Are you ready for the ultimate Iguazu Falls Travel Guide? Have you heard of Foz do Iguaçu? You are probably thinking about the Iguazu falls, stretching for 2.7 km ad straddling the border with Argentina. This epic wonder of the world is comprised of hundreds of cascades, including the mind blowing 80m tall Devil’s Throat. If you’re Canadian [eh!], I can put all of this in perspective. You know Niagara Falls? Iguazu Falls has a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls.
But Foz do Iguaçu is actually the name of thhe Brazilian city on the border of Iguaçu Falls. The city is the 7th largest in the state of Paraná and it’s population is approximately 265,000 inhabitants. If you’ve ever heard of Iguacu Falls, you’ve probably heard many people tell you that two to three days is enough to spend in this border town. I disagree. It’s enough if you only want to spent the day visiting the falls [choose your side], but if you want to experience the magic of Foz do Iguaçu [the falls and the city’s main attractions], then I recommend a closer and much slower look. But before we start, let’s go through some of the basics:
Top Tips for Iguazu Falls Travel
- Iguazu Falls, Iguazú Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls are all used to describe the falls and they are often use interchangeably. However, Iguazú Falls is often used to describe the Argentina side of the Falls while Iguaçu Falls is used to describe the Brazilian side. Iguazu Falls is used for this specific article as it is the term most often searched by foreigners when they are seeking information on both the Argentine and Brazilian side of the falls.
- Brazilian power voltage is 127 V / 220 V and their power outlet is style C/N
- The real is the present-day currency of Brazil. Its sign is R$ and its ISO code is BRL.
- Most trips that you book in the city of Foz do Iguaçu offer either free [or discounted/shared] transportation to and from attractions. There is a local city bus that budget travellers can take from the city centre to the Falls. However, if you plan on spending some time exploring all three countries, Brazil Paraguay or Argentina, we would recommend that you rent your own car.
- A lot of the tours allow visitors to do day trips to either Paraguay or Argentina. Remember that even if you plan on going to another country for a day trip, VISA requirements may still apply depending on your nationality. Argentina recently lifted the VISA requirements for Americans however Canadians, for example, still need to apply for a VISA online PRIOR to their trip and pay a fee.
- Watch out for the COATI! When you first arrive at the falls, you’ll probably be astonished by the amount of cute furry creatures that are running around. These are known as coati / quati. They are aggressive little buggers that will follow you incessantly if they see that you have food. At one point I saw a coati trying to get into a stroller. If provoked they will definitely bite and what will ensue is a mad dash to the hospital to make sure you get a rabies shot! My advice? Keep your hands AWAY from the coati and refrain from pulling out food if you see a large number of them around.
- Which leads me to the last point, remember to always have health insurance while traveling [just in case you come a little too close to the coati!]. Compare global medical insurance here.
Iguazu Falls experiences a humid subtropical climate with abundant precipitation and high temperatures most of the year. December, January and February represent the period where the longest and heavier rains occur. The good news is that this makes the falls more impressive with greater volume. The hottest time of the year occurs during the summer months running from December through March. These higher temperatures bring more humidity. April through to early September represents the winter season, where temperatures can drop to subfreezing and frost is not an uncommon thing to see. The recommended time to explore Iguazu Falls is it probably during March, parts of April [when I went], late September through to November. However, it is important to note that this is a tropical destination and it can rain any time of the day of the year.
Foz do Iguacu experiences a subtropical climate which means if you visit in winter (mid-year in the Southern Hemisphere), it may be quite cold. It is not uncommon that during the winter months [late April through to early September], travellers might experience subfreezing temperature and frost.
Layers, layer, layers. I really can’t stress this point enough, ESPECIALLY if you plan on visiting the region during the winter months. The weather outside can pretty cold! The problem is that because winter lasts only a couple of months, many business [including hotels/hostels] have not invested in central heating. This means that it will probably be just as cold inside your room as it is outside. As a result, make sure to pack lots of thick layers – start of with a warm merino wool base layer, mid layer, down outer layer and finished off with a nice windbreaker [that is also waterproof if it starts to rain!]. I am a personal fan of Arc’teryx and Icebreaker gear as they provide me a wide range of layers that keep me incredibly toasty whether I am exploring outside or sitting inside my hostel. Plus don’t forget the hat, gloves, scarf and warm socks! 4°C / 40°F doesn’t seem too cold, however when there is no option to escape from the cold [no heating and only lukewarm showers], then the cold can definitely get to you, so be prepared.
Raincoat / Umbrella. The weather can be quite unpredictable in Foz do Iguacu and you will probably need the raincoat once you start inching closer and closer to the epic falls of Devil’s Throat.
Hiking / walking shoes. Whether or not you decide to go hiking, there is still a small walk to Devil’s Throat so make sure to pack some comfortable walking shoes [that can also protect your toes from the Coati!]
Sun / Bug Protection. If you plan on hiking or going on any trails, please bring bug spray [the strong stuff], hat, sunglasses and lots of sunscreen to protect yourself [especially during the summer months].
Summer clothes. Foz do Iquaçu can get incredibly humid and hot during the summer months [November – March] so be prepared to sweat! Make sure to bring shorts and t-shirts but don’t forget the sweater, because once the sun goes down the temperatures can also dip.
If staying in the city of Foz, transportation to activities are usually provided when individuals book specific tours through their hotels/hostels. My time in Foz do Iguaçu was spent at the Bella Italia Hotel and my tours were exclusively booked through one of the local tourism companies: Loumar Turismo.
However, it is also possible to take public transportation to the majority of these locations. There is a special bus that connects the centre to the national park called FOZTRANS. The bus is the Linha 120 Central – PQ Nacional. There are also bus options for people arriving at the Foz airport and need transportation to the centre of the city. Lastly, as all the destinations can be quite far from the city, there is always the option of booking a car for more freedom.
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Iguazu Falls travel is much more than just standing in front of the roaring sound of the falls as you stand just metres away. Yes, it is quite an exhilarating experience, but once you’ve experience the awesomeness of the falls, there are still a couple of things that you can do to pass the time. So what are some of the other attractions once you’ve visited the falls?
Explore the largest bird park in all of Latin America! The Parque das Aves is located near the Cataratas do Iguassu, beside the Iguassu National Park. Inside visitors will experience direct contact with more than 1020 birds from about 150 different species. There are 16.5 hectares of lush Atlantic Rainforest maintained to provide the best habitat for these animals. But this is much more than just a bird park, Parque das Aves is all about conservation, in fact 50% of their birds have been rescued by the Environmental Police, Federal Police and by IBAMA (the Brazilian environment agency). These animals are often rescued from environments of mistreatment, trafficking and illegal possession; others come from Rehabilitation Centres and Sorting of Wild Animals. They have also received feeble birds who have suffered accidents and bird chicks that were delivered to the environmental organizations after falling from their nests. Along with housing rescued birds, the Parque is part of numerous projects, like the Toucan Project, focused on the conservation of these species, studying their behaviours, nutrition and reproduction.
Av. das Cataratas, KM 17.1Foz do Iguaçu – PR. ao lado do Parque Nacional. Prices to enter the Parque are R$30 for foreigners/Brazilians and R$15 for Brazilian students and visitors over the age of 60.
The Iguassu National Park is immense. Once you pay and enter the park, you hop onto a bus that stops 4 different times before it reaches it’s final destination: the falls. Many people might rush to the end, but if you have time in the park, there are a couple of extra activities that you can definitely enjoy.
If you love to hike, bike or kayak, then Macuco EcoAventura is definitely the place to be. Unfortunately the price is seperate than the entrance into the park, however this ecological safari in the heart of the National Park of Iguacu offers five different excursions like the Trilha Poco Pret which is a nine-kilometre trail that can be covered on foot or by bicycle to Jacaré (Alligator) Lake where a ten-meter-high deck for flora and fauna observation can be found. This particular trip also offers a boat excursion on the Iguassu River to the Taguara (Bamboo) Islands, with the option of kayaking and a return by bi-motor boat to Canoas (canoes) Lake.
Price: R$200 – $300 depending on trail.
The Safari offers boat trips up to the base of the Iguaçu Falls in 20 person zodiac boats. Your tour starts at the roadside entrance gate where you board the truck that will take you through the jungle towards the drop-off point. A narrator will describe the fauna that you will see along the way. My trip was INCREDIBLY memorable because we spotted a Jaguar on the way [one of the 20 jaguars found on the property – thus a rare sight.] At the end of the ride, you have an easy hike down to the dock where you should put on your raincoat, a life preserver and place your valuables/dry things into plastic bags. The ride up the river to the falls is quite fun as the boats are powered by the two large motors that are needed to navigate the rapids. Get ready to get wet! The captain gets the boat very close and tries to go under the falls whenever he can. It’s recommended to do this at the end of your visit to the park as you will be completely drenched by the end.
Price: R$100 – 200 depending on children / adult.
The last stop on the bus is Iguazu Falls. The name “Iguazu” comes from the Guarani or Tupi words “y“, meaning “water”, and “ûasú“, meaning “big”. Legend has it that a deity planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a rage, the deity sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall. The border between Brazil and Argentina runs through the Devil’s Throat. On the right bank is the Brazilian territory, which has just over 20% of the jumps of these falls, and the left side jumps are Argentine, which make up almost 80% of the falls. On the Brazilian side, there is a walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of Devil’s Throat.
Once you’re done having an up close and personal experience with the falls, why not take a trip over the National Park and the Iguaçu falls, with privileged views of the region or fly over Paraná River, Iguaçu River, Marco das Três Fronteiras [Triple Frontier], Itaipu Plant, National Park and the Iguaçu Falls. Helisul has been performing panoramic flights in the city of Foz do Iguaçu since 1972. It is definitely a unique experience with an exclusive view of the Iguaçu Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world, as well as other touristic points of the city.
Rod. das Cataratas, KM 17, Foz do Iguacu,State of Parana 19050-230, Brazil.
Jump on the big red bus to explore either the city of Foz do Iguacu [Brazil], Cuidade de Este [Paraguay] and/or Puero Iguazú [Argentina]. In Puerto Iguazú, travelers will visit Tancredo Neves Bridge, Victoria Aguirre Avenue, the Three Borders Landmark and spend some time shopping [FYI Argentine leather is very high-quality and much cheaper than in Brazil]. In Paraguay you’ll see churches, a stadium, the largest mosque in South America, Salto del Monday and of course spend some time to spend shopping! And lastly, if you want to stay close, the Foz do Iguacu tour offers visitors a glimpse into the city’s history, including a visit to one of the biggest spaces for buddhist contemplation in South America.
Iguazu Falls travel can also include the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant, which is the largest electric power generator in the world and was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineering. It can only be visited on a tour. There are multiple tours available, most notably the Panoramic Tour consisting of a bus ride across the dam with various stops to take pictures, and the Special Tour with the possibility to enter the turbine halls, control room, etc. in addition to the stops of the panoramic tour. Once you are done visiting the Itaipu Dam, visitors can also visit their biological sanctuary [where you can see the many animals that they have rescued], astronomy hub, eco-museum or sail through the lake that brings Brazil and Paraguay together while watching the sunset and sipping a caipirinha on a gorgeous catamaran.
As mentioned before, there are a lot of activities that traveler’s can do in either Argentina and/or Paraguay. If you want to shop for cheaper electronics, liquor and luxury goods, then Paraguay, especially Ciudade del Este, is the best place to go. While chartered buses are more commonly used for that, scheduled line buses from Foz do Iguaçu are sometimes used as well. The most common way to arrive is through Ponte da Amizade (Friendship Bridge) which connects Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. The main shopping streets are Av. San Blas and Camilo Recalde, where you can buy about anything and everything. Many people come for electronics. A WARNING: If you want to buy electronics such as cellphones or cameras, the procedure shall be as follows: Ask to test the device, if it works DO NOT give it back to the shopkeeper/assistant as some of them exchange them with faulty versions or hand the box back filled with paper or other stuff but certainly not with what you just bought. It is also possible to visit Itaipu dam from Ciudad del Este. The bus tour from Iraulico on the Ciudad to Hernandarias road is free (only Spanish speaking guide) To get there take any bus from Ciudad with destination Hernandarias (one way 3000 Guarani 0,5€). There are also a number of day trips from Foz do Iguacu to the Argentine side of the falls [something everyone MUST do!] Many Foz do Iguaçu hotels and guest houses offer a shared minibus service to take guests to the Argentine side of the Falls. Park entrance can ONLY be payable in Argentine pesos cash [so make sure to take out money and exchange it in Brazil]. The minibus drivers takes care of all the paperwork at the border and the journey takes about an hour each way and gives the travellers 6 – 7 hours at the park.
*Please remember* Canadians and Americans have the option of a VISA on arrival in Paraguay while most European countries do not need to obtain a VISA. As stated before, American and many European citizens do not have to obtain a VISA [and don’t have to pay a reciprocity fee] when arriving in Argentina. However Canadians MUST pay a fee that lasts up 10 years / however it expires when your passport expires. So for example, if you buy a VISA & pay the reciprocity feeone year before your passport expires, then you Argentine visa is only valid for one year.
If you are staying in the city of Foz, transportation to the above activities are usually provided when individuals book specific tours through their hotels/hostels. My time in Foz do Iguaçu was spent at the Bella Italia Hotel and my tours were exclusively booked through one of the local tourism companies: Loumar Turismo.
Bella Italia Hotel is located at the central area of Foz do Iguaçu, the hotel is close to the city’s commerce, to the Cataratas JL Shopping Mall, to banks and to public agencies. It also gives you easy access to the most important tourist attractions in town. From Wednesday to Saturday, the hotel offers the Italian Night, a thematic dinner with the best of the Italian gastronomy: Pastry, salads, appetizers, olive oils, soups, desserts and a special table with more than 30 types of cheese.
My personal impressions [🌟🌟🌟🌟] I really loved that Loumar Tourismo had a desk downstairs in the hotel, where I was able to discuss options and talk with the representatives of the tourism agency. Everything was booked seamlessly and the staff at the hotel were attentive, kind and incredibly professional. The breakfast was EPIC. There were 5 long tables full of food in the morning [the best breakfast I have ever seen in my life as a traveler]. The Wi-Fi was also incredibly strong which was a plus for me as a digital nomad 😉 **my stay at Bella Italia Hotel was sponsored by Loumar Turismo**
If you are looking for some budget options, the city of Foz has a number of hostels and cheaper hotels that are perfect for any budget type from R$50 – $300 [with / without breakfast, pools, free WiFi and so much more].
And if you really want to slow travel, then you can also book an apartment in the city through Airbnb. Get $35 dollars off your next booking by clicking this link.
Aching for some of your grandma’s cooking? Well if she was Italian than you’ll feel right at home here at Vó. Around 10 PM, the staff starts playing the “Tarantela” [a rapid whirling dance originating in southern Italy] and involves everyone in the house.
R. Bartolomeu de Gusmão, 1116 – Centro, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85851-160
Santa Luzia 🌟🌟🌟🌟
I went there only once, but it was enough to make me fall for it! The place is incredibly adorable and very cozy. Professional service with a welcome glass of champagne. You can order pizza or other types of pasta, risottos, fish and end with a delicious desert.
R. Alm. Barroso, 747 – Centro, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85851-010
Laos Lounge Bar 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Decorated in the fashion of Southeast Asia, Laos is located in a region home to Foz do Iguaçu’s most intense nightlife. The bar offers live and electronic music. The Asian snacks and dishes draw a large cliental, including both locals and tourists.
Av. Brasil, 1441 – Centro, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85851-000
If you like beer, you cannot miss the Cervejário, a bar that specialized in artisenal beers. If you think you know about beers, have a chat with the owner, and get informed!
Av. das Cataratas, 438 – Sala 01 – Vila Yolanda, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85853-000
Zeppelin Old Bar 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Rock’n’roll, jazz, blues or MPB in the company of friends and cold beer is the proposal of Zeppelin Old Bar, which, each week, presents bands from Brazil and abroad. The bar also has an area for the presentation of pieces and exhibitions. From Tuesday to Saturday, from 8:30 pm.
R. Maj. Raul de Matos, 222 – Vila Yolanda, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85853-180
Rafain Barbecue House presents a daily music and dance show than blends the folklore of the tri-point border nations – Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina – to other countries from the Americas and Caribbean. The presentation, which runs for almost two hours, occurs during a dinner that includes a rodizio of prime cuts of meat, served with salads, hot dishes and a buffet service of desserts and ice-creams.
Daily, from 8:45 pm. Avenida das Cataratas, 1749. Vila Yolanda, Foz do Iguaçu – Paraná – Brasil
Wood’s Bar 🌟🌟🌟
The specialty of Wood’s Bar, following the example of its sister establishments in São Paulo, Curitiba and other cities, is live Sertanejo music – a music style that has its origins in the countryside of Brazil in the 1920s. Successful singers throughout Brazil perform here. The venue is open on Wednesdays, Friday and Saturdays, from 10:30 pm to 6 am.
R. Quatá, 1016 – Vila Olimpia, São Paulo – SP, 04546-045
“The Library Pub” operates on Fridays and Saturdays and has a menu consisting of beers, drinks, good music and beautiful people. The Pub also offers pool tables and theme parties!
R. Edmundo de Barros, 712 – Centro, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85851-120