7 Of The Best Things To Do On A Day Out In Covent Garden

Covent Garden seems to be one of those Central London places that is perennially popular with visitors but, for actual Londoners, remains something of a mystery. 

Because out there in Zones 2, 3, and 4, there’s not much burning desire to drop into this famously heaving piazza for a pint and a potter. But let’s be honest here; those who dismiss Covent Garden as nothing more than a tourist trap are missing some seriously good eating, shopping and entertainment options right on their doorstep.

So, whether you’re a card-carrying Londoner or an oyster-carrying visitor, here are 7 of the best things to do on a day out in Covent Garden.

Start With Brunch At The Barbary Next Door

A day of shopping and sauntering needs sufficient fuel to ensure proper exploration, so it’s a hearty brunch we’re kicking off with today. 

The food options in and around Covent Garden can feel limitless, to the point that the paradox of choice bites you rather than you biting it. Should I have a breakfast naan at Dishoom? Or a bottomless barbecue at Temper? 

A third option beckons; we’re heading to the gorgeous Neal’s Yard, one of London’s prettiest and most colourful streets, to grab some brunch at The Barbary Next Door. This cosy, candlelit space (yep, even in the daytime) has just ten seats, but if you’re lucky enough to bag one, you’re in for a treat; the North African breakfast – served from 9am – is just fantastic. 

The four cheese bourekas, brown egg, tomato and zhug is a thing of nourishing, piquant beauty, but if you’re after something lighter, the restaurant’s berries with tahini, greek yoghurt and date molasses is as velvety and satisfying as it comes. 

Its elder sibling, erm, next door, is a wonderful spot for dinner, by the way.

Shop Sustainably In Neal’s Yard

Full of good food and in a good mood, we’re staying in this tiny corner of Covent Garden to enjoy a spot of shopping. 

When you visit Covent Garden, you’ll find a whole host of sustainable retailers, and every trader in Neal’s Yard, in particular, is committed to ethically driven commercial practices.

You’ll definitely want to make a beeline for Neal’s Yard Remedies, which sells some truly gorgeous skincare products, all made from organic ingredients. 

Next up, it has to be Neal’s Yard Dairy (yep, you can see they’re proud of their location), where the cheese all comes from small British farms, and samples are available to try before you buy!

Away from the Yard (after you’ve taken several selfies, of course), there are plenty more opportunities to shop sustainably in Covent Garden. Check out Ganni, L’Occitane, and Floral Street Fragrance, in particular, all of whom champion sustainable practices in their stores.

A Slice Of Fun For Lunch

Still in Neal’s Yard (you’ll have to drag us out of here kicking and screaming at some point) and hungry again, we’re sharing pizza for lunch at the delicious Homeslice.

Not one for the pizza purists, this, but definitely a place for a sharin’, tearin’ good time, the pizzas here are huge 20-inch numbers, perfect for some group fun. Indeed, the name Homeslice in bro parlance means friend, and the buddying up concept lends itself to conviviality and good cheer.

Some of the topping combos are inventive, some downright weird; cauliflower cheese and harissa anyone? But, when they get things right, it’s brilliant.

Read: 9 of the best London pizza restaurants

Check Out The London Transport Museum

Did you know that the London underground is the oldest underground rail network in the world? Or that the famous London black cabs had to, by law, be tall enough to accommodate a gentleman wearing a bowler hat?

The history of transport in London is as fascinating as it comes, and you can enjoy a deep dive (or should that be ride) into it at this fun and interactive museum, right in the heart of Covent Garden.

The London Transport Museum has many of the most iconic vehicles from the city’s transport history – from a classic red London bus to the world’s first tube train – many of which can be ridden, or even driven (though it won’t actually be moving, of course).

There are special exhibits and activities for the kids, too, and entry is free for anyone under 18 years of age. For the adults, it’s just £21 for an annual pass, granting you unlimited access for 12 months.

Marvel At Covent Garden’s Street Performers

Dating back to the 1600s, Covent Garden’s ubiquitous street performers are as much a part of the heart and soul of the place as the instantly recognisable market building.

Here, the cobbled streets surrounding Covent Garden Market are the stage, with the West Piazza hosting the most popular performances each and every day. Expect to see variety and circus acts aplenty – whether that’s fire breathers, sword swallowers, acrobats or rope walkers – with audience participation and a fair few daring stunts to boot!

If you’re keen for something a little more laid back, Covent Garden’s Courtyard hosts daily classical music performances. Simpy pitch up – pint in hand, if you wish – and enjoy the show!

Enjoy A Pre-Theatre Portuguese Dinner At Volta Do Mar

You’ve managed to work up an appetite, again? Impressive stuff!

Well, perhaps our favourite place to eat in all of Covent Garden is Volta Do Mar on Tavistock Street. And the good news? This inventive Portuguese restaurant offers a cracking pre-theatre set menu, with four courses available for just £30 (up until 6:45pm).

Showcasing the regional cuisine of Portugal and drawing influence from the country’s trading past with Brazil, Japan, Macau and more, the food here manages to be both exciting and familiar. Don’t leave without trying the Macanese pork bafassa is all we’re saying!

Catch A Show At The Royal Opera House

We’re finishing up our day out in Covent Garden in style, by catching a show at the Royal Opera House, one of London’s most famous structures. Whether you’re new to opera and ballet or you’re a regular operagoer, you’ll find something to keep you captivated here.

Coming up this month and next is an eclectic mix of performers and performances, with Professor Brian Cox, comedian and acclaimed dancer Bill Bailey, and Mozart’s great opera Don Giovanni all gracing the stage. Tickets start from just £10. 

Alternatively, if you simply want to see the famous building up close and personal and learn about its colourful history, then tours are available. Lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes, tickets are £16.

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