Julie Italy 16 Comments

The Appian Way is one of Rome’s ancient roads, connecting Rome to the Adriatic Port of Brindisi. This road was a marvel of Roman engineering at the time it was constructed, 2000 years ago. Today it is a place for biking, viewing ancient Roman ruins, touring the catacombs, and taking a break from the hustle and bustle and crowds of tourists in Rome.

We visited the Appian Way on our first trip to Rome, in 2014. For Tyler and Kara, who were 9 and 11 at the time, this was their favorite experience in Rome.

The Appian Way

To get to the Appian Way, we used public transportation (a metro and bus combo), arriving near the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. How different it was here, just a short ways from the center of Rome!  It was quiet, smelled like honeysuckle, and we felt like we had the place to ourselves. I don’t know where all of the other tourists were, but we weren’t complaining. It felt great to be on our own.

Appian Way

Appian Way

The Appia Antica Café was just opening for the day. We rented bikes here, and they had smaller bikes available for Tyler and Kara. Before we knew it, our adventure began.

This turned out to be a little more difficult than I was expecting. The original sections of the Appian Way are made of large stones, which are not the flattest surface to bike on. To say the ride was bumpy would be an understatement. Tyler quickly got a handle on it but Kara had a little trouble. After a couple of falls and close calls with the stone walls along the side of the road, she got better at navigating the difficult terrain.

Kara Rivenbark

Tyler Biking Appian Way


There were a lot of sections of cobblestoned road mixed in with the ancient sections of road. These were by no means smooth but did offer a break from bouncing over a road made from boulders.

Biking the Appian Way

Tim and Tyler had an awesome time zooming down the Appian Way. Tim, who was trying to bike as fast as possible while shooting video with our point and shoot camera, lost control of his bike, wiping out. He emerged unscathed from his accident and got very interesting video footage in the process. I am thankful for my family who always keeps things interesting while we travel. If we can manage to get through this around the world trip without any major injuries it will be a miracle.

The stretch of road available to bike upon is not very long, only about 4 miles total. We spent an hour biking this length of the Appian Way, with occasional stops for photos.

Tyler and Kara really enjoyed their time here. It was a great break from the noise, heat, and crowds of Rome. For anyone with a little extra time while visiting Rome this should definitely make the list.

We returned safe and sound to the Appia Antica Café, returned our bikes, and enjoyed an early lunch. 

Appian Way Bikes

San Sebastian Catacombs

Before taking a bus back to Rome we toured the San Sebastian Catacombs, which we heard are Rome’s best catacombs.

Tim and I were expecting to go wandering through underground tunnels lined with ancient bones like the catacombs in Paris, but instead we got a 35 minute tour through underground tunnels (sans bones) and a history lesson. The history of this place is fascinating, dating back 2000 years, but we were hoping for something a little more morbid and creepy. We like that kind of stuff.

Catacombs Building

Entrance into the San Sebastian Catacombs

After our tour of the catacombs we took a relatively quick bus ride back to Rome’s city center.

Italy Travel Guide Rome

Important Things to Know about the Appian Way

The Appian Way is open all day everyday. The best day to visit the Appian Way is on Sundays, when the road is closed to vehicular traffic. Monday through Saturday, the Appian Way is open to cars. We visited the Appian Way on a Thursday in July. Vehicle traffic was light and there were very few people and bikers on the road.

San Callisto Catacombs

In addition to the San Sebastian Catacombs, you can also visit the San Callisto Catacombs, which are just a few hundred meters further down the Appian Way. The San Callisto Catacombs tend to be more crowded and some people say they are better than San Sebastian. We only went to the San Sebastian Catacombs so we cannot comment on whether or not San Callisto is worthwhile. It is important to know that both Catacombs close at lunchtime. Also, the San Sebastian Catacombs are closed on Sundays and the San Callisto Catacombs are closed on Wednesdays.

Getting To and From the Appian Way

To get to the Appian Way and Appia Antica Cafe:  take metro line A to the Colli Albani station, and from here take bus 660 for a 20 minute ride to the Cecilia Metella bus stop. The Appia Antica Café will be on your right. This is the best way to get to the Appian Way if you are planning on renting bikes, because bus 660 gets you the closest to the Appia Antica Cafe.

To get to the Appian Way Visitor Center:  Take bus 118 from the Piramide or Circo Massimo metro stops. Take the bus away from the city center and get off at Appia Antica/Travicella for the visitor center. Stay on this bus to travel further up the Appian Way to the catacombs. Here is a list of the bus stops: Domine Quo Vadis Church, Appia Antica/Cafarella, Catacombs of San Callisto, and the Basilica San Sebastian. 

To get back to Rome: you can do the above in reverse. Or, from the San Sebastian Catacombs, turn left on the Appian Way, make the first left onto Via delle Sette Chiese, walk 400 meters, and catch bus 218 to the San Giovanni metro station (line A). This is a good chance to see the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, one of Rome’s most important churches.

Renting bikes on the Appian Way

The Appia Antica Café rents bikes and sells an assortment of sandwiches and fruit for lunch. They are open from 9 to sunset and their prices for bike rental are a few euros per hour. To bike the length of the Appian Way it took us exactly one hour, including time to stop for photos.

From the Appia Antica Cafe, you can bike in either direction. We found that the roads were less bumpy going south, away from Rome and the Catacombs.

For more information about the Appia Antica Cafe, click here.

You can also rent bikes at the visitor center for the Appian Way.

Appia Antica

Tours of the Appian Way

Taking a tour eliminates the hassle of arranging your transportation to get to the Appian Way and logistics of renting a bicycle. Many tours also included guided visits of the catacombs. This 6-hour tour is one of the best tours of the Appian Way and also includes the Aqueduct and Catacombs.



If you have any questions about biking the Appian Way, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Italy

ROME: For a list of the top experiences in Rome, read our article Best Things to Do in Rome. Learn how to put these together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary, where to eat in our Rome Restaurant Guide, how to visit the Colosseum, and where to stay in our Rome Hotel Guide. And don’t miss our guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.

TUSCANY: Get started with our guide to the Best Things to Do in Tuscany. Learn how to plan your visit with our Tuscany Itinerary, which has sample itineraries, whether you have 3 days, 5 days, or an entire week in Tuscany.

NORTHERN ITALY: Verona is a beautiful city to add to your Italy itinerary and we also have a detailed guides on Lake Garda and how to day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio. In our Northern Italy Itinerary, visit Venice, the Dolomites, Verona, Milan, and Lake Como.

SAN MARINO: San Marino is a tiny country located entirely within Italy. It is gorgeous to explore and one of the most underrated places to visit in Europe.

CINQUE TERRE: One of the best experiences in the Cinque Terre is to hike between all five towns. If you are traveling on a budget, get our money saving tips for the Cinque Terre.

We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, and Puglia.


Biking the Appian Way

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Comments 16

  1. Avatar for Emmie

    Hi there! Not sure if the stations had changed, but to get to Cecilia Metella using bus 660, the metro station should be at Arco di Travertino, instead of Colli Albani. Initially we stopped by at Colli Albani but could not find bus 660, so we hopped on to bus 664 to Arco and made our way to Cecilia Metella. 🙂

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  2. Avatar for Jan
  3. Avatar for Kim

    Hi…we are planning a trip to Rome in February…..Just wondering how far you biked south on Appian Way? Did you bike south then return the bikes to the cafe….then walk north to the catacombs?
    Thanks so much for all your information!!!!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We didn’t go very far…probably between 1 to 2 km from the cafe where we rented bikes. It is a jarring experience and an hour or two is all that you need to have a nice experience (and Tim and I are cyclists so spending hours on a bike is not unusual for us 🙂 ). Yes, we returned the bikes to the cafe, walked to the catacombs, and then walked a little bit farther north to catch the bus back to the Rome city center. Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Michael

    I wanted to thank you so much for posting this – we (family of 4) were in Rome earlier this year (April) and had a day where we tried to go to several of the places you’re ‘supposed to go to’ when you’re there (Colosseum / Pantheon etc.), and got overwhelmed by all the hordes of selfie stick toting tourists. So we came out to the Appia Antica (via Metro + bus, exactly as you described) and found the cafe and the nice fellow who rented out bikes, and we really enjoyed a relaxing ride along the old path which we mostly had to ourselves! It was one of the best things we did on our stay in Rome. Thank you!

    1. Avatar for Tim Post
  5. Avatar for Anne

    My friend and I cycled the Appia Way on Sunday last- really easy to find the bus at the end of Metro A and such a lovely end to our few days in Rome. The bike hire is still only 4 euros per hour and no need to book!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  6. Avatar for Emily Papera
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Nope, we just showed up. We got there in the morning and were the only ones there. This was in 2014 so I don’t know if things have changed. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Teresa Barnes
    Teresa Barnes

    Looks like you guys are having an awesome time! Happy to see you all still doing the things you love! This post reminds me of your adventurous style I love it : ) keep on having fun!!

  8. Avatar for Ulrike

    Seeing the pictures brings back memories. John and I visited Via Appia many years ago (the time before kids). While there we toured Villa Quintili. Did up see this place as well?
    BTW – We all are reading your blogs and looking at the pictures with great interest. Keep them coming.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello! Nice hearing from you. No, we did not see Villa Quintili. BTW, Kara misses Alexander and talks about him all of the time!


  9. Avatar for tina brown
  10. Avatar for leil

    I came in US from Europe and I travel a lot as journalist -part of my job or for pleasure. You and your kids doing something really nice -travel is life time experience ….I enjoy this story -it give so many details if you want to repeat yourself this amazing path…enjoy every moment -I am looking forward to hear your new adventures
    Leila from Baltimore county

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