The town was founded in the 5th century BC as Pityus (
Ancient Greek: Pityus, Πιτυοῦς, genitive Pityuntos, Πιτυοῦντος) or Pitiunt, a
Greek colony and trade port on the coast of the Kingdom of
 The city was surrounded by a defensive wall, the castellum had a second line of defence built in mid-3rd century AD.
 Excavations guided by
Andria Apakidze unearthed, in 1952, remains of three 4th-century churches and a bath with high-quality
mosaic floors. The former "Great Pityus" harbour is now a mere lake within the town.
 attacked the city in 255 CE after taking the
Bosporan fleet. The Roman garrison under the command of
Successianus repelled the attack, however they returned in the next year, took the city and proceeded further to sack
John Chrysostom was being led towards Pityus by the imperial soldiers, in execution of the decree of exile, when he died on the way in 407.
 Like Dioskurias, it remained under Roman control within the
Georgian kingdom of
Colchis until the 7th century. The city passed under Abasgian control and became one of the major political and religious centres of the kingdom of
Lazica). An archbishopric of Pitiunt was instituted in 541. In medieval Georgia, the town's name was spelled as Bichvinta. At the end of the 10th century, King
Bagrat III of Georgia built there the
Pitsunda Cathedral which survives to this day and contains vestiges of wall-painting from the 13th and the 16th centuries. Bichvinta also served as the seat of the
Catholicate of Abkhazia until the late 16th century when Abkhazia came under the
Ottoman hegemony within
Georgia. In his 1911 article for the Catholic Encyclopedia, Sophrone Pétridès described Pityus as a
 but it is not now found in the
Catholic Church's list of such sees.
 In the late 13th century, the area housed a short-lived
Genoese trade colony called Pezonda.
Pitsunda was the favourite resort of First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Nikita Khrushchev. In October 1964 he happened to be vacationing in Pitsunda when he was deposed from power. Khrushchev once proposed a major dam and hydroelectric power scheme on the
Bzyb River near Pitsunda, but his experts informed him that a dam built on the Bzyb River would have had catastrophic effects in causing beach erosion at Pitsunda. In the end, the dam was built on the
Inguri River instead, where the impact upon the coastline was assessed to be considerably less pronounced.