Burano – the most colorful island in Italy

Burano Venice canal

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Can a small island brighten your day? This one certainly can. Join me and explore Burano, an island off Venice in the northern part of the Venetian lagoon.

Of all the towns with colorful houses in Italy (and there are quite a few!) Burano is surely the prettiest. Facing each other across small canals, each of its buildings is painted different colors of the rainbow.

Burano on the Venetian Lagoon

Burano colorful houses in Italy

Since before the Venetian Republic, Burano was home to fishermen and legend says that the houses were painted in bright hues so they could see their way home when fog blanketed the lagoon.

I love the way light bounces of the the walls in this town. The houses look like they have been painted a pastel hue in soft light and as the shadows move they become more vibrant.

Burano pink house with washing

The coloured houses are protected by law, so if you are a home owner in Burano Venice and want to change your sage green walls to a brighter shade of turquoise, you must apply to the government for approval.

The small island is home to 3,000 people who now mainly work in tourism related industries but who also proudly continue their lacemaking tradition as well as fishing.

And photogenic displays of washing it seems. I don’t know about you, but my laundry has never looked this good.

Burano lace

Burano lace dates back to 1500 and according to local lore was said to be inspired by a foam veil made by the swish of a mermaid’s tail. I don’t even care if that’s true, what a romantic notion!

As you can imagine the lace is delicate and each piece is made by five lacemakers, each specialising in a particular aspect of the design. You can learn more about Venetian lacemaking at the Lace Museum on Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi, 187. Open 10:00 – 17:00 except on Mondays.

What to do in Burano

Burano green house with bike

Burano is the perfect place to simply wander and soak up the atmosphere. The narrow waterways, bridges and small piazzas lined with rainbow houses are so delightful. Everyone seems to smile in Burano.

As in Venice, most visitors stick to the main streets and side canals close by so you are well rewarded by taking yourself off down small laneways and across a pretty bridge to find a quiet moment away from the crowded thoroughfares.

Burano Venice Islands

The ultimate photographer’s dream, you could spend days finding new angles and light to shoot on this most colorful of islands. I even spotted a black cat lounging on a doorstop of a pink house. Sadly I wasn’t quick enough to capture the moment before he slinked away.

Once you have meandered the little island and browsed the shops and boutiques, discover the local cuisine. The pace is slower in Burano and if ever there was a place to linger canal-side over a long lunch, this is it.

Restaurants in Burano

Trattoria al Gatto Nero Burano

It wont surprise you that Burano is famous for seafood. And the most popular place to eat seafood in Burano is Trattoria al Gatto Nero  on Via Giudecca 88. I haven’t eaten there but I have heard it is wonderful from my parents and chef Jamie Oliver. Both have excellent taste. Their signature dish is a risotto made with ghiozzi – a fish from the lagoon. Bookings highly recommended.

Trattoria da Romano at Via Galuppi, 221 is also famous for risotto. For many generations they have served their squid ink risotto to hungry locals and visiting tourists. Some even say it is the best risotto ever made.

For pizza try Trattoria Leon Coronato at Piazza Galupi 314. We enjoyed our lunch at this family run restaurant. The signora in charge is very kind and efficient.

How to get to Burano from Venice

Burano island on the Venetian lagoon

You will need to set aside at least half a day to explore Burano and the other Venice islands in the northern lagoon – Murano and Torcello.

The number 12 vaporetto line leaves from San Zaccaria near San Marco and takes around 45 minutes. One way fares on the vaporetto water bus were €7.50 in September 2017 so a day pass at €20 is the most cost effective way to visit the islands.

Fancy taking a water taxi? The cost from Piazza San Marco is around €130 one way

arriving in Burano Venice by vaporetto

Another option is to take a tour of the islands near Venice. I think this is the easiest way to visit the islands if you are short on time as the tour guides will work to the vaporetto schedules.

More information, times and prices – Boat Trip: Glimpse of Murano, Torcello and Burano Islands

We stayed in the Veneto region and drove our car to Treporti to catch the ferry to Burano. This journey takes only 15 minutes.

Watch my Burano mini movie

Love Venice?

Me too! It’s such a romantic city full of secrets and beauty. If you are visiting La Serenissima, I have some suggestions on discovering the unique details of Venice and the delicious Venetian cuisine.

As seen in:

Suitcases and Sandcastles

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36 thoughts on “Burano – the most colorful island in Italy

  1. Lolo says:

    Every time I see a post about Burano or Murano I am so sad I didn’t know about these two on my first visit to Venice in 2007! You are right though that the legend of how the lace was made is very romantic! #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      You’ll just have to go back! We didnt even mean to go last week. It just kind of happened. I’m going to write this up but staying outside Venice and taking the vaporetto in from the mainland was one of my better ideas

  2. Annabel says:

    Lovely photos! I’ve been to Venice a few times but not made it over to Burano. There’s a reason to return. The food sounds amazing, I’d love to be sitting in one of those trattorias right now! #farawayfiles

  3. Sarah says:

    Burano looks so colourful and beautiful! Italy remains my favourite country in Europe no matter how much I continue to explore. Have been to Venice several times now but sadly not Burano.

  4. Allison says:

    The legend of the lace could seriously be straight out of a fairytale, and we love fairytales in our family. Burano looks like a happy, colorful place #FarawayFiles

  5. Trish @ Mum's Gone To says:

    We’ve only had one visit to Venice and chose to go to Murano for the glass-blowing. But sorely tempted to just book another trip so I can see beautiful Burano. Such gorgeous buildings – no wonder the authorities have a say in what colour your house is painted. Do they have a say in what laundry you hang out too? 😉

  6. Cathy (Mummytravels) says:

    Each time I have been to Venice, I have missed Burano and so it is top of my list for my next trip – the colours are so fabulous. The story about the mermaid’s tail is wonderful too, a tale I want to believe whether it’s true or not! #farawayfiles

  7. Hilary says:

    Love this! The colors, the water, the green house, door and bicycle all lined up perfectly, all of it! We visited Murano and Venice on our honeymoon almost (gasp) 17 years ago, and I think it is high time we made it back there! Thanks for the inspiration! #farawayfiles

    • Katy says:

      Wowee! What a honeymoon. I’m sure it would be great to take the boys too. I think Venice is fantastic for kids once they are out of the toddler stage

  8. Ruth | Tanama Tales says:

    This place is so cute and cheerful! Of course, it can brighten my day! I have been to Venice twice. My time was very limited, so, I couldn’t make it the small islands. I know that is a big miss! I hope to visit once again. Mu husband has never been, so, I would like to go with him. #FarawayFiles

  9. Kat says:

    I missed out on visiting Burano. When I toured Italy back in 2008, Burano was not part of the tour. Instead we spent a long time in Venice, St Mark’s Square etc. But I would love to spend a relaxing day in Burano one day – take it slow, walk along the quiet lanes, take lots of pics and have a long lunch 🙂 Lovely photos, Katy! #FarawayFiles

  10. Ava Meena says:

    Burano looks unbelievably dreamy. I feel like it must be impossible to have a bad time there! I’d definitely like to see some of that mermaid inspired lace, too.

  11. Clare Thomson says:

    Burano has been top of my Venice wish list for years. Really hoping to make that dream a reality over the coming year. You know how much I love colour! Wonderful share for #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      I think they will also provide a few nice fishing boats. Make sure you stand at the back of the vaporetto on the left hand side for the best shots 🙂

  12. daisythebus says:

    Lovely portrait of a (relatively) little-known part of Venice. I didn’t visit Burano during my one and only visit to Venice… and it seems as if I missed out. I like the sound of that squid ink risotto! #FarawayFiles

  13. Chiera says:

    I love that they painted their houses bright colours to find their way home! I live when you go to a touristy destination, and wander off away from the crowds. Such a beautiful area to explore! #farawayfiles

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