One of the top day trips for visitors to Venice is a trip to one or more of the islands in the Venetian lagoon. Here are the top 5 islands to visit in Venice and how to get to them.
Murano Island, famous for glass-making, is the most popular island to visit. A few centuries ago, all glass makers were required to live on the island to protect the glass-making secrets. Today the tradition of glass making continues here and you can find out all about it in the glass museum. Some glass factories allow visitors or tours and there are many shops selling glass creations and souvenirs. Murano also has canals, sidewalk cafes, and restaurants.
Burano Island is an island of picturesque canals lined with colorful houses. There are several good restaurants serving risotto and very fresh fish. Famous for artisan lace, you can buy lace products in many of the shops (but check to see that it's handmade and not mass-produced) or visit the Lace Museum to find out more about the tradition of lace making. Burano even has a leaning tower on one of its churches.
Torcello is a quiet, green island and much of it is a nature reserve. Visit the 7th century Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell'Assunta to see the spectacular 11th and 12th century Byzantine mosaics. Torcello is a good place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful stroll or lunch or even spend the night in the legendary Locanda Cipriani (see link above for details).
- Getting There: From Fondamenta Nove, take Vaporetto Line 12 to Burano, then transfer to Line 9
- Where to Eat: Osteria al Ponte del Diavolo
San Michelle Island
San Michelle is Venice's cemetary island. On the nicely landscaped island are two churches and many tombs. A good time to visit is in early November when the cemetary is full of flowers as it's customary to take flowers to the graves on All Soul's Day. Tombs of famous ex-pats include Ezra Pound in the Protestant section and Sergei Diaghilev and Igor Stravinsky in the Orthodox section. The island can be an interesting place to wander and can be visited on the way to Murano but be aware that it is just a cemetary and has no tourist services.
- Getting There: From Fondamenta Nove, take vaporetto Number 41 or 42 (that also go to Murano) to the Cimitero stop, usually the first stop.
Sant'Erasmo is the largest island in the Venetian lagoon and is mainly an agricultural island, sometimes called the Garden of Venice. There aren't any real tourist sights on the island but there is a restored 19th century fort near the Capannone stop and a church by the Chiesa stop. It's a good island for a quiet walk and you may see a number of birds.
- Getting There: From Fondamenta Nove, take vaporetto Number 13. There are 3 stops on Sant'Erasmo - Capannone, Chiesa, and Punta Vela.
- Where to Eat: Near the fort, there is a basic bar/trattoria and picnic tables. Consider shopping in Venice before you go and bringing a picnic.
Visit the only winery in the Venetian lagoon where you'll taste their white wine called Orto and visit one of the farms producing seasonal vegetables on Sant'Erasmo Island. This tour also includes a 3-course seafood lunch.
You can visit Murano and Burano Islands on this guided walking tour with private transportation offered by Select Italy that includes a visit to the Lace Museum or Glass Museum. They also offer a half-day Murano Island Tour that includes a visit to a glassblower's studio and Glass Museum.