Exploring the Jewels of the Venetian Lagoon: A Day Trip to Murano, Burano, and Torcello from Venice

If you are visiting Venice, then a day trip to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello is a must. When we planned our trip to North Italy, we specifically dedicated a day to visit these beautiful islands.

As we already had a vaporetto pass and the Venice Museum Pass, we decided to organise our own trip. Below we outline our impressions of the three islands and suggest top things to do for an amazing day out. Spoiler: Burano is our favourite 🙂

If you prefer to join an organised tour to Murano, Burano and Torcello, there are plenty of options you can choose from.

Exploring the Jewels of the Venetian Lagoon

The Venetian Lagoon, a vast expanse of shallow waters interspersed with islands, has long been the lifeblood of Venice, serving as both a protective barrier and a source of sustenance for its inhabitants. Historically, the lagoon has been vital to the city’s prosperity, facilitating trade, transportation, and defense.

Among the many islands dotting the lagoon, Murano, Burano, and Torcello stand out as must-visit destinations, each offering a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of Venetian heritage.

From the age-old tradition of glassmaking in Murano to the kaleidoscopic hues of Burano’s charming houses and the ancient ruins of Torcello’s bygone glory, these islands promise an unforgettable day of exploration and discovery. Check our recommendations below for things to do at each of those islands.

How to get to Murano, Burano and Torcello from Venice

Embarking on a day trip to the enchanting islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello from Venice is a seamless and accessible adventure, with various transportation options catering to different preferences and budgets. You are most likely to organise it yourself using the vaporetto or join an organised tour, so we are including more information below.

Vaporetto (Water Bus)

The most popular and cost-effective way to reach Murano, Burano, and Torcello from Venice is by taking a vaporetto, Venice’s public water bus system. This is the option we chose as we had a vaporetto pass and financially this option made the most sense.

Vaporetto lines 4.1 and 4.2 depart from Venice’s Fondamenta Nuove stop and provide direct access to Murano, with a journey time of approximately 15-20 minutes.

From Murano, you can transfer to vaporetto line 12 to reach Burano, which typically takes around 5-10 minutes. Torcello can be accessed from Burano by vaporetto line 9, with a journey time of approximately 5-10 minutes.

Organised Tours

For those who prefer a structured and informative experience, guided tours offer an excellent way to explore Murano, Burano, and Torcello with the expertise of local guides. View organised tours to Murano, Burano and Torcello here.

Many tour operators in Venice offer guided day trips to the islands, providing transportation, guided tours of key attractions, and insights into the history, culture, and traditions of Murano, Burano, and Torcello.

Before decided to organise our own trip, we considered this boat trip to Murano, Burano and Torcello including glassblowing which is very well reviewed and comes with 24 hour cancellation option.

Private Boat/ Water Taxi

Depending on your budget, time and group size, you might decide to use a private boat or water taxi to allow you to manage your own route at the time convenient for you. These options are more expensive but allow greater flexibility.

Regardless of the chosen mode of transportation, a day trip to Murano, Burano, and Torcello promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Venetian Lagoon, with each island offering its own unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty awaiting exploration.

Things to do in Murano: The Island of Glass

Murano stands as a testament to centuries of exquisite craftsmanship and innovation in the art of glassmaking. Renowned worldwide for its intricate glass creations, Murano has long been hailed as the epicenter of Venetian glassmaking tradition, attracting artisans and connoisseurs alike from across the globe.

The history of glassmaking in Murano dates back to the late 13th century when the Republic of Venice ordered the relocation of glassmakers to the island due to the risk of fires in the city.

This strategic move not only protected Venice from potential conflagrations but also accelerated Murano’s transformation into a hub of glass production and innovation.

Explore the Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum)

For a deeper understanding of Murano’s rich glassmaking heritage, a visit to the Museo del Vetro is a must. Housed within the elegant Palazzo Giustinian, the museum showcases a diverse collection of glass artifacts spanning centuries of history and innovation.

You can marvel at ancient Roman glassware, marvelously intricate Venetian goblets, and contemporary masterpieces crafted by renowned glass artists. Through interactive exhibits and informative displays, the museum offers insight into the evolution of glassmaking techniques and the cultural significance of glass in Venetian society.

A visit to the Murano Glass Museum is included in the Venice Museum Pass.

Explore the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato

The Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato in Murano is a renowned example of Byzantine architecture dating back to the 7th century. Its striking façade features intricate marble columns and a captivating blend of Eastern and Western design elements.

The interior is adorned with stunning mosaics depicting religious scenes, showcasing the craftsmanship of the Byzantine tradition. The church is particularly famous for housing the relics of Saint Donatus of Arezzo and a fragment of the True Cross.

Visit a traditional glass factory for demonstrations

You have the opportunity to step inside traditional glass factories, where skilled artisans demonstrate the intricate process of shaping molten glass into exquisite works of art. Unfortunately we didn’t have luck with this and didn’t manage to attend a demonstration.

A leisurely stroll through the island’s labyrinthine streets reveals a treasure trove of glass sculptures adorning plazas and storefronts, each piece a testament to Murano’s enduring artistic legacy. Quaint bridges span tranquil waterways, offering idyllic vantage points for admiring the island’s colorful facades and historic architecture.

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Things to do in Burano: The Island of Colourful Houses

Renowned for its charming ambiance and picturesque scenery, Burano stands as a testament to the island’s artistic spirit and rich cultural heritage.

Embarking on a walking tour of Burano’s vibrant streets is akin to entering an artist’s palette, with every corner revealing a new burst of color and character. Each brightly painted house tells a story of its own, reflecting the unique identity and personality of its inhabitants.

Learn about lacemaking at the Lace Museum

At the heart of Burano’s cultural tapestry lies the island’s centuries-old tradition of lacemaking, a delicate art form passed down through generations.

A visit to the Lace Museum provides insight into the intricate craftsmanship and skill involved in this time-honored practice, with displays showcasing exquisite lacework dating back centuries.

You can marvel at delicate patterns and intricate designs, gaining a deeper appreciation for the painstaking effort and precision required to create these masterpieces.

Adore the Church of Saint Martin Bishop

The Church of Saint Martin Bishop in Burano is a historic landmark, dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. It dates back to the 16th century, featuring a striking facade adorned with intricate details typical of Venetian architecture.

The square by the church is lovely too, we even sat down for a drink overlooking the church and the beautiful street with colourful houses.

Have a meal with locally sourced ingredients

No visit to Burano would be complete without indulging in the island’s culinary delights, particularly its fresh seafood offerings. From quaint trattorias to elegant seafood bistros, Burano offers a diverse array of dining options to suit every palate and preference.

We had a delicious lunch at Trattoria da Primo whilst enjoying the views of colourful houses, laces and passers by. The service was outstanding too.

Try the local Esse Buranei and Bussolà

Esse Buranei and Bussolà are traditional biscuits from the island of Burano. We bought some from Palmisano Carmelina and totally loved them.

Esse Buranei are shaped like an “S” and are known for their delicate texture and subtle sweetness, often flavored with lemon zest. Bussolà, on the other hand, are ring-shaped biscuits, denser in texture, and richer in flavor due to the addition of butter and sometimes vanilla.

Whether wandering through its colorful streets, marveling at centuries-old lacework, or savoring the flavors of the sea, a visit to Burano promises to captivate the senses and leave a lasting impression on all who venture to its shores.

Things to do in Torcello: The Island of Ancient History

Torcello stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Venice’s past, a timeless oasis of history and culture nestled amidst the tranquil waters of the Venetian Lagoon.

Dating back to the 5th century, Torcello played a pivotal role in the foundation of Venice, serving as a thriving center of trade, culture, and political power during the early Middle Ages. While its glory days may have faded into the mists of time, Torcello’s rich historical legacy continues to captivate visitors with its atmospheric ruins and evocative landscapes.

Take a photo at Ponte del Diavolo

The Torcello Ponte del Diavolo, or Devil’s Bridge, is a historic stone bridge dating back to the 15th century, it spans a narrow canal connecting Torcello with the neighboring island of Burano.

Legend has it that the bridge was constructed with the help of the devil in exchange for the soul of the first person to cross it. To outsmart the devil, the villagers sent a dog across first. The bridge stands as a testament to medieval engineering prowess and continues to captivate visitors with its eerie folklore and architectural charm.

Visit the Torcello Cathedral

One of the island’s most iconic landmarks is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Built in the 7th century and later embellished with stunning Byzantine mosaics, the cathedral stands as a masterpiece of medieval architecture, its grandeur and splendor evoking the glory of a bygone era.

See the Church of Santa Fosca

Adjacent to the cathedral lies the Church of Santa Fosca. Named after the revered 4th-century martyr Saint Fosca, the church boasts a distinctive octagonal design and elegant colonnades, creating a serene and contemplative atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.

Beyond its architectural marvels, Torcello also enchants visitors with its tranquil landscapes and picturesque marshes, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

As you wander through the island’s pathways and meandering canals, you are greeted by a sense of serenity and solitude, with each step revealing new wonders and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.

Final Thoughts

Together, Murano, Burano, and Torcello offer a glimpse into the soul of the Venetian Lagoon, each island weaving its own unique narrative into the rich tapestry of Venetian history and culture.

For those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of Venice and embark on a journey of exploration and enchantment, a day trip to these island jewels promises an experience like no other.

Each island is worth seeing but for us Burano was the nicest. We liked Burano so much that we decided to return to Burano for a few more hours after visiting Murano. We were also rewarded with better weather in the afternoon which made it even more enjoyable.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:

  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

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