Culture Lovers: 7 Cultural Things to Do in Covent Garden London
1. Covent Garden Market Piazza
The open pedestrianised piazza is a great place to start your Covent Garden adventure. If there’s a performance on in front of St. Paul’s Church, it’ll be hard to miss it as crowds of people stop to take in the magic of the theatrical performers, be they actors, magicians, jugglers or musicians. There are a number of cafes and restaurants with al fresco opportunities to wine, dine and people watch – from casual coffee spots to Michelin starred experiences. Over all you’ll be spoilt for choice in the Covent Garden district when it comes to food – whether it’s breakfast, brunch, pre-theatre dinner or late night nibbles.
The Central Market building which is home to gorgeous independent beauty and jewellery stores as well as the famous Apple Market that features handmade arts and crafts is also the place you’ll catch some entertainment – often Opera singers who are scheduled to perform in the local theatres. The East Colonnade Market also has a variety stalls that sell the likes of handmade soaps and crafts. And the Jubilee Market specialises in everything from bric-a-brac to clothing. If luxury shopping is your thing – you won’t be disappointed as major fashion and beauty stores are seconds away from the Piazza.
2. The Opera Quarter
Covent Garden is home to the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera by means of the Royal Opera House. However The Opera Quarter in its entirety is home more than twenty theatres offering visitors the opportunity to witness some of the best productions and talent around.
Here is a listing of the most well-known theatres in and around the Covent Garden district: the Playhouse Theatre, Savoy Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, Duke of York’s Theatre, Palace Theatre, Aldwych Theatre, English National Opera, Cambridge Theatre, Noel Coward Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Novello Theatre, Adelphi Theatre, Fortune Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Vaudeville Theatre, Ambassador Theatre, St. Martin’s Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre and the Duchess Theatre.
Tip: Keep an eye out on billboards and the free local Covent Garden magazine to keep up to date with what’s on.
3. London Transport Museum
You’ll find the London Transport Museum just off the Covent Garden Piazza. It’s actually housed in the original Flower Market Building – a building that dates back to 1871 and was the main hub in London for flower sellers for over a hundred years. The building was restored and reopened as the London Transport Museum in 1980. Here you’ll find over 450,000 London transport related items that tell the transport history for the past 200 years. Exhibitions and collections include everything from photographs and posters to taxis and buses. Kids go free and adult tickets range from £15 to £17.50, and there are a number of package tickets that include other touristic sites available too.
4. London Film Museum
The London Film Museum is certainly unique – it’s actually described as the only one of its kind in the whole of Great Britain. Founded by Jonathan Sands in 2008, and originally named The Movieum, the museum exhibited a number of collections from Star Wars to Charlie Chaplin in County Hall. In 2012 The Movieum changed its name to the London Film Museum and opened its doors in Covent Garden. Today the permanent exhibition of Bond in Motion can be found at the museum. The exhibition is a must for film lovers especially James Bond film fanatics because it features over 100 original vehicles and props from all 24 James Bond films – the largest in the world. Children under five go free, otherwise tickets range from £9.50 to £14.50.
5. Cultural Superstars – Homes & Buildings
The French philosopher and playwright Voltaire lived in Maiden Lane between 1727 and 1728. J.M.W. English Poet and Painter William Blake lived on Great Queen Street in 1772. English watercolour master Turner was born in Maiden Lane in 1775. Jane Austin and her brother lived at 10 Henrietta Street between 1813 and 1814. Benjamin Franklin lived in Covent Garden for 16 years at 36 Craven Street.
In more recent years – Alfred Hitchcock filmed Frenzy in 1972 in Covent Garden Piazza. Beatles Manager Brian Epstein ran his management company, NEMS from above 13 Monmouth Street. The Animation, Editing and Recording Studios of Monty Python can be found in Neal’s Yard. And if you’re hoping to spot a modern day celebrity in Covent Garden, there’s no doubt you will, especially if you visit or book a table at the Bunga Bunga, The Ivy and Joe Allen’s – all in Covent Garden.
6. St Martin’s Courtyard
St. Martin’s Courtyard in Slingsby Place is the place to head to for that ‘urban oasis’ experience. Set around an open courtyard, this is a shopping destination that focuses on contemporary boutiques and flagship international fashion brands. You’ll also find beauty and lifestyle stores, a Day Spa, a Flower Academy and a number of restaurants with al fresco and terrace dining options. It even has a yoga and Pilates centre – just in case you feel the need when exploring this part of the city.
7. Seven Dials
Found between Covent Garden and Soho, Seven Dials which some regard as a village within Covent Garden is an area of seven interconnecting streets – think of it like a wheel, where the centre is the Sundial Pillar and the spokes are the streets.
The area has a very hip and independent vibe. You’ll find over ninety fashion, beauty and lifestyle stores alongside over fifty restaurants, cafes and bars – with the majority independently owned. There are a handful of theatres such as the Palace Theatre and Cambridge Theatre. And for those who enjoy history – you’ll be interested to know the area we see today has a colourful history spanning 300 years. From the property development plans of Thomas Neale in 1690, through years of rundown squalor, into a place where a quarter of all its buildings are listed, and there are blue plaques to mark famed landmarks – the aforementioned Brian Epstein office at 13 Monmouth Street and Monty Python studio at Neal’s Yard.
How to get to Covent Garden
Getting there is easy. One can travel by tube – Covent Garden Tube Station is on the Piccadilly Line, which conveniently connects to Heathrow, is a short walk to the Market Building at the end of James Street. At peak times it can be very busy so it’s recommended you get off at Leicester Square Tube Station, which is on the Piccadilly and Northern Line, again a short walk away.
One can travel by rail – Covent Garden is near two London Stations – Charing Cross, which is only a few minutes walk away and Waterloo Station which is about a twenty-minute walk away. The later includes a scenic walk over Waterloo Bridge, so lots of photo opportunities there.
Of course depending where you are staying and your budget, there’s always the option to walk or hire a bike – there are bike racks in Southampton Street, Bow Street, and on the corner of Russell Street and Wellington Street. One can catch a bus – the RV1 stops at Covent Garden. Otherwise a number of buses stop at Trafalgar Square, Aldwych and Leicester Square – all short walks from the Market Building. Don’t fancy hopping on an off public transport? – Then you can always hail a London black cab.Hotels in London