Things to do in Macau peninsula
Exploring Macau means following in the footsteps of the first Portuguese and Chinese inhabitants which came to the area in the 17th and 18th century through the many buildings and structures in the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO-listed area with 22 buildings and spaces under the 2005 nomination. Here's a list of must see things:-
1-Macau Love Lane
This small lane by the Ruins of St. Paul is interesting because of its name, which translates from the Portuguese as Passion Lane, or Love Lane. It is a pedestrian lane with a small incline and some steps but without any traffic, lined on both sides with pastel color colonial buildings. In the middle are large plant pots. It is not rare to see couples taking pre-wedding pictures here.
Despite its proximity to the most famous tourist spot in Macau, the lane is usually empty. Pop in for a photo op.
2-Na Tcha Temple
Legend has it that Na Tcha was the greatest warrior from the Emperor of Heaven, powerful with his spear and fire wheel. One night, as the epidemic was taking its toll among the Chinese and Portuguese residents of Macau, a citizen received a message in a dream informing him that everyone had to drink water from Mount Hill with Chinese medicine and they would beat the epidemic.
3-Street of happiness
Rua da Felicidade Macau
Not far west of Largo do Senado is Rua da Felicidade (Street of Happiness). This area with shuttered terraces which reminded me of Singapore’s shophouses, was once Macau’s main red-light district and was filled with brothels, opium dens and other illegal activity. The area was renovated and cleaned out in the 90s to today’s quaint and nostalgic look with the white walls, the red shutters and the dark/black wood.
4-Lou Kau Mansion
Lou Kau Mansion
Continuing with the stunning buildings, one of the most interesting things to do in Macau is exploring the few of the heritage mansions that are open to the public. Lou Kau Mansion is one of them and it was one of the places to see in Macau that I enjoyed the most, I could decorate a room in my house in the same style as this mansion.
5-Guia Fortress, Guia Chapel and Guia Lighthouse
For a generous dose of views and a completely different experience in Macau, climb up to Guia Fortress and learn about defending the city and about the Portuguese history in Macau. If you have been to Lisbon, the fortress will remind you of the city too.
6-Macau Design Center
This former factory is the city’s first and most innovative “multi-functional design center”. The Macau Design Center opened in 2014 in a very large space spread over several floors that house retail points for local designers, a cafe, a bookstore, a reading area and a performance area.
7-St Lazarus Church district
St Lazarus District
The area around St. Lazarus Church is as pretty as it is authentic. The first building in its location was created to serve lepers. Today the area is filled with colourful colonial buildings and quaint cobbled streets with plenty of hip artsy shops and events happening. The St. Lazarus district is very near the main tourist spots in Macau yet usually less crowded.
This charming Portuguese corner shop has a small but quaint selection of quality products and specialty foods including honey, chinaware, wooden toys and jewellery from Portugal with vintage packaging and pretty designs. The store is tiny and tucked inside a Portuguese colonial building in the traditional yellow that is located in a quaint courtyard.
Casa Garden Macau
UNESCO-listed Casa Garden is one of the oldest buildings in Macau and was built in 1770 so it is a great place to start your journey through the best things to do in Macau.
The building was first the residence of a wealthy Portuguese merchant who then rented it to the British East India Company when it was based in Macau in the early 19th century. Today, Casa Garden houses the Oriental Foundation which organises regular exhibitions so you can go inside and visit it. Check out their beautiful gardens with pretty flowers and plants and a pond.
10-Macau Gaming History Gallery
Opened by the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) in 2018, The Macau Gaming History Gallery is located inside the Hotel Lisboa’s Crystal Palace hall and showcases the city’s gaming history along with a few vintage items.
And talking of the Hotel Lisboa…
The hotel belongs to the wealthiest Macanese tycoon, Stanley Ho, and is one of the flashiest hotels I have ever seen and a major tourist spot in Macau. Entering the lobby is like walking into a buzzing gold market. There is people everywhere, either guests or, the vast majority, coming to one of the many restaurant, including several Michel awarded ones, or simply taking the hotel in.
12-Sam Kai Vui Kun
Sam Kai Vui Kun also known as Kuan Tai Temple, is a small temple tucked away at the back of St. Dominic’s Market that is believed to have been constructed before 1792. The temple is associated with trade and commerce in the area and new edicts from Chinese Mainland authorities were announced in front of the temple so it is an interesting place to visit in Macau.
13-Pawn shop Museum
I stumbled upon the Pawn Shop Museum almost by accident, wandering the street of Old Macau, a fine example of how the best things to do in Macau, beyond those found in most list, are those we stumble upon while simply wandering Old Macau, instead of ticking items off a list.
This is one of the nicest places to see in Macau. Built around 1869, Mandarin’s House, with over 60 rooms, was the family home of Zheng Guanying, a literary figure who influenced emperors like Dr Sun Yat Sen and Chairman Mao who cited his works as an inspiration.
15-Tai Fung Tong Art House
One of the best things to do in Macau is simply wandering the streets and finding new and interesting places. Like, Tai Fung Tong Art House, an exhibition center that was built by a philanthropist almost a century ago and is housed in the Choi Lok Chi Mansion. The building is unique in its design and incorporates elements of European architecture so it is worth admiring. Open daily from 2pm to 6pm.
At 338m, Macau Tower is the highest point in Macau. Located at the southern point of Peninsular Macau, it offers sweeping views across the sea. There is an observation deck on the 58th and 61st floors and other options for the real thrill seeker, like bungy jumping off the highest jump in the world or sky walking on the outer facade.
17-Biblioteca Sir Robert Ho Tung
Sir Robert Ho Tung’s library is a pretty building tucked at the end of a street with a quiet garden. The building dates from the 1894 and was originally the residence of Carolina Cunha until Sir. Robert Ho Tung, a businessmen from Hong Kong, acquired it in 1918. He moved into the house during the WWII and upon his death, the building was donated to the Government of Macau, as indicated in his will, together with enough cash to buy books and convert the house into a public library. It opened as such in 1958.
18-Tap Seac Square and Gallery
This beautiful square is surrounded by some of the most important neo-classical buildings from the 1920s including Macau’s Instituto Cultural Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tap Seac Health Centre, Central Library, Library for Macau’s Historical Archives and Tap Seac Gallery, which opened as a private residence in the typical neo-classic European style.
19-St. Dominic Church Macau
Right in the middle of Macau’s historic centre, this yellow baroque church with white ornaments and mouldings was founded by three Spanish Dominican priests from Acapulco, Mexico, in the 16th century, and was one of the first two to be built, together with the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. Today St. Dominic’s Church is one of the most popular places to visit in Macau.
20-St Joseph’s Seminary and church
Another UNESCO-listed site, St Joseph’s is further from the other historical buildings in the center of Macau and so it is usually less popular. The church was consecrated in 1758 as part of the Jesuit seminary and was designed in the typical white-and-yellow facade style. Together with the Ruins of St. Paul, this is the only other European baroque building in China.