How to See the Italian Venetian Islands in One Day

Colorful houses in Burano

Want to get away from the massive stifling crowds among the streets of Venice? One thing I have learned from my travels this year is that I don’t like big groups and touristy places. So, I was looking forward to getting away from the traditional Venice hot spots that everyone goes to. I spent a full day exploring the islands in Venice. If you only spend one day in Venice, stay on the mainland to see all the popular sites. But, if you have more days and are hoping to get out of the busy crowds this is how to see the Italian Venetian Islands in one day.

Colorful houses in Burano

San MicheleSan Michele Venetian Island

San Michele is one of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon. The island was turned into the cemetery for Venice in 1807, as it was unsanitary to be buried on the mainland. To take an island tour, it is beneficial to get a full day travel card. I bought a 2-day travel pass. I was able to hop on and off at any of the stops at the islands. The water taxi you need to take is the No. 4.1 or 4.2 from the Fondamente Nove water bus stop on the northern edge of Venice. You can see San Michele island from the mainland. The ride to the island is short at 6 minutes.

Graves at San Michele 2Once you arrive, go through the entrance and start walking around. There is no fee to enter the cemetery. The grounds are large but, you can’t get lost since you are on an island. I would estimate 30 minutes to an hour walking around and seeing this beautiful cemetery. There are a couple of war memorials to check out along with walking along the walls. The Italians have a great tradition to memorialize their family members in which they add photos to the gravestone. Some of the ones I saw were pretty old and impressive.


Murano is a great island to visit with bustling waterways, lots of shops to buy souvenirs, and great restaurants to eat lunch. The island is formed by seven islands connected by bridges and the Grand Canal that runs through them. As this island is known for its glass making, you can check out the Glass Museum. Very interesting! Once arriving at Murano, you can get off at the Colonna, or Faro stops and follow the canals to the center. Here you will find several historic churches, the glass museum, and even a traveling church ceremony as I did. Plus, if you come across the lady playing water glasses stick around for awhile. She does a marvelous job of playing some modern tunes that I’m sure you will know.Heather in MuranoChurch ceremony coming down the bridge


Burano is one of the Venetian Islands you have to explore, especially if you are a photographer. It has been internationally named one of the ten most colorful cities in the world. The island is filled with colorful fishermen houses and great restaurants for seafood. It takes a little over a half-hour from Murano (Faro stop) to get to Burano. Things to see in Burano are the Museo del Merletto/Lace Museum, the leaning 17th-century bell tower at Chiesa di San Martino, and the vibrantly rich colorful houses along all the canals. The colors for the houses follow a specific system and are regulated. If you want to paint your home, you have to send a request to the government who will tell you which colors are allowed for your home in that area. Also, don’t forget to pick up a souvenir of hand made lace embroidered by the elderly ladies from the island. Colorful Fisherman Houses in Burano


Mazzorbo island can be reached by using the water taxi, but the easiest is to walk across the footbridge from Burano. The places to see on the island is the fourteenth century Church of Santa Caterina, the vineyards, and the colorful government housing project built in the late 1970s. While I was exploring the Venissa Estate vineyard, they had an interesting animal art exhibit on the grounds. You can also eat at the Venissa Restaurant, which has been awarded a Michelin star. This is a tranquil island, and not many tourists come over and explore the tiny island. Estimate to spend a half-hour to an hour walking around. Colorful houses on the island of Mazzorbo

TorcelloCentral Torcello, with the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Church of Santa Fosca

Torcello is another tiny island in the northern Venetian Lagoon to explore that at one time was a more powerful trading center than Venice. Now it has a population of 10. The islands main sights are the church of Santa Fosca, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (over 1000 years old), the Torcello Museum with archaeological remains, and the nearby basilica dating back to 639 A.D and bell tower. You can take the No. 12 boat from Burano to Torcello. Once you arrive at the pier, walk down the canal past the restaurants and the Devils Bridge to reach the basilica. If you want a photo of you on the bridge be prepared to wait in a long line. Entry to the Basilica, the Bell Tower, and Museum are all sold separately. But, you can purchase a combination ticket for all three. Remember as these are sacred places, you need to dress appropriately (cover shoulders and knees) and no photography is allowed in the Basilica. To get back to Venice, all you have to do is hop on the No. 12 boat to return.Ponte del Diavolo

SummaryView of Venice from the Lagoon

Taking a break from the crowds and exploring the Venetian Islands in one day is a great way to get a different chunk of Venice’s history and culture. These five islands can all be done in one day if you start early enough. When you are at the islands, and you find one you like, take some extra time to explore off the main streets. There are so many photographic opportunities around every corner and down every alley. I can’t recommend this enough. Come and explore the Venetian Islands; you won’t be disappointed. If you are staying in Venice for only one day or in Italy longer, check out this 10 days in Italy itinerary.

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Italy for a visit, check out these posts for more travel inspiration:

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