Pachuca (also Pachuca de Soto) is a city of 320,000 people in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Because it was a silver mining centre during the XVIII and XIX centuries, one can observe not only Spanish influence, but also English (mainly Cornish) and some other European influences. It is a vivid city with lots of history behind. One hint: the first football club in Mexico was founded here, and less than 20 kilometers away from the city, it was played the first Football match in the American continent.
Pachuca de Soto is a city of almost 500,000 inhabitants (metropolitan area) extending in the northern extreme of the Valley of Mexico. It has a very hilly terrain because, as other cities in central Mexico such as Guanajuato or Zacatecas, it was originally founded, together with the town of Real del Monte as a silver mining centre by the Spaniards.
After the mines were closed and no more precious metals were extracted or left, the city saw a decline at the midst of the Twentieth century, which caused the city to deprive from economic or demographic growth for some years, unlike other big cities in the region. Nowadays, however, the city has quickly become a booming town, with many more opportunities, and with major construction projects underway everywhere in the city.
Moreover, the city's main income source is the football team FC Pachuca (or Tuzos), and all the city's marketing is still centered on it. The club remains one of the most successful and largely popular across the country, so it's not easy to oversee everything the city has gained from this team.
The city lies half in the mountain side and half in a big and rather arid valley, at an altitude of 2600 meters above sea level. Therefore, weather is on average cold, especially in the morning and evening. it is famous for being a windy city so bring jackets if planning to go around. Due to the altitude, sun during the day can be rather burning on the skin so some skin protector is wise. Expect temperatures around 15º to 30º during summer and 0º to 20º during winter. Temperatures higher and lower can be expected in unusual days though, and cold wind is expected all year round. Rainy season occurs from July to October.
Pachuca is conveniently situated in the centre of Mexico, at the crossroads of important infrastructure projects, well communicated and very close from the main central Mexican cities such as Mexico City, Puebla or Querétaro.
Pachuca is serviced by Mexico City International Airport. There is a comfortable shuttle bus which can be boarded directly from the airport, giving hourly service to and from Pachuca. Depending on traffic conditions, it takes about an hour or two to arrive at this town.
There is a small airport in the city, but it is only used for cargo and has no passenger service.
Currently, there is no passenger train service.
The city is well connected by road with its immediate neighbor cities, mainly those located within the same state. Therefore there are 4-lane motorways connecting Pachuca with Tizayuca and Mexico City, with Tulancingo, with Actopan, Ixmiquilpan and Tula, with Ciudad Sahagún and with Real del Monte. These regional motorways are not toll roads; however, if one wants to reach farther destinations, they will turn into toll roads when exiting the state of Hidalgo.
Toll motorways extend to cities such as Mexico City, Puebla, Toluca, Tlaxcala and Querétaro.
From Mexico City
The city is situated roughly 90 kilometers north from Mexico City, connected by a 4-lane toll motorway. Since the terrain is flat, the road is in good conditions and has very few curves. Depending on the speed you are driving at, and the traffic conditions both in Mexico City and the road itself, one can even reach the city in less than one hour. There are some police checkpoints (it is rare that you will be pulled over, but since all the cars reduce their speed, sometimes there are some traffic congestions), and the tolls which are located close to Mexico City also create traffic jams.
It is situated at about 160 kilometers from Puebla, in a recently built toll motorway called 'Arco Norte', which is in very good condition, and the total prize for tolls should be around 180 pesos or less, depending on how much of the Arco Norte are you driving (it has multiple exits from the motorway). Normal driving time between cities should be 1.5 to 2 hours. One can also reach other cities such as Tlaxcala, Oaxaca or Veracruz through this route.
There is a highway connecting the port of Tampico with Pachuca and furthermore with Mexico City. It is a very curvy 2-lane highway (no toll, though) covering almost 500 kilometers, mostly through mountainous terrain, therefore one should exercise caution if planning to follow this route (especially in the Zacualtipán region, which is famous for being covered on heavy fog quite frequently). Travel time on average should be around 8 hours between both cities, or around 5 hours to reach Huejutla, an important town between these two.
The other important port close to Mexico City also has a road connection with Pachuca, via Tulancingo.It is a partly 4-lane, partly 2-lane highway mainly on mountainous terrain and also covered on heavy fog. In mid-2014 the freeway connecting Mexico City to Tuxpan passing through Tulancingo has been completed, reducing the travel time between Tuxpan and Pachuca from 7 to 3 hours by a toll road.
The city has well bus connections with most places in Mexico. The two main bus carriers in the country, ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) and Estrella Blanca (and its branch Futura), both have wide operations to and from the city. These two carriers offer direct trips to and from Mexico City (almost every 10 minutes), Puebla (every hour), Acapulco and Toluca. There are also carriers to other cities (one of them should serve these routes, but not both) to Querétaro, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Veracruz, Tampico, Monterrey, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Veracruz, Cuernavaca, Huejutla, Meztitlán, Tulancingo, etc.
Mexico City-Pachuca route is served by other carriers with direct trips, such as AVM, Flecha Roja and OVNIBUS. There are as well intercity buses with frequent stops (which can take more time and more security risks, but are considerably cheaper) such as Flecha Roja, Tizayuca, ODT, etc.
Puebla is also served by other bus carrier, Verdes, which are quite cheaper with the slight difference that they make a stop in the middle of the route at Ciudad Sahagún. No security concerns in this route in any of the carriers, though.
Nearby major towns, such as Tulancingo, Actopan, Ixmiquilpan, Tizayuca, Apan, Ciudad Sahagún, Huejutla, Tula, etc., are served by frequent inexpensive carriers that make stops in any point of the road. Unless you are traveling by those at late night or early morning, there are no security concerns with these buses.
To other nearby not so major destinations (some heavily touristic though, such as Real del Monte, Huasca or Mineral del Chico, amongst others not so relevant), one can find passenger vans running from other points of the city different than the bus station. Ask around, people will be more than happy to help you there.
The city has no major water bodies (due to its altitude) so this is not an option.
Public transport is the most common way for locals to get around, and they will be more than happy to help if you are lost. Transport here has some features that can go unnoticed, but they are curious if you stop and look, mainly those who do not happen even in other cities in Mexico.
Every public transport route has a completely different design printed on the buses or vans, so take a look at each route and wander with the different designs you can find. It is useful because since there are no schedules for transport, it is an easy way to see when the bus you are waiting for approaches from afar. As well, mainly in the vans, you will notice that still most of the people will greet with a "buenos días" or "buenas tardes" as soon as they get into the van, you should try to do it as well, and see how everyone answers to you.
Old buses and vans (called combis) serve as the providers of public transportation in the city. Since it is a former mining centre, streets close to the downtown are narrow and steep, and the buses are not able to fit on them, especially when there is heavy traffic around, therefore vans are still widely used.
As in the rest of Mexico, public transportation here has no planning at all and you don't know at what time or how frequently a bus is coming. You just wait and see the destiny the bus is serving and jump on. They will stop at all designated stops, but people usually will flag them putting the hand up even if that's not a marked stop. When getting in, you tell the driver where you want to get off and they will remember to stop there for you. in buses you pay when getting in, in the vans you pay when you get off.
They will be reckless drivers, but strangely enough, there are practically no accidents related to them. Since the rates are fixed, you will never be overcharged and furthermore the drivers are very honest so in case you need change, they will give it exact.
Tuzobus is panned to be a metrobus style public transportation, with constructions works going underway as of june 2014. When opened, it will first cover the route from the centre to Matilde, in the southern extreme of the city.
Taxis in the city are mostly colour white, although some new units are white and green. These are reliable and inexpensive, with no meter running, but with fixed prices between main destinations (they should be displaying a table with the fares in the left window in the rear seat). Still, it is best if you ask for the prince beforehand. There are no taxi companies, but the taxis in the streets (the only ones you will find) are safe and there are plenty of them. They should ask for no more than 50 pesos if getting you from the city centre to the outskirts, or more than 40 if getting you from the bus station to the centre.
The main university in the city is UAEH, a well-known state university with good study programes, including Spanish courses for foreigners. www.uaeh.edu.mx
Other important university is Universidad del Futbol, one of its kind in Mexico, where you can both study a bachelor degree in football-related sciences and become a football player or technical or medic, etc.
There are many prominent schools of art in the city, with good quality teaching.
As in the rest of Mexico, the legal tender is Mexican Peso (MXN). By law, no place is allowed to accept foreign currencies.
Credit and debit cards are accepted in the most popular cafés, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls (don't expect to pay with cards in small places or markets, especially around the centre).
Pachuca has a great availability of supermakets, amongst them:
Apart from traditional Mexican dishes such as tacos or enchiladas, here you can find a wide range of foods that cannot be found outside this city.
For some reason, insects are an important part of the gastronomy in the region, especially Chinicuiles, Escamoles and Chicharras.
There are plenty of budget options for eating in the city, just everywhere you can find traditional mexican food, pastes and international chains such as Burger King or McDonalds.
There are several mid-range restaurants
There are many other restaurant chains, both Mexican and international food, namely Chinese (Cantonese), Japanese, German, Venezuelan, Italian, Brazilian, etc.
Pulque is the most famous beverage of the region, white coloured with a thick consistence, it is an alcoholic beverage extracted from the Maguey and famous amongst the lower classes, especially miners and field workers, and recently being incorporated into more urban and higher classes peoples. Cheap, traditional, authentic and sour tasting.
Cafés are becoming more and more popular in the city, especially in the city centre (around Plaza Independencia), in the Avenida Revolución and Blvd. Everardo Márquez.
Nightlife is becoming quite popular as well, especially in Avenida Revolución, Blvd. Everardo Márquez and in Zona Plateada.
In general, it is a safe city due to its not so big size. Nevertheless, the city has seen an increase in crime in recent years, mainly due to a huge influx of people from surrounding areas, especially the Mexico City metropolitan area.
While during day time crimes are almost non-existent, it gets worse when night falls, so caution should be exercised, although following general rules as everywhere else, you should be totally fine. The most common type of crime is armed robbery, which usually happens in bad neighbourhoods, which you will have no reason to visit anyways. Examples of these neighbourhoods to avoid at night time are Santa Julia, 11 de Julio, C. Doria, San Juan Pachuca, Españita. However most crimes are committed against locals and tourists pose no risk at being victims of crime.
Reckless driving is common and drivers tend to assume that you as a pedestrian will cede cars the right of way at crossings. Traffic accidents are not uncommon.
Respiratory diseases seem to be the main concern for the visitor due to the fluctuation of temperature during the same day all year round. It can be hot and sunny immediately followed by cold and windy weather. In the mornings ice-fall is expected in winter, as well as temperatures below freezing point. On the other hand, due to altitude, sun burns are also a concern so be prepared.
Some street food may pose a risk for stomach diseases to people not used to it, so exercise caution with it. Food at any other establishments is hygienic. Hospitals are abundant and easily reachable by taxis and public transport. In mid-2014 there was an outbreak of cholera in the north of the state. As of November 2014, it seems to be eradicated.
Tap water is drinkable since it is extracted from underground wells, however, bottled water is available everywhere. There is no risk for natural disasters in the city.
The emergencies line is 066 (ambulances, firefighters, forest guards), and the police line is 089.