Visiting the islands of Murano and Burano from Venice is only a short vaporetto ride away from the main island. They are two unique islands. Both are famous for their own crafts of glass and lace, respectively. Did you know there are seven smaller islands that make up the greater island of Murano?
Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. The area is made up of 118 islands within the lagoon. The main tourist spots here are, of course, Venice, Murano, Burano and Torcello. Before our trip to Venice, we did some research and decided that we would have a day out of the city and take a trip over to the islands of Murano and Burano. Heres what we got up to, and a list of things you could add to your itinerary.
HOW TO GET TO MURANO & BURANO FROM VENICE
We walked from our hotel to Fondamente Nova along the northern side of Venice. Here, there are several floating ferry stops, booths and ticket machines. Our tickets to Murano and Burano cost €21 each. This was a day-pass that you could use as many times as you like within 24 hours and for any route.
We boarded our water bus, line number 4.1, and this stopped first at the Isola di San Michele, the island cemetery. We had planned to visit this on our way back, but underestimated how much time we would spend on the other two islands. So instead, we saved this visit for the next day. From here, the vaporetto then sailed on to Murano.
THE LAID-BACK ISLAND OF MURANO
As we got off the ferry at Murano, there were several people from nearby glass shops and factories asking us to go with them for glass blowing demonstrations and gift buying. We decided we would take our time to look around first and not rush into a visit. We walked into the centre of Murano and we were amazed at how pretty it was, like a miniature Venice but much less crowded. Shops everywhere selling glass souvenirs, glass ornaments and jewellery.
VISIT A GLASS FACTORY
We walked a little further and found a glass factory, Vetreria Artistica Colleoni. After a quick Google search; we visited. This one looked fantastic. The cost of the ticket was €10 each for a lesson on the art of glass being blown. We were told we would get this money back as a reduction on anything we bought in the gift shop afterwards, which we thought was good.
GLASS BLOWING DEMONSTRATION
We sat in a small group and watched the glass blower at work. I have always wanted to see this being done. He made two things. I found it absolutely fascinating to see what started out as nothing, a blob of hot glass, beautifully transformed into a decorative bowl. He made it look so easy. He then made a small glass horse which he dropped close to finishing, a leg snapped off, but he found it amusing and it made us all laugh.
Afterwards they directed us to the to the gift shop. It looked like a museum, to be honest. We chose and bought a lovely Murano glass Christmas tree ornament, a delicate little angel. We collect Christmas decorations from our travels, so this will be a great addition. Some pieces in the shop cost insane amounts of money, well into the thousands, but they were so beautiful. Wine and champagne glasses, animals, all kinds of different things, and the chandeliers were absolutely out of this world.
Murano Island and Glass Factory Private Guided Tour. Visit the island of Murano on a private guided tour from Venice. Take a walking tour and enjoy a break from the crowds of Venice as you learn about its glassblowing tradition at a local factory.
A FREE STREET PERFORMANCE
After our glass demonstration, we walked on. We found ourselves on a bridge behind the Basilica of Saint Mary and Saint Donatus taking photos. A man set up a chair behind us and played a small accordion. It was lovely to listen to. He was very good, and it added to the atmosphere. Then, a few minutes later, from nowhere, we heard a voice. We turned round to see that an older Italian gentleman had burst into song.
‘O sole mio’ echoed around the small square. Everyone stopped to watch. It was fantastic. When he finished, everyone clapped and cheered, and as quick as he appeared to sing, he was away. He and the musician exchanged a quick fist-bump. Both of us were delighted to have witnessed this. It really made our day. We made sure we placed a few Euros to his collection box for the free entertainment. Many others did too which was great to see.
We found a small cafe by the canal where we would eat lunch, drink yet another Aperol spritz and plan what we would do next.
THE CLOCK TOWERS OF MURANO
One clock tower stands proudly overlooking the island and Campo Santo Stefano, the Torre dell’Orologio and the second is next to Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato, and overlooks Campo San Donato, the Antica torre dell’Orologio.
BASILICA OF SAINT MARY AND SAINT DONATUS
This 7th century church is said to hold the bones of a dragon slain by Saint Donatus of Arezzo. It has some of the most incredible Byzantine mosaic floors and is home to the relics of Saint Gerard Sagredo. The church is free to enter. At the time of our trip, it was undergoing some restoration work, so they covered some sections and altars with scaffolding and plastic sheets. It was still worth the visit.
THE COLOURFUL ISLAND OF BURANO
Next up was the tiny island of Burano. We arrived by using the line 12 ferry, and this journey was slightly longer than it took us to get to Murano.
Burano is famous for its needlework, lace to be specific. There are shops selling this everywhere. I went into one small shop to have a look and it was full of handmade items. There were table covers, handkerchiefs, sweet holders, and Christmas decorations, many things.
This lovely Nonna was sitting at her sewing table. Instead of a standard face covering to help protect her from Covid, she had, of course, one made from lace. No doubt she made this herself. She came over to me and showed me around, showing me the things she had made. I could understand a little of what she was telling me and could see how proud she was of her wares. I would have loved to have stayed there and watched her at work for longer.
ADMIRE THE BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS OF BURANO
They paint the buildings in Burano bright colours. They really stand out and give the island its unique feel. It is said that the fishermen of Burano painted their houses like this so they could see them through thick fog, apparently. They also had to recieve permission to do this from local authorities, and it would be them who decided what colour it would be according to the plot it was on.
HOME OF GIUSEPPE TOSELLI, CASA DI BEPE SUÀ
The next place we were looking forward to seeing was Casa Bepi. A beautiful, brightly painted building previously owned by Giuseppe Toselli. The locals affectionately knew him as Bepi Suà (Bepi of the candies). Bepi sold candy on the streets of Burano and then opened an open-air cinema in the courtyard at the front of his house. In the 1960s, he painted and decorated the facade in the vibrant colours and geometric shapes we see today. He was always changing the look by repainting it pretty much every day. After he died, his sister looked after the property.
It was then sold and turned into a bed-and-breakfast. Sadly, though, today, there is nothing inside. It is still a destination for tourists to come and take photographs.
You can find Bepi’s house on Corte del Pistor, just up from Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi.
CAMPANILE PENDENTE, THE LEANING BELL TOWER
This fantastic tower belongs to the Church of Saint Martin Bishop. The tower was built in the 17th century and is 53 meters tall. Over the years, it has undergone several restorations and lots of work. They always topped the tower with an angel, but since 1867, after a huge storm, the angel fell. A large iron cross has now replaced this.
Because of subsidence, the tower now has a lean of 1.83 meters! The best place on the island to see the lean in full effect is a short walk East, at Terranova’s marble bridge.
THE ‘LEGO’ WALL
We found this quirky little wall as we continued to explore. I called it the ‘Lego Wall’ just because it reminded me of plastic building blocks. A fun little spot for photographs and worth a look if you get a chance. You can find this just behind the leaning bell tower.
GRAB SOME GELATO
The whole of our trip we were extremely lucky with the weather, especially for March. On this day it was glorious, so we set out to find something we always have when in Italy, gelato. We found a little place tucked away on Calle della Provvidenza, called Gelateria Crema. We ate them on the street outside and soaked up more of the sun’s rays. They were so good.
If you are looking for ideas and would like to check out some places we ate at in Venice, you can read this post, What to eat and where in Venice, Italy.
After our gelato, we wandered further into the streets. Saying ‘hello’ to people as we passed by, we absolutely love this side of our trips, getting to meet the locals and trying to speak a few words of their native language.
We then saw my absolute favourite locals, the cats. Myself and Jason are absolute cat lovers and have one of our own, so we always try to seek them out on our trips. We even buy treats for them and feed them as we go. We came across a small group of three, all friendly, but one more so than the others, who came straight over for some tickles.
After a short time, we began the walk back for our vaporetto, saying one last goodbye to the beautiful buildings and canals of Burano. As we were on our way back over to Venice, I felt thankful for the beautiful islands we had visited, especially after the past couple of years through the Pandemic, it felt great to be allowed to explore and see these places once again.
THE ISLAND OF MAZZORBO
Although we didn’t visit, the island of Mazzorbo just off of Burano is easily accessible by walking over the Ponte Longo bridge on the island’s North-Western tip. The island is small, but home to several vineyards and Burano cemetery. A peaceful place away from most of the touristy areas.
My highlight of the day was meeting the lovely Nonna in her lace shop. I could make out through her broken English that the shop had been in her family for generations, and she was proud to make the lace of Burano. She was an incredible woman.
I absolutely loved the spontaneous street singer in Murano, who serenaded us all with a burst of ’O sole mio’. It made the day really special and made me enjoy the rest of the trip even more. Burano was beautiful. I think I liked it just a little more than Murano.
MORE IDEAS FOR YOUR MURANO & BURANO TRIP
Glimpse of Murano, Torcello & Burano Islands. Cruise to the islands of Murano, Torcello, and Burano in the Venetian Lagoon on an approximately 4-hour tour. The most famous of the Venetian islands, they are known throughout the world for their picturesque scenery, handicrafts, and history.
If you would like to know more about the island of Burano, visit: Burano isola di Venezia.