10 Top Tourist Attractions in Rimini & Easy Day Trips
The ancient settlement of Ariminum grew where two important ancient roads, the Via Aemilia and the Via Flaminia, met about 150 kilometers south of Venice on the Adriatic shore. It became the Roman colony of Rimini in 268 BC and grew into a busy port and, by the late 1800s, a popular beach resort.
Considering that it was badly battered by World War II bombing, Rimini has a surprising amount of its Roman past still intact. The long, white-sand beaches that stretch north and south of the port are still popular tourist attractions of the Riviera del Sole, as Italians call their Adriatic coast.
The Malatestas, the family that ruled here from the 13th century, were great patrons of the arts and left the city a number of fine buildings and artworks.
You can find these and other places to visit with the help of this list of the top attractions in Rimini.
See also: Where to Stay in Rimini
1. Arco d'Augusto (Arch of Augustus)
At the southern end of Corso di Augusto, Rimini's main street, stands northern Italy's oldest known Roman triumphal arch, built in 27 BC to commemorate the construction of the Via Flaminia.
Part of a ring of defensive walls that were torn down in the 1930s, the arch is unusual in that its extra-wide opening cannot be closed by doors, signifying the newly achieved peace after a long period of wars. The crenelated top is a medieval addition, replacing a crown that was probably topped by a statue of Caesar Augustus, whom the arch honored.
2. Tempio Malatestiano
Built to house the tombs of members of the Malatesta family, which ruled Rimini from the 13th century, the Tempio Malatestiano was built on an earlier medieval church and completed in Early Renaissance style between 1447 and 1460. The facade was designed by Leon Battista Alberti, who drew his inspiration from the Arch of Augustus, and it was the first to be based on Roman traditions, at the very beginning of the Renaissance.
The interior is decorated with frescoes by Piero della Francesca showing Sigismondo Malatesta kneeling before St. Sigismondo. The early 1300s Crucifixion by Giotto is his only work in Rimini, although he lived and worked here and was a major source of inspiration for the Rimini School of artists. The marble facings of the six side chapels are so finely carved that they seem almost like monochromatic paintings.
Address: Via Quattro Novembre 35, Rimini
3. Museo della Città (City Museum) and Domus del Chirurgo
Housed in a former Jesuit Monastery, the City Museum holds more than 1500 works from prehistory to the present, and is known especially for its collection of Roman mosaics and for one of the finest collections of surgical and pharmaceutical equipment from ancient times.
Arranged chronologically, the museum displays ancient sculptures, ceramics, coins, glassware, bronzes, and surgical equipment from the Domus del Chirurgo, the doctor's house that has been excavated in Piazza Ferrari.
The art gallery includes masterpieces from the 14th-century Rimini school, along with Renaissance art commissioned by the Malatestas, including Bellini's Pietà and the Pala by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Adjacent to the museum is the large excavation site of the Surgeon's Domus, visible under a glass cover. In addition to this Roman home, the site shows later foundations in strata that reveal more than 2,000 years of Rimini's history.
Address: Via L. Tonini 1, Rimini
4. Rimini Beaches
Along the Adriatic coast northeast of the old town extends the popular beach resort of Rimini, a long stretch of white sand with gentle waves and rows of lounge chairs covered by edge-to-edge umbrellas. To those seeking sand and sun, this Italian beach culture may seem odd, but you'll find this on nearly all Adriatic and Mediterranean beaches. Most are rented by the week, but you'll find some available for a day or a few hours, except in mid-August when all beaches are at full capacity.
Behind the beach are hotels, villas, pensioni, and restaurants. The adjoining beaches of Rivabella, Viserba, and Torre Pedrera are also popular resorts.
You can hardly miss noticing Rimini's newest attraction for children - and adults who ride it for the view over the town and Adriatic. The Rimini Ruota is a giant Ferris wheel that soars above the beachfront near the port.
5. Italia in Miniatura
Children love the mini-trip through the wonders of Italy at Italia in Miniatura, as they feel like giants in the Lilliputian village of more than 200 of Italy's most famous attractions reproduced in scale.
You'll find the Colosseum, Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli with the Leaning Tower, castles, famous squares, and even natural features, such as mountains and lakes. Additional attractions include child-pleasers such as a Science Fun Fair and Interactive Driving School, as well as a panoramic tower and monorail.
Address: Via Popilia 239, Viserba di Rimini
6. Ponte di Tiberio
Rimini's broad Corso di Augusto runs straight through the center of the old town, as it has since Roman times, from the Arco d'Augusto, through the Forum (now Piazza Tre Martiri), and on to the Ponte di Tiberio, a Roman bridge.
Although begun by the Emperor Augustus, it was completed in AD 20, during the reign of Tiberius. Its five arches span the Marecchia river, known in ancient times as the Ariminus. It's the only bridge across the Marecchia to have survived destruction by the retreating German army in 1944.
7. Borgo San Giuliano
Not far from the Ponte di Tiberio is the colorful Borgo San Giuliano, with stone-paved streets lined by small brightly painted houses.
A highlight of this former fishermen's quarter are the painted scenes and designs that decorate some of the walls. Several of these are based on films of Federico Fellini, who was born and grew up in Rimini. Others depict scenes and events from the lives of fishermen. It's a charming area to stroll through, especially in the evening and during the lively festival in mid-July.
8. Castel Sismondo
Only the central portions of the castle, built by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, in the 1400s remain today; it was originally surrounded by thick defensive walls and a moat. The remaining interior, itself fortress-like, was the Malatesta residence, richly decorated by tiles, frescoes, and tapestries, as portrayed in contemporary paintings of court scenes. You can see one of these in the Tempio Malatestiano.
The walls and towers are dramatically lighted at night, and in the park surrounding the castle, you'll often find flea markets. Sign boards tell the story of the castle and the powerful Malatesta family, and the interior is often used for art and other cultural exhibitions.
9. Riccione Beaches and Spas
Southeast of Rimini, another set of white-sand beaches are popular stops on the Riviera del Sole. The first you'll come to is Riccione, one of Italy's most popular holiday resorts, with thermal springs. Shortly beyond it is the small spa and seaside resort of Misano Adriatico, and beyond that, the largest of them, Cattolica.
Like the beaches on Rimini's north coast, Cattolica has been a favorite seaside resort since the mid-19th century, with wide boulevards, shops, and hotels. In addition to its long beach, the town offers a choice of active sports: sailing, wind-surfing, water-skiing, tennis, and riding.
When children who don't speak Italian get tired of not understanding what's being said all around them, take them to a place that speaks a universal language: fun. This amusement park has rides and activities for all ages, with a magic village, Valley of the Gnomes, carousel, and a "pool" of plastic balls for very small children to swim in.
Older children will like the thrill rides, and water games provide plenty of things to do for all ages.
Address: Viale Gerolamo Cardano 15, Rimini
Where to Stay in Rimini for Sightseeing
The two main things to do in Rimini are the beach and the historical sites in the old town. Luckily, tourists don't need to choose which to be near because these attractions are within an easy walk of the hotels at the northern end of the long beach. Here are some highly rated hotels in Rimini:
- Luxury Hotels: At the beach but an easy walk to the historic sites and close to the station, Hotel De Londres serves a full complimentary breakfast until noon, has a rooftop spa, a pool, and rooms with balconies.
It's a 20-minute walk to the old town from the Savoia Hotel Rimini, whose spacious rooms overlook the Adriatic Sea; it's even closer to a choice of restaurants.
The smart, modern i-SUITE Design Hotel has spacious rooms at the beach, with a heated pool, spa, and free indoor parking.
- Mid-Range Hotels: In a pedestrian area in the old town center, DuoMo Hotel is a good choice if the beach is not the first attraction on your agenda. It has innovative and bright modern rooms, includes a large breakfast, and is well located for shopping in Rimini.
A block from the beach and walking distance to the old town, Erbavoglio Hotel has stylish, modern rooms with big balconies. There is a rooftop terrace, Jacuzzi, and plunge pool.
A five-minute walk from the center or train station and 25 minutes from the beach, Hotel Card International has spacious, modern rooms.
- Budget Hotels: An excellent choice if the beach and Fiabilandia are high on your family's list of attractions, the modern Hotel Rubens is also handy to a good choice of restaurants.
On the beach north of the city, near Italia in Miniatura, and a good choice for tourists traveling by car, Hotel Stella d'Oro includes free breakfast and has a children's playground.
Close to the beach promenade in a good location for both beach and historic sites, Hotel Memory is in a quiet neighborhood near shops and restaurants.
Day trips from Rimini
Leaving Rimini on S.S. 258, which runs up the broad valley of the Marecchia, you'll pass below the little town of Verucchio, with a Malatesta castle and magnificent views. At the village of Villa Nuova, a road branches off up a side valley, climbing steeply to San Leo.
Atop a conical hill at an altitude of 583 meters, San Leo has a massive castle with a museum and gallery of paintings, a Romanesque cathedral built in 1173, and a ninth-century parish church. The views of nearby San Marino, Montefeltro, and the Marecchia Valley are spectacular; Dante made this setting famous in his Divine Comedy, and Italian writer Umberto Eco called it the most beautiful village in Italy.
Quite possibly the prettiest harbor along Italy's whole Adriatic coast and one of the most popular places to visit near Rimini, Cesenatico sits astride a little canal, which forms a boat basin. A little step-aboard ferry crosses the canal, saving the walk to the bridge at the end.
Part of the canal is now home to the Museo della Marineria, a floating maritime museum of colorful old fishing boats. Additional craft and marine artifacts are housed in a contemporary museum building, covering the maritime history of the upper and middle Adriatic coast.
Alongside the canal, cafés and seafood restaurants with outdoor terraces combine with the museum to make Cesenatico a popular stop on the way from Rimini to Ravenna.
About 55 kilometers northwest of Rimini, Faenza is famous for the faience (majolica) ware that's named after the town. The ceramic industry here reached its apex in the 15th and 16th centuries but quite recently has enjoyed a revival. You'll now find at least 60 workshops where the old craft is practiced and the Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche (Ceramic Museum) follows its history and designs.
Two long squares join in the center of Faenza, one of them is the Piazza della Libertà where you can see the Torre dell'Orologio (Clock-Tower) and a beautiful fountain built in 1621. Although walls still surround Faenza, much of its original architecture inside them was lost in World War II and has been rebuilt.
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Places to Visit near Rimini: Only a few kilometers inland from Rimini, the independent principality of San Marino perches atop a rocky crag and offers tourists duty-free shopping, castles, and the colorful daily pageantry of the Changing of the Guard. Although it's close enough for a day trip, the magnificent Byzantine mosaics in the churches of Ravenna make it worth a longer stay.
Where to Go from Rimini: About an hour-and-a-half drive from the city and easy to reach by train, Bologna is filled with attractions for tourists that include beautiful arcaded avenues and two leaning towers. It's only an hour train ride south along the Adriatic to the lively port of Ancona, a popular cruise stop where you can also embark on ferries to Greece and Croatia.