Day Trip from Venice – Murano and Burano

Colourful houses of Burano

I’ve visited Venice on two separate trips and each time it was like a dream. There is nothing quite like approaching the city from the water or stepping out of the train station in Venice to get a first glimpse of the Grand Canal. Although there is plenty occupy your time in Venice, one of my fondest memories of Venice was the day trip we took to the islands of Murano and Burano. Burano even made my list of favourite small towns in Europe.

Exploring the shops in Murano

Murano

We started our day by taking the vaporetto ferry from the Fondamente Nove stop on the north side of Venice to the island of Murano. Murano is world famous for its hand-blown Murano glass. The tradition of hand-blown glass dates back to 1291 when all of the Venice glassmakers were required to move to Murano to minimize the risk of a fire in the centre of Venice from the furnaces used to fire the glass. The exodus of the glassmakers to Murano also allowed the Venetian government to control the trade secrets for glassmaking by preventing the artisans from leaving Murano without permission. This control over the industry directly contributed to the wealth and prosperity of the Venetian Empire. And although the artisans were essentially prisoners on the island, they benefited from an elevated social status.

Our first stop in Murano was a glass-blowing demonstration to experience some of the techniques used by the artisans. These techniques were often passed down through generations of glassmaking families from father to son using secret “recipe books”. After the demonstration we window-shopped our way through the town admiring the beautiful craftsmanship. The artisans in Murano are credited with developing many special techniques including:

  • Murano glass beads used for rosaries and other jewelry
  • Aventurine glass – translucent brown glass with copper specks developed in the 15th century
  • Calcedonio – marbled glass made to look like a precious stone

We stopped at a small local restaurant for a pasta and caprese salad lunch before we jumped on another vaporetto ferry to Burano.

Torre dell’Orologio

Things to Do in Murano:

  • Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum) – to learn more about Murano’s history of glassmaking
  • Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato – is said hold relics from a dragon slain by Saint Donato in the 4th century

How to Get to Murano:

  • Vaporetto lines 12, 4.1 or 4.2 from the docks at Fondamente Nove on the north side of Venice (about 10 minutes)
  • Vaporetto line 3 from the Santa Lucia train station in Venice (17 minutes)
  • Private water taxi for about 60 Euros each way
  • By organized tour including tour of a glass-blowing factory and/or stops in Burano and Torcello
More colourful houses along the canals of Burano

Burano

While Murano is famous for its hand-blown glass, as evidenced by the numerous tourist shops selling the delicate creations, Burano is known for its lace. The women of Burano have been stitching lace since the 16th century. The lace from Burano was traditionally stitched by hand with each woman specializing in a specific stitch. As a result, the lace is extremely time consuming and expensive to make.

Although we didn’t specifically go to Burano for the lace, we enjoyed wandering along the canals and taking pictures of the multi-coloured houses and boats. The tradition of painting houses in bright colours originated so the fishermen could easily find their homes in the thick fog. Burano had a much more relaxed vibe and felt less touristy than Venice or Murano, which is why it was one of the highlights of my trip to Venice. Picturesque pastel coloured canals and away from the crowds made Burano the perfect getaway from Venice.

Burano is traditionally a fishing village

Things to Do in Burano:

  • Museo del Merletto (Lace Museum)
  • Chiesa di San Martino – 16th century church with its own leaning tower
  • Bepi’s House – most colourful house in Burano

How to Get to Burano:

  • Vaporetto line 12 from the docks at Fondamente Nove on the north side of Venice (about 50 minutes)
  • Vaporetto line 12 from Murano Faro on the island of Murano (38 minutes)
  • Private water taxi for at least 115 Euros each way
  • By organized tour which can include all three islands of Burano, Murano and Torcello
Filled a bottle with wine for 2 Euros after returning to Venice from Burano

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