Experience the falls from both Brazil and Argentina, via hiking trails, boat and boardwalk viewpoints.
Jump Ahead to a Section Below:
About Iguazú Falls
Iguazú Falls is considered the largest waterfall in the world (it is not the tallest–that’s Angel Falls, and it doesn’t have the largest single sheet of falling water–that’s Victoria Falls, but otherwise, it is the largest). I have visited Victoria Falls as well, and Iguazú Falls felt never-ending in comparison, it is much wider. I also loved the toucans flying around at Iguazú, the colorful butterflies that would follow you everywhere, and the coatis (raccoon-like mammals found around the trails).
Should you see the Argentinian side or the Brazilian side of the falls?
If you have a day and a half, you should see both! My friend and I enjoyed the different perspectives that each side gave. Check on visa requirements for both countries before planning your trip. The visas are an additional cost of seeing both sides.
The Argentinian side of the falls allows you to see about 75% of the falls and has walkways and trails that bring you up close enough to feel their power. On this side, you’ll also have the opportunity to take a short boat ride to the base of the falls.
The Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls gives more panoramic viewpoints than up close ones. One viewpoint shows 275 waterfalls altogether. There are fewer viewpoints and walkways on the Brazilian side, so exploring takes less time.
We flew out of the Brazilian airport on day two, so we explored the Argentine side first and then the Brazilian side on the day we flew out. It only took us a couple of hours to see the Brazilian side. Other travelers say it is better to see the Brazilian side first, to get perspective of the Falls from a distance, and then see the Argentinian side on day two to experience them up close.
The Argentinian Side of the Falls and Sunset Viewing
The park opens at sunrise, and I recommend you visit as early as possible to beat the tourist bus crowds. Below outlines the trail and boat ride options on the Argentinian side.
Walking Trails on the Argentinian Side:
The Lower (Inferior) Circuit-This was my favorite walk/hike during our entire visit to the falls. The trail is more rustic, many areas don’t have boardwalks, and we started this walk early in the morning, beating tourist buses, so we almost had the trail to ourselves. The trail follows along the base of the falls, so you will get wet during parts of it. There are also some uphill sections.
At the end of this trail, you can board the train to reach Devil’s Throat. The train runs every 15 minutes. When you arrive, there is a short walkway across the river that takes you to Devil’s Throat, the main horseshoe of the falls.
The Upper (Superior) Circuit- This trail has more boardwalks and bridges and takes you to 6 lookouts from the top of the falls.
Boat Ride Options on the Argentinian Side:
(both of these options are accessible from the dock on the Lower/Inferior Circuit Trail)
Included with your park entrance ticket is a short boat ride to San Martin Island (an island amongst the falls) for a water view of the falls.
There is also an option for a 12-minute high-speed boat ride that takes you closer to the base of the Falls to see the Three Musketeers (three sections of falls). There is an additional cost for this ride. We chose to book this boat ride since it took us closest to the falls. It’s an unreal experience to see, feel and hear the giant falls that closely on the water. The boat driver also creates a fun ride on the way to the falls making fast turns and getting the riders wet.
Sunset at Tres Fronteras
The Iguazú Falls park closes before sunset and opens after sunrise, so, unfortunately, you can’t watch the sunset or the sunrise in the park. If you are staying in Puerto Iguazú, there is another good spot for sunset watching, Tres Fronteras. It is where the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet, and the Iguazú and Paraná Rivers meet. You can watch the sunset over the Rivers with Paraguay and Brazil in the background. There are also craft stalls and food vendors at the site.
The Brazilian Side of the Falls
There is only one main trail on the Brazilian side that will take about 2 hours to walk (assuming plenty of time to stop and take photos). At the trail's end, you can take an elevator up to a higher viewpoint of the falls.
The Brazilian side also offers helicopter rides over the falls.
This side of the falls does have lockers, so if you need to go straight to the airport after the falls, it is possible to bring your luggage (depending on the size of your luggage) and put it in a locker for the day. Tokens for the lockers are sold at the gift shop near the lockers.
Advanced Bookings for Iguazú Falls
We booked our lodging in advance and bought our entry tickets to the Falls a couple of days ahead of time to avoid lines onsite. The boat excursion at the falls can be booked onsite when you arrive.
Building an Itinerary with a Stop in Iguazú Falls
We visited Iguazú Falls as part of a 2.5-week trip in South America. We started in Buenos Aires, then went to Patagonia, Mendoza, and Iguazú Falls, and then ended our trip in Rio. Rio would be an easy add-on to this trip, as many flights to and from the falls go out of Rio.
What to Wear and Pack for Iguazú Falls
What to Wear
A packable Waterproof jacket- there are some viewing points for the falls where you will be soaked from the falls’ spray. We packed lightweight, packable jackets that we could easily put on and off when needed. Other tourists used ponchos.
Hiking sandals- These are better than hiking shoes because water can flow in and out of them when they are wet.
What to Pack
A waterproof holder for your phone
Deet bug spray
A water-resistant backpack or a waterproof cover for your backpack
What to Eat in Iguazú Falls
Açaí- Açaí is a berry from a palm tree, known for its antioxidants that are good for your immune system. Açaí bowls are trending internationally, but it is still worth trying one where they came from.
Guayaba- This is a fruit that Brazil is known for, though it is available in other parts of the world, try it when you are there! We bought it at a local outdoor produce market.
Pão de Queijo- A fantastic cheese bread ball made with tapioca flour. It has a light, airy, chewy texture. We found it both in restaurants and in grab-and-go Asai and juice stands.
Where to Eat in Iguazú Falls
Sheraton Hotel- A Sheraton Hotel is located inside the park on the Argentinian side. It is a sit-down lunch option where you can relax and watch the mist coming from the falls and toucans flying around. Most of the other food options in the park are quick grab-and-go food.
Restaurante Porto Canoas- This is a buffet restaurant option on the Brazilian side of the falls next to the Porto Canoas part of the falls. It offers panoramic views of the river and local cuisine in the buffet. A Buffet is a buffet though, and the food isn’t amazing.
Lodging for Iguazú Falls
When we visited Iguazú there weren't many Airbnb options in the area. We stayed at a boutique hotel, Tierra Guarani Lodge, and enjoyed our experience there. It was nice to have the staff help us with translations and arranging taxis each day. The lodge is set in the jungle, with boardwalks leading to each private cabin. They also have a common pool and restaurant that serves local cuisine. The Lodge is located in Puerto Iguazú, nearest to the Argentinian side of the Falls but a 30-minute taxi ride away. Staying there felt like a more local, authentic experience than staying in a typical hotel in town.
There is a Sheraton Hotel located inside the park on the Argentinian side. If it fits your budget, it would be a convenient option with stunning views of the Falls. Staying there is a way to be in the park for sunset and sunrise too!
You also have the option to stay in the town on the Brazilian side of the falls, Foz do Iguaçu. We flew into the Argentinian side and visited the Argentinian side first, so staying in Argentina made more sense for our itinerary.
Getting around Iguazú Falls
We used taxis to get around to both sides of the falls. They were inexpensive despite us taking longer rides to see both sides of the falls. Be aware that most taxi drivers in this area don’t speak English.
Renting a car would also be an easy option for getting around, there are car rentals available at both airports.
When to Go to Iguazú Falls
Iguazú Falls are in a tropical jungle climate that can be visited year-round. April, May, September, and October will be slightly less hot and have lower chances of rain. There is a high chance you will encounter rain at some point whenever you visit.
As in many foreign countries, do not drink the water, brush your teeth with it or eat fresh fruits or vegetables washed in it.
Trip Dates: March 2016
Article Updated: December 2022
*Some links in this article are affiliate links for which I receive a small commission at no cost to you.