Iguazu Falls: The Ultimate Guide for BOTH Sides

Iguazu Falls is breathtaking. Located on the border of Argentina and Brazil, these falls are often listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. In Spanish they are called “Cataratas del Iguazú,” and in Portuguese they are called “Cataratas do Iguaçu”. Iguazu falls is the largest waterfall system in the world.

Devil’s throat

The Piano Guys recorded a music video here, and Academy Award winning film The Mission was filmed on location here. If you have time, this movie is a must see before visiting.

Where to Stay

You can either stay in Foz de Iguaçu in Brazil or in Puerto Iguazú in Argentina. These are both fairly small towns, and they offer much cheaper accommodation than inside the parks, where hotels cost $300+ a night.

We stayed at Gloria’s apartment in Foz de Iguaçu. She charges $20 per night, and her apartment is close to a bus stop where you can catch buses to the Brazilian and the Argentinian parks. Gloria was super friendly and provided breakfast. We enjoyed our stay with her.

How to get to Iguazu Falls

We had been staying in Porto Alegre, Brazil for a few weeks before we went to go see the falls, so we purchased one way plane tickets from there to Foz do Iguaçu. After two days in Foz do Iguaçu, we took a bus to São Paulo, stopping at several cities along the way.

From the United States, you can fly into either Puerto Iguazu, Argentina or Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. Keep in mind that both of these airports are relatively small, so airfare can be expensive. You might be able to luck out and find cheap tickets, but if not, we would suggest flying into Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, or Buenos Aires. From all three of these cities you can either catch a domestic flight or an overnight bus.

From Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

  • To get to the Brazilian park, take bus line 120. It should say “Parque Nacional” on the bus. The last stop is the entrance to the park. As of December 2018, tickets cost R$3.75.
  • To get to the Argentinian park, look for a bright colored bus that has “Rio Uruguay” written on the side. The one we caught was bright red. Make sure to bring your passport! When you get to the Argentine border, everyone needs to get off the bus, have their passports stamped, and get onto a different bus that runs to the bus terminal in Puerto Iguazú. At the station, there is a wide selection of buses that go to the falls, and you can buy your tickets at one of the stalls. The last bus back to Brazil leaves around 7 pm, so plan accordingly! As of December 2018 tickets were R$8.

From Puerto Iguazú, Argentina

  • To get to the Argentinian park, there are several different buses leaving from the main terminal in Puerto Iguazú. Buses depart every 20 minutes, and the trip takes about 20 minutes.
  • To get to the Brazilian park, you can take the bright colored Rio Uruguay bus. Cruzero del Norte is another bus company that will take you to the entrance of the park. Be sure to bring your passport!

Visiting the Falls

We would recommend scheduling two days to visit the falls, one day for each side. We went to the Argentinian side on our first day.

Argentina

The Argentinian park is open from 8am to 6pm. You can buy tickets at the entrance to the park, but the booths close at 4:30pm. As of 2018, they accept Argentine Pesos, Visa, or Mastercard. The entrance fee is AR$700, which is about USD$16. We recommend arriving early because the line gets long!

Once you enter the park, we suggest going to Devil’s Throat first. It is the largest, most powerful, and most breathtaking of the falls, so it draws a large crowd. The park provides a small train service for free, but be prepared for a wait to get a seat. We took one train from the entrance to the middle of the park, but from there we ended up just walking to Devil’s Throat rather than waiting for an opening on the next train. It wasn’t a long hike and we saw plenty of monkeys and coatis along the way.

A coati we spotted on the trail to Devil’s Throat.

After being blown away by Devil’s Throat, you can explore two other main trails: the Upper Walk and the Lower Walk. We love the Upper Walk, which features amazing views of the falls over the tree tops.

Upper walk trail on the Argentina side

We spent the entire day walking the trails and admiring the falls, but if you have the time, you can also book a boat tour with Iguazú Jungle, which takes you to see the falls as close as you can safely get. We did a boat tour on the Brazilian side because there were fewer trails, but the tours on the Argentinian side are a little cheaper.

Brazil

You can enter the Brazilian park from 9 am to 5 pm. We bought our tickets at the park entrance (they accept cash or card), but you can also purchase tickets online. Tickets cost R$68.00 for adults, which is about USD$17 at the current exchange rate.

The entrance fee includes a pass for the bus, which runs on a large circuit throughout the park, stopping at various trailheads along the way. We started with the trail that was farthest from the entrance and worked our way back.

The trails on the Brazilian side offer you a lower vantage point to see the falls. Be sure to bring a rain jacket or poncho, as it gets wet and misty!

Brazilian side

After walking the trails, we headed back toward the entrance for our boat tour, which we had booked with Macuco Safari at the beginning of the day. The tour included a jeep ride through the jungle while a tour guide commented on the vegetation in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. There was the option to hike the last part of the trail to the docks. We opted for the hike, and we enjoyed walking through the more jungly parts of the park.

The boats you can take tours on the Brazilian side.

At the docks, everybody gets to choose between the “wet” and “dry” version of the boat tour. We chose the “wet” version, so we left our belongings in a locker, and the boat took us directly under one of the falls! We got absolutely soaked, but it was worth it. If you choose the “wet” version, be sure to bring a change of clothes.

Soaked after the boat tour.

Where to Eat

Brazil

For lunch, we bought some fast food inside the park’s food court. After we had left the park, we went to Barbarela for dinner, where we got pineapple juice with mint and milk and a Swiss Lemonade. Possibly the best juice we have had in southern Brazil. We also got misto quentes (basically grilled cheese with ham and tomato), but we’ve heard their stuffed pão de queijo is amazing.

We have also heard good things about Coxinha1950, a darling 50s style restaurant that sells a variety of coxinhas, including sweet coxinhas which I’ve never seen before.

Argentina

We bought empanadas in the park for lunch. They were quite good, and not too expensive. For dinner, we went to Casa de Empanadas, which was about a 5-10 minute walk from the bus station. Holy cow, sooo good! Surprisingly, we really liked the spinach and cheese empanada, but all the flavors we tried were scrumptious. It was cheaper than the restaurants inside the park—we got six empanadas for just a couple bucks.

Tchau tchau for now!

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