Expect a day in Macau to be an unforgettable experience, thanks to the vast array of dining options and the sheer variety of waterfront attractions. From gambling to jet skiing, Macau has it all.
A Portuguese colony for over 300 years, Macau is now an autonomous region of China. The mixture of cultures is reflected in everything, from the combination of Chinese and Portuguese cuisine to the assortment of architectural styles.
It’s become a popular retreat and one of the most-visited destinations in East Asia. In fact, people often call it the ‘Vegas of Asia’ due to the number of casinos and resorts. The prevalence of casinos may make the city the regional epicentre of luxury and glamour, but its mix of cultures makes its appearance and culture makes for a fascinating and unique travel experience.
Don’t know where to start? Plan your complete trip with this 1-day Macau itinerary…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Macau in 24 hours: A complete one-day itinerary
- Enjoy the view from the lighthouse at Guia Municipal Park
- Enjoy lunch before a stop at Pau Kung Temple
- Explore the historic ruins of St. Paul’s Church
- Walk the fortifications and view more Macau skyline at Monte Fort
- Shop and eat as your way around Senado Square
- Find the best skyline views at Macau Tower
- Enjoy the tranquillity in the Garden of Flower City
- Gamble at the Venetian Macau on the Cotai Strip
- Where to stay: The best hotels for 24 hours in Macau
What to do in Macau in 24 hours: A complete one-day itinerary
24 hours in Macau is a short trip. As with our other one-day city itineraries, we’ve included destinations that help paint a portrait of the city within a limited period of time.
The trip will take you to most of the districts, from the crowded streets of the main harbour area to the glitzy Cotai Strip. You’ll get to see some of the main attractions and explore most of Macau, but you may not see it all.
You can get around on foot easily enough, but you may need to hop in a taxi for a few legs of the journey. With that in mind, let’s get started.
Enjoy the view from the lighthouse at Guia Municipal Park
Start your day at the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal. The outer harbour provides the perfect starting point, giving you more time to explore Macau in one day.
From the harbour, walk a couple of blocks to Guia Municipal Park. The park is home to several attractions, including a complex of military tunnels, a chapel, and a lighthouse.
The lighthouse is part of Guia Fortress, built between 1622 and 1638 to fend the city against attacks by the Dutch. It’s easy to overlook the lighthouse as you explore the park, which is a magical destination in and of itself.
The area includes lots of local foliage and flowers, creating a distraction from the surrounding urban development.
To reach the lighthouse, you’ll need to ride a cable car. It’s a short ride with views of the surrounding city. When you get to the top, you can learn a little more about the history of the area and snap a few pics before riding down.
Enjoy lunch before a stop at Pau Kung Temple
When you finish exploring the lighthouse, take the main road west of the park for several blocks until you reach a roundabout surrounded by cafes and restaurants. Pau Kung Temple is just a block away, but it’s time to eat.
From the roundabout to the temple you’ll pass at least a dozen cafes and restaurants. From traditional chicken rice to Western fast food, you can find just about anything your heart desires.
To experience the local cuisine, try one of the establishments without any English signage. Let your sense of smell direct you to these small mom-and-pop restaurants that line the streets of downtown Macau.
After you finish off your meal, wash your hands and travel to the temple. Pau Kung Temple isn’t the most famous temple in Macau, but it’s the closest to the park and the next destination.
The small temple features attractive murals covered in red lettering against a yellow exterior. It’s a bright temple with a small main hall containing a shrine and the usual hanging incense coils.
A trip to one of these temples typically only lasts 10 to 15 minutes, as there isn’t much to see or do. It’s still a unique site that you won’t find in the West, making it a necessary item to cross off your Macau bucket list.
Explore the historic ruins of St. Paul’s Church
Almost every Macau itinerary includes a stop at the Ruins of St. Paul’s Church, located on the avenue you took to reach the temple. You’ll recognize the area when you see the walls of Monte Fort.
The church sits at the end of the fort, built between 1602 and 1640 by Jesuits. The church was once one of the largest in Asia.
Consumed by fire in 1835, the façade is all that remains. The intricate carvings on the stone wall create an impressive attraction. You can view a detailed relief of The Virgin Mary stepping on a hydra next to carvings of other religious figures.
Besides the façade, the site includes a small museum, housing some of the artifacts uncovered below the ruins.
Walk the fortifications and view more Macau skyline at Monte Fort
When you tire of examining the façade of St. Paul’s Church, cross the street to Monte Fort. Jesuits built this fort to defend the area against pirates, constructing barracks, storehouses, and tall fortifications lined with cannons.
At one point, the fort connected to the old city wall. All that remains of that connection is the door that soldiers entered through. Luckily, most of the fort remains intact, including the cannons. You can walk parts of the walls and look out over the city.
The fort also houses the Museum of Macau. Learn about the history of the area, including how the territory went from a Portuguese colony to a Special Administrative Region of China.
Shop and eat as your way around Senado Square
From the fort, you may see the buildings surrounding Senado Square. To reach the large public meeting spot, you’ll need to cut through a series of short residential streets.
Luckily, it’s only a 10-minute walk. As you approach the square, you’ll notice that the pedestrian traffic grows a little thicker.
Senado Square remains the most visited public square in Macau. Crowds of pedestrians naturally bring the need for commerce. The area around the square is lined with shops and restaurants.
Take a 360-degree tour around the square and check out your options. You can find Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, and Western cuisine, along with cafes serving a wide range of flavoured coffees and iced drinks.
Find the best skyline views at Macau Tower
After shopping and eating near the square, it’s time to climb Macau Tower. Located on the southern end of the peninsula, the tower stands 338 metres tall, providing the most impressive views of the region.
From the top of the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center, you can see it all. The panoramic views go on for miles, covering the peninsula to your north and the islands to your south.
With an endless list of things to do & see in Macau, a trip to the tower tops everything.
The tower has all the amenities you need. View the rest of Macau from the observation decks or grab a bite from the restaurants. You can also fill your bags with more shopping at the tower stores.
Enjoy the tranquillity in the Garden of Flower City
The tower is the last stop on the crowded peninsula. Now it’s time to relax in a little Chinese-style garden.
To reach the garden, you’ll need to travel from the peninsula to Taipa island, connected via three bridges. Two of the bridges are just a few minutes from the tower, but they’ll take almost an hour to cross on foot.
If you want to save time and energy, take a taxi across the bridge and into the centre of Taipa Village.
The enclosed garden sits in the middle of a residential area near the main section of Taipa. The garden has a small walking path around a pond, creating a hidden retreat surrounded by towering modern structures.
If you happen to visit during the summer, you’ll get to see the garden full of lotus flowers. In Chinese culture, the lotus symbolizes purity, which perfectly capture the atmosphere of this little oasis.
The Garden of Flower City is the only stop on this itinerary inside the Taipa district. If you come back for a longer trip, try to check out some of the other sites in the area. Taipa is known for its historic village and modern shopping malls.
Gamble at the Venetian Macau on the Cotai Strip
After the peace and quiet at the garden, the lively streets of Cotai should wake you up. The entire district of Cotai sits on reclaimed land built between Taipa and Coloane islands.
Most of that land is now covered with casinos and resorts, including The Venetian Macau and dozens of other options. To end your China trip plan in style in Macau, check into one of the casinos.
The Venetian is just down the street from the garden, past the park and man-made lake on your left. Besides the Venetian, you’ll find plenty of recognizable names, including the Sheridan, Hotel Parisian, Wynn Palace, Grand Hyatt, and the Galaxy. You’d almost think you’re in Vegas.
No matter where you stay, you’ll get to gamble, drink, and eat until it’s time to check out the next morning.
There’s still plenty more to explore south of the casinos. Unfortunately, seeing all of Macau in 24 hours isn’t possible.
On your next trip, start in the district of Coloane and explore the secluded hiking trails before travelling north to the casinos and historic sites.
Where to stay: The best hotels for 24 hours in Macau
Unlike Hong Kong to the east, choosing among the best places to stay in Macau isn’t too much of a challenge thanks to the territory’s ultra-compact size. If you’ve just got a short layover in Macau, sticking around Macau Centre will be your best bet (pun intended). Here are a few hotel recommendations…
- Harbourview Hotel Macau: An elegant hotel inspired by 18th-century Europe, offering lovely city views from spacious & comfortable rooms. There’s an all-season indoor pool to chill out after a long day of sightseeing in Macau.
- Grand Lapa Macau: An affordable 5-star experience in the heart of the city, this luxury hotel features large rooms with excellent panoramas over Macau. The heated outdoor pool and 5 on-site restaurants—serving a variety of food including Chinese, Portuguese, and Thai—make the choice to stay here a tad easier.
- Mandarin Oriental Macau: If you want to bask in Macanese luxury in the city centre, there’s no better choice than this insanely popular 5-star hotel. Following the brand’s fame elsewhere in Asia, this property pulls out on the stops to keep you comfortable from its spacious elegant rooms to its world-class spa treatments & dining.