Are you headed to Venice for a few days and want to do some exploring outside of the main city?
Well, just a few short boat rides away, you will find the famous three islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello.
During a day trip out in the Venetian Lagoon, you can spend some time seeing these islands. You will get to experience everything from glass blowing to colorful architecture to some beautiful scenery out on the water.
This guide will go over logistics, things to do, and plenty more, while answering questions along the way!
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1) Murano, Burano & Torcello Introduction
While there is plenty to see and do in the city of Venice itself, there are also plenty of different islands spread across the area to explore as well.
The three islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello are three of the most famous ones to visit, and this guide will get you going in the right direction so you can plan your day trip there.
Each one of these islands has its own unique history and characteristics:
- Murano: most well known for its history in the glass blowing industry
- Burano: perhaps the most colorful of islands in Italy, along with a lace making history
- Torcello: a quieter island, which was once the commercial capital of the region
When going about a day trip to these three islands, there are a few different ways to go plan it. You can either do so independently, head on a group tour, or take a private guide. Later on I will be going into more detail about each one of these options.
A day trip to these islands is a great way to experience a different side of Venice, and learn more about the history of the Venetian people.
2) Venetian Lagoon Map
You can see on the map below the location of these three islands, and where they are in proximity to the main area of Venice.
In red is the vaporetto terminal, where you can catch the water bus from Venice, followed by the three islands pinned in yellow.
Getting between the islands is pretty simple, as you will either leverage the public boat network of Venice or be on a guided boat. I will be sure to explain all the logistics throughout this overview.
Before jumping into logistics, I wanted to first go over the three islands and give you an idea of what you can expect as you go about a day trip.
You will start off by heading to Murano, then Burano and finally Torcello, before making your way back to the main island of Venice.
The first stop of the day is the island of Murano, just a short 10 minute boat ride from the main Fondamente Nove terminal in Venice.
The main highlight of Murano is its history of glassmaking on the island. Throughout the island you will find glass artisans, workshops, and stores lining its intimate streets.
And what better way to learn all about its history than visiting the Murano Glass Museum. You will learn all about the timeline of glass making on the island, in addition to seeing plenty of glass artwork all throughout.
While you may not realize it at first, Murano is not just one island. Instead it is made up of seven individual islands. Connecting the islands are small bridges that head up and over its canals. You can spend your time wandering the canals and bridges as you explore all that the area has to offer.
Be sure to stop by a few of Murano’s highlights such as:
- Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato
- Palazzo da Mula
- Church of San Pietro Martire
- Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli
After a further 30 minute boat ride into the Venetian lagoon, you will come across the island of Burano.
Perhaps the most colorful and vibrant island in Italy, Burano is a photographer’s dream. It offers plenty of beautiful landscapes with different colored houses sprawled all throughout its waterways.
As history says, the reason why there is so much color on the island goes back to its fishing origins. Back then, fisherman had to make their way through the fog of the Venetian Lagoon. To make things easier on themselves, they painted their houses these vibrant colors in order for them to stick out.
While the colorful houses are one reason to visit, so are its lace making traditions. Murano might be known for its glass, but Burano is known for its lace.
Lace making goes back hundreds of years on the island. Today you have the chance to visit various shops that sell lacework and even visit the Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto). You can learn more about the history and even take a look on how lace is made.
After you have had enough time at the museum feel free to continue walking along the inner canals, passing by all the colorful buildings around you and eventually back to the main port area.
Last but not least on your Venetian Lagoon tour is the island of Torcello. The island is just a short boat ride away from Burano and is certainly the quietest of the three islands.
In the past, Torcello was actually one of the most bustling islands around Venice. However, over the years, much of the population has made its way southbound. It once had a population of 20,000, but today it has less than 100 people on the island. That is not to say though that it isn’t worth the visit!
There are a few main attractions on the island that should be added to your day’s itinerary. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was built back in the 7th century and has beautiful byzantine mosaic tiles all around.
Alongside the cathedral will be the Santa Fosca church, and a bell tower that you can climb to get a view from up above. The Torcello Museum is also worth the visit as you can learn more about its history as the commercial capital of Venice.
And don’t leave Torcello without a meal at the famous Cipriani restaurant. The restaurant has been around since the 1930’s, and people from all over the world come to Torcello just to experience this historical place.
Once all wrapped up with Torcello, it is then a 40 minute boat ride right back to Venice.
6) Logistics for the Day
Below are the three different options you will have when taking the Murano, Burano and Torcello day trip. For the most flexibility and lowest costs I would recommend a self guided tour.
However, if you want someone to take care of all logistics and help answer any questions you may have, then a group or private tour may be the way to go.
Whatever you decide, you are sure to have a great time exploring these three islands of the Venetian Lagoon.
A) Self Guided Tour
The first option is to do a self-guided tour and use the public water bus system to get from one place to the next. Since you will be jumping on and off the boats all day you can get a 24 hour vaporetto pass for only 25 Euro (instead of paying for each individual route).
-> Buy your Vaporetto Pass today, to get yourself all set for your trip
In order to do this you will start at the water bus station of Fondamente Nove on the northern side of the island.
- Fondamente Nove -> Murano: you can hop on the 4.1, 4.2, 12 or 13 water bus lines to the first stop of your trip – Murano. There are a few water bus stations on the island but nothing is more than a 15-20 walk away.
- Murano -> Burano: once Murano is complete make your way back to the Faro waterbus stop and catch the 12 line to Burano.
- Burano -> Torcello: after Burano, get on the 12 line that will take you to Torcello (the 9 line may work as well).
- Torcello -> Fondamente Nove: now that touring for the day is complete hop back onto the 12 line to get back to the starting point of Fondamente Nove.
Depending on season the schedules and routes can change so make sure to check double check the website or ask your hotel before heading out for the day.
B) Guided Group Tour
The second option would be to join a group guided tour that will take you on one of their boats.
The upside for this is that all logistics will be taken care of and you will easily be able to get from one place to the next. In addition, the tours are pretty reasonably priced for what you get.
The downside is that you will be on a schedule so if you want to spend more time in a certain place, you will not be able to.
Below are two of the most popular options when it comes to Murano, Burano & Torcello group tours:
- Venice: Murano, Burano, Torcello Island & Glass Factory Tour
- Venice: Burano, Torcello & Murano Boat Tour w/ Glassblowing
C) Private Tour
The third option (and most expensive) would be to hire your own private water taxi for the day that will take you to each of the islands on your own schedule.
This way you will never feel rushed and you will be able to spend as much time as you would like at each place.
Be sure to check out this Murano, Burano, and Torcello Private Boat Tour if you interested in a private option.
7) Where to Stay in Venice
Venice is a tricky city due to the various canals, narrow streets, and small bridges.
I highlighted a few hotel options that are close by St. Marks Square, which is about a 15 minute walk to the Fondamente Nove – the water bus station to begin your day trip.
Hotels are not cheap in Venice, but here are some highly valued ones that you can find:
During your time in the city, be sure to check out some of the best places to visit in Venice.
That about wraps up a day in Murano, Burano and Torcello. Take a look at the other Italy itineraries and guides to help out with any other trip planning.
Hope you enjoy your time in Italy. If you have any questions about the trip please feel free to comment below!