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.

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.

Covent Garden

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.

Red Phone Boxes in Covent Garden

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.

Floral Street, Covent Garden

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.

Neal's Yard, Covent Garden

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.

St Paul's Church Garden, Covent Garden

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.

Ballerina Sculpture and Red Phone Boxes 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.

Lamb and Flag Pub, Covent Garden

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.

Apple Market, Covent Garden

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.

The Shop At Bluebird, Covent Garden

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.

Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden

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.

Seven Dials, Covent Garden

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.

Cecil Court, London

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.

Hotel in Covent Garden

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).

The Petersham Covent Garden

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.

J Sheekey, 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.

London Transport Museum

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).

Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour

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.

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Things to Do in Covent Garden

14 Comments on Lady’s Guide to the Best of Covent Garden

  1. Great post on Covent Garden. As a born and raised Londoner, Covent Garden is one of my most favourite places to go!

    Be sure to check out Sarastro on Drury Lane when you are in Covent Garden again (it’s a photographer’s dream inside and one of my favourite restaurants in London!) x

  2. Wonderful post. I just love Covent Garden. I can sit there and watch the world go by for hours. One of the best things is going there in the early morning during the week… you’ll have the place all to yourself, before the tourist rush in 😉

    I love taking my dad here whenever he visits us. He still remembers Covent Garden as the fruit and veg market it once was and tells me stories of how it looks when he was a boy, coming here with his dad and a lorry, delivering vegetables from Sussex.

  3. Captivating! is the word to describe seeing Covent Garden through your eyes.

    I visited in 2007, but reading your blog just makes me eager to return for another wonderful experience.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

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