Italy’s Rainbow Island • Expert Vagabond
Hidden away just 40 minutes North of Venice Italy is the small fishing island of Burano, with houses painted in bright colors like a beautiful rainbow. A magical place to explore!
While traveling through Venice last year, Anna and I decided to take a public water-taxi out to the picturesque town of Burano Italy and spend the night.
The secret of Burano has been out for a while, and it gets plenty of tourists due to its proximity to Venice. When there isn’t a Global Pandemic going on that is…
Everyone visits to capture photos of the pretty homes painted in different colors. Pinks, blues, yellows, greens, purples. The island also has a system of canals.
Burano island is an Instagram dream destination in Italy!
What Makes Burano Special
Wandering around Burano you’ll find little old ladies placing laundry out to dry, or peering down at kids and tourists from their multi-colored windows framed by flower boxes.
Fishermen take their boats out in the early morning, and return with fresh fish in the evenings.
Little bridges span the small canals and connect streets, and the island’s main square Piazza Galuppi is full of souvenir shops, seafood restaurants and bars.
There are no cars on Burano — locals get around on foot, bicycle, or boat.
Painted Houses Everywhere
Why are the houses on Burano painted bright colors? Apparently it was to help returning fishermen see their homes from the water, as well as to distinguish property lines (as most of the buildings are connected to each other).
But I really have to hand it to the residents of the island, they chose some fantastic colors to paint their homes!
The island’s population hovers around 2000 people, and these days the main income is from tourism.
People travel here from Venice as a day-trip to photograph all the colorful homes on the island. We wanted photos without tons of tourists milling about, which is why we spent a night on the island.
Most visitors arrive in the late morning and leave in the afternoon, so there’s a few hours when you can have the island to yourself if you time everything right.
Things To Do On Burano
Honestly there’s not a whole lot to do on the island, other than taking photos of the pretty homes. But that in itself is worth the ferry-ride over.
San Martino Church
A focal point on the island is the “leaning tower” of San Martino Church, located in the main square. This bell tower is slowly sinking in the wet ground, and you can see it from many parts of the island.
Enjoy Italian Seafood
Because this is an island made up of fishermen, it’s natural they have tons of fresh fish to eat! Make sure to try some squid ink pasta, or Italian seafood risotto. The main street is lined with restaurants, like the famous Al Gatto Nero da Ruggero and Trattoria da Primo e Paolo.
Exploring Side Streets
Burano is a small island, with only 2 or 3 main streets. However there are many hidden side streets, with equally colorful homes, so it’s easy to get lost exploring and find a quiet corner for yourself.
Authentic Burano Lace
Burano is also famous for its intricate lacework. Beginning in the 16th century, women here started producing exceptional lace that was in demand around the world.
Lacework is very time-consuming and involves many different people. For example, it took a team of seven women a full month to produce something like a small lace table centerpiece.
We saw all kinds of tourist shops selling lace dresses and accessories on Burano, however most of this lace is no longer hand-made. There are only a handful of traditional lace makers left on the island, like Emilia Burano and La Perla Gallery.
I recommend stopping into Museo de Murletto (the local lace museum) if you’d like to learn about the history of Burano lace. The museum is small and you can walk through it in 15 minutes.
Getting To Burano Island
The only way to get to Burano is by boat. You can hire an expensive private water taxi, or take the public Vaporetto (Number 12) from Fondament Nove in Venice.
The trip to Burano takes about 40 minutes, and one of the stops is another popular Venetian island called Murano. If you already happen to be on Murano, you can just hop on the Number 12 from the Murano Faro Stop too.
A single Vaporetto ticket costs about €7.50 (EUR), but if you’re planning to spend a few days in Venice you can save money and buy a multi-trip pass for €20 (1 day), €30 (2 days), or €40 (3 days). That’s what we did.
Where To Stay On Burano
If you’d like a more authentic Burano experience, I highly recommend spending the night. Many of the town’s local residents don’t come out until after all the tourists leave at the end of the day.
We stayed at one of the coolest Airbnb’s I’ve ever been to. The owner has placed little cards around the whole home, telling the story of his Grandmother who lived there through her belongings.
Old photographs, antique furniture, and other knickknacks. It was like staying in a living museum!
Best Accommodation In Burano
Useful Burano Italy Travel Tips
- Like Venice, the best time to visit Burano is the shoulder seasons, March – May or September – November. Still busy, but not as bad as summer.
- If you’d like to get photos before the large crowds arrive, I recommend getting there before 10am. Or even better, stay overnight.
- The main streets of Burano can get pretty packed, but there are also hidden side streets that see fewer people. Get lost and explore!
- Most of the lace shops you see are selling cheap, machine-made products to tourists. You’ll know if the lace is real or not by the price. A single hand-made lace handkerchief can cost over $45 USD.
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I hope you enjoyed my travel guide for Burano Italy! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:
Any questions about things to do in Burano Italy? Do you have other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!