Covent Garden undeniably draws visitors to London, and it’s easy to understand why. When I’m strolling through central London, I frequently find myself passing through Covent Garden, where there’s always something new happening, infusing the area with a lively atmosphere year-round. While Covent Garden Piazza is often bustling with activity, hidden treasures await just a short stroll away. Despite its fame, Covent Garden is occasionally unfairly reduced to a cluster of theaters and upscale dining. This misconception leads some Londoners to brand it as “too touristy” – a judgment that may cause them to miss out on the true charm of this area. Recognizing this, it’s time to appreciate Covent Garden anew. I hope this area guide can help you to come to see this neighborhood for what it truly is: a fusion of historic landmarks, delightful pubs, and bustling streets that collectively narrate the story of London’s vibrant past and present. So, let’s peel back the layers and uncover the authentic heart of Covent Garden!
Getting To Covent Garden
Covent Garden’s central location in London makes it easily accessible through various modes of transportation. The London Underground is the quickest and most efficient way to reach Covent Garden from distant areas. The neighborhood is served by the Piccadilly Line, with its own Covent Garden station. Alternatively, Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly Lines) and Holborn (Central and Piccadilly Lines) stations are within walking distance. Covent Garden is well-connected by an extensive network of London buses. Numerous routes pass through or near the area, providing convenient access from various parts of the city. If you find yourself in central London, consider taking a leisurely stroll to Covent Garden. The neighborhood is easily accessible by foot from nearby areas such as Leicester Square, Soho, and Chinatown. It’s a great way to soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.
Where To Stay in Covent Garden
Covent Garden offers a wide range of accommodation options, catering to various budgets and preferences. If you’re in search of a luxurious and intimate experience, the Henrietta Hotel, situated right in the heart of Covent Garden, offers sumptuous furnishings and an atmosphere of refined elegance for a truly indulgent stay. For travelers mindful of their budget, the Z Hotel Covent Garden is a wallet-friendly yet comfortable stay. If you’re looking to indulge in luxury, the Strand, just a short distance from Covent Garden, presents an array of opulent choices. Take in breathtaking river views from the iconic Savoy, where classic charm meets modern sophistication. A short stroll east of Covent Garden takes you to the lively Seven Dials district, where you’ll find the Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel. This boutique-style hotel not only provides a comfortable retreat but also hosts the Monmouth Kitchen, an Italian-Peruvian eatery offering a culinary experience that complements your stay. On the western fringes of Covent Garden, St Martins Lane invites guests into a world of sleek, contemporary aesthetics. With tech-savvy features and two lively bars, it caters to the modern traveler seeking a seamless blend of style and substance.
Things To Do in Covent Garden
Culture and Entertainment
From its iconic market to world-class performances, Covent Garden offers a range of experiences that should find a place on every traveler’s bucket list. One of the crown jewels of Covent Garden is the Royal Opera House. This architectural marvel stands as a beacon of artistic excellence. Within its walls, visitors are treated to some of the most captivating opera and ballet performances in the world. The opulent auditorium, adorned in gilded splendor, provides a fitting backdrop for the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet companies to weave their magic. For those seeking a more intimate encounter, the lunchtime recitals offer a glimpse into the world of classical music that is not to be missed. Don’t forget to stop for drinks and enjoy the vistas at their rooftop restaurant!
For enthusiasts of a different kind of artistry, the London Transport Museum is a fun activity! You’ll have the opportunity to see historic vehicles, iconic posters, and vintage signs paint a vivid picture of the city’s transportation evolution. On Fridays, the museum comes alive with a vibrant late-night event, a celebration of London’s rich transit heritage.
Steeped in history, the Covent Garden Market stands as a testament to the district’s evolution. Once a bustling hub for fruit and vegetable vendors, it now houses a diverse array of shops, eateries, and daily markets. The echoes of its past can still be felt, adding a unique charm to the modern-day shopping experience. As you stroll through the bustling Piazza, don’t be surprised if you encounter a crew of street performers. From mime artists to contortionists, these free-spirited performers bring an air of whimsy to the surroundings, creating an unforgettable atmosphere.
For aficionados of the silver screen, the London Film Museum offers a tantalizing glimpse into the world of James Bond. Immerse yourself in the world of espionage as you admire the cars and memorabilia that graced the iconic films. As a bonus, delve into the cinematic history of the area by exploring the top film locations nearby. Venture into the Infinity Chamber for a modern twist on self-expression. Composed of hundreds of LED lights, this immersive installation provides the perfect backdrop for a show-stopping selfie. Let the interplay of light and shadow transport you to another realm, capturing a moment of pure magic.
But the allure of Covent Garden extends beyond its borders. Just a stone’s throw away, St Martin-in-the-Fields Church stands as a haven of tranquility amidst the urban hustle and bustle. Attend a service or revel in a concert, and explore the atmospheric restaurant nestled in its crypt.
Tucked away amidst the lively streets of Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard is a charming and vibrant courtyard that feels like a hidden oasis in the heart of London. Its kaleidoscope of colorful buildings and lush greenery create a picturesque backdrop for an array of health food shops, holistic wellness centers, and artisanal boutiques.
Goodwin’s Court, nestled discreetly amidst the vibrant streets of Covent Garden, is a captivating portal to London’s rich history. Its narrow, cobbled passageway and impeccably preserved Georgian architecture transport visitors to the 18th century, offering a glimpse into the city’s elegant past. Rumored to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, the alley exudes an enchanting aura that sparks the imagination, making it a must-visit for those seeking a taste of both historical London and the magic that has captured the hearts of readers worldwide.
Covent Garden offers a variety of family-friendly activities for an enjoyable day out. One notable attraction is the Dragon Playground in Russell Square Gardens, which features an enormous red dragon. Children can explore this imaginative playground, perfect for climbing and playing, and it includes additional features suitable for all ages.
Another fun option is the Cartoon Museum offers a unique experience by showcasing original artwork, prints, books, and memorabilia from renowned cartoonists. It’s suitable for children of all ages, providing an engaging look into the world of cartoons.
Things To Do Near Covent Garden
A short journey leads to the iconic Somerset House, a hub of contemporary culture and exhibitions. In winter, the courtyard transforms into a shimmering ice-skating rink, inviting visitors to partake in a quintessential London experience. The exhibitions, always on the cutting edge of creativity, promise to leave a lasting impression.
A short walk takes you to the majestic Trafalgar Square. Here, flanked by stone lions, you can capture a moment in time with an iconic selfie. Better yet, time your visit to coincide with the numerous free cultural events that grace the square throughout the year. From live performances to cultural celebrations, there’s always something to captivate the senses. A visit to the National Gallery is obviously a must!
Leicester Square is the beating heart of London’s cinematic world. Stand in the footsteps of film stars as you stroll through this legendary square, which plays host to major premieres and is adorned with the Scenes in the Square sculpture trail. The magic of the silver screen comes to life in this cinematic haven.
West End Musicals in Covent Garden
Covent Garden boasts a collection of esteemed venues that stage some of the most memorable West End musicals. The Lyceum Theatre hosts Disney’s timeless “The Lion King London,” an enchanting family favorite. Over at the Cambridge Theatre, Roald Dahl’s beloved tale comes to life in “Matilda the Musical,” a celebration of imagination and resilience. With an array of captivating productions, Covent Garden’s theaters promise something for every theater enthusiast. Secure your seats for a night of live entertainment in this dynamic cultural hub.
Covent Garden Restaurants
From chic and trendy to warm and intimate, the array of restaurants in this district caters to every palate and occasion, promising a dining experience to remember. For the most romantic restaurant in London, Clos Maggiore sets the stage under a canopy of blossoms. This enchanting French restaurant, with its intimate and fairytale ambiance, provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic night out. With its warm and inviting atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Clos Maggiore has become a cherished destination for couples seeking to create lasting memories.
For a fusion of Peruvian, Brazilian, and Japanese flavors, look no further than Sushisamba Covent Garden. With its breathtaking view overlooking the Piazza, this restaurant offers more than just a meal; it’s an immersive culinary journey that tantalizes the senses and transports diners to far-off lands through a symphony of exotic tastes. Healthy indulgence takes center stage at Avobar, one of the best breakfast spots in the area where every dish is a celebration of the versatile avocado. From morning to night, guests can savor a delectable array of all-day creations that not only satisfy the palate but also nourish the body.
With an extensive menu of meticulously crafted dumplings, Din Tai Fung promises an authentic taste of Taiwanese culinary artistry. For those in search of a dining experience steeped in history, a visit to London’s oldest restaurant is a must. Rules offer hearty pies, game, and other classic British fare, all served in an atmosphere that harkens back to a bygone era. Dishoom or Cinnamon Bazaar, both renowned for their Indian delicacies, are great places for spicy flavors. For Italian cuisine with a unique experience served , head to Ave Mario!
Pubs and Bars in Covent Garden
Covent Garden boasts a vibrant pub scene with something to suit every taste. Dirty Martini Covent Garden offers an extensive selection of both inventive and timeless cocktails, ensuring there’s a drink for everyone. The Porterhouse, with its three tiers, provides an authentic Irish pub experience along with their hand-crafted beers. Meanwhile, Lamb & Flag, a charming traditional pub, invites guests to enjoy a pint in a setting said to be Charles Dickens’ favorite. It’s a chance to experience the genuine essence of London’s classic pub culture.
Shopping in Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a vibrant district offering an eclectic array of shops. From fashion and cosmetics to art and crafts, there’s something for every shopper’s taste and preference. The Apple Market is a charming spot for those looking for unique gifts. From handcrafted jewelry to bespoke paintings, this market offers a variety of one-of-a-kind treasures. You can visit between Tuesdays and Sundays for an ever-changing selection of crafts, or explore Mondays for a curated collection of antiques and collectibles. The East Colonnade Market is a daily delight. It’s a great place to stroll and discover artisanal craftsmanship that is sure to captivate the senses. The Jubilee Market offers an immersive shopping experience. On weekends, it transforms into an arts and crafts haven, showcasing the talents of local artisans. Mondays bring a treasure trove of antiques, while the rest of the week offers an eclectic range of gifts to suit every taste.
If you’re a fan of luxury brands, you can explore renowned names like Burberry, Tiffany & Co., Bucherer, and Polo Ralph Lauren. Each of these boutiques offers a selection of opulent fashion and accessories that exude timeless elegance. British fashion icons are also well-represented in Covent Garden. Paul Smith, Hackett, and Fred Perry offer distinctive styles that blend visionary designs with impeccable tailoring.
For those with a penchant for the latest in technology, a visit to the Apple Store Covent Garden is a must. It’s a flagship location known for its cutting-edge products and sleek design, making it a haven for tech enthusiasts. At the Covent garden’s Apple Store, you can try out the latest Apple devices and explore their features. Additionally, you have the opportunity to book tutorials for an in-depth understanding of your Apple products.
If you have a nose for fragrances, Covent Garden is a treasure trove. Atelier Cologne allows you to create a fragrance that’s uniquely yours. For scents with a royal seal of approval, Penhaligon’s is a must-visit. Meanwhile, Jo Malone and Miller Harris offer a selection of special fragrances that promise to captivate the senses. Covent Garden’s Beauty Quarter is a sanctuary for those seeking indulgence and rejuvenation. Dior and Chanel’s boutiques offer luxury beauty products and exquisite fragrances. Aesop and Charlotte Tilbury provide an array of skincare and beauty essentials, promising a pampering experience like no other.
Map To The Best Spots in Covent Garden
Below, I’m providing the map highlighting the key attractions, dining spots, shopping venues, and some hotels in Covent Garden. Use this map as a handy reference during your exploration of this iconic London neighborhood.
With this comprehensive guide, you’re equipped to make the most of your visit to Covent Garden. Whether you’re interested in immersing yourself in culture, indulging in fine dining, discovering unique shops, or simply soaking in the vibrant atmosphere, this neighborhood has something for everyone. Enjoy your time exploring this cultural gem of London!