wandering the streets of Burano
Europe, Italy

From Venice to Burano. Exploring the colourful island in the Venetian lagoon.

Hopping on a vaporetto from Venice to Burano island makes for an idyllic way to spend the day. The Venetian island is home to fishermen and lace-makers, and is famous for its brightly painted houses arranged along narrow canals. Although it’s equally as picturesque- and basically a photographers’ dream- Burano seems a world away from the rest of Venice.

*This site contains affiliate links, where I earn a small commission from purchases you make, at no cost to you.

Let’s get practical: how to get from Venice to Burano

The only way to get from Venice to Burano is by vaporetto. Unless you’re flashing the cash and can afford a water taxi for the surprisingly long journey to the island- it’ll cost you about €150 in cold hard cash. I am never flashing the cash when it comes to water taxis, but each to their own pals, each to their own.

Vaporetti are the public water buses which weave their way in, out, and all around, the canals of Venice. Although the main city is best discovered on foot (cars are just not a thing here), in order to reach the little islands in the lagoon, boarding a vaporetto is vital.

To get the vaporetto from Venice to Burano you’ll need to take Line 12, either from San Marco or Fondamente Nove. Buy your ticket beforehand either from a machine, or a ticket booth, and then make your way onto the floating platform to wait for the ferry. Although there are several vaporetto stops in Venice which don’t have ticket barriers, be warned- at Burano, you can only exit by presenting your ticket.

Tickets from Venice to Burano cost €7.50 each way. Considering the length of the journey (it takes about 45 minutes in total), I think the price is fairly reasonable. However this is the fare for a vaporetto no matter where you go in the city, and each one-way ticket lasts for 75 minutes- which is on the extortionate side, lets face it.

The journey to Burano

I love winding my way through the alleyways of Cannareggio, especially early in the morning when there’s still a shimmer of mist in the air and for the most part you’re all by yourself. Every now and again you might come across somebody on their way to work or catch a glimpse of footsteps rounding a corner or crossing a bridge. At the exact same moment over in St Mark’s Square, the hordes will already be gathering, the line forming against the outer wall of the Doge’s Palace, another one snaking away from the entrance of St Mark’s Basilica like a tentacle.

But the backstreets of Cannareggio are a whole different story.

Venice under normal (non Covid) circumstances is overwhelmingly busy- but only overwhelmingly busy in the tourist hotspots. Steer away from the crowded centre and there’s a whole rabbit-warren of quiet alleyways to explore, and Cannareggio is one of my favourite parts of the maze to weave through. At the far end of the neighbourhood is Fondamente Nove and a view of the North-Eastern part of the lagoon, turquoise water lapping at the long walkway. Every time I’ve visited Burano it’s been this little jetty that I catch the vaporetto from, probably because I appreciate running through alleyways more than pushing my way through crowds.

The vaporetto splutters and whirs itself away from the pier and into the open water, heading first towards the island of San Michele. You can’t mistake this rather large island for any other because its entirely enclosed by a brick wall, with cypress trees peeking over the top. San Michele is actually Venice’s cemetery. Chapels and tombs fill the island and although its possible for anyone to visit, this is one holy location.

Heading further south: Off the Beaten Path in the City of Livorno

As the vaporetto whirs its way further into the open lagoon, there are plenty of private islands to spy on the horizon, and other morning traffic joining your route. Polished teak boats driven by men in aviators chatting away on their mobiles and calling out to other boat drivers. Boats laden down with goods to be delivered here there and everywhere. The odd little fishing vessel. A vaporetto heading in the opposite direction. Herons and seagulls glide overhead, and there’s even a collection of flamingoes somewhere in this extensive wetland (although you’re unlikely to spot one of them on your journey from Venice to Burano).


Chunky wooden posts dot their way like constellations of sturdy oak stars across the lagoon, mark out pathways which boats can take. These are ‘bricole’- essential for navigation around the waters of Venice and part of life here for centuries.

The number 12 stops on Murano island beneath a lighthouse- disembark here to explore the glass factories- and then continues onwards to Mazzorbo and then Burano. (More on Mazzorbo later, pals).

The journey can feel long, especially when you’re crossing the widest expanse of water, but it’s 100% worth the trip just to experience a different side of Venice.

The best thing to do in Burano- wander the streets

Burano is best explored at a leisurely pace, and if you’re anything like me- with a camera in hand.

The majority of visitors on the vaporetto from Venice to Burano pour off on to dry land and head straight up the main street towards the square- Piazza Galuppi. But turn down one of the side streets and the atmosphere is immediately completely different. Washing sways gently overhead in the breeze, and despite the silence the atmosphere is a happy and safe one, partly down to the cheerful colours of every house on the island. What a JOVIAL bunch. The sunlight seems to bounce off of every house, accented with striped curtains over doorways or the odd sparkling shrine in a wall.

It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited.

The people of Burano began painting their houses in vivid rainbow hues long ago. (Some say long before the Venetian Republic was even a thing). There were two reasons for this- firstly to distinguish one house from the next, and secondly so that the fishermen would be able to see the island from far away, through the mist that sometimes settles over the lagoon.

It makes sense; you can’t miss the island now, that’s for sure.

A more famous leaning tower: What to Do in Pisa, Italy

Nowadays there are about 3000 inhabitants on Burano, most of whom work in either the tourism or the fishing industries. The island is also famous for its lace; there are plenty of little shops bedecked with hanging lace panels, and in most of those you’re likely to find a little old lady stitching away at a delicate piece of fabric. I mean, guys- how cute is that!?

Look out for the Leaning Tower of Burano. Built in the seventeenth century, this pointy bell tower is at rather a jaunty angle which had be doubting my own eyesight for some time, rather awkwardly.

What to eat in Burano

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from when you’re considering lunch or dinner, and naturally the best kind of dish to go for here is anything involving seafood. This is the island of fishermen, after all.

The signature dish of Burano though, is something that few people have heard of. Risotto di Gò is made of the gò fish; a little grey fish found in the mud of the lagoon. If you want to try some truly EXQUISITE gò (or any seafood whatsoever, for that matter), head to Trattoria da Romano. This restaurant was made famous when Anthony Bourdain visited, but that guy knew his stuff and although the food is pricey, you can’t fault it.

Because who doesn’t love Italian food: The Food Scene in Bari, Italy: It’s full of grandmas!

And you absolutely could not, should not, leave Burano without buying a bag or two of Bussolà biscuits. Once upon a time, these were made just for Easter- but they’re so delicious that now they’re consumed all year round. These little crunchy ‘o’ shaped biscuits are made with flour, sugar, butter and eggs- and flavoured with lemon zest, vanilla and a dash of rum.

They are also hugely addictive. Beware the bussolà.

The island of Mazzorbo

The first time I visited Burano, I had no idea that the neighbouring island of Mazzorbo even existed. I did see the long bridge connecting the two islands, but decided not to venture over it.

How very unadventurous of me.

After just a few footsteps onto Mazzorbo, I felt as if I was in the middle of the countryside. Except I was actually in the middle of the Venetian lagoon.

There are fewer houses here, and they’re not eye-catching like the houses of Burano. (In fact, no offence Mazzorbo, but some of them are a bit on the ugly side). But the brilliant thing about Mazzorbo is its open space and the sensation that you’ve stepped into a different world. Vineyards, vegetable fields and orchards occupy most of the land here and visitors are free to roam most of it.

The Venissa Estate is a beautiful vineyard to meander through, and you can enjoy a glass of wine or an entire delicious meal at its Michelin-starred restaurant.

So. Is a trip from Venice to Burano worth it?

If you’re the type who enjoys slower travel, soaking in the atmosphere of a place and just having a little wander at a relaxed pace- absolutely 100% unequivocally YES.

But bear in mind that the only thing there really is to ‘do’ here, is have a wander. If you’re the type who needs to be consistently entertained- Burano is honestly, probably not for you. And if you’re planning on arriving, taking a selfie in front of a house, and then leaving, I’d say the same- this island is pretty, but it needs to be fully soaked in and appreciated.

Burano is a unique and picturesque village which has managed to do a brilliant job of preserving its magical atmosphere- despite the tourists throughout the height of Summer. And the colourful houses can surely cheer up even the gloomiest of days.

I love this little island.

Logistical Statistics

  • Burano is completely walkable- in fact like the rest of Venice, you will not find a single car on the island.
  • Make sure you make note of the vaporetto times from Burano to Venice upon arrival! The number 12 doesn’t run throughout the night so don’t get caught out.
  • Be respectful of the inhabitants of the beautiful houses of Burano. Anyone who doesn’t want their house photographed places a sign outside telling you so!
  • Personally- I love Burano in Autumn. During October the weather is still warm and sunny, but the crowds are thinning out. But let’s face it- a trip from Venice to Burano is basically worth it at any time of year. This place is downright lovely.

6 thoughts on “From Venice to Burano. Exploring the colourful island in the Venetian lagoon.”

  1. Burano sounds like a beautiful outing to do when your in the area of Venice. I’ve heard and read about it before, but the pics are lovely and give more of a feeling to the town.

  2. thank you so much for sharing this blog with us, beautiful photos and full of info for when we visit Venice, quite a few things here i wasn’t aware of, although we are planning a little trip to that island cemetery !

    1. I wish I’d visited the cemetery! Venice is one of my favourite places and there’s still so much I need to explore. Glad you found this helpful- thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply