Are you wondering about the things to do in Covent Garden, London? You have come to the right place!
Despite many years of living in London, and contrary to other places I grew tired of (Camden Town, anyone?), my love for Covent Garden has never faded. It really is one of my favorite places in town. When I lived in London, this was the first place I’d take friends and family who were visiting, and from there we’d start touring the city.
Comes Christmas, and Covent Garden is beautifully illuminated with Christmas trees, decorations and lights that even a self-professed Grinch like myself can’t help enjoying it.
While it is touristy, Covent Garden has managed to retain its charm, what with the fantastic pub scene, the lovely shops, the markets, the street performers, the theaters and more. This is one of the neighborhoods in London you absolutely have to explore.
But with so many fantastic things to do in Covent Garden, what should you start with? Worry not! I have selected the attractions for you – so that you can go straight to the point. But first, let me start by placing Covent Garden on the map for you.
Where Is Covent Garden?
Why, London of course!
Ok, kidding. I know you know it is in London. But where exactly in town? Covent Garden really is in the heart of London. It’s a 10 minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus, and 5 from Leicester Square; whereas Trafalgar Square – home of the famous National Gallery – is just 7 minutes away. This means it’s really easy to fit it in your London itinerary.
Covent Garden has its own Tube Station (underground, or – better – subway). In the past, this was only a “disembark” station – which meant that if you were coming from another station, you could get off there; but you could not get on a train there.
This was because there only is a spiral staircase and elevators to take passengers to the main level, so it could get extremely busy. Now, the service and the elevators have finally been improved, which means you can get on a subway train in Covent Garden too.
In any case, Leicester Square is so close that if necessary, you can get off (and on) there too.
Now that you know where Covent Garden is, and how to get there, let’s get to the core of this post! Continue reading to discover the most amazing things to do in Covent Garden.
The Best Things To Do In Covent Garden
Visit the Apple Market
The Apple Market is a covered market that was built in the 1800s and it really is one of the most iconic landmarks in town. It’s the kind of place where you can browse all sorts of market stalls.
Look for pretty tie-and-dye t-shirts and cute sweaters; jewels as well as art pieces; then move to the lovely boutiques (they change regularly!) that sell just about anything.
The Apple Market is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It opens at 12:00 pm on Sundays.
Check out the Jubilee and the East Colonnade Markets
If shopping is what you want to do, visiting Jubilee Market is certainly one of the top things to do in Covent Garden. Located right next to Apple Market, this is another must-see and it is open every day (though different things are on sale on different days).
Here you will find the most classic London souvenirs – think “mug with the face of Queen Elizabeth” printed on it.
The East Colonnade Market is probably my favorite, as it sells all sorts of fun stuff: from hand-crafted jewelry to hand-made soaps, kids clothing, handbags, ceramics, sweets and more.
The general stalls of the Jubilee Market are open Tuesday to Friday from 10:30 am to 7:00 pm and to 6:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday; the antiques are only on on Mondays from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Looking for books? Head to Cecil Court. This small street is packed with some of the best bookshops in town.
Attend a street performer’s show
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Covent Garden is the street performers.
From the musician playing on the ground floor at the Apple Market to the illusionists playing their tricks in the square in front of St. Paul’s Church, this is a place where you can easily be entertained – for hours, and for free (or for a small, completely voluntary donation).
Some performers are so good that you will wonder how come they aren’t famous (yet!).
Visit St. Paul’s in Covent Garden
You can’t miss St. Paul’s Church when in Covent Garden. Built in the 17th century, it is right in front of the market. You will immediately recognize it because the square right in front is where most street performers hang out.
Make sure to pop by the garden behind the church. It’s so peaceful you will feel a million miles a way from the chaos of Covent Garden.
You did not see this coming, right? Actually, a cheese tasting tours is one of the tastiest and most fun things to do in Covent Market. Tours are offered in a variety of languages and stop at a bunch of cheesemongers in London.
They actually start in Green Park but while tasting cheese from all over the world (including French and Italian cheese), you will walk your way to Covent Garden, typically the final stop on the tour.
You can book your cheese tasting tour here.
If all the browsing around the shops makes you tired and hungry, you have little to worry about. The neighborhood of Covent Garden is packed with excellent restaurants and gastro-pubs. Now, picking one is the hard thing do to!
Each time I visit, I try a different place. So, here are the places I recommend:
26 GRAINS – By far the best spot for breakfast and brunch.
RULES – This is actually the oldest restaurant in London. First opened in 1798, it’s the place to go to taste traditional British food – think game, pies, puddings and the like.
THE PETERSHAM AND PETERSHAM NURSERIES – I love this place since it has a great selection of dishes prepared with local produce. It’s also a great spot for afternoon tea and an overall lovely place. FYI they also have a place in Richmond that I have tried recently and adored – the location is fabulous!
DIN TAI FUNG – I tried this Taiwanese restaurant last week and loved it. They have an outstanding selection of steamed dumplings, but you will also find lots of soups and noodle dishes. The vibe is very easygoing and the service very fast too.
CLOS MAGGIORE – This delicious restaurant focusses on French contemporary cuisine. They have several tasting menus – including vegetarian ones. The atmosphere is super romantic so it’s the perfect place for a date night. Make sure to reserve a table well ahead of time!
LA BODEGA NEGRA – If you are in the mood for tequila, mezcal, tacos and other Mexican delights, this is the place to go.
SANTA NATA – If you are in the mood for something sweet, this Portuguese bakery just off Covent Garden has some of the best pasteis de nata in London!
For seafood, your best bet is The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen – but keep in mind it is a rather popular place, so reservations are a must, or head to Sevel Dials Market.
Then have a drink
After a glorious meal, you must have a drink. There’s no shortage of good pubs and bars in the area, and whether you fancy a pint or feel more sophisticated and are in the mood for a cocktail, you are bound to find a place to hang out and quench your thirst.
Lamb & Flag, on the lovely Rose Street, and The Harp are both great, easygoing pubs if a pint is all you want.
Eve Bar – in the cellar of the Frog Restaurant – makes the best cocktails. Mr Fogs Tavern is definitely one of the most popular drinking spots in the area among locals and tourists alike.
Blame Gloria is a former public toilet (yep, you read that right) that currently makes some of the best cocktails in the area. I am also a fan of The Lost Alpaca, in the basement of Lima Floral – it’s treat if you want a taste of South America right in the heart of London. They make a mean Pisco Sour!
Wine lovers like myself will enjoy Lady of the Grapes, a truly welcoming organic wine bar and shop, and Cecilia’s Wine House, which has a great selection of wines from all over the world – including a fabulous Cannonau wine from Pala Winery of Serdiana, my mom’s hometown in Sardinia.
Take a stroll along Neal’s Yard
Neal’s Yard has to be London’s best kept secret. I always wonder how long it will remain so, since it is so close to Covent Garden. This narrow alley with tall brick buildings adorned with colorful flower pots is home to some of the nicest small independent shops in the area.
From organic goods to health food stores and cafés, you will end up spending hours browsing around. My favorite shop is the Tea House in Neal Street – all the years spent living in England turned me into a tea lover. The best coffee is at Monmouth Coffee.
Visit London Transport Museum
Since it is so close to the Apple Market, visiting London Transport Museum definitely is one of the unmissable things to do in Covent Garden. This is the best place in town to learn more about London transportation system and how the oldest underground in the world came about.
You will be able to admire the famous vintage red Routemaster bus which is one of the symbols of the city; along with tube signs, uniforms, posters and old photos of London.
The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can get a ticket here.
Another museum in the area you may want to check out is the London Film Museum.
Go to the opera
If you like opera or ballet, you will agree that one of the best things to do in Covent Garden is spending an evening at the Royal Opera House.
Check out the calendar to see what’s on on the day you intend to visit, and book your tickets in advance. There even is a restaurant, a café and a rooftop terrace to admire the city below.
If you aren’t into opera, opt for a guided tour to admire the splendid architecture of the theater.
If you are looking for something a bit more fun, opt for a musical – some of the best theaters in London are right in Covent Garden. Matilda, which you can see at Cambridge Theater, is known to be one of the best musicals in town. Another good one if the Lion King.
Book your seats for a musical well in advance or, if you feel lucky, head to the ticket booth in Leicester Square and see if there is some last minute deal.
Take a photo of the ballerina
Right in front of the Royal Opera House there is Broad Church. You will recognize this lane from the iconic red phone boots and the ballerina statue. It’s one of the most photographed spots in Covent Garden, so you may want to stop for a few moments and take some shots too!
Guided Tours That Go To Covent Garden
You hardly need a tour to visit Covent Garden: it’s a small area and there are signs everywhere pointing you in the right direction. And it’s very easy to recognize the places – if anything, because this post has plenty of photos!
However, if you are keen on a guided tour, the following ones all go to Covent Garden:
London Classic Gold bike tour – a very well reviewed tour that goes through central London, with stops at all the main landmarks in town, including Covent Garden.
London historical pub walking tour – nothing better than discovering the city through its pubs! This 3.5 hours tour ends in Covent Garden, where you’ll visit some of the most iconic pubs. Keep in mind that drinks are actually not included in the tour.
Make sure to read my other posts to help you plan your trip to London:
- 24 Stunning London Hidden Gems
- How To Make The Most Of London In A Day
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- The Best 5 Days London Itinerary
- An Easy To Follow Itinerary For 4 Days London
- A Perfect Itinerary To See London In 3 Days
- How To See London In 2 Days
- 15 Great Day Trips From London
- How To Get Tower Of London Tickets
- 5 Easy Ways Of Getting London Dungeon Tickets
- 7 Easy Ways Of Getting London Eye Tickets
- Where To Stay In London: The Best Areas And Hotels
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of London
- How To Get From Heathrow To London
- The Best Museums In London
- The Best Sunday Markets In London
- Should You Visit London In Winter?