1-A Ma Temple
A Ma Temple is a Taoist temple built in 1488, well before Macau was created, by seafarers who dedicated it to Matsu, their goddess. The name Macau is said to originate from this temple. When the Portuguese arrived, all the locals could repeat was “A-Ma-Gau” (bay of goddess A-Ma), which the Portuguese interpreted as the name of the area.
The temple is open from 7am to 6pm, go early to avoid the crowds.
2-Fortaleza do Monte
Also known as Mount Fortress, Fortaleza do Monte was another crucial structure to hold off an invasion from the Dutch in 1622 and is also included in UNESCO’s list. The fortress was equipped with enough canons, ammunition, and arsenal sufficient to hold a siege lasting up to two years.
The fortress is open 7am to 7pm and the Museum from 10am to 6pm.
3- Leal Senado Square and building
Leal Senado, located on the most famous road in Old Macau, Largo do Senado, is the most important tourist spot in Macau and one of the most popular places to visit. The square receives its name from the Leal Senado building presiding over it which was the municipal chamber named as such because of the City’s Portuguese nickname, bestowed by King John IV in 1654 for its loyalty to the crown during Spanish occupation.
. 4-The Holy House of Mercy
The Holly House of Mercy is a well established institution located on Senado Square and founded by the first Bishop of Macau in 1559 to tend to the orphans and widows of the sailors who died at sea. The facade is grand and beautiful and painted in white instead of the common pale yellow of other buildings.
Inside you can visit the Museum of the Holy House of Mercy.
5-The Ruins of St. Paul
The Ruins of St. Paul is the most beautiful place to see in Macau and visiting it is the top thing to do in Macau. It is also the most easily recognisable image of the city. The ruins are all that remains of the former Church of Mater Dei and St. Paul’s College built between 1602 and 1640 and destroyed by fire in 1835.
The facade is located on a small hill up 68 steps. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 2005 and it is the most important building in the 22 included in Macau’s UNESCO nomination.
6-Kun Iam Temple
Kun Iam Temple, originally called Pou Chai Temple or Puji Temple, is Macau’s oldest temple and was founded in the 13th century, but the present structures date back to 1627 as indicated in a wooden table.
Spend some time in one of the three main halls or in the large garden courtyard taking it all in.
7-Kun Iam Statue
Kun Iam Statue
The Virgin Mary–like 20 meter statue emerges in bronze casting from a 7 meter lotus located on a man-made island in the outer harbour. The structure sits atop an ecumenical center and it was designed as a symbol of friendship and respect among all peoples.
8-St. Lawrence Church
Built by the Jesuits in the mid-16th century, this is one of the three oldest churches in Macau. The church used to be called Feng Shun Tang, the Hall of the Soothing Winds, for the families of Portuguese seafarers who used to come here to pray and wait for their loved ones to return from the sea.
9-Macau Fisherman’s Wharf
Macau Fisherman’s Wharf. Flickr Klaus Nahr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
This wharf is the largest entertainment complex right off the ferry terminal in Macau Peninsula. It has over 150 stores and restaurants in several buildings styled like Cape Town’s waterfront. If you need a bit of an escape from the rest of the historical buildings but do not fancy the casinos, Macau’s Fisherman’s Wharf might be a good place to meet halfway.
10-Macau Wine Museum
Divided into a Historical information centre, a Wine Cellar, a Museum and an Exhibition centre, the Macau Wine Museum Includes displays of Portuguese wines and a wine tasting stations. Over 1,100 types of wine are on display at the only museum in Macau where beverages are allowed. About 90% of these are of Portuguese origin, including the oldest bottle – the Porto 1815. For MOP$15, you can have a tasting of selected bottles. There is also a rundown of Portugal’s various wine regions, and a (rather bland) display of wine racks, barrels, presses and tools. Closed from 1st July 17 for renovation until further notice so do check that it is still open before going.
11-Grand Prix Museum
The Macau Grand Prix Museum is right next to the wine Museum and is a great motor racing museum. It opened in 1993 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Macau Grand Prix, which takes place every year in November, and showcases a number of items from the many races. Closed from 1st July 17 for renovation until further notice so do check that it is still open before going.
12-Have tea at a traditional tea house
Lung Wah Tea House
Lung Wah Tea House is a vintage Cantonese style teahouse which opened in 1963. You can sit by the window and watch people walk by or observe the tea market where the teahouse buys its tea every day downstairs, all with a cup of tea and some dim sum. The tea house was opened by the parents of the current owner and served as a meeting place for the laborers at the harbour, which is nearby.
13-Have a Michelin starred meal
Like Hong Kong, Macau has a lot of Michelin-starred restaurants, even two with three stars, ready to absorb all those hard earned casino dollars. For some of the most interesting meals, head to the Grand Lisboa, where there are three restaurants with stars, including the top two, one Chinese and the other French, of Robuchon fame.
The Eight Macau
The Eight is one of few 3 Michelin starred restaurants in Macau specialising in very creative and fine dining dim sum. The name is auspicious in Chinese and the outlet is flash with water cascading down the wall and dripping chandeliers. Reservations are essential. Read my full review here.
15-Robuchon au Dome
buchon au Dome Lisboa Hotel
Robuchon au dome is another 3 Michelin starred restaurant (the second one in the Lisboa Hotel) of famous celebrity chef Joel Robuchon who has the most Michelin stars in the world and outposts in other Asian cities like Singapore or Hong Kong. Expect the same caliber as in his other venues, and French cuisine with refined elements in an utterly flash environment so characteristic of the Lisboa Hotel. Read my full review here.
16-Enjoy Macanese food
‘The Sailboat’, A Lorcha is one of the most popular places to stop at if you go to A-Ma Temple as it is nearby. Expect usual Portuguese and Macanese fare in generous portions and in a quaint family-style room with arched columns. I very much enjoyed eating here and sampling the local dishes, it all felt very authentic and genuine, rustic even. Plus they say that Macanese food is the first fusion food that existed created as a result of Portuguese utensils and cooking techniques used to prepare Chinese recipes. There are very few places serving Macanese food and A Lorcha is one of them. Book a foodie walking tour of Macau by clicking here.
17-Indulge in Portuguese favorites
Antonio from outside
Cozy and blue and yellow-tiled, this restaurant in Taipa Village embodies Portugal in Macau. The chef is entertaining too and the menu is more sophisticated than other venues. The building is tall and narrow and the tables are spread across the various levels. Antonio is a great place for Portuguese food in Macau so if you only try one, let it be this one and call ahead to order the advance booking special menu that is full of signature dishes and indulge in the crepe suzette, which he will flambe tableside. I very much recommend this restaurant.
18-Visit the Michael Jackson gallery
The Sofitel Point 16 Hotel where I stayed for a couple of days, has an interesting collection of Michael Jackson objects, photographs and other paraphernalia at the Michael Jackson Gallery. It also has a Michael Jackson themed suite in its Mansion area which I got to visit with the staff. The gallery is small but well worth it if you are a Michael Jackson fan.
19-Things to do and see in Taipa, Cotai and Coloane
The island is where many of the large and flash hotels and casino complexes of Macau are located. Taipa and Coloane used to be two separate islands with rich heritage, which were united through landfill in the middle, creating what is today called the Cotai strip.
The Cotai Strip mimics the Las Vegas Strip, complete with the same hotels and architecture, expect dancing fountains, the Venetian, an Eiffel Tower and other adult-entertainment options.
20-Go on a night bus tour
Cotai Strip at night
Only in Macau can you have a night bus tours as an amazing tourist activity. When the city lights come out, the entire city, but particularly the Cotai Strip, come alive in a mesmerising way. You can book tickets for a night bus tour here. The tour covers both Cotai and the Old Macau parts but I reckon Cotai is where the real casino and luxury hotel neon light show is most amazing, don’t you think?