What to do in Venice: island hopping

burano Gerry Balding

Visiting Venice is always an unforgettable experience. Sightseeing, shopping, eating and getting lost along the canals, – there are so many things to do in Venice when we are wondering what to do in Venice. Among many exciting activities that this magnificent city offers to visitors island hopping is quite unique. After all, how many other cities in the world are set on 118 small islands?

The majority of smaller islets are connected by more than 400 bridges and are accessible by foot. Bigger islands of the Venice lagoon can be reached by water-buses (“vaporetti”), water taxis and ferries.

The island of Murano, a short vaporetto ride from the center of the city, is one of the most visited islands. It is famous for its ancient glass-making tradition that continues strong today. Visitors can see the local artisans working their magic and turning molten glass into colorful beads, vases, chandeliers and other masterpieces.

What to do in Venice
Vaporetto in front of the Murano island

Burano is another beautiful island that gets a fair share of tourists every year. Its picture-perfect colorful houses, charming cafes and stunning hand-made lace are well worth putting up with crowds of curious visitors. Local restaurants here always have exceptionally good seafood risotto.

What to do in Venice

A long footbridge connects Burano with another island, Mazzorbo. Only a short walk away, but you find yourself in an entirely different world here: quiet, with fewer tourists, Mazzorbo has a beautiful 8th century church, orchards and vineyards. Winston Churchill used to come here with his easel for relaxing landscape-painting breaks.

Another rural oasis of peace and quiet that can be reached by public transport is the island of Sant’Erasmo. The farms here have been growing vegetables for the city of Venice or many centuries. Although cars are allowed here, the locals seem to prefer bicycles. You can order a rustic tasty meal and a drink at a simple bar-trattoria Bar dei Tedeschi or have a picnic enjoying the view over the lagoon.

What to do in Venice

Torcello Island once was a busy important town. Today there are only 11 residents remain. Visitors come here to this green island to see the 7th century Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta with its stunning Byzantine mosaics, for relaxing strolls away from Venice’s maddening crowds and the view over the island and lagoon from the bell-tower of the church of Santa Fosca.

What to do in Venice

Lazzaretto Nuovo can be visited on weekends on guided tours or by prior arrangements and is certainly worth a trip. In the 15th century the island was Venice’s quarantine station where many ships were obliged to stop for 40 days to make sure they were not carrying deadly plague.

 Photos by: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Gerry Balding, Daniel Daranas, Alex Proimos.