It is known that Slovenian people like spending their free time in nature, especially if that involves any form of hiking. This is why one of the symbols of Slovenian identity is the country’s highest mountain – Triglav, which you have to conquer to become a true Slovenian. People living in Slovenia’s lovely capital of Ljubljana like to take a short hike or a morning run to the most popular hill nearby – Mount Saint Mary or Šmarna gora. It is the highest hill in Ljubljana, rising 664 meters above the sea level and a very popular hiking destination for the residents of Ljubljana and its surroundings, especially on warm summer and spring days. Some locals have the habit of climbing up the hill every day for some morning or afternoon exercise.
There are various paths leading to the top of the hill, but one of the most common ones starts in Tacen, a small village located under Mount Saint Mary. The walk to the top takes from a half an hour to an hour and is completed with a gorgeous view of the Kamnik and Julian Alps, as well as other mountains and hills in the area. There is an 18th-century baroque church, dedicated to St. Mary standing on the top, which is a popular spot for pilgrims and tourists. There are also a café and a restaurant, located on the top of Šmarna gora. The restaurant is called Gostilna Ledinek, and it can be quite busy during the summer days when the weather is nice and warm. There you can sit on the wooden benches and deckchairs, have a drink and enjoy a delicious dessert or a traditional Slovenian meal while observing the stunning view.
Every year, an event called the Šmarna gora Race is being organized here, where people from Slovenia and other countries compete running to the top of the hill. This has been a regular occurrence for almost 40 years, with the 39th race taking place this year.
The reason why Mount Saint Mary is such a popular hiking destination is that it gives the local people, as well as tourists, a chance to escape the vibrant city of Ljubljana. It offers a great way to spend an afternoon with their friends and family by hiking and enjoying nature. It will also give you a chance to connect with the locals and try the delicious little donuts covered with sugar, called “miške”, which the restaurant on top of Šmarna gora is known for.
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