Rimini - The Beach Resort
If you are visiting Rimini purely for a beach holiday, you need never leave the sand. All along the beach are private beach concessions where you can hire sunbeds and parasols, eat at cafes, bars and restaurants and watch your children have fun on the play equipment. The Italians have made beach life very comfortable and orderly. For much of the resort's length there are two busy traffic-filled streets, one running along the back of the beach, the other a block inland. Rimini's hundreds of hotels are mostly located on these two streets, or on little side-streets branching off them. Buses run along the length of the resort, and the streets are fairly featureless and unchanging; a procession of restaurants, snack bars, drinking bars, night-time bars and cheap clothes shops. Personally I missed being able to walk along a promenade and admire the sea; the seaside road is busy and it is lined with the entrances to private beaches, blocking any views. The best place for strolling is by the mouth of the river and port, level with the old town. Here you can actually walk out along a jetty where old men fish and which affords good views along the built-up coastline and towards the distant southern headland which gives interest to the scenery.
As well as the attractions of the sandy beach and the safe shallow waters, Rimini also has its full share of other seaside attractions for adults, teenagers and children. There are amusement arcades, bicycles to hire, mini-golf (near the lighthouse) and a dolphinarium (Delfinario). I caught the bus to Italia in Miniatura, an old fashioned theme park built around 'Italy in Miniature', which comprises lots of small models of Italian landmarks and a boat ride through Venice 'at one-fifth its actual size'. And this being Italy, there is lots and lots of food.
Practicalities, food and drink
As described below, the bus services are a good way to cut down on boring walks through seaside Rimini. Once you have got a map you'll be able to find your bearings along the long unchanging streets; the bus-stop numbering helps, too. When you are booking your hotel, check its location on the maps provided on the online booking sites to get an idea of how far you will be from the railway station and the old town. If you are planning travel or sightseeing it makes sense to be fairly near these, perhaps in the Marina Centro area which is the nearest seaside to the old town.
Although Rimini isn't renowned for its cuisine or restaurants, there are plenty of perfectly decent places to eat varied meals, from pizzas to seafood, as well as take-aways and bars serving piadine - local heated flat-bread sandwiches. By the seaside I ate at Chi Burdlaz 'Garden Bar' (Viale Vespucci, 63) - which was over-hectic but served good pizzas, pasta and meat dishes and was ruled over by a real character. There is a cluster of popular eating places on Via Becadelli, where the street from the town centre reaches the seafront area. These include the stylish white-decor Ex-Dancing, which offers pizzas, salads and piadine at outdoors tables in the sun. Along the street from the railway station, next to the pedestrian underpass on the route to the sea, is a chain pizzeria, Zio Ciro (Piazzale Battini, 21), which has outdoors tables under trees (albeit squeezed between road and railway line) and serves reliable food at reasonable prices.
The evening hub of the old town is the old fish market, the Pescheria, where there is a cluster of bars and young people (and not-so-young) can perch on the old stone market-slabs with their wine glasses. Just around the corner in a tiny square is an excellent restaurant, Osteria della Piazzetta, which served the best meals I ate in Rimini.
To See and Do Around Rimini
The Emilia-Romagna region has several historic towns which make interesting day trips within reach of Rimini. Ravenna, Ferrara and Bologna all have lots of art, architecture and sights to enjoy as well as attractive squares where you can sit and enjoy a very different atmosphere to Rimini - or to seaside Rimini, anyway. Rimini is well-placed for exploring this stretch of the Adriatic Coast, and I found it a good base for a varied holiday. As well as the other purpose-built beach resorts, travellers can head south into the region of Le Marche, where there are still more villages and hills to explore. I visited seaside Pesaro (half an hour away by train) and famous Urbino in a combined day trip, since the bus for Urbino leaves from Pesaro. For comfortable exploring I'd allow a day each for the towns, though. Rimini is also the best base for visiting the independent Republic of San Marino: a bus service runs throughout the day between the two towns; the journey takes 45 minutes. In the summer holiday season there are additional bus services designed for day-trippers: for example to the historic castle and town of San Leo, and a direct service to Urbino. Other nearby towns can be visited using normal public bus services, including Verucchio, which has an important archaeological museum. The tourist information office in Rimini produces interesting leaflets and even books in English detailing sights in the surrounding province; it's a good first stop for planning your travels. Naturally they also stock pamphlets advertising all those attractions designed for summer trippers and families, of which there are many in the area: theme parks, water parks and so on.
Rimini Travel & Transport
Rimini has its own airport, the Aeroporto Internazionale Federico Fellinio di Rimini-San Marino. Both Ryanair and Easyjet operate budget flights to the airport from the UK. It is only just outside the centre of town at Miramare, one of the stretches of seaside suburb. It has a tourist information office, and an urban bus service, the number 9, connects the airport with Rimini railway station.
Rimini is on a railway line which links Bologna with Ancona, further down the Adriatic coast. A good number of trains stop here; connections with other major Italian destinations are generally via Bologna. If you are planning a journey to or from Rimini by train, be aware that different categories of train stop here; some are faster but cost a lot more than others. You will need to buy the right ticket for the particular train you plan to catch. As well as the main Rimini station, some trains also stop at little stations further along Rimini's built-up coastline, at Rimini Miramare and at Riccione.
The other seaside resorts nearby are on the same railway line, making it easy to visit the rest of the coast. Buses also serve the surrounding area; urban buses run the length of the built-up area as far south as Riccione, and other services head into the inland region. There are several buses a day running to the Republic of San Marino, a 45-minute trip, and in summer there are also direct buses to other towns of interest like San Leo and Urbino. Out of season you will need to rely on regular public transport. To reach Urbino, take a train to Pesaro and then catch a bus outside the railway station.
Within Rimini, bus services are run by a company called AM. There is a ticket and information kiosk outside the railway station. Services are efficient and tickets are cheap. Within the historic centre it is easy to get around on foot, but the seaside areas spread a long way, and are quite boring to walk through, so hopping on a bus is often a good option. Stops are labelled with numbers which is very helpful for travellers. A town map available from the tourist office shows bus routes and stops. It is generally worth buying a period bus ticket - for example a 3-day ticket at the time of writing costs just €5.50.