Venetian Islands

So this week I found myself in a little dilemma. Me and the hubby both had a week off work, the weather forecast in the UK was looking pretty wet and my jealousy at other peoples holiday plans was at an all time high. Truly first world problems. We had a fairly modest budget to play with so a city break seemed like the best option.
After a full weekend of obsessively scouring the internet I found and booked some suspiciously cheap flights to Marco Polo Airport in Venice. It’s a place I have always wanted to visit but never realised that I could do so on a budget. After a little research we settled on a charming four star hotel on the island of Murano. The hotel offers complimentary transfers from Marco Polo airport and also regular shuttles between Murano and mainland Venice.

Murano Island lies just 1.5km from mainland Venice and is renowned for it’s locally crafted glass. At first we were sceptical about staying outside of mainland Venice but now I am home I can tell you that it was such a great decision and I would happily stay here again.

Murano is a sleepy Island, a great contrast to the bustling city of Venice. The island is lined with lovely little restaurants, Cicchetti bars, and glass based souvenir shops. Despite tourists hopping over to visit the local glass museums, the island never felt busy and I loved sitting in restaurants filled with locals chatting away to each other in Italian.

Tip: food and drink seems to be a little cheaper on Murano and Burano than on mainland Venice. Staying here is a great option for those on a budget.

Be aware that Murano Island does close down early. Local bars and restaurants close around 9.30pm at the latest so if you’re not up for an early night then head to the mainland. There are water busses (Vaporetto) that run between the two islands until pretty late, just work out which stop you need before going heavy on the prosecco. The vaporetto system is less frequent at night so it pays to be prepared.

Tip: buy a multi-day Vaporetto pass if you want the freedom to hop back and forth between the islands as and when you please.

Whilst Murano is quaint and sleepy, Venice is as grand as they come. Traditional little Italian apartments sit between opulent five star hotels and the contrast is a sight to behold. There are a number of famous sights to fill your time in Venice; Piazza San Marco, Saint Mark’s Basillica, the bridge of sighs just to name a few. For me the best part of my visit to Venice was getting lost down the little cobbled alley ways and taking in the sights along the various canals than run through the city. Walking over the Rialto Bridge at sunset to watch the gondolas float down the Grand Canal is one of my favourite Venetian memories.

Tip: Venice can be packed in summer as during the day hoards of tourists spill out from the giant cruise ships and fill the city. Visit early or after 5pm to see the city without the crowds. It really does quieten down in the evening.

I am a total foodie and loved nothing better than to grab a plate full of Chicetti, an Apreol spritz and sit with our legs hanging over the canal watching the world go by. Italian gelato is one of my favourite treats and there are plenty of vendors all over Venice. If you can’t treat yourself when on holiday then when can you?

Tip: Venice does not have to be expensive for food and drinks. Many bars and restaurants display their prices on boards outside and some can be pretty cheap compared to the UK. If the price isn’t transparent then be prepared to be stung. There are lots of expensive tourist traps in Venice.

For me a must see whilst in Venice is the little fishing village of Burano. Recently this little island has become somewhat an Instagram sensation and sadly this means that it gets hit pretty hard with tourists during the day. Burano is simply beautiful, filled with brightly coloured houses and pretty little bridges. Burano is famous for lace making and there are plenty of shops selling their wares. As the island is inhabited by fishermen it is a great place to try some seafood. Always wanted to try spaghetti alle vongole? This is the place to do it!

The Vaporetto runs regularly to Burano from both Murano and mainland Venice. Our boat was very busy so be prepared to stand. Despite the crowds I would say that Burano is definitely worth a visit if your schedule allows. I would love the chance to return to Venice to visit the less frequented Torcello Island and the trendy beaches of Lido.

Tip: This isn’t rocket science but walk away from the main tourist square for some peace and quiet. We found a lovely little bar down a deserted side street. They had seats overlooking the water, a cabinet full of Italian snacks and their delicious cold prosecco was only 3Euro a glass.

We flew with EasyJet to Marco Polo airport and stayed at LaGare Venezia MGallery Hotel by Sofitel on Murano Island. Our airport water transfers were free of charge and provided by the hotel.