Macau, also spelled Macao, is a small city connected to China at the southern part of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. The city was a former Portuguese colony from the 16th century until December 20, 1999. The Portuguese influences can be seen in architecture, food, tradition and religion.
While gambling tourism brings in a lot of visitors (and revenue), there are many things to do in Macau. The well-preserved colonial architecture can be seen in the historical centre, which has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Furthermore, Macau’s designation as a “Creative Cities Network in the field of Gastronomy” by UNESCO, draws foodies everywhere to experience the delightful Macanese cuisine.
Most travellers visit Macau as a day trip from Hong Kong. But Macau has so many things o see that you should stay overnight.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to make the most of your Macau day trip. And if you stay overnight, I included a 2-day Macau itinerary so you can explore other areas that are off the beaten path.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost. Thank you for supporting this website. For more information, please read our disclosure for more info.
What you need to know before starting your Macau itinerary
Before you plan your Macau itinerary, take a look at these travel tips that you may find useful:
- Bring your travel document when travelling from Hong Kong to Macau. You will need to pass HK Immigration on the HK side and then Macau Immigration on the Macau side.
- Macau’s official currency is the Macanese Pataca (MOP). Many establishments will accept your Hong Kong Dollars (HKD). However, when you pay for something in HKD cash, you might get change back in MOP.
- Standard voltage is 220V. Power sockets are of type D, M, G and F.
- SIM cards are available in Macau without registration. You can buy them at a self-service vending machine at the airport, both ferry terminals and some casino hotels. Otherwise, free wifi is available in all the casinos, hotels and some restaurants.
- Macau is safe for solo female travellers. The city is peaceful and has a low crime rate. It is very safe to walk alone during the day and at night.
- Plan your visit to Macau with the following festivals and events:
- Macau Grand Prix (November) – see the the weekend motorsport road race for Formula 3 cars and motorcycles
- Macau Light Festival (December to February) – major attractions are lit up during this annual festival
- Macau International Fireworks Display Contest (September/October) – over 100 fireworks light up the sky
How to get to Macau
Visitors from China, Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, and Korea can arrive at Macau International Airport in Taipa. There are taxis, local buses and many hotel shuttle buses from the airport that will take you directly to your hotel.
Travellers from Hong Kong can take a hydrofoil ferry. TurboJET and Cotai Water Jet takes about one hour and arrives at either Macau Ferry Terminal or Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal. Buy a ticket once you are at the terminal or order one ahead of time.
Once at either ferry terminal, take a free shuttle bus to your hotel.
HZMB Bus via HZM Bridge
The cheapest way to travel from Hong Kong to Macau is by taking the HZMB Bus (Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge Bus).
The direct bus starts from Hong Kong Port to HZMB Zhuhai Port. The bus journey takes about 45 minutes and runs every 5 minutes (or until the bus is full) for 24 hours a day. Buy a $65HKD ticket from the kiosk.
Once you are at HZMB Zhuhai Port, take a free shuttle to either Macau Ferry Terminal or Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal. From either terminal, take the free casino shuttle to your hotel.
How to get around Macau
Walking is the best way to see all the tourist spots around Macau, especially on the Macau Peninsula.
As for Taipa and Cotai, you can take a taxi or bus. However, the easiest and cheapest way getting around Macau is by the free hotel shuttle buses run by all the major casinos. Complimentary shuttle services run between ferry terminals, airport and back to the hotel and anyone can use it (even if you are a hotel customer).
For my Macau itinerary, I will explain below how you get around Macau for both days. It involves walking and taking free hotel shuttle buses. Yes, all free!
How many days in Macau as first time traveller
Macau has two parts: the historic centre is located on the Macau Peninsula which is on the north side of the city.
The other part is the southern area which consists of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane. And the majority of the highlights are in Taipa and the casino hotels are in Cotai.
It is possible to see all the historical attractions in Macau Peninsula in one day. So if you are taking a day trip from Hong Kong, take an early hydrofoil or bus and return at the end of the day.
But if you want to see more of Macau and want to see the south side of the city, stay overnight and explore Taipa and Cotai. You can see a local area and all the glitzy casino hotels which Macau is famous for. Even if you don’t gamble, I think it is worth seeing the shopping areas connecting the hotels.
Summary: 1 – 2 Days Macau Itinerary
Here is how to use this Macau itinerary guide.
If you are doing a day trip in Macau and will be in Macau for one day, follow the 1 day in Macau itinerary.
And if you are staying overnight in Macau, follow the itinerary for Day 1 and add the itinerary for Day 2.
Here is a quick summary of my 1 and 2 day Macau tourist spots itinerary:
Macau day trip: best things to do in Macau Peninsula (red pins)
- Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino Lisboa
- Rua de Felicidade
- Largo do Senado
- St Dominic’s Church
- Rua de Sao Paulo
- Rua dos Ervanarios
- Ruins of St. Paul’s
- Travessa da Paixao
- Monte Fort
- St. Lazarus’ Parish
- Tap Seac Square
- Guia Fortress
2 Days in Macau: things to see around Taipa and Cotai (purple pins)
- Tin Hau Temple
- Taipa Flea Market
- Taipa Food Street
- Hello Macau Mural
- Our Lady of Carmel Church
- Taipa Houses
- Galaxy Hotel
- Venetian Macao Casino
- The Parisian Macao
- The Londoner Macao
- MGM Cotai
- Macau Tower
Macau day trip: best things to do in Macau Peninsula
During your Macau trip, it is all about sightseeing all the historical highlights on the Macau Peninsula because they are the most popular places to visit in Macau.
Follow the red pins on the map above and the location for each spot.
How to get around Macau on Day 1: from either ferry terminal, take the free casino shuttle bus to Grand Lisboa Hotel. This casino hotel is the closest to the historic centre of Macau. At the end of the day, walk from Guia Hill to Macau Ferry Terminal via pedestrian tunnel to either catch a hydrofoil or take free shuttle bus to airport or HZMB Zhuhai Port.
1. Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino Lisboa
Macau, also known as the “Vegas of the East“, really lives up to its reputation because the city has many glitzy casino hotels, just like Las Vegas.
Once you arrive at Grand Lisboa Hotel, take a look at this lotus-shaped building. It is something else!
Also take note of Casino Lisboa across the street. The hotel casino with an Art Deco-ish exterior was built in the late 1960s. It is one of the older casino hotels but it’s pretty famous.
2. Rua de Felicidade
Stroll over to Rua de Felicidade, where it was once Macau’s red-light district. Today, many food outlets and restaurants occupy the old traditional Chinese houses.
The pedestrian-only street got a re-vamp with modern touches but you can still see the characteristics of the old Chinese homes. Plus, this is an excellent spot for taking Instagram photos.
3 & 4. Largo do Senado and St Dominic’s Church
Next, visit “The Historic Centre of Macao“, which start at Largo do Senado, a paved town square with numerous Portuguese colonial buildings and classic Portuguese limestone floors.
The entire historical area has over 20 ancient monuments and places worth visiting. Moreover, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited spot in Macau.
Besides all the retail stores and local food shops, there are plenty of historical buildings that are worth seeing. Look for St. Dominic’s Church, a 16th century Baroque-style church. It is also a UNESCO site.
5. Lou Kau Mansion
One of the best examples of Chinese residential building in Macau is the Lou Kau Mansion.
Built in 1889, this used to the home of a prominent Chinese merchant. It is a typical old Chinese courtyard house where there are three halls separated by a courtyard which forms a three-by-three grid layout. This spacial arrangement relates to the hierarchical structure of Chinese families where the inner spaces are reserved for ancestral worship or senior family members.
It is free to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site. And if you visit on weekend or public holiday, book a tour to the second floor with a guide.
6 & 7. Rua de São Paulo and Rua dos Ervanarios
Continue forward with the itinerary by walking up Rua de São Paulo. This is a pedestrian street lined with many shops selling typical Macau food souvenirs. Vendors offer free samples of beef jerky, almond cookies and etc. If you are snack-ish, there are several food outlets here where you can try typical Macau food like pork chop bun.
Not far away from Rua de São Paulo, there is another cobbled stone street called Rua dos Ervanarios. I love this street because of the old retro vibe. Plus, there are several good coffee shops there. Fuel up now if you need to.
8. Ruins of St. Paul’s
At the top of pedestrian portion of Rua de São Paulo, you will see an open square with a grand stairway and the Ruins of St. Paul’s at the top of the hill. You won’t miss this – follow the crowd and selfie sticks. Ha!
This famous church was destroyed in a fire in 1835 and it left behind a facade. You can walk behind the granite wall and see what’s left of the original church building. This area keeps changing every time I go so it would be interesting to know what you see during your visit.
Further back is Sacred Art Museum and Crypt and it displays archaeological remains and religious relics. It’s a small museum but entirely free.
9. Travessa da Paixao
Not far from the Ruins of St. Paul’s, is what I considered the most photogenic street in all of Macau. Walk over to Travessa da Paixao and see if you agree with me.
Also known as Lover’s Lane, this hilly street has pastel-coloured buildings that are totally Instagram-worthy. It is actually pretty difficult to snap a photo without anyone in the background. And if you walk closer, you can see the Ruins of St. Paul’s.
10. Monte Fort
Completed in 1626, Monte Fort is a 400-year-old trapezoid-shaped fort that covers 10,000 sqm in the Historic Centre of Macau. This was Macau’s principal military defence structure where it had cannons, military barracks and enough ammunition and supplies to last for two years.
Today, you can visit this UNESCO historic site via a series of elevators going up Parque da Fortaleza do Monte and bypassing the entrance to Macau Museum.
At the top, there is a rooftop park with some of the remaining cannons and an unobstructed view of the Macau.
11. St. Lazarus’ Parish
St. Lazarus’ Parish is a small neighbourhood in Macau which was one of the five former Municipality of Macau. The area includes an old residential neighbourhood, many Portuguese and Macau colonial buildings, and a third of it is covered by Guia Hill.
When you leave Monte Fort at the southeast end, the stair way down Calçada da Igreja de São Lázaro is not far away. I think this is the prettiest part of St. Lazarus’ Parish because of the classic Portuguese limestone floors and architecture.
Roam around the area to enjoy the European vibe. St. Lazarus’ Church, one of the oldest churches in Macau is off the cobblestoned street. Plus, there are coffee shops, ice cream parlous and souvenir shops in the area.
12. Tap Seac Square
Not far away is another cultural landmark and it is called Tap Seac Square. It is an open square with traditional cobblestone floor and Portuguese colonial buildings.
Not much to see here so you can walk through the open square relatively quickly. But take note of the gorgeous red and yellow building facing the square, which is the Macao Central Library. Tap Seac Gallery is also red and yellow in colour but tucked away in the north corner.
13. Guia Fortress
The Guia Fortress is part of the 17th-century colonial military fort on Guia Hill. Inside the fortress stands Guia Chapel, a chapel with numerous frescoes with themes of both western and Chinese culture. Next to it is Guia Lighthouse, the first modern lighthouse on the Chinese coast.
The cable car can take you to the top but the walk up is not difficult. All you need to do is follow the Songshan Jogging Trail and it can lead you to the top to the fortress.
Hopefully you will arrive when the sun is setting because the view is quite spectacular. This is the perfect way to end your first day in Macau.
And if you have time and energy after exploring the UNESCO Heritage Site, wander around Parque Municipal de Colina da Guia, and see some of the military tunnels around the hill.
Macau itinerary 2 days: things to see around Taipa and Cotai
For day 2 in Macau, explore some of the areas on the south side of Macau including Taipa and Cotai. These are some of the off the beaten path places and are worth visiting if you are going to Macau for the first time.
Follow the purple pins on the map above and the location for each spot.
How to get around Macau on Day 2: take a free hotel shuttle bus to Galaxy Hotel, which is closest to Taipa Village. At the end of the day, take the MGM shuttle bus from Macau Tower to MGM Macau then to either ferry terminal or airport.
1 & 2. Tin Hau Temple and Taipa Flea Market in Taipa Village
On day 2 of my Macau itinerary, start with a visit to Taipa Village, a small area with many local restaurants, cafes and shops.
But first walk around the quaint area and look for Tin Hau Temple. As the oldest temple in Taipa, the temple is dedicated to Tin Hau, a Chinese sea goddess. Typically, Tin Hau temples face the shore but the area has been reclaimed and is currently the area of Cotai.
Rom around the area as there many interesting art murals and colourful Portuguese and Macanese colonial buildings.
And if you are visiting on the weekend, visit Taipa Flea Market, a local open-air market that takes place every Sunday at the north end of Taipa Food Street between 11am-8pm.
3. Taipa Food Street
By now, you must be very tempted to try all the food in Taipa Village. And there are a lot of eateries in the whole area but most of the food outlets are centred around Taipa Food Street. And some of them are even Michelin recognized (like Gelatina Mok Yi Kei and Pastelaria Fong Kei).
There are lots to choose from so this is the perfect place for brunch or lunch. I highlighted some restaurants in the section near the end of the post.
4. Hello Macau Mural and other art murals
As you probably saw already, Taipa is very Instagrammable. There are many mural art scattered around the small streets in the village. And graffiti continues as you explore other parts of Taipa Village.
After filling your tummy with good food, walk to the end of Taipa Food Street and walk up a short flight. There is a whimsical wall art on the west side.
And when you continue forward, there are a few more graffitis including the Hello Macau Mural which is drawn on an old container. The area has changed a lot since last I’ve been and more and more murals are going up. So see what you can find.
5 & 6. Our Lady of Carmel Church and Taipa Houses
Continue forward and visit Our Lady of Carmel Church, a 19th century Neoclassical church on a hill overlooking Taipa Village. Many couples take photos here and in the adjacent garden.
Next, visit Taipa Houses, the five green Portuguese-style houses facing the Ecological Pond of Wetland. They were built in 1921 as Macanese residential homes for senior civil servants. Today, the iconic houses are part of Taipa Houses Museum where each house has its own cultural theme.
The entire area is quite picturesque and peaceful. When you are ready to continue forward, walk across the boardwalk in Taipa Constructed Wetland Park or take the automatic walkway parallel to Rua. da Baia de Nossa Sra. de Esperanca and cross the main road to Galaxy Hotel.
7-11. Casino Hotels in Cotai
If gambling is your thing, then are you in luck. Gambling is legal in Macau, and each hotel has its own casino. Try your luck at a slot machine or a baccarat table.
But if you don’t gamble, you can still visit some of the best casino hotels in Macau. All the newest and glitziest casino hotels are in Cotai. And it really does feel like Las Vegas!
And many of the hotels are linked together so you can easily jump from one hotel to another. Below are some of the casino hotels that you might want to check out. I’ve included the highlight for each hotel so you know what to look for.
- Galaxy Hotel – Galaxy Promenade (large shopping complex connecting five hotels), Galaxy Macau Diamond Show (light and sound show at the fountain in Diamond Lobby)
- The Venetian Macao – indoor canal gondola rides in the large (and confusing) shopping complex and teamLab SuperNature Macao
- The Parisian Macao – observation decks on level 7 and 37 of Eiffel Tower
- The Londoner Macao – one of the newest hotels in Cotai and has amazing spots to take photos (like the one below)
- MGM Cotai – not much to see but the shuttle bus goes directly to your next destination
12. Macau Tower
The Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre is on the Macau Peninsula by the harbour. At a height of 338m, it is the tallest structure in Macau.
Or you can attempt the skywalk and walk around the periphery of The Macau Tower or bungee jump from the 233m (764ft) high platform, which is Guinness World Record for the Highest Commercial Bungy Jump in the world.
What to Eat in Macau
Macanese cuisine is the fusion between Portuguese food and Chinese cooking techniques. The people of Macau take inspirations from European cuisine and mix it with local spices and ingredients, and the result is simply delicious.
Here are some of my favourite things to eat in Macau:
- Minchi – Macanese food made with minced beef or pork, diced fried potatoes, onions, soy sauce with fried egg and rice.
- African Chicken – unique to Macanese cuisine, this is a hybrid of Portuguese and Cantonese cooking and with the influence of European, Indian and African flavours
- Clams – clams in garlic, olive oil and coriander
- Pork Chop Bun – fried whole pork chop sandwiched in a fresh baguette bun
- Portuguese Egg Tarts – similar to a Chinese egg tart but the Portuguese egg tart has a slightly burnt top
- Serradura – Macanese dessert where crushed tea biscuit is layered in between whipped cream and condensed milk
Where to Eat in Macau
Searching for good food in Macau is not hard. You can find Macanese food, Portuguese food and HK-style food everywhere. Here are some restaurants and food outlets I’ve tried before and highly recommend.
Places to eat in Macau
- Albergue 1601 – Portuguese restaurant in St. Lazarus’ Parish
- A Lorcha – Michelin Portuguese restaurant
- Riquexó – Macanese restaurant north of Guia Hill
- Sing Lei Cha Chaan Teng (勝利茶餐室) – Hong Kong-Style cafe near Senado Square
- Margaret’s Cafe e Nata – Portuguese egg tart near Lisboa Hotel
Places to eat in Taipa and Cotai
- A Petisqueira – Portuguese Restaurant in Taipa Village
- O Santos – Portuguese Restaurant in Taipa Food Street
- Portugália – Portuguese restaurant in Taipa Village
- Sei Kee Cafe (世記咖啡) – Hong Kong-Style cafe just off Taipa Food Street
- Lord Stow’s Bakery – Portuguese egg tart on Taipa Food Street
- Gelatina Mok Yi Kai – Michelin dessert shop on Taipa Food Street
Where to stay in Macau
While there are a handful of budget accommodations, one of the highlights of visiting Macau is to experience a world-class resort. Here are a few recommendations on where to stay in Macau.
- House of Lotus ($) – if you want to stay at a budget hotel near Ruins of St Paul’s, this is an excellent option.
- Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel ($$) – stay at this 5-star hotel that has 3,000 guest rooms, swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and fitness centre. Also great if you collect Marriott Bonvoy points.
- MGM Cotai ($$$) – The newer MGM hotel didn’t spared any money on designing and building. The $3.4 billion dollar hotel has spacious rooms, several restaurants, and shops.
Are you doing a day trip to Macau or staying overnight?
It is possible to see all the top attractions in Macau during a day trip from Hong Kong. But if you can stay overnight, it is worth exploring Taipa and Cotai as well. And of course, trying more local Macanese food!
I hope you enjoyed my Macau itinerary and will consider seeing all the city tourist attractions. Let me know in the comments if you find this post helpful in planning your trip to Macau.
Thank you for reading my Macau itinerary
You might also like these other solo travel posts:
HK solo travel posts
- Everything you need to know before travelling to HK by yourself
- 11 Hong Kong off-the-beaten-path hidden gems
- Where to stay in Hong Kong: 7 boutique hotels
- Hong Kong food culture: 26 must-eat food
- Best coffee shops in Hong Kong
- 15 Best places to watch sunset in HK
Hiking and excursion posts
- Lamma Island Family Walk from Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan
- How to take a ferry to Lamma Island
- Cheung Chau 1-day itinerary
- Peng Chau 1-day itinerary
- 17 Easy hiking trails in Hong Kong
- Victoria Peak Hike
- Dragon’s Back Hike
- Red Incense Burner Summit on Braemar Hill