Since its redevelopment in the 1970s, Covent Garden has become one of London’s most visited locations. Once the home of London’s fruit and vegetable market, it is now a hugely-popular visitor destination for shoppers and tourists alike. Now the market square is famous for its street performers and elegant buildings that house many theatres and museums, including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and the London Transport Museum.
Although being the central focus, there is more to Covent Garden than the piazza with its vibrant market halls. The wider area includes numerous independent retailers and restaurants to suit all budgets on Long Acre, Maiden Lane, Floral Street and King Street and in areas like Neal's Yard and Seven Dials.
Covent Garden boasts the world's largest Apple Store
Covent Garden is one of London’s most popular shopping destinations, especially for those for those looking for something trendy and different - from the small stalls in the three markets around the piazza to major brands like Chanel, Dior and Burberry sitting alongside Paul Smith, Sandro, Hackett, Barbour and Reiss on the surrounding streets.
There are restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets in the shape of New York-renowned Balthazar, the sophisticated Laduree, and Peruvian fare from LIMA Floral plus Byron, Bill’s, Hawksmoor, Christopher’s, Sheekey’s Oyster Bar, Café Rouge, Café Murano and Joe Allen. With over sixty pubs and bars, finding somewhere to wind down or rev up is never a challenge.
Covent Garden hosted the first-ever Punch and Judy show, an event which is commemorated in the name of the pub which dominates the square, its balcony providing a perfect position from which to watch the world go by below. Street performers still provide a wide variety of free shows each day, too. More formal entertainment can be found in Covent Garden’s thirteen theatres and national institutions like The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet which were established in 1946 and are housed in The Royal Opera House, a magnificent building dating back to 1858. The Grade 1 listed Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is the oldest continuously-used theatre in London. It is a favorite of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and generally houses musical theatre productions.
Retail, catering and entertainment businesses dominate Covent Garden. Independents jostle for position amongst huge brands - it boasts, for example, the world’s largest Apple Store. The Covent Garden & Strand Business Partnership offers members the chance to help reduce shoplifting, theft, alcohol-related disorder and other anti-social behaviour affecting their business. Local businesses are linked together using a dedicated radio system and intranet site that allows partners in the scheme to share information and images of suspects, submit posts and upload documents, making it a strong ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ area for businesses.
Buying a property in Covent Garden is not cheap, with the average property price just above £1.1 million (118% above the London average of £525,000, with property prices having increased by 55.13% in the last four years). The average rental cost is £859 per week, 21.6% above the London average of £707 per week. Recent development of offices and high end apartments, encouraged by more lenient government policy on property usage, has brought a broad cross section of ages and nationalities into the area.
As with most central London districts, Covent Garden is well-served by London transport services, black cabs and cycle hire, colloquiallly known as Boris Bikes which are sponsored by Santander.
Black cabs are plentiful and can be hailed on the street. It is best to avoid driving to Covent Garden as parking is very restricted. If driving, it is essential to remember to pay the Congestion Charge. There are bike racks in Southampton Street, Bow Street, and on the corner of Russell Street & Wellington Street.
Charing Cross is the closest mainline train station. Covent Garden has its own Underground Station, served by the Piccadilly Line. Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Holborn tube stations are also close by.
London buses are plentiful and regular. With over 30 routes, the network offers access to all major stations and London Boroughs.
Heathrow Airport can easily be reached without change on the Piccadilly Line from Piccadilly Circus. Gatwick can be accessed from Victoria, which is only two tube stops away, and City Airport is close by and best reached by taxi.