Visiting Iguazu falls – How to see the falls from both sides

Written by Maria Aardal

June 2, 2020

Iguazu means big water and it really lives up to its name. It has been voted as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and it really deserves its spot on that list. Visiting Iguazu Falls is a must on your South America itinerary. It was definitely a highlight of our trip. You will never forget the magnificent waterfalls spreading out in front off you.

The Iguazu Falls National Park is located right on the border of Brazil and Argentina, and you can see the falls from both sides. The park is made up of about 275 waterfalls, 667 square km of jungle, and the Iguazu River. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know before visiting Iguazu Falls.

Argentinean side vs. Brazilean side

The most famous question about the Iguazu falls “which side is better?”. We found a lot of conflicting information about this, and therefor decided that we would visit both and make up our own mind. Spoiler-alert! Both sides are amazing. The main difference between the sides are the size of the areas, and of course the view of the Iguazu falls.

Iguazu Falls Argentina side

The Argentinean side is a lot bigger. That is the side where most of the falls are located. There are three main hiking trails on this side, the Devils Throat hike (2.2km), the Superior Circut (1.75km), and the Lower Circut (1.4km). So in total, you can hike 5.35km in total on the Argentinean side. Each hike offers a unique view of the falls and I highly recommend hiking them all. It is easily doable in one day.

From the different trails you get to see the falls from all different angels. You get to look down at them, up at them, and even straight into them. All of the hikes offer something unique. The trails also takes you over the Iguazu river and through jungles. To visit Iguazu Falls Argentina you need to pay about 10 euro.

Visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina

Iguazu Falls Brazil side

While Argentina has most of the falls, Brasil still has a good chunk. Brasil is also where most of the Iguazu river is located. On the Brazil side of the falls there is only one hiking trail, which is a circuit about 2km long. This trail takes you straight to the edge of the waterfalls. You walk out over the water with a roaring waterfall on one side, an amazing view on the other, and the edge right in front of you. When you walk all the way out you look straight down into the water. Prepare to get wet here. If the weather is good you will also see rainbows everywhere you look. To visit Iguazu Falls Brazil you need to pay about 7 euros.

View from Iguazu Falls Brazil

Which is better?

Each side has its own pros, and which you will like better kind of depends on your preference. I personally preferred the Argentinian side, though I also think this might just be because we went there first. I had never seen a waterfall like this before and the view from the Devils Throat was my first meeting with it.

If you want to see more of the surrounding areas, the jungle and river, the Argentinean side might be your favorite. There are a lot more trails there. If you prefer to get right down to it, and just mainly want to see the waterfall the Brazilian side might speak more to you. One way to look at is that on the Argentinian side you get the overview and the park, while on the Brazilian side you get a close view of the waterfall. The Brazilian side is also a little cheaper which is a plus.

My personal suggestion is still that you take the time and money to visit both if that is possible. Both are unique and offer something the other side does not.

Visiting Iguazu Falls Brazil side

How to get there

A map of Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Visiting Iguazu Falls Brazil side from Foz de Iguazu (Brazil)

Getting to the Brazil side form Foz de Iguazu (which is also in Brazil) is really simple and you have a few different options. You can take an Uber, a Taxi, or a bus.

If you want to take a bus all you have to do is get to the Terminal de Transporte Urbano (TTU) Bus Station which is located in downtown Foz de Iguazu. There you just need to locate the stop for the 120 bus which will take you straight to the entrance of the national park. The price of the bus is 0.5 Euro. To get back you just do the same in reverse. There is a stop for the bus outside the entrance to the national park.

Taking an Uber or taxi is probably the easiest option, but the price does depend on where you are. I prefer taking an Uber because you get a set price and it does not get more expensive if you were to get stuck in traffic or something like that. If you want to take a taxi I recommend getting your accommodation to order one for you, just so you can be sure it is from a legit and safe company. We stayed at the Tetris Hostel and from there we paid about 3 euros for an Uber.

Visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina side from Foz de Iguazu (Brazil)

Visiting the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls National Park from Foz de Iguazu is a little more complicated. Just because you have to cross the border, but it is still very easy. Here you have a few different options on how to get there, you can take a bus the whole way, a tour or transfer, a taxi/Uber to the border and cross the border by foot, or you can take a taxi the whole way.

A lot of the hostels or tourist companies offer transfers or tours that will take you across the border to see Iguazu Falls into the other country. This is generally not necessary and I would not recommend it. Crossing the border is very simple. It will usually cost you more and not really be worth it.

We did the option where we took an Uber to the border. It cost us about 3 euros from the Tetris Hostel. The border control was no problem, we got our stamps and left. We just started walking. The first problem is that there is no sidewalk. The second problem was that it was a lot longer than we thought. Then the third problem was all my own fault for not looking where I walk and stepping into a gap in the bridge, almost falling through, losing my shoes, and scarping up both my legs. Crossing the second border control was also no problem, even with no shoes on and bloody legs. When you cross the second border you need to get a taxi to take you to the falls. This should cost around 6-7 Euros.

The option I recommend is taking a bus the whole way. You just need to get to the bus terminal and from there you can catch a bus with Rio Uruguay or Cruzero del Norte. It should take you about 45 minutes and the buses depart every 20 minutes. Remember to bring your passport, and also remember that you need to get stamps at each border crossing. Not everyone needs to do so, so it is your own responsibility to get off the bus and do it, and you need stamps at each border. If you take to long at the border crossing the bus might leave, then you just need to wait for the next bus (from the same company) that should arrive in about 20 minutes.

The last option is to take a taxi. This is generally a very easy option, but does of course cost a little more. You should make sure to negotiate a rate ahead of leaving. Taking an Uber the whole way is not possible as they do not have the authorization to cross the border.

Falls of Iguazu Falls Argentina

Visiting Iguazu Falls Brazil side from Puerto Iguazu (Argentina)

To visit Iguazu Falls Brazil side from Puerto Iguazu in Argentina you just do the steps above, but in reverse.

Visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina side from Puerto Iguazu (Argentina)

Visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina from Puerto Iguazu in Argentina is very easy and you generally have two options. You can take a taxi or you can take a bus.

If you take a taxi I recommend agreeing on a price before you leave. The price should be around 6 Euros. Uber is not an option here as Uber is not available in this area.

You can catch a bus from the bus terminal. The bus leaves about every 20 minutes, the first bus leaving at 7 am and the last bus leaving at 7 pm. It costs around 5 Euros.

How to cross the border between Brazil and Argentina to visit Iguazu falls

Crossing the border between Foz de Iguazu and Puerto Iguazu is generally easy. They are very used to tourists crossing this border just to see the falls. Make sure you have your passport ready, and any additional documents you might need. Always check what the border requirements are for your country of resistance. For some countries, you might need to show proof of accommodation or proof of funds.

What is really important about this border is that you make sure you get stamps on both borders, both when entering and exiting. So for a day trip you should have four stamps by the end. This is important because if you do not you could get problems when leaving the country.

Visiting Iguazu Falls Brazil

Where to stay

Foz de Iguazu (Brazil) vs. Puerto Iguazu (Argentina)

If you are planning on visiting both sides of the falls it does not really matter which city you stay in. Getting to the falls is just as easy from either city. Foz de Iguazu is a bit bigger, while Puerto Iguazu has a little more charm. Both cities are relatively safe. Argentina is generally a bit cheaper than Brazil, so if you are on a tight budget that can be a pro for staying in Puerto Iguazu.

Accomodation in the park

If you are willing to spend a little more on the accommodation you should consider staying inside the Iguazu National Park. One in each country. The Belmond Hotel in Brazil, and the Gran Melia in Argentina. Both hotels are amazing and luxurious. However, the Belmond is generally known as the better of the two. Both hotels have their own tours of the parks, and you might even get the opportunity to see the falls outside of normal opening hours.

What is the best time to visit Iguazu Falls

There are two main seasons when people are visiting Iguazu Falls. The first is the summer season (December through February) where there is the heaviest rain, making the falls most impressive. The other is the shoulder season (March, April, August, and September) which provides fewer crowds and less rain.

The pros of going in the summer is that you get to see the falls at their most impressive. The water volume is at is largest. During this time you will get wet. This is also a great time for boat rides into the falls so really feel the power of the falls. The downpart about this season is that there is likely to be larger crowds and some trails or activities might be closed due to the high water-levels.

The pros of going in the shoulder season is that because the water volume is lower you get some very cool photo opportunities. The rock formations show through the waterfalls. You can also visit San Martin Island if the water is low, and all the trails will be open. You also have a higher chance of having blue skies and comfortable weather.

Activities

Boattours

If you want to get as close as possible to the waterfalls a boattour is the way to go. You can do it on both sides of the fall, and both tours take you upstream in the Iguazu River and even drive you straight under a waterfall. Yes, they really do drive into a waterfall. You will get soaking wet and you will have the time of your life. If you do not want to go under the waterfall there is an option for a “dryer” tour where they take you up to the waterfalls, but not under them.

The boat tours are also combined with a tour through the jungle on an open car with a guide who will tell you some interesting facts about the jungle. On the Brazilian side it is also combined with a short walk through the jungle.

Boat tour in Iguazu Falls

Rafting

On the rafting tours you can explore more of the Iguazu River. You can do rafting tours also on both sides of the border, but note that Brazil does have most of the Iguazu River on their side. You can also go swimming in the river on these tours, so make sure to bring your swimsuit. Note that on the rafting tour on the Argentina side of Iguazu Falls you will not actually see the falls, you will just stay on the river.

Helicopter

The helicopter ride is understandably a bit more expensive than other activities, but if you are looking to splurge it will be a memory for life. You will get the most unique birds-eye view of the falls, and it is really the only way you can see all of the falls at the same time.

Iguazu falls from above

Guided tours

If you are willing to spend a bit of money to get a completely hassle-free visit to Iguazu Falls you can always take a guided tour through the falls. You can either go with a group or you can even take a private tours. You can also take part in pre-made tours or you can have a tour costume made just for your needs. A guided tour is in no way necessary to get the most out of visiting Iguazu Falls. It is just an extra perk if you are willing to splurge on it. The perk of this is that you will have an experienced guide with you who knows the park well and can tell you lots of interesting information about the flora and fauna. This is also great because you do not have to do any planning or research on your own.

Is Paraguay worth a visit

A lot of people who come to Foz de Iguazu or Puerto Iguazu take the time to spend a few hours in Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. The city is just across the border and it is about a 20-minute drive from Foz de Iguazu and a 45-minute drive from Puerto Iguazu. You can get there by taxi or by local buses.

Most people who go there just go for a few hours, mostly to cross Paraguay of the bucket-list. You will not find much in Ciudad del Este, most people who go there just go for cheap shopping. Paraguay is famous for cheap shopping, especially electronics, and many locals go there for shopping. Therefore it is also a smuggling hub. There is not much to do for tourists in the city, and it is also known for not being very safe, much due to the smuggling. I personally do not recommend going here for just a few hours, it is just not worth it. I do however recommend that you take a few days in Paraguay.

Paraguay, in general, is a very overlooked country in South America. It is not popular among tourists and it is also not really made for tourists. It can be hard to get around, there are few buses and other transport. Not that many hostels and so on. If you are looking for a country that is really off the beaten path, Paraguay is the place for you. We only spent two days in the country, and I loved it. We traveled from Foz de Iguazu to Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. The city is really safe, comfortable, and just so calm. There is a lot of street art and beautiful buildings. I wish I had more time to spend there. I also wish I had the time to explore the nature in Paraguay.

Asuncion in Paraguay

Wildlife

Coatis – Before visiting Iguazu Falls I had never heard of coatis, after leaving I had seen hundreds. Coatis are in the raccoon family, and they really look like a cuter and nicer version of raccoons. They are very used to the people in Iguazu Falls and they will walk very close to you. They do not care if they are in your way. This does however not mean that it is okay to pet them or feed them, that is never okay.

Coatis in the wild

Monkeys – Who does not love monkeys? Your chances of spotting a few when visiting Iguazu Falls are pretty good. They are not as common as the coatis, but still not unusual. You might need to look for them in the jungle though. You can also look for a crowd of people pointing and looking into the jungle, all taking photos, that is usually a sign that someone has spotted a monkey. The monkeys you spot here are Howler Monkeys. They are usually black, brown, or tan and they all have a characteristic long tail.

Snakes – It is very rare to spot snakes when you are visiting Iguazu falls. There are a lot of people on all the trails, and snakes do not like people. I was actually lucky enough to spot two snakes when we were there, but that is apparently very rare. If you do spot a snake they are usually on their way away from you. You also pretty much need to be actively looking for them to see them.

Spiders – While it is rare to spot snakes, it is definitely not rare to see spiders. However if you are not a fan of spiders you should not let this scare you off. As there are people at all times on the trails the spiders do not set up camp there. You will usually just spot them and their webs outside of the trails. You might see them hanging around under bridges. If you do not want to see them, just do not look for them, ignorance is bliss.

Capybaras – These animals are the world’s largest rodents, and they look kind of like a guinea pig on steroids. They are supposedly pretty common to see at Iguazu Falls though we did not see any.

Tucan – Even if you are not a big bird-watcher and do not know much about birds, these ones are pretty cool. They are so characteristic and easy to spot with their big orange beaks. They are just so fascinating. There are also plenty of other unique bird species in Iguazu Falls.

Tucan in Iguazu Falls

Butterflies – The butterflies was one of the things that fascinated me the most when visiting Iguazu Falls. There are so many different butterflies there. Some of them are so big, and they are in all kind of colors. They will also just fly around and just land right on you.

Butterflies in Iguazu Falls

Caimans – Caimans are a type of crocodiles, and they live in the Iguazu River. They are rare to spot, and as with some of the other you kind of need to be looking for them to spot them. The easiest way to spot them are probably on a boat tour of the river or in the river by Devils Throath.

Jaguars – Jaguars are the holy grail of visiting Iguazu Falls. Very few people are lucky enough to spot one, but they do exist there, actually, around 35 of them live there. You bets chance of spotting one is probably if you stay at one of the hotels within the national park. From there e you can go on guided tours outside of the opening hours of the park, for example, a nighttime tour.

Tips

Good shoes – This is a tip that I can tell you from personal experience. Do not wear sandals or flip flops when visiting Iguazu Falls, especially not the Argentinean side. You will be walking a lot, and unless you enjoy blisters and twisted ankles I suggest sneakers.

Do the tours on the Brazilian side – If you are planning on doing a tour, like the boat tour or rafting tour, I suggest you do those on the Brazilian side. This is because seeing everything on that side does take a lot shorter time. You can easily have time to see the whole trail there and take a tour in the same day. If you do it on the Argentinian side you will most likely be rushing, or you might even need two days.

Drink water – It will most likely be very hot and sunny, and it is very easy to get dehydrated.

Use sunscreen – Sunscreen is very important, even when it is overcast. It is very easy to forget. Also Iguazu Falls is very hot and humid which means that you need to reapply sunscreen more often than usual.

Do not pet or feed the animals – I know how tempting it can be. We all wanted to just pick up and snuggle the coatis at one point. However you should not. For your own sake and theirs. They are wild animals, and if they feel threatened they can and will bite. You do not want to spend they rest of your trip in the hospital getting rabies shots. Also for their own sake, they will get into fights with each other over food, and we do not want them to get used to human food or start depending on it.

Take your time and enjoy – This is the most important tip I can give you for visiting Iguazu Falls. Take your time, walk slowly, and breath in the air. Enjoy the view of the falls, but also make sure to enjoy the rest of the trails, the nature and the animals. This is a once in a lifetime experience, make sure to enjoy it.

Have you ever visited Iguazu Falls? Would you like to?

If you are planning a trip to Argentina check out my 14-day northern Argentina road trip itinerary!

Welcome!

I am Maria, a 20 year old student. I am here to show you that traveling is possible for everyone, including you. I belive that traveling can be done in a lot of different ways and that you never have to limit.

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