Located on the West End’s eastern fringes, Covent Garden sits between Drury Lane and St. Martin’s Lane. This London district was turned from a fruit and vegetable market to a prominent shopping area. Visited by millions of people every year, Covent Garden is popular for shopping, entertainment and cultural value.
- Shopping – London’s most well-known shopping area, Covent Garden, houses a series of the most famous shops in the world, both high-end and high-street brands. From the likes of the glamorous designer brands such as Chanel, Dior, Burberry or Mulberry; to the ones that cover every-day needs, such as Boots or all-time popular ones, like Accessorize, Waterstones, Marks and Spencer, and Whistles.
- Museums – Placed in an area that is optimal for cultural enrichment, a visit to Covent Garden offers you the opportunity to catch up with the latest exhibitions at the various museums that are situated in the area. Covering most interests and areas of expertise, you can choose between places such as the London Transport Museum, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, London Film Museum or Courtauld Institute of Art.
- Theatres – For those interested in entertainment and culture, the selection of theatres in the area is especially generous, with around 20 different locations. Cambridge Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Duchess Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, Vaudeville Theatre, Savoy Theatre and many others are open with unique performances.
- Street Performers – A particularly interesting aspect of Covent Garden is its street entertainment, which is licensed and timed at about 30 minutes per performance. Street performers will start singing, dancing or putting on various types of impromptu shows entertainment visiters and shoppers.
- Dining and drinking – More than 60 bars and pubs are open in the Covent Garden Area, for those who desire refreshments or a bite to eat between shopping sprees or theatre productions. They range from sandwich places, to sea food restaurants, taverns, patisseries, offering both traditionally British dishes and international ones.
- Events – Keep an eye open for different special and temporary events, taking place in various locations in the area, whether they are cafes and bars or museums and theatres. Concerts, exhibitions, pop-ups and races are always happening in one place or another, so follow the latest news to learn about these limited opportunities.
- Bus – The RV1 bus is a direct line to Covent Garden. Alternatively, 24 stops at Leicester Square, while 15, 153, 23, 9, 139 and 13 have stops at Trafalgar Square and Aldwych.
- Tube – The nearest station is Covent Garden, which is also the busiest. The station is on Picadilly Line. Other stations are Holborn, at a 10-minute walk away; Leicester Square, 5 minutes away; Tottenham Court Road, at about a 12 minutes’ walk; Charing Cross, at 6-minute walk away; and Temple, at 11 minutes.
- Bike – For cyclists, bike racks are available on the corner of Wellington Street and Russel Street, Bow Street and Southampton Street.
- Car – Parking is restricted at Covent Garden and driving here is best avoided. Please note that Covent Garden is situated in the Congestion Charge area and a fee must be paid.
Originally used as arable land, the present-day Covent Garden used to hold Westminster Abbey’s orchards and was known as “the garden of the Abbey and Covent”. Later turned into an arched square, it hosted a fruit and vegetable market on its south side, as early as 1654. But as the area fell into disuse and disrepair, it became an area with numerous taverns and brothels, known as a red-light district frequented only by the unsavory.
The place was re-organized as a market in 1830, but as it expanded and became busier, the traffic became more congested, so the market was moved to a new location in 1974.
In 1980, Covent Garden was repurposed as a shopping center and it has continued to serve as such until present times.
- The world’s biggest Apple Store opened here, in The Piazza, in the year 2010.
- Covent Garden used to serve as the centre of Lundenwic, a town dating back to 600 AD. A series of 2006 excavations unearthed a Roman grave in the area, implying a sacred connotation of the place.
- A remodeling was planned in the 1960s, due to the ever-increasing traffic congestion in the area, but the public was opposed. Consequently, the buildings near the square were offered protected status in 1973 and the market was re-located the year after that.