Venice, a city in northwestern Italy’s Veneto region. It’s situated across 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It’s a city of mystery, romance, culture, art, and so much more. Not all of its islands are linked to the Venetian “mainland” by bridges, there are many islands including Murano and Burano that due to their distance are linked only by watercraft.
Venice is one of our favorite cities. We try to get there at least once a year. So of course we’ve done the touristy things like hanging out at Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. We’ve done the Basilica and Doge’s Palace tours, checked out Harry’s Bar and of course ridden the gondola. These are all worthwhile endeavors, don’t get me wrong, they are definitely the first timer’s must see and do things. But if you find yourself in Venice for the third or fourth time (believe me this is not a hardship!) or if you have an extra day or two in the city, it might be time to explore the Venetian Lagoon; particularly the islands of Murano and Burano!
First let me say if it is your first time in Venice and you only have a day or so then stick to the beaten path and enjoy the main attractions of the city.
Hang out at Florian’s or Quadri’s at Piazza San Marco. It’s pricey I know, but it’s part of my Venice routine. We splurge about €100 on drinks and snacks at one of these cafes and people watch. I can do it for hours!
Then check out the Basilica and Doge’s Palace, the Secret Itinerary tour is fascinating! Explore the markets by the Rialto bridge and yes go on that gondola ride! And don’t forget to hop on vaporetto #1 for the best ride on the Grand Canal! For more things to do on Venice click here!
Now that you’ve got that out of the way let’s explore further afield. There’s more to Venice then Piazza San Marco, the Rialto, and gondolas. Venice has islands! Lots of them in the lagoon and along the southern coast. In fact if you want to go further a field we can explore the Veneto!
But for now let’s just go to Murano and Burano. They’re pretty easy to get to via public transportation and are both picturesque little villages with local specialties to offer even the most avid shoppers.
Murano is a series of bridge linked islands in the Venetian lagoon. There are 7 islands linked by bridges over 8 channels. In 1291 Venetian glassmakers were forced to move to these islands due to the risks of fires. It quickly became known for the exquisite glass chandeliers, sculptures, and beads produced by the talented glassblowers.
To this day Murano is well known for its glass and crystals. Many of the companies that own historic glass factories on the island are some of the most important glass companies of the world.
Even if you’re not a glass enthusiast you won’t be able to resist the items you’ll find on the island.
Over the years I’ve brought home many Murano glass pieces including jewelry, vases, and even a huge tree with colorful birds perched on the branches. Oh, and I’ve also go a set of Murano glass pendant lamps. I’m working on acquiring a glass chandelier, I’ve just go to find a place for it in my house![spacer height=”-20px”]
Although shopping is a big part of Murano there are also churches and museums one can explore.
Murano is home to the Museo del Vetro or Murano Glass Museum in the Palazzo Giustinian.
We stumbled upon this giant glass abacus on display in one of the alleys leading to a restaurant. The kids thought it was pretty cool.
We passed this blue glass display in one of the piazzas on the way to the glass museum. Lot’s of surprises along the walkways of Murano!
And don’t forget the restaurants and gelatarias along the way. I’m sure you could use a cool drink or a creamy gelato during your wanderings!
Unless you’re a real big Murano glass fan and want to shop for some serious pieces a visit to Murano should take about 2-3 hours at best. Honestly we were there for under 2 hours before we made our way to the Faro station and hopped the vaporetto to Burano. A much more picturesque town in my opinion.
Further north in the Venetian lagoon closer to the island of Torcello is the small island of Burano. It’s about a 30 minute vaporetto ride away from Murano and is linked by bridge to the island of Mazzorbo.
Burano was likely settled by Romans in the 6th. Century. It became an important island in the 16th. Century when women on the island started making fine lace with needles. The lace was exported across Europe and in 1872 a lacemaking school was opened.
Today Burano is known mostly for it’s richly painted houses and of course lace. There are many shops offering lace but most of the lace is no longer handmade as it is a very time consuming method and very expensive.
It’s also known for it’s seafood restaurants that serve fresh seafood brought in everyday by the local fishermen. It is after all a fishing village as well.
Try the seafood linguine or the frito misto. You can’t go wrong![spacer height=”-20px”]
There’s not a whole lot to do on Burano other than eating, shopping, and wandering.
Wandering’s the best part! Just cruise around the islands crossing over bridges and enjoy the colorful homes in the different neighborhoods. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Did you know that “The colours of the houses follow a specific system, originating from the golden age of its development. If someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot.”
If your more energetic and a stroll thru the village is too mundane you can explore a few other attractions including the Church of San Martino, with a leaning campanile and a painting by Giambattista Tiepolo (Crufixion, 1727), the Oratorio di Santa Barbara, and the Museum and School of Lacemaking
For me strolling thru the town with a yummy cone of gelato is more my speed.
It’s easy to get to Murano and Burano on the public Vaporetto water bus or ACTV. You can do both islands easily in a day. Some day trippers add Torcello to their day but I find it just too tiring specially with kids. (Torcello is an island in the northern lagoon. It was first settled in 452 and is often referred to as the island from whence Venice began. Today it’s a sparsely populated island with some old churches and homes.)
The easiest way to get to Murano is from the Vaporetto stop by the railway station Venezia Santa Lucia.
As you walk out of the main station go to the vaporetto stop on your right. You can purchase a ticket good for 70 Minutes heading in one direction, cost is €7.50 per person, kids under 6 are free. Or I find it cheaper to buy a day pass for €20 for adults and €15 for children over 6. It’s good for 24 hours from the first validation. You must validate it every time you board a vaporetto.
If Murano is your first stop take the #3 vaporetto, it’s known as the “Diretto Murano” and connects the 5 stops on the island to the railway station and Piazelle Roma. It runs about every 30 minutes. You can get off at any of the 5 stops on the island, the first one being Colonna.
If you miss the #3 water bus you can take the 4.1 or the 4.2 which are both circular routes that run from the railroad station to Murano stopping at Fondamente Nove, San Zaccaria (close to Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s palace), San Michele the Cemetery island, and a dozen other stops.
If you’re adventurous you could hop off at the Cimitero stop and explore the cemetery for a bit.
I’ve heard you can find some interesting old graves and vaults on the island as well as the church of San Michele.
If you’re on the 4.1 or 4.2 the Murano stops are Colonna and Faro. I like to get off at Colonna and stroll my way to the center parts of the island eventually making my way on foot to the Faro stop.
If you find your self far from the railroad station then make your way to the San Zaccaria stop to take the 4.1 or 4.2. Or you can make your way to the Fondamente Nove stop and catch the #3. 4.1., 4.2, or 12.
If you’re around the train station then take the 4.1 or 4.2 to Fondamente Nove and transfer to the #12 to Burano, if you want to go to Torcello stay on the vaporetto after the Burano stop and get off on Torcello.
If you’re on Murano then make your way to the Faro stop and hop aboard the #12. It will take you to Burano, the ride is about 30 minutes.
For a great view of Burano get off at the Mazzorbo stop and walk over the bridge to Burano. It’s a nice walk and a great introduction to the picturesque island of Burano.
The easiest and least crowded way to get back from Burano to the train station or even the Piazza San Marco area would be to take the #12 from the Burano stop heading towards Murano. Get off at the Faro stop in Murano and transfer to the #3. This gets you to the train station or Piazelle Roma. If you take the 4.1 or 4.2 it will take you to San Zaccaria, from there it’s a short walk to the Basilica or the Doge’s Palace.
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