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 hasn’t faded a bit. It really is one of my favorite places in town – one of the fews I go to every time I visit, just to check that I still feel the same about it (and I do). Back when used to live in London, this was the first place I’d take friends and family when they’d visit – and from there start my tour of the city.
Oh, and don’t get me started about Covent Garden at Christmas! It is so beautifully illuminated with all the Christmas trees, decorations and lights that even a self-professed Grinch like myself can’t help enjoying it.
Mind you, Covent Garden is touristy – very much so, indeed! Yet, it’s always managed to retain its charm, what with the fantastic pub scene, the lovely shops, the markets, the street performers, the theaters and more.
Now, very much like 10 or even 20 years ago, I believe Covent Garden should be one of the neighborhoods in London you absolutely have to explore. But with so many things to do in Covent Garden, what should you start with? Worry not! I have selected the best things to do in Covent Garden 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 the heart of London. It’s at just 10 minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus, and at 5 from Leicester Square; whereas Trafalgar Square – home of the famous National Gallery – is 7 minutes away.
Covent Garden has its own Tube Station (underground, or – better – metro). Keep in mind, however, that this is only a “”disembark” station – which means that if you are coming from another station, you can get off there; but you can’t get on a train there. I have never really researched as to the reason for that, but I suspect that this is because there only is a spiral staircase and elevators to take passengers to the main level, so it can get extremely busy.
In any case, Leicester Square is so close that you are probably better off getting off (and on) there.
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 things to do in Covent Garden.
10 Unmissable Things To Do In Covent Garden
Visit the Apple Market
Among the unmissable things to do in Covent Garden there certainly is visiting the Apple Market. This covered market 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.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Apple Market is open daily from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.
And the Jubilee Market
If shopping is what you want to do, visiting Jubilee Market is certainly one of the 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.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The general stalls of the Jubilee Market are open daily from 10:30 am to 7:00 pm; the antiques are only on on Mondays from 5:00 am to 5:00 pm; the arts and crafts is on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
GOOD TO KNOW: Looking for books? Head to Cecil Court. This small street is packed with some of the best bookshops in town.
Attend a street performers’ 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.
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 – out of pure duty to my readers so that they can be well informed. So, here are the places I recommend:
26 Grains is by far the best spot for breakfast and brunch.
The Petersham at Petersham Nurseries has a great selection of dishes prepared with local produce.It’s also a great spot for afternoon tea and an overall lovely place.
Clos Maggiore 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!
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
One of the best things to do in Covent Garden, especially after a glorious meal, is having 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.
I find Eve Bar – in the cellar of the Frog Restaurant – makes the best cocktails. Gin fans should head straight to Mr Fogg’s – but beware, reservations are a must. Blame Gloria is a former public toilet (yep, you read that right) that currently makes some of the best cocktails in the area.
For wine, head straight to Lady of the Grapes. It’s a truly welcoming organic wine bar and shop.
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 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.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open daily from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets are £18.50 GBP (around $25 USD) and must be booked in advance. You can get a ticket here.
Go to the opera
If you like opera or ballet, you will agree with me that one of the top things to do in Covent Garden is spending an evening at the Royal Opera House. Make sure to check out the calendar to see what’s on on the day of your 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.
GOOD TO KNOW: Visiting the Royal Opera House is free on Sunday afternoon.
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.
TIP: 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 spot in Covent Garden, so you may want to stop for a few moments and take some shots too!
Guided Tours Of London 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. 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 to all the main landmarks in town, including Covent Garden.
- London historical pub walking tour – nothing better than discovering the city through its pubs!
Further readings about London
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