Discover Macau's rich culture and history at the city's best museums
Macau, often overshadowed by neighboring Hong Kong, is almost exclusively known by foreigners for its glamorous five-star casinos. While visiting the casinos can be a fun experience while traveling in Macau, China’s tiny Special Administrative Region has a ton of culture and history to offer to interested visitors as well.
There are dozens of cool museums to visit in Macau, and I tried to visit as many of them as I could (because I’m a huge museum nerd). In this post, I want to share with you some of the most interesting museums (in my opinion) that will give a visitor a really great look at the both the history and culture of Macau.
Macau Museum at Monte Forte
If you only have time for one museum in Macau, be sure not to miss the fantastic Macau Museum, located at the top of Fortress Hill (Monte Forte) next to the Ruins of St. Paul’s in the city’s old town area.
This museum is dedicated to showing the history of Macau, from its ancient past to the Portuguese colonial era to Macau’s current status as a Special Administrative Region in China.
Even more than learning about history, here at the Macau Museum, visitors can receive an in-depth introduction to Macau’s culture, which is a rich blend of Chinese and European customs and influences.
Exhibits are presented in Chinese, Portuguese, and English, and admission to the museum is free every Tuesday! After visiting the museum, be sure to take the escalator from the museum ticketing area to the top of the fortress hill for excellent views across the Macau Peninsula.
The museum is open from 10:00 - 18:00. The last admission to the museum is at 17:30.
The Macau Museum is closed on Mondays.
Admission to the Macau Museum is 15 MOP/HKD.
The Macau Museum offers FREE admission every Tuesday, the 15th of every month, and on certain national holidays.
The Macau Museum is located on Monte Forte Hill near the Ruins of St. Paul’s and right in the center of the old town.
The museum’s address is 112 Praceta do Museu de Macau, Macau
Macau Maritime Museum
Macau has a deep maritime history. During the colonial era, Macau was the headquarters and most important port for the cultural and economic spread of the Portuguese Empire. Even before that, Macau was an important port for trade to the rest of China, and many the local people who lived in Macau before the Portuguese arrived were seafarers, fishermen, and traders.
The Macau Maritime Museum highlights all of this and more, from trade and navigation to different types of ships and the importance of the sea in the development of Macau.
I like this museum because I’ve always been interested in sailing and the sea. Even if you aren’t you still will enjoy the great collection of historical artifacts, tools, model ships, and maps on display inside the museum.
The Macau Maritime Museum is open from 10:00 - 18:00.
The museum is closed on Tuesday.
Admission to the Macau Maritime Museum is 10 MOP/HKD.
The Macau Maritime Museum is located near A-Ma Temple at the southwestern end of the Macau Peninsula.
No.1, Largo do Pagode da Barra, Macao
Macau Tea Culture House
Like most of China, Macau has a very deep love of tea. It’s a huge part of the city’s culture. As a matter of fact, Macau was one of the most important trading ports for exporting tea from China to Europe.
The Macau Tea Culture House is a free museum located at Lou Lim Leoc Garden, and is dedicated to tea, tea culture, and tea ware.
The two-story building has a small but excellent collection. I only wish that they had offered tea tasting when I was visiting! The museum does have a great gift shop as well where you can buy all sorts of great teas and tea souvenirs.
The Tea Culture House is open from 9:00 - 19:00.
This museum is closed on Mondays.
Admission to the Macau Tea Culture House is FREE
The Macau Tea Culture House is located within Lou Lim Leoc Garden
Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, Macao
Taipa Houses Museum
Taipa, which is in the southern (island) part of Macau, is home to the majority of the city’s casinos. As such, this small free museum is sometimes overlooked. The Taipa Houses Museum is a collection of several traditional houses dating back to the 1920s. The houses showcase the lives of some of the wealthy Portuguese families living in the colony in the early 20th century.
In the Taipa Square just next to where the houses are located is the Church of Our Lady of Carmel. The church was built for the colonial families living in Taipa. Now, it’s managed as one of the city’s protected historical properties. It is free to visit the historical church as well, and it’s well worth paying a visit to after walking through the five Taipa Houses.
The Taipa Houses Museum is open from 10:00 - 18:00
Admission to the Taipa Houses Museum is FREE
This museum is located at the northern part of Taipa, Macau
Avenida da Praia, Taipa, Macao
Museum of Taipa and Coloane History
Down the road and within walking distance from the Taipa Houses Museum is the Museum of Taipa and Coloane History. The museum is located inside an early 20th century building that once housed some of the colonial government offices.
The museum has several galleries displaying historical artifacts dating back to the region’s prehistoric era, as well as displays about Macau’s colonial past. While not as large or expansive as the Macau Museum, I especially enjoyed visiting the Museum of Taipa and Coloane History because of its emphasis on archaeology.
The Museum of Taipa and Coloane History is open from 10:00 - 18:00.
The museum is closed on Mondays.
Admission is FREE
The Museum of Taipa and Coloane History is located within walking distance of the Taipa Houses Museum
Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa, Macao
The Crypt at the Ruins of St. Paul’s
It’s free to visit the Ruins of St. Paul’s, Macau’s most iconic landmark. This historic Jesuit church was destroyed in the 19th century, and today only the facade is still standing. The towering church ruins have become one of the symbols of Macau, appearing on postage stamps, banknotes, and coins.
Beneath the ruins of the church lies The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt. This crypt was re-discovered during preservation efforts in the 1990s. Since renovated, the crypt today holds the relics of numerous 16th century Japanese Catholic martyrs and important Jesuit missionaries who were based out of Macau. As you climb down the steps into the cool dark crypt, the complete silence is broken only by the soft sounds of recorded Gregorian chant.
Most tourist stay out front in order to get photos with the famous landmark, so the museum and crypt are often peaceful and quiet.
The Ruins of St. Paul and crypt are open to visitors from 9:00 - 18:00.
On Tuesday the ruins close at 14:00.
Admission is FREE
The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt are located beneath the Ruins of St. Paul’s Church in central Macau.
St. Dominic’s Church Treasures of Sacred Art Museum
St. Dominic’s Church is one of Macau’s oldest churches. The yellow building is a beautiful Roman Catholic church, and is also home to the Treasures of Sacred Art Museum, a collection of Jesuit art and artifacts.
After walking through the sanctuary, visitors can climb a set of stairs to the upper levels of the church where the museum collection is housed. Macau was the headquarters of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Asia, and the church holds an amazing collection of historic religious art and artifacts.
I especially liked being able to climb to the upper levels to see the mechanism of the bell tower.
The Treasures of Sacred Art and St. Dominic’s Church is open to visitors daily from 10:00 - 18:00.
Admission is free, although donations are welcome.
The Treasures of Sacred Art is located within St. Dominic’s Church in Macau, just down the street from the Ruins of St. Paul’s.