Venice, one of Italy’s most romantic and stunning cities, is renowned for its picturesque canals, grand palaces, and iconic St. Mark’s Basilica. However, there is so much more to Venice than just its famous landmarks. The Venetian Lagoon is also home to several beautiful islands, each with unique charm and beauty.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to visit ten of the most famous Venice Islands and what to see when you get there.
Table of Contents:
- How Many Islands Are in the Venetian Lagoon?
- How to Get to the Venice Islands
- The Islands of Venice
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Related Posts
How Many Islands Are in the Venetian Lagoon?
The Venetian Lagoon is home to many islands, but the exact number of islands can vary depending on how one defines an island. In general, there are around 118 small islands in the Venetian Lagoon. However, the number may change in the future if Venice and the other islands in the Lagoon continue to flood and sink.
Some of the most well-known islands in the lagoon include:
These islands are popular tourist destinations and are known for their unique architecture, history, and culture.
While we’re not covering every Venetian island, you can get to all of them by taking a vaporetto line (water bus) or a private boat.
How to Get to the Venice Islands
The ferry boats in Venice are similar to the subway system in New York City. When traveling to the islands in Venice, public transportation is the most efficient way of getting around the lagoon.
The ferry boats operate daily from 6 am until 10:30 pm, with some exceptions during holidays. However, ticket prices can be relatively expensive. For those visiting multiple islands, it is recommended to purchase a 24-hour ticket for €24 or a 12-hour ticket for €18.
For those only wishing to visit Murano or Burano, the Vaporetto (water bus) departing from Venice’s San Zaccaria stop, which is located near the historic palace, is the best option. The trip duration is 40 to 50 minutes, and a day pass is recommended.
The Islands of Venice
Murano Island is located just a short boat ride from the main island of Venice and is known for its glass-making industry (you’ve likely heard of Murano glass even if you didn’t know about the island).
For centuries, the island has been home to some of the most skilled glassmakers in the world, and visitors can witness their incredible craftsmanship at one of the many glass factories on the island.
Some of the most famous Murano glass creations include delicate chandeliers, colorful vases, and intricate glass sculptures. Be sure to visit the Murano Glass Museum, which showcases the island’s rich history of glassmaking and offers some unique designs not seen elsewhere.
While the islands in Venice all have outstanding natural beauty, they also have amazing churches. Murano is no different. The Basilica dei Santi Maria and Donato is a stunning 12th-century church and bell tower adorned with an intricate Byzantine mosaic floor.
How to Get to Murano
If you want to travel to Murano from Venice, the most affordable and convenient option is to take the Vaporetto water bus. Multiple lines connect Murano to the main island, and the choice of the best line will depend on where you are leaving from in Venice. The one-way fare is approximately €7.50 euros, or $9, but if you plan to take the water buses frequently throughout the day, it is recommended to purchase a day pass.
The quickest route to Murano is Line 12, departing from Fondamente Nove station, and the travel time is less than 10 minutes. If you are close to Santa Lucia train station, you can take Line 8, which is a direct ferry to Murano.
Another route is Line 4, which stops at multiple docks in Venice before continuing to Murano, resulting in a longer travel time. Lastly, Line 7 is a seasonal route that only operates from spring to fall.
If Murano Island is known for its glass-blowing abilities, Burano Island is just as famous for its vibrant colorful fishing villages and intricate lacework.
This colorful island is a photographer’s paradise, with brightly colored houses lining the canals and picturesque bridges, making for the perfect photo opportunity.
The downside is that it’s arguably the most popular of the Venice Islands, which results in it having the most tourists.
With that being said, it’s definitely worth visiting. Burano offers stunning views, fantastic handcrafted embroidery and lace, and one of the lagoon’s best islands.
Visitors should wander the colorful streets, marvel at Burano’s leaning tower, and admire the intricate lacework for which the island is famous.
Before you leave the island, explore the Lace Museum. This 1870s artisan school showcases the history of lace-making on the island.
How to Get To Burano
Like other islands around Venice, the most recommended way is to use the Vaporetto ferry to reach Burano. Take Line 12 from the Fondamente Nove dock in Venice; reaching Burano will take about 40 minutes. The one-way ticket cost is around €7.50 euros or $9.
If you prefer private transportation, a water taxi from Venice to Burano is an option but expensive. Hiring a water taxi can cost around €130 euros or more. Therefore, taking the Vaporetto ferry is a cost-effective alternative that we recommend to nearly everyone.
While Murano and Burano get nearly all of the love and attention, Torcello Island offers the more peaceful and secluded island experience.
Torcello Island is the oldest continuously inhabited region of Venice. The island is home to just a handful of residents (only 12 as of 2018) and is a world away from the bustling crowds of Piazza San Marco.
While it’s a small island, Torcello is a naturally beautiful island with walking paths, cypress trees, and sweeping romantic vistas. If you’re hungry, stop by the famous Locanda Cipriani, which once hosted the likes of Princess Diana and Ernest Hemingway.
How to Get To Torcello
If you plan to visit Torcello, you can take the vaporetto from Fondamente Nove, a stop near Ponte dei Medicanti in Venice. You’ll need to board line 12, which will take you to the Torcello ferry terminal at the island’s southwest end.
Line 12 also stops at Murano, Mazzorbo, and Burano, so you might also want to explore these islands. Visiting all four islands in one full day is possible, so it’s worth considering.
The journey from Venice to Torcello takes approximately 40 minutes by vaporetto.
Lido di Venezia
Lido Island is the perfect destination for those looking for a bit of relaxation and sunshine. The island is known for its stunning beaches, grand hotels, and the Venice Film Festival, making it a popular destination for sun-seekers, luxury travelers, and movie aficionados.
After you’re done exploring the island, we recommend renting beach chairs and umbrellas and spending the day soaking up the sun on the island’s pristine beaches. There are three beaches, Alberoni, Blue Moon, and Lido. All of these are worth exploring and offer crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.
If you don’t want to stay in Venice, Lido is home to several lavish hotels, including the famous Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort, which has played host to countless celebrities and dignitaries over the years.
How to Get to Lido di Venezia
Lido is one of the few islands linked to Venice by road. While it’s still recommended to take the vaporetto, you can also get there via the public bus service, which runs between Lido Island and Piazzale Roma in Venice.
San Giorgio Island is considered a must-see island in the Venetian Lagoon and is just a short ferry ride from Venice.
If for no other reason, you should visit San Giorgio for the stunning views of Venice’s skyline (which is particularly captivating at night), beautiful architecture, and peaceful atmosphere.
As is the case with most Venice, San Giorgio is rich with history for those willing to learn about it. Centuries ago it was founded in the eighth century by a powerful and rich noble family called Memmia and became home to Benedictine monks several hundred years later.
While this tiny island doesn’t have much to do or see, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini (cultural center and library), Le Stanze del Vetro (museum), and Church of San Giorgio Maggiore make it a worthwhile trip.
If you don’t want to go to San Giorgio, you can get a fantastic view of the island from atop St. Mark’s Bell Tower. The Bell Tower has an elevator, so don’t worry about climbing all 323 steps to the top.
How to Get to San Giorgio
You can get to San Giorgio a couple of ways, but the easiest is to take the vaporetto from San Marco-San Zaccaria terminal using line “F.” That will drop you off at the ferry terminal right next to San Giorgio Maggiore.
Pellestrina is a charming and peaceful barrier island off Lido Island’s coast. If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip away from the hustle and bustle of Venice, Pellestrina is a great choice. While you won’t find many tourists, the island is populated mainly by fishermen and farmers living in small, colorful houses.
Pellestrina is a small island, only 11 km long and 1 km wide. You can easily explore the entire island on foot or by bike.
The island is full of colorful homes, narrow streets, and charming canals. The best way to explore the island is to walk along the main street, which runs the length of the island.
While not as old as the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello or as grand as the beautiful churches in Venice, the Church of San Antonio is a lovely church located in the center of Pellestrina. The church was built in the 17th century and has a stunning baroque interior. The church also has a bell tower that offers panoramic views of the island.
Before you leave the island, find a nice relaxing place to watch some of the most breathtaking sunsets in the lagoon.
How to Get To Pallestrina
The only way to reach Pellestrina island is by taking a ferry from Venice or Lido. The ferry in Venice departs from the San Zaccaria dock, which is located near St. Mark’s Square. The journey takes about an hour, and the ferry operates regularly throughout the day.
If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, San Michele is for you. The most notable thing about this Venetian island is that it’s home to the most famous cemetery in the lagoon.
The San Michele cemetery is the final resting place of many celebrities and public figures, including composer Igor Stravinsky, poet Joseph Brodsky, and poet Ezra Pound. The cemetery is a peaceful and serene place to visit, with well-manicured gardens and beautiful sculptures.
How to Get to San Michele
Take the water bus from the ferry terminal Nove, using line “B” to Cimitero San Michele. It’s the first stop on the vaporetto and it takes less than 10 minutes to get there.
La Giudecca is a beautiful and quiet island located just across the Venetian Lagoon from Venice (you can see it from Dorsoduro on a sunny day).
Although there are several things to do and see, my main highlight is visiting the Church of the Santissimo Redentore. Built by Venice’s most famous architect, Andrea Palladio, in the 16th century to commemorate the Black Death, this domed white marble church is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Venice.
The inside of the church hosts paintings by Francesco Bassano, Lazzaro Bastiani, Carlo Saraceni, Palma the Younger, Jacopo Bassano, and other famous Venetian artists.
Il Redentore is truly marvelous and makes La Giudecca one of Venice’s must-see islands.
How to Get to La Giudecca
La Giudecca is a short ferry ride from Piazza San Marco’s San Zaccaria stop. Still, you can access it from a number of other locations, including Zattere Gesuati in Dorsoduro. Take a vaporetto line that will drop you off at Zitelle terminal, Redentore terminal, or Giudecca Palanca terminal. From there, you can walk the entire island in an afternoon.
Known for its lush vegetation, fertile soil, and stunning landscapes, Sant’Erasmo is a popular destination for visitors looking to escape the crowded streets of Venice and immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of the lagoon.
Once you arrive on the island, you will be greeted by a peaceful and unspoiled landscape dotted with traditional farmhouses, vineyards, and orchards.
One of the most popular sights on the island is the Oratorio di Sant’Erasmo, a beautiful 16th-century church dedicated to the island’s patron saint. The church is home to a stunning altarpiece by the famous Venetian artist Jacopo Tintoretto and several other works of art.
While here, you should also visit Casa del Ciliegio, a restored farmhouse that now houses an agricultural museum. The museum teaches you about the island’s rich agricultural heritage, including its famous cherries and artichokes.
If you’re not in a rush, I recommend going to the nearby island, San Francesco del Deserto. Nestled amidst cypress trees and pines, San Francesco del Deserto is a little island and tranquil sanctuary named after San Francesco d’Assisi.
How to Get to Sant’Erasmo
Getting to Sant’Erasmo is relatively easy, with regular water bus services connecting the island to Venice. Look for line 13 at the ferry terminal Nove in Venice. You will take the boat to Sant’Erasmo Chiesa. It takes over an hour to get there via public transportation, as the vaporetto stops at San Michele, Murano, and Le Vignole before arriving at Sant’Erasmo.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Cruise Ships Enter the Venetian Lagoon?
As of September 2021, large cruise ships (over 40,000 gross tons) are no longer allowed to enter the Venetian Lagoon in Italy. The Italian government made this decision after years of controversy and protests over the impact of cruise ships on the city of Venice, including concerns over environmental damage, safety, and overcrowding.
Instead, these ships will now dock at the industrial port of Marghera, located on the mainland, and passengers will be transported to Venice by smaller boats or buses. This new arrangement is expected to significantly reduce the environmental impact of cruise ships on the lagoon and provide a safer and more sustainable alternative for tourism in Venice.
What is the Largest Island in the Venetian Lagoon?
Venice is the largest island in the Venetian Lagoon, which is made up of many smaller islands connected by bridges. However, if we are talking about standalone islands in the lagoon, the largest is Lido Island, which covers an area of approximately 9.25 square kilometers (3.57 square miles).
While Venice is undoubtedly a must-visit destination, the city’s smaller islands offer a unique and diverse experience. From Murano’s glassmaking to Burano’s colorful houses, Torcello’s peaceful seclusion, Lido’s sunny beaches, and San Giorgio’s Palladio-built San Giorgio Maggiore church, each island has something special to offer visitors. So why not take a day trip and explore all that these stunning Venice Islands have to offer?
Explore Sant’Erasmo, the Garden of Venice, and discover its rich history, vibrant culture, and unique charm. From artichoke festivals to serene lagoon views, Sant’Erasmo offers an unforgettable Venetian experience.
Visiting the Venetian Lagoon? Be sure to stop at Lido Island, a place where celebrities gather and the beaches are as beautiful as the water.
Torcello is perfect for those interested in Venice’s history. With only 10 residents on the island, Torcello is a unique experience you won’t find elsewhere.
Although a small island, Burano is packed with things to do. From brightly colored homes to lace-making demonstrations, there’s a lot to see and do.