This isn’t an article to convince you to visit Burano, Murano, and Torcello – Venice’s “other” islands. Firstly, you’ve likely already heard of the formerly “hidden” gems of Burano and Murano, and secondly, I actually did not enjoy visiting the islands at all (more on that in the very bottom of this article, if you care). I know no online article or in-person advice would have ever convinced me to skip the islands, so I will not even bother trying to convince you to do that either.
This article is purely to help travelers who were in my shoes prior to visiting Venice, who are:
- unsure if they should only visit the most-popular two islands or try to squeeze in Torcello as well
- unsure exactly when and where best to purchase tickets
- unsure where to depart for the islands on the day of
- unsure of which order to visit the islands and how much time to spend
I want to help you make the best of the visit I already know you’re going to take (and to hopefully lower your expectations a bit so that you walk away not feeling disappointed like I did). So keep reading for exactly how to visit Burano, Murano, and (maybe) Torcello on a day trip from Venice, how to get the best pictures possible, and how to do it all for the cheapest price.
WHICH OF VENICE’S THREE ISLANDS TO VISIT
Burano is the Instagram-famous one. You might worry that it’s all just a bunch of photoshop, but for as much as I didn’t enjoy visiting, I must admit, this place is made for Instagram. The buildings seriously are that colorful! That being said, of course this island should not be skipped.
I recommend visiting Burano as early as possible if you’re after empty pictures. I was on the first boat of the day. I got about fifty minutes to walk around the island before the next boat arrived and it became considerably more crowded. Once that second boat came, I was honestly pretty over it and wanted to leave.
I also recommend eating some breakfast before getting here or bringing some snacks with you. I was horrified to order my typical coffee and pastry at a seemingly affordable cafe, only to be rung up for the single most expensive coffee of my five weeks Italy trip! If you are in Burano around lunch time, you might want to stop by Trattoria al Gatto Nero, where Anthony Bourdain had risotto on his show Parts Unknown. I wanted to, but it didn’t open until 11:00am, and I had to catch a train to Verona that afternoon, so I was on a schedule!
Recommending Reading: How Many Days to Spend in the Cinque Terre
Murano is the OG day trip from Venice, before Burano got “discovered” and stole some of its thunder. It’s known for glass-making, so while here, many tourists opt to view a glass blowing demonstration. These start at €7 to sit and watch the masters do their work. But if you’re on a budget like I was, you can just take a peak for free outside this place I’ve located on the map below for y’all!
When I visited, this island was the most crowded of the three. I almost didn’t get on my ferry because I had to push through such a crowd at the ferry station!
Besides the glass, Murano is basically a smaller version of Venice. The buildings are, pretty much, the same style and color. So, if you are pressed for time and have zero interest in glass, you aren’t missing much by skipping out on Murano.
Torcello? Yes, there’s a third island! Before my visit to Venice, I read a lot online about this supposed third island. Many Tripadvisor reviewers mentioned liking it better, that it had a seventh-century church, and that it’s a great place to eat. So naturally, me being my FOMO self and all, I couldn’t not check it out.
Honestly… I was disappointed. Yes, it’s way less crowded than the other two islands, but it’s because it has less to offer the typical tourist. I would only recommend visiting Torcello if you’re a total history buff and willing to pay the €5 entrance fee to enter the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta, or a foodie wanting a nice, peaceful meal.
Recommending reading: The Complete Liguria Travel Guide – there’s a lot more to Liguria than just Cinque Terre.
HOW TO VISIT BURANO, MURANO, & TORCELLO WITHOUT A TOUR
Now that you know about each island, how do you visit Burano, Murano, and Torcello from Venice in the first place? For starters, definitely don’t take a tour! The cheapest tours cost just as much as a standard Venice all-day vaporetto (aka boat) pass, so why not just do it yourself to have more freedom? Plus, with an all-day vaporetto pass, you can use the ticket for a sunset boat ride up the Grand Canal once you return from the islands! This way, you get the biggest bang for your buck.
If you are 29 years-old or under, I highly recommend buying the Rolling Venice Pass. I wish I knew about it earlier! It costs €6, but in order to buy it, you must also purchase (at minimum) an unlimited three-day vaporetto pass for €22. With the pass, you also get discounts on many attractions, like a €12 discount entrance to the Doge’s Palace! The one-day transport pass alone costs €20, and the two-day pass costs €30, so getting the Rolling Pass quickly pays for itself. You can buy the pass online or in person once in Venice.
I didn’t reeeeally need a two-day transport pass, so I bought the normal one-day pass for €20, reasoning that it was cheaper than €6 + €22 for the three-day pass. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the €12 discount for the Doge’s Palace until after I already bought the one-day pass! *tear*
ONE DAY ITINERARY FOR BURANO, MURANO, & TORCELLO FROM VENICE
On the morning of your trip, head to Fondamente Nove (A) to depart for the islands. I’ve provided a map location below.
Like I mentioned, I recommend starting early and heading to Burano (the colorful one) first to beat the crowds and get (somewhat) empty photographs. This takes about forty minutes. Next, head to Torcello, if you’ve decided to include it on your day trip. This is ten minutes from Burano and is the furthest-out from you’ll get from Venice. After Torcello, take the boat back towards Venice and stop at Murano. After Murano, travel twenty minutes back to Fondamente Nove (A) in Venice.
How long your day trip takes depends on how much time you spend in each island, and whether you eat meals at the islands. But as a minimum, budget at least five hours if planning to see all three islands.
Recommending reading: Free Cinque Terre Hikes – they’re better than the paid hikes (trust me – I did them all)
ARE VENICE’S ISLANDS WORTH IT?
Honestly? No. Yes, I just spent this entire article telling you exactly how to get to these islands. But if I’m being honest, I really didn’t like them! I felt like the entire point of visiting them is for pretty Instagram photographs…yet it’s way too crowded to even get the nice photographs you came for in the first place. And unlike Venice (or Rome, or Florence) there is no cultural draw to to offset or justify the annoyance from the Instagram-crowds. It truly felt like a Disneyland.
But as I said at the start of this post, no one would have convinced me to not see them. So I am not trying to convince you of that either. I just want to lower your expectations, so you end up enjoying your trip more than I did!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Am I nuts to say that Venice’s islands are not worth it? Have you been to all three islands? What did you think? Let me know in a comment below.