Most visitors to Venice spend their time on the main island and don't venture anywhere else. In fact, many visitors don't even realize that Venice is made up of more than one island. The surrounding lagoon is home to over 100 smaller islands that all fall into the city of Venice, offering an escape from the crowds on the main island.
Murano is one of the closest islands and boasts its own Grand Canal that rivals the one on the main island—although with a lot less traffic. Even though Murano is the most popular day trip to take from Venice, the streets are far less crowded than on the main island. For a much more intimate look into Venetian life, it's a short water taxi ride away to the shores of scenic Murano.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time to Visit: Spring and September are some of the best times to visit for good weather and fewer crowds. Fall can be nice, but the rains start in October and Murano is prone to flooding. The high season for tourism is the same as in Venice: during the summer and Carnevale (usually in February); even Murano is packed during these times and hotel rates go up.
- Language: The official language is Italian, although true locals may speak the Venetian dialect amongst each other. However, most workers in the tourism industry can also speak English, French, and Spanish.
- Currency: The currency in Murano is the euro (€). Most hotels and restaurants accept credit cards, although smaller shops may only take cash.
- Getting Around: The "island" of Murano is actually seven individual islands all connected by pedestrian bridges, but it's small enough to explore on foot. Just like in Venice, there are no cars on the island, but you can move around the canals via water taxi or gondola.
- Travel Tip: If you want to take home a piece of famous Murano glass, do your research before arriving to purchase from a reputable crafter as many imitation pieces also exist on the island. Usually, you can buy something and have it shipped, saving you the hassle of packing a fragile piece of glass in your luggage.
Things to Do
While the nearby island of Burano is famous for lace production, in Murano it's all about glass. The island has been the epicenter of Venetian glass since the Middle Ages and visitors today can still see how local crafters blow their pieces of art. It's fascinating to watch and although it isn't cheap, you can also buy some authentic Murano glass to take home.
- A visit to the Glass Museum on Murano is compulsory to learn about the fascinating history of the island. The museum is housed in a centuries-old building, but the exhibition itself was renovated in 2016 to be more dynamic and interactive.
- After exploring the museum, stroll around the island where you can visit glass factories that still use the same techniques from centuries ago. There are even tours you can join that allow participants to try their hand at making their own creation. One excellent option is the Glass Cathedral, built inside a former church. When you're done, there are plenty of shops selling local pieces if you're interested in taking something home.
- While St. Mark's Basilica may be the most famous church in Venice, the Duomo Santa Maria e San Donato on Murano is one of the oldest. It was originally built in the seventh century and later rebuilt in the traditional Byzantine style. Hung up behind the altar are a collection of large bones, supposedly from the dragon that was slain by Saint Donatus.
What to Eat and Drink
Local seafood is the specialty of all the Venetian islands, freshly caught from the lagoon or the nearby Adriatic Sea. If you're unsure what to order, the best option is to ask your server what's fresh, but cod cooked in butter or cuttlefish prepared in its own ink are always winning choices. Polenta, the hearty grain made from cornmeal, originated in the Venice region and is a staple of the area.
A local wine bar in Venice is called a bacaro, and these cozy bistros fill up in the early evening with locals enjoying a pre-dinner drink and snack. The word for wine in Italian is vino, but when you're in a bacaro you want to order an ombra. These small glasses of house wine are typically served a small tapas-sized plate of food and costs just a couple of dollars, at most.
If you're looking for a refreshing drink to enjoy on a warm day, the world-famous Aperol spritz was born in the Veneto region where Murano is located. This aperitif is best enjoyed in the afternoon before eating lunch or dinner, but the truth is that they're delicious at any time of day.
Where to Stay
Most travelers make a day trip to Murano and then head back to their Venice hotel in the evening, but spending the night is a great way to experience the island once all the tourists are gone. Hotels and Airbnbs on the periphery of the island often have breathtaking seaside views, while interior properties are more immersed in the local life. Regardless of what area you choose to stay in, you can walk across all of Murano in about 20 minutes so everything is easily accessible and within reach.
The easiest, cheapest, and most fun way to travel around Venice is via the vaporetti water buses. Several lines run between the main island and Murano, so the best option depends on what part of Venice you're leaving from.
- The fastest boat ride is via Line 12 which departs from the Fondamente Nove station and takes less than 10 minutes.
- If you're near the Santa Lucia train station, Line 8 is a direct boat to Murano.
- Line 4 is a circular route that stops at many docks throughout the main island and then continues on to Murano, so the total travel time depends on what station you board at.
- Line 7 is a seasonal route to Murano that only runs from spring through fall.
A one-way journey on a vaporetto costs 7.50 euros, or about $9, although day passes are available if you plan to use them often. You can also use a private water taxi to get to Murano, although expect to pay at least $60 for the ride.
Money Saving Tips
- To avoid the highest hotel rates, plan your visit for the low season of spring or winter, making sure to avoid the Carnevale dates. If you're willing to risk the possibility of flooding, fall is also an inexpensive time to visit.
- Definitely avoid using the water taxis for getting to Murano. The vaporetto system is easy to use, just as fast, and a fraction of the cost.
- Restaurants around Venice often add a coperto surcharge to the bill, although that extra fee doesn't usually make it to your server. Tipping isn't customary in Murano or Italy, although you can round the bill up or leave an extra euro or two if the service was good.