Covent Garden is a must see sight on many trips to London, but other than visiting the famous market, what else is there do here. Well, you could start with our list of fun and unusual things to do in Covent Garden. And there’s probably a couple on here that you haven’t seen everywhere else.
- 1. Head to the Ave Mario Toilet
- 2. Get an Underground Coffee
- 3. Soak Your Cares Away
- 4. Keep Hold of Your Potatoes
- 5. Get a Cloud Ice Cream
- 6. Play Some Cool Games
- 7. Get a Robot Cocktail
- 8. Visit the Cheese Train
- 9. Take a Pub Tour
- 10. Visit the Actor’s Church
- 11. Take in a Show at Cellar Door
- 12. Find the Tiny Roads
- 13. Laugh at Some Stand Up
- 14. See the Tiny Temple
- 15. Head to Rules
- 16. Have Afternoon Tea at Brigit’s Bakery
- 17. Drink in The Bus Pub
- What to Read Next
1. Head to the Ave Mario Toilet
Ave Mario is a super pretty Italian restaurant in Henrietta Street Covent Garden. And yes, okay you should probably also enjoy one of the yummy pizza or pasta dishes, or grab a fun cocktail in the restaurant as part of your visit, but while you’re here don’t miss the fun neon extravaganza that is the bathrooms.
Make sure you take your phone for a loo selfie!
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The restaurant is super popular and so you should book a table before your visit.
2. Get an Underground Coffee
The London Transport Museum in the piazza is a fun way to spend a morning, but don’t leave without grabbing a coffee or hot chocolate in the on-site cafe as it comes with this super cute Underground sign in powdered chocolate on the top.
They also have sandwiches and other dishes named after stations.
See more details of what’s inside and, check opening hours here.
If you’re already sold on the idea of a museum full of trains, buses and other fun stuff, you can buy a day pass for the London Transport Museum in advance and save on some queuing time.
If transport isn’t your thing, you can visit the cafe without buying an entry ticket. Just head upstairs as you enter.
3. Soak Your Cares Away
The Aire Ancient Baths is the perfect place to soak your feet, and the rest of you, after sightseeing.
The Aire chains’ USP is taking over old buildings with an interesting history and the one in Covent Garden is no exception.
It’s located in the old home of J.M. Barrie who wrote Peter Pan and there’s some tributes to the buildings historic resident in the spa’s reception.
Underground you’ll find a number of different baths where you can float, soak and relax. You can also book massages and other treatments to add to the effect of soaking in the baths.
Find it at 2-3 Rupert Street but make a booking in advance on their website
4. Keep Hold of Your Potatoes
Chances are you’ll end up in Covent Garden Market at some point in your travels, and while you’re wandering around the shops don’t miss this cool old sign revealing the rules of the old market one of which is that you must not throw root vegetables!
So, if you’d been planning on launching a potato or parsnip at some point, just say no!
Oh, and here’s something I didn’t know until this morning the lights in Covent Garden Market building have pineapple shapes on the top – and the reason is said to be that it was the first place you could buy pineapples in England!
5. Get a Cloud Ice Cream
If there’s another contender for prettiest ice cream in London let me know because my current prize goes to the candy floss cloud confections sold at Milk Train in Tavistock Street.
Top tip if you want to make them insta famous, take a friend as they’re quite hard to hold and photograph at the same time.
Find the shop at 12 Tavistock Street. They’re open afternoons and evenings, but closed on a Monday. Check all the details on their website.
6. Play Some Cool Games
Novelty Automation is technically a little outside Covent Garden, but not far enough outside for us to ignore it this post, because it’s fun.
It’s full of handmade arcade style machines, made by a cartoonist/engineer with a sense of humour. What that means is you can expect to play at being the paparazzi trying to chase J-Lo, get a mechanical foot massage and many, many other quirky activities.
Buy tokens when you arrive and play all the games you like until your money runs out.
Find it at 1a Princeton Street, WC1. They’re closed on a Monday. Find exact opening hours here.
7. Get a Robot Cocktail
Sandbox VR is a building full of virtual reality experience rooms located on Museum Street in Covent Garden.
They have six different experiences and up to six people can play in a room at a time.
But my favourite bit was the robot barman who will shake you a cocktail after your session.
8. Visit the Cheese Train
Why wouldn’t you want to have lunch somewhere where plates of cheese revolve past you for the taking? Modelled on the sushi train experience, The Cheese Bar allows you to pick and cheese (their pun, not mine) your favourites.
You simply pick up your plates of Stilton, Brie, or whatever else is making it’s way round the conveyor in the day and the pay per plate at the end.
Find it in the Seven Dials complex which also has a lot of other eateries if you’re not feeling cheesy right there and then.
9. Take a Pub Tour
There’s a pub on virtually every corner in Covent Garden, but if you’re travelling solo and fancy some company to visit them, or, just want to learn a bit of history with your pint, then you might want to book on a Covent Garden pub tour like this one.
It takes you to four of Covent Garden’s most historic pubs and gives you a guide to exactly what’s gone on inside, and outside, their walls.
10. Visit the Actor’s Church
And pay tribute to John Thaw!
Thaw was one of Britain’s best loved actors known for this role in Inspector Morse and The Sweeney, so it’s no surprise that he has a bench dedicated to him in what’s know as the Actor’s Church in Covent Garden. You’ll find it in the small courtyard behind the church.
Inside the church you’ll see even more famous names – plaques on the pews and other adornments immortalise famous actors that have passed.
So, if it’s open, pop in (remembering it is a working church so please be quiet particularly if there’s anyone worshipping inside)
You’ll also find memorial benches to other famous people in London. We have talked about the tribute to Kirsty McColl in our post on unusual things to do in Soho, but there’s also a tribute bench to comedian Rik Mayall in Hammersmith.
11. Take in a Show at Cellar Door
This fun bar is located in an old public toilet on the Aldwych. Thankfully they’ve smartened things up a bit since the infamous days were they were frequented for erm, more interesting purposes, by the likes of Oscar Wilde – and they make a good cocktail.
Also, their own loos are kind of intriguing.
As well as drinks they also have nightly live acts – from drag and burlesque to DJs spinning some tunes, and the bar is very small so best check what’s on when you’re visiting.
We went to the bar at the end of the fun London Loo Tour which takes in a few other interesting sights in Covent Garden. See more about the Loo Tour here.
12. Find the Tiny Roads
Two roads/alleys in and around Covent Garden compete for the title of London’s Smallest Road
Apparently the title goes to Emerald Court in WC1 (below) which is located just round the corner from Novelty Automation and shrinks down to 26 inches at its narrowest point
But you should also check out Brydges Place which runs between St Martin’s Lane and Bedfordbury in Covent Garden. It’s just 33 inches wide in places.
Having been down them both I’d say it’s tight (sorry, between me and the cheese people the puns aren’t getting any better!)
Both these tiny roads appear in our piece on Hidden London – which features 24 sights that you might have walked past without noticing. You might want to check that out when you’ve finished this one.
13. Laugh at Some Stand Up
Friday and Saturday night is comedy night at the Seven Dials Club in Covent Garden.
If you want to see what British humour is all about, book in advance via fun-activities seller Fever.
Fever are also worth looking at for other quirky things to do in Covent Garden, and other areas of London that might be happening while you’re in town. They cover all the big immersive events, candlelight concerts, salsa nights and more.
14. See the Tiny Temple
Sometimes when I’m wandering around areas I see cool things, snap pictures of them and then try and find out what they are later.
Sometimes, I can’t find out the answer… this is one of those things.
It’s located at the end of Exchange Court and Maiden Lane – but I have no idea what it is, why it’s there or who made it.
If you do, please let me know!
But even without knowing why, you had to admire the fact that there’s what looks like a mini Greek temple for mice in the middle of Covent Garden!
15. Head to Rules
Down the road from the tiny mystery temple is a temple to British cuisine!
Rules is well known as London’s oldest restaurant but it gets its mention here as a filming location.
It’s the restaurant where Bond meets Q, Moneypenny and M in Spectre.
If you want a list of other films made in Covent Garden, this one will get you started.
16. Have Afternoon Tea at Brigit’s Bakery
I know Brigit’s best for their afternoon tea bus tour but, they also have a more stationary bakery in Covent Garden – and it does a wicked afternoon tea.
If that’s not your thing you can pick from individual cakes, cakes with champers or savoury dishes like salads or sandwiches.
Which brings us to another quirky Covent Garden fact – apparently it’s where the sandwich was invented.
Legend has it that the Earl of Sandwich was playing cards in a pub (which isn’t there any more or you know we’d be despatching you off to visit Sarnie Central) and so he ordered some meat between two pieces of bread to stop his hands getting greasy. The idea took off and we never had to think about what to make for lunch again!
17. Drink in The Bus Pub
Okay, again, it’s slightly outside the border of Covent Garden, but it’s walking distance from it and I’m not doing a post on the area is IS in, so I’m going to add in here because it’s super cool.
Located out the back of The Old Bank of England pub at 194 Fleet Street is a London bus, that you can sit and enjoy your drink in.
It’s the perfect way to finish your day exploring all our other fun and unusual things to do in Covent Garden.
So, there you have it, our guide to some of the more unusual things to do in Covent Garden.
What to Read Next
If you liked this you might also like our guide to quirky things to do in King’s Cross which includes a great cheese toastie and references to the Spice Girls!
One of the most fun things we did on our most recent London trip was to take a Mystery Picnic around Camden. See what that involves – and ogle pictures of the yummy food we tried, in our London Mystery Picnic Review.
We also rode around Soho on a beer bike listening to Abba – which was quite the thing! If you’ve seen the bikes on your travels and wondered what they’re like, check out our review of the Soho Beer Bike here.
Lastly, there’s not a lot of street art in Covent Garden – but we do know of a very cool area that’s full of the stuff. And it’s not where you might expect. Check out Jane Murphy’s guide to the cool street art area of Penge in South London.
Who Writes Differentville?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a journalist and author living in Sydney.
My travel articles have been published in titles including The Australian, Body & Soul at the Sunday Telegraph, RAC Horizons, Jetstar magazine and more.
I like the weird, the wonderful and anything that makes me jump and down with glee like I’m about three. That’s what you’ll find here.