Last Updated on February 12, 2021 They say that honesty is the best policy, so I’ll be completely honest here. At no point in my life was Iguazu Falls on my radar. It was high on Amos’s bucket list so I agreed to go. If I could sum up Iguazu Falls in just one word, it would be PHENOMENAL. I keep thinking about my experience there and I can’t help but smile in awe and admiration. I’ve been to 76 countries and have seen a lot of things. However, Iguazu Falls far surpass anything I’ve ever seen.
If you’re on the fence about visiting, you better add it to your bucket list right now. You won’t regret it. If you want to make the most out of your trip to Iguazu Falls, you’ll need to prepare so you get the most out of this epic trip. I’m here to save you some time and effort. In this post, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about Iguazu Falls so you feel super prepared and I’m also going to settle this “which side is better” debate too. To make it easier for you to read, this post is divided into two sections—one about the Argentine side and one for the Brazilian side. I’ve started the post off with tips that apply to both sides. Lastly, I end this post with more general tips and a packing list.
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General Facts About Iguazu Falls:
Iguazu Falls is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and they’re on the border of Argentina and Brazil. They’re composed of approximately 275 individual waterfalls that stretch for about 2.7 kilometers. I’ve been to Niagara Falls and Iguazu makes Niagara look like a stream. To put this into perspective, Iguazu Falls is twice as tall and four times as wide as Niagara Falls. Iguazu Falls became a national park in 1934. It’s formed from only rainwater. Yep, you read that right.
As I mentioned before, Iguazu Falls lie in both Argentina and Brazil. Americans who hold a US passport no longer need a visa to visit Argentina. It’s free to enter. You land at the airport and get your passport stamped. It’s that simple. However, you will need a visa to enter Brazil. If you are America, Australian, Canadian or Japanese, you can apply for an e-visa online. On the day this post was published, it costs $44 USD per person for the visa. It will take around three to four business days to receive the visa. Here’s the link for the e-visa.
Should I Visit Both Sides?
YES! Absolutely! Both sides offer a unique experience and are worth visiting. I learned that a lot of tourists pass on the Brazilian side because of the visa fee. Please don’t let that stop you. The Argentine side offers a lot of walking trails so you can experience the park’s rainforest and the waterfalls. However, the Brazilian side offers breathtaking panoramic and full frontal views of the falls. Spoiler alert— the Brazilian side is my favorite. I’ll give you more deets about that later in the post.
Best Time to Visit:
The main distinction is high/low season and rainy/dry season. I know that it’s the busiest in January and February because both Argentines and Brazilians are on holiday. The weather is sunny during this time, but the humidity is pretty high. Hotels will also cost more as it’s high season.
December through March is considered the summer months and the wet season. We accidentally went during the wet season and are so glad we did. It rained on us all day when we were visiting the Brazilian side, but I would rather get rained on than sweat all day under the scalding sun. The falls are also the most impressive during wet season because that’s when they are the fullest. If you visit during this time, keep your eyes out for possible closures. The dry season is from May through August. The humidity and temperature drop thus allowing for a more enjoyable visit.
Getting to and from the Brazilian Side and Argentine Side:
YAY! You’ve decided to visit both sides. We went to the Brazilian side from the Argentine side and had a painless experience. You can take a public bus or hire a private taxi. Obviously, the public bus is going to be cheaper. However, it’s important to note that Argentines don’t have to stop at the borders because they’re allowed to freely travel between the two countries. Sometimes the bus won’t stop so clarify that before you hop on. We didn’t take the bus so I don’t know the exact prices. We hired a driver and paid $17 USD. If there’s a group of you going, it might be cheaper to hire a driver than pay for the bus. If you are traveling to Argentina from Brazil, the process is similar. We didn’t do this route so I don’t have much information about it.
Border Crossing Details:
The border crossing is easy peasy lemon squeezy. The following bits of advice are applicable if you’re hiring a private driver. I don’t know what the procedure is like for the bus since I didn’t take it.
It’s the easiest land border crossing I’ve done. If you are traveling to Brazil from Argentina, you don’t have to leave the car on the Argentine side. You drive up to a booth and hand your passport to the agent. He/she will give you your exit stamp and you’re on your way to the Brazilian customs area. You’ll then have to get out of the car and walk into an office. The customs officer there will give you an entrance stamp for Brazil and that’s all. You’re good to go. Don’t forget to take a printed copy of your Brazilian visa with you. It’s mandatory that you have it printed off. I don’t know what the border crossing is like from Brazil to Argentina since I didn’t do that, but I’m pretty sure it works the same way.
The Argentina Side
Location of Iguazu Falls on the Argentine Side:
Puerto Iguazu is where Iguazu Falls is located on the Argentine side.
Getting to Puerto Iguazu:
Your best option is to fly or take a bus from wherever you are in Argentina. We flew from Cordoba for less than $40 USD per person. It was actually cheaper to fly than to take the bus. The bus from Buenos Aires takes around 24 hours to get to Puerto Iguazu. If you fly to Puerto Iguazu from Buenos Aires, you’re looking at a 90-minute flight. Compare the bus prices and the flights to make sure that the busses aren’t more expensive than flights.
If you decide to fly to Puerto Iguazu (Cataratas del Iguazu International Airport), the airport is around 25 kilometers into the town. You can’t take a public bus into town. You’ll have to take a taxi into town. We took a shuttle into town which was us sharing a van with a few other people. We paid $10 USD per person for that.
Where to Stay in Puerto Iguazu:
Puerto Iguazu is actually a bustling town with lots of restaurants, hotels and hostels. You won’t find a shortage of accommodation options here unless you go during high season. There are accommodation options for every budget. You won’t go wrong by staying in the center of the town close to restaurants because taxis are pricey. A three-minute ride can cost you 300 Pesos.
How to Get to Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu:
Your two options are by public bus or taxi. Busses leave every twenty minutes or so from the central bus station. They start leaving around 7:00 AM and cost $150 Pesos per person per way. Of course, that’s subject to change because of inflation. The bus company that most people use is Rio Uruguay. This is the cheapest option, but there will be flocks of tourists trying to get on. We weren’t in the mood to deal with all of the tourists so we used a taxi and paid $1000 Pesos for a roundtrip transfer. If there’s a group of you, it might be cheaper to take the taxi than to take the bus. $1000 Pesos for a private taxi seems to be the norm here.
Cost of Entrance Fees on This Side:
As Americans, we paid $700 Pesos per person for entrance tickets. Inflation is absolutely absurd in Argentina so prices may be different when you visit. The photo below gives you more information on pricing. Payments can be made by credit card or cash. If you pay by credit card, the payment is divided into three separate payments. Your card will be charged three times which adds up to the total cost of the ticket. You will have to provide your passport or photo ID when you purchase the tickets. You can also visit the park the next day and receive a 50% off discount.
Best Time to Get There:
Ticket sales start at 8:00 am and end at 4:30 pm. I suggest getting there around 7:30 am so you can secure your place in the queue. The queue gets very long. We got there at 8:30 and we waited in the queue for an hour to purchase our tickets.
How Long It Takes to Explore This Side:
It will take you anywhere from six to eight hours to make your way through the park as there are quite a few walking trails and a lot to see. Some people entertain the idea of doing a day trip from Buenos Aires and it’s just not possible.
Key Attractions on This Side:
There are four key things here that you won’t want to miss.
- Devil’s Throat AKA La Garganta Del Diablo- This is the biggest and most spectacular part of Iguazu Falls that everyone gushes over. It’s truly magical when you hear the roaring water and see the waterfalls pour together with extreme force into the center point. This is the highest drop at 80 meters and where the biggest volume of water descends. I can’t even put into words how incredible it was to see Devil’s Throat for the first time. You can take the free ecological train to the Devil’s Throat station and walk a little over a kilometer to the viewing platform from where the train drops you off. This lookout gives you the best view of Devil’s Throat on this side. The train doesn’t start running until 8:30 am though. Even though the train is free, you’ll still need to pick up a ticket which you can get at the information booth. The queue can get really long to get on the train and you’ll spend more time waiting in the queue than actually on the train. You also have the option to walk to the lookout if you don’t want to wait for the train. The walk is really beautiful. You’ll see the most colorful butterflies and the coatis. They’re a part of the raccoon family and are notorious for stealing your food. Other than that, they’re harmless and kind of cute. Warning—you will get soaked when you’re at Devil’s Throat. Take a rain jacket and keep your electronics dry.
- Circuito Superior AKA Upper Circuit– This goes to the top of the falls and you look down to see all the water roaring down. This trail is around 1.75 kilometers long.
- Circuito Inferior AKA Lower Circuit– This circuit lies lower than the upper circuit. This trail is around 1.6 kilometers long and takes you to the mid-point of the waterfalls.
- The Gran Adventura AKA Grand Adventure– Sadly, this was closed the day we went because boats couldn’t operate as there was a lack of rainfall the day before. This is an additional charge but I’m not sure how much. You basically take a ride on a safari vehicle and then take a boat ride to the falls. I wish I had more information to give you about this and am so sad we missed out on this. I do however know that you will get soaking wet on the boat ride so plan accordingly.
THE BRAZILIAN SIDE
Location of Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian Side:
Foz do Iguacu is where Iguazu Falls is located on the Brazilian side.
How to Get to Foz do Iguacu:
You can take a bus from Puerto Iguazu as explained a few sections above or you can fly into the airport there—Foz do Iguacu International Airport. This airport is located between the falls and the city and is about a 20-minute drive to the city center. Uber currently operates in Foz do Iguacu or you can take a public bus from the airport to the city center.
Where to Stay in Foz do Iguacu:
I actually like this city more than Puerto Iguazu. It’s bigger and has more restaurant and accommodation options. Plus, there’s more to do here. There are so many accommodation options you can pick from and they cater towards any budget. We stayed at the Che Lagarto Hostel Foz to Iguacu (CLH). We got a private room with a private bathroom for $19 USD per night. Yep, you read that right. And it was nicer than some $80 USD per night hotels we’ve stayed at.
How to Get to Iguazu Falls from Foz do Iguacu:
You can get there by public bus or Uber. We took the public bus and the tickets were $1 USD per person. The busses run pretty frequently and aren’t too packed out. We also took the bus back and had no issues. The bus you want to take is Line 120. The bus ride was about 45 minutes from the city center. The Uber is around $4-6 USD so that’s a good option too.
Cost of entrance fees on this side:
We paid $70 BRL per person for our entrance tickets. The photo below gives you more information on pricing. Payments are accepted in credit card and cash. Your entrance ticket will come with a bus ticket. More on that further down. You can also purchase a locker for an additional $10 USD to store your belongings in if you don’t want to carry them along.
Best Time to Be There and How Long It Takes to Explore This Side:
The park opens at 9 am on this side. You only need about three to four hours on the Brazilian side. We got there at 2 PM and there was no queue. I don’t know the situation on the queues in the morning when the park first opens, but we had plenty of time to see everything we wanted and more despite arriving so late.
What to Do on This Side:
Once you have your tickets, you’ll want to board the free double-decker bus that’s included in the entrance fee. Some people take the bus all the way to the fourth and final stop—Porto Canoas. This will take around 45 minutes to an hour. When you get off here, walk back in the direction you came from and see the waterfalls.
We got off on the second stop and did the safari/boat ride. We took a trolley for about 10 minutes and got to see the forest up close and learn more about it. Then, we arrived at the dock where we got on the zodiac boat. You have the option to do a wet boat ride where you get drenched or a dry one where you still get misty. We told the operator we wanted the dry one, but we got put on the wet one. We didn’t know this until we got drenched but we had the time of our lives!!
The boat ride starts off kind of slow. You feel relaxed and you’re enjoying the beautiful scenery. Then, BAM, you’re taken underneath waterfalls several times. Since we had no idea we were getting on the wet boat, we didn’t store our phones in the locker. (You can pay $10 USD for a locker at this stop too). I have no idea how my phone is still working, but it is. Whew! Don’t bother paying for a poncho either. It’s not going to help. Nothing will keep you dry.
It doesn’t take you to the Devil’s Throat because that would obviously be life-threatening. But we got up close and personal to so many other waterfalls. It’s one of my favorite memories. I highly recommend you do this on either side. You’ll treasure these memories forever! It’s cool to say that you got soaked by the largest waterfall system in the world!
After we finished the boat ride, we jumped on the bus and got off at the third stop—Trilha das Cataratas (look for a big pink hotel on your left). Most people will be getting off here so you can’t miss it. Follow the walking trail along the waterfalls. It’s pretty self-explanatory—one way in and one way out.
You’ll reach Devil’s Throat and be blown away. You’ll be at the highest you can be on the walking trail. Take your time and truly take it in. Then, take the elevator down the bridge below. This is where you’ll get misty and have fun! Once again, you’ll be up close and personal with Devil’s Throat. After this, keep walking in the direction towards the entrance of the park. You’ll keep seeing more waterfalls that will amaze you. We took the bus back to the exit of the park from the pink hotel.
Argentina vs. Brazil: Which Side is Better?
Brazil. For sure. I’m pretty sure I’m the only travel blogger who thinks the Brazilian side is better. Oh well. I get that Argentina offers several walking trails around the park and that’s great. However, Brazil just offers out of this world, panoramic views of the waterfalls. I really felt like I was experiencing Mother Nature when I was on the Brazilian side. I was able to get up close and personal with the falls. The Brazilian side is much shorter so I was really able to take my time and soak in what I was seeing. It’s basically impossible to just to see how vast Iguazu Falls is from the Argentine side. Furthermore, we actually spent longer waiting in line for the train than we did actually seeing the waterfalls. The Argentine side is very busy while the Brazilian side has fewer people. I felt as signs were sparse on the Argentine side, while the Brazilian side was much more informative. Trails were better marked on the Brazilian side. Also, I feel like I really got to feel the falls on the Brazilian side. I understood the intensity of Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side much more than the Argentine side. I felt like I was in a movie when exploring the Brazilian side All in all, I was completely enamored when I saw Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side.
General Tips to Keep in Mind:
- Other tourists will make you angry. It’s inevitable. But remember you’re here to see the falls and keep moving forward.
- After you enter the park on the Argentina side, get a map from the information booth. On the Brazilian side, ask the cashier for a map when you are purchasing your tickets.
- Don’t pay for a guide on either side. It’s not worth it. You have everything you need to explore the park independently.
- Take lots of water with you. The sun and humidity are draining.
- There are ATMS located at the entrance of both ticket offices.
- There are several cafes and restaurants inside of both parks. The food is pretty pricey so I recommend making some sandwiches and bringing them with you. You’re allowed to bring your own food and drinks into the park with you.
- Make sure you have comfy and nonslip shoes because you’ll be walking A LOT.
- Put down your camera for a few minutes and allow yourself to truly experience the falls. It’s surreal to see this grand waterfall system and it deserves your full attention. I stood for minutes at a time just trying to comprehend how something can be so amazing.
- Wear comfy and breathable clothes and for the love of ravioli, do not wear jeans! I saw a few tourists who were wearing jeans and they looked like they were going to pass out any minute. I recommend wearing workout shorts and tees. Try to bring waterproof shoes if you can too.
- Prepare to get wet. Actually, prepare to get soaked. Even if you don’t do the extra boat rides, you’ll still get wet when you’re looking at the falls from the spray.
Sunscreen—Your skin will feel like it’s crisping beneath the sun.
Poncho—It’s much cheaper to bring it with you than buying it there.
Insect Repellant—I got eaten alive by mosquitoes. I have bites the size of Texas all over my legs.
Waterproof Daypack—Put all your important belongings in here that you can’t afford to get wet.
Sunhat—I typically think these look tacky, but I wish I had one. You’ll need the extra protection from the sun.
Waterproof Phone Pouch—Keep your phone safe from the spray of the falls.
Resources for Your Trip to Iguazu Falls:
Accommodation: If you want to stay at a hotel, use Hotels.com. I use it all the time because it provides the cheapest rates for hotels. Don’t forget to join their rewards program. Every tenth night is free! Booking.com seems to work better in this part of the world as they have more options for hotels and budget accommodation.
Travel Insurance: Both Argentina and Brazil are safe. But, you never know when accidents can happen. Don’t forget to protect yourself against flight cancellations, unexpected illnesses, theft and more. RoamRight has great customer service and benefits.
Tours: I’m mostly a DIY (do it yourself) traveler, but I don’t hate on people who do tours. You can use Viator and there are tons of fun tours on listed about Iguazu Falls.
Have you been to Iguazu Falls? If so, which was your favorite side? Let me know in the comments below.
I hope you found this post about Iguazu Falls helpful. Don’t forget to pin it for later!