Getting Lost On Burano: Italy’s Rainbow Island

Burano Italy Travel Guide
Tips For Visiting Burano Island near Venice
Burano, Italy

Hidden away just 40 minutes North of Venice Italy is the small fishing island of Burano, with houses painted in bright colors like a beautiful rainbow. A magical place to explore!

While traveling through Venice last year, Anna and I decided to take a public water-taxi out to the picturesque town of Burano Italy and spend the night.

The secret of Burano has been out for a while, and it gets plenty of tourists due to its proximity to Venice. When there isn’t a Global Pandemic going on that is…

Everyone visits this unique island in Italy to capture photos of the pretty homes painted in different colors. Pinks, blues, yellows, greens, purples. The island also has a system of canals.

Burano island is an Instagram dream destination in Italy!

Burano Aerial Photo
Burano Island from the Sky
Boats line the Canals
They Have Canals Like Venice

What Makes Burano Special

Wandering around Burano you’ll find little old ladies placing laundry out to dry, or peering down at kids and tourists from their multi-colored windows framed by flower boxes.

Fishermen on Burano take their boats out in the early morning, returning with fresh fish in the evenings.

Little bridges span the small canals and connect streets, and the island’s main square Piazza Galuppi is full of souvenir shops, seafood restaurants and bars.

There are no cars on Burano — locals get around on foot, bicycle, or boat.

Family Exploring the Island
Taking Dylan for a Stroll
Cat in the Window
Cats wait for Fishermen to Arrive
Colorful Street
Color Around Every Corner

Painted Houses Everywhere

Why are the houses on Burano painted bright colors? Apparently it was to help returning fishermen see their homes from the water, as well as to distinguish property lines (as most of the buildings are connected to each other).

But I really have to hand it to the residents of the island, they chose some fantastic colors to paint their homes!

The island’s population hovers around 2000 people, and these days the main income is from tourism.

People travel here from Venice as a day-trip to photograph all the colorful homes on the island. We wanted photos without tons of tourists milling about, which is why we spent a night on the island.

Most visitors arrive in the late morning and leave in the afternoon, because they are staying at hotels in Venice. So there are a few hours when you can have the island to yourself — if you time it right.

Main Square
Tourists in the Main Square
Laundry Hanging to Dry
Sun Dried Laundry
Painted Houses on Burano Island
What Color Would You Paint Yours?

Things To Do On Burano

Honestly there’s not a whole lot to do on the island, other than taking photos of the pretty homes. But that in itself is worth the ferry-ride over.

San Martino Church

A focal point on the island is the “leaning bell tower” of San Martino Church, located in the main square. This bell tower is slowly sinking in the wet ground, and you can see it from many parts of the island.

Enjoy Italian Seafood

Because this is an island made up of fishermen, it’s natural they have tons of fresh fish to eat! Make sure to try some squid ink pasta, or Italian seafood risotto. The main street is lined with restaurants, like the famous Al Gatto Nero da Ruggero and Trattoria da Primo e Paolo.

Exploring Side Streets

Burano is a small island, with only 2 or 3 main streets. However there are many hidden side streets, with equally colorful homes, so it’s easy to get lost exploring and find a quiet corner for yourself.

Blue, Yellow, and Green Homes
Italy’s Rainbow Island
Lace Shop
Famous Burano Lace on Display

Authentic Burano Lace

Burano is also famous for its intricate lacework. Beginning in the 16th century, women here started producing exceptional lace for export around the world.

Lacework is very time-consuming and involves many different people. For example, it takes a team of seven women one month to produce a small lace table centerpiece.

We saw all kinds of tourist shops selling lace dresses and accessories on Burano, however most of this lace is no longer hand-made. There are only a handful of traditional lace makers left on the island, like Emilia Burano and La Perla Gallery.

I recommend stopping into Museo de Murletto (the local lace museum) if you’d like to learn about the history of Burano lace. The museum is small and you can walk through it in 15 minutes.

Colorful Burano Houses
Streets Empty Out in the Evening

Getting To Burano Island

Even if you’re renting a car for a road trip around Italy, the only way to get to Burano is by boat. You can hire an expensive private water taxi, or take the public Vaporetto (Number 12) from Fondament Nove in Venice.

The trip to Burano takes about 40 minutes, and one of the stops is another popular Venetian island called Murano. If you already happen to be on Murano, you can just hop on the Number 12 from the Murano Faro Stop too.

A single Vaporetto ticket costs about €7.50 (EUR), but if you’re planning to spend a few days in Venice you can save money and buy a multi-trip pass for €20 (1 day), €30 (2 days), or €40 (3 days). That’s what we did.

Burano Airbnb
Our Cool Airbnb in Burano

Where To Stay On Burano

If you’d like a more authentic Burano experience, I highly recommend spending the night. Many of the town’s local residents don’t come out until after all the tourists leave at the end of the day.

We stayed at one of the coolest Airbnb’s I’ve ever been to. The owner has placed little cards around the whole home, telling the story of his Grandmother who lived there through her belongings.

Old photographs, antique furniture, and other knickknacks. It was like staying in a living museum!


Best Accommodation In Burano

MID-RANGE
Casa Burano
LUXURY
Venissa

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Boats in a Canal
Quiet Morning on the Island

Useful Burano Italy Travel Tips

  • Like Venice, the best time to visit Burano is the shoulder seasons, March – May or September – November. Still busy, but not as bad as summer.
  • If you’d like to get photos before the large crowds arrive, I recommend getting there before 10am. Or even better, stay overnight.
  • The main streets of Burano can get pretty packed, but there are also hidden side streets that see fewer people. Get lost and explore!
  • Most of the lace shops you see are selling cheap, machine-made products to tourists. You’ll know if the lace is real or not by the price. An authentic hand-made lace handkerchief can cost over $45 USD.
Travel Planning Resources For Italy

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip.

Book Your Flight

Ready to fly? Here’s how I find the cheapest airline flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find a deal.

Cheap Accommodation

Learn how I save money booking hotels & vacation apartments.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read why you should always carry travel insurance.

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Getting Lost On Burano: Italy’s Rainbow Island. Click here to find out more #Burano #Italy #Europe #Travel
Getting Lost On Burano: Italy’s Rainbow Island. Click here to find out more #Burano #Italy #Europe #Travel

READ MORE ITALY TRAVEL TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my travel guide for Burano Italy! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Any questions about things to do in Burano Italy? Do you have other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

THANKS FOR READING

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (16)

  1. I visited Burano last year to escape the crowds in Venice. Not only was it quick and easy to get to, but was beyond picturesque. I will definitely visit again!

  2. Hi Matthew! I really enjoyed reading about your experience in Burano. The place seems wonderful, the houses and their colors are incredible. It looks like you had an amazing time, by the way the pictures transmit a nice vibe. I hope I can visit Italy soon, thanks for sharing about this place!

  3. Hey Matthew!
    I really enjoyed reading your blog about the Italy Islands! I was wondering how beautiful the houses are!😍 Of course I saw a few pictures of them before, but these pictures are very awesome and gave me a fascinating view into the life in Italy. I hope I can visit it by my own later.
    Great wishes,
    Carina from Germany

  4. Great Blog! It was really interesting to read and I got an awesome view into Italys Island! The pictures are very exciting, so colourful, I wish I can visit it in real life sometimes😍.

  5. Those colours! We had never heard of it before reading about it here!
    One night might not cut it, haha we would stay a little longer.

  6. Hey Matthew
    I’ve read your blog about the Italian island and I must say I’m very impressed by the beauty of this little island.
    I’m really wondering that this is such an unknown place for many people because I just know those painted buildings in very bad looking way and those are still shining.
    So thank you for showing me a new I’ll visit when I’m older
    Eric from Germany

  7. We had to cancel our Italy trip this spring due to the pandemic, but that is giving us time to explore virtually and make notes for future trips. You weren’t kidding about Burano Island being an Instagram dream destination. Love the vibrant colors of the painted houses in your photos. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Hi Matthew. Hope you are stating safe and virus free. I bought a few of those “middle eastern head scarfs” in the camo pattern, figuring they are better than nothing over my face. The powers that be are telling us to go “maskless” to save masks for med personnel. I’m reusing a few I had as a patient. (Not the 95). I believe we all should be masked. Take away the stigma of using it, or shame any “bald faces” into donning one! I think the color/pattern of the scarf is important to some folks, but I don’t recognize the significance of Tartan colors on a Scotsman’s kilt, so I bought camo ’cause I’m a vet! Stay safe. Happy Trails! (Yeah I’m that old!)

  9. I’ve never heard of this place. It sounds fantastic. Probably a wonderful place to spend a weekend and just relax with no internet. All I need is some good food, a little wine, a book, and a tiny espresso.

    • It can be! Although it can get quite crowded in the high season… but if you actually stay overnight on the island, you can enjoy the early mornings and evenings peacefully.

  10. Hey, Matthew! I loved reading your blog. Burano seems like such a colourful place. Kinda reminds me of Pondicherry.

    • I had to look that one up! India is high on my future-travels list. The two do seem somewhat alike, with all the colorful buildings.

  11. Love to see the color of the city, Hope god will save Italy from the current scenario. After a long days back I will visit your site, Always love to see your post.
    Thanks

    • We’ll all need some saving after this disease takes its toll… but we will bounce back eventually. Burano included.