Burano, Italy: A Real Life Fairy Tale

Burano is an island located in the Northern Venetian Lagoon and is easily reachable as a day trip from Venice. If you’ve ever seen photos of rows of brightly painted fisherman’s houses and wanted to go, you’ve finally found the place! Burano is renowned not only for the colorful homes, but also for its lacemaking.

Arriving on the island of Burano, Italy feels like entering in a wonderfully vibrant kaleidoscope of colors (you might think this sounds like an exaggeration, but read on, I promise! Or just cheat and scroll down for pics!) This tiny island is home to only 2,800 people, and feels like a village frozen in time.

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what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses and canals

I saw women hanging laundry out the windows of their rainbow houses, ancient fishing boats lining the canals, and elderly ladies embroidering lace in the Italian sunshine. I’m not kidding here, it felt like something ripped from the pages of a fairy tale, complete with rainbows and unicorns. If you’re in Venice and have a half day to explore, I cannot recommend Burano enough!

what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses and flowers

Why visit Burano?

Have you ever seen the photos of Venice with rainbow colored houses lining quaint canals? These are not actually snapped in Venice, but on the island of Burano! I’ll let you in on a secret…I’m a huge nerd.  I love to know the history behind everything, specifically why these houses were every shade of a Crayola crayon box.

what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses and main canal

There’s a legend that says the fisherman painted their houses bright colors so that they were visible from the sea. That way, they could find their way home at night. The colors of the houses have been in the families for centuries, so nowadays, if you wish to paint your home on Burano, you have to send a letter to the government requesting permission, who will respond with a list of colors permitted for that lot. This is a little “Big Brother” for me, but makes for amazing photo ops!

what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses and downtown

What can I do on Burano?

I was absolutely entranced by the multicolored houses reflected in the sparking green canals, terraces full of blooming flowers, weathered fisherman bringing in their daily catch, and the tilting bell tower rising above the roofs of the village. Burano is the perfect spot for those photo ops…I easily took 300 pictures while I was there! The locals have acknowledged that the island is slowly changing; “aqua alta” (sever flooding) occurs throughout the winter, causing many in the community to consider a move to the mainland.

what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses and alleyways

Burano is also a breath of fresh area (literally, fresh sea air) from the sometimes stifling Venice. The main thoroughfares can definitely get overcrowded with tourists snapping endless photos, *raising my hand, this was totally me—sorry everyone*. Take a turn down a side street, and you’ll notice the atmosphere change immediately. While you’re wandering, bask in the quiet and pure Italian-ness of the island.

what to do Burano, Italy - walk through the canals

My advice? Visit now, stroll along the sparkling canals, take way too many photos, and soak in the culture of this charming island.

what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses and alleys

How do I get to Burano?

Burano is only 40 minutes from Venice by ACTV ferry (Venice’s public water transportation). In Venice, head to the Fondamenta Nove, where you will get a ticket for the Number 12 Vaporetto. You can buy the tickets by hour, by leg, or for an entire day. Since I was travelling to both Murano and Burano, I bought a 24 hour pass, which made my life wayyyy easier.  I only needed to try to pretend that I understood Italian once! The easiest option is to take this tour of Burano, Murano, and Torcello.  All transportation is planned for you, and you even get a little tour of all three islands!

what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses and canals

If you’re in Venice, make sure to take the time to visit this exquisite island, and I’d love to hear about your tips & tricks for visiting the area (and of course, all of the beautiful photos!!!) Feel free to share your advice in the comments below!

what to do Burano, Italy - colorful houses

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  1. My God how beautiful these pics are! I was happy to see this post because I’m definitely visiting next summer (I’ll work on my crowd fighting skills!) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Stunning photos, Melissa! I totally agree with you that Burano is a must-visit place and so easy to get to from Venice! It really has jumped straight out of a fairytale book.

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