Visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina is, quite simply, a must when you are in the country. No other waterfall in the world can compare to it – not even Kaieteur Falls, in Guyana, or Niagara Falls. Upon visiting Iguazu Falls, Argentina, Eleanor Roosevelt said “My poor Niagara.”
The waterfalls of Iguazu are made of a huge series of large and small waterfalls (the amount really depends on water levels) that you can admire from an incredible array of viewpoints. There are so many, indeed, that you can easily spend a couple of days visiting Iguazu Falls, especially if you decide to check out both the Argentine and the Brazilian sides.
Curious to find out more about this incredible place? Great! In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know to visit Iguazu Falls and make the most of it.
Make sure to also read my posts A Guide To The Greatest Things To Do In Argentina and A Great Argentina Itinerary.
A Practical Guide To Visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina
Some background information on Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls, or Las Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were named one of the Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011. They stretch for almost 3 km (1.86 miles) between the Argentine province of Misiones and Brazilian state of Paraná and they are the largest waterfall system in the world (though they are not the highest ones).
Iguazu Falls are constantly changing, and your experience there may change a lot depending on the year you visit, on the time of year you visit, and even on the day. Visit after some heavy rains, and some trails may be closed due to flooding, and some wooden paths even completely carried away by the water. Other times, there may be very little water.
When I visited Iguazu Falls Argentina, the flow of water was nice and strong, but it hadn’t rain in a while so I could walk all the trails and paths to all the viewpoints. But, since there was a lot of water, I still got (pleasantly) sprayed by the myst.
Best time to visit Iguazu Falls
The best time to visit Iguazu Falls is either the shoulder or the dry season, when you’ll have higher chances of clear skies but the temperatures are not as hot.
If you manage to go at the very beginning of the dry season, you should be able to see the falls at their fullest. I visited at the end of February and was very lucky, with 3 full days of sun – though it was actually very hot and humid. December to February is the rain season, but the other side of the coin is that you get to see the waterfalls in their full power. April to June is the dry season, and August and September are even drier and cooler.
Iguazu Falls receive tourists any time of year, but if you want to avoid the largest crowds don’t go in January or July, when it is peak summer season for the Argentines, or when they are having their winter break.
How many days to you need to visit Iguazu Falls?
You need at least 2 full days (and 3 nights) to Iguazu Falls. Both the Argentine side and the Brazilian side take a full day to visit, if not more. Yes, there are guided tours that go to both sides in one day, and there even are day trips to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires (more about that later) as a last resort; but this is a place that deserves to be seen at a a relaxed pace to be fully enjoyed.
Which side should you visit?
If you are on a trip across Argentina, it only makes sense to visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina. However, if you are spending a few days in the region you should visit both sides. After all, Brazil is literally just across the river. Both Argentina and Brazil have national parks, but the experience you’ll be having in each of them is different.
If you have the option of visiting Iguazu Falls on both sides, see the Brazilian one first. If you only have time for one, opt for the Argentine side. The Brazilian side is very panoramic, and you’ll get perfect close up photos of the giant waterfalls.
But the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls is honestly much more fun. You’re literally IN the waterfalls. Trails take you above them, below them, under them (if you do the boat ride), and you can see a lot of wildlife.
The best trails and viewpoints in Iguazu National Park
You should factor in a minimum of 6 hours in the park, though 8 hours is perfect to walk all the trails at a nice pace and spend plenty of time to admire the views.
Once you are inside Iguazu National Park, in Argentina, you should take the Jungle Train (Tren de la Selva) which stops in 3 different places. Get off at the stop immediately after you get on, as this is the starting point of the Upper and Lower Circuits. These two are meant to take you around the park and to all the best viewpoints to fully enjoy Iguazu Falls. You should walk both of them.
The Upper Circuit is a shorter trail of less than one km (0.6 miles) that takes about one hour to complete. It has a wooden path that takes you to the top of the falls from where you can enjoy impressive views.
The Lower Circuit is a longer trail that will take you up to 3 hours, with several viewpoints. This is the trail you need to walk to catch the boat to San Martin Island and the boat that goes right under the waterfalls.
Once you have walked both circuits, go back to the train stop to get on the next train going to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Once the train stops, take the wooden trail that leads to the waterfalls for about 1.2 km (one way) (0.7 miles). Along the way, you’ll be able to spot lots of turtles and at times even crocodiles in the water.
Factor enough time to visit the Garganta del Diablo, as it seriously is the highlight of Iguazu Falls. It’s massive, and the views is nothing short of amazing.
Another trail you can take is the Macuco trail, which goes all the way to Arrechea Waterfall. It’s a nice nature walk that should take you around 3 hours in total and during which you can admire lots of wildlife, and which takes you to a lesser visited part of Iguazu National Park where you can even swim in a natural pool.
I don’t recommend doing a helicopter tour. Argentina has banned them a few years ago, in an attempt to reduce the level of noise which causes noise pollution and disturbs wildlife. They are still available from the Brazilian side, but please refrain from doing it!
Check out my post 15 Amazing National Parks In Argentina.
Wildlife in Iguazu Falls Argentina
Keep your eyes wide open when visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina, as you will be seeing lots of interesting wildlife. Birdwatchers will be in for a treat, as there are beautiful, colorful toucans and yellow-eyed bluebirds. You will also spot lots of coatis, which are quite similar to raccoons and not shy at all. Don’t feed them – though they will try to grab your food! And by all means don’t pet them: they may bite or scratch, and that hurts.
There are also lots of monkeys and supposedly also jaguars – though I haven’t heard of anybody who’s spotted these elusive mammals.
Read my posts The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler and A Guide To Ethical Animal Tourism.
Iguazu National Park opening hours and tickets
Iguazu National Park in Argentina is open every day from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Visitors are allowed to enter until 4:30 PM.
Entrance to the National Park for non residents is 2800 Argentine Pesos (ARS), which at the current exchange rate is about $23 USD. You can buy tickets online on the official website (though for some reason in this case they cost 4000 ARS) or directly at the park, paying in cash (only pesos accepted) or by credit card. If you validate your ticket at the ticket window upon leaving you can get a 50% discount on your second visit (but only if you visit on two consecutive days).
Tickets to Iguazu National Park include access to all the trails, boat ride to San Martin Island and Tren de la Selva. Boat tours that go under the waterfalls are extra. Inside the park you’ll find toilets, restaurants and kiosks.
How to get to Puerto Iguazu
Puerto Iguazu is well connected to the rest of Argentina by plane and bus. Flights land at the Iguazu Falls airport which is close to the city. There are regular daily flights that leave from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Palermo, Buenos Aires. The main companies flying to Puerto Iguazu are LATAM, Aerolinas Argentinas and as of late Norwegian Air. The flight from Buenos Aires takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.
From the airport, you can get to town via public transportation or taxi.
Rio Uruguay has overnight buses from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu. The ride takes around 17 hours.
How to get to Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu
Getting to Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu is very easy. Buses leave regularly from the bus station to go to Iguazu National Park. Alternatively, you can take a taxi.
Guided day and multi-day Iguazu Falls tours
You can easily visit Iguazu Falls Argentina independently making use of public transportation. A guided tour will likely provide a more complete experience, especially if you manage to get a knowledgeable guide that shares a lot of information about the geology of the waterfalls, the nature and the local wildlife.
For information about a one day guided Iguazu Falls tour click here or here.
For a multi-day Iguazu Falls tour, click here or here.
Visiting Iguazu Falls at night
One of the coolest things to do in Iguazu Falls is exploring it at night. The overall experience is incredible – animals are more active then; the waterfalls glow in the natural light of the moon and the starts, and the atmosphere incredibly eerie. This isn’t something that happens every day, but just when there is a full moon. So, if it is something you are interested in doing, make sure that your travel plans to Iguazu coincide with a full moon.
Night tours of Iguazu Falls take place for 5 consecutive nights every month. There are 3 departures – one at 7:45 pm, when you see the moon rising; one at 8:30 pm, when you see the final stages of the rising moon and the falls start being better illuminated by the natural light; one at 9:15 pm, which honestly is the best one as you this is when the falls will be better illuminated. All options include dinner at the restaurant inside the park.
For a guided night Iguazu Falls tour, click here.
Day trips to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires
You should at least a couple of days in Iguazu to fully enjoy it. However, if you are tight on time (ie you are on a business trip to Argentina) and only have a spare day, there are guided day trips to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires and that include round-trip flights and a guided tour of Iguazu National Park in Argentina.
It will be a very long day, with a very early departure (the flight lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes) and it won’t be cheap. But if a day is all you have, it is still worth it in my opinion.
You can book your day trip to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires here or here.
Are you visiting Buenos Aires? Make sure to read my posts The Best Things To Do In Buenos Aires, A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Buenos Aires and 10 Fantastic Day Trips From Buenos Aires.
Going to the Brazilian side
If you are spending a few days in the region, you should also consider visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu. Going there is very easy: buses depart from the main bus station in Puerto Iguazu and take you across the border. Once you are there, the driver will collect all passports for border control, and will get them back to you stamped.
If you’d rather join a guided tour to visit the the Brazilian side, click here.
What to wear when visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina
Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is a must when visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina. However, it’s also very hot, and you’re likely to get wet – so perhaps wearing sandals is a better idea. Having said so, this is a list of essentials you should wear and pack when you visit Iguazu Falls:
- A pair of good walking sandals, best if they have good grip and traction on the slippery paths;
- A pair of shorts, best if quick dry. I recommend Kuhl Strattus Chino;
- A cotton t-shirt or a tank top. I love Kuhl Sonia;
- A poncho – it folds really small and you can just wear it if the spraying from the waterfalls is extreme;
- A quick dry towel to dry yourself after the boat ride;
- A swimsuit – it’s a good idea to just wear this on the boat ride, so that your clothes don’t get wet (you can keep them in the provided dry bag) and it dries much faster than regular underwear;
- A refillable water bottle – I am a fan of Lifestraw;
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun;
- A good camera to capture amazing photos. Alternatively, a smartphone with an excellent camera will do;
- A daypack, best if with a rain cover such as Osprey Daylite Plus.
Best Iguazu Falls Hotels
Puerto Iguazu is the closest town to Iguazu Falls in Argentina, so it makes sense to look for accommodation there – unless you want to opt for one of the expensive Iguazu Falls hotels inside the national park. As it is a very popular destination, there are lots of excellent accommodation options.
This is a selection of good Iguazu Falls hotels:
- 125 Hotel is a very good hostels with a large dorm and several private rooms. There is a small pool where guests can relax, and a good breakfast is included in the price.
- Falls Iguazu Hotel and Spa is the best option if you want to pamper yourself a little. Rooms are very large, modern and comfortable.
- Jasy Hotel is close to the center of Puerto Iguazu and at a very short distance from the bus station. It has very large rooms – in fact, they are more like chalets; a good restaurants and bar; and a nice small pool.
Other useful information
Much like for any other trip, I recommend getting a good insurance when visiting Iguazu and the rest of Argentina.
Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance. You can get your insurance here.