Here’s how to do a gorgeous little day trip from Venice to Burano, Italy – the island that’s home to a famously rainbow-coloured fishing village. Burano island is unmissable if you’re visiting Venice. Seriously. I’ve never seen anywhere like it and I absolutely get why tourists flock to it.
Originally, Burano’s fishing families painted their houses these bright colours so that they could find their way home on their boats
after a heavy night out when thick fog descended on the Venetian lagoon. There’s not as much fishing going on these days, although they do still have some. But the bright colours have remained, much to the joy of photographers everywhere. Burano gives Cinque Terre a run for its money on the picturesque and vibrant front, and it’s only little so it makes the perfect morning or afternoon out on the water bus from the centre of Venice.
Here’s my little guide to how to get to Burano, things to see there, when to visit, what to eat and just generally what to get up to on a Venice to Burano day trip…
When to do your day trip from Venice to Burano
I visited Venice and Burano in April and the weather was perfect. Both Venice and Burano were bustling but not overcrowded.
I would not advise going to either in the height of summer. Too busy and too hot. Also, you’d be adding to the masses descending on Venice and adding to its overtourism issues.
Winter would be ideal for getting moody photographs and completely avoiding the crowds, but I have to admit I loved the colours with a bit of sun on them so spring would be my vote.
If you want to avoid the crowds, then get to Burano first thing in the morning or late afternoon/early evening. Because the village is so famous for photography, it does turn into one large photo shoot over lunchtime and the main slice of the day. I found the post-lunch Instagrammers taking photos mainly of their designers handbags with the actual village just as a backdrop a bit much. Plus they kept getting in the way of my own scenery shots… No there is no irony here whatsoever. Please move along.
How long you need to spend in Burano
As much as I enjoyed heading from Venice to Burano for a wee trip out, you really don’t need to spend an entire day there from morning to night unless you really want to.
The fishing village is small, home to fewer than 3,000 people, and it isn’t jam-packed with all sorts of sights to tick off. You can wander around Burano in a few hours and cover most of it. It’s more about mooching and taking it all in than seeing anything specific like museums and galleries.
How to get from Venice to Burano island
It’s easy to get from Venice to Burano on the vaporetto (water bus) route 12. It goes from Fondamente Nove (F.te Nove) and takes about 45 minutes to get to Burano. Route 12 runs about every half hour in daytime and a bit less in evening. Do check the timetable though because everything in this blog post is only up to date on the day I type it. And I’m definitely not going to keep coming back all the time to amend it. Soz.
You can buy your ticket on board if you’re running late, but you should go for any of the ticket machines near the major stations in Venice.
A single, one-way ticket lasts 75 minutes in one direction and costs €7.50. This means a return trip from Venice to Burano costs €15.
Depending how much you’re going to use the water bus or how long you’re staying in the area, you might be able to get better value for money by buying a day or multi-day pass. These bad boys allow unlimited use of the city’s water buses for a specified number of days.
I’ve listed the current vaporetto prices below because I’m helpful like that:
- one-way single-trip ticket: €7.50
- one-day ticket: €20
- two-day ticket: €30
- three-day ticket: €40
- seven-day ticket: €60.
Organised tours from Venice to Burano island
Another option is to book a boat tour that takes you from central Venice to Burano. This is a good choice if you also want to see the neighbouring islands of Murano and Torcello in one day.
You can do a tour that spends 45 mins on each of these three islands or go for the full day and spend an hour or more on each. Both of those tours I’ve picked out because they’re really well rated and include going to see glass being made in Murano, which is what I’d label as ‘mildly diverting’. I definitely preferred Burano to Murano TBH. It was nice, but nowhere near as pretty.
If you like lingering and doing your own thing on your travels, an organised tour might not be for you. But if you’re tight on time and just want to see the three islands in one day, it can work out much easier and even cheaper to do a tour. It’s also good if you’re a solo traveller and want to chat to others (or if you’re just sick of the person you’re travelling with…).
5 things to do on your day trip from Venice to Burano island
1. Find the best photo spots and go wild
Most people travel from Venice to Burano for one reason: the rainbow houses! And it would be a crime not to photograph them to print out and frame once you get home or just to WhatsApp your mum…
Although it’s gorgeous from every angle, these were the most interesting photo spots for me:
- Bepi’s House (find it on Google maps): Okay, all the houses of Burano are brightly coloured, but this one takes it a step further. It’s painted with geometric patterns in rainbow colours, whereas all the others are one solid colour. Its former owner, Bepi, was a well-known local character on the island. He regularly painted and re-painted wild designs onto the front of his house as an ever-changing piece of art. After he died in 1985, the same design was there for years until the house was restored in 2003. They picked one of Bepi’s original colourful facades to recreate and it’s very very bright indeed. You can read more about Bepi and his art here.
- Tre Ponti (find it on Google maps): So ‘three bridges’ is really all one bridge but let’s gloss over that minor technicality. It offers up some of the best panoramic views of Burano’s pretty streets and quaint canals.
- San Martino (find it on Google maps): St. Martin’s Church with its ‘leaning tower of Burano’ is a bit of a unique photo op on the island. The significant lean of the campanile means you can recreate the classic Pisa photo… without having to go to Pisa and be underwhelmed.
2. Buy some Burano lace and visit the Lace Museum
Legend has it that an engaged fisherman of Burano was out doing his fishing in the lagoon and got chatted up by a siren (a mermaidy type lass). He wasn’t interested, so the sirens’ queen presented him with a veil made of sea foam. Why he needed some kind of award for the grand effort of not cheating I don’t know, but that’s the patriarchy for you.
He went home and gave the veil to his other half as a present. She was proper chuffed with it. All her mates were impressed too, so pretty soon it started doing the ancient form of #trending and everyone on the island was trying to make their own version of it.
It turned into a competition of who could make the finest, thinnest lace most like the siren queen’s veil. Naturally, everyone got quite good at lace-making because of this and the world was impressed with their talents. Yas queen!
Someone capitalised on this and Burano went big on lace-making. Apparently Leonardo da Vinci even bought a piece for the altar in the duomo in Milan. Extravagant! These days, you’re probably best off sticking to a tablecloth to take home as a souvenir.
As well as loads of shops selling lace everything, there’s a tiny lace museum on the island. It’s called Museo del Merletto. If the weather is crap or you’re just really interested in lace, it’s worth bobbing in.
3. Get lost in the colourful streets
One of the best things to do in Burano is simply wander the streets and admire the colourful houses.
The colours of the houses follow a specific system (I presume so no neighbours end up clashing). If someone wants to paint their house, they have to send a request to the government, who will respond with a list of colours permitted for that lot.
I’d be checking that before I bought the house personally, because if I couldn’t do it bright pink I’d want my money back.
4. Eat Burano seafood
When in a fishing village… eat seafood for lunch, obvs. Just bear in mind that Burano is very touristy so there’ll be the usual sticky plastic menu places that’ll be overpriced and not great. But avoid those and you can definitely find some excellent grub.
Here are three safe bets.
- Trattoria Al Gatto Nero da Ruggero – Jamie Oliver likes this one apparently so you won’t be in danger of any turkey twizzlers (that’ll be lost on everyone but my British readers!). It’s probably the most famous restaurant on Burano, so might be hard to get into if you’re there at a busy time.
- Trattoria da Primo e Paolo – A little family-run restaurant that serves local soft-shell crab.
- Osteria al Museo Burano – Another option, also good for people watching with an Aperol Spritz in hand.
5. Have a gelato
What’s a day (or hour) anywhere in Italy if it doesn’t involve gelato? Pointless, that’s what.
Not gonna lie, I can’t remember where these were from as I didn’t write it on my phone…
But as ever, apply the famous Italian gelato quality rule of avoiding any places with bright green pistachio ice cream. Go for the more muted tone.
Where to stay on Burano island for a longer trip
If you want to spend more time on Burano and a day isn’t enough, you can stay there. Imagine waking up and looking out of the window at all that colour.
There aren’t many places to stay because Burano is only a little’un, and they all come with the mildly painful Venice price tag. But here are a few gorgeous options. All prices are at the time of writing, as ever:
- Casa Burano – Really gorgeous swanky apartments. From about £128 a night.
- Casa Nova – Another lovely set of apartments but slightly less expensive. This would be my top pick personally as I don’t like spending loads on somewhere to sleep. From about £95 a night.
- Tiffany Home – A really cute colourful apartment. Very Burano! From about £110 a night.
- Incantevole piccola casa a Burano – This is the only apartment that comes under my self-imposed £90 a night budget for expensive cities. It’s from about £71 a night, but that’s because it has a shared bathroom. If you’re okay with that, it’ll save you a few pennies.
Where to stay in Venice if you only want to do Burano as a day trip
Accommodation in Venice is notoriously expensive and AirBnb is a serious problem for locals. It’s worth doing research properly on where to stay.
I chose the brilliant Ca’ San Rocco, a gorgeous old hotel in San Polo, only five minutes from the train/bus stations but in a beautifully quiet area of the city. It was around £73 a night, so not ridiculously cheap in the grand scheme of the world, but an absolute steal for Venice and for the quality. There’s also a cat.
Find out more about this hotel and other Venice recommendations in my main Venice post.
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You might also like my other Italy posts:
- A city guide to Rome for first-time visitors
- Two days in Venice: an itinerary and general city guide
- What to do in Lucca [coming soon]
- How to do Siena as a day trip [coming soon]
- Two days in Florence: an itinerary [coming soon].
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