- Local charm
- Main tourist attractions
- Local shops
- Getting around
- Murano, Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello
- The Dolomites
The island of Venice is actually fairly small. The best way of getting around therefore, is to put on some good walking shoes and go exploring on 2 feet. Be sure to have a map with you (or Google Maps), as it’s fairly easy to get lost amongst the numerous narrow streets…although half the fun of Venice IS getting lost and discovering something unexpected.
The only inconvenient thing about walking is the limited number of bridges that enable you to cross the Grand Canal. If you don’t plan to head towards a crossing point as you walk, you can find yourself having to spend an extra 15-20 minutes walking to the nearest bridge, so beware of that.
An alternative to walking is to use the canals, via a vaporetto which is a public water bus (expensive), private water taxi (super expensive), or combining it with a classic tourist experience and hiring a gondola (rather expensive for what it is, but hey, it’s an experience). If you’re planning to visit say Murano, Burano and the other islands, it probably makes sense to get a multi-day pass for the vaporetto, as single journeys are rather expensive.
To get to and from the Marco Polo airport, you can take the airport water taxi which takes about 45 minutes and costs €15 one way.
Murano, Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello
As I had plenty of time in Venice, I decided to take 2 full days out to explore some of the islands beyond Venice island itself. Though I was rather keen on the smaller islands of San Giorgio Maggiore and Isola di San Michele, I ultimately decided to visit the more popular islands of Murano and Burano. Both islands are famous for glass and lace respectively, with Burano also having the added bonus of being extremely picturesque with its much-photographed rows of brightly coloured houses.
Mazzorbo is a relatively quieter island located next to Burano. There’s a bridge which joins both islands so you really get 2 islands for the price of 1 if you decide to visit either of these islands. There’s not much to do on Mazzorbo apart from lovely quiet walks away from other tourists, which I rather enjoyed.
From there, Torcello is a few minutes boat ride away, though in quieter months (like December), you’ll need to go via Burano. Torcello is again, relative uninhabited, though there are ruins of some of Venice’s first settlements there, which make it worth a short visit.
My final day in Venice was New Year’s Day. Instead of spending it on the island, I decided to rent a car from the Marco Polo airport and head out into the national parks nearby, to explore some of the Dolomites. Taking the A27 north, I headed towards the charming little town of Belluno, about 2 hours drive away, where I stopped for lunch (beware, there’s not much open on New Year’s Day apart from the cafes around the main square). With a couple of hours to spare before I needed to get back to the airport, I spent some time driving through some quiet mountain roads, stopping a few times to enjoy the views and to grab a coffee.
Whilst I did manage to catch my flight in the end, I will say that road signs showing the route back to the airport weren’t great, so leave plenty of time to find your way back from the mountains to your destination!