[Day Trip] 12 Fun & Quirky Things to Do in Burano, Italy

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Known for its brightly colored houses, exquisite lacemaking, and iconic leaning tower, Burano is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. 

Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Venice or a seasoned traveler, Burano promises a memorable journey.

As a local to Venice, I travel there quite frequently. Burano, a former fishing village, is always the highlight of my time spent there. 

It has a much more laid back vibe than Venice proper and gives you a chance to see more of the beautiful and unique Venetian lagoon. You won’t see any tourists on gondolas here, rather the canals are filled with fishing boats instead. 

So, let’s dive in and explore what this colorful island has to offer!

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Is Burano Worth it to Visit?

Is Burano worth it to visit? Absolutely! If you’re looking for a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of Piazza San Marco and want an authentic experience then Burano should be on your list. 

This small island in the Venetian Lagoon is a feast for the senses. With its vibrant-colored houses lining the picturesque canals, Burano is a photographer’s paradise. But there’s more to Burano than just its rainbow houses.

Burano is also famous for its lace-making tradition. The Burano Lace Museum offers fascinating insights into this intricate craft. You can even witness lace-making in action and purchase authentic lace as a keepsake.

Food lovers will enjoy the local cuisine, with fresh seafood straight from the fish market. And don’t forget to explore the many shops for the perfect souvenirs.

My only advice is to visit Burano when you are spending more than 2 days there. It takes an hour to get there by vaporetto. You only need a few hours to see everything, but the time to get there and back makes it not ideal for a visit if you are short on time. 

It’s a good idea to make it a day trip and visit Murano first and then Burano once you leave there. 

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Burano vs Murano

If you only have a short amount of time, I suggest going to Murano since it is closer to the historic center of Venice. These islands are both unique and different so seeing them together is the best way to go. However, it is a full day trip to do both. 

While Burano offers a more intimate and unique experience, Murano provides a wider range of activities and attractions. However, both islands showcase the rich culture and tradition of the Venice Lagoon, making them both worth a visit. So, whether you choose Burano’s lace or Murano’s glass, you’re in for a treat!

The 12 Things to Do in Burano

1 – Check out the colorful houses

One of the top things to do in Burano is to capture the island’s vibrant colored houses. As you stroll along the most colorful streets, you’ll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of bright colors. Each house is painted a different hue, creating a stunning patchwork that is a photographer’s paradise.

These colorful houses are not just a charming sight but also a part of Burano’s rich history. The tradition of painting houses in bright colors dates back to the time when fishermen would paint their homes in distinctive colors to recognize them in the thick fog of the Venetian Lagoon.

Today, these colorful houses have become a symbol of this vibrant island, drawing visitors from around the world. Whether you’re an amateur with a smartphone or a professional with a DSLR, photographing these brightly colored houses is a must when you visit Burano.

So, don’t forget to pack your camera when you’re planning things to do in Burano. If you’re looking for the most Instagrammable spot in Venice, you’re in the right place!

2 – Admire the leaning tower of Burano

Another must-see when considering things to do in Burano, Italy, is the Leaning Tower of Burano. This historical marvel is part of the San Martino Church and is a testament to the island’s rich past.

The leaning tower, or bell tower as it’s also known, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Burano. It leans noticeably to one side, a result of the soft and marshy ground it was built on. Despite its tilt, the tower has stood the test of time, adding a unique charm to the Burano skyline.

Visiting the leaning tower is a must when you visit Burano. As you approach the tower, you’ll notice its distinctive lean. It’s a perfect spot for a memorable photo, with the tower’s lean providing a unique backdrop.

3 – Find Casa di Bepi, Burano’s most unique house

When planning things to do in Burano, a visit to Casa di Bepi Suà is a must. This unique house stands out even among the colorful homes that dot the Burano island. Painted in a riot of colors and patterns, Casa di Bepi is a visual treat and a testament to the island’s vibrant spirit.

The house belonged to Bepi Suà, also known as Giuseppe Toselli, who was known for his love of colors. He painted his house in various shades and bold geometric shapes, making it one of the most photographed houses in Burano.

A visit to Casa di Bepi is like stepping into a local girl’s storybook. One of the island’s most beloved residents, Bepi used to work at the local cinema and would also hang a white sheet in front of the house as a makeshift outdoor cinema to show movies for the local children. After retiring, he would sell candies from a small stall on the island giving him his nickname of Bepi Suà or Bepi Candies in the Venetian dialect. 

4 – Relax in the Piazza Galuppi

When you visit Burano, Italy, a stop at Piazza Galuppi is a must. Named after the famous composer Baldassare Galuppi, this main square is the heart of the island and a bustling hub of activity.

Piazza Galuppi is lined with charming shops, cafes, and the famous Burano Lace Museum. It’s the perfect place to take a break from your exploration, enjoy a gelato, or, my favorite passtime in Burano, people watch.

The square also hosts various events throughout the year, adding to the vibrant atmosphere of Burano. From local markets to music performances, there’s always something happening in Piazza Galuppi.

5 – Watch the lace makers in action

One of the unique things to do in Burano is to witness the art of lace making. Burano is renowned for its handmade lace, a tradition that dates back centuries. The island is home to the Burano Lace School, where this intricate craft was passed down through the generations.

Visiting the lace school, which is now the lace museum, gives you a chance to see lace production in action. You can watch as skilled artisans deftly weave delicate patterns, creating exquisite pieces of lace. It’s a mesmerizing sight and a testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage.

Legend has it that lacemaking arrived on the island through a captivating tale. The story goes that a poor fisherman fell in love with a local girl but lacked the funds to marry her. 

On one of his sea voyages, an enchanted mermaid sought to enchant him, yet his devotion to the island girl shielded him from her spell. In recognition of his unwavering fidelity, the mermaid splashed his boat with her tail, conjuring a magical sea flower. 

Delighted, the fisherman presented this mystical creation to his beloved, who finally accepted his proposal. Inspired by the mermaid’s enchantment, the local women endeavored to recreate the miraculous sea flower called the Burano rose.

6 – Take in the Lace Museum

Another must-see when exploring things to do in Burano is the Lace Museum, or Museo del Merletto. This museum is dedicated to the art of Burano lace, a tradition that has defined the island for centuries.

The Lace Museum houses an impressive collection of lace pieces, from delicate doilies to intricate tablecloths. Each piece is a testament to the skill and artistry of Burano’s lace makers, the fishermen’s wives. The museum also offers insights into the history of lace making on the island, from its origins to its present-day revival.

A visit to the Burano Lace Museum is like stepping back in time. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for this intricate craft and the artisans who keep this tradition alive.

7 – Go shopping in the quaint boutiques

Shopping for souvenirs is one of the delightful things to do in Burano. The island is dotted with many shops, each offering a unique selection of items that capture the spirit of Burano.

From the intricate lace products that the island is famous for, to the hand-painted ceramics, glass jewelry, and other artisanal crafts, you’ll find a unique gift to bring home.

I recommend Lidia Merletti d’Arte for homemade lace items, Vitturi Angelo for handmade carnevale masks, and if you are looking for one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry made by artisans from Burano then check out Lume Art.

8 – Admire Burano’s churches

Exploring the sacred spaces of Burano is a must when considering things to do in Burano, Italy. The island is home to several beautiful churches, each with its own unique charm and history.

The San Martino Vescovo Church, with its iconic leaning bell tower, is the most famous. Its distinctive tilt adds a unique charm to the Burano skyline. Inside, you’ll find beautiful works of art and a peaceful atmosphere that invites quiet reflection.

San Martino holds the relics of Santa Barbara, an early Christian martyr in a dedicated chapel within the church. 

Within the church, you’ll also find some renaissance works by Tiepolo such as his masterful Crucifixion. 

Also worth checking out is the ancient Chiesa di San Michele on Mazzorbo the neighbouring island to Burano and reachable by walking over a bridge.  

9 – Admire Burano’s picturesque canals from the Love Bridge

Venice is romantic and tailor made for couples with Burano being no exception. A visit to the Love Viewing Bridge is a must. This charming wooden bridge, officially called Tre Ponti, is the perfect spot to take a picture. 

It’s location is ideal as it crosses two small canals providing a picture perfect view. 

10 – Stay late and enjoy the dreamy sunset from the old fish market

Around late afternoon, most of the tourists will be leaving Burano to either go to other islands like Burano or Murano or return to Venice proper. This is your chance to have the tiny island practically to yourself. 

Head over to the old outdoor fish market where you can get the best view in all of Venice of the sunset. Visiting Burano when the tourists are gone makes it an even more magical spot to enjoy. The old fish market  may not be around, but the sunset will always be there. 

You can either take one of the late vaporetto back to the city center, or even stay the night if you want a peaceful location to lay your head. 

11 – Experience pescaturismo with a boat tour

Nettuno Fishing Tourism offers a fantastic opportunity for sustainable tourism that’s perfect for anyone interested in fishing culture. They’ve teamed up with the San Marco Cooperative Society to promote and share knowledge about the sea, fishing, and various activities that enhance our understanding and appreciation of the coastal environment.

It’s no secret that the fishing industry is dying so the fisherman need to make money in other ways. Taking a boat tour of the lagoon and learning about the history of fishing in Burano is a great way to give back to the local community and see the island from a different perspective.

The tour operators do speak some English, but not perfectly. Still, if you want an authentic Venetian experience, be sure to book a tour with them.  

12 – Be there for Carnevale

While Carnevale is one of the most important events on the Venetian calendar, it can be a challenge to experience as a tourist. Instead of dealing with huge crowds in Saint Mark’s Square, stay on Burano and experience a more authentic and bite seized Carnevale. 

This Carnevale is much more kid friendly and highlights include the children of Burano taking part in a Carnevale “parade” in traditional boats over the canals while dressed in their costumes. 

There are parties all over the island, music, food, and a good time are all guaranteed. 

Where to Eat on Burano

Burano Island, known for its colorful houses and lace, also boasts a rich Venetian cuisine. As a fishing island, the local cuisine is predominantly seafood-based, with traditional dishes like risotto ai go, spaghetti al nero di seppia, and baccalà mantecato. However, there is also pizza, pasta and more to satisfy every palate. For such a small island, there are dozens of restaurants and lots of choice. 

Osteria Al Fureghin

Friendly service, delicious traditional food, and moderate prices are the major draw for this osteria. The beautiful views don’t hurt either!

The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including local specialties such as bacalá (codfish with tomato sauce and polenta), gnocchi with squid and pistachio, ravioli, oysters, and tiramisu. The linguine with clam sauce is not to be missed. There are plenty of veggie and meat based pastas as well. 

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Trattoria del Gatto Nero

If you are a foodie then you have probably heard of this restaurant thanks to Anthony Bourdain. It is famous for its risotto di gò, which is a risotto made with the local goby fish as the base. It is a very rich and decadent risotto made from a very humble ingredient. It is a must have when in Burano. However, keep in mind that it is difficult to get outside of the spring and fall season when the fish is more easily caught. If they have it on the menu then don’t hesitate to try something uniquely Venetian. 

They specialize in seafood of every type such as the polenta e schie, which is essentially an upgraded shrimp and grits. Try the razor clams in white wine sauce when they are in season, or the mixed fried seafood platter the fritto misto. 

The restaurant is one of the most charming on Burano and the atmosphere is very cozy and inviting. Service is excellent. 

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Trattoria da Romano

If you have some money to burn and want to dine where VIPs such as Robert DeNiro, Charlie Chaplin, Matisse, and so many more have enjoyed a traditional meal then head to Trattoria da Romano. 

It is very expensive and so far out of my budget that I haven’t personally eaten there, but the word is that the service is friendly but also very efficient, and the food is wonderful. They are also famous for their risotto al gò, but there is a lot more to get besides that. Try their tagliolini alla granceola (crab sauce), or any of the fish cooked over their famous wood fired grill such as monkfish, sole, or giant shrimp right out of the Adriatic Sea. 

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Fritto Misto Burano

This is a must stop for me when I am in Burano. Fritto Misto Burano is a traditional Venetian fryer located in Burano, right in front of the water bus stop. This eatery is known for its diverse offerings of fried food, including the famous “frittura mista” (mixed fried fish from the lagoon: squids, cuttlefishes, prawns, etc.), codfish, squids, and typical meat or fish balls. They also serve vegetables such as artichokes from Sant’Erasmo battered and fried, and potatoes fried with their skin and served in delicious slices.

It’s not just fried food, however. In addition to their fried food, Fritto Misto offers a selection of pasta, pizza, and sandwiches to suit all tastes. Their cicchetti (Venetian tapas) aslo offer a lot of variety for a great price. 

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Osteria al Museo

This is another great option for the seafood lover. Right in the charming Piazza Galuppi in front of the lace museum you can eat the freshest local seafood to your heart’s content. 

I highly recommend the fixed price menus at €35 or €50 for three courses and five courses respectively. You’ll get a wonderful appetizer, entree and dessert. Be aware that wine and cover charge is not included in that price. 

Even though you will mainly find tourists here due to the location, it is not a tourist trap in the slightest as the food is high quality and made with care and the service is friendly and accommodating. 

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Panificio Pasticceria Costantini

For dessert be sure to check out this pasticceria. They specialize in the butter cookie of the island called a buranello or sometimes a bussola. In addition, you can get a side variety of eclairs, strudel, and other delights fresh from the oven. 

If you happen to be there during Carnevale season, be sure to try the cream filled frittelle. 

They are also a bread bakery and make sandwiches to go so this should be a stop to pick up the essentials for a picnic to go. 

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How to Get to Burano

The best way to travel from Venice to Burano is by vaporetto, or water bus. The journey takes about 45 minutes and offers stunning views of the Venetian Lagoon. The vaporettos are frequent, making it a convenient option for travellers.

You can also take a private water taxi but that is very costly. You can also ask if your hotel has a private taxi to take you there.

Pick up the Vaporetto number 12 at San Zaccaria near the Piazza San Marco, or on the opposite side of Venice at Fondamente Nova. If you are coming from the train station, you will need to take vaporetto numbers 1, 3, 4.2 or 5.2 but get off at Fondamente Nova and wait for the number 12 to go to the surrounding islands.

From the airport, take the Alilaguna bus to Murano and then get off there to take the number 12 to Burano from the Murano Faro “B1” stop. The first stop will actually drop you off at the Mazzorbo stop but then you just walk over the bridge to Burano, or stay on board and get off at the Burano “C” stop.

The cost for the vaporetto is €9.50 so a round trip to get there and back to Venice will cost you €19. I highly recommend getting a transportation day pass that costs €25 for unlimited vaporetto travel for the 24 hour period you want to use it. 

Also, there are many bundles where you can get access to major attractions, a gondola ride, and transportation that saves you money and time. 


Why is Burano so colorful?

Burano is famous for its colourful houses, a tradition that dates back to the island’s fishing heritage. The fishermen would paint their houses in vibrant colours to easily identify them when they returned from sea, especially in the thick fog that can cover the Venetian Lagoon. Today, these colourful houses have become a symbol of Burano and are a major draw for tourists.

Can you see Murano and Burano in one day?

Yes, it’s possible to visit both Murano and Burano in one day. Both islands are located in the Venetian Lagoon and are a short boat ride away from each other. Many tour operators offer day trips that include both islands. However, if you want to fully explore each island and enjoy all the attractions they have to offer, you might want to consider dedicating a full day to each.

Do people live on Burano?

Yes, people do live on Burano. Despite being a popular tourist destination, Burano is a living, working island with a local population. The residents of Burano are known for their lace-making skills, a tradition that has been passed down through generations. Many of the colourful houses that Burano is famous for are actually homes to these local residents.

Wrapping It Up

Whether you’re exploring the island’s historical sites, shopping for souvenirs, or simply soaking in the atmosphere, there’s no shortage of things to do in Burano.

So, whether you’re planning a day trip from Venice or a longer stay, Burano promises a feast for the senses and a journey into a world where tradition and colour live in harmony. Don’t miss the chance to explore this gem of the Venetian Lagoon on your next Italian adventure.

Sal Presti

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