Venice islands: A day tour of Murano and Burano

One of the most wonderful cities in the world. Venice has its own unique atmosphere. It’s a magnificent and cozy city at the same time. We’ve already been in Venice in 2016 and we managed to visit only the main island as we arranged our trip from Milan by train and stayed for just one day.

This time, our visit was the final part of our north-italian-dolomitic adventure. And again, we haven’t spent a single night in the city. There’s a reason for this. Venice is always popular, any time of the year, and you will have a hard time finding a cheap offer for a hotel or a hostel (a decent one at least), especially if you don’t book months in advance. Purtroppo. Yet it’s definitely a #mustvisit city in Italy.

Venice's Canal Grande, with Lorenzo Quinn's sculpture "Support"

We were lucky and visited Venice during the Biennale exposition. The city was filled with sculptures like these giant hands.

For those who suffer in hot weather (like Edo) and easily get sunburnt (like Nastya), a sunny summer day in Venice can turn from an exciting city trip to a tour of hell pretty quickly. The fact that the city is surrounded by water doesn’t help to stand this unbelievable heat, so you better pack some sunscreen and a hat and stay in the shade in the hottest hours.

Nastya sitting by a colonnade in San Michele island

When the sun hits you and your wish to wander around

We arrived to a parking lot near Venice in the late morning, bought a day ticket for public transport for 20€ each (😱) and took the bus to the island. This was the only “conventional” vehicle for the day, since the transport system in Venice is quite special. You know, there are no roads, and once you’re on the islands the only options to move around are either on foot or by boat. So don’t be surprised to see a taxi or an ambulance sailing along the canals. We even saw an excavator – the venetian version: a boat with a scoop bucket – moving some dirt around!

An excavator in a canal in Murano

Construction machinery, Venice version

Since it wasn’t the first time in Venice for us, we decided to spend the day visiting the islands of Murano and Burano. Guess how you get there? Right, with the water bus, we took one going from the main island to Murano and stopped halfway through at the Isola di San Michele.

This island is an old cemetery that still works. In contrast with the crowded and noisy Venice center, this island is silent and calm as a cemetery should be. There are not many tourists, the idea of wandering around a cemetery may sound not very attractive. But this place is beautiful and unique. Where in the world can you find a cemetery on the water?

NASTYA: Small fact: two famous Russian artists are buried here. The composer Igor Stravinsky and the poet Joseph Brodsky. Unfortunately, I found out about this fact only after visiting this cemetery.

The cemetery of San Michele

The tranquility of this place can give you a short break from Venice’s crowd

Murano – The island of glass

Next stop: Murano, the island of glass, just 15 minutes away. As we left the boat we heard a man screaming: “Glass factory! Glass blowing! Murano glass!”. It didn’t take long to figure out where this factory was and after waiting 15 minutes under the sun, we entered the furnace room to observe three glass-masters busy with their work.

What happens when you put twenty tourists in a hot room, make them sit far from the glass-makers (okay, safety first, but we didn’t see much of the glass-making process) and make them listen to a boring guy repeating ten times the same three phrases about the glass composition and the time it must spend inside the furnace (if you manage to hear it – it’s difficult because of the noise from cracked glass)?

What happens with these poor tourists? They get disappointed. As we did. It was just a tourist trap quick show to attract tourists in the hope they’ll buy something in the store – not really worth the time we spent there. We wouldn’t advise you to waste time on this sort of free demonstration.

What you can do instead is visit the small stores on the island. In some of them you’ll find the owner working the glass and making small and nice trinkets right in front of your eyes. Plus, you can talk to this glass-maker and ask him questions about his work. Isn’t it better? We found one of these stores on the main canal of the island, Fondamenta dei Vetrai.

A building in Murano

The typical Venice cityscape: old buildings, canals and boats

A glass sculpture in Murano

In Murano, even the sculptures are made of glass!

We spent some time wandering the island’s alleys: shops, squares, glass sculptures and restaurants. Of course, in Venice even more than in any other touristic city, the risk of getting mediocre food for a crazy price is quite high.

A couple of years ago, some tourist posted a photo of the bill he got from a bar in the city’s main square and it went viral on Facebook: 100€ for four coffees and three amari. We guess those tourists were not exactly amused.

But “chi cerca, trova”. And indeed, after spending a bit of time looking around, we found a very nice restaurant: “Trattoria al Corallo”, where we ate great seafood at a reasonable price. The gifts of the sea (there is no better name for food like that) were just amazing!

A church in Murano

Venice is not only about canals and gondolas

Burano – The colourful island

Next stop is Burano, a.k.a. “the most instagrammable place on the planet”. Getting there from Murano takes a lot more time: 45 minutes in the heat on a waterbus full of people will almost make you wish you stayed home, but when you finally arrive and see the beauty of this small island, you’ll instantly forget about the struggle to get there.

NASTYA: This is what I was waiting for. I first found out about Burano form an article about a risotto recipe of this island. There was a photo of houses, but the illustrations were in black and white. I was curious and decided to see some more photos of this island. Google. Images. And boom! Wow! I want to see it! It’s just a great place for photoshoots! How many amazing pics I will get there!

Nastya in front of a blue house in Burano

Let the photoshoot start!

The colours of Burano
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The only problem is the crowd. Many, many tourists who want to take the best selfie or a new perfect profile picture, and you are one of them.

EDO: The other problem is that crowded streets, hot August weather at 4 pm and being in the middle of the digestion don’t make for a great combination, and I quickly entered a semi-comatose zombie state, following Nastya and taking photos in autopilot mode for around one hour. Nothing that an ice-cold granita can’t help with though.

Edo walking in front of a blue house in Burano

The struggle behind this photo was real. Well hidden, but real.

A green granita with Burano's houses in the background

Edo’s radioactive drink

One hour and a hundred photos later, we still had a bit of time to spare, so we decided to have a walk around the main island, fend off some peddler trying to sell us seeds to feed the pigeons, selfie sticks and other junk in the main square, admire Saint Mark’s Basilica and, last but certainly not least, get a spritz before coming back home.

Saint Mark's Basilica

The majestic Saint Mark’s Basilica

Two glasses of spritz

No trip to Venice is complete without one of these

Sunset in Venice

The best way to say “arrivederci” to Venice

Venice gives you everything you expect from it: wonderful narrow streets with various stores, small cozy cafes with tasty snacks and of course canals with gondolas. Everyone should visit it at least once. And despite the hot weather, we could never get enough of this city!

Below you’ll find our detailed itinerary and even more photos. Stay tuned for the next post!

Daily life in Burano, Venice
Edo sitting on some stairs in Murano
A cat chilling out in BuranoNastya eating ice-cream in BuranoEdo sitting in Burano
Colorful buildings in Burano
Nastya in Burano