Biking in Rome – how and where

I love biking the European capitals. First, because they are huge and walking the distances on foot or driving in hectic traffic/finding parking spot is no fun. The bike combines the convenience of a fairly quick transport, the option to avoid the traffic and stop/park anywhere you want to take a look, and is a perfect way to keep fit even while on vacation 🙂

They say in Rome the traffic is too heavy for biking and it’s generally dangerous to bike. It’s not. You just need to be careful, but the drivers in general are quite attentive.

Where to rent your bike

Since recently Rome has a city bike rental service. You can take your rental bike at 22 stations in the city. To rent a bike, you first need to go to one of 12 metro stations and get a bike card for 10 euro.  Of these 5 euro are one-time setup fee, and the remaining 5 euro you can use for the bike rental fee (0.5 euro per hour). In other words, for 10 euro you get 10 hours of biking. You also need to pay some credit card deposit for the bike.

Another option is to rent a bike from a private rental location. We used Bici & Baci (Bikes & Kisses, in English :)), since they didn’t charge a deposit on the credit cards, just required it as a guarantee (and you can use the same card for several bikes). They have a location just next to the Colosseo, and the price per day was approx 10 euro. Highly recommend them, you get your bike within 2 minutes and without much formalities. Kind of old bikes, but work great.

This is what the Bici & Baci bikes look like

This is what the Bici & Baci bikes look like

Where to bike in Rome

Rome has many parks you can bike. The biggest and most convenient one is Villa Borghese, near Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish steps. You can spend hours biking in this park, without getting bored. Every now and then you see amazing gardens, ancient statues, fountains, small lakes, playgrounds, there’s also the Zoo (have a quick coffee at the Zoo cafe, a very pleasant one).

Amazing garden in Villa Borghese

Me and my friend biked the park for couple of hours before deciding we wanted a more adrenaline-rich biking experience and want to bike the city. We started biking along Tiber (Tevere) river, which basically crosses the entire Rome. Now and then we diverted to see the different sights on our tourist map.

Now, driving in a 5-lane central road that goes along Tiber is not the utmost pleasure. Moreover there are lots of motor bikes too. But now and then you could bike the pavement, and smaller side streets. Within approx 2-3 hours, however, we could see the majority of sights in Rome, and get a complete view of the city and its layout. I’ve been many times to Rome, but only now managed to get the full picture of the city. I also only now visited the Isola Tiberina – a small island in the midst of Tiber river. One of the legends for the appearance of this island states that it was built over a sunken ship. The island has water springs on it, claimed to produce healthy water, and for ages it’s been considered a healing place. Even now there are mostly hospitals and recovery centers on it.

What we saw within our 3 hour non-park city tour: Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Adriana, the Vatican, Isola Tiberina, Piazza Venezia, Foro Romano, Castel Sant’angelo, Colosseo. Pretty much within a short time! We also crossed most of the bridges, just to enjoy the view. Crossing one of the bridges, I heard an old street musician singing and playing a really favorite song of mine – Historia de un amor. I couldn’t be happier…

Amazing view to the Foro Romano (the Roman Forum)

We’d have seen much more from Rome if it wasn’t for the flood that poured over us all of a sudden. I’ve never biked in so much water – another great experience to remember 🙂

To wrap it up, Rome is perfect for a 1-2 day city biking tour. It’s not hilly in its central part (where most of the sights are), so you do quite a leisure biking. It’s perfectly fine for kids too, if you don’t mind biking in the traffic. Still, we saw some biking paths in progress, so suppose in a few years Rome would be an even more biking-friendly capital. You may also check this map of biking routes in Rome, not verified though.

If you need a recommendation on a convenient and inexpensive place to stay in Rome – try the apartment rentals at www.housetrip.com. Our group of 5 had an amazing apartment, 20 mins walking distance from Colosseo, for less than 20 euro per person per night.

Rome was our starting point for a trip to the nearby island of Capri. More on this green and charming island – in my next blog post 🙂

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