The Iguazu Falls
The Iguazu Falls are a long line of waterfalls in the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. They are part of the largest waterfall system in the world. To appreciate them well you need two full days of exploration if possible; I would even say three. One day for the Brazilian side and two full days to really enjoy the Argentinian side.
I’ve decided to create this post with both guides in it (Iguazu, Argentina and Iguacu, Brazil) so you are able to compare what each side has to offer and which is the one that best satisfies your needs.
Do you need to see the Falls from both sides? YES! The experience and views are completely different. The picture I’m showing above is from the Brazilian side. The Brazil side offers you a panoramic, front row view to nature’s masterpiece: a perfect introduction to this wonder. It is truly the best side to appreciate the totality of the falls. On the other hand, the Argentinian side has four long trails, in comparison to just one on their neighbor’s side, and it’s where you get closer and really feel the powerful energy of this majestic site.
Gay City Guide
Both the Argentina and Brazil towns, Puerto Iguazu and Foz do Iguacu, are fairly small, so the bar scene in both is limited. Most of the bars are really restaurants with stages on them that at night invite live bands and DJs to play. There are not any gay bars, and the best parties take place at the top hostels of each town (I have include the names of them on the Budget Guide 🙂 ) but here is a list of the favorite restaurant/bars for locals and backpackers in both Iguazu cities.
The best option in town for a fun night if staying in Foz Do Iguacu. This Irish style bar has a nice selection of beers, and they served what, in Brazil, is considered a good burger. Locals love this place and highly recommend their burgers, but after living in NYC for five years this burger was below average for me. Still, it is a good time, especially when they bring bands at midnight, the place turns into a dance party.
Location: R. Maj. Raul de Matos, 222 – Vila Yolanda, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85853-180, Brazil
The only club in Foz, this is the place that you come if you want to dance all night with all the backpackers and locals of the region. After Zepplin and all the others restaurants of the area close this is the place to go. On weekends it’s open until 4:00 am. They also bring live bands, and the music is mainly top 40, with one or two Brazilian tunes in between. Sometimes they bring international DJs, so check their website beforehand to see what’s coming up on their calendar.
With walls covered with newspapers, this bar offers a creative design with a nice atmosphere. More in the style of a dive bar, you can come here to play billiards, chat, and enjoy a beer with friends, or play on the house guitar, which is free to use for guests. This pub is situated very close to the big Avenida República Argentina in the center of the city, and very easy to reach. They offer nice acoustic concerts by local bands.
Location: Av. Juscelino Kubitschek, 898 – Centro, 81851-210 Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil
The most crowded restobar on the Argentinian side would be Puerto Bambu. With a giant bamboo veranda and a reggae music list that goes well with frequent happy hours, the prime location on the town’s main avenue makes it a favorite among locals. It gives you the vibe of a small-town, old American pub back in the 80’s. Food is terrible, so stick with the beer and enjoy the music. Famous with backpackers as well, here is a place to stay up late and dance until sunrise.
Location: Av. Brasil 96 open every day from 5pm to 3am
Top 3 Hotels Foz do Iguacu
Let me just show you…
A Portuguese-colonial residence, this is one of the most inspiring hotels in Brazil. The classic ambiance is reminiscent of lazy days lounging on a veranda or beneath sub-tropical palms. This natural paradise also offers thrills and excitement in abundance: helicopter trips over the gorge and jungle treks to view amazing wildlife, including colourful toucans and giant butterflies. Featuring a delicious fine dining restaurant, a large heated swimming pool, children’s pool, Cataratas Spa, tennis courts, and gym, it will be pretty hard to leave. Best Rate $475 USD
This 5 star hotel is a great option if coming with a big group or family. The Bourbon Cataratas is surrounded by lush, tropical gardens, and it offers a variety of activities that can be enjoyed by all, including two swimming pools, a tennis court, and Kid’s Club. For relaxation there is a day-spa with massage services and sauna at an extra charge.
The Bourbon Cataratas offers a variety of restaurants and bars serving local and international cuisines. Alternatively, downtown Foz do Iguassú is 3 km from the hotel, where numerous restaurants and shops can be found. The tastefully decorated rooms may feature pool or garden views. Best rate $160 USD
Another great option if coming with family and kids, this luxurious golf resort hotel has the biggest golf course in Latin America.
Wish Golf Convention Resort offers sophisticated rooms with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and a minibar. They are elegantly styled with classic wooden furniture and soft décor. Some rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows and garden views.
A guide desk is able to assist guests with various Iguaçu Falls tour options. Guests can also hike through the National Park or relax in the hotel hot tub. They can also enjoy a workout in the fitness centre and a buffet breakfast with a variety of fresh fruits, breads, and sweets, as well as sample some of the many local and international specialties in the on-site restaurant.
The hotel is situated close to the entrance and to the Argentinian side of Iguaçu Park and only 3K to the Bird Park. It is located between the city centre and Foz do Iguaçu Airport, which is a 15-minute drive away. Best Rate $140 USD
Top 3 Restaurants
The closest you will get to a fine dining experience here in Foz. The food will not impress you as much as the privileged view the restaurant has. Overlooking the falls from all the balcony tables, there is no restaurant with a better view on either of the sides. Come and enjoy a nice meal or a glass of wine at sunset time and be amazed by nature’s wonder. The exquisite menu offers incredible fusion dishes from Brazilian and international cuisines. The delicious combinations of flavor and their view has made Itaipu the most popular destination among food lovers in the area.
Location: Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, Rodovia, 469, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85855-750, Brazil
This special restaurant, decorated as the set design from Francis Coppola’s Godfather, will definitely make an impression on you. Not a fine dining menu, but for sure one of the most delicious experiences you will have in Foz. The owner is an Italian-Brazilian that had made sure to blend both kitchens in this lively restaurant. Everyday the cook prepares new, fresh seasonal dishes and homemade pastas, and to accompany them they also have a great wine selection.
Location: La Mafia Trattoria, Alameda Watslaf Nieradka, 195, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil
How can I explain Trapiche? Well, this is an all-inclusive, everything you can think of eating place, from sushi to pastas, steaks, and lo main. Doesn’t sound exciting, and I am the first to look the other way when I see a menu that is larger than two pages, but this place was surprisingly delicious. It is located in the city center and it has the most complete menu of the Triple Border. Numerous options of salads, pastas, meats, seafood, and oriental cuisine in the format a La carte for two people, in addition to the daily option of caster.
Location: Rua Marechal Deodoro, 1087 – Centro, Foz do Iguaçu – PR, 85851-030, Brazil
Top 3 Hotels
The pool! The most incredible pool in the entire region. Truly the definition of creativity and luxury. Seamlessly blended into the Iguazu jungle, the pool is truly one of my favorite pools in South America. Check it out in this video…
Perfect for a romantic trip and only 20 minutes from the airport, this exclusive five star hotel is immersed in the middle of the Iryapú Jungle. Comfort and luxury just 15 minutes from the Iguazú Falls, the hotel blends in perfect harmony with the nature around. Built with maximum respect for nature, preserving native vegetation, Loi Suites Iguazú is surrounded by magnificent trees and impressive wild life. Best Rate $350 USD
This is the best option if coming with a big group or with family. Iguazu Grand Resort is located 15 minutes away from the Iguazu National Park and 20 minutes from the Puerto Iguazu Airport, the Iguazu Grand Resort Spa & Casino is the most luxurious hotel in the city of Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. It features 134 suites with minibar, LED TV, and WiFi.
It offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. They have a Kids/Teens area that has Playstations, Nintendo, Wii, computers, table tennis, and football.
The recreational team organizes great activities every day, such as pool games, mini-golf, big-sized chess, climbing wall and zip line, themed parties, mini-chef cooking activities, juggling classes, and art workshops. Best rate $380 USD
With a truly bad taste architectural design, the only reason I put the Sheraton on this list is because of their location. Sheraton Iguazú Spa & Resort is the only hotel located inside the Iguazú National Park with spectacular views of the Falls.
It has a nice Pool & Spa, with outdoor tents and spacious Zen areas, that invites you to relax and nurture in the stunning surroundings. The decoration is sober and monotonous, but the rooms are spacious and they have either spectacular views of the falls or of the jungle. Therefore, the only reason to pick this hotel over the other ones I recommended is to have the 24 hour access to the falls. Best rate $590 USD
Top 3 Restaurants
The best restaurant in town. The quality of food is as good as those fine dining restaurants I recommended in Buenos Aires. Every single dish is exceptionally crafted. The menu at AQVA highlights the meats and produce of the region, such as the fish of the rivers Paraná and Iguazú: Surubí, Dorado, and Pacú, among others. They complete their menu with exclusive pastas, such as ravioli de surubí, and some creations made especially with chicken, pork, and lamb. Don’t leave without trying their delicious desserts!
Location: Aqva Restaurant, Puerto Iguazú, Misiónes, Argentina
Chef Mateo Lagostena brings us culinary art in this well crafted, French-Italian restaurant. Each dish is unique, with the perfect combination of elements, food, presentation, and temperature. He likes to play with good combination of hot dishes with ice cream. The desserts are masterpieces in themselves. I had the eggplant-zucchini spaghetti, and sometimes I catch myself fantasizing the memory of it. If Staying on the Argentinian side, do yourself a favor and come to De la Fonte.
Location: 1 de Mayo 611, 3370 Puerto Iguazú, Misiónes, Argentina
When a Taxi driver recommends a restaurant, you simply go. On my first day visiting the Iguazu Argentinian side my friends and I took a taxi. We were coming from the Brazilian border and asked our taxi driver for a place to eat when the day was over. Without hesitation he said, “J Alta che!” With a great selection of Argentinian Malbec and one of the best steaks I ate in the region, I have to add J Alta to this list. The fish of the day is always a good option to go with and the prawn ceviche is a must.
Good hostels start at about $12-$14 USD range for a large, 10-person dorm room. The more popular hostels are around $20 USD for a 6-8 bed dorm. Private rooms with a shared bath start at around $40 USD a night.
- Top 3 Brazilian hostels
- Concept Design Hostel The hostel of the future! Amazing in every possible way. Better than any Budget hotel I’ve stayed at in my life. This is a new concept of Hostel with modern decoration, spacious, comfortable, and high quality rooms. Foam mattresses and bedding called typical in four-star hotels.
- Tetris Container Hostel built with 15 recycled shipping containers forming a unique structure, with a sustainable and ecological architecture and interior design.
- Che Lagarto Hostel 100% brand new, fully equipped, great location, fun environment, comfort, and service.
- Top 3 Argentinian hostels (Really sad when you compare them with Brazilian side hostels)
- Bambu mini It has large and comfy beds, a nice bar, and laid back atmosphere. Located in the best neighborhood in Puerto Iguazu, just 2 blocks from the bus terminal and walking distance from supermarkets, bars, and restaurants.
- Mango Chill Great for partying and meeting other backpackers. They throw cool pool parties during the hot days as well. It is a party hostel. Located half a block from the bus terminal.
- Nomads Hostel colorful, comfortable, and quiet hostel with Free WiFi, Swimming Pool, and air-conditioning. A few minutes from the rivers and falls
Budget hotel prices
Centrally-located hotels start around $40 USD for a twin/single room and $50 USD for a double room. Most include breakfast, free WiFi, and many include air-conditioning. There’s a good number of Airbnb hosts here and you can get a shared room (i.e. couch) for as low as $10 USD, while prices for a private room start around $18 USD. If not staying in a hostel, I recommend AirBNB: it will be the same price, and if choosing to stay with a host you get to meet a local to help you navigate and choose what are the best things for you to do.
At a regular sit down cafe a dish will be around $6-7 USD per dish on both sides. If you are on a real budget my recommendation is to stick to street food and empanadas. They are incredibly delicious and you can find them as cheap as $2 USD in this region. If feeling fancy, a steak begins at $10 USD, bottles of wine at $8 USD, and pastas at $9 USD.
If you are looking for a really nice sit down meal with good steak and wine, expect to pay around $21 USD. You can buy a week’s worth of groceries and good wine for around $40 USD on both sides.
The bus and subway are less than $1 USD for a one-way ticket. Taxis and Ubers are incredibly cheap here, you can get a good ride for $6-9 USD around town. If you are not in a hurry, don’t take a taxi to Iguazu, they take advantage and will charge up to $40 USD. The bus from the terminal is only $3 USD
Top Things To Do
The first question I get asked when talking of Iguazu Falls is, “Do I need to do a guided tour?” HELL NO! They are incredibly expensive and annoying. Here, it is not like Perito Moreno, that without a tour guide you simply can’t access the glacier. Here you will find nice boardwalks to appreciate the river and falls. The less people you surround yourself with the better. It is a place to truly connect with mother earth and take your time with. That is why I highly recommend three days. After making it all the way down there you should not feel rushed, even for a second.
Garganta del diablo, Iguacu National Park
The Throat of the Devil is the fall with the greatest flow of the Iguazu Falls; it has around 275 falls of water, with a height superior to 70 meters along 2.7 km of Iguazu river. The Devil’s Throat begins as an inverted “U” shape that is 150 meters wide and 80 meters high.
Truly a miracle, it doesn’t matter where you look, there will be tumbling cascades of water surrounded by rainforest, non-stop mists, and dreamy rainbows. It is located in the Iguaçu National Park state of Paraná, Brazil , bordering the Iguazú National Park in the province of Misiones, Argentina.
Iguazu National Park
This UNESCO world Heritage site is a protected area, created in Argentina in the year 1934 with the objective of conserving the falls biodiversity that surrounds. Located in the north of the province of Misiones, the park has an area of approximately 67,000 hectares and its entrance is 7 km from Puerto Iguazu town.
Watch a sunset from the Brazilian side
Or instead of watching it…you could dance with it…
Iguassu Falls Panoramic Helicopter Flight
If you have the money, Do it. See the falls from as many sides as you can. Argentina Flight Adventures will take you for $300 USD.
Get drenched Under Iguazu Falls Boat Ride
Is it worth it to pay $28 USD for this 15 minute boat trip? YES! You will feel like you are inside of a Jurassic Park movie, the adrenaline and excitement you will feel cannot be explained with words. Do yourself a favor and please take the boat!
Go see the birds
The Parque das Aves is an essential tour for visitors of Foz do Iguassu, located near the Cataratas do Iguassu, beside the Iguassu National Park. In the Parque das Aves you will experience direct contact with more than 1,320 birds from about 143 different species. There is 16.5 hectares of lush, Atlantic rainforest maintained to provide the best habitat for our animals.
This is a tour like no other. It is a unique and unforgettable experience, in which you will find amazing birds from all four corners of Brazil and from various parts of the world, many of them endangered. Enter the immersion aviaries to feel the beat of wings from vibrant macaws and look into the eyes of a toucan.
Which side did you like the most? 😛