The first time I experienced Venice, I was immediately won over. It was almost 5 years ago now and I’ve been there 4 times since then. When I drifted in a gondola on those famous canals — Venice’s intricate architecture and elaborate bridges above me — I wanted to stay forever. But on a whim, I decided to take a day trip to the neighboring islands of Burano and Murano, and I’m glad I did.
From all my travels to Venice, this one I wanted to be special and that we cover islands Murano and Burano also, because almost all of our visits were in the Carnival time.
If you missed my Carnival post from Venice, check it – here.
First off, don’t expect to see the whole of Venice in a weekend. This is a city made up of 450 bridges, 120 islands and a maze of narrow, twisting streets (according to Jan Morris, mere decades ago you could find Venetians who’d lived in the same ward their whole life and never traveled to St Mark’s square). Speaking of which, make this grand piazza your first stop. Bordered on the East by the façade of St Mark’s, it’s changed little during the 1000 years of its existence, and whether crowded with people in the height of summer, flooded in high tide, or silent in the moonlight, it is always magic.
Just follow the yellow signs to Rialto. While the bridge is impressive, the fish and vegetable market tucked away to its side is far more interesting. Bustling with chefs and old Venetian housewives, it’s awash with colour, noise and the smell of the sea. From here you can hop on the tragetto – a gondola that will ferry you across the Grand Canal for the princely sum of 50 cents.
In a city like Venice, where almost every home is rendered fascinating by the remains of ancient arches and windows juxtaposed with flowery window boxes and strings of washing, there’s little scope for galleries and museums. However, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is an exception. Regarded as the best place in Italy to see twentieth century art, the bright and modern museum offers a welcome respite from Venice’s tangled streets. Book a ticket in advance and you can skip the line.
Dusk in Venice is best seen from the Lagoon – the perfect excuse for an afternoon trip to some of the city’s closest islands. The glass-making mecca of Murano is the most popular, but Burano is also well worth a visit. Known for its lace production, this colourful isle is the perfect spot to watch the sun set over La Serenissima.
If you do want to get out to the islands then Get Your Guide offer a best-selling boat trip that takes you to both Murano and Burano islands for a reasonable price.
Or just take your time and make a little coffee break while you’re enjoying beautiful Venice.
While Burano is known for its lace, Murano is famous for its glass. On Calle S. Cipriano Street, I stumbled upon a sign for fornace, which means furnace in Italian. Inside was a glass-blowing demonstration and an adjoining shop where you can buy the pieces made there. Glass-blowing is mesmerizing to watch, so try to catch a demonstration here or elsewhere in town.
Murano feels like a glimpse into the Venice of years gone by; its cobbled streets, punctuated by a major canal are quieter than Venice, though the main ‘street’ feels equally geared towards tourists.
Well known for artisan glass blowing and design, many factories and shops on the island make and display trinkets ready to be taken home, with designs ranging anywhere from a couple of euros right up to incredibly detailed pieces going for astronomical figures.
Prices in this region are high but we managed to share a delicious pizza (and Nathan got a coffee) for €11 which is pretty cheap all things considered – if you’re wanting lunch during your visit, check out the cafes near the intersection of the canals.
Burano, the smaller and quieter of the two similarly named islands, known for its brightly coloured buildings and its trade in lace clothing, is approximately 25 minutes from Murano by boat.
Though the lace is gorgeous, it was definitely the call of a photo opportunity that lured us over to this wee island. By now you’ve probably seen photos of this brightly coloured village floating around online and thought there’s not much to do there, it’s worth a visit purely to soak it all in!
Burano also has a rich lacemaking history. Beginning back in the 16th century, Burano women would get together to hand-stitch intricate pieces of lace. Traditionally, each woman only specialized in one type of stitch. Each piece of lace featured seven types of stitches and was passed around to different members of the community until it was complete, which would often take more than a month.
A lot of the lace sold on the island today is made in factories, but there are a few places where you can still get your hands on pieces of handmade (and more expensive) lace. La Perla is one such shop near the town center, and the lace museum La Scuola del Merletto also sells original work.
Burano is a sleepy fishing village with a difference, of that there is no doubt.
How you can get to Murano and Burano?
To get to Murano, take vaporetto number 3 from Piazzle Roma to Murano and then the number 12 onto Burano. You can also catch a ride to/from Piazza San Marco (or connect from your nearest stop) on a vaporetto – just check your nearest location below.
The vaporettos aren’t cheap but as you’ll be catching a minimum of three, get yourself a 24 hour transport pass for €20. It normally costs €8 a pop to ride on one of these water buses (you read that right!) so you’re saving yourself €4 right off the bat and will also have free public transport for the remainder of the time period. You can also buy your ticket in advance – the 24 hours only starts when you scan onto your first ride.
WAS IT WORTH OF IT?!
For me definitely! Every time I fall in love with Venice and I love that small streets! My wish is to go back at least one more time!
See you around there 😉