Love it or loathe it, Mexico City is at once exhilarating and overpowering. One moment the city is all music, glamour and excitement; the next it's drabness, poverty and suffocating crowds. There’s no denying that it’s a seething megalopolis with serious pollution problems, and that it’s sinking every year. But, at the same time, it’s impossible to ignore its stunning colonial palaces, peaceful green parks and fascinating museums. Nearly a quarter of the country's population - over 20 million people - live in the city that's the economic, political and cultural centre of Mexico.
A city this size predictably also comes with a wide range of entertainments, day or night. From museums, art galleries and markets to cheap cafés and 5-star cuisine, from street mariachis to symphony orchestras, there's something for everyone here. This is a 24-hour city with furious traffic and an unpredictable beat - you won't be bored but you may quickly become exhausted!
The city's 350 colonias (neighborhoods) sprawl across the ancient bed of Lago de Texcoco and beyond. Although the vast urban expanse is a daunting sight from the air, the main area of interest to visitors - the historic centre, based around the hub that is the Zócalo - is more compact. Avenida Madero and Avenida Cinco de Mayo link the Zócalo with the Alameda Central park. West of the Alameda, across Paseo de la Reforma, is the Plaza de la República - a fairly quiet, mostly residential area. Mexico City's grandest boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma, runs across the city's heart, connecting the Alameda to vibrant Zona Rosa and to Polanco and the Bosque de Chapultepec.
Habita, in the affluent and cosmopolitan district of Polanco, is a stunning base from which to explore. Alternatively, in the trendy upcoming district of Condesa, 2 miles west of the centre, is the very cool Condesa DF and a beautiful family-run Art Deco mansion. In the city's business district is sleek hotel Distrito Capital, with panoramic city views and chic bars. Or you can stay in a stylish suite with a rooftop terrace, an eco-conscious guesthouse, or a candy-coloured hotel in Zona Rosa. And if you must escape, there are several excursions that are well worth the effort.