Things to Do in Macau SAR
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, Macao's Historic Centre includes more than 20 historic and culturally significant sights. From churches and temples to forts and squares, Macao's Historic Centre reflects the area’s rich cultural legacy and its unique mix of Portuguese and Chinese influences.
Reaching a neck-pinching height of 1,109 feet (338 meters), Macau Tower dominates Macau’s skyline and offers sweeping views of the peninsula for over one million visitors per year. Visitors without a fear of heights can rapidly ascend the high-speed, glass-fronted elevator to the tower observation decks on the 58th and 61st floors.
One of the most famous landmarks in Macau, the Ruins of St. Paul is all that’s left of a church that was built in 1602 and was destroyed by fire in 1835. All that remains are the iconic stone façade and the grand staircase leading up to it. The ruins form part of the Historic Center of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the oldest temples in Macau, A-Ma temple was built in 1488 and commemorates A-Ma, goddess of the sea (also known as Mazu and Tin Hau). Featuring multiple prayer pavilions set on different levels of a hill overlooking the Inner Harbour, A-Ma Temple forms part of the Historic Centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Historically, Macau was home to two small islands that sat just offshore of the mainland: Coloane and Taipa. Following recent land-reclamation efforts, however, a third island, Cotai, has filled in the gap. Each of the three areas, now merged into one island, retains its own identity, offering distinct experiences for travelers.
It’s hard to miss St. Dominic's Church (Igreja de São Domingos), with its pastel yellow façade. The church was established by three Dominican priests in 1587, though the current building dates from the 17th century. A popular attraction with a colorful past, the church forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Historic Centre of Macau.
Set within the compound of the old Monte Fort, the Macao Museum chronicles the history of this region and its blend of European and Asian cultures. Exhibits cover the territory’s history, the relationship between China and Portugal, Macanese religion, folk customs, architecture, and urban development.
Built by the Jesuits to repel an attack from the sea, the Monte Fort (Fortaleza de Monte) is the oldest military fortification on the Macau peninsula. Though cannons were readied and defense preparations made, the only military action the Monte Fort ever saw was during an unsuccessful raid by the Dutch in 1622.
When the Casino Lisboa first opened in 1970 it set the stage for the gambling legacy that continues to power Macau’s economy to this day. Macau’s original casino, designed to resemble a towering lotus leaf, is home to a hotel, four gaming floors, shopping arcade, restaurants, a swimming pool, and a Parisian-style cabaret show.
Built in the 17th century as a fortification against foreign aggression, Guia Fortress is located at the highest point on the Macau Peninsula, the 300-foot (91-meter) Guia Hill. Guia Fortress also includes a lighthouse and a chapel. It offers panoramic views of Macau, and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Macau Historic Centre.
More Things to Do in Macau SAR
It’s no surprise that the House of the Dancing Water was introduced to Macau by former Cirque du Soleil director Franco Dragone. Macau’s most spectacular show, staged at City of Dreams, features stunts, acrobatics, and elaborate choreography in a theater that uses as much water as five Olympic-sized swimming pools.
A 32,000-square-foot (2,973-square-meter) indoor children’s amusement area, Warner Bros. Fun Zone at Studio City Macau is located inside the Studio City casino-and-resort complex. Attractions include a climbing wall, a shooting ride, a raceway, and an arcade center. The Tom & Jerry Picnic Playground caters to toddlers.
Macau’s only Suzhou-style Chinese garden, Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, often attracts locals who come to practice tai chi or play music in what was once the largest private garden in the city. Today the space is a 4.4-acre (1.8-hectare) public park, featuring traditional elements like ponds, bridges, rockeries, pavilions, and pagodas.
Plenty of cities have Ferris wheels, but Macau has one shaped like a figure eight, towering 425 feet (130 meters) above the Cotai Strip. Built into the facade of the Studio City entertainment complex, the Golden Reel offers some of the most beautiful views over Macau and the South China Sea.
Housed in a silver cone-shaped building designed by architect I.M. Pei, the Macao Science Center (Centro de Ciencia de Macau)is a science-themed museum and learning center. With exhibitions, films, live demonstrations, and interactive experiences across different science and technology themes, the museum offers a fun learning environment for the whole family.
Macau’s heritage has long been linked with the sea, and the Maritime Museum celebrates the connection while tracing the nautical histories of Portugal, China, and Macau. Fittingly enough, Macau’s oldest museum opened in 1987 near the spot believed to be where the first Portuguese traders came ashore.
Macau isn’t the most family-friendly destination, but Kids’ City inside the City of Dreams is designed for young visitors. This 17,000-square-foot (1,579-square-meter) indoor play park features slides, rope bridges, inflatable bounce castles, and ball pits, as well as crafting stations, a dress-up area, and an arcade.
Spanning 11.8 million square feet (1.1 million square meters), the Galaxy Macau is a massive resort on the Cotai Strip. Featuring six luxury hotels, over 120 restaurants and bars, more than 200 shops, and options ranging from gaming machines and tables to laser shows to wave pools and waterparks, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
This 66-foot-tall (20-meter-tall) statue of Guan Yin, Buddhist goddess of mercy, is one of only a few such statues where the goddess faces inland rather than toward the sea. Designed by Portuguese architect Cristina Rocha, the statue stands atop the lotus-shaped Kun Iam Ecumenical Center, home to a library and museum of religious objects.
Centerpiece of a megaresort on Macau’s answer to the Vegas Strip, the Eiffel Tower at the Parisian Macao is a half-size replica of the Paris original. There are observation decks on the seventh and 37th floors, and a restaurant, La Chine, on the sixth floor. After dark, the Macau Eiffel Tower lights up in color every 15 minutes.
One of the three ancient temples of Macau, Kun Iam Temple was founded during the 13th century, although the present structures were built in 1627. Dedicated to Kun Iam, the Chinese representation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Mercy, this Buddhist temple is one of the largest and most important in Macau.
Situated on a forested hillside in the old part of town, Luis de Camões Garden and Grotto is a welcome oasis of calm in one of the most densely populated places in the world. Dedicated to the Portuguese poet and naval veteran Luis de Camões, this is the largest park in the city of Macau.
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