Visiting Iguazu Falls is one of those items that falls somewhere on just about every travelers’ bucketlist.
And for good reason:
Iguazu Falls is by some definitions the largest waterfall in the world and, regardless of who gets the title (hey – chill out Victoria Falls!), it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the New7Wonders of Nature, and definitely worthy of a visit!
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I visited in early 2020 and found that so much has changed recently in the Iguazu Falls area from what you’ll find online (everything from prices, to visa rules, to how to get around, to rules and regulations has changed).
So to help you plan your trip like a pro – and avoid some major mistakes I made – I put together this list of 24 tips for visiting Iguazu Falls like a pro.
Oh, but first let’s play a game:
Anyone want to take bets on how many tips I can write before succumbing to the urge to incorporate a TLC reference? 🙂
24 Pro Tips for Visiting Iguazu Falls
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Tip #1 – Choosing One “Side” Is Mostly a Thing of the Past
For years it was the case that many visitors to Iguazu Falls would choose either the Argentina OR the Brazil side, since going to both involved getting visas and paying ridiculously expensive “reciprocity fees” (especially for USA visitors).
Thankfully, most travelers now don’t have to worry about that!
Since 2019, both countries now offer visa-free entry to citizens of the USA and many other countries.
The border crossing in my experience was super easy – it only took about 10 minutes going each way.
So now there’s really no need to choose your side – just go to both! You can stay on one side and do a day trip to the other with ease.
PS – Need help planning out your trip? Just check out my pre-planned 3 Day Iguazu Falls Itinerary!
Tip #2 – But If You Have to Choose, Pick Argentina
If you’re really on a budget, super-pressed for time, or just too lazy to bother with a border crossing, I’d suggest picking the Argentina side.
Yes, Brazil has the single best viewpoint to see the falls, but there is a LOT more to do and explore on the Argentinian side (plus Puerto Iguazu is much more affordable in 2020!).
Tip #3 – You Only Need 2-3 Days For Your Trip
Iguazu Falls is a world class attraction, but it only takes one day to see each side’s park and, apart from the Itaipu Dam, the truth is that there just really aren’t a ton of “secondary” attractions that truly warrant much time on your Iguazu Falls visit.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls for too long!
(sorry folks, couldn’t hold it in anymore ….)
Tip #4 – Go As Early in the Morning as Possible
I don’t care if you’re not a morning person – this one really isn’t optional in my book.
Well, Iguazu Falls gets HOT AS H*** later in the afternoon, the morning light is much better for photos, and by 10 AM the parks are SWAMPED with tourists.
Bottom line: Get up early and be in line for when the parks open at 8 am.
Tip #5 – And Immediately Book it to the End of Each Park
Everyone else probably followed the previous tip too – so you’re not gonna be alone in line at 8 am.
When the gates to the parks open, the hordes flood in and start crowding the gangways near every conceivable photo shot.
But you can somewhat avoid the crowds, at least for a few precious minutes, by going against the trend and immediately moving to the back of the park.
On the Argentina side, I suggest being there when the park opens, taking the first train to Devil’s Throat, and then hustling down the gangway for a few precious moments of bliss before the platform is mobbed by tourists.
Same thing on the Brazil side: get in, take the first bus and get off where the elevators are (not the footpath stop immediately prior), then immediately whip yourself down to the main viewing platform for the best chance of an unobstructed selfie.
Tip #6 – The Jet Boat Safari is Awesome But Learn from My Big Mistake
The single coolest thing I did was take the Macuco Jet Boat Safari – which literally takes you UNDER one of the smaller falls.
But unfortunately I made a HUGE mistake:
I did it on the Brazil size, and paid about $65 USD for my ticket.
Pretty steep for what’s essentially a 12 minute boat ride, but it was so freakin’ awesome that I honestly wasn’t mad about it.
UNTIL THE NEXT DAY THAT IS …
When I visited the Argentina side, I found out that you can take the essentially same boat ride under the name “Gran Adventura” for significantly less (about $40 at time of my visit)!
Since prices and exchange rates vary wildly in this part of the world, you probably want to compare the latest prices for tickets in Argentina and tickets in Brazil to see if this is still the case during your visit.
Tip #7 – Actually, Everything is Cheaper on the Argentina Side
At least as of January 2020, Argentina’s peso is going haywire.
Bad news for Argentina = good news for you.
Virtually everything is cheaper on the Argentina side these days, which is why I suggest basing yourself in Puerto Iguazú and not Foz do Iguaçu.
Tip #8 – But Don’t Trust the Internet for Accurate Prices on Anything
Yep, don’t even trust this blog post.
Prices and exchange rates are SUPER volatile in both countries, especially in Argentina, so what costs 500 pesos today might cost 1,500 or 300 tomorrow.
Tip #9 – Get the “Unofficial” Exchange Rate in Argentina
Oh, here’s another tip: the “official” exchange rate in Argentina is way lower than what you can get if you’re smart these days.
Yep, thanks to some curious monetary choices on the part of its government, as of early 2020 Argentina’s blue market is back and roaring its ugly head!
There’s two ways to take advantage of this “unofficial” exchange rate:
- Option 1 – Bring loads of cash USD and exchange it in Buenos Aires at a blue market vendor (under the table, and not super legal but tolerated).
- Option 2 – Sign up for Azimo or Western Union and just transfer yourself money electronically for pickup at one of many locations in Argentina.
As of February 2020, rates can be up to 30% higher than the “official” rate!
Tip #10 – If You Can Afford to Splurge, Stay Inside the Park
The best way to beat the crowds at Iguazu Falls?
Stay at one of the two hotels inside the parks, so you can get up and have the falls virtually to yourself before the national park opens! Given the national parks’ opening hours, this is also the only way to see sunrise and sunset over the falls.
On the Argentinean side, half the rooms at the gorgeous Gran Melia Hotel even have views of the falls!
On the Brazilian side, the Belmond Hotel doesn’t have direct views but is just steps away from the viewing platform for the falls.
Tip #11 – Otherwise, At Least Get a Hotel with a Pool!
Whatever you do, make sure you stay in a hotel with a pool!
Trust me: you’ll thank yourself when you get back to your hotel hot and exhausted from exploring the falls all morning.
That’s why I personally chose to stay at the super modern O2 Hotel in Puerto Iguazú, which has an amazing rooftop pool!
I highly recommend checking out the O2 – it was one of my favorite hotels in years of travel.
Tip #12 – You WILL Get Wet, So Prepare Yourself
Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid the rain on the day of your visit, you’re probably gonna get wet at some point.
So bring a poncho, a good travel umbrella, and a change of clothes!
Tip #13 – Also Bring a GoPro or Waterproof Camera
What’s the trouble with so much water?
Well, it’s likely to ruin your cameras unless they are waterproof.
That’s why a good GoPro Hero Camera comes in handy at Iguazu Falls (I used mine to snap many of the pics you see on this post!).
Tip #14 – Your Bags Will Get Drenched at Devil’s Throat
One last thing to consider on the whole “getting wet” front:
At Devil’s Throat on the Argentina side, the main platform gets totally SOAKED in water from the falls.
It’s too wet even for water-resistant bags, so you’ll either need to have a travel companion watch your stuff and take turns or have a plan for covering your bag if you’re solo.
Tip #15 – But There are Lockers Outside the National Park for a Fee
Both the Brasilian and Argentina Iguazu Falls parks have lockers outside in case you need to store your bags.
Or if you’re hiring a taxi for the day, most drivers will be happy to keep your stuff in their trunks.
Tip #16 – The Best Iguazu Falls Photo Spots are on the Lower Circuit (Argentina Side)
When I visit a place like Iguazu Falls, I care a LOT about getting the right photos.
All the main platforms on both sides are PACKED with tourists, so it can be difficult to comfortably snap that ‘gram.
But I personally found that there were so many great photo spots, with relatively few people, all along the Lower Circuit on the Argentinian side of the falls. In fact, that’s where probably half the photos in this list of Iguazu Falls tips come from!
Tip #17 – Bring Insect Repellent
Dengue Fever really, really, realllllly stinks.
How do I know?
Well, I contracted it last year in Thailand, so I’m speaking from personal experience sadly.
Since Iguazu Falls is in a dengue risk area, be especially sure to pack some quality insect repellent and keep your family safe while visiting Iguazu Falls.
Tip #18 – Remember Your Passport for the Border Crossing
I mean, should be obvious right?
But also an easy thing to forget for a day trip, so hence why I included it on this list of tips for visiting Iguazu Falls.
Tip #19 – Skip the Iguazu Falls Ticket Lines
The lines to buy tickets at both parks weren’t terribly long when I visited (maybe only 15 minutes), but you can still save some time by purchasing online ahead of time.
Alternatively, on the Brazilian side you can use the automated ticket machines just to the left as you approach the park entrance.
Tip #20 – Seriously People, Don’t Feed the Animals
While you probably won’t see a jaguar inside the parks (though there are quite a few!), it’s VERY likely you’ll see plenty of monkeys and this adorable little creature called a “Coati.”
They are sooo cute.
But don’t be a fool, folks – please don’t feed or approach the animals.
They DO bite.
Going to the hospital to get rabies treatment isn’t fun!
Tip #21 – The Last Tour to Itaipu Dam is at 3 PM
The one major attraction in the Iguazu area other than the falls it the enormous Itaipu Dam (which, by some measures, is the largest in the world).
The Itaipu Dam makes a great thing to do in Iguazu Falls in the afternoon after visiting the Brazilian side falls in the morning.
That’s exactly what I planned to do!
Except I didn’t know that the last tour leaves at 3 PM, and I lingered in the falls too long and got shut out of the dam!
(sorry, couldn’t resist again)
Learn from my mistakes and plan accordingly people!
Tip #22 – Remember to Validate Your Ticket on the Argentina Side for 50% Off a Second Day
While you can cover each side of Iguazu Falls in one day in my opinion, if you want a second day to explore the Argentina side remember to validate your ticket on the way out for 50% off the next day’s admission!
Tip #23 – No Drones Allowed in Iguazu Falls!
Wouldn’t my awesome photos of Iguazu be even cooler from a drone?!
But, sadly, both the Argentina and Brazil national parks clearly ban the use of drones in Iguazu Falls without a prior permit.
As much as I always hate leaving the Flying Lemming at home, given the overtourism problem at Iguazu Falls, it’s probably the best policy for everyone concerned.
Tip #24 – Book your Flight from Buenos Aires Via AEP Airport (Not EZE)
Buenos Aires has multiple airports offering flights to Iguazu Falls.
But, unless you plan on connecting somewhere, you’ll find it much easier to fly out of the smaller Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport (code: AEP) versus the larger Ministro Pistarini International Airport (code: EZE).
Whereas EZE can easily take over an hour to reach, AEP is just a 10 minute cab ride from Palermo and Recoleta (heck, you could actually walk it).
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Iguazu Falls
How much does it cost to go to the Iguazu Falls?
Here is a chart showing the park entrance fees for both Iguazu Falls parks:
|Last Update: Feb 2020||Argentina Side||Brazil Side|
|General Admission||800 pesos||R$ 72|
|Children (0-11 years)||200 pesos||R$ 11|
|Mercosur Residents||640 pesos||R$ 57|
|Mercosur Children||160 pesos||R$ 11|
|Other||FREE for disabled||R$ 11 for elderly (60+)|
What is so special about Iguazu Falls?
Iguazu Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is impressive because of the sheer size of the many cataracts that make up the waterfall, which are visibly larger than Niagra Falls and by some definitions is the largest in the world (a title also claimed by Victoria Falls). The falls have been named one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Is Iguazu Falls the biggest waterfall in the world?
There is debate as to whether Iguazu Falls or Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world. Iguazu’s many separate separated cataracts are wider in total, though Victoria has the largest single sheet of water. The highest waterfall in the world is Angel Falls in Venezuela.
What country is Iguazu Falls?
Iguazu Falls straddles the border between Argentina and Brazil, with the majority of the cataracts on the Argentinian side. Note the Tres Fronteras region, which includes a border with Paraguay, is very close to the falls, though Paraguay does not share a part of Iguazu Falls itself.
Do I need malaria tablets for Iguazu Falls?
No. According to the CDC’s map, Iguazu Falls is not in the malaria risk area of Brazil. It is, however, a dengue risk area and in the area where the yellow fever vaccine is recommended.
How many days do you need in Iguazu Falls ?
Two full days are sufficient for visiting Iguazu Falls (one day for the Brazilian side, one day for the Argentinian side). There isn’t much else to do in Puerto Iguazú other than visit the Tres Fronteras border and go to Brazil to see the Itaipu Dam.
Can you swim in Iguazu?
Definitely not. Swimming is prohibited and would be incredible dangerous. If you want to get up close and personal with the falls, I suggest taking the Macuco Jet Boat Safari.
Which side is better in Iguazu Falls?
In my opinion, the Argentinian side. It offers more cataracts, longer walking trails, and overall much more to do than the Brazil side. Note that the Brazil side does sport the single best viewing point for the falls, however.
That’s it for this guide to visiting Iguazu Falls! Scroll down and leave us a comment and let us know which tip was most helpful to you!
And before you go, be sure to check out these other helpful articles for planning your trip:
- How to Find the Cheapest International Flight in Just 3 Steps
- Where to Travel in 2020: Our Top 30 Emerging Destinations
Happy travels from the Travel Lemming family!