One of the most popular getaways and for good reason, is to the famous Iguazu waterfalls. It’s the largest waterfall system in the world with waterfalls in both Brazil and Argentina. If you’re considering it, wait no longer and get going!
You can do it in two days if you really hustle but I think three days is the perfect amount of time to see the waterfalls on both sides and add in some extras.
How to get there
There are airports on both the Brazil and Argentina sides but if you’re flying from BA it’ll be better to fly into Puerto Iguazu (IGR). If your flight leaves from El Palomar airport you’ll also have the option to take the train directly from BA to the airport, saving you a lot of money. Just be sure to check the timetables as when I returned on a late flight the trains were no longer running and I had to take Tienda Leon ($220 pesos) instead of the train ($19 pesos).
Once you land in Iguazu look for a podium with the company name, “Four Tourist Shuttle Company”. For $200 pesos they’ll bring you directly to your accommodations. This is the most affordable way. You can also contact them for your return trip to the airport and they’ll pick you up. Taxis cost $800 pesos.
Where to stay
I recommend staying in Puerto Iguazu on the Argentina side. We stayed at Hostel Iguazu Falls and found the best price through booking.com for about $10 per night, including breakfast. Rooms were clean and it was perfectly located. They have a lovely garden and patio with hammocks and a pool. It’s very social but not a party hostel, which for me, was perfect. We met some awesome travelers and really enjoyed our stay there.
Where to eat
When we arrived we were famished and asked where to grab a tasty meal, nearby and not too expensive. The hostel recommended the Mexican restaurant directly across the street and it was awesome! Upon walking in we were warmly greeted by a man offering us free tequila and nachos! Say What?! With 2-4-1 happy hour and sombreros to wear it was a no brainer! Food was delicious and the margarita hit the spot.
Another favorite spot was Holy. A newer restaurant/brewery that has a great beer selection and thin crust pizzas that we all loved! I even returned a second time to enjoy happy hour on their outdoor patio.
What to bring
Check the weather and pack accordingly but definitely don’t forget-
- bug spray
- camera or Gopro
- waterproof case for your phone if you have one
- raincoat (even if it’s not predicted to rain there are areas in both parks you’ll get wet)
Suggested three day itinerary
I know you’re on holiday but it’s best to get up early and hit the road running. Try to leave your accommodations by 8am. We were told the Brazil park was only 20 minutes away but what the receptionist failed to mention was the wait at Immigration at the border. Speaking of borders, make sure to check if you need a visa to enter Brazil.
We were a group of three so we made arrangements to hire a taxi for the day, $1,500 pesos ($500 each) as it wasn’t much more than taking the bus and giving us more freedom and ease. If you’re traveling solo or there’s only two of you, taking the bus will be a more affordable option, and the bus station is only 1.5 blocks away from the hostel making it a convenient option.
We met a girl traveling solo and she jumped in a taxi with us. Of course we didn’t ask if the price would change and it did. The more people the more they charge, which seems odd to me but I won’t get into that here. Just be aware that taxi prices are often determined by how many people are going so be sure to ask.
Head to the Brazil side first is what everyone says to do because the Argentina side is better. Of course I loved both sides for different reasons but I do agree going to the Brazil side first gives you a great overview and is a great way to be introduced to the falls.
The Brazil side takes 2-3 hours depending on how quickly you go through it. We took our time and enjoyed it for three hours. It seems that every 20 steps you have to stop to take a photo because it’s just so flipping beautiful.
After the falls, head across the street to The Parque das Aves. A bird park that you’ll love, seriously! Birds aren’t my thing but I had heard such great things that it seemed impossible not to check it out. We were there for two hours and would have stayed longer if they weren’t closing. It was awesome!
South America’s largest Buddhist temple was a 40 minute drive away so we decided to check it out. After spending almost a year in South East Asia I was surprised how small it actually was, but it was lovely nonetheless and it was Melissa’s first temple experience so that was cool. Not a must see but glad we went.
If we hadn’t wanted to go to the temple we would have stayed at the waterfalls longer and enjoyed a picnic lunch. In regards to food I do recommend bringing your own snacks or lunch as the food available at the parks didn’t look very appealing and you are allowed to bring in your own food and beverages into both parks.
We left Brazil around 5:30pm but didn’t get back to the hostel until 7pm because of all the traffic at the border crossing back over.
Today will be your first day on the Argentina side. I recommend another early start, especially if you’re going to do the Gran Aventura boat ride at the park. And yes, you should!! It’s pricey ($2,500 pesos) but totally worth it! Don’t forget to make a reservation. If you stay at HIF you can make it at the front desk, pay for it and have your tickets ready to go. The first boat trip starts at 9:30am so I suggest getting there by 8:45am. The Park opens at 8am but there’s not much you can do before your boat trip.
Again, four of us shared a taxi as it was the same price as taking the bus.
If you’re doing the Gran Aventura be prepared to get soaked! Like really, really soaked because the trip literally brings you under the waterfalls where the water pressure is insane! Even with a raincoat or poncho you’ll get wet. Bring a change of clothes or if it’s warm enough just wear a swimsuit and have clothes to put on after.
We were super cheap and used garbage bags and it barely helped but it was so much fun it didn’t matter. Luckily they give you a huge dry bag to keep all your belongings in so don’t worry about your valuables getting wet. You’ll also be able to have your phone and cameras out for the beginning of the trip. They’ll tell you when you’re about to get wet giving you time to secure your things.
They have a guy with a Gopro and you have the option to purchase the video he makes after you disembark. Three of us split it and it was fun to watch once but it’s not worth the $700 pesos. The video just doesn’t do the experience justice.
After your Gran Aventura boat trip you can begin exploring the trails and dozens of waterfalls in the park. We weren’t able to complete all the trails on day two so that’s why I recommend giving yourself another day to return. A nice thing that the park does is if you want to return the next day you just need to return to the ticket booth when you’re leaving, get your ticket stamped and you’ll be able to get 50% off the next day.
Please be aware that the park closes at 6pm and that means they want everyone OUT by 6pm. We were in the middle of a trail at 5:20pm thinking we were going to be able to complete it and were intercepted and told to turn around instead of completing the loop.
My friends had a morning flight and I had booked an extra night so this day I was on my own and felt no need to rush.
This time I took the bus, which runs frequently and paid $360 pesos for a round trip ticket. It brings you directly to the park entrance and will pick you up at the same spot, making it so very easy!
I leisurely made my way to the park for my third and final day of the waterfalls. I completed the lower loop I hadn’t been able to visit the day before and I returned to the top loop to marvel at the devil’s throat one more time.
Sadly, there’s one trail I didn’t get to do. It’s the trail that’s 7km round trip and they stop allowing people to start it at 3pm everyday so make sure you don’t show up at 3:30pm like I did thinking you’ll be able to start and finish it.
If you finish your third day on the early side it just gives you time to find a nice spot in the park and enjoy being surrounded by nature.