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.

Highlights

  • 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.

Tips

  • 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.

Transport

  • 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.

History

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.

Interesting Facts

  • 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.

12 Reviews

  1. Elena Madalina
    Elena Madalina 23 Comments
     -  15 Jul 2018

    Excellent location

    What a wonderful place! Yes, it can get a little crowded but it is definitely worth the time and visit! If you want to enjoy a nice afternoon, Covent garden can provide you with that. Grab a coffee and rest your feet as you will need all the energy to continue your wandering through London!

  2. wclarkh
    wclarkh
    United States 27 Comments
     -  04 Aug 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    This is a very cool market with a lot of options for shopping and food. Not only is this a great place to shop but just to walk through and experience the ambiance is great as well. Also, there was some shooting for Harry Potter that was done here so Potterheads will love it!

  3. miahe
    miahe 14 Comments
     -  28 Jul 2017

    It was good

    Covent garden is a nice spot to hang out. You will for sure find something to eat and to shop and there’s always something going on. It’s a little bit too crowded for me though. Last year there was a fantastic art installation which i loved.

  4. lilytravel
    lilytravel
    Morocco 9 Comments
     -  18 Jul 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    One of my favorite spots. always alive with something going on. I enjoy the street performers, so much talent, and uniqueness. It is a place to shop as well, many small shops, cheap brands and independent shops. Also, a lot of restaurants and coffee shops to try different savors and unfortunately super crowded Friday evening, well the whole week end I guess.

  5. EleanorH
    EleanorH
    United Kingdom 35 Comments
     -  18 Jul 2017

    It was good

    I used to love this place, with all its cool shops, bars, and street performers, but now I think it’s gotten a bit carried away with itself and is so, so touristy. The street performances have turned into pure money spinners, and you can be made to feel pressured into paying to watch them. A lot of the shops have turned into the big chain stores that you see in every town and city, which is a real shame, but I still think it’s worth a visit for the spectacle. Avoid if you hate crowds, though.

  6. sattard
    sattard 15 Comments
     -  15 Jul 2017

    It was good

    I used to love Covent Garden when I was a child but I think it’s way too touristy now. We’ve also had some bad experiences getting things stolen whilst sitting at one of the restaurants in the food court – so beware! If you’ve never been do check it out, just keep your wits around you. Remember, there are more ‘independent’ shops across London e.g. in East London, so don’t think this is the genuine thing! Just take it for what it is.

  7. AlanStock
    AlanStock 41 Comments
     -  05 Jun 2017

    Not a good experience

    An attractive old area full of theatres, shops, bars and restaurants in a covered market and it’s square. This is a bustling and lively area, a great place to get food or a drink and soak in the atmosphere. Its famous for its many street performers, worth visiting for this alone, from comedians, to jugglers, to human statues and buskers – there’s a bit of everything here. Also great for a (pretty pricey) night out.

  8. natalie
    natalie 5 Comments
     -  20 Apr 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    Great place for a nice walk, especially lively on weekends – buy some ice cream, watch street performers on the square or visit street market to buy some original souvenirs. Don’t miss Neal’s Yard, a hidden spot with cute colourful houses, healthy restaurants and Neal’s Yard Remedies flagship store, a famous British natural beauty products. Wild Food cafe is one of the most popular vegetarian places in London, must visit if you are into healthy food.

  9. Michelle Pfeiffer
    Michelle Pfeiffer 10 Comments
     -  20 Apr 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    This place is AMAZING! So many cool shops, local artists, crafts fair and food court.
    It’s very upbeat and lively. You have to stop by Covent Garden, it’s a classic. Eat great fish and chips, do some shopping and watch local performers interact with the public.

  10. ajamoppical
    ajamoppical 9 Comments
     -  14 Mar 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    As a tourist, Covent Garden was one of my favorite places to go simply because the atmosphere are lively, with lots of people and street performers entertaining. The shops are nice, but market stalls are the main attraction to me, with lots of unique items to be found. I went there on the weekends so there were lots of arts and crafts stallx opened, but some also sell antique stuff, if you’re into. A definitely must see spots in London!

  11. Avatar
    Gillian Miller 6 Comments
     -  13 Mar 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    Covent garden is one of my most favorite shopping areas! There’s something beautiful and interesting around every corner. There are some great restaurants in between the shops and usually a live Opera performance. Definitely worth a visit!

  12. Avatar
    Celina Tolbert 17 Comments
     -  21 Jan 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    A fun place to shop, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch some live Opera music!

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