Covent Garden is changing. It always has been, but every time I’m here I discover new restaurants, shops, and entertainments. This London neighborhood is so full of life and energy that it constantly reinvents itself. I’m on a mission to see the latest and today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to things to do in Covent Garden.
Covent Garden, London
One of the things I love about this part of London is that it caters to locals as much as it does to visitors. There’s a welcome absence of tacky souvenir shops, bad chain restaurants, and tourist traps, and an abundance of independent stores, world-class restaurants, and great theater and ballet.
It’s an area I go back to again and again to see what’s new, watch the world go by, and meet friends. Because it’s great for all of those and more.
Things to Do in Covent Garden
There are so many things to do in Covent Garden it’s hard to know where to start. But since this is me, I’ll start with the streets. One of the things I like best about this London neighborhood is that it has a wealth of alleys and courtyards to explore.
The best of them is Neal’s Yard. This courtyard is full of colorful window frames and vibrant cafes. The middle has branches and benches, and it’s a great place to soak up London’s atmosphere. Outside, Neal Street is home to some of the best shops in the area.
Another place I love is the garden behind St Paul’s Church. It’s tucked away off the main streets and I only discovered it a couple years ago. It’s a great oasis of calm when the buzz of the street performers in the piazza gets overwhelming.
A third is Broad Court, a little lane by the Royal Opera House with a ballerina sculpture and row of red phone boxes. This is one of the best places to photograph in Covent Garden.
And that leads me to Rose Street, where the Lamb and Flag pub is as photogenic as it is a local favorite. Rose Street leads to Floral Street, a narrow road packed with some of the area’s best shops and boutiques.
Shopping in Covent Garden
Speaking of which, there are great shops in Covent Garden, and markets galore. The piazza itself has an abundance of both, with the Apple Market offering crafts and the Apple Store offering the latest gadgets. Next to the piazza, the Jubliee Market is a more traditional covered market with all kinds of quirky things to buy.
But there are a lot of great shops away from the Covent Garden Piazza, and they’re worth seeking out. The aforementioned Floral Street is home to places like The Shop at Bluebird, which is all over Instagram, and Stanfords, which has every travel book I could ever wish for.
Nearby Floral Court has some of the prettiest restaurants in London. It leads to King Street, where Petersham Nurseries always has my inner homeowner drooling over bud vases and flowers.
And that’s to say nothing of Seven Dials, where the streets radiating out from the sundial are packed with independent shops and chocolatiers like Pierre Herme.
Or Cecil Court, one of the best places for books in London. This little street is bursting with bookshops and stores selling all kinds of antique maps and memorabilia.
Restaurants in Covent Garden
When I’m exhausted from shopping, there’s no shortage of cafes and restaurants in Covent Garden. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in Covent Garden is explore the food and drink scene. From Jacob the Angel in Neal’s Yard to Monmouth Coffee in Seven Dials, there are a lot of places to have a good latte.
And when it comes to afternoon tea in Covent Garden, The Petersham at Petersham Nurseries has one of the prettiest offerings in the city (the tiered tray comes with a bouquet of flowers on top).
As far as restaurants go, the hardest part is choosing. There are so many good restaurants in Covent Garden and more open all the time. From pre-theater dinners at Balthazar to breakfasts at 26 Grains and pizza at Homeslice, I’ve worked my way through a lot of the best places to eat in Covent Garden.
Entertainment in Covent Garden
When food coma sets in, there’s no better place to sit it out than the area’s theaters and opera houses. One of the best things to do in Covent Garden is see a show or performance. The Royal Opera House has world-class ballet, and plays like Matilda the Musical are thoroughly entertaining.
And that’s to say nothing of the museums, my favorite of which is the London Transport Museum. This one has everything anyone has ever wanted to see about London’s trains and tubes, including vintage carriages and maps.
Bars and Pubs in Covent Garden
After the entertainment is over, I like heading out to Covent Garden’s bars and pubs. Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour is pretty outside—you have to see its floral facade—and gorgeous inside, and the aforementioned Lamb & Flag is my go-to pub (apparently it was Charles Dickens’, too).
By the time I’m done experiencing the wealth of things to do in Covent Garden, the area has started to change again. Which is why it keeps me coming back. New openings launch all the time here, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
New here? Join thousands of others and subscribe to the A Lady in London blog via email or Bloglovin’.