Macau is a uniquely constructed city that is delightful for visitors and residents alike. Although it is only 60 kilometers from Hong Kong, this little oasis is full of Portuguese and European influences mixed with Chinese traditions. You still walk down cobbled streets and see colonial architecture. It is very easy to get here by high-speed ferry from Hong Kong or on the 55-kilometer-long bridge from Hong Kong. A perfect long weekend destination, you will quickly fall in love with the city of Macau!
Located in the heart of old Macau, the Senado Square is a car free zone where pedestrians can walk around and see the namesake old Senate building, a perfect example of Portuguese colonial architecture. After you’ve admired the facade built in 1870, walk into the building first constructed in 1784 for a tour and see the current Municipal Council Chambers or browse the Senate library home to more than 50,000 manuscripts. After you visit inside, walk around the square and taste any of the yummy European or Chinese restaurants.
Ruins of St. Paul
At one point in history, St. Paul’s Cathedral in Macau was considered to be one of the finest Christian buildings in Asia. This Renaissance building first burned down in 1601 and then rebuilt by 1637. The ruins you see today were caused by a typhoon and fire in 1835, leaving just the beautiful facade. You can walk around the ruins or take a tour and learn more about the Japanese Christians that created this church to resemble the Gesu in Rome.
Built in 1488, the A-Ma Buddhist Temple was at one point the city’s most important religious site and the inspiration for the Portuguese to rename the city. A very accessible site, there are six sections for you to explore all lined with stone lions and the goddess Matsu. You will also find shady spots that are great for moments of reflection while you are visiting the temple. The temple grounds are still intact and are a very enjoyable visit while in Macau.
Fortaleza do Monte and the Macau Museum
Constructed in 1626, the Fortaleza do Monte was the Portuguese military hub in China and governor’s residence for over a century. And today, it is home to the Macau Museum. Here you can learn about the Portuguese presence in the area and how the Portuguese, Chinese, and Macanese have coexisted for centuries. You can walk around the Mount Fortress Gardens and visit the Moor-inspired mansion Mansao Evocativa de Sun Yat-Sen. You could easily spend a day exploring the grounds and all the history in the museum.
Maritime Museum and Fisherman’s Wharf
Meander around the Maritime Museum and learn all about Macau’s maritime history with models of fishing boats and ships and fishing equipment on display, from the tools of the trade to the nautical instruments used by the professionals. After you see the model dragon boats and fishing smack, walk down to the fisherman’s wharf. Visit the amusement rides that pay homage to Amsterdam and Venice, and then window shop and eat at any of the delightful restaurants with views of the water.
The Guia Fortress is a must stop for all those in Macau. This green oasis at the top of a hill can be reached by a hike or by a cable car ride. The hill provides for amazing views over the city, and you can tour the chapel with 17th century frescos and stop out the lighthouse or take a photo with the cannons. After exploring what’s above, dip into the underground tunnels and explore the secrets down there. There are exhibits throughout the fortress to educate visitors on its history throughout time.
Kun Iam Temple
Built in 1627 for the goddess of mercy, this Buddhist temple is a great afternoon visit when you need a moment of reflection. See the statues of the Past, Present, and Future before visiting the temple’s gardens. Here is where the first treaty between China and the United States was signed in 1844. You will find delicate porcelain statues and a gilded Buddha that is meant to resemble infamous explorer and Venetian Marco Polo. If you’re traveling with a partner, don’t forget to visit the Chinese garden behind the temple and pray for a moment at the Tree of the Loving Couples.
Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre
One of the city’s most remarkable and standout landmarks, the 338-meter-tall building was built for broadcasting and telecommunications. Besides restaurants and shops inside the tower visitors can walk into, there is an observation deck at the top that gives you panoramic views of Macau below. If you’re not too scared of heights, walk along the outer rim of the tower on the Macau Tower Skywalk, or bungee jump at the world’s highest jumping spot!
If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip where you can dip your toes into the water, take the bridge over to Coloane Island. You will find delightful eucalyptus groves among tropical vegetation and a pine forest. On the east side of Coloane Island is Hac Sa Beach, which has a very family friendly recreational area that you can play or relax at. When you start to need a meal, head to Coloane Village and find something to eat among the traditional Chinese and colonial houses.
Giant Panda Pavilion
Your kids will love visiting the Giant Pandas, Red Pandas, and monkeys displayed at this pavilion! This spot is great for families with kids of all ages and is best visited before the afternoon heat settles in order to see the animals at their most active state. It is free to enter the park, but you must pay a small fee to see the panda exhibit.
Macau is a very unique city to visit in China, rich in history and European influences. You can easily spend a couple days here seeing everything in the city!