The largest and most exciting city in the Western Hemisphere.
The Aztecs believed this spot – built over a swampy lake seven centuries ago – was the center of the universe. Who can argue? Today Mexico City sprawls over a remarkable 1,200 square miles, home to nearly 20 million in a volcano-surrounded city where east truly meets west. The Spanish-colonial downtown’s focal point is the zócalo (main square), backed by the 16th-century Palacio Nacional (with stunning Diego Rivera murals) and Catedral Metropolitana (built atop the Aztec’s central Templo Mayor, which can be visited too). Via the city’s main boulevard Paseo de la Reforma is Chapultepec (Náhuatl for "Grasshopper Hill"), a giant leafy park with an 18th-century castle, a zoo, and the stunning Museo Nacional de Antropología, a must-see attraction containing an overview of Mexico’s many pre-Hispanic cultures. Farther-flung adventures include a ride on the flower-lined Aztec canals at Xochimilco and a walk around quiet neighborhoods like San Ángel and Coyoacán, where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived. Then there’s the food – from street tacos to chic restaurants built in old Spanish villas. Mexico City is dizzying in its options and energy – as well as its pollution; but that’s just natural for the place the entire world revolves around.