Covent Garden is, and has been for a long time, one of my favourite destinations in London. Since I was young, I have loved coming here. All year round, no matter what the reason for your visit, it is always a great place to be. So I wanted to share my guide to Covent Garden; the best places to eat, shop and enjoy yourself!
Even though it is only on the Piccadilly line, Covent Garden is very easy to get to. It’s close to the bigger tube stations of Leicester Square and Holborn, so I would definitely recommend getting off at either of these stations and making the short walk, rather than changing for only one stop. This is also much quicker, as Covent Garden station has lifts in order for passengers to reach the ticket level, and queues for this can be long, particularly at weekends. Plus, the walks are very nice and you get to see more of London!
As I mentioned, Covent Garden is a great place to visit all year round. Whether it’s the summer and you’re sitting outside by Apple Market with a cold drink, listening to the live music, or close to Christmas and admiring the stunning decorations, it always seems to have an appealing atmosphere. It does get busy however, especially in the markets, so it can be better to go during the week if you have the opportunity, or get there earlier on weekends.
1. Places to Eat – Covent Garden is a great place for eating and drinking, due to its quality and variety of restaurants and eateries. Here are a few of my favourites:
Balthazar – This has to be one of Covent Garden’s gems. With a stunning interior, warm ambience and great food, Balthazar is the perfect place for all-day dining. The menu is French inspired (don’t worry, this doesn’t mean frogs legs and snails!) but, there is something to suit all tastes. The crowning glory of this place is the weekend brunch which, as well as serving classics such as a Full English and Eggs Benedict, also has many of its own more unique dishes. In addition, if you are looking for some Afternoon Tea in Covent Garden (with Champagne if necessary!) or even just a Cream Tea, Balthazar would most definitely be my recommendation.
How much?: Not one of the cheapest places in Covent Garden, but reasonable for the high quality food and service. It depends what you order, so for more take a look at their website.
Website: balthazarlondon.com which has all of their menus.
21 – With three stories, three rooms and an enviable location on the corner of the Piazza, a visit to 21 is never boring. A great place for a spot of lunch providing an Italian menu, from which the delicious, rustic stone-baked pizzas are highly recommended! The first of the three rooms is the Terrace, which includes outdoor seating that is perfect for warm summer days (or less warm, as there is outdoor heating) and overlooks the hustle of Covent Garden. Then there’s the restaurant, located in the cellar which has a cosy atmosphere, particularly for evening dining. Finally, the Print Room also provides great views over Covent Garden and to make the most of these, should be enjoyed along with the music and cocktails! Happy Hour at 21 is everyday from 5-8pm, so is not to be missed!
How much?: Pizzas are around £15 and during Happy Hour selected cocktails are just £4.95! Find out more on their website.
Website: 21-coventgarden.co.uk Take a look at the gallery, which has fabulous images of the venue and the food.
Shake Shack – If you guessed that this place is American, you guessed correct. In fact, Covent Garden boasts the only Shake Shack in the UK. It has a similar setup to other fast food places; you order inside and then find a table to sit at. However, you could describe this as a kind of ‘up-market’ fast food restaurant, as the food is tasty, yet of decent quality and the ambience right in the heart of Apple Market provides a lovely place to sit and enjoy eating it. It’s a great place if you’re after a bit of comfort food with some luxury, serving both burgers and hot dogs. I wouldn’t want to compare it to McDonalds or Burger King, but the nearest of these can be found in Leicester Square, so are about a five minute walk from Covent Garden, and no where near provide a similar atmosphere. Of course, as the name suggests, the milkshakes here are amazing; it would almost be rude not to try one!
How much?: Hot dogs are around £5 and Burgers range from between £5-£10 depending if you order a single or a double. Milkshakes are also around £5.
Website: shakeshack.com which contains the full menu.
Ben’s Cookies – You can forget about Millie. It’s all about Ben! Ben’s Cookies have a few other stores in the UK, but are mainly based in London. Their cookies are to die for, and often they are served warm which makes them extra dreamy. My personal favourites are white chocolate and cranberry or oatmeal and raisin, however, there are endless amounts of flavours to suit everyone! They do hot drinks, cold drinks and milkshakes too, which make a good accompaniment to the cookies. There is seating, outdoors yet undercover in the Apple Market, but this is limited so you may have to look elsewhere if you wanted to sit down – perhaps the only negative about this place.
How much?: About £1.50 per cookie, as they are priced by weight. Although, they have deals when buying multiple cookies, which is good if you’re visiting with others (or if you want to try lots of different flavours!)
Website: benscookies.com Useful for finding other locations, but their online menu by no means contains all the cookie flavours!
2. Shopping – Shopping is definitely one of my main reasons for visiting Covent Garden. It provides a refreshing alternative to walking up and down a high street or shopping centre, but everything is still close together. Personally, I think shopping in Covent Garden has three main attributes:
Beauty: Recently, Covent Garden has made a name for itself as the beauty capital of London, and it’s easy to see why. With luxury makeup brands such as Chanel, Dior, Bobbi Brown, Mac and Burberry’s Beauty Box all in the area around the Apple Market, this is definitely a must-visit for beauty enthusiasts or those wishing to update their makeup bag. They’re all so close together too, so easy to jump from one to the next!
Markets: Covent Garden has two main markets: Apple Market and Jubilee Market. I have already mentioned, the Apple Market has many shops and restaurants, as well as the market stalls in the centre. Expect to find here beautiful handmade goods that blend in well with the surrounding luxury shops and restaurants. The Jubilee Market is located behind the Piazza, and although at first you’re greeted with the touristy ‘I Love London’ hoodies, do not let that put you off. The market is filled with stalls from small businesses selling handmade and quirky items, perfect for gifts or souvenirs. Also, if you are searching for a painting or image of London, this is certainly the place to go. But as mentioned, it does get very busy and it peak times it is difficult to see the stalls and move around the market.
British Brands: Something that stands out in Covent Garden is its abundance of British brands, with a number, such as Jack Wills and Barbour, having their flagship stores in the area. Others include: Reiss, Mulberry, Joules, Aspinal of London (which has an eye-catching, blue tiled exterior), Burberry, Cath Kidston, Cambridge Satchel Company, Paul Smith, Radley, Ted Baker, Russell and Bromley and Whistles. That’s a long list! So, if you are wanting to refresh your wardrobe, Covent Garden is the perfect destination.
3. To do – There is a lot more to Covent Garden than just shopping and eating however…
London Transport Museum – I know that shopping isn’t for everyone, so for something a bit different, why not visit the London Transport Museum? It’s a really fascinating insight into the history of London transport and is something that everyone can enjoy, with both special family and evening events.
How much?: It is not a free museum. Adults are £16 and Concessions £13.50 (including students with a valid ID card). However, under 17s do get free admission.
Website: ltmuseum.co.uk Useful for planning your visit and looking up events.
Street Performers – there are always street artists around Covent Garden, many of them extremely impressive. There are often children’s entertainers and magic shows, as well as live music which you can stand and watch, or listen to as you walk around and soak up the atmosphere. Something for all to enjoy!
For a really useful website on finding out more about Covent Garden or planning your visit, I recommend: coventgardenlondonuk.com
I’d love to hear if you have ever been to Covent Garden, and if you go and visit let me know what you think!