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Visiting the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Short walk visiting the Via Appia Antica from Rome

Typical stretch of Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) near Rome
The Appian Way is quiet on Sundays

The Via Appia Antica is the old Roman Appian Way, one of the oldest and most important roads from Rome. During ancient Roman times, the road was essential in transporting troops down to the port of Brindisi in southeast Italy.

Tourist attractions along the Appian Way include the Catacombs of San Callisto and Catacombs of San Sebastiano as well as various basilicas and tombs.

The stretch close to Rome of the Via Appia Antica is now part of a nature and archaeological park, the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica. It makes a lovely day out, particularly on Sundays when the area is closed to traffic.

It is quite easy to visit the Appian Way at any time either by public bus or the Big Bus hop on, hop off Archeobus service, and of course there are tours as well. We have a dedicated page on how to visit the Appian Way from Rome.

Walking along the Via Appia Antica

Map of northern section of Appian Way nearest Rome
Map of northern section of Via Appia Antica nearest Rome

Walking along the Via Appia Antica is a refreshing change from the city, you can also hire bikes from the visitor centre. The road is attractive and atmospheric, with plenty of grassy spots where you can picnic.

You could easily spend a whole day here, but with so much else to see in Rome most visitors spend two hours or less. The Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica is a big place, you can even go on long bike rides of over 30km within the park.

On this page we cover the most popular section of the park for those visiting on foot between the visitor centre and Cecilia Metella.

What to expect - walk along Via Appia Antica between Visitor Centre and Cecilia Metella

We have picked one of the most popular sections of the Appian Way to visit, with something to see every few hundred yards or so. The Visitor Centre is the starting point, you can get maps and leaflets chronicling what there is to see within the park. You can even hire bikes here.

Most traffic turns off the Via Appia Antica including the 118 bus as the Via Appia Antica beyond here has sections where only a 4-wheel drive vehicle can negotiate.

Appian Way walk

Catacombs of Rome along Appian Way

Catacomb San Callisto Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) near Rome
Catacomb San Callisto: Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

In ancient Roman times, no one was allowed to be buried within the walls of the city. While pagan Romans were into cremation, Christians preferred to be buried.

The Catacombs of San Callisto is the most sacred and important of all the Roman catacombs and are next to the Via Appia Antica, not far from the visitor centre.

There are three catacombs you can visit off the Appian Way.

We have a dedicated page devoted to Rome's catacombs

Visiting Rome's catacombs - full details

Visitor Information Centre (Sede Del Parco)

Visitor Information Centre Via Appia Antica, Rome
Visitor Information Centre, Via Appia Antica

Information can be found at the visitor centre for the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica), but this can be easily missed if you don't know what you're looking for.

A big "I" sign on the front is just about the sole clue that this is a visitor centre and not a small bar.

You can pick up maps and some leaflets of the attractions along the way here and it is also one of the most convenient places to rent a bike (see below).

The 118 and 218 buses stop outside the information centre from Rome at the position of the bus in the image right.

Once the bus passes through the city walls the bus descends under a railway bridge and the tourist centre follows very shortly after.

Our what to expect walking the Via Appia Antica page is written up using the visitor centre as the starting point.

Hiring bike to visit Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Cycling The Appian Way, Rome
Hire bikes from the Visitor Centre, or consider a tour

The Appia Antica Park is a very large area, far too big to cover on foot in one day.

The alternative to walking is to hire a bike. There are several places where you can hire bikes, perhaps the most convenient being the visitor centre.

There are five formal bike routes you can get leaflets from the visitor centre or download from their web site. The lengths range from 5 to 32 km and allow you to cover some other attractions like the water viaducts.

A popular tour is the Catacombs and Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) E-bike Tour

Attractions at the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Big Bus Sightseeing Rome Hop On Hop Off Open Top Sightseeing Bus
Big Bus Rome: Termini is the first pick up

Attractions are plenty at the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica. From the visitor centre you can pick up a handout/map listing 54 attractions. Clearly you can only hope to visit a fraction of these in one day, even if you hire a bike from the Visitor Centre.

The hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus and Rome's public buses give you direct access to the section of the Via Appia Antica between the visitor centre and Cecilia Metella. This is the section most visitors will walk along as a result, Only 10 of the listed 54 attractions are along this section, but for most this is more than enough.

Along the way are an assortment of places you can visit, villas, basilicas, tombs and such like. Some have free access, some have small charges of a few Euro. Some are closed on Mondays, some have information boards and leaflets some don't.

The lasting memory for most though will be the Via Appia Antica itself at one of its most unspoilt sections where it is easy to imagine the road as it was 2,000 years ago.

Big Bus Rome

BIG BUS HOP ON HOP OFF BUS ROME

big bus rome
Hop-on Hop-off bus covering Appian Way

• Choice of 3 different fares • Free walking tours • Free Wi-Fi • Audio commentary in 9 languages • 10% online discount

Tours from Rome visiting Via Appia Antica & Catacombs

The easiest way to visit the Via Appia Antica & Catacombs is by tour.

It is a time efficient way of visiting for time poor visitors and of course the guide will keep you informed of what you are witnessing as well as making sure you don't miss any highlights.

Option 1 - Catacombs and Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) half-day walking tour

Visit the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) and visit the fascinating Catacombs of San Sebastiano or San Callisto, where you’ll walk through underground tunnels, and be wowed by the sophisticated engineering of the Roman aqueducts.

Salient points of the tour are:

  • Morning tour on Mondays, Thursdays or Saturdays

  • Coach or van between Rome city centre and the Appian Way

  • Walking tour exploring the Italian countryside and Appian Way

  • Visit to the Catacombs of San Callisto or San Sebastiano

  • Admire the mighty arches of Rome's ancient aqueducts

Viator walking tour Appian Way

CATACOMBS AND ROMAN COUNTRYSIDE HALF-DAY WALKING TOUR

Viator walking tour Appian Way
Half-day walking tour of Roman countryside and Appian Way

• Includes entrance to the Catacombs • Led by local guide • See Roman Aqueducts and ancient ruins • Runs 6 days a week • Explore the Roman countryside

Option 2 - Catacombs and Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) e-bike tour

Similar to the walking tour in option 1 but you use an electrically assisted to bike to get around.

The bikes are outfitted with a small motor that kicks in when you pedal, allowing you to cover a lot of ground with minimal effort while you enjoy the fresh air of the Roman countryside. (If you prefer a little exercise, however, standard bikes are also available.)

Similar to the walking tour in option 1 but you use an electrically assisted to bike to get around.

The bikes are outfitted with a small motor that kicks in when you pedal, allowing you to cover a lot of ground with minimal effort while you enjoy the fresh air of the Roman countryside. (If you prefer a little exercise, however, standard bikes are also available.)

Salient points of the tour are:

  • Small-group tour limited to 12 people running daily

  • Coach or van between Rome city centre and the Appian Way

  • 4 or 6 hour bicycle tour along the Appian Way

  • Visit to the Catacombs of San Callisto or San Sebastiano

  • Check out the ruins and landmarks along the Appian Way

Catacombs and Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) Half-Day E-bike Tour

CATACOMBS AND ROMAN COUNTRYSIDE HALF-DAY E-BIKE TOUR

Catacombs and Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) Half-Day E-bike Tour
Half-day e-bike tour of Roman countryside and Appian Way

• Visit Appian Way on electric assist bike • Includes entrance to the Catacombs • See Roman Aqueducts and ancient ruins • Small group tour • Runs 6 days a week • 6 hour or 4.5 hour tours

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