Macao is a place that reminds me a lot of Penang, Malaysia and it’s very much walkable, especially where some of the more popular places to visit in Macao is located. During our 4 days trip to experience Macao, we were able to visit quite a bit of cultural and historical sights within central Macao, and around it’s two islands.
If you’re visiting on your own without a tour guide, here’s a very much doable 1 day self guided Macao walking tour to help you enjoy what central Macao has to offer. This walking tour of popular places to visit in Macao took us about 4 hours.
From wherever you are, make your way to Leal Senado. Your walking tour starts here. Leal Senado literally means Loyal Senate and was bestowed in 1654 by the Portuguese King John IV.
The neo-classical designed building retained all of its original layout and houses a beautiful courtyard garden which is now nicely designed and filled with orchids! It also houses a small chapel which I didn’t have the opportunity to visit this time round.
Once you’ve taken your fill of photos, exit the building and make your way across the road to Senado Square.
Located at the heart of Macao and one of the most popular places to visit in Macao, the iconic Senado Square is a staple on every Macao Travel Catalog and a location where a few famous Korean dramas were shot at.
During the day, the square is teeming with people, mostly tourists, traipsing around and taking selfies. Now, if you’re one for shopping, you’ll find lanes of fashion boutiques and skincare in this area. Go on, shop to your heart’s content.
All done? Great – walk deeper into Senado Square and you’ll arrive at another iconic building – the St Dominic’s Church.
St Dominic’s Church
Constructed for worshipping Our Lady of the Rosary, St Domingo’s Church was inscribed as a World Heritage Site and is also one of the oldest churches in Macao. I was intrigued by the mixture of European and Macanese design within the Baroque style church of St Dominic. To begin with, the doors of the church is made of teak wood and the church has Chinese styled roof tiles while the centrepiece features the Madonna and Child statue.
However, what I didn’t like about this sight, is that there are way too many people that you can barely get a decent photo in! That’s one of the cons, being one of the most popular places to visit in Macao. So my best advice to you is to visit the inside during the day, and visit again during the night to get a nice shot of the exterior without having other tourists in them!
Continue with the walking tour by making your way to St Augustine’s Square where various classified buildings awaits you amidst the traditional Portuguese streets-capes of cobblestone roads.
St Augustine’s Church
Another one of the oldest churches in Macao, St Augustine’s Church, located within the St Augustine’s Square, has been carrying on the old tradition of the Way of the Cross procession that attracts a large crowd of pilgrims every year.
As it is with all old buildings, St Augustine’s Church also carry its own share of folklore and tales. One of it happened in the year 1700s, the Way of the Cross procession was banned by the anti-Catholic government, after which, there was a sudden food shortage. The locals immediately associated the food shortage with the action and there was a public outcry for the procession to be resumed as normal. The government eventually reversed their original decision and the food shortage ended.
Moving on, make your way to the Teatro Dom Pedro V.
Teatro Dom Pedro V
Built in 1858, this is the oldest theatre in Macao and in 2005 was enlisted on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Historic Centre of Macao. This theatre has survived the bygone era of theatrical shows and was once even a hub featuring adult entertainment! Today, it is a venue for staging plays and concert and is a true testimony of Macao’s performing arts.
If you have time, do check the Macao Orchestra’s website [http://www.icm.gov.mo/om/en/] to catch a performance in Teatro Dom Pedro V. Enjoying a wonderful performance within a beautiful old theatre steeped in history is one of the best way to experience the culture of Macao.
Once you’ve fully immersed yourself with the atmosphere of Teatro Dom Pedro V, make your way next door, to the Ho Tung Library.
Sir Robert Ho Tung Library
This Garden-styled library was founded in the 19th century and was used as a retreat until the owner, Sir Robert Ho Tung passed away and willed it to the Macao Government to turn it into a public library.
I loved this library as it is a combination of the olden days and modern days. Facade stands out in yellow with a lovely garden, backyard and deck for reading amidst nature. The inside tells a different story with four storey structured in the modern of glass walls.
I spent the longest time here, truly enjoying the quietness of the place and once I’m ready to move on, the next stop is St Lawrence’s Church.
St Lawrence’s Church
St Lawrence’s Church is the final church that completes the three oldest churches in Macao. Where it is situated, used to be the southern coastline of Macao overlooking the sea. Now, it overlooks concrete houses and buildings. Back in the olden days, the area was lived by wealthy families and families of Portuguese sailors used to gather at the front steps of the church and await for their return and hence, it is given the Chinese name of Feng Shun Tang which translates to Hall of the Soothing Winds.
This is by far, the largest scale church in Macao and one which I have noticed, with a stained glass window! I’ve also had a really nice time walking around the beautiful garden of the church before moving on to Lilau Square.
Lilau Square is in the old Christian Quarter of Macao where the Portuguese first built their homes in Macao and hence, you will notice a juxtaposition of Portuguese style buildings and Chinese themed buildings in the area.
The well within Lilau Square was the main source of natural spring water within Macao and hence, there is an old saying that “One who drinks from Lilau never forgets Macao”.
A-Ma Temple was in existence even before the city of Macao was formed and in fact, was the inspiration behind the name of Macao! It was known as “A-Ma-Gau” in the olden days that literally translates to Bay of A-Ma. When the Portuguese first arrived by sea about 400 years ago or so, the temple, named as Ma0Ge back then, was the first place they see and it was also a landmark of the area for anyone travelling by. The Portuguese then translated Ma-Ge to Macao and hence, the city was born.
It was raining on the day that we visited so I couldn’t get to see a lot. What I do remember, very clearly, was the sheer size of the incense used by the temple – it was humungous! Apparently, it takes 45 minutes to completely burn the incense and each one cost 3,000 Macao Pataka!
Places To Visit In Macao – End Of Your 4-Hr Tour
A-Ma Temple was the last stop of this walking tour of places to visit in Macao. From here, you can either continue exploring more of the area or find your way back to your accommodation. Get that well needed rest, for another day of walking tour in Taipa Island! 😉
If you’ve been reading about Macao, you would notice that I have left out The Ruins of St Paul from this walking tour. Why? Simply because this special place requires a post, all on its own!
Have you visited Macao or any of these popular places to visit in Macao? What was your experience like? Share them in your comments below!
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Macao Government Tourist Office, Malaysia Representative on the #ExperienceMacao trip but all thoughts, as always, are my own.
*To download a map of Macao prior to your trip, the Macao Government Tourism Office website has a downloadable version!