Leicester Square to Covent Garden – an overview

Leicester Square to Covent Garden – an overview

This is a trilogy of posts exploring the shortest distance between London tube stations, namely Leicester Square and Covent Garden. There’s myths that have never been fully investigated. Time to demolish some of these! Anyway, Leicester Square to Covent Garden is officially the shortest distance between any tube stations at 0.26km/0.16miles (although the closed British Museum to the present Holborn station was shorter still by half!) Nearby Charing Cross to Embankment on the Northern Line is also 0.26km (0.16miles) yet misses top spot by being just a very tiny bit of a fraction longer.

(Ironically walking from Charing Cross to Embankment is three times faster than Leicester Square to Covent Garden!)

Its often said that one cannot see towards either Leicester Square or Covent tube stations from the other at street level. And that is sometimes given as a reason why travellers make the error of taking the tube from one to the other. Historically that was true that one could not see one from the other – this at least until 1935 when the new Leicester Square entrance was built on the corner of Charing Cross Road and Cranbourn Street.

In the 1930’s the London Transport Passenger Board made attempts to advertise the fact the stations could be seen from each other with well placed tube roundels encouraging people to walk. Back then it was much easier to see each station as street furniture & lines of sight were far less cluttered. Today it’s actually much harder to see the other station.

That new part of the station at least put both Leicester Square and Covent garden tube stations within the same line of sight. It must be admitted despite this its still very difficult to see one from the other – unlike for example Charing Cross to Embankment – in fact it takes one to be familiar with the Leicester Square/Covent Garden area to know where to look for the tube roundels at either station.

Nevertheless the subject continues to be a fascinating one because its an extremely expensive ride that can be done in far shorter time by simply walking a few minutes down the road!

Contrary to the usual claims (see Wiki entry) Leicester Square can be seen from Covent Garden & vice versa.

TfL’s latest walking distance map says its 4 minutes between the two stations. (TfL signs within the stations themselves however say 5 minutes.)

Covent Garden sign: Left for Leicester Square. If in doubt turn right and panic! These new Legible London signs at Covent Garden denote the distance to both Charing Cross/Leicester Square stations.

The signal (in tunnel & not always red!) protects the Covent Garden station section.

Within the stations themselves the other cannot be seen because of a curve in the tunnel. From the northbound Leicester Square Piccadilly Line platform the signal protecting entry into Covent Garden station can be seen.

From Covent Garden station itself a tiny sliver of light can be seen glinting on the rails when a train is standing at Leicester Square station. The section is so short a train cannot leave Leicester Square station while one is in Covent Garden station.

Covent Garden: Train just round the corner!

The actual distance from platform to platform between the two stations is extremely close. At street level its just a couple of blocks walk – around two thirds of a train length, which means the front of the train is entering one station when its rear section is still within the previous.


The act of buying a ticket takes time and adds considerably to the journey’s duration. Yes one can buy a ticket to Zone 1 and have it done as this make further tube journeys easier.

The purpose of this test was to see if a warning, or information, came up showing it was quicker to walk. So, let’s buy a ticket…

Buying a ticket for Covent Garden means several steps.

Choose ticket by destination.

Select ‘C’ destination then scroll through stations.

Options – single or return.

urchase a single – thats it! nowt said on walking there.

Basically one could in fact spend the entire four or five minutes walking time to Covent Garden just fumbling around trying to buy a ticket… And if one had noticed, ironically about Leicester Square’s ticket office there are a number of signs that denote the walking time to Covent Garden! But there are no signs or anything by the ticket machines themselves!

Oooh! What’s that? Its a Covent Garden sign in the Leicester Square ticket hall – with a walking time given!

Next: A look at the overground walking route.