Have you ever wondered how many islands there are in Venice?
Venice enchants thousands of visitors with the beauty of its sumptuous and elegant palaces. Its art masterpieces envioulsy kept inside ancient churches.
Not to mention… the romantic bridges and narrow streets.
This city offers the perfect mix of a unique urban layout and aesthetics.
How many islands in Venice?
Venice isn’t the only place in the lagoon worth visiting. Beyond the borders of its outstanding historical centre, there’s an archipelago of small islands.
Each one with its own identity, history and peculiarities.
However, let’s first find out how many islands in Venice there are!
Quick answer There are 62 islands in Venice. However, not all of them can be visited or easily reachable and you can only get there by boat.
The water buses belong to the ACTV public transport service. The water bus is the best (and cheapest) option to reach most of the Venetian islands.
Islands of Venice map
Some of the most popular islands in Venice are:
Giudecca island is one of the closest islands to the historical city centre, as well as the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Many of the Venetian islands are completely abandoned today but they still jealously preserve the memories of a glorious (or sinister) past.
Among these islands, it’s worth mentioning the island of Sant’Angelo della Polvere, Poveglia and San Giorgio in Alga.
I have already talked about how Venice was built on this blog. Let’s now learn more about its islands. But first, have you ever wondered the following…
How many bridges are there in Venice?
There are 436 bridges in Venice (including public and private ones).
With more than 100 small islands, bridges are architectural structures that allow people to move around, since the early days of the Republic of Venice.
Thanks to these bridges, Venetian residents and tourists can walk from one place to another, without taking any type of boat.
The most famous bridge in Venice is the Rialto Bridge.
The other three bridges crossing the Grand Canal are:
- the Accademia Bridge
- the Scalzi Bridge
- Constitution Bridge or ‘of Calatrava’
15 popular islands in Venice worth Visiting
Even if there are many islands around the Venetian lagoon, I’ll share 15 islands in Venice worth visiting that you can reach from Venice city centre.
La Giudecca is the closest island to the historical centre (and the largest).
It is called ‘spinalonga‘ by Venetians for its long shape and has a very ancient history: probably it’s one of the first colonized strips of land in the Venetian lagoon.
The reason why it’s called ‘Giudecca’ was for the strong presence of Jewish people on the territory. It’s easily accessible by water bus.
Its northern part is particularly scenic, from where you can immediately spot the island of San Giorgio with the beautiful Church of San Giorgio Maggiore.
From here, you can enjoy amazing views of the lagoon and St. Mark’s Square.
San Giorgio Maggiore
The island of San Giorgio Maggiore is one of the lagoon’s smallest islands.
It’s only a few meters away from the La Giudecca island. San Giorgio Maggiore is a magical and silent place, far from the main tourist itineraries and, for this reason, its unique charm is still intact.
The origins of the island goes back to distant 10th century, when the Benedictine monks founded the first convent and built the nearby church.
When visiting San Giorgio Maggiore stop by the Renaissance style basilica realized by Palladio and where the Tintoretto’s masterpieces the ‘Last Supper’ and the ‘Gathering of Manna’ are jealously kept.
Torcello is a small island, inhabited today only by a few dozen people. It’s situated 10 kilometres away from Venice and has a very ancient history.
In fact, due to the barbarian invasions, a large part of the population who lived on the lagoon’s islands moved to Torcello over a thousand years ago.
What makes Torcello unique is the silence you can enjoy around its streets and the ots ancestral charm of legends and myths, stories only Venetian people know about.
Here you can find on of the lagoon’s lesser known bridges: the Devil Bridge.
The legend has it that the devil himself built it at the behest of a witch.
Murano is located north-east of Venice. It is made up of 7 islands divided by canals and connected by bridges, like Venice.
With about 4,500 inhabitants, it is one of the most populous islands of the lagoon. The town is known all around the world for the craftsmanship of glass processing.
Murano became an industrial centre dedicated to the artistic processing of glass following a decree of the Serenissima Republic of 1295.
This law required to move to the island all the existing furnaces in Venice, to avoid other disastrous fires to happen in the city.
When in Murano, I recommend visiting the Cathedral of S.S. Maria e Donato, one of the greatest examples of Venetian-Byzantine architecture.
The Palazzo Corner, a delightful example of Gothic architecture, the church of San Pietro with paintings by Bellini and Paolo Veronese and the Glass Museum.
See this guide on how to get from Venice to Murano for the best ways to get here.
Isola di San Michele
You can spot the San Michele island from the Cannaregio neighbourhood in Venice. In the nineteenth century, the island became the site of the cemetery of Venice.
If visiting the island, it’s worth walking around it in tranquillity and silence. Here important personalities such as the composer Stravinsky and the poet Brodskij rest.
One of the most beautiful buildings on the island to visit is the Church of San Michele, built in the 12th century. Over the centuries is has turned into an abbey. The Reinassance architecture is characterized by white Istrian stone.
Isola di Mazzorbo
The Mazzorbo island is connected to Murano by the Long Bridge. Very far from mass tourist flows, the island of Mazzorbo is an oasis of peace, where the first signs of life in the lagoon can be found.
While once there were several places of worship, today you can only visit the splendid complex of Santa Caterina.
One of the prominent points of interest on the islet today is the wine estate called Venissa, the Michelin starred restaurant proposes a culinary experience that’s like a journey through Venice’s native territory.
The property is also famous for the production of wine and the Dorona grape, the native Venetian vine.
Burano known to be one of the most colourful towns in the whole world attracts thousands of visitors for its rainbow-coloured houses.
It’s a peaceful and calm island where you can still have a glimpse into the authentic way of living of its inhabitants.
They want to keep living the simple fishing village’s life. The island is also known for the refined workmanship of needle lace.
The typical Buranella cuisine is based on fish. The famous ‘risotto di gò‘ gets its name from the goby, a fish that lives in the lagoon’s waters.
This island makes the perfect day trip from Venice and must-eat foods in Burano are the ‘bussolai‘ and the ‘esse‘, lovely sweet pastry treats.
San Francesco del Deserto
It is perhaps the most evocative island in the north lagoon.
An oasis of peace and meditation since ancient times, in 1228 the owner of the island Jacopo Michiel in agreement with St. Anthony of Padua built the first church in the world dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.
The island was abandoned and nobody lived there from the year 1420 to 1453, when Pope Pius II reassigned it to the Friars Minor Observant.
Here you can visit the thirteenth-century church and the nearby bell tower and convent.
Isola di Sant’Erasmo
Right next to the island of San Francesco del Deserto, you’ll find the island of Sant’Erasmo, a strip of land immersed in the lagoon known for the important agricultural role that has always played for Venice.
Historically, fruit and vegetables were grown here and then transported by boat to the centre of Venice.
Sant’Erasmo also called ‘the garden of Venice‘ thanks to the quality of the clayey soil with high salinity allows farmers to grow different varieties of fruit and vegetables that stands out for their unique flavors.
Among the highly appreciated products of this area I’ll mention the ‘castraura’ (slow food presidium): the artichoke with dark purple bracts.
This narrow coastline that stretches for 12 kilometers between the sea and the lagoon was formed by the movements of the river’s sands.
On the southern side of the island, there is the picturesque village of Malamocco. During the Roman era, here it is here where the ancient river port was based.
This was the first and most important settlement of the Venetians. The Lido of Venice is known throughout the world for the beauty of its beaches, its exclusive hotels and for the Venice Film Festival, held here since 1932.
I have added Lido to my list that features some of the best beach towns in northern Italy so be sure to check that out as you plan your trip to Venice.
The Lazzaretto Nuovo is a small island located north-east of Venice and separated by a canal from the island of Sant’Erasmo. You can get to it by vaporetto line 13.
On the island there used to be a Benedictine monastery during the Middle Ages, then turned into lazzareto. It was defined as ‘nuovo’ (new) to distinguish it from the older one based on the small island in front of Lido.
This lazzareto was called ‘vecchio’ (old) and it was a state hospital welcoming people seriously ill. From 1468, the island started being specifically used as a quarantine site to isolate people.
Here travellers of all sorts and goods arriving to Venice from unknown places were staying for a period of 40 days to prevent the spread of infections, like the much feared plague.
Today you can visit the Northern Lagoon Ecomuseum and the Sentiero delle Barene (naturalistic walk to learn more about the Venetian lagoon’s environment) with a guide.
During your visit you’ll have the chance to learn interesting historical and archaeological facts about the old lazzareto that was once on the island. You can book your visit here.
San Lazzaro degli Armeni
This small island is located between St. Mark’s Square and Lido and entirely occupied by the Monastery of the Armenian monks of the Mekhitarist Order and where 22 monks live.
In the year 1717, the Serenissima Republic of Venice allowed some Armenian monks fleeing from Modone, in the Peloponnese, to settle down on this island and they’ve been living here ever since. The island is considered one of the most important world centres for Armenian culture.
The Armenian monks preserve an outstanding cultural heritage. At the monastery there’s an internal printing press, a library with rare manuscripts and invaluable artistic works donated by devotees.
Among the best pieces preserved in the art gallery and in the museum there are some Armenian paintings and findings, a plaster cast by Canova and even an Egyptian mummy and sarcophagus of Nemen Khet Amen (dating back to 800 BC!). Last but not least, you can admire a ceiling painting by Tiepolo depicting an allegory of Justice.
In the look out of an offbeat island to visit in the Venetian lagoon? Pellestrina is the place to be. Pellestrina island is a long string of land that separates the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.
The lagoon’s southernmost island is one of the few places that remains untouched from mass tourism. It’s the perfect island to visit, if you’re seeking some much needed peace and quiet and some beach time.
To discover this little paradise, you can either get around on foot, by bus or by bike, follow the Murazzi path that will lead you to small fishermen villages, natural reserves and fortifications.
There are 5 urban settlements in Pellestrina:
- Santa Maria del Mare, where the ferry boats from Chioggia and Lido arrive.
- San Pietro in Volta;
- Sant’Antonio di Pellestrina;
- Ca’ Roman.
You can get from Venice to Pellestrina, first getting a water bus to Lido. Once you arrive at the water bus Lido Santa Maria Elisabetta, hop on the ACTV bus 11 to Alberoni. From Alberoni, board a ferry boat that will take you to the port of Santa Maria del Mare.
The little-known island of Vignole is located northeast of Venice, between the La Certosa and Sant’Erasmo islands. It’s made up of two islands divided by a canal This underrated island is essentially dedicated to agriculture.
The most important sight on the island is the 7th century church of Sant’Eurosia, and apart from it, there are not many more things to see.
In the past, Vignole was the holiday resort for Venetian people and today you can still walk around its streets and feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside, but with the difference that you’ll be only a few minutes away from Venice.
The eastern part of the island is a military zone, and where the Lagunari infantryunit barracks are based.
Vignole is only one kilometre north of Venice and you can easily get there by water bus line 13.
Certosa island is located north of Venice and you can get there by water bus line 4.1 and 4.2. In the past, there used to be an Augustinian monastery and then a community of Carthusians.
From the 19th century, it turned into a military outpost and then abandoned for many years. La Certosa is undergoing a requalification project that will lead to the creation of a park promoting the rich environmental heritage.
The island is currently managed by the company Vento di Venezia that counts on a dock with 300 moorings, offers sailing courses, organise activities and private cultural events.
In the future, there will be the chance to stay overnight at the Venice Certosa Hotel , and for now you can spend a couple of hours there and relax with a drink at the restaurant and bar Hosteria in Certosa. From this island, you can join kayak tours to visit other parts of the Venetian lagoon or visit Venice.
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Islands in Venice FAQs
Islands to Visit in Venice
Now you know how many islands in Venice there are, learnt a bit of their history and what makes them a unique place in the Venetian lagoon…
Now all you have to do is visit.
Are you looking for more inspiration for your next trip to Venice?
I invite you to check out my 3 days in Venice guide to learn how you could spend your time in the lagoon city and make the most of your time here.
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