Quick guide to Murano & Burano
Updated: Nov 14
Did you know that Venice is situated amongst a group of over 100 islands?
Well, that is if you count some that are only a single rock, or only show up at low tide. A more interesting fact is that there are 11 inhabited islands in the area of Venice, and they are all quite small. Many are overlooked by tourists, and the main reason is that there is not that much to do or see. Of all these islands, the most famous and most visited are the islands of Murano & Burano.
These two islands are a great day trip from Venice. They are easily accessible from "Fondamenta Nuove" which is the main gateway to most islands. From there, on a clear day, you can see the Dolomites, so even just for the views, walking to "the end of Venice" is worth it! "Fondamenta Nuove" is peppered with vaporetto (waterbus) stops. Tickets can easily be purchased. We were recommended to buy a day ticket, which for 25 euros per person allows you to hop on/off the Vaporetto for 24 hours. There are other ticket options available to purchase, but the 24-hour ticket was the best value for money for our plans.
The Vaporetto number 12 takes you on a loop from Venice to Murano-Burano-Torcello and back. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Murano from Venice, and about 30 minutes to Burano.
We beat the crowds on the Vaporetto by leaving Venice around 9 am but were caught out as Murano was still sleepy. We took the opportunity to wander around the island and window-shop which was nice without the usual crowds that amass on the small island.
Murano is famous for its glass-blowing factories. Historically, Venice's glass-blowing industry was completely moved to Murano due to all the fires that were caused by their activity, subsequently destroying the city. This is why the island looks like a giant factory. The views when one arrives by boat are of low brick-layered industrial-looking buildings interspersed with chimneys.
As one would easily guess, the main attraction on the island is the glassmaking and resulting creations. Many businesses open their workshops to show how the glass is made, and this is the highlight of any trip to Murano! Glass shopping is also fun. Many shops sell decorative pieces from small trinkets of any shape to ornate chandeliers.
There is also a glass museum, set in the historical town hall, which exhibits a vast collection of pieces through the ages.
By the time we left the island, the crowds were starting to come out and we had to wait in line for our vaporetto. This was a reminder that these islands get very busy (but worth it!). From Murano, it took us about 15-20 minutes to get to Burano.
Burano is "insta-famous" for its colourful houses. Upon our arrival on the island, there was a backlog of people stopping and taking pictures on every visible bridge and along the water's edge. I don't blame any of them; the island is picturesque. A tip is to wander off into the town and loop back along the main canal area to take pictures before the next boatload of people arrives. This means one might get lucky and not have someone standing at the back of their pictures!
We are not quite sure why the houses are painted in such bright colours. One theory is that the bright colours helped fishermen locate their houses better in bad weather.
Besides the colourful houses, Burano is known for its lace. There are many shops around town selling lovely lace work including umbrellas, scarves and tablecloths to name a few. Unfortunately, I heard that the craft of lace is becoming extinct and that many of the products sold in the local shops are imported and not always handmade. The Museo del Merletto (lace museum) explains the history and art of lace making and is also a school where one can see some locals practising their craft.
The island of Torcello is the last stop before Venice. We did not stop there but one can enjoy a very relaxed stay on the island sightseeing old churches and dining at the local restaurants.
Visiting these two islands was a nice getaway from Venice. It is easy to spend a whole day out and about sightseeing, shopping and dining there.