Explore the islands of the Venetian Lagoon | Venice Italy

Explore the Venetian lagoon
Chris on the devils bridge
Explore the Venetian lagoon
The view from the Torcello Tower
Venice, Torcello, Burano & Murano

If you explore the Venetian Lagoon you don’t only get to Venice but also some other islands such as Torcello with its tower to climb, Burano with its colourful houses and Murano famous for its glass.

Below you’ll find:

  • How to get to the islands
  • What not to miss in Venice
  • Burano – the best bits
  • Murano what to see 
  • Torcello – a beautiful little island 
  • Top 10 tips for visiting the Venetian Islands
Explore the Venetian lagoon
View from Torcello over the lagoon
Explore the Venetian lagoon
Beautiful colours of Burano
How to explore the Venetian lagoon and visit the islands

The islands in the Venetian Lagoon can be accessed by ferries from Punta Sabbione and full details of the facilities and services available at the ferry terminal of Punta Sabbioni can be found here.

You can get ferries, waterbuses and taxis to Venice and all the islands.   Costs vary but the ferries and water taxis are regular and cheap.

explore the Venetian lagoon
You’ve arrived at Venice, now what? 

I think it would be fair to say that most people head straight for St Marks Square when they get off the ferry and we were lucky enough to arrive around 6am so it was really quiet.  Getting a picture of St Marks Square where the pigeons out number the people is a feat in itself. 

St Marks Square 

St Marks Square is the principal piazza in Venice and is generally the first place that people head to.

The Doges Palace 

Built in Venetian Gothic style it was originally built as a home for the Doge of Venice (the boss) but now is open as a museum

Venetian Lagoon
Doges Palace Venice
Explore the Venetian lagoon
St Marks Square Venice

The bridge of Sighs 

This enclosed bridge is made of white limestone.  It connects the  new prison with the interrogation rooms of the Doges Palace and it one of the most photographed areas in Venice today.

Saint Marks Basilica

Located at the far end of St Marks Piazza the Basilica originally was the chapel of the Doge and is connected to the Doges Palace but today is the principal catholic cathedral of Venice

Doges Palace
The arches of the Doges Palace
Explore the Venetian lagoon
Bridge of Sighs Venice

The Gondolas 

An iconic image of Venice and in some cases a tourist trap.  On our last trip we found, down one of the back canals, a factory where they mended gondolas and it was really cool watching them working away restoring and mending these lovely boats.

The Realto Bridge 

The oldest of the 4 bridges spanning the Grand Canal and very much one of the top tourist attractions of Venice today.


Exploring the Venetian lagoon
Iconic gondolas in Venice
Explore the Venetian lagoon
The Rialto Bridge Venice

The Grand Canal 

The main waterway in Venice and spanned on each side by palaces and important buildings.  Spanned by 4 bridges is it used as a main artery for the city.

Visit the Market 

In almost every city we visit we head for the market.  Venice was no exception and because we were there so early we managed to see the best of it.  Fantastic fish from the lagoon and fruit and veg that had been brought in by boat that morning.  Beautiful.

The Grand Canal, Venice
Explore the Venetian lagoon
Visit to a Venetian Market
Next stop as you explore the Venetian Lagoon is Torcello 

Torcello is one of the smallest islands in the lagoon and the quietest but a really beautiful island with its fair share of sights to see.  Here’s a few you don’t want to miss. 

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta and the Church of Santa Fosca 

The Basilica has some impressive mosaics and if you climb the tower then you get views across the lagoon to Burano and beyond.  Its very cool. 

The Museum of Torcello 

The Museum is split into 2 sections – the archeological and the more modern medieval.  Exhibits are interesting and displayed in both Italian and English

Explore the Venetian lagoon
Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta

Trono di Attilo

Reputed to be the throne of Attila but there is little substance to this myth.  Nevertheless its an unusual sight and meant something to someone and is right there in front of the Basilica – a great photo opportunity. 

Ponte del Diavolo 

One of the 2 bridges that cross Torcello’s main canal and that connects the town with the lagoon.  There is a legend that it is the site of where a young girl made a pact with the devil.

Explore the Venetian lagoon
Devils Bridge
Lynne in Attila's chair
Exploring the other islands of the Venetian Lagoon – Burano & Murano


What not to miss when visiting Burano

The colourful fishermen’s houses where legend has it that they painted them bright & individual colours so that the fishermen could find their way home when it was foggy.  They really do bring a smile to your face.

  • The leaning bell tower of Chiese di San Marino has become the unofficial symbol of Burano.  Its a 16th century Catholic Church and if you venture inside you’re treated with some extremely impressive paintings 
  • Excellent fish restaurants and cafes specialising in fish from the lagoon.   
  • The lace making exhibits in the museum and if you’re lucky and have a wander round the back streets you can sometimes find ladies making lace right outside their houses 
What not to miss when visiting Murano:
  • The glass making.  The history of glassmaking in Venice goes back to the Roman times.  A good source of information can be found here.  Murano is most famous for its glass making and there are various workshops you can visit as well as museums.  There are loads of gift shops and Jewellers all selling Murano glass goods.   
  • Murano is made up of lots of little small islands connected by bridges.  Its lovely to walk down, away from the main tourist areas, up and over lots of bridges and get a real feel for the area.   
Explore the Venetian lagoon
The Glass Makers of Murano

10 Tips to explore the Venetian Lagoon and its islands

  • Get there early – there is no words for how many people crowd onto the islands each day and it seemed to be that after midday it was just wall to wall people. The cruise ships disembark mid morning and the volume of people seems to hit its max between 12pm and 2pm.   So our advice is to get up early, get the first boat you can in the morning and you’ll be rewarded with clear, clean and peaceful streets.  
  • Visit the other islands in the lagoon.   Burano, Murano & Torcello are beautiful stop off points on the vaporettos so make sure you make time to visit them. 
Explore the Venetian lagoon
Burano colours
  • Take a waterproof as a sharp shower can appear from nowhere
  • Wear comfortable shoes – there’s a lot of walking and you don’t want to miss anything
  • Get into the back streets.  There you’ll find the shops, restaurants & cafes that the local use and get a more realistic flavour of local life
  • There aren’t really such a thing as public toilets in Venice and when you do come across some they are generally expensive so best pop into a cafe, order and espresso and use the toilets there.  Remember to always carry a little packet of hankies as sometimes toilet roll is completely non existent.
  • If you’re intent on visiting the Duomo or Basilica or some of the other main Venice attractions then there really early as the queues can sometimes be over 2hrs long just for tickets.   Save some time by buying skip the line tickets or book yourself onto an organised tour. 
  • Its perfectly safe to drink the water from the drinking fountains located around the city. Take a refillable water bottle and fill up at almost every piazza.  Ditch the plastic and help save the planet! 
  • If you’re planning on having a meal in Venice then steer clear of the main tourist areas.  The food may be good but you might get a fright by the bill.  Better to explore the more “off the beaten track” areas for local cafes and restaurants serving delicious food.   If its just a snack you’re after then choose a Bacari (a small Venetian wine bar) where you’ll normally get some cicheti with your drink.  Cicheti are small snacks that generally accompany a drink in a bar. 
  • You don’t have to spend a fortune in Venice and some of the most spectacular sights don’t cost a penny.  Did you know Venice has 139 churches and two of the best churches in the city – Basilica di San Marco and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute are absolutely free.
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