While Rimini is usually considered to have Roman origins, the Greeks and then the Gauls occupied the site centuries before Romans established their dominance in the 200s BC. However, it was the Romans who developed Rimini's first infrastructure: roads, fortifications, and civic buildings. At the time they called the town Ariminum; it was at Ariminum Square that Julius Caesar famously spoke the words "The die is cast". Despite their accomplishments, the Romans' grip on the city was broken when the Byzantines took control of most of Italy in the 500s AD. The Byzantine Empire fared worse than the Roman one, and throughout the second millennium, Rimini was pillaged and plundered by foes and swept up in the religious debates that were raging in the Italian papal states.

The Renaissance in Rimini was marked by the 15th century rule of Sigismondo Malatesta, a church-selected city governor. While he exercised a form of absolute power characteristic of the era's Machiavellian rulers, he was a great patron of the arts and oversaw the completion of many of Rimini's grand building projects. His was one of Rimini's last stable governments; from then on the city would function as a battleground in the papal wars. The people of Rimini voted in 1860 to join the Italian republic, and from then on politics, rather than the papacy, would determine the city’s fate.

Today, tourists come to Rimini because of its desirable climate and seaside location, but also because it represents thousands of years of human achievement. This has proved to be an irresistible combination, for Rimini is one of Italy's most frequented seaside resorts.