The best way to get to the Venetian Lagoon islands from the city centre is by vaporetto (waterbus). If you’re arriving in Venice by train, Santa Lucia station is well-located near many of the main vaporetto lines. But you can also pick up the boat en-route if you’re staying elsewhere in the city.
We’ll guide you through the best Venetian islands to visit and answer frequently asked questions, including the best routes and average journey times to each location.
What’s in this guide?
- Centro Storico
- San Michele
How many islands are there in Venice?
Venice city centre comprises many tiny islands connected by bridges over its famous canals and waterways. But generally, the centro storico is referred to as one island made up of six sestiere (districts):
- San Marco
- San Polo
- Santa Croce
There are 118 islands in the Venetian Lagoon. Some are entirely uninhabited, whilst others have thriving communities. These are some of the most popular islands to visit in the lagoon, in order of size:
Venice’s most populated island is the city’s historic centre, home to many notable attractions like St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, Santa Maria della Salute and Gallerie dell’Accademia. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, bars and shops here, throughout the six bustling neighbourhoods.
The centro storico has been inhabited since the 10th century BC, making it one of the oldest settlements in the Venetian Lagoon. It was known primarily as the seat of the doges, who ruled the Republic of Venice from 697 to 1797.
Santa Lucia is the only train station in Venice. From here, you can make your way across the city on foot, take the vaporetto to reach the areas of San Marco and Castello or travel onwards to the Venetian Islands.
Lido is Venice’s beach island, with over half of its 11km coast covered by sand on the Adriatic side. It serves as a barrier island to the lagoon and is long and narrow in shape. There is only one town, Lido, and a village called Malamocco in the central-southern area of the island.
If you want to visit the beach whilst in Venice, head to Lido. The Alberoni Dune Oasis on the south of the island is a protected area, home to sand dunes, pine forests and unique flora and fauna. You can also find Venice’s golf course in Lido.
Heading to Lido in late August or early September? The island hosts the Venice Film Festival, so it’s jam-packed at this time of year.
To get to Lido from Venice city centre, take the number 6 vaporetto. The line starts near the bus station at Piazzale Roma (stop B), or you can hop on at Zattere in Dorsoduro.
Once you arrive on the island, you can take the A or B bus from Santa Maria Elisabetta stop to Lido town centre and the island’s beaches. The entire journey takes 40-55 minutes in total, depending on where you get the vaporetto from in Venice.
Sant’Erasmo is located northeast of Lido, near Vignole and Murano. The number 13 vaporetto stops at all four islands if you fancy spending a day island hopping!
Once a port with many fortifications, like the Torre Massimiliana, the island is much more peaceful today, known for its abundant market gardens. There’s also a beach on the south side of Sant’Erasmo, Spiaggia del Bacan, popular with local Venetians in the summer.
You’ll notice a couple of wineries and farms on the island, where you can sample local produce, including honey, fruit and vegetables. With only one grocery store and a bar at the beach, this is the place to come to escape the hustle and bustle of Venice for a day. If you’re happy strolling around, immersing yourself in nature and enjoying the peace, you’ll love Sant’Erasmo.
From Venice’s centro storico, take the number 13 vaporetto from Fondamente Nove D in Cannaregio, towards Murano. The journey to Sant’Erasmo takes 28 minutes. The Capanonne ferry stop is around 15 minutes walk to the beach and Torre Massimiliana.
Arriving in Venice by bus or train? Take the 4.2 vaporetto from Piazzale Roma D, near the city’s main bus terminal and Santa Lucia station, to Murano Faro, a 53-minute journey. Then change for the number 13 ferry to Capannone in Sant’Erasmo, a 19-minute journey.
South-west of Lido, Pellestrina is another 11km narrow island forming a barrier to the Venetian Lagoon. There are four villages on the island, known for their brightly coloured houses: San Pietro in Volta, Porto Secco, Sant' Antonio di Pellestrina and Pellestrina.
The island is famous for making lace, fishing and its market gardens. The beach and nature reserve Spiaggia di Ca’ Roman lies at the island's southernmost point.
To get to Pellestrina, you have to go to Lido first, so why not visit both islands in a day? From Venice, take the number 6 vaporetto from Piazzale Roma B, or jump on in Dorsoduro at Zattere ferry terminal.
Once you arrive on the island, take the A or B bus from Santa Maria Elisabetta through Lido town centre to the island’s southernmost point, Alberoni, where the bus boards a ferry across to Pellestrina.
Get off the bus at Pellestrina Sant’Antonio for the island’s main beach, restaurants and bars, or stay on to Pellestrina Cimiterio and take the number 11 vaporetto to Ca’Roman beach.
The journey takes between 1 hour 45 minutes and 2 hours 15 minutes from start to finish. This depends on whereabouts in Venice you get the vaporetto and how far south in Pellestrina you’re heading.
One of the most famous islands in the Venetian Lagoon, Murano, is located north of Venice’s centro storico, and is one of its closest neighbours. It is made up of seven individual islands: San Donato, Sacca Mattia, dei Conventi, Navagero, San Stefano, San Pietro and Sacca Serenella.
Murano is best known for producing glass and pioneering glass-making technologies to create optically clear, multicoloured, enamelled and milk glass. This ancient trade arrived in Murano around 1291 when all the glassmakers in Venice were ordered to re-locate here.
If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir to remind you of your trip, what better place to find a unique treasure than Murano? Whether you want glass jewellery, homeware or contemporary art, you’ll find it in the artisan workshops and stores here.
The island is also home to some beautiful churches and palaces, including the Church of San Maria and San Donato, famous for its 12th-century Byzantine mosaics.
At Piazzale Roma D stop, a 7-minute walk from Santa Lucia station, you can take the number 3 vaporetto directly to Murano in 26 minutes, the fastest, non-stop route. Alternatively, walk 13 minutes to the Guglie stop in Cannaregio, then take the 4.2 ferry to Murano. This slightly longer journey takes around 40 minutes in total.
Next to the island of Burano, you’ll find Mazzorbo. Thanks to archaeological discoveries made in the late 19th century, this island is considered one of the earliest settlements in the lagoon, dating back as far as 1600 BC.
Although far less populated than its neighbour, Burano, this island is just as beautiful, with brightly-coloured houses alongside orchards and vineyards. There are a couple of restaurants and bars on the island, where you can relax after visiting the 14th-century Church of Santa Caterina. A bridge links Mazzorbo and Burano, so you can easily visit both islands in a day!
From Ferrovia D outside Santa Lucia station, take the 4.2 vaporetto to Murano Faro, a 49-minute journey. Then change for the number 12 line to Mazzorbo, a 24-minute ride.
Mazzorbetto is more extensive than its sister island, Mazzorbo, but virtually uninhabited. It was once home to the monastery of Sant’Eufemia and the Church of San Pietro, but little remains of these buildings. The AGESCI scouts have a base here, but the rest is used for crops.
Mazzorbetto is linked to Mazzorbo via a bridge, so you can take the number 12 vaporetto from Venice to Burano or Mazzorbo, then walk across and explore this peaceful island.
Close to Venice’s centro storico, Giudecca is one of the most accessible islands. Although it’s considered part of Dorsoduro sestiere, it can only be reached by boat.
In the 20th century, Giudecca was an industrial area of Venice with many shipyards and factories, but this is no longer the case. The island is mostly residential, but you’ll also find a few palaces, churches and hotels. Giudecca has some fantastic restaurants and bars, making it the ideal location to spend an evening.
There are a few different ways to get to Giudecca from Venice city centre. If you’re arriving by train, head to Piazzale Roma E stop near Santa Lucia station and take vaporetto 4.1 to Giudecca Palanca, a 13-minute journey.
Alternatively, the number 2 ferry crosses the Giudecca Canal from Zattere stop in Dorsoduro, getting you to the island in 4 minutes.
Vignole is located in the northeast of the lagoon, near Sant’Erasmo. It is made up of two smaller islands connected by a bridge. The eastern part of the island is home to a military barracks and the fort of Sant’Andrea, whilst the rest of Vignole has very few inhabitants, apart from those who farm the land.
There are no amenities on the island, but it’s a peaceful place to enjoy nature, so why not take a detour to Vignole on your way to Sant’Erasmo?
The quickest route to Vignole from Venice is the number 13 vaporetto from Fondamente Nove D in Cannaregio, an 18-minute journey.
Torcello is another island with very few inhabitants. Located near Mazzorbetto in the north, it was one of the first settlements in the lagoon, dating back to 452. In the 10th century, it was an important trade centre with even more economic power than Venice.
Today, only one small medieval palazzo remains. Many buildings were torn down, and their materials were repurposed elsewhere in Venice. However, you can still see the 7th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, known for its ornate mosaic decoration added in the 11th and 12th centuries.
The quickest route from Venice is the number 12 vaporetto line from Fondamente Nove D in Cannaregio, which gets you to Torcello in 38 minutes.
Burano is known for its picture-perfect, colourful buildings, making it one of the most popular islands in the lagoon for tourists. It is also known for lace-making, like the island of Pellestrina.
Unlike its neighbours, Burano is densely populated with houses, shops, restaurants and bars and has little green space. The island is split into five sestiere: San Mauro, Giudecca, San Martino Sinistra, San Martino Destra and Terranova.
Planning on visiting Burano? Why not head to Mazzorbo, Mazzorbetto or Torcello for a full day of exploring the Venetian Lagoon!
From Fondamente Nove A stop in Cannareggio, take the number 12 vaporetto to Burano, a 45-minute journey.
San Michele is Venice’s cemetery island. Many famous writers, composers, artists and scientists are buried here, including Igor Stravinsky, Ezra Pound, Luigi Nono, Emilio Vedova and Franco Basaglia. The island is also home to the Renaissance church of San Michele in Isola and a monastery once used as a prison.
The island of San Michele is sometimes considered part of the Cannaregio district in Venice due to their proximity. You can take the 4.1 or 4.2 ferries from Fondamente Nove B or D across to Cimetario, a 6-minute journey.
Getting the train to Venice?
If you're thinking of taking a trip to Venice, why not travel by train? Travelling to Venice by train is easy due to the high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. You can travel to Venice from some of the most popular cities in Italy, including Treviso to Venice (12m), Florence to Venice (2h 1m) and Rome to Venice (3h 16m).
Need more information about travelling to Venice by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to Venice.