Tours and Excursions

Free boat trips to Murano

Murano glassblowing demonstration5-p1030947

ABOVE AND BELOW: Photos from one of our own visits to a Murano glass factory.

If you're near the Piazza San Marco in Venice, there's a good chance that you'll be approached by someone who's offering a free boat ride to a glass factory on the island of Murano . Such trips are paid for by glass merchants who are trolling for prospective customers. We haven't taken any free boat rides to Murano ourselves (we prefer to use public transportation and avoid sales pitches), but plenty of visitors do. Here's a report from a British reader who accepted a "concessionary trip" and lived to tell the tale:

"I have just returned from a 5-day trip to Venice which was very much enhanced by your excellent website.  It shows how just a little research (well... several hours actually) before travelling enabled us to 'hit the ground running.'  The vaporetto service is possibly the best way to see Venice since it allows you to hop on and off as you wish.
"One piece of information you may already have knowledge of, is about a  'concessionary trip' we had to the Murano glass factory.  We were in San Marco and heard a man offering free trips to Murano.  Intrigued and sceptical, we asked about how this free trip worked.  In the event we were taken to a water taxi near the San Marco Vaporetto stop. Before the taxi left San Marco we asked the taxi driver if this was really free of charge and if so how?  He explained that the factory pay to get you there but you have to make your own way back, which may be by water taxi or by public transport.

"We were whisked off via several canals, to Murano where we were met at the factory water taxi entrance by a friendly Venetian gentleman who walked us through the factory and waited while we watched a glass-blowing demonstration (where the guy produced a  'Ferrari' prancing horse from a glob of molten glass) and then taken by another man to the shop next door.  He then took us to a roped off private viewing area. He was clearly expecting us to make a purchase (we didn't by the way - I'm a half Scottish Yorkshireman) but there was no particular hard sell.  After about a 20 minute tour and having viewed some truly beautiful contemporary and historical Morano glass-art, we left the building and went for an enjoyable walk around Murano with lunch by the canal.
"Clearly Murano glass rely on getting some sales and the taxi firm rely on some tourists not knowing about the public transport alternative.  With the knowledge gained from your site, it was simple enough to get a 24h Vaporetto ticket (which we used to maximum effect over the next 24 hours!).  So you really can get something for nothing - sometimes.  You just need to ask the right questions at the start."

  - Chris A., United Kingdom 

Tip: For more information on Venetian glass and glassmaking, see our Venice for Visitors article titled "Murano: The Glass Island."

Murano fornace

Venice Kayak tours

Venice Kayak on the Grand Canal5-vk

ABOVE AND BELOW: Kayacking on the Grand Canal and in St. Mark's Basin.

In the last several years, we've occasionally noticed small flotillas of kayaks in the back canals of Venice. We never gave them much thought until a reader asked about boat rentals, whereupon we discovered Venice Kayak in a Google search.

Venice Kayak near the Rialto Bridge Venice Kayak is owned and operated by two veteran kayak enthusiasts: Marco Ballarin, a kayak/canoe instructor and certified marine guide from Venice, and René Seindal, a Danish historian and sea-kayak adventurer who has lived in Venice since 2008.

The two men offer full-day kayak trips in the city's canals and the Venetian Lagoon, with excursions to the islands of Burano and Torcello for ambitious kayakers. Three- and six-day paddling holidays are another option, as are evening trips in and around the city.

Standard prices are for groups of 2 to 5 persons, with discounts for larger groups (12 maximum). Kayak clubs can request special rates for programs of three days or longer.

For more information on tours, equipment, and prices, see Venice Kayak's English-language Web site at www.venicekayak.com

Venice Kayak in St. Mark's Basin

Photos: Venice Kayak.

See the Dolomites through your camera's viewfinder

Hiking in the Dolomite Mountains

ABOVE: Summer hiking in the Dolomite Mountains near Venice.

The Dolomites are a figurative hop, skip, and jump from Venice. (On a clear day, you can see the mountain range from the city's northern waterfront.)

Dolomite Mountains srl, a 15-year-old local tour operator, is offering two new itineraries for photography and videography enthusiasts this summer: a photo tour that features an imaging expert from Adobe, and a video tour led by multimedia artist and producer Carlo Zanella.

For more information, see "Dolomite Mountains announces photo and video safaris" on our Europe for Visitors blog.

Photo: Dolomite Mountains srl.