Another market....but totally different!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by RLB2 on September 20, 2011

So on our little jaunt down to London, we visited Camden market but we also came here to Covent Garden. The two places are only a short tube ride away from each other, (or a slightly longer walk), yet they couldn't be more different. Where Camden is quirky and offbeat, Covent Garden is better described as upmarket and eccentric. There are still a wide range of stalls and eating area, but not the madness of Camden. That isn't a criticism of either place, as we enjoyed both, but they do offer completely different things. Now if you are an eccentric couple like us, you may well love both areas, like we did, then again you may prefer one over the other.

Covent garden market & piazza was originally designed in 1632 by Inigo Jones when London was subjected to an experiment in town planning. The public square and the piazza was originally a fruit and vegetable market, that boomed following the Great Fire of London, which destroyed many of the other London Markets. The building that we saw on our visit was designed in 1830 by Charles Fowler, but it's glass roof came in the 1870s. Eventually the fruit and vegetable market had to be moved to a less congested part of London and this left Covent Garden empty. It was very nearly destroyed were it not for a vigorous campaign by local residents to save it and this led to the buildings being used for it's current purpose.

We saw plenty of crazy performers, like a string quartet playing and performing (as in dancing) a Can-Can and several magicians working their magic on the crowds. There were a few mime artists as well, the type who are dressed like statues or sculptures and then come alive every now and then. It wasn't till we left Covent Garden that I realised that it is the only part of London actually licensed for street entertainers. Obviously they come from far and wide to ply their trade and very entertaining it is too, especially if you want to amuse the kids of liven up your morning coffee.

In terms of shopping there are plenty of stalls and shops in Covent Garden that could keep you occupied all day. Everything from home-made soaps and organic cotton childrens clothes to leather handbags and jewellery. We had a great time wandering around the various boutique shops and the covered market. Now this is something to note, as mentioned above Covent Garden has a glass roof, which means on days that are wet and miserable (unsuprisingly common in London) you can still wander around the various stalls without getting soggy.

Some advice for visiting Covent Garden on a Saturday or Sunday, it is very very busy, so look after your valuables. I don't think you are any more likely to be pickpocketed here than anywhere else, but it would be much easier to do here as it is so crowded. Often the nearest tube station gets very busy on a weekend, but if the weather is nice you can walk from Russell Square or even Kings Cross. It only took us 15 minutes strolling in the sunshine to get to Covent Garden from Kings Cross Station. Other than that you should be fine, we had a great time and I would recommend it to anyone visiting London!

All in all Covent Garden is not just a shopping experience, it's an all round entertainment experience. You can find unique gifts for friends and family, eat lots of lovely food and be entertained for free......great stuff!
Covent Garden
Covent Garden
London, England, WC2
+44 20 7836 9136

© LP 2000-2009