Nestled in the heart of South America, Iguazú Falls, also known as Iguaçu Falls, is an impressive system of waterfalls on the border between Argentina and Brazil. This gorgeous natural wonder attracts tourists from all over the world, and if you get a chance to go, you’ll quickly see why!
Iguazú Falls is among the largest waterfalls in the world. The majesty and beauty of these falls can’t be truly captured in pictures – so get ready to plan a visit! In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to avoid crowds, where to stay, and how to have an amazing trip to the falls!
Related: (opens in new tab)
- Most Impressive Waterfalls in South America
- Argentina Travel Guide for Backpackers
- Brazil Backpacking Guide
Visiting Iguazú Falls: A How-To Guide
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Best Time to Visit Iguazú Falls
Iguazú Falls is located in a tropical region of South America, where temperatures range from moderate to hot year round and humidity and rainfall are abundant. From late December to March, expect warmer more humid temperatures, while June through August will be a bit chillier.
The falls are a great place to visit any time of year, but you’ll find lovely weather and fewer crowds during the shoulder season. From mid-March through May, the weather is typically great for a visit to Iguazú Falls, and except for the Easter holiday week, the crowds are low.
It’s the ideal time to visit the falls, as they’re usually full from the prior months of summer rains.
Just be sure to make sure there hasn’t been recent flooding before you go, as the Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat trail might be closed, and you definitely don’t want to miss it. August to November is another good time to visit, as the weather is nice and school isn’t out yet.
You can visit Iguazú Falls during the summer months of December through February, but you’ll run into more people on the trails as kids are out of school and more local people go on vacation during this time of year. On the plus side, the weather should be warm, but it is always possible to get caught in a summer rainstorm! The winter months of June to August are also a nice time to go, just be prepared for cooler weather.
Should I Visit Iguazú Falls Independently or With a Tour?
While planning your trip to Iguazú Falls, you’ll find that there are a number of options for guided tours, boat rides, jungle safaris, and even helicopter rides! Should you visit the falls with a tour, or go on your own?
It depends on how much money you’re willing to spend and what kind of experience you’re looking for. Iguazú Falls tours are expensive, and you can have an incredible experience and get some amazing pictures simply by exploring the parks on your own.
But if you want more of an adventure experience where you can get on a boat and get up close to the falls, you might find that a tour is worth it.
The Macuco Safari is one of the most popular tours on the Brazilian side. It includes a ride through the jungle, a hiking trail where you’ll see and learn about local wildlife, and a boat ride where you’ll get an up-close view of the falls. Tour guides speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Be prepared to get soaked!
This tour costs around $90USD dollars per person and doesn’t include the park entrance fee. A similar experience is offered on the Argentina side called Gran Aventura, but it costs around $150USD per person if you buy with a group, and approx. $180USD if you’re booking for one person.
If you want a bird’s eye view of the falls, you can opt for a helicopter tour. Helisul’s panoramic helicopter tour is highly rated, and although it’s a quick flight, you’ll get a view of the falls you can’t experience any other way. It costs upwards of $150USD for this one-of-a-kind experience.
Another tour option is to combine your visit to the Brazilian side of the falls with a visit to Itaipu Dam. This will be a full day, but if you’re short on time and want to fit both of these popular sites in one day, it’s doable and a tour is probably the best way to do it. Your transportation will be included and you’ll have a guide to explain everything to you. There are several options for these combo tours, and some even include a trip to a bird park, which is a fun addition.
That being said, if you prefer to save money, you won’t regret visiting the parks on your own. Waking the park trails, you’ll get up close views of the waterfalls, see some cool critters, and even get wet. Whether you choose to visit the parks on a tour or independently, you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
Practical Information for a Visit to Iguazú Falls
Argentinian Side vs. Brazilian Side (or Both?)
You can visit Iguazú Falls from both Argentina and Brazil. Both countries offer parking, walking trails, and transportation to see the falls, as well as gift shops and restaurants. While you’ll get to see the falls from both countries, each offers a unique experience with different viewpoints. Everyone has their favorite side, but to get the full Iguazú Falls experience, you should visit both!
Argentina has a bigger park with a lot more to do. You can easily spend all day walking the park, and you’ll get up close to some of Iguazú’s 275 waterfalls. The star of the park is the lookout at the Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat. This roaring cascade is an impressive sight to see, and in Argentina, you’ll walk a bridge path over the river to the very top of the waterfall, where you’ll get to see and feel the power of these incredible falls.
You’ll see the falls all around you from up high and get soaked by the mist. You can’t get this vantage point from the Brazil park, so don’t miss the Argentina side. As far as cons to this side of the falls, the food options are limited and not very good. You should also make sure that the Devil’s Throat trail isn’t closed when you go since it does flood at times.
Brazil has a much smaller park, with only one trail. You can visit the Brazil side of Iguazú Falls in half a day. But what the park lacks in size, it makes up for in gorgeous panoramic views. Every step you take along the trail, there are people stopping to take pictures.
This side offers truly breathtaking views of the falls. Also, the trail ends at the Devil’s Throat, but on this side, you’ll be below the falls. You’ll probably get wet here too, and the pictures you’ll get with the background of the falls are priceless. The Brazilian side is a good choice if you’re short on time but still want to experience the majesty of this natural wonder. It also has better food offerings, with both fast food and a buffet-style restaurant.
Iguazú Falls Opening Hours
Iguazú National Park (Argentina) – Open from 8 am-6 pm daily.
Iguazú National Park (Brazil) – Parking is open from 8 am-6 pm daily. The park is open from 9 am-4 pm daily.
Iguazú Falls Entrance Fees
You can buy tickets online, or at the parks. It’s easy to buy at the parks and they accept most major credit cards, so don’t worry about buying tickets ahead.
Argentina Entrance Fee
General – 5500 Argentine pesos
Kids (6-16) – 2000 Argentine pesos
Brazil Entrance Fee
General – 86 Reales
Kids 6 and under are free
Things to Do at Iguazú Falls
Both the Argentina and Brazil parks have trails, restaurants, and gift shops for visitors. Here are the main activities you can enjoy in each park.
1. Ecological Train (Argentine Side)
On the Argentina side, you’ll get to the different trails by riding the eco-friendly open-air train. The ride is included in the ticket price and will take you through the jungle to the starting points of different trails.
2. The Devil’s Throat (Argentine Side)
This trail starts at the train’s final stop. It takes you right to the Devil’s Throat, a large, powerful cascade that will take your breath away. Walk through the jungle and over the river as each step takes you closer to the crown jewel of Iguazú Falls. Be prepared to get wet! You should definitely make this your first stop of the day before the park gets crowded. This trail takes an average of two hours to complete.
3. The Green Path (Argentine Side)
This is a short walk through the jungle, where you can spot animals and take in the natural world around you. It’s an easy walk you can do with small kids, but you won’t get any views of the famous falls.
4. The Lower Circuit (Argentine Side)
You’ll enjoy a 1700-meter adventure through the jungle, with views of different falls around every corner. Monkeys, toucans, butterflies, and other species can be spotted as you take in the scenery on the Lower Circuit trail.
5. The Upper Circuit (Argentine Side)
Every twist and turn on this trail will lead you to a different waterfall. At the trail’s end, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the second-largest falls in the park, San Martín. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife in the trees and vegetation that surround you, and get frame-worthy pics of the falls during this hour-long walk.
6. The Macuco (Monkey) Path (Argentine Side)
This is a more difficult hike where you’ll get a chance to discover the amazing wildlife in the park. It is also the only way to access the Arrechea Falls. The hike will take about three hours and is a great choice for nature lovers. But it doesn’t have as many waterfall views, so you should prioritize the Devil’s Throat, Upper and Lower Circuits, and do this walk if you have extra time at the end of the day.
7. Visit Outside the Park: Guira Oga (Argentine Side)
Guira Oga is a wildlife refuge where you can learn about and see local animals and contribute to a great cause. The animals here are in rehabilitation or can no longer live in the wild. It’s located close to the Argentina park and is an interesting place to visit for an hour or two after you go to the falls.
8. Bus Ride (Brazil Side)
When you arrive at the Brazil park, you’ll buy your ticket and board a double-decker bus to get to the trail. This is included with the park entry ticket, and you’ll get a nice ride through the jungle to the beginning of the trail.
9. Hike the Trail (Brazil Side)
The Brazil park has only one trail, and from the very start, you can see amazing panoramic views of the falls. As you walk, you’ll get closer to the breathtaking waterfalls, and you’ll end up right in the middle of the Devil’s Throat. You’ll get soaked by the mist coming off the waterfall, and see amazing rainbows glisten in the sunlight. You’ll also see lots of coatis – long-nosed, ring-tailed mammals that are quick to steal tourists’ food and aren’t scared to get close to people. Just don’t touch or feed them!
10. Porto Canoas Restaurant (Brazil Side)
Once you’ve reached the end of the trail, you’ll enter an area with fast food restaurants, a gift shop, and the Porto Canoas buffet restaurant. Try some Brazilian dishes and eat with a river view and live music before you board the bus back to the park entrance.
11. Visit Outside the Park: Parque das Aves (Brazil Side)
If you’re looking for something else to do after visiting the falls, try Parque das Aves. Located just outside the Brazil park, here you’ll discover some amazing native bird species and learn a bit about them. They also have some butterflies and reptiles.
What to Bring to Iguazú Falls
Good preparation will ensure you have the best visit to the falls. Here are a few items to bring with you on your visit:
- Waterproof Jacket/Poncho: You’re visiting waterfalls, so prepare to get wet! If you don’t want to get your clothes wet or bring a change of clothes, bring a coat or rain poncho with you.
- Waterproof Phone Case: You’re going to want to take tons of pictures of the falls, but some of the best places for pictures are also the wettest. If you’re worried about your phone getting wet, be sure to use a waterproof case or bag to keep your phone dry.
- Snacks/Lunch: As with most tourist attractions, the food options at Iguazú Falls are a bit overpriced. To save some money, bring your own snacks and pack a lunch.
- Sunscreen: You’ll be outside all day during your trip to the falls, so be sure to protect your skin by using plenty of sunscreen.
- Bug Spray: Getting eaten alive by mosquitos is never fun. Also, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and other mosquito-borne diseases are present in the area, so it’s recommended that you always use bug spray.
Tips for Visiting Iguazú Falls
Here are the top tips to make your Iguazú Falls trip fun and stress-free:
1. Avoid Holidays and Weekends
To beat the crowds, avoid holidays when kids are off from school and people are more likely to go on vacation. While you can still enjoy the falls when it’s crowded, it’ll slow down your day as the trails will be full of people, and it will be nearly impossible to get a good picture without tons of people around.
December through February are when the children are on vacation from school, meaning there will be more crowds. The Easter holiday in April is another busy time. Check the dates you want to go to make sure it’s not a long weekend and try to visit the parks during the week so you won’t have to deal with tons of tourists.
2. Look Out for Local Wildlife
The jungle surrounding Iguazú Falls is brimming with wildlife, and you’ll definitely spot some amazing animals if you keep your eyes peeled. On the trails butterflies flit around, landing on passersby.
Parrots and toucans can be seen in the trees overhead, squawking and flying between branches, while on the ground below you’ll see Coatis emerging from the bushes, ready to steal some unsuspecting tourist’s food.
There’s a huge variety of species that you can see near the falls, some of which are rarely spotted, while others are easy to find. Just be respectful of the animals and their habitats, and never touch or feed them.
3. Spend a Few Days in the Area for More Flexibility
If you’re worried about getting rained out or not being able to visit everything, stay in the area for a few days so that you’ll have more flexibility. If it rains one day and you can’t go to the falls, you can always go another day.
Also, if you want to return and catch a trail or something that you missed, you’ll have time. You can visit both sides of the falls in two days, but staying three or four days will allow you to take your time and visit other places of interest nearby.
4. Eat at Porto Canoas Restaurant and Enjoy the River View
On the Brazil side, there’s a buffet restaurant called Porto Canoas where you can fill your plate and enjoy a nice lunch with a view of the river. It’s a little pricey, but the food is yummy and they also make great cocktails.
The other fast food options aren’t as good and are also pricey for what you get, so if you want to buy lunch this is your best option in the park.
5. Save Money by Packing Lunch
Like most touristy places, food in both parks is overpriced, and while the Porto Canoas Restaurant mentioned above has good food, the other food options on both the Argentina and Brazil sides aren’t that great. You’re much better off skipping the fast food options and bringing your own lunch. It’ll save you money, and you can bring food into both parks.
6. Go Early to Beat the Crowds
While at certain times of the year, there aren’t as many tourists, Iguazú Falls does attract crowds year-round. The best way to beat the crowds is to get to the parks early. Plan to be there at opening time. You’ll get better pictures without people in the way, and the trails won’t be too crowded.
How to Get to Iguazú Falls
If you want to visit both sides of the falls, you’ll be crossing borders and doing a bit of travel. If you choose to go with a tour, they might offer transportation to and from the falls. If you stay at a hotel, you can ask if they offer a shuttle service.
If neither of those options works for you, there are a few other ways you can get to the falls from your accommodation.
Bus: From both Brazil and Argentina, you can take a bus to the falls. It’s one of the least expensive options, but depending on the location of your accommodation it might not be the most convenient option. Check ahead of time if your accommodation are located close to bus stops.
Taxi/Uber: You can also get an Uber or taxi to the falls. While a ride is a bit more expensive than the bus fare, if you’re going with a few other people, the cost might be about the same. If you’re staying close to the park, this is a good, convenient option.
Rental car: Renting a car is a bit more expensive, but gives you the freedom to go wherever you want. You can get a cheap rental car in Brazil or Argentina, and if you’re traveling with a group or with kids, this might be your best option.
Places to Stay Close to Iguazú Waterfall
When you visit the falls, you’ll likely want to stay in either Puerto Iguazú in Argentina or in Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. Both have plenty of hotels and accommodation options. Brazil’s hotels tend to be a bit cheaper than Argentina’s. Here are some of the best options for travelers on a budget.
This hotel is a bit pricey, but you’ll get to stay in a beautiful modern hotel with all the amenities. Breakfast is included, and there’s a pool, hot tub, and gym. Guests love the friendly staff, the central location, the nice amenities, and the rooftop restaurant.
With cozy rooms surrounded by nature, free breakfast, and a pool, this hotel is a great choice. Rates are reasonable, and reviews state that the staff is helpful and the rooms are beautiful.
If you’re on a budget and prefer an alternative to a standard hotel, Oasis Bed and Breakfast is an excellent option. The property has a swimming pool, free WiFi, and air-conditioned rooms. Guests say the host is friendly, the rooms are clean, and the property is a peaceful oasis in nature.
Grand Carimã Resort & Convention Center
A highly rated resort hotel close to Brazil’s Iguazú Falls park, Grand Carimã gives you all the amenities and home comforts at a very reasonable price. Reviewers love the nice pool area, the tasty breakfast buffet, and the location close to the falls.
If you’re on a budget, this hotel is a perfect choice. It’s simple, laid-back, and clean according to guests, and has excellent reviews. There’s a pool, a gym, breakfast, and all of the amenities you need to enjoy your stay.
This resort officers a lot for the price. You’ll get to enjoy the water park with two pools, a spa, and a variety of activities offered by the hotel. It’s kid-friendly, but there’s plenty for couples to enjoy as well. The reviews state that the suites are large, comfortable, and beautiful, and the buffets have a variety of yummy options.
While Iguazú Falls is a popular tourist destination, don’t be quick to overlook it as an overrated tourist trap! Iguazú Falls is one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders and deserves a place on anyone’s bucket list. Don’t wait to book a trip to visit these breathtaking falls!
Have you visited Iguazu Falls? Share your experience in the comments below!