The club was established by a group of 22 young friends in a coffee bar in Votsi area on 25 March 1914 and given the name Aris from the god of war. Its nickname was inspired by the two Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, when Greece fought against the Ottoman Empire before engaging in a war with Bulgaria. In Greek mythology, Aris was a deity who was in conflict with Hercules, the mythological character after which Aris's rival football team, Iraklis, was named. In the beginning the club was based on a ground near the Arch and Tomb of Galerius but after the accession of two minor football clubs in 1919 and 1921 the club's base was moved near to Flemming Street. The first stadium was built on the site where Mars Field Park currently lies on Stratou Avenue. Quickly the club became very popular and soon new teams apart from football were established.
During this early stage of football in Greece no professional league was established. Instead, three minor leagues (in Macedonia (E.P.S.M.), Athens (E.P.S.A.) and Piraeus (E.P.S.P.)) were created, with the champions of each league competing in a postseason mini tournament to claim the title of the national champion. The first official game was held in 1923 against an other Thessalonikian Club, Megas Alexandros(Alexander the Great). That year marked the first title, when Aris was named regional champion of Macedonia, something that was repeated next year. Up to 1959, when the united First Division was created, Aris managed to finish first 14 times in the Macedonian division.
Aris's first national title came in 1928 when Aris beat twice the Athens' league champion, Atromitos, and the Piraeus chapmpion, Ethnikos. On 24 May 1928, Aris bested Atromitos 3–1 in Athens, losing 2–3 to Ethnikos three days later, in June the second leg was held in Thessaloniki, were Aris won both his opponents by 3–1. This championship also marked the first appearance of the club's most important player, Kleanthis Vikelides, and manager during this priod was the Austrian Thomas Kössler.
The second championship came four years later in 1932, only this time his opponents were Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, AEK, Ethnikos, PAOK and Iraklis. Aris managed to collect 22 points in this mini tournament, four more than the second, Panathinaikos, scoring large wins like 7–0 against Panathinaikos, 7–3 against Iraklis and 3–0 versus AEK and Olympiakos in Athens, also new star players emerged, Kitsios, Aggelakis, Mpogdanos, Gigopoulos, while Belgian manager De Valer guided effectively the club.
Aris won their third title in 1946, playing against two teams, AEK from Athens and Olympiakos from Piraeus, champions of the other two minor domestic leagues. Aris beat Olympiakos twice, scoring two goals and conceding none; came to a draw with AEK in Athens and defeated them in PAOK's stadium in Thessaloniki (score 4–1). Aris has not won a championship since the establishment of the First Division (1959).
Aris' status remained high during this period, which was marked by the construction of the club's homeground, the Kleanthis Vikelides Stadium, named after the legendary homonymous player. Before World War II, Aris' homeground was located in the center of the city, near the International Trade Fair, but was abandoned by the state in 1936 in order for the Paedion tou Areos park (Mars Field) to be built. The club managed to buy some land during 1951 in a quarter of the city named Harilaou, where the new Stadium was slowly built. Also in 1959, the tripartite minor league system was abandoned and a new, unified Championship was created.
In the 1970s, Aris was reorganized and a vast number of young players from Thessaloniki, including Kouis, Foiros, Drambis, Zindros and Papafloratos led the club. Its most important achievements during that period included a successful 1980 UEFA campaign when Aris eliminated Benfica and Perugia. Aris was also the first Greek club to score a victory both in Italy and Portugal. At home, the team shared first place with Olympiakos at the end of the 1980 campaign, though it lost the title 2–0 in a tie-breaker against the Piraeus club in Volos National Stadium.
After the mid '80 and the retirement of the club's honored old guard, Aris entered in a slow decline, rarely reaching European league qualification or notable Greek League position, which—in combination with appreciable financial troubles that left the club near bankruptcy—led to the club's relegation to the Second Division in 1997 and 2005. Both times though Aris managed to resume its place in the first division.
In recent years, specially after the creation of an Aris Members' Society that controls the club's fortunes, Aris has qualified several times for the UEFA Europa League, finished fourth in the Superleague three times, and has reached in the Greek Cup Final four times, losing in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010, when 25,000 Aris fans went to Athens in the biggest ever move of fans in Greece,. In 2008 and 2010 Aris made it through to the UEFA Europa League group stage after eliminating Real Zaragoza and Austria Wien respectively during the Cup's play-off rounds. During the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League they managed to play for the first time in club's history in Europe after Christmas, after a very good appearance in the group stage where they won 1-0 at home and 2-3 away and eliminated the title holdersAtlético Madrid. Recent developments include the interest from the club's board to construct a new, modern stadium in eastern Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area to replace the obsolete Kleanthis Vikelides Stadium and the modernization and expansion of the club's training facilities in Neo Rysio, Thessaloniki. Also, in a unique move for Greek standards, the board decided in December 2009 to establish a radio station, Aris FM 92.8 in order to promote the communication between Aris fans around the country and the coverage of the clubs activities.
The emblem of the team is a resting Ares (Greek: Άρης – Aris), the Olympian god of war, as depicted in the Ludovisi Ares. It was chosen in the late '70 to replace the older and simpler logo which was used since 1914. The colors of the team are yellow and black, in order to remind the connection with the Byzantine heritage of Thessaloniki.
Aris fans are loosely connected with the supporters of A.S Saint Etienne (Green Angels 92) and Boca Juniors. During the 2013/2014 season, a large number of the Aris Fanbase and a large number of the Watford FC fanbase called The 1881[by whom?] have forged a strong friendship and are actively going to games with each other in both Watford and Aris.
In January 2006, the club's board decided to create an organisation called "Aris Friends' Club" to give supporters the opportunity to participate in the club's management by buying no par value shares. According to the plan, each member will have the right to vote in the board elections for president, as well as to run as a candidate. In order to be involved in the elections, fans must also financially support the club.
The system was fully activated in May 2009, when the president, Thanassis Athanassiades, was elected after prevailing against Lambros Skordas, obtaining 75.5% of the votes, while it has gained large support from the club's supporters, counting over 9.335 members, in 2011. Athanassiades was reelected in May 2011, obtaining 73.9% of the votes In February 2012, the organisation was officially renamed "Aris Members' Society". In June 2012, after the resignation of former chairman, a new board of directors under Antonis Zampetas took over in order to face the serious financial problems.,
The stadium of Aris Thessaloniki is named Kleanthis Vikelides after the club's legendary player. It is located at 69 Alkminis, Charilaou; 54249 Thessaloniki, and was built in 1951. In 1972, it got a new roof, in 1975 a new north stand, and in 2004, it was fully renovated. Its current total capacity is 19,220 spectators.
Since the late '70, Aris FC has created its own training grounds in Neo Rysio just outside Thessaloniki near the International Airport covering three hectares and including football fields, hosting area with gym, pool and sauna, press room, offices, restaurant and locker rooms. The facilities were rebuilt in September 2010 after a demand placed by manager Héctor Cúper.
Aris have been champions of Greece three times, having been placed 2nd four times and 3rd eight times. They have also won the Greek Cup once, having been finalists eight times and eliminated in the Semi-finals five times. They have also played in the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup on many occasions and the furthest the club has progressed is to the Third Round of the 1979–80 UEFA Cup.