Covent Garden has long been an area that Londoners have tended to avoid due to the huge crowds that it attracts, but it is recently becoming an increasingly popular spot for those looking to live or work in central London. Located close to the West End, Covent Garden is easily one of the most vibrant areas of the city, with street performers, plenty of great things to see and do, and an endless array of shops to explore.
What’s in Covent Garden, London?
Covent Garden is one of the most well-known shopping districts in London and is often the top choice for anybody who wants to enjoy some retail therapy. Here you will find several of the most well-known high street stores alongside designer boutiques and independent shops with something to suit everybody’s taste. Many UK and worldwide brands have their flagship stores in Covent Garden and whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it here. The indoor Victorian marketplace in the piazza is an absolute must-visit, filled with boutique stalls and plenty of hidden gems to be found.
However, it’s not all about shopping. Covent Garden’s cobbled streets and the famous Piazza are home to some of the best street performers and buskers in Britain, with performances on a daily basis that always attract a large crowd of passers-by. If you are looking for indoor entertainment, you can find the Royal Opera House and several other major London theatres close to Covent Garden with different shows to catch each day.
Where is Covent Garden – What Borough is Covent Garden In?
Covent Garden is located in a central London area in the West End. It is situated straddling the Borough of Camden and the City of Westminster. It is bordered by the River Thames to the south and Shaftesbury Avenue to the north.
History of Covent Garden:
The history of Covent Garden spans over four centuries. The name Covent Garden comes from the 13th century when the area was a site belonging to the Convent of St Peter at Westminster. The convent garden became a popular place for trading London’s fresh produce, and today, Covent Garden market is one of the largest markets for produce in the world.
In 1540, the land was granted to the 1st Earl of Bedford when King Henry VIII dissolved all the monastic properties in the country. In 1627, architect Inigo Jones was commissioned by the fourth Earl of Bedford to build houses for Gentlemen at Covent Garden. He built St. Paul’s churchyard, which is located behind the Piazza, and three sides of terraced houses overlooking an open courtyard, which still remains at the centre of Covent Garden today.
Over the years, Covent Garden has become much more than simply a convent’s garden and is now one of the most famous locations in the capital. There is always something going on in the pedestrianised area known as Covent Garden Piazza, based around the cobbled square that is filled with street performers, pop-up shops, and street food vendors. Covent Garden has become one of the most sought-after areas in the capital and boasts several awesome restaurants, a range of trendy bars with excellent wine, cocktails and live music, and a range of cultural activities to enjoy.
How Far is Covent Garden From Leicester Square? Getting to Covent Garden:
As one of the most-loved neighbourhoods in London, Covent Garden can easily be accessed from Leicester Square and many other central London areas by tube, train, bus, taxi, boat and on foot.
On Foot: Walking is the best way to get to Covent Garden and gives you a chance to discover the surrounding areas and secret passageways of the area. There are various walking routes that you can find easily on Google Maps. Covent Garden is conveniently located for walking and is just thirty minutes on foot from King’s Cross Station, twenty minutes from Buckingham Palace, and ten minutes from Piccadilly Circus.
Underground: Covent Garden Underground Station can be reached on the Piccadilly Line. The tube station in Covent Garden is a short walk from the Market Building, located at the end of James Street. Bear in mind that since there are only lifts available up from the platform it can get busy at peak times. Leicester Square is a short walk away from Covent Garden, so it’s worth getting off at this station to avoid the crowds.
Bicycle: If you enjoy cycling through the city there are bike racks in various Covent Garden locations including Bow Street, Southampton Street, and on the corner of Wellington and Russell Streets. Covent Garden is just a fifteen-minute bike ride away from Hyde Park, and Kings Cross, and you can reach various locations such as Victoria Park, Clapham Common, and Hoxton Square in half an hour or less on a bike.
Rail: Covent Garden has a convenient location close to two major London stations. Charing Cross is the closest and is just a few minutes away on foot. You can reach Waterloo Station from Covent Garden on foot in just twenty minutes by taking the route across the iconic Waterloo Bridge that offers some amazing views over the city.
Is Covent Garden in the Congestion Zone?
If you are planning to drive into Central London, it is important to be aware of the congestion zone, which charges drivers £15 to use the roads in the centre of the city if you pay in advance or on the same day. You can also pay £17.50 if you want to wait up to three days after the day of travel to pay the daily charge. The congestion charge can be paid online, over the phone, or by autopay. It is mandatory and automatic cameras check registration plates to ensure that everybody has paid; if you do not pay you will be sent a fine of £160. Most disabled drivers, along with bicycles, motorbikes, and mopeds are exempt from paying the congestion charge.
The congestion charge applies in Covent Garden along with all other major London areas. If you want to plan your route and find out where the congestion charge starts, you can download the congestion charge zone map from the Transport for Greater London website. When entering the zone, it is clearly marked with signs that feature a large letter ‘C’ in a red circle. The congestion charge applies between 7 am and 10 am every day of the week and is temporarily in operation on weekends and bank holidays.
Congestion Charge Discounts in Covent Garden:
If you are a driver and are considering moving to Covent Garden, you may be able to receive a 90% discount on the congestion charge if you live within the zone. You must be a registered resident to qualify. You will also be exempt from paying the congestion charge if you drive a vehicle that is exempt from road tax.
You will also need to be aware of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone in London if you plan to drive to Covent Garden. Covent Garden is in the ULEZ, meaning that you may need to pay additional tolls if you drive a certain petrol or diesel car. Petrol cars registered with the DVLA after 2005 are typically exempt, but the zone largely targets diesel cars.
What is Near Covent Garden?
Aside from shopping and the great selection of restaurants, there are plenty of great things to see and do in and around the Covent Garden area. Some of the most popular spots include:
- The London Transport Museum, where you can see historic vehicle exhibits, iconic signs and posters, and plenty of events and shows.
- The Royal Opera House, which hosts free lunchtime recitals, world-class Royal Opera and Royal Ballet performances and more.
- Covent Garden Market: Not to be missed; the market was once home to fresh produce sellers and is still one of the biggest fresh produce markets in the world along with various shops, restaurants and market stalls.
- London Film Museum: Plenty of exhibits on show here for film-lovers, including the iconic cars and memorabilia from the London Film Museum.
- Somerset House: You can find a wide range of interesting exhibitions, cultural events, and more here. If you’re visiting in the winter, they have a pop-up ice-skating rink that is always very popular.
- Trafalgar Square: The iconic square is just a short distance away from Covent Gardens, visit for one of the many free cultural events that are held here throughout the year or just to snap a selfie with the famous lions.
- Leicester Square: Just a short walk away from Covent Garden, Leicester Square is a top venue for big-screen movie premieres, events and more.
- The National Gallery: If you enjoy art, you will love the collection housed here from some of the greatest artists in the world, with pieces on show from the 13th to the 20th century.
Covent Garden has definitely made a name for itself as one of the most popular places to shop in London, but it certainly offers much more than just retail therapy.
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