If you are visiting London for the first time, this should be on your list of places to see. There are tons of things to do at Covent Garden in London.
Covent Garden is a large indoor/outdoor market that is a stone’s throw away from the River Thames. It has over 500,000 square feet of entertainment, shops, restaurants, theaters, exhibits, festivals, and more!
A short walk away, you’ll also find great restaurants to try and things to do at Covent Garden.
Why is it Named Covent Garden
Did you know Covent Garden was once known as the garden of the abbey and convent and owned by Westminster Abbey?
The historic roots are deep, and it was only after the Great Fire of London in 1966 that the square was earmarked as a gathering place for residents to buy fruit and vegetables.
This is how Covent Garden came to be one of London’s most popular markets today.
What to Do in Covent Garden
Are there any fun activities to do at Covent Garden? There is certainly a lot! When I visited, I easily spent four to six hours leisurely exploring every shop, restaurant, and outside performance.
You will find free entertainment on just about every street without planning to see it. There are plenty of things to do at Covent Garden, just be prepared to pay tourist prices.
I am always in the mood for shopping. One of my favorite things to do at Covent Garden is browse the London Transport Museum Shop or Happy Socks. Both stores will help you find unique gifts or the ideal souvenir for yourself, family, or friends. If you’re looking for travel-inspired gifts, these stores are good options.
For retail therapy, set aside a few hours to peek inside the shops in Covent Garden. For a bit of French flair say Ooo-la-la!
Both the Dior Beauty Boutique and Chanel offer cosmetic services to update your look with fresh, off-the-runway eye and lip colors.
Visit L’Occitane for luxurious body care products. Then enjoy a sweet or savory lunch at Creme de la Crepe. Enjoy your shopping pleasure with decadent macaroons at Laduree or creamy gelato at Amorino.
Don’t forget, London is famous for men’s fashion and grooming. James Bond always looked rather dapper, didn’t he?
Stop at Tom Ford for expert barbering Services. Hackett is the place to go for relaxed casual looks or shop their collections for tailored clothing. Fred Perry is a great store to acquire classic British attire. Or shop accessories to express your luxurious tastes at TAG Hauer or Tiffany and Company.
More Resources: The Best London Pubs Near Covent Garden
Not sure of what you want to explore? Grab a cup of coffee, get comfy in the courtyard, and decide what to do at Covent Garden.
There are plenty of Covent Garden restaurants, and you are in the right place to satisfy a sweet tooth. Chocoholics need not look far with Premier Belgian chocolatiers like Neuhaus and Godiva.
There are several places to get the scoop on authentic Italian gelatos like Morelli’s and Venchi’s. Create a sweet original work of art with a Bubblewrap dessert.
Originating in Hong Kong, this warm waffle wraps sweet fruity flavors with chocolate and whipped cream.
Paul is an extraordinary Bakery with Artisan sandwiches and delicate pastries. Try their signature chocolate-filled eclair with a cup of rich hot chocolate.
More Resources: The Most Famous Pubs in London
St. Paul’s Church Covent Garden
📍 Bedford Street in Covent Garden
Also known as The Actor’s Church, the entrance is free and open to visitors. The building was established in 1863 and hosts classical performances and festivals throughout the year.
The stained-glass windows and hanging chandeliers are gorgeous, yet there is a stated simplicity in the decor. On a summer’s day, you can find a spot on a garden bench to relax or enjoy takeaway foods.
📍 1 Tavistock Street
Within Covent Garden, you can find goods at several price points and are more budget-friendly at Jubilee Market.
The large warehouse has several stalls with vendors selling everything from scarves to souvenirs, home crafts, antiques, and food. It has all the feel of a flea market if you love the hunt and haggling.
📍 33 James Street
This market is next to Jubilee and offers a delightful mix of both retail stores and dozens of stalls where vendors sell art, jewelry, candy, and souvenirs.
The covered area is beautifully decorated during the holidays and it’s nice to stroll through the stores for special gifts. You’ll also find several street performers throughout the day for free entertainment.
Seven Dials Market
📍 35 Earlham Street
Seven Dials is primarily a food court with two floors of culinary options. We love that there are even more food options that are convenient and affordable in Covent Garden.
Upstairs you’ll find Caffe Nero where a rich dark cup of joe will hit the spot with a pastry. Need a vegan fix? Club Mexicana offers vegan tacos, burritos, nachos!
Ong Ong Buns is serving succulent Chinese joy — everything from pork buns to irresistible Pandan and Coconut cakes.
Take your time and peruse both floors, then select a few places and hang out for a foodie experience. With family and friends, you can order and share from several different places.
📍 35 Earlham Street
Here’s a hidden gem waiting for you to discover! Located between Shorts Gardens and Monmouth Street in a small alley of London’s Covent Garden, Neal’s opens into a courtyard.
It’s a colorful piece of heaven with aromatherapy and wellness treatments, local cheesemakers, and health food cafes. This may be the only place on earth with an oasis in a garden.
How to Get There
Covent Garden is located in central London and access is super easy via the Tube, London’s public railway transportation system.
You can exit at either the Charing Cross Station (Bakerloo or Northern lines), the Leicester Station (Northern or Picadilly lines), or the Covent Garden station (Picadilly line).
The Charing Cross will be just a couple of blocks away but depending on the direction of travel, either of these routes will get you there.
How to get to There from Leicester Square
If you are at Leicester Square and want to get to the Covent Garden stop, don’t bother taking the Tube.
A walk will be much faster and by the time you reach the Underground, purchase your fare (or use a contactless card), get through the turnstile, wait for an elevator (if needed), get to the train platform, and wait for one to arrive, you could already be there!
It may look like a long distance between the two stations, but if you are looking at the London Underground map, it is closer than you think.
The map is not exactly drawn to scale nor should you use it to navigate your destination on foot.
Generally, the walk is 5 to 7 minutes unless you are window shopping or stopping to watch the world go by.
Things to do Near Covent Garden
Trafalgar Square is considered the beating heart of London and it’s less than a 10-minute walk from Covent Garden. The square is one of the city’s most photographed and recognizable locations in the West End.
At the center of it all is Nelson’s column which was built in 1843. It commemorates the Admiral who died at the Battle of Waterloo in 1805.
To get there by Tube, the best routes are the Bakerloo (Brown) and Northumberland (Black) lines, then exit at Charing Cross Station.
The National Gallery
National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square and has an amazing collection of artwork from celebrated artists like Monet and Van Gogh.
The massive collection includes religious art, landscapes, and some still-life paintings. The gallery is a historic gem where every item tells a story.
The bonus is that the price of admission…is free. Wi-fi, use of restrooms and benches to rest…free, free, and free!
London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum is located right behind Covent Garden Market in The Piazza. There you will learn the history of transportation in the United Kingdom.
The exhibits include an 1890s coach from the Victorian era, the world’s first Underground railway lines, and the evolution of London’s iconic double-decker bus.
This is a cool museum with fascinating facts! To get there by Tube, the closest stations are Covent Garden which is a 2-minute walk, and Leicester Square which is about a 4-minute walk.
Chinatown offers a wonderful cultural experience for locals and tourists alike. If the red-colored string lights, dragon sculptures, lanterns, and welcome gates don’t pull you in, the appetizing smells certainly will!
You’ll find a wide range of Asian cuisines, including Malaysian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, and Indonesian. Time your visit just right and you’ll be fascinated with all the activities at the Chinese New Year festival.
We love visiting Chinatowns around the world. London is not as large as San Francisco or New York City, but if you love seeking out a Chinatown in your travels, you should add this to your list.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do at Covent Garden
As a visitor, I found that most things at Covent Garden are free or affordable. In fact, I didn’t spend a dime and thoroughly enjoyed browsing the vendor kiosks, the unique stores and boutiques, and soaking in the sounds of musicians and entertainers throughout the market.
The market is also historic. It was interesting for me to imagine what it was like a hundred years ago without tourism. I appreciated the architecture and wide-open space as well as the things to do at Covent Garden that were so close in proximity.
Before you travel you should check online for any special events or cultural things to do at Covent Garden. You might stumble upon a live music performance, a dance recital, or even an art demonstration, allowing you to experience the British culture breaking the bank.