Murano and Burano (and Torcello) are the destinations of many excursions, but please read this information before embarking yourself on a Water Bus, Gran Turismo Boat or water taxi
Here is, finally, the definitive guide that will answer all questions by your friends and customers: 10 things you need to know before visiting the Lagoon islands.
Visiting Murano and Burano is undoubtedly on the list of things to do when you come to Venice: but it is also a popular destination for locals (Veneto people) taking the opportunity to enjoy a day in the beautiful lagoon.
People often ask me how to explore the islands, and I realize that they face the visit without knowing some basic facts. Not only it can be very tiring, but it is also an experience that will be difficult to repeat.
I will start by saying that there are not only Murano, Burano and Torcello in the lagoon, but these are, of course, one of the most popular excursions, especially if you have never been to the lagoon or have been there as a young child, taken on a trip from your school or by your parents. In that case, you will probably remember the snack you brought from home and a small glass object you bought for mom and dad (God knows where it ended up).
So here are the key things to know.
1- Devote at least one day to the excursion
Visiting the islands is certainly long: it is not so much getting to Murano, because navigation is fast, but it is the getting to and returning from Burano that takes time. Ergo my advice is to leave early, dedicate almost half a day to each island and then return calmly. Going only for the morning and then thinking about running back for other excursions in the city in the afternoon, it can only be done if you are in a private taxi or if you take part in those group trips, which I will talk about later. In my opinion, however, if you stay at most an hour in each, you only get a very tepid taste of what the islands are really like. And in any case, the excursion will have been so dense, that the most you will want to do for the rest of the day, is to immerse yourself in the whirlpool and certainly not visit other things.
I will add one last thing to convince you: depending on the season, the sunset over the lagoon is wonderful.
2- Excursion by public transport
The islands can also be visited simply by using public transport. If you do not own a Carta Venezia Unica (which allows you to buy single tickets for € 1.50 instead of € 7.50), my advice is to get a daily pass or a multiday pass. For example, the daily one costs € 20.00 and allows you to use all means of transport, including those on the mainland. To give you an example: to visit the islands you need at least three tickets (Venice> Murano, Murano> Burano, Burano> Venice) or more if you want to see Torcello too. In other words, you would spend € 22.50 instead of € 20.00 with the pass.
Be careful of one thing though: the routes Murano> Burano and then the one for the return from Burano, tend to be very crowded (especially at weekends), so you may have to wait longer than expected. Better to know it first, life will be easier.
The excursion can also be done with a person who will accompany you and save you worrying about where to go and what to do. For a quote just write to email@example.com.
3- Short time? I’ve got the solution
Suppose you are in Venice and don’t want to dedicate the whole day to the excursion (you already know what I think about this). In that case, agencies are offering fixed departure tours with specific itineraries and times. So you will be at the initial meeting point and at the intermediate ones on time, otherwise, you will be left on the ground.
The advantage is that in a few hours, you will be able to see everything, obviously in a bit of a rush. To give you an example: in Murano, you won’t be able to see much else rather than the glass demonstration. The tours are multi-language, so there is a person on the boat who introduces you to what you see or you are about to see, but he/she speaks in 5 languages so it cannot be as thorough. Departures are both from Santa Lucia station and from San Marco. Just choose the one that is most convenient for you depending on the time.
For example, a tour of this type costs around € 20 per person, organized by Vidali Group.
4- In Murano, don’t just visit the furnace.
Visiting Murano does not just mean going to a glass furnace and dashing off. As I told you, the ideal would be to be able to dedicate at least 3 hours to the visit. So these for me should be the components of a nice visit to Murano: definitely a visit to one glass furnace devoting the right amount of time to it, a beautiful stroll around the island admiring shops and having an excellent second breakfast, a visit to the Church of San Donato and then off to Burano for lunch.
There is also a Glass Museum in Murano, which is beautiful to visit and requires at least an hour to explore: if you want to include that too, leave early. Important: on Sundays, especially in the winter season, not all the furnaces are open, so I do not recommend it as a day of visit for this reason as well as for the crowds on the public transportation.
5- Lunch in Burano
As I told you, the best thing is to have lunch in Burano. The offer is wide and for all budgets. They range from a sandwich on the go to a few Cicchetti or a small bag of fried fish. For those who, on the other hand, want to have a real lunch, here are two addresses.
Osteria Al Museo: they are right in Piazza Galuppi, in front of the Church of San Martino. The Osteria opened only a few years ago but it is already a pilgrimage destination with regards to food, the choice of wines, and the beautiful open dining area overlooking the Piazza. I always advise you to book lunch, possibly not before 1.30 pm, so you don’t have to rush to get there.
Venissa: to be honest, Venissa is on Mazzorbo Island but it is easily accessible, as a bridge connects it. Indeed, my advice is, if you are using public transport, to get off at the Mazzorbo stop to cross this beautiful vineyard respectfully. I told you about Venissa in another post dedicated to wine in Venice. It consists of an Osteria and a proper restaurant, and you can also taste their wines.
6- VIP excursion
Everything I have told you so far can also be done using a private taxi (max 10-11 people) or a boat privately rented for the tour. I don’t need to tell you that this excursion can be done in total comfort. The cost is not cheap, but it can be, for example, a beautiful gift to give or to give or a way to celebrate an anniversary. If then taken with someone who accompanies you, obviously, the added value multiplies because, for example, the person will know which furnace it is best to take you to. Time is yours, no one will invite you to hurry up, and you can ask everything you want.
For this reason, in order to better evaluate all the situations, I suggest you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
7- What do you mean: in Torcello there is nothing?
Torcello is the smallest and least visited of the 3 islands: this is also due to the fact that, for example, not all group excursions go there. Depending on the timetable, sometimes you can reach Torcello by staying on the waterbus from Venice (or Murano), sometimes you will have to change in Burano.
In any case, visiting the inside of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta and climbing the Churchtower are two activities that, even if you have to pay for them, you absolutely cannot miss. To visit the Church properly, I absolutely recommend you take a guided tour with an official professional guide (if you want suggestions always write to email@example.com) or renting audio guides. The mosaics, unique in the world, are an absolute must.
8- Recommended clothing
Visiting the islands of the Lagoon is “heavy tourism,” as Marco Paolini (an Italian performer) would say. So, again, depending on the season, be prepared. In summer, it is hot, very hot (and not just inside the glass furnaces), therefore appropriate but light clothing is a must (remember that you will enter some churches, so please dress accordingly).
Remember that you will take pictures of yourself, so remember to wear nice clothing. I absolutely recommend bringing a reusable water bottle and some snacks if you are feeling peckish, perhaps on the motorboat.
And if you are thinking of stopping to eat in a restaurant, maybe you should avoid beach clothing and flip-flops. For the ladies: a hand fan in summer comes in handy.
In winter, it is freezing and humid, so cover up well. The weather could quickly change in the intermediate seasons; dressing in layers is the best choice.
9- Recommended behavior
Remember that you are going to visit places where people live so don’t assume you are the only one around. Be respectful on public transport, walk on the right-hand side through the alleys and along the canal’s embankments, do not obstruct the bridges excessively, and do not peek behind the curtains in front of the doors in Burano (I assure you that people do that, that’s why I am warning you).
10 – Glassworking for beginners
By now, I have repeated this ad nauseam: Murano goes far beyond a fleeting visit to a furnace. To truly understand the beauty of glass, the cost, and the effort it takes to create the works produced by the Murano masters, I suggest you try out one of Alessia Fuga’s workshops. Under the careful guidance of Alessia, you will get to try to make small glasswork yourself using the torch. You will find all classes by Alessia Fuga on her website. What satisfaction it will be to go home with one of your works.
And, last but not least, what to buy??
The purpose of your trip could also be to buy some glass art. As you can imagine, things are very different, if your budget is that of a souvenir or instead you are looking for an important piece. There are works for all tastes (and don’t worry about having to take it home because the furnaces ship all over the world) so in your email please explain to me what you are looking for so I can take you to the best suitable place.
If you want to proceed independently, always remember that the price is a crucial element to understand if you are buying a handmade product or not. Some furnaces also use a trademark to indicate whether it is a work produced in Murano. If you want to know more before starting the purchase, see Murano Glass.
In Burano, you have at your disposal many shops selling laces, clothes, or home decor. But you can also buy the famous Burano biscuits as a souvenir for yourself, family or friends.
To conclude: I have lined up all the essential information to organize a tour of the islands. If you do it yourself, I recommend buying a travel guide or searching the internet for some basic historical data to understand what you will see.
For everything else, just send me an email for tours or quotes that will be carried out thanks to the travel agencies I collaborate with. For all the information, write a message under this post or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a nice trip!