Mataró dates back to Roman times when it was a village known as "Iluro" or "Illuro". The ruins of a first-century BC Roman bath house (known locally as the Torre Llauder) were recently discovered and can be visited. The coastal
N-II highway follows the same path as the original Roman road.
Mataró was declared a city by royal decree, even though at the time (nineteenth century) the population fell short of the requirement for city status.
The first railway in peninsular Spain was the Mataró – Barcelona line which opened on 28 October 1848 by the Catalan businessman and Mataró native
Miquel Biada. This line now forms part of the RENFE/Rodalies de Catalunya R1 suburban service between L'Hospitalet de Llobregat and Maçanet-Massanes. Mataró is also connected with Barcelona and Girona by the C-32 autopista (freeway) and with Granollers by the C-60 autopista.
During the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Mataró was the starting point for the marathon events.