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With millions of visitors each year, the beauty of Venice is unmistakable. But the area has much more to offer besides famous landmarks and gondola rides. Venice is surrounded by a number of alluring and easily accessible islands, all of which boast distinctive traits. Often overlooked by visitors, the Venetian lagoon islands offer a different view of this incredible city.
If colour is your thing, Burano is the perfect place to visit. Known for its exquisite lace, beauty is all around in Burano – vibrantly coloured houses line the sides of the canals, each one different to the next. Painted by the fishermen and their families who live there, the rainbow aesthetic of the island is extraordinarily photogenic. Additionally, Burano biscuits are incredibly popular. With a texture similar to that of shortbread, the compact ‘S’-shaped delicacies are definitely worth a purchase.
Murano glass is prized around the world, so it probably comes as no surprise that the island is packed full of glass shops. Whether vases, jewellery or wine stoppers catch your eye, this is the place to seek out some souvenirs. And even if you’re not a shopper, Murano has plenty to offer – for a small fee you can watch the local Murano glassmakers blowing glass and making new products with traditional techniques, which provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at this historic industry.
With only a few inhabitants still living on the island, Torcello is a lot quieter than other parts of Venice. As the island has more greenery than other areas of Venice and not much commercial activity, this is a chance to see some nature on your city break. Torcello’s Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta features the oldest remaining mosaics in the Venice area, dating back to the 11th century.
Standing on the edge of Giudecca and looking back across the water towards the city provides arguably one of the best views of Venice, where you can fully appreciate the structure of the city. Just a short water bus across the canal, the island is extremely accessible and is the ideal position for taking a step back to admire Venice from afar.
A trip to the Isola di San Michele, or ‘Cemetery Island’, is not as morbid as it may seem. Completely void of any kind of commercial activity (no cafes, street sellers, or ice cream shops can be found here), a trip to this island offers the perfect escape from the bustle of the city. Pay your respects to those buried at the island’s cemetery, including Igor Stravinsky, and take five minutes to enjoy the peace and quiet.