Every city has that one street that owns the spotlight; in Zagreb,, that street is Illica.
Illica stretches from the Trg Ban Jelecica, Zagreb’s main square and furls forward, creating a vibrant, high energy corridor. The street is lined with ornate old buildings (some in perfect condition, others with peeling paint) that house boutiques, stores, cafes, offices and hotels and apartments.
The street isnâ€™t large, but it balances trams, new and old, along with cars and bikes and pedestrians with ease. Its sides are lined by stores and boutiques â€“ you can find everything from high fashion to groceries, and shop windows are stocked with the lasted trends, with a â€˜popustâ€™ or â€˜discountâ€™ banner always tacked on. Even if you arenâ€™t one to shop, the bright windows ensure an interesting walk.
You might be able to resist the shopping, but not the bakeries and pastry shops that pop up at intervals; the warm aroma of fresh baked goods waft and tempt with ease along this street. Here, youâ€™ll find one of Zagrebâ€™s most favoured stops, Slasticarnica Vincek, a pastry shop. At times the line waiting to get in can stretch along the pavement, but once in, try the KremÅ¡nita (a vanilla custard pastry) with a cup of coffee and the effort will seem well worth it. Coffee stops are an integral part of Zagreb’s culture.
The monotony of buildings is broken by compact, cafe dominated squares. These cafes are usually the place to share coffee and cigarettes and meet for drinks later in the day. My Europe travel tip is that very few Zagreb cafes provide eating options â€“ Daily Fresh opposite the main square is one such exception with a good breakfast menu. Otherwise you have the bakeries and sandwich shops.
The squares are also where most of the cityâ€™s street celebrations take place. It is the preferred venue for high profile events â€“ from election battles, film shoots, promotional events, Croatian Idol performers to street carnivals and festivities, they all begin here.
I lived in an apartment close to Illica when I first moved to Zagreb, and as enjoyable as it was, sitting at the balcony with a coffee, watching the city play out the day, it wasnâ€™t easy to get any sleep as sounds of late night revelries floated around. I moved to a quieter street, but I make my way Illica practically every day; sit at a cafe and watch the city play out the day.
Considering the streetâ€™s location and proximity to the cityâ€™s main sights, Illica is the preferred accommodation option for tourists due to ease of Zagreb sightseeing from the central location.
Best of Zagreb Tips
You’ll find lot of ideas for things to do in Zagreb in our Best of Zagreb collation post.
More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia
We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.