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Venice’s islands

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 29 March, 2024

Venice is set in the middle of a lagoon joined to the mainland by a manmade causeway and surrounded by water and 39 islands.

Murano is the best-known island thanks to its glass-blowers, and colourful Burano is the subject of many an Instagram shot, but there are others that are worth exploring, especially if you fancy getting away from it all. Each offers a very different atmosphere; some are all but deserted apart from the odd church, and on others, life seems to continue almost oblivious of the tourist madness just across the lagoon. All are accessible via vaporetto from Venice proper.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Burano

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Burano

Experience

Burano is famous for its picture-perfect coloured row houses, and its lace-makers although there are only a few of these left; most of what you see is imported schlock. When it gets too crowded in summer, the adjacent island of Mazzorbo (reached via a bridge) is a tranquil escape.

Good for age: 18+

Giudecca

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Giudecca

Experience

The Giudecca was once one of Venice’s poorer areas, home to factories and prisons. Today it is a thriving, residential neighbourhood attracting wealthy foreigners and artists. Visit Palladio’s Redentore church, have a waterside lunch at Alla Palanca, and hop over to the island of San Giorgio to see another superb church by Palladio.

Good for age: 18+

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

  • Bucket List Experience

Watch in fascination as authentic artisans blow, snip, twist and tug at fiery blobs of liquid to transform them into exquisite glassy artworks – as they have done for centuries.

Good for age: 8+

Lido

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Lido

Experience

The Lido – a long, slim sand barrier separating Venice from the open sea – is a tranquil residential suburb that morphs into a beach destination in summer; it’s THE place to be seen during the Film Festival. For swimming and sunbathing, head to the free beach at Alberoni.

Good for age: 4+

San Michele

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

San Michele

Experience

Lying between Venice and Murano and once a Franciscan monastery, San Michele is Venice’s historic burial ground. Visit the church with its striking façade and lovely cloister before wandering through the cemetery, last resting place of the likes of Diaghilev, Stravinsky and Ezra Pound.

Good for age: 18+

Sant’Erasmo

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Sant’Erasmo

Experience

The large island of Sant’Erasmo is way off the tourist trail, a hidden rural wonderland where many of the vegetables consumed in Venice are grown. People come here for peace and quiet and to walk (or cycle) in the lovely countryside.

Good for age: 8+

Torcello

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

Torcello

Experience

The island where Venice began in the 5th century, Torcello was once home to 20,000 souls; today only around 15 remain. Visit the 7th-century basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, whose walls glitter with Byzantine mosaics, before a slap-up lunch at the Locanda Cipriani.

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Venice’s ACTV public transport network of vaporetti, or water buses, reaches even the smallest of the islands. Journey times vary of course; San Giorgio and the Giudecca are really part of Venice (and a single vap stop from the Zattere) while Torcello lies way up in the northern lagoon and takes a good 40 minutes.

The efficient and regular service makes it easy to island hop independently, but an organised tour that handles all of the arrangements makes life significantly easier.

When to do it

As ever in Venice, Murano and Burano will be crowded with tourists throughout the spring, summer and autumn. Only in winter will you find these places near empty. The smaller islands are less popular; Sant’Erasmo is never full.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Murano & Burano Islands Guided Small-Group Tour by Private Boat

  • Venice

Cruise the Venetian Lagoon by private water taxi and meet the artisans keeping Venice’s traditional crafts alive. You’ll see demonstrations of traditional glassblowing on the island of Murano, and traditional lacemaking on Burano. The tour includes discounts on souvenirs from both demonstration workshops. Both islands have plenty to see, and you’ll have ample time to explore.

Price €48

Min age 0

Rating 4.57 / 5 [3808 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Murano Glass Experience with a Visit to a Burano lace island

  • Venice

Meet you local guide in Venice city center, then board a private boat and admire the lagoon of Venice. Stop in Murano island to see S. Maria and Donato Cathedral followed by an old glass factory visit. Afterwards stop in Burano island and explore the lace island

Price €35

Min age 0

Rating 4.52 / 5 [847 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Murano, Burano & Torcello Islands Full-Day Tour

  • Venice

Get the chance to explore the most famous Venetian islands in a Full Day tour with the comfort of a motorboat transfer. Visit Murano island and learn about the glass making techniques during a glass-blowing demonstration. Feel free to stroll around the island and discover the tiny alleys and the impressive Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato. Let yourself be fascinated by the colorful houses in Burano and, last but not least, immerse yourself in the most ancient settlement of the Venetian Lagoon: Torcello island

Price €32

Min age 0

Rating 4.09 / 5 [96 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Full-day Boat Tour of Venice Islands from St Mark’s Square

  • Venice

During this tour you will discover the main islands of the lagoon having a lot of time at your disposal. The tour starts from Piers 1, 2 and 3 in front of Palazzo Cornoldi in Riva degli Schiavoni, 4142. Once onboard the boat, you will begin sailing heading to Murano, where you will stop for one hour and 15 minutes. Here you will have the chance to visit one of the island’s glassworks and attend a demonstration of a master glassmaker. The second stop of this day tour to the Venetian islands will be Burano with its colorful houses. (approx 2 hour) The last stop will be Torcello, where the Venetian civilization was born (1 hour).Today Torcello has just over 10 inhabitants but its historical and artistic testimonies make it a very popular destination for visitors from all over the world. There is one last surprise: the return trip: the itinerary of the boat will allow you to enjoy a splendid panoramic view of the Venetian lagoon. The tour ends where it started.

Price €27

Min age 0

Rating 4.06 / 5 [89 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Islands Tour with a real local!

  • Venice

Like every Venetians you will discover the Venice lagoon on board of a charming Vaporetto's ride! In Murano, the last 20 families are still keep going on with this very ancient glass tradition coming from the Roman Empire's Age. During a very interesting walking across the "Glassers Street" where you will see the different skills of the major of them, you will see how Masters made their unbeatable artistic handmade cristal glass, a lot of century ago considered a real State Secret here in Venice! While in Burano you will love their millenial lace making industry born in the course of the "Venetian mythology" age: legend say it started fixing fish traps..here you have of course the possibility to try their delicious sea food cuisine and for sure enjoy the most unforgettable local skyline taking thousand of pictures! In the end Torcello, created from the last Romans escaped from Barbarians Invasions. Today considered the beginning of our Western Civilization with its last 9 locals.

Price €50

Min age 1

Rating 4.84 / 5 [39 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Website >

Who to go with: tour operators

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Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Cruising Venice

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

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TourOperator

Cruising Venice

This local operator offers several different full or multi-day itineraries touring around the islands on the Eolo, an old-fashioned bragozzo (traditional wooden boat), staying overnight in upscale inns. Food onboard is gourmet standard. The captain, Mauro, is one of the best seafood chefs in Venice.