Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

Slovenia Day Trips: Hiking to Grmada and St. Jakob Hills

View southeast from the summit of Grmada, near Ljubljana, Slovenia

I’m sometimes accused of having my head in the clouds. I don’t mind so long as I’m afforded the opportunity to peak out from time to time. That’s especially important here in Ljubljana, where late autumn and early winter often veils the Slovenian capital in a thick, gray, misty fog. Enter Grmada and St. Jakob Hills.

Indeed, we, and those who visit, needn’t venture far to find ourselves above the clouds, as illustrated in the image above, taken from the summit of Grmada Hill.

As the crow flies the peak is just 15 kilometers northwest of Ljubljana, but on days like the one pictured here, it may as well have been on an entirely different world.

Slovenians are avid walkers, hikers and trekkers, with plenty of trails packed into nearly every corner of the country that appeal to and provide offerings to those of every level, from the technically difficult ascents in the Julian and Karavanke Alps to the more accessible hikes in the Alpine foothills. That’s what this post is focusing on, where options to stick your head above the clouds abound.

Case in point: The Grmada, and St. Jakob’s (Jacob) Hills, located in the Polhov Gradec Hills –the Polhov Gradec Dolomites to the locals— located less than a thirty minute drive from Ljubljana. These are just two examples of hundreds that dot the tiny country.

They’re not, by themselves, considered ‘top’ tourist attractions, but that shouldn’t keep visitors to Slovenia from exploring them if the opportunity should arise. They’re extremely popular with locals and the views can be sublime, as I hope is adequately shown in the nineteen photos here.

View of St Jacob and Kamnisko Sedlo from Grmada, Slovenia
View of St Jakob and Kamnisko Sedlo from Grmada, Slovenia

I’m highlighting Grmada and St. Jakob together for three reasons: first, as you’ll see in some of the photos below, they’re relatively close to each other and both can easily be hiked over the course of the same day by hikers in relatively decent shape; second, because they both afford beautiful panoramas in all directions; and third, because I hiked both very recently. And took lots of photos from above the clouds.

Let’s begin with with Grmada, which is the Slovenian word for pile or pyre, or more vividly, a stake, as in where accused witches were set aflame and burned alive. (Oh yes, that went on in Slovenia, too.)

Grmada: The nitty and the gritty

Trailhead: Dedicated parking lot in the village of Topol pri Medvodah (651m / 2136ft)
Destination: Peak of Grmada Hill (898m / 2946ft)
Duration: Approximately 1hr 15min one way
Difficulty: Easy, with just a few moderate and short steep inclines, along a well-marked path
Elevation Gain: 247m ( 810ft); along the trail, 300m (985ft)

Trail: It’s well-marked and well-trodden, so don’t worry too much about losing your way.

From the parking lot head south through the village on the road towards the village of Bela; after about ten minutes you’ll reach a fork. There head right, where soon the car track will narrow and eventually turn into an ascending walking path through a pleasant forest.

After leaving the initial forested area, the trail takes turns hugging the edge of two hills and following a rolling ridge line — which means ample views north, south and east along the way.

Nine more photos from or of Grmada below.

View north from Grmada
View north from Grmada
St Jacob hill from Grmada, Slovenia
St Jakob hill from Grmada, Slovenia
Southeast view from Grmada, Slovenia
Southeast view from Grmada, Slovenia
Northeast view from Grmada
Northeast view from Grmada
View of Ljubljana from Grmada
View of Ljubljana from Grmada

St. Jakob Hill: The nitty and the gritty

Trailhead: Dedicated parking lot in the village of Topol pri Medvodah (651m / 2136ft)
Destination: Peak of St. Jakob (806m / 2645ft)
Duration: Approximately 45min one way
Difficulty: Easy, along a well-marked path, mostly across a meadow. The only incline is over the final few hundred meters
Elevation Gain: 155m ( 508ft); along the trail, 165m (542ft)
Trail: As you’ll have seen in some of the photos above, St. Jacob’s Hill isn’t far from Grmada, and makes for a nice and picturesque destination of its own.

There isn’t any need for too many notes for this segment since your goal, the 17th century hilltop church, will mostly be within view.

Some Images:

Above the clouds Brezovica pri Medvodah
Above the clouds – Brezovica pri Medvodah
View from St Jakob to the south
View from St Jakob to the south
View north from St Jakob Hill Slovenia
View north from St Jakob Hill, Slovenia
Along the trail to St. Jakob, Slovenia
Along the trail to St. Jakob, Slovenia
View towards Ljubljana from above the clouds
View towards Ljubljana from above the clouds

 

Getting there:

Even if you plan to do just do one of the hikes, it’s easiest and most convenient to start and end both in the village of Topol pri Medvodah where parking is plentiful — as are a handful of well-established restaurants.

At the Gostilna Na Vihri, Topol pri Medvodah
At the Gostilna Na Vihri, Topol pri Medvodah

The busiest and most popular is Gostilna Na Vihri ( gostilnanavihri.com | Facebook), or Na Vihri Guesthouse, known for its variety of regional fare, locally-produced spirits and graciously-sized desserts. The latter made Danijela, above, very excited. And the views to the south into the evening are phenomenal.

Sunset from Topol pri Medvodah, Slovenia
Sunset from Topol pri Medvodah, Slovenia

From Ljubljana you can arrive from two directions: via Medvode to the north, or via Polhov Gradec from the southeast.

Public Transportation: There is no bus service from Ljubljana to the village of Topol pri Medvodah, but you can also reach Grmada from Polhov Gradec (roughly 90min one way), which has a bus connection hourly to and from Ljubljana for the 35min journey, starting at 05:20 outbound on weekdays. The last bus back to Ljubljana is at 21:43 on weekdays, and 18:45 on weekends. Be sure to check the Ljubljana bus station timetables before finalizing any plans.

By Bike: I’ll write in detail about Polhov Gradec at a later date, but in brief: the village is about 20km from Ljubljana and I’ve bicycled there many times, a few of those combining it with a hike, so that’s a very viable option. If you decide to try this route, pick up a local hiking or topographical map (Ljubljana and its Surroundings 1:50,000) either at the village’s visitor’s center, or better yet, at a book store in Ljubljana.

Here’s a common bicycle route, with Ljubljana’s Three Bridges as the starting point. There’s a QR Code here if you want to download it to your mobile device.

Route 3,407,101 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Hiking Grmada and St. Jakob Hills - Slovenia day trips from Piran Cafe
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And finally for those seeking additional info about hill and mountain trekking in Slovenia, a couple more useful links:

  • The Alpine Association of Slovenia (Planinska Zveza Slovenije)
  • hribi.net – detailed mountaineering and hiking info for most Slovenian mountains and ranges, and also includes info on mountains in neighboring countries

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More Slovenia Day Trips from Ljubljana:

 

 

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  1. paula graham says

    Wonderful series: both informative and decorative. Slovenia, such a lovely country with much to offer.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Paula — planning for much more in the spring when the weather breaks and the days stretch a bit. 🙂

      1. paula graham says

        Send you three Newspaper headline pics only to notice too late, you are not doing any this week …Will try again some other time..sorry about that.

  2. Manja Mexi Movie says

    I remember an organised night walk to the top of Grmada, it’s a traditional annual event. Mom dragged me. Nothing more surreal than climbing in the moonlight instead of staying in bed. Highly recommended. I guess it’s on in the summer though.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, I’ll have to track that down. Sounds great. (I promise not to drag you along though. 🙂 )

  3. jacquelineobyikocha says

    Wow! Such dreamy pictures ?

  4. chrissyfarren says

    Breath taking. To see that in person would make it one of my new happy places. Beautiful.

  5. ladieswholunchreviews says

    Beautiful pictures. Danijela is adorable.

    1. Bob R says

      And impossibly smart, too 🙂

      1. ladieswholunchreviews says

        Well, that goes without saying! 😉

  6. Brad Nixon says

    Bob, tremendous photography and painstakingly researched. An immense amount of work, well represented. Thanks for a look at a part of the world I don’t know at all.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Brad. There will be plenty more from these parts once the weather turns less wet and gray. And after I catch up with a huge backlog of pits and pieces from South America. Never-ending. 🙂

  7. Opinionated Man says

    Very awesome photos! Thanks for sharing the views!

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