Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world and is full-to-bursting with opportunities for the adventurous traveler. The sprawling capital was long written off as intense and daunting for the casual traveler, but recently tourists have ignored the rumors and found an array of pleasant surprises (from stellar design to brilliant restaurants) around every corner.

A Historic Yet Modern Destination

Mexico City is carved into neighborhoods, each with its own cultural identity. The Centro Historico (or the Historic Center) neighborhood is home to a massive plaza called the Zócalo, the National Palace, and numerous cathedrals and endless museums. The Polanco neighborhood provides high end shopping and dining to the delight of many a traveler. Chapultepec serves as a solid home base for tourists, with multiple hotels, monuments and attractions along the Avenida Reforma, reminiscent of Paris's Champs-Elysées, while Leafy Condesa touts cafés and an artsy, bohemian vibe.

Beyond any specific neighborhood, however, Mexico City has an extraordinarily rich history. It was founded in 1325 by the Aztecs under the name Tenochtitlan and became known as Mexico City in 1585 after the Spanish conquest. Mexico gained autonomy from Spain in 1824 and has been independent ever since. The centuries upon centuries of history have made Mexico City an exciting and vital place that is at once historic and modern.