Venice is an incredible city, which if you’re visiting for just a day or two means you have to prioritise the main sites. But if you’re in Venice for more than a couple of days, then why not explore a bit more and venture to some of the glorious islands surrounding the main attraction itself? Just a short vaporetto (water bus) ride away, the island of Murano makes for an amazing full or part day trip from Venice, either alone or in conjunction with the neighboring islands like Burano or Torcello.
Why visit Murano?
Murano is a beautiful little island, with a whole lot less tourists than Venice itself. It’s also famous for its glass blowing history, as it became the glass blowing centre of the world. This tradition is still the main draw of the island today, with multiple factories, furnaces and beautiful glass souvenirs to browse.
So how did glass blowing arrive in Murano? Well, at the end of the 13th century, the Venetian government determined that it was too dangerous to have glass-blowing furnaces continue to operate in Venice due to the many wooden buildings in Venice. So they moved it to the less important island of Murano where the glass blowers honed their trade to become the world standard in glass. Another benefit to Murano was that being a small island, it meant that the traditional processes and trade secrets could be maintained.
Nowadays, other places in Europe have great glass blowing reputations, but Murano still holds strong. Major glass-makers in Murano have banded together and developed a trademark that certifies glass made in Murano using traditional techniques in order to distinguish it from that made elsewhere in the world.
My living room has a beautiful certified glass dish in it, and every year both my Mum and I hang our Murano glass Christmas trees up as decorations to remember our trip together to the island.
How to get to Murano
Murano is easily accessible by Vaparetto. Vaparettos are effectively water buses that run through Venice to multiple stops. Buying Vaparetto tickets can sometimes be a bit confusing, so if you plan to use the service multiple times during your stay, then consider buying daily (or multiple day) passes. That way it works out much cheaper, and you don’t have to wait in line for tickets each time you want to ride the Vaporetto (plus, not every Vaparetto stop has a ticket machine if you’re boarding at a smaller stop).
You can take Vaparetto lines 12, 4.1 or 4.2 to Murano. I recommend getting off at the first stop in Murano, Murano Faro (lighthouse) to start wondering from there. Alternatively, you could get off at the Museo stop for the Duomo, or the Colonna stop to go straight to the glass factories.
What to do on a visit to Murano
- Browse the beautiful glass shops
You can’t visit Murano and not enjoy all of the glass it has to offer. There are countless gorgeous shops filled with elaborate and ornate glass ornaments, bottle stoppers, Christmas decorations, lights, photo frames, jewellery and everything else that can be made from glass!
2. Watch a glass blowing demonstration
Exploring a bit more of the glass blowing history, Murano offers multiple glass blowing demonstrations where you can have a tour of the furnace and watch the glass blowers at work. You can either book an official tour, or do what we did and just drop in (oh the heady days when COVID wasn’t a thing!)
3. Wander the canals
Murano’s canals aren’t as famous as Venice’s but are still beautiful. It has its own Grand Canal which is lined by nice restaurants and glass shops. Pop in to the museum of the history of glassmaking, pay a visit to the Church of Santa Maria, eat lunch in a traditional Trattoria or just stroll and enjoy the colourful houses.
4. See the Comet Star sculpture
The Comet Star sculpture was created by master glassmaker Simone Cenedese, who is actually based on the island. It was assembled from 500 individually blown glass elements in 6 colours. It’s quite a striking monument!
5. Visit the Duomo di Murano
Last but not least on the list is a visit to the beautiful Duomo. This church was built in the 7th century and is one of the oldest in Venice. It is known for its Byzantine mosaic pavement outside, and is said to contain large bones behind the altar belonging to a dragon slain by a saint.
Thanks so much for reading. Have you ever visited Murano and what did you think? Despite our choice to visit on a gloomy day, I’m really glad we did. I never thought I’d know so much about glass blowing!! Stay safe and happy travelling.