It’s an ideal place to catch a glimpse of authentic, rural life in the Venetian lagoon.
1. See the colorful houses
This colorful island is iconic for its vivid and photogenic palette. And although there are few fishermen left – and the island relies mainly on tourism – Burano still preserves it’s old-time traditions.
Wander down the canals to admire this kaleidoscope. And explore the quaint shops, magnificent churches and restaurants that dot this charming island.
Historians say Burano’s houses were painted bright to guide fishermen through the foggy lagoon on their way home. Others claim the different colors helped the fishermen – after they’ve had one too many – find their own houses.
Burano isn’t very big – and you can easily just wander without worrying that you’ll stray too far away. Wherever you go you’ll likely circle back to a familiar landmark. And you’ll make some incredible discoveries along the way.
Take a long stroll and soak in the unique atmosphere of this vibrant island. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some fishermen bringing in their daily catch or a group of friends gossiping over their lacework.
Burano is also one of the best places in the world if you’re a photographer. The colorful rows of houses, canals and potted plants mean there’s really a photo opp around every corner.
2. Spot the leaning campanile
Don’t miss the leaning campanile of the 16th-century church of San Martino Vescovo. This 53-meter slanted tower is one of Burano’s most quirky and unique landmarks – you’ll often spot the tip of the campanile peaking out over the buildings as you wander Burano’s sidestreets.
A fire in 1750 destroyed part of the church, and when it was rebuilt the tower was lengthened by 10 meters. With time it began to lean under the new weight it couldn’t support. When the bell suddenly rang out in 1961, experts were called in to reinforce the tower and prevent it from toppling.
The tip of the campanile was once topped by an angel. But a bad storm destroyed the figurine and an iron cross was put in its place.
Head inside the church to see paintings by Rococo master Giambattista Tiepolo.
3. Explore the canals
You’ll find inspiration everywhere – from windows framed with potted blossoms to white lace tablecloths hanging on a laundry line from a brightly colored home.
Capture the reflection of these intense colors in the canal water or snap a photo of a lacemaker deftly maneuvering her needle.
Head to the main square of Piazza Galuppi to see a 6th-century Istrian stone well. And don’t miss the statue of 18th-century composer Baldassare Galuppi, a prominent Burano native who went on to compose comic operas across Europe.
The Tre Ponti wooden bridge is a perfect spot to take in the picturesque canals and colorful rows of houses
And don’t miss the former outdoor fish market, or Pescaria Vecia, for breathtaking sunsets over the Venetian lagoon.
4. Discover Burano’s lace
Photos courtesy Venice Lace Museum
Burano is also famous for its lace-making, which dates back to the 16th century. The craft came from Venetian-ruled Cyprus. Eventually all of Europe was buying up Burano lace.
The trade fell into decline in the 18th century, but it survives today thanks to the Burano Lace School (1872-1970) that kept the tradition alive.
Legend says lacemaking came to the island when a poor fisherman fell in love with a local girl but didn’t have enough money for marriage. When he took his boat to sea, an enchanted mermaid tried to bewitch him – but he resisted because of his love for the local girl. As a reward for his fidelity, the mermaid splashed his boat with her tail and created a magical sea flower. The fisherman took this creation to his beloved and his proposal was finally accepted. Later the local women sought to recreate the mermaid’s magical creation by weaving their threads into lace.
Today the Lace School has been transformed into the Venice Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto,) a must-stop on any itinerary for arts lovers. The museum boasts a collection that narrates the story of lacemaking from its origins in the 16th century to the Burano Lace School through 1970.
Videos, illustrations and an array of vintage items like clothing, drawings and books, illustrate this exacting and time-consuming discipline. You can also watch a group of skilled lacemakers at work inside the museum.
5. Shop for lace and local souvenirs
Although few women make Burano lace in the traditional manner, you can still find the genuine article across Burano.
Watch out for cheap, machine-made dupes at tourist shops, and look for reputable artisan ateliers like Dalla Lidia, Emilia Burano and Martina Vidal.
And of course Burano is also great for other Venetian souvenirs like masks and even Murano glass (if you can’t make it to Murano itself). Stop at New Arte Fuga to see artisans at work on Murano-style glassblown masterpieces.
6. Explore Casa Bepi
Bepi’s House is another local gem: it’s the most colorful home on this rainbow island.
Bepi’s House is where local man Giuseppe Toselli (aka Bepi) held an outdoor cinema in the 1980s for Burano’s children. Bepi was a janitor at a local cinema and his movie nights were a labor of love for the local youth. He hung white sheets over the house’s facade and screened movies to entertain the youngsters.
Bepi also sold sweets in Burano’s main square after the cinema closed – and so he earned the nickname “Bepi Sua,” or Bepi of Candies.
Bepi also regularly painted drawings and brilliant geometric patterns on his home’s facade. And his house is still a photogenic feast for the eyes – and a reminder of the island’s love for this kind-hearted figure.
His house was reportedly never painted in a single color because Bepi couldn’t afford the paint. So his neighbours would donate their leftover paint and he created a colorful patchwork from their leftover buckets.
7. Indulge in the local seafood
Don’t miss the local fish restaurants and their hearty dishes made with the local catch. Burano has great quality seafood that’s also far less pricey than Venetian eateries.
Grab a table at a waterfront restaurant decked out with umbrellas and potted plants to watch the fishing boats go by.
Try spaghetti al nero di seppia (squid ink spaghetti) or spaghetti vongole (clams). Trattoria al Gatto Nero is always reliable for local Venetian food fresh from the lagoon.
Opt for risotto de go, a creamy dish made with goby fish from the lagoon, for a taste of the region’s most well-known creations. This risotto is centuries-old and was once known as a hearty peasant food.
8. Munch on some Burano butter cookies
Burano’s yellow s-shaped cookies called Bussola make a great treat between sightseeing. You’ll find piles of Bussolai Buranei at most local bakeries, either the traditional round shape (Bussola, or compass) or in a swirl “s” shape called Esse, which represents the curve of the Grand Canal.
Originally made by fishermen’s wives to give their loved ones a boost during a long day on the water, these cookies are now the island’s signature sweet.
These thick cookies are made with egg yolks, flour, sugar and butter – with a dash of lemon zest sprinkled in for a citrus punch.
Head to Pasticceria Costantini for a taste from a bakery that’s been making these cookies for more than a century.
9. See some high tide history
Stop at this colorful house at Rio Terrà del Pizzo to admire the quirky artwork that fills every corner of its facade.
There are colorful depictions of Burano and its leaning tower, boats and canals – and a chart that lists all the dates when the high tide – or aqua alta – hit the island.
The house is near Piazza Galuppi and you can find it here on Google Maps.
10. Have lunch with a view
Grab a canal side table lined with geranium-filled pots for views of the colorful island. And indulge in some seafood – made from the daily catch – at a traditional no-frills eatery.
Trattoria Al Gatto Nero – or the Black Cat – is a family-run eatery serving local cuisine and fresh seafood since 1965. Famous for its homemade pasta, this cozy little eatery also boasts unforgettable risotto and tiramisu on the menu.
Trattoria Da Romano is an incredible spot to savor authentic regional dishes in a lively and artsy atmosphere.
The signature dish is risotto di Go, made from the bony but flavorful goby (ghiozzo) fish that’s fished throughout the lagoon.
And the restaurant’s thick guest books include testimonials from iconic artists and personalities like Miro, Matisse, Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin and Robert de Niro.
The trattoria’s owner Romano Barbaro was an art lover who opened his doors to artists and befriended many creatives. In return, artists gifted him their work. And soon hundreds of paintings and drawings covered the restaurant’s walls.
Riva Rosa Ristorante is a Michelin-starred restaurant on a bustling colorful street that specializes in local seafood. Housed inside a rosy pink building with purple flowers in the window sills, this beautiful gem also has a private terrace (with one table only) that overlooks Burano’s canals and rooftops – it’s available by reservation only and makes an incredible spot to celebrate a special occasion.
11. Spend the night on the island
Spend a night or two in Burano for an unforgettable experience and a look at this charming island away from the tourist crowds.
Take the early mornings and late afternoons to wander and observe the local life, once the island is quiet and the vaporetto tours have left.
A charming hotel like Casa Burano lets you experience the island without the crowds. You’ll see locals chatting, heading to mass or tending their boats. It’s also a real treat to watch the local women at work on their elaborate lace projects.
Night Galleria is a detached holiday home painted bright pink with gorgeous views of the Venetian lagoon and Torcello just across the water. Filled with books and paintings, Night Galleria is a perfect spot to enjoy the quiet Burano evenings.
How to get to Burano:
To get there, take Vaporetto line 12 from Fondamente Nove (which stops at both Burano and glass-making island Murano). The trip takes about 45 minutes. Tickets are 7.50 EUR and valid for 75 minutes – so you need one ticket for the trip there, and another ticket for the return journey.
Alternatively, take Line 14, which has fewer departures and takes 65 minutes – but it leaves right from San Marco.
You can also buy a vaporetto pass that’s good for 24 hours for 20 EUR, which is also valid to get around Venice itself. Or opt for a 48-hour pass for 30 EUR.
With a longer ticket, you can combine a trip to Burano to glassblowing island Murano or to nearby Torcello.