What to See on Appian Way

This post will provide information about Appian Way, otherwise known as Via Appia, and the various historical sites you can see from the historic road.

In addition to going over some of the more notable landmarks in the area, we will also help you plan your trip with details about how to get there and what to expect.

 

Appian Way Map

Click on the map to open or to download to a smartphone.


PLAN YOUR VISIT

This section will focus on information that will help you plan your trip down Appian Way.

We will cover details such as the best time to visit, how to get here, and what to expect while walking on this ancient road.




How to Get Here

Before we get into directions, it is important to note that this road stretches a total of around 62 km, so it would be difficult for most people to walk down the entire road.

If you’re visiting Rome and you want to see all the sites on Appian Way, chances are you will end up keeping your outing confined to the area around Appia Antica Regional Park.

 

Appian Way Visitor Center

 

Use this map for specific directions to the Appia Antica Regional Park Visitor’s Center from anywhere in Rome.

There are two bus lines (#118 and #218) that service the visitor center at the Appia Antica Regional Park. It’s just 13 minutes from the Colosseum on the #118.

If you don’t feel like taking the bus, you can also hop on the metro and get off at the Colli Albani/Parco Appia Antica stop.

 

The only problem with the subway option is that it will put you on the wrong side of the park. 

Make sure to read our post on using the Roman metro system for more details on both services.

If neither of these options sounds good, you may want to consider using a hop-on-hop-off tour bus instead.

Big Bus Tours offers stops at Appia Antica Regional Park and even drives down Appian Way.

For more information on this service, check our post about Roman bus tours


Best Time to Visit

Since this is a public road, there aren’t really any hours that you won’t be able to visit.

That being said, some days and times are probably going to produce better results.

There are a few details to keep in mind when trying to pick the right time to walk down Appian Way.

 

Visitor Center Appian Way

 

If you plan on going to the visitor center or even just walking through Appia Antica Regional Park, keep these hours in mind.

They offer a variety of services including bike rentals and brochures to help you find your way around Via Appia.

Appia Antica Visitor Centre

  • Daily 9:30 am – 18:00 (6 pm)

Appia Antica Regional Park

  • Weekdays: 9:30 am – 13:00 (1 pm) | 14:00 (2 pm) – 18:30 (6:30 pm)
  • Weekend: 9:30 am – 21:00 (7 pm)

In addition to these details, you may also want to consider what time of day you plan to visit.

Most people will make their trip either in the late morning or the early afternoon, giving them plenty of time to see everything and enjoy the walk.

Some visitors have indicated that a sunrise or sunset experience can be equally as rewarding.

If you plan to see Appian Way during sunrise, keep in mind that the park won’t be open.

 

When is Appian Way the most crowded

 

Even at its busiest, Appian Way rarely gets very crowded.

Most people report that this is a great place to get away from the typical tourist crowds, and there’s plenty of space for even larger groups to enjoy the area without getting in anyone’s way.

If you really want the ancient road to yourself, consider arriving either early in the morning at 9:30 am – 11 am or later in the evening at 5 pm – 6:30 pm (7 pm on weekends).

Another important detail to note is that Appian Way is closed off to private vehicles on Sunday.

If you plan on taking a walk down this historic road, this will be your best opportunity to experience it as the ancient Romans did without the sound of vehicles rushing by.

 

Appian Way Sunday

 

Visitors hoping for a more quiet experience should definitely consider a Sunday outing, but they can also expect more people on the road during this time as well. 


What to Expect

Depending on how long you plan to spend walking down Appian Way, you can expect to be there for at least 1-2 hours in the area.

Some people go even further than usual, and longer trips can last 3 hours or more.

If you plan to walk down Via Appia, it will be important to wear comfortable shoes and prepare for the journey.

However, it’s important to note that you can rent a bicycle, e-bike, or an electric car (golf cart) to travel along the ancient road more comfortably.

Additionally, you can also take a tour that will provide detailed information about both Via Appia and the many sites you will see along the way.

Some tours include bike rentals as part of the service. 

 

THINGS TO SEE ALONG THE APPIAN WAY

There are a lot of different historical sites to see along Appian Way.

Some locations are more popular than others, but you’re bound to see at least a few notable landmarks during any walk down this ancient road.
 

 
With that said, let’s talk about some of the more interesting things to see on Via Appia.

Tomb of Priscilla

This ancient Roman tomb dates back to the 1st century when it was erected by a man named Titus Flavius Abascanto for his wife Priscilla.

In the 11th century and beyond, the tomb would go on to be used as a fortress.

You’ll find this site situated between two buildings across the street from the Appia Antica visitor center. Here is a video describing the tomb.

Church of Domine Quo Vadis

Although this church isn’t exactly ancient, it’ll probably stick out as you begin your walk down Appian Way.

The building itself was constructed in 1637, but there has been a sanctuary on this spot since the 9th century.

It is said that the Apostle Peter used to live in this area, and there is evidence from the Catacombs of St. Sebastian which supports this claim.

It is also believed that this is where Jesus Christ met St. Peter. This church is across the street from the Sepolcro di Priscilla and the Appia Antica visitor center.

Chapel of Reginald Pole

You’ll find this chapel just down the road from the visitor center. It was built in 1539 by Cardinal Reginald Pole.

There are a few different theories for why the cappella was built, but one possibility is that the cardinal thought the Church of Domine Quo Vadis was not where Christ had met St. Peter.

Sadly, the building was abandoned in the 20th century and has been closed off to the public.

Colombario dei Liberti di Augusto

This ancient cemetery was used to house the graves of slaves freed by Emperor Augustus.

It was uncovered and studied in the 1700s, revealing around 3,000 niches built to store human remains.

Oddly enough, despite its original purpose, this location has since become a restaurant.

If you don’t find it too creepy, consider grabbing a bite at the Hostaria Antica Roma!

Catacombs of St. Callixtus

As you travel down Appian Way, chances are that you’ll notice a few signs directing you to notable locations.

Some of the first signs you’ll see will point you in the direction of these catacombs where several martyrs, pontiffs, and Christians were buried.

Although it’s not free to enter, tickets are pretty affordable and they are open on almost every day except Wednesday.

Catacombs of St. Sebastian

This is the next big cemetery on Via Appia and it is notable for being the only Christian burial site that has always been accessible.

Named after one of the three martyrs who is thought to be inside, the Catacombs of St. Sebastian are a popular destination for both the faithful and tourists.

Sadly, this site is not open on Sundays and you will have to pay for admission.

Mausoleum of Romulus

Even if you had trouble finding any of the other landmarks and historic locations on this road, it will be pretty much impossible to miss this one.

Found on the land of former Emperor Maxentius, this mausoleum was erected in honor of his son Romulus.

Even though the structure has been deteriorating for many years, the walls surrounding this site are still as imposing as ever.

Circus of Maxentius

Although it might not be as impressive as the nearby mausoleum, both the circus and palace found here are definitely a sight to behold.

This land and the buildings on it once belonged to Emperor Maxentius. Each structure was originally erected at some point between AD 306-312.

Anyone walking down Via Appia should be able to get a good look at this historic landmark.

Mausoleum of Caecilia Detella

You’ll find this popular destination approximately three miles down Appian Way.

Built during the 1st century, this mausoleum was erected in honor of Caecelia Detella, wife of Marcus Licinius Crassus.

Marcus was himself the son of Marcus Crassus, who served under none other than Julius Caesar.

As with most of the impressive ancient structures on this road, it will be difficult to miss this one. 


TOURS OF THE APPIAN WAY

There are a variety of different tour companies in Rome which provide tours of Appian Way.

Some companies offer walking tours, but others will make things easier with bicycles, e-bikes or Vespas.

Some services will include admission to certain sites along the way and others will have free transportation to and from Via Appia.

Ticket prices range from €27 – €170 or more.

Tours will typically last anywhere from 3-6 hours, but some can run as long as 12 hours.

 

Here are a few of the more popular Appian Way tours you can take:

TIP: The Rome City Pass includes 20% off an Appian Way bike tour. You’ll also find admission to various sites along Via Appia included with the Turbo Pass and Roma Pass.

For more details, check our post about Roman tourist passes


Self-Guided Tour

Although there aren’t any audio tours of Appian Way, there is a brochure that you can use as a self-guided tour.

This guide provides a plethora of information about various different historic sites in the area, touching on both big landmarks and smaller locations.

The brochure is available at the Appia Antica visitor center, but you can also download information from their website.

There are three PDF files that include details about more than 80 different attractions near Appian Way.

Download these PDFs for free in both English and Italian. 


NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

There are a lot of popular landmarks and historic sites near Appian Way.

Many of them are situated right alongside the ancient road, but you’ll find a few of them off the beaten path.

If you don’t mind a little extra walking (or extending a bike ride), consider heading to these notable locations.

 

Baths of Caracalla

This historic location was once used as a public bath that was capable of serving hundreds of visitors at a time.

Unfortunately, the building eventually fell into disuse and even became a burial site at one point.

With a history that stretches back over a thousand years, this is one landmark you don’t want to miss. 

To learn more about this site, visit our post about the Baths of Caracalla.

Circus Maximus

What was once an area used for chariot racing has since become what is essentially a public park.

Romans today will use this area to walk their dog or get some exercise, but all it takes is a little imagination to envision this arena as it once was.

This landmark is free to visit, so you may want to add it to your itinerary as a low-cost attraction.

The Colosseum, the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

It’s difficult to miss this popular attraction, but you’d be remiss to avoid it.

Located just north of Appian Way, the Colosseum is yet another major arena where ancient Romans would congregate to watch various events.

Although there are free days, this site can get popular enough that you should consider paying for admission.

Alternatively, you’ll also find this landmark on several tourist passes.  If you want to know more, make sure to read our post about visiting the Colosseum.

 

Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Admission to both of these nearby sites is actually included for free when you purchase tickets for the Colosseum.

While the Roman Forum was once the heart of government in Rome, Palatine Hill remains one of the best views of ancient architecture in the city. 

Museum of the Walls

This archaeological museum is housed in the historic building of Porta San Sebastiano.

Although it was once used as a gateway to the city, the structure now contains exhibits about the walls of Rome and how they were built.

Chances are that you’ll see a lot of these ancient walls while walking down Appian Way, so it actually makes a lot of sense to visit this location. 

The Museum of the Walls is included on both the Turbo Pass and the Roma Pass. Read our post about Roman tourist passes for additional information.

 


HISTORY OF APPIAN WAY

This ancient stretch of road was named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the man who originally built the first section of it in 312 BC.

This road was once strategically placed for military purposes during the Samnite Wars. After its construction thousands of years ago, it was originally used to bring military supplies to Rome.

Like most Roman roads, construction began just outside of the city and continued south to Brindisi.

As a result of their decision to begin at the city and build outward, the term “all roads lead to Rome” was eventually coined.

 

Appian Way successfully aided the Romans during the Samnite Wars, giving them the edge necessary to keep their forces well supplied and capable of defeating their enemies.

Since then, the road has been used for several purposes that have become historically relevant.

In 71 BC, thousands of ex-slaves led by Spartacus were crucified alongside Appian Way.

Centuries later during WWII, Via Appia would again be used as a major strategic point used by the Allies to try and take Rome.

The ancient road would also be used for part of the men’s marathon course in the 1960 Summer Olympics.

These are just a few of the notable events that have taken place alongside Appian Way, but there are many more that you can learn about by taking a guided or self-guided tour.

Check our tour section above for more information.


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About the author

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers.

Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.