locations to cityscapes, you’ll find anything and everything you need.
Visit Ljubljana today and see the wonder for yourself. Sate your lust for adventure with Šmarna Gora and much, much more.