Frenetic, energetic, effortlessly mingling old and new: Covent Garden is archetypically London.
Nestled between Soho and the West End, it’s a haven for art and culture. From bars to baths, comedy to opera, there’s an embarrassment of things to do in Covent Garden.
And as a little pre-trip tip – if you have any spare change lying around, Covent Garden is where some of the best street performers go to show off…
So behold, our tailored list of the best things to do in Covent Garden, this here historic feature of London town:
The Best Activities to do in Covent Garden
Get in on the secret at The Top Secret Comedy Club
The Top Secret Comedy Club in Covent Garden is a worse-kept secret than Jimmy Car’s tax returns. Since its modest beginnings as a semi-derelict community centre it’s boomed to become one of the UK’s leading comedy spots (and, by extension, one of the very best things to do in Covent Garden).
This is largely thanks to the impressive list of comedians who regularly use the Comedy Club’s stage to test out new material for upcoming tours and TV sets. Previous acts have included Jack Whitehall, Simon Amstel, Sara Pascoe and Kevin Bridges. And if you need any more persuading, big-time comedian Trevor Noah also said it was his favourite room in London.
But if you’re after something a little less refined, then head over on Monday nights when six new comedians will be strutting their stuff.
Details: 170 Drury Ln, London WC2B 5PD | See what’s on here
Ride into the sunset at the London Transport Museum
Thanks to its inauspicious name, The London Transport Museum might sound like your grandad’s idea of a rip-roaring day out, but hold your horse-drawn carriage, because Covent Garden’s most boringly named institution also happens to be one of its most intriguing.
Believe us, you don’t have to be an avid train geek to find London Transport Museum as fascinating as we do. It offers an immersive romp through the annals of London’s history, with the evolution of transport at its heart.
Also, you have the opportunity to drive a train simulation in a real-to-life train cockpit. Is there anything more genuinely romantic than proposing to a partner as you co-drive a tube simulation?
This is the best of Covent Garden at its most exhilarating – in the most unironic way.
Details: The Piazza, London WC2E 7BB | Visit London Transport Museum’s website here for more information.
Take a steamy plunge at AIRE Ancient Baths
AIRE Ancient Baths is London’s mecca of rest and relaxation. Recoup, regroup and rejuvenate in this dimly lit cavern of steam and ambience. The gloomy, gothic, incensed-infused labyrinth is one of London’s finest spa experiences, and is one of the more relaxing things you can do in Covent Garden – we recommend you tick off the cultural hotspots on this list, peruse the famous market, and ingratiate yourself on good food, before clocking off in the Ancient Baths. Arise three hours later, like Christ from the cave, and maybe go get another cocktail, feeling profoundly fresher.
Details: 2-3 Robert St, London WC2N 6BH | Visit AIRE Ancient Bath’s website here for more information.
Treasure hunt at Covent Garden Market
Hulki Okan Tabak
Hit the pedestrianised piazza to tick off one of the most famous things to do in Covent Garden: the market. Covent Garden Market is technically three markets rolled into one: The Apple Market, The Jubilee Market and the East Colonnade Market. These days you’ll see fewer fruit, veg and flower stalls than in days of yore, but they’ve been replaced by eye-catching stalls from independent traders. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, the Apple Market is full of handmade jewellery, art prints, watercolours and craft, and on Mondays the antique traders set up shop.
But if you’re after something a little bit more upmarket, well, the Covent Garden piazza also happens to be home to some of London’s foremost luxury establishments, from Chanel to Fred Perry. It’s all fashion, darling.
Details: 14 James St, London WC2E 8BU | Visit Covent Garden Market’s website here for more information.
Speak in whispers around The ‘Seven Ears’ of Covent Garden.
Watch what you say in the back alleys of Covent Garden because the walls really do have ears.
We aren’t going to say hunting the Seven Ears of Covent Garden is one of the best things to do in Covent Garden, but it’s definitely the eeriest thing you can do in this neck of the woods – and one you can conveniently tick off en route to some of the other spots on this list. Artist Tim Fishlock made casts of his ears and stuck them around Covent Garden (much like the noses in Soho) for no apparent reason other than why not?
Details: That’s a secret
Stock up on your bath oils at Neal’s Yard
Sometimes the best thing to do in Covent Garden is just walk down a really nice street, and Neal’s Yard is as unique a nice street as nice streets get.
Painted warehouses of yellows, blues and green look fantastic in the sun, and if it’s raining, there are some brilliant little eateries you can hide away in (The Barbary, The Barbary Next Door etc.). It’s tucked away from the bustle of Covent Garden, so this is a great option if you’d like to take in somewhere a bit quieter.
Neal’s Yard is also home to Neals Yard Remedies, so when you’ve finished basking in the glow of Covent Garden’s multi-coloured houses, you can top up on your bath oils.
Details: Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9DP
Create your own bespoke perfume at The Experimental Perfume Club
If you’re feeling creative and going to be knocking about in Covent Garden, try out The Experimental Perfume Club for a perfume workshop. Complete novices are welcome to explore the art of fragrance with their apprentice course. By the end of the course, you’ll walk away with a knack for perfumery and a bespoke 15ml perfume bottle. Or, if you decide to do the expert course, you’ll leave with two bottles.
Details: 53 Monmouth Street, London, WC2H 9DG | For more information, visit their website here.
The Best Places for Theatre and Film in Covent Garden
Deen van Meer
The Theatre Royal is Covent Garden’s circus of the spectacular, and definitely one of the best things you can do in Covent Garden. This lavish Georgian theatre has hauled in some of the world’s best-loved musicals, from Ben Hur to Lord of the Rings.
This is where to go if you want to err on the side of extravagance. It also claims to be one of the most haunted venues in Britain, so if you like a bit of clairvoyance with your cabaret, then this is the place for you.
Details: Catherine St, London WC2B 5JF | Visit Theatre Royal’s Website here for more information.
Donmar Warehouse is a brilliant producing theatre which has hosted some of the world’s most exciting talent over the years, and you can find it slap bang in the middle of Covent Garden.
One of the more intimate venues on this list, Donmar Warehouse is globally renowned for its hard-hitting drama productions. Big-time Bond director Sam Mendes once plied his trade at Donmar, so the bar is set at perennially high levels. But the great thing about Donmar is that it doesn’t feel exclusive. The audience is right up alongside the performance, and the shows are diverse and innovative.
Upcoming shows include Silence, a show inspired by the remarkable personal testimonies of people who lived through the last days of the British Raj, and The Band’s Visit, a multi-award-winning play about how music makes us laugh, cry, and ultimately, brings us together.
Details: 41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX |Visit Donmar Warehouse’s website here for more information.
Take a trip to new universes at The Garden Cinema
The Garden Cinema is like the Argos catalogue of cinemas, if Argos catalogues were really fancy. The sheer variety of titles on show at the Garden Cinema is a cut above the competition. Films new and old fill the glittering big screen, from Wizard of Oz to The Princess Bride.
The cinema’s art-deco interior gives a the place a sheen of Old Hollywood, with the low-lit cocktail bar providing that extra touch of Covent Garden-style bouj. If not for the movies, then go for the margs.
Details: 39-41 Parker St, London WC2B 5PQ | Visit The Garden Cinema’s website here for more information.
Get out your glad-rags for the Royal Opera House
Cap off your trip to Covent Garden on a high note at The Royal Opera House, the British home of dance and opera. The Opera House’s auditorium is breathtakingly beautiful and there is a suitably luxurious restaurant inside too. Located beside the London Ballet School, this corner of London really does ooze theatrical greatness.
Upcoming performances include Mozart’s epic tale of seduction and betrayal Don Giovanni, and Salome, a tour-de-force story of lust and revenge. Let’s just say opera is very sensually turbulent and leave it at that. Go and see what we mean…
Details: Bow St, London WC2E 9DD | Visit The Royal Opera House’s website here for more information.
The Best Galleries in Covent Garden
Bring your dancing shoes to Somerset House
Almost every possible art form comes crashing together in Covent Garden’s Somerset House, a neo-classical icon of London’s skyline. Looking like something out of a Renaissance painting, Somerset House is home to some of the most acclaimed exhibitions, film screenings, concerts and performances in the world – during their open-air summer series, audiences were treated to the likes of Black Midi, Arlo Parks and Mount Kimbie.
And if you’re particularly interested in how art is made, then Somerset House Studios opens its doors to the public, for a unique insight into the creative process of its resident artists.
Details: Strand, London WC2R 1LA | Visit Somerset House’s website here for more information.
Ready your sketch pad at The Courtauld Gallery
Hufton + Crow
The Courtauld Gallery is located just across the courtyard from Somerset House and is home to one of the world’s greatest art collections with paintings, sculptures, artefacts and tapestries spanning centuries.
Join the clamouring crowds of history, and descend upon the titanic works of Manet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne and Degas to name a few. Upcoming exhibitions in this historic Covent Garden establishment include Edward Munch: Masterpieces from Bergen and The Myth of Prometheus.
The Courtauld Gallery is one of those places that make you feel very small, but in a really great way.
Details: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN | Visit the Courtauld Gallery’s website here for more information.
Time travel at the National Gallery
If this was a list detailing the best things to do in the world, The National Gallery would still make that cut, so it most definitely has its place nailed as one of the best things to do in Covent Garden.
The National Gallery brings some of history’s finest art together in the bustle of Trafalgar Square, just south of Covent Garden. It’s a world-famous time capsule, a window into works of the greatest artists to have ever plied their trade.
From the great Renaissance painters, through to the European Impressionists, and finishing with contemporary art of this decade, The National Gallery’s unrivalled collection is something to behold. The works of Winslow Homer, one of the great American realists, are currently on display in the National Gallery. Upcoming exhibitions include Lucian Freud, J.M.W Turner and the mesmeric Paula Rego.
Details: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN | Visit The National Gallery’s website here for more information.
Go on a Bar Crawl Around Covent Garden’s Best Bars
This is Covent Garden we’re talking about, so put away your golfing attire and inflatable tool and give yourself up Covent Garden’s eclectic array of pubs, bars and wineries, from the Dickensian to the Freudian, from the American to the French. There’s even a circus bar too, but think fancy circus with thrills and mood lightening, rather than clowns and slapstick.
Visit some of Covent Garden’s Best Restaurants
Being such a lively hub for tourists and locals, it’s no surprise Covent Garden’s food scene has joined some of the best global cuisines in its own little delectable microcosm. If it’s pre-theatre dinner you’re after, or just posh post-sauna Kebab, Covent Garden has a bit of everything for everyone. You’ll find French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Middle-Eastern dishes to name just a few.
Love a good market? Why not head to one of London’s best food markets…
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