The outer islands of venice

The Outer Islands of Venice

The Outer Islands of Venice

Written by Katie Hammel

The best of Venice can be seen in two days. So, if you’d like a different experience after the bustle of Venice, you may want to take a day trip to explore one of Venice’s outlying islands. The nearby islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, are each unique and can easily be accessed by vaporetto (water taxi).


Murano, like Venice, is actually made up of many tiny islands linked by bridges. It lies about a mile north of Venice and is the most famous and most visited of the smaller islands in the Venetian Lagoon. Murano is famous for its glassblowing craft. Because of the risk of fires in crowded Venice, all the glass makers were forced to move to Murano in 1291. Aventurine glass was invented on Murano and its popularity soon made Murano the largest provider of glass in Europe. The main attraction on the island is glass, with countless shops selling souvenirs of all shapes and sizes, and at varying levels of quality. Renowned master glass makers like Seguso and Venini also have shops open to the public. Stop by the Museo Vetrario (Glass Museum) in the Palazzo Guistinian to learn about the history of glass making and see beautiful samples on display.


A few hours on Murano can be combined with a short visit to Burano, an island north of Venice, as well. Burano is known for its fine, handmade lace, so the Museum and School of Lace Making warrants a visit. The houses here are famously painted in a myriad of bright, pastel colors, making the island a favorite for photographers. Spend an hour or two just wandering around and snapping pictures of this colorful island.


Torcello is the least populated of the Venetian islands, though it was once the most-populated and is the oldest continuously-inhabited region. It is very quiet and sees the least visitors. If you’ve spent a few days in Venice and have grown tired of the crowds of tourists and day-trippers, spend an afternoon on Torcello for some relaxation and time with nature. There are a few sights leftover from Torcello’s heyday – the 7th century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the 12th century Church of Santa Fosca, and an ancient stone chair known as Attila’s Throne.

While not as exciting or grand as Venice itself, the islands in the surrounding lagoon offer charms all their own and a great change of pace after a few days in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.

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