Picture this: cute multicolored houses overlooking a calm lagoon, fisherman taking their boats out and bringing the catch in, quaint cobblestone streets and the smell of fresh, amazing Italian food around the corner. Does that sound like a scene out of a Disney movie? Well, that’s what it’s like to wake up in Burano, Italy.
Italy isn’t exactly an offbeat destination. But choosing the right cities in Italy might show you a drastically different side of the country than what’s popular. And we love it. While Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice might hold the top spots on most lists – the island of Burano is a unique Italian getaway that we love.
And here’s why you shouldn’t miss it on your trip to Italy:
- It’s a short boat ride away from Venice with none of the crowds
- It’s home to some of the most colorful landscapes in the world
- The local arts and handicrafts are rare and beautiful
- The food. This is self explanatory.
While most people visit Burano island as part of a day trip from Venice, we think it’s actually worth spending at least 2 days here. You will definitely have more time to explore the whole island and take it in from all the amazing angles. If you’re a photographer, this one is a must-visit.
So without further ado, here are the 10 best things to do in Burano, Italy!
1. Lose yourself in the colorful streets
Burano in Italy is often featured on the lists of the 10 most colorful cities in the world. And you can see why, even before your boat docks here. The streets are lined with the most brightly colored houses and each one is different from the other.
Since Burano island used to be a fishing town, many people believe that the bright color of the houses was so fisherman could easily see their houses when returning home. But the more accepted theory is actually that it’s painted to mark where one property ends and the other begins. Before you paint your house in Burano, you have to get legal permission, and while there’s no rule on what colors you can choose from, you do have to make sure it’s not the same as your neighbor’s.
Walking through the streets of Burano will show you what life is like here. Each house tells a story, you just have to look. That’s why just walking around is number one on our list of things to do in Burano. Make sure you don’t miss Bepi’s house – the most colorful house in Burano, Italy.
2. See Burano’s Own Leaning Tower
The leaning tower of Burano is actually a bell tower. It belongs to the Chiesa di San Martino Vescovo or the Church of St. Martin Vescovo. It’s a 16th-century, Catholic church which was partly destroyed by a fire in 1750. The church was later rebuilt but the bell tower was considered too small. So instead of rebuilding it, they cut off the top and added a higher portion. But the tower couldn’t handle the new weight and started to lean. Before things got too bad, a team of engineers installed long beams to support the tower and today, all you see is a (fairly stable) leaning bell tower.
The lean is so strong that one night in 1961, the bell actually rang by itself.
3. Load up on ‘buranelli biscotti’ or the Burano Biscuits
These dense biscuits are calle Bussolai or esse buranelli. And you’ll see them in bakeries all over the town, but the most famous ones are from Pasticceria Costantini.
Originally, these biscuits were made by the wives of fishermen to take with them out to sea. The texture meant they would keep for long and they were made with high-calorie (uh oh) ingredients to give them energy during a long fishing trip.
They used to be circular, classically called Bussolà, meaning Compass. But today you can find two varieties, including an S shape, which they say is inspired by the shape of the Grand Canal.
These biscuits are an essential food to eat in Burano, Italy. Don’t miss them.
4. Learn about the art of Burano Lacemaking
When you visit Burano, you’ll easily discover that the island’s best kept secret is its amazing lace making skills. In fact, young girls in Burano start learning the craft when they’re as young as 10 years old. And it could take them around 20 years of training before they can even become a teacher themselves.
In the court of King Louis 14th in France, several Venetian lacemakers were employed to keep up with the demands of the court. No one else could compare. And today, even after all these years, and modernization, few things can compare to the handmade intricate lace of Burano.
In Burano, lace production is an honored and cherished local art form. You can see it in all the shop windows. From small souvenirs to entire wedding dresses, these beautiful pieces are still made by the women of the island. You’ll often see them sitting outside shops embroidering away.
To learn about Lace making in Burano, pay a visit to the Lace Museo. And if you’re looking for something to take home, start at dalla Lidia. It’s one of the best lace shops with even an entire gallery of antique lace.
5. Live like the locals at Casa Burano
If you’re wondering where to stay in Burano, look no further than Casa Burano. It’s one of the most talked about hotel destinations in Italy. You’ll often find people choosing to live here, or similar hotels in Burano, while visiting Venice. Casa Burano is an experience in itself.
The hotel is actually a set of 13 rooms across five colorful canal houses. And while the insides are extremely stylish, stepping out into any of the courtyards will give you an opportunity to speak to locals and get to know the real Burano.
Casa Burano was created by the Bisol family of winemakers. And they’re best known for one of the best places to eat in Burano. The Michelin-starred restaurant – Venissa. At the hotel, Burano is brought to you through cooking and cocktail classes, along with vineyard visits and boat excursions. You can even walk through the vineyard to get to the restaurant which serves amazing seafood.
6. Visit High Tide House
The Piazza Galuppi is the main square in Burano. It is home to a statue of one of the most famous artists from Burano, Baldassare Galuppi. Just off the corner of the Piazza, on Rio Terrà del Pizzo, you’ll find a house that’s covered in colorful artwork. You’ll find pictures of Burano island and its leaning tower, the boats and canals, and on the right side of the building, you’ll find a curious list.
The list is a chart of every time a high tide or alta marea has affected the island. It shows you the full date and even how many centimetres the water level rose by. Its a unique piece of both history and art. Definitely add it to your list of things to do in Burano.
7. Eat and be amazed at Trattoria Da Romano
Trattoria Da Romano is technically a restaurant in Burano. But it’s also an art gallery that never intended to be one. It started out as a place where artist from all walks of life could go toeat great food and display their art. And today, it is recognised by the Association of Historical Places of Italy (Associazione Locali Storici D’Italia).
The restaurant is covered with over 450 paintings and drawings from artists big and small. You can go here to admire the art or eat amazing Venetian food in Burano. The menu regularly changes according to the season but the signature dish is risotto di Gò, which is prepared with the local goby fish. It’s so famous, even Anthony Bourdain tried it!
Just remember, if you’re looking for places to eat in Burano, Trattoria Da Romano is closed Tuesdays and Sunday evenings. Other great restaurants in Burano include the Trattoria al Gatto Nero and the Michelin-starred Venissa.
8. Catch a Murano Glass Demonstration
We know what you’re thinking. It’s Burano with a B, not Murano. But though the latter is best known for it’s amazing blown glass, you can catch the skills at work even in the island of Burano.
Visit New Arte Fuga, a small shop that sells Murano glass pieces that are made in-house. The artisans are trained in Murano, and even let you see a live glass making demo as well. This experience is ideal for those who want to spend their time in Burano, and not make the trip to Murano.
You get to enjoy the experience of seeing glass made right in front of your eyes and even take a few pieces home to enjoy.
9. Get the perfect picture at Tre Ponti Bridge
Don’t leave Burano without taking this picture.
When you spend a lot of time on an island connected by canals, it becomes hard to notice when you’re crossing a bridge or walking a road. They’re just that common. But the Tre Ponti bridge is one you can’t miss.
Located at the juncture of three canals, the Tre Ponti bridge also brings together three of the island’s most beautiful streets. What this means is that any photo you take on the Tres Ponti bridge, is sure to capture the beautiful essence of Burano – from the brightly colored fisherman’s houses to the shops filled with delicate lace.
10. Take a day trip to Venice
We know it’s usually the reverse. But for a lot of people, Venice is just “too much”. It is quite a crowded city and very well-touristed, making it more expensive than most cities in Italy. Staying in Burano and ferrying across to Venice could mean a calmer holiday where you get to see the sights but avoid the inflated prices.
But whether you stay in Venice or Burano, the best way to get across is by water. To get to Burano from Venice, you’ll need to take the express ferry, which runs from Venice’s San Zaccaria stop , to Burano and Murano, with another stop at Venice’s Fondamente Nove stop. The ferry from Burano to Venice runs almost every 30 minutes stopping at Fondamente Nova terminal.
It takes 45 minutes, and costs €6.50 per person. You can also opt to take a direct water taxi but this may come up to €150 each way.
In Venice, see the St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and even capture a beautiful rooftop view from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.
We hope this makes you want to visit Burano, Italy. Because sometimes, the best stories are not the ones that are out in the open, but the ones you have to discover for yourself. We love looking for stories in often missed places – and we feel like Burano might hold something amazing for you!