This Hidalgo Mexico itinerary is the perfect guide for those of you who love traveling around Mexico by car and exploring the most remote places at your own pace in the comfort of your own vehicle. In fact, that’s what I always do.
As I was driving around Hidalgo state I was making notes of my own itinerary and the things I wished I knew before starting my trip, the best things I saw, and the places where I stayed and eat.
Therefore what you are reading here, after some practical general information on the Hidalgo Mexico State, you will find the exact replica of my own itinerary.
Because I loved it so much, I thought I should absolutely share it with you. So without further ado, here are all my travel tips for your next road trip around Hidalgo!
Hidalgo Mexico Itinerary: An Overview
Where is Hidalgo Mexico located?
Hidalgo is one of the Mexican States located northeast of Mexico City, bordering Queretaro on the north and eastern side, San Luis Potosi and Tampico in the north, and Tlaxcala and Mexico State in the southeast, approximately.
Hidalgo Closest Airports – Mexico City Airport (south) or Queretaro Airport (east)
Area – 20,821 km²
Capital city: Pachuca
Population: 3.083 million (approx)
Language Spoken: Spanish and local idioms. English is rarely spoken, even among the local tour guides.
Pueblos Magicos: Tecozahutla, Real Del Monte, Real del Chico, Zimapan, Zempoala, Huasca de Ocampo, Huichuapan
Highest altitude – 3050 mt in Mineral del Chico
Known for – Hotsprings – mining industry – Pastes – Haciendas – where Mexico Soccer originated – the first pueblo Magico (Huasca de Ocampo)
How to get to Hidalgo Mexico
There are different ways to get to Hidalgo Mexico. I rented a car in Queretaro and drove my way around as you can see in my detailed Hidalgo Itinerary.
I love driving in Mexico and it’s is my favorite way to travel but you can get to Hidalgo from Mexico City by bus or by organized tours, depending on where you want to go.
In this section here below I will share my tips on the different way to get to Hidalgo Mexico.
When is the best time to visit Hidalgo Mexico?
The best time to visit Hidalgo, Mexico, is during the dry season, which typically spans from November to April. During this period, the weather is pleasant and dry, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures.
This allows for optimal exploration of Hidalgo’s natural attractions, such as the stunning Prismas Basálticos and the historic mining town of Real del Monte, without being hindered by heavy rainfall.
Having said that, you should know that the central part of Mexico is known for its so-called “eternal springs” for its mild temperature all year round. Which means that it’s never too hot or too cold.
Just keep in mind that it can rain more in the summer from May through September.
Hidalgo Mexico 10-day itinerary: a day-by-day guide
Day 1 – Tecotzautla Pueblo Magico
For those of you who are considering renting a car and following my steps I thought I would share my experience on the road in Hidalgo, day by day.
Tecozautla was my first stop after picking up the car rental at Queretaro airport. I took the statal road that goes through Tequisquiapan, one of the pretty Pueblo Magicos in Queretaro only 40 minutes drive from the Airport.
I didn’t stop because I have seen it already but if you haven’t yet and you have time, it will make a nice stop for lunch and a nice walk around the colorful town, buy some cheese and check out some of the nearby vineyards.
In fact, you will read on the road the “Ruta del queso y del vino” route of cheese and wine, because that’s where they make it.
I drove all the way to my first stop, the spectacular archaeological site of Pahñu and I was so happy I did.
This archeological site is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, mainly because of its location, perching on top of the mountain with spectacular views over the below valleys for many postcard-worthy pictures.
Then I head over to the town of Tecotzautla where I spent the night.
The town is quite small but pretty, with local eateries and cafes.
I was not lucky about the hotel because the three best ones were full and I ended up in a very lousy one, La Terracita.
I don’t recommend it at all, but here below are the first three hotels I tried to check out and there was no availability.
They are the cutest in town and relatively cheap.
Tecotzautla is surrounded by “balnearios” which are pools with mineral spring waters, however, are more like waterparks, not very natural and busy.
Day 2- Tula archaeological site
I left Tecotzautla around 930 after a nice breakfast at Las Tertulias cafe, while the small town was already waking up to a festive Sunday morning.
After about 2h 30 minutes drive along a bumpy road I reached Tula archeological site where I met with a friend ad visited the spectacular archeological site.
If I was alone I would have stopped to check out the Pinturas Rupestres (cave painting) de Boye’ which you can find along the way. (see map below)
The visit to the site took us about 2 hours which included 1 hour with a guided tour and one hour walking around the site on our own, taking pictures, and chatting away.
However, you can easily see Tula in one hour and then move on to the next destination, which in my case was Real del Monte.
Since we wanted to catch up and we were starving we drove to Tula historical center to find a place to eat but the town doesn’t deserve a visit unless you are starving too. 🙂
In fact, there are no restaurants by the archeological site.
At around 6.15 I took off because I don’t like to drive in the dark, and I suggest you against it.
Getting to Real del Monte was very easy. The road is pretty much a toll road all the way to Pachuca and after Pachuca, the highway continues until 15 minutes before you arrive at Real del Monte.
The last 15 minutes is a winding mountain road, but very well maintained and large. I had a very smooth drive all along the way despite some rain. The sky was spectacular though and the dramatic landscape made it all worth the drive.
I arrived at Real del Monte right before dark and once I got there I opened google Maps and found myself an amazing boutique hotel only 5 minutes walk from the center. I very much recommend Hotel Alondra.
I was dead tired and I passed out immediately on the soft duvet, after a nice hot shower. It was paradise, especially after the lousy hotel in Tecotzaula.
Day 3- Exploring Real del Monte
I decided I would book 2 nights at least which eventually became 3, so much I loved this hotel. Also, I don’t like to pack and unpack too often as it’s stressing me out.
From Real del Monte there are so many things to see and Real del Chico is right 30 minutes away. I can easily visit on a day trip by car.
When I planned the next 3 days I was already more relaxed and ready to start my visit. Unfortunately, Mondays are a little dull when you want to see museums because generally they are closed.
So I explored the town by walking around ad taking pictures ad hopped on the tour bus for a one-hour tour with panoramic views of the town and a sort of explanation of the history of Real del Monte with interesting anecdotes and facts.
I tried the delicious local pastes and pastries and called it a day. I didn’t make much of this day but I also love to take it slow and plan for the next few days.
Day 4 – Exploring Mineral del Chico
Because I loved my hotel in Mineral del Monte and Mineral del Chico was only 30 minutes away I decided to spend there an extra night and drive all the way to Mineral del Chico as a day trip. It was the best idea ever.
The road is winding but very good and you cannot get lost.
First I stopped by the Mineral del Chico Park information center where they gave me useful information on hikes that I could have done on my own.
I chose the shortest one for lack of time. If you are planning to do longer hikes make sure you get there earlier.
I hiked all the way to Peña del Cuervo, which I highly recommend. You get by car at the beginning of the trail and hike for 30 minutes to reach a spectacular lookout with views over the valley with Mineral del Chico town in the middle.
There is a concrete platform with a compass in the center where you are supposed to stand and make a wish or give thanks. If you shout something out you will hear the echo.
This place is considered pretty magical and it’s sometimes used for ceremonies and rituals.
I spent an hour or more also in the hope for the sky to clear up as when I arrived the view was obstructed by a thick fog, which was pretty cool anyway.
After the hike, I went down the valley to visit the pretty town and grab some lunch.
While I was taking pictures of the church I was approached by a local guide offering me a tour and I am so glad I accepted it.
He was a young guy who appeared to me pretty much trustworthy and I was right.
We drove all the way to a small village on the outskirts of Mineral del Chico, where he actually is from. I have even met his grandparents.
From there we continued driving until we reached the entrance of a place called El Contadero, which is a group of rock formations in the woods that form a sort of labyrinth with hooks and cracks that you can walk through.
It was fascinating. You can also hike on top of the highest rock ad see part of it from above and the surrounding landscape which we didn’t see because of the clouds. Remember you are at about 2800 mt. above sea level.
Once I dropped off the guide at his place, I took another road to get to the center of Real del Chico, which took me around the town with spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.
In the meantime, the sky cleared up and allowed me to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
It was quite late by then but I managed to take a peek at the river that runs across town and leads to a waterfall and a couple of mines.
I reached the hotel around 7 and I gave myself a treat by booking one of the massage treatments that the hotel offered. It was very much needed.
Day 5 – Exploring Real del Monte and Huasca de Ocampo
Since I arrived in Real de Monte on a Monday and the museums were closed I decided to check them out before leaving Real del Monte for my next destination.
I walked all the way to the Pantheon Ingles where a local guardian enthusiastically told us interesting stories about the English and German occupants. It was fascinating. The tour is in Spanish.
The pantheon reminded me of an English Patheon that I visited in London a few years ago, just smaller.
I then walked to the Museo de la Medicina Laboral, an old hospital that was installed by the US when they acquired the mines from the Brits.
It’s now a museum where you can see all the old original tools and medicine that were used back in the day and the home of the head of the nurses, who became a sort of heroine of the town for her hard work and dedication in looking after her patients.
She was buried in the Pantheon Ingles.
My last stop in Real del Monte was at the museum of Mina la Dificultad where I had an interesting tour of how the machine works and the history of the mines in the region.
If you want to have an actual tour of the Mine in the tunnels it is possible in the Museo de Sitio Mina de Acosta. Make sure you are not claustrophobic before you go down into Mother Earth’s womb.
Interesting fact – there are 3000 KM (9000 feet) of tunnels in the Pachuca Mining area that interconnect all the mining towns at different levels of depth.
After the visit to the Mine, I drove all the way to Huasca de Ocampo where I had a late lunch and walked around before heading to my fancy hotel, Hacienda Santa Maria Regla. I got there around 6 and I had some time to walk around before it got dark.
Stay in the beautiful Hacienda Santa Maria Regla
Hacienda Santa Maria Regla is a spectacular old hacienda that you can visit even if you are not staying there. The entrance fee costs 100 MXN (5 USD) and you can walk around the property by yourself or hire a local guide on the property. The cost of a room is 1500 MXN for the standard room and 2800 MXN for the suite. I stayed in the standard which was ok but nothing special. If you are ready to splurge I would recommend the suite, just a gorgeous spacious room with stone walls and a vintage vibe. BOOK IT HERE
Day 6 – Exploring the Basaltic Prism and the surrounding attractions
The morning was dedicated to exploring the Basaltic Prism. I was disappointed when I saw the gray sky threatening a day of rain but I took my chance also because I had no other options, and off I went to the Basaltic Park by 9.20 am.
I walked around took some shots with my camera and while I was down by the waterfall base the sky cleared up showing off its beautiful blue cobalt shades. Perfect for my shots.
I spent the entire morning on site trying to capture these spectacular rock formations and waterfalls from every possible angle from both sides.
If you care about photography make sure you visit in the morning when the sun is facing the waterfall, and bring some ND filters for long exposures.
I loved the fact that there were only a few couples around and it was pretty much deserted.
Before leaving, around 12 I had a rich brunch in one of the restaurants on site. Nothing outstanding but it did the job.
INSIDER TIP – There are some lovely cabañas on the other side of the bridge where you could stay for 50 USD a night and you would have permanent access to the park! They are not as fancy as the hacienda but they seemed to me quite nice and you are the closest you can get to the prisms. Unfortunately, I lost their brochure and forgot the name of the place. But if you go right there and ask I am sure you will find availability if it’s not a weekend or a festivity. (Sorry about that 🙈)
After my abundant breakfast off I went to my next destination, Peña del Aire. I was a little surprised at the beginning because it was supposed to be a lookout but I didn’t see any mountains.
Silly me! I found out that I was driving on a plateau at about 2100 mt ( 6300 ft) and from Peña del Aire I would be able to see what was below.
I was in awe, in fact. Before reaching the base where all the outdoor activities take place and the Peña is, you can stop at several lookouts with breathtaking views over the valley.
It was in shock to see that there was absolutely no protection from the sudden incredibly high cliff. It’s really up to your common sense not to get too close and be careful. I was VERY careful and VERY scared.
Once I arrived at the base I had a nice chat with the local guides who explained the tours they have and the activities and of course, offered me some rappelling and other crazy stuff that I kindly declined.
I did it once in the Copper Canyon and I feel like that was enough thrill for me. 😜
They also offered a great hiking tour down and along the canyon that can last all day. You just have to book it in advance. Here is the number Tel. +52 7711040597
I then moved on to the Museum de los Duendes which was interesting as I believe in their existence. My next stop was a bummer because the Hacienda de San Miguel Regla was closed.
They are only open for stays from Friday through Sundays and for tours only Saturdays and Sundays ( to keep in mind)
I moved on to Bosque de las Truchas (trouts) which is a quiet park with a green lake where you can take a boat ride or a zip line tour.
You can also find horseback riding, tours on ATV, sport fishing, a trout farm and a water park, and restaurants.
I just had a walk around and left when it started raining.
Then I called it a day because I wanted to go back to the Hacienda and take a tour to learn about the history and legends beyond it, besides visiting the waterfall rosa.
To end the eventful day with a bang, I had a great dinner in the hacienda surrounded by these ancient buildings and a mystic atmosphere. It was surreal, in a good way of course.
Day 7 – Driving to Zempoala
After Huasca de Ocampo I had planned a drive to Zempoala, the next Pueblo Magico with a lot of stops along the way to visit a hacienda, two archaeological sites and an ex-convent.
Well, it was one of those days when nothing went according to plan. The archeological sites were unreachable with the car I had, for the bad road conditions, the hacienda was closed and the Ex Convent had a funeral going on so I couldn’t visit.
Oh well. I was safe and I had an amazing drive with beautiful roads and stunning landscapes so I couldn’t really complain.
Besides, I managed to visit the aqueduct and when I arrived to Zempoala I met the people from the Tourist information office who kindly showed me around and took me to a typical restaurant to eat.
I was hoping to find a hotel and spend the night there but the only hotel available was not an option, so I left and found a place in Pachuca for the next couple of nights.
In Pachuca, I didn’t find boutique hotels probably because the majority of visitors are business travelers. So I got myself a comfortable room at the Quality Inn, where I found an unexpected present.
I knew that one of the most interesting things to visit in Pachuca is the huge colorful macro mural, painted on all the houses of a neighborhood on a hill.
Well as soon as I checked into my room, there it was, clearly from my 3rd-floor window. Unfortunately, the glass didn’t allow me to take a good picture but you can have an idea.
Day 8 – Exploring Pachuca
I had a full day to explore Pachuca but I wanted to take it slow and get some work done from my comfortable room.
So around 11 am after breakfast I walked to my first stop the photography museum.
Little did I know that right in front there was another spectacular art museum, El cuartel del Arte, and the artist of the exposition was doing a personal tour of its works.
And that is where I met Enrique Garnica and his incredibly inspiring work. It was such an honor meeting him.
Happy with my random encounter I continued my walk around the colorful streets of Pachuca appreciating its historical buildings, cafes, and local restaurants.
I got to the main square where the popular Clock tower is. I browsed around a local market and after a quick late lunch, I went back to the hotel.
It was rainy and I was tired, probably because of the intense couple of days I had previously.
I enjoyed the city vibes, though, and if you have more energy than I did you can check out more museums and get to Christo Rey Hill for a great overview of the entire city.
On the way back I found a cute cafe which would have been my working place if I stayed longer in the city. It’s Espresso Central Revolucion. Just don’t take the espresso. 🙈 Any other coffee or dishes are delicious, though.
Day 9 – Driving to Huichapan
The following day after two full rainy days I was seriously debating whether I should cut my trip short and return to San Miguel or continue my road trip despite the rainy weather, mainly because I didn’t know how bad was the road up in the mountains.
But I listened to my inner voice and gave it a chance and it was the best decision ever.
In fact, besides the fact that the sky cleared up and the weather turned out to be amazing in the next couple of days, I was amazing sites and met wonderful guides who showed me around their beloved town.
From Pachuca to Huachipan it’s about 2-hour drive, I arrived at my destination around 1 pm.
After I found a cute hotel (Casa BIXI) super recommended, I headed to the town center where I found a festive market and many people around.
It was Sunday after all and that’s the day when all these small towns that are not on the radar of mass tourism, come alive.
I managed to visit the churches and take the tour bus around town, which is always an interesting way to learn about the local history and tradition besides the highlights of the area.
Then I arranged with the tour guide to take me to see the painted cavern the following day and so we did.
I also visited the history museum and had a decent lunch in one of the nearby restaurants.
Staying in such a cozy hotel like Casa Bixi made the whole experience even more exciting.
Day 10 – Exploring Zimapan
Before getting to my next destination I had a meet-up with the guide, Bernardo who would have shown me the Cavern paintings Boye, at only a 10-minute drive from the town.
Unfortunately, the gate was closed, probably because of the high level of water in the small lake which would have made our descent to the caves impossible.
Bernardo suggested going and seeing the park of the Sabinos which was a great idea. I loved to see those secular trees, and of course, hugged one of them.
it was a short tour because I wanted to get to Zimapan earlier.
Getting to Zimapan was my hardest challenge because I knew the road would be steep and winding but also spectacular. So I really wanted to go but I was a little concerned.
However, I was happy to find out that I had no reason to be worried and the road was just amazing!
The views are indeed amazing and you need to be careful not to get distracted while driving.
Zimapan is a pretty Pueblo Magico full of history and traditions but most of all surrounded by amazing natural places to visit, including the spectacular Zimapan dam (presa) which marks the border between Queretaro and Hidalgo.
As soon as I reached the town center I parked the car and looked for a decent hotel where to check in and leave my stuff before exploring.
However, I was lucky enough to find the stand of a tour company and I immediately called the number. Elmer replied and at my request of a half a day tour, he accepted to take me around.
That was a strike of luck, which I have to say has been my faithful companion for the whole of this trip. Everything went just beyond my expectations.
We met at 12.30 at the hotel where I checked in, right after the call. When I told him what I wanted to see and what my plans were for the following day, he immediately organized the rest of the day so that I could see as much as possible.
So we went to explore the Zimapan Dam lookout which you can only get to with a guide because we had to go and get the key to the house of the guardian, which is also the owner of the land. I wouldn’t have known if I went by myself.
We went on a short hike around the lookout point with amazing views of the dam, surrounded by cacti of all shapes and sizes and we have even seen some cave paintings as well.
The second stop was the red dunes, a place that I really wanted to see but I wasn’t feeling confident to go on my own as it’s quite off the beaten path.
Besides along the way Elmer told me a bit more about the history and geography of the place which made the tour so much worth it.
We got back to Zimapan around 8 pm both quite exhausted but he wrapped the day up with a short tour of the town and shared some interesting legends and stories about past characters of the town’s history.
Then I had a delicious meal in one of the restaurants that the guide suggested, Cactacea, and I passed out in my comfortable hotel room.
I decided I need to go back to Zimapan to take the tour Elmer offers to Xajha. I will tell you more about it once I do it.
Day 11 – Zimapan Dam and Cadereyta + Car drop off
On my last day, I wanted to give it another walk around this pretty town after a delicious breakfast.
At around 11 I started my journey back home with a stop at the Zimapan Dam tourist center where I took a 30-minute boat tour of the lake, I drove through the tunnel that took me onto the Queretaro side and drove all the way to Cadereyta, one of Queretaro Pueblos Magicos that hadn’t seen yet.
At 5 pm, after another full day of exploring I dropped the car off at Queretaro Airport where my awesome driver from San Miguel was waiting for me.
This was the end of my Hidalgo Itinerary and I cannot recommend it enough. Here below a map of my road trip for your convenience.
Hidalgo Itinerary Map
This is approximately my Hidalgo Mexico itinerary road trip. Some stops are missing because Google Maps allows only a certain number of stops. However, the car gauge marks that I made drove around 1100 KM in total and I definitely drove more than 11 hours 😂!
HIDALGO MEXICO TRAVEL GUIDE
Hidalgo Mexico Travel Guide: final thoughts
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of this massive guide to the spectacular Mexican State of Hidalgo.
I hope it has been useful and it gave you some good ideas on how to plan your trip to this beautiful area in Mexico. Whether you decide to travel by car, bus, or tour, I am sure you will have a blast ad you will love this part of Mexico as much as I do.
If you contact one of the guides I mentioned, please send them my regards. I like to promote the local independent guides especially when they are so knowledgeable and passionate about their job.
Happy travels! And enjoy Hidalgo!!
Before you go
- Queretaro Airbnb – a guide to the 9 best vacation rentals in Queretaro
- The top 13 Queretaro Hotels for any Budget and style 
- Top 10 Queretaro restaurants: The best vegan and vegan-friendly places
- A spectacular 4-day itinerary in the Sierra Gorda Queretaro
- Unmissable 15+ things to do in Queretaro, Mexico, and surrounding