Heartbeat of Zagreb

Ilica - Zagreb's Lifeline

Whoever wants to truly experience Zagreb has to become a Zagrebian, and there is no better way to become one than to take a walk through Ilica Street and appreciate its beauty and significance.

Without a doubt, there is absolutely no street that is as synonymous with Zagreb as Ilica Street. This 5,66 km long street that spans through the whole northwestern part of the city connects the central Ban Jelačić Square with the Vrapče district to the west. If you truly want to experience the heartbeat of Zagreb - take a walk through Ilica Street. Take a slow walk. Stroll around. See what all the fuss is about.


Image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, Tomislav Šklopan


It is perfectly expectable that the most recognizable street in the whole city is one of its oldest. The first written mention of Ilica dates back to 14th century - the name of the settlement that, together with Vlaška Ves, Šoštarska Ves, and Lončarska Ves formed the very center of what today is known as the Lower Town. Throughout the centuries, Ilica was the most prominent road in Zagreb that served the purpose of a transport route. During the early 19th century, that changed as Ilica became the host not just to travellers, but also to countless craftsmen, caterers, and various traders. In a matter of few years, Ilica rose to fame as it became home to more and more inns and shops. This rejuvenated its reputation, and it quickly became the most popular street in Zagreb. Everyone was there. People arriving in Zagreb. People leaving Zagreb. People who needed a new suit. People who needed to get a good nights sleep. People who wanted to get a drink.

The same can be said today since Ilica has the title of Zagreb's most crowded street. Its character remained unchanged. Countless narrow streets intersecting with Ilica, its charm, its crowdedness - they all add up to Illica's reputation. Do you want to eat a delicious ice cream? Go to Ilica. Do you want to buy top notch clothes? Go to Ilica. Do you want to wander around, looking how Zagrebians interact and go about their daily lives? Go to Ilica. It is the go-to street for almost everything you could want from Zagreb.


Image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, P. Macek


One of the many things that made Ilica charming are the neighbouring alleys. If you truly want to experience Ilica (and the whole center of Zagreb, for that matter) don't miss on these alleys. Not a single one. Each passage, sometimes deceptively hidden, leads to some hidden back alley. There you can find numerous small designer shops, charming restaurants, old-school barbershops and similar. Sometimes you won't find anything, it will be just a dead end. Sometimes you'll end up in an area so much different that you won't believe that you're just a block of buildings away from the most crowded street in the whole city. For example, if you decide not to ignore one of these alleys, you might end up in Tuškanac - a beautiful, calming, green oasis hidden right in the heart of Zagreb. Oh, and you'll particularly like it if you like basketball as it sports one of the most beautiful and interesting basketball courts that you can hope to find.

Although Ilica is primarily known to be the most popular shopping destination in Zagreb, which is absolutely true, you shouldn't dismiss it as an attraction in its own right. Take a look around. Examine various facades, some of which are extraordinarily beautiful and detailed. This architectural variety makes Ilica such an interesting and beautiful street - all five kilometers of it. Just looking at them can tell you an awful lot about Zagreb's history. Even the old door numbers are worth noticing. A lot of people often realize that the best way to enjoy Zagreb as a tourist is to become a Zagrebian. If you dedicate enough time to understand and learn of the ways of Zagrebians, you'll be rewarded with truly gratifying experience. There are few places in Zagreb that are better than Ilica. Sure, you can go there to buy designer clothes but the greatest gift you can give yourself when visiting Zagreb is to become a Zagrebian. The greatest souvenir of them all is free and five kilometers long. Talk about a bargain!


 Image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, Marko Vrdoljak


Header image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, Marko Vrdoljak

Author: Marko Pačar