Waterfalls are known for being the ultimate source of happiness. If you follow this philosophy, Iguazu is the happiest place on earth. With waterfalls that seem to never end, rainbows everywhere you look and a backdrop of jungle – this is not a place you want to miss on your South America trip. Here is the perfect itinerary for 2 days in Iguazu Falls.
Let’s have a Geography Lesson
Iguazu waterfalls span between 2 countries, Argentina and Brazil. There are 2 national parks; one in Argentina and one in Brazil, although the adjoining towns span over 3 countries including Paraguay. If you love border points (if like me, you are a geography nerd), you can even visit the point of the meeting of the 3 countries. The town in Argentina is Puerto Iguazu, Brazil Foz do Iguaçu and Paraguay Cuidad del Este.
Because the falls span between the 2 countries the name of the falls are also in Spanish and Portuguese. In Spanish, Las Cataratas del Iguazú and in Portuguese Cataratas do Iguaçu.
How to get to Iguazu falls
Iguazu falls is close to a grand total of not much. One of the draws of the place is the fact that it is surrounded by nature and untouched jungle. Depending on where you are travelling from, flying might be the easiest or expect a long bus journey. The flights to Iguazu are reasonably priced and sometimes even come out cheaper than a bus. I personally got a flight from Mendoza to arrive at Puerto Iguazu and when I left, I took a night bus to Campo Grande as I was going to the Pantanal afterwards.
Where is the nearest Airport to Iguazu Falls?
There are 2 main airports in Iguazu; Puerto Iguazu (airport code IGR) and Foz de Iguazu (airport code IGU). Where your flight arrives, depends on where you are flying from. Most flights are internal, for example flying from Rio de Janeiro you will arrive into the Brazilian side of the falls and if you are flying from Buenos Aires you will arrive in Puerto Iguazu.
I arrived by plane from Mendoza. The pilot on my flight was extremely kind and intentionally flew over the falls and did multiple turns so that everyone on the place could see the falls from the sky. It was truly incredible!!
How to get to Iguazu by bus
There are many buses that go to both Puerto Iguazu and Foz do Iguacu. They are in general long distances so are often night buses. Here are some of the approximate times you can expect:
- Bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu is 20 hours
- Bus from Salta to Puerto Iguazu is 24 hours and with a change in Corrientes.
- Bus from Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguazu is 16 hours
Where to stay near Iguazu Falls
I personally chose to stay in Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side of the falls for my 2 days in Iguazu Falls. It is a smaller town that has more of a calm atmosphere. As well as this, it is the cheaper side! Always a winner. There are a huge variety of places to stay in both Foz do Iguacu and Puerto Iguazu.
I stayed at Bed&Meeting hostel in Puerto Iguazu, and I really liked it. It has a really cool environment with quirky décor and super comfy beds. It even has a slide! Whets not to love?!
If you are looking for an upmarket option, there are 5-star hotels within the national parks of the falls. In Argentina, the Gran Melia and in Brazil Hotel des Cataratas (Belmond). These hotels offer a unique experience of waking up to a view of the falls.
Where to eat in Puerto Iguazu
Puerto Iguazu has lots of great restaurants and bars to choose from. Unlike other destinations in Argentina, the restaurants open before 9pm which means you can go out for an ‘early’ dinner (by Argentinian standards). My favourite street to eat on is avenue Cordoba.
I went to Las Dama Juana and loved it. I had the great combo of a delicious Argentinian steak with an equally great Brazilian caipirinha – border towns definitely have their advantages! Another great option which is Holy which has a great outdoor terrace to enjoy a long evening outdoors.
Which side of Iguazu Falls should you visit?
In short, both. Each side has their own unique advantage and to be sure not to miss anything make sure to visit both. The border is easier to cross than I expected allowing visiting both sides completely possible. This makes visiting for 2 days in Iguazu Falls the perfect length of time.
Brazil gives the best views of the overall falls whereas the Argentinian side gets you up close and personal.
Crossing the Border at Iguazu Falls
The border crossing between Brazil/Argentina is very easy to do and surprisingly quick. This means you can visit either side of the falls easily on a day trip. Because it is a very busy border, there are often queues to cross for non-public transport. However, there are specific queue jump lanes for taxis or buses. If you are using a private car expect long lines to cross the border during your 2 days in Iguazu Falls.
Caveat: I have a British passport so was automatically issued tourist visas at each border. Check before you travel if this is possible depending on your nationality.
Getting a bus across the border
Word of warning if you cross the border using a bus! Brazilian and Argentinian nationals do not need to stamp their passport if they cross this border therefore will not even leave the bus at the border. Make sure to tell the bus driver that you need to leave at the border crossing to stamp your passport (if your nationality requires).
If you take a while at the border, it is not uncommon for the buses to leave without you. This means you have to wait for the next bus which is 2 hours later or hope there is a taxi with space passing through. This is the major advantage of getting a taxi when crossing the border.
2 days in Iguazu Falls, Day 1: Argentinian Side
Getting to the Argentinian side of the falls
To explore the Argentinian side of the falls, you need a full day. So to make the most of it get up early on your first day of your 2 days in Iguazu Falls and make sure you are one of the first in the park. The park opens at 8am.
To get to the falls national park, you can get a bus from the centre of Puerto Iguazu for 400pesos each way. The buses run every 20 minutes or so and are very easy to catch from the central bus station with lots of stops on the way.
Personally, when I visited the Argentinian side the first day I hitched a ride with a guide that worked in the park that happened to be staying in our hostel. I got the bus on the 2nd day and it was really easy.
Entry to the national park is 4000pesos per adult for 1 day. If you choose to go back in the days after your first entry ticket, if you show your original ticket you can get a discounted entry ticket at 2000pesos. Because of the hyper inflation in Argentina, this price will probably go up by the time you visit. This was the cost for July 2022. For reference the price in 2020 was 800pesos.
Walking Around the Argentinian Side of Iguazu Falls
The Argentinian side has many paths for walking which is why I preferred it to the Brazilian side, I love a walking explore. If walking is not your thing, there is a free train that goes around the park although most of the viewpoints still involve some walking.
At the entrance point you can get a map or make sure to take a photo of the big ones. There are 3 main viewing loops; Upper loop (Upper in Spanish), Lower loop (Lower in Spanish) and the Devils Throat (Garganta Del Diablo). There are also 2 other trails, the green trail and the train route used to access the loops.
After speaking to others who had visited before, I did the lower loop, then the upper loop and finally the devils throat. I definitely recommend this order and let me convince you why!
The lower loop starts with a wide angle view over the falls – it is a real wow moment at the beginning of the day! When I was there, there was a perfect rainbow with toucans in the palm trees – I felt like I was in a painting. The lower loop also offers a couple of opportunities to get close (and therefore wet) at the bottom of the falls.
After the lower loop, walk over to the upper loop. The upper loop gives you a top down view of the falls and is slightly longer than the lower.
After the upper loop, this is a perfect time for a spot of lunch. There are many small cafes that offer quick options that are mostly fast food. Because there aren’t loads of options, I decided to buy food before entering and eat a packed lunch. There tend to be animals that hang around the outside dining area in the hope for food. Don’t feed them and don’t get too close as they can get aggressive.
Garganta Del Diablo (Devil’s Throat)
After doing the upper and lower loops, we got the train from Estacion Cataratas to go to the Garganta Del Diablo. Although the train is free, you need to get a reservation ticket that shows which time your slot is to come back. Saying that, they didn’t check my ticket as I got on the train back so not sure how effective the system is.
The Garganta Del Diablo is about 1km walk from the train station along walkways over the river before the fall and is the closest you will get to the Brazilian border. Garganta Del Diablo translates to devils throat and this is the point where you can really appreciate the force of the falls. The platform allows you to look down into the falls. I couldn’t even see the river below the mist was that strong. If you stand close to the edge you will get a natural shower from the falls and the mist. This is a perfect way to cool down but is also a great way to end the day so you don’t spend the whole day in wet clothes.
After Garganta Del Diablo I jumped back on the train to the main entrance of the park. I ended up leaving at about 4.30pm so this was a full day out with lots of time exploring.
2 days in Iguazu Falls Day 2: The Brazilian side
Getting to the Brazilian side of the falls
There is less to see on the Brazilian side of the falls so a full day isn’t needed. You can treat yourself to a slow morning during your 2 days in Iguazu Falls. The best thing about the Brazilian side is you get a full view over the falls so can really appreciate the size of them.
If you are staying in Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, you will need to cross the border to Brazil to do this which I spoke about earlier. I chose to get a taxi from Puerto Iguazu which was 9000pesos for 4 people. Although with the inflation in Argentina don’t trust this as the standard price.
The main walkway on the Brazilian Side of the Falls
When arriving at Foz De Iguacu, you need to pay via a machine at the entrance. This receipt will give you a time slot to get the bus to start the visit to the falls. The bus is included in the price and is open top. The first stop is the Macau Safari bird sanctuary and is a paid extra if you want to visit it.
The Entry to Brazil park is 72 Reals. The bus takes less than 10 minutes to reach the start of the visit. The park opens at 9am on the Brazilian side.
The visit in Brazil is 1 main walkway to get many view points over the falls that is 1.5km long. The walkway view starts from far away and gets closer and closer to the falls. At the end of the visit there is a walkway over the part of the falls. This means you will see stunning rainbows created by the falls but also will get very wet! It was great fun.
At the end of the visit there is a lift (elevator for my American friends) that takes you up towards the food court. The food court and restaurant is the perfect place to relax with a view of the falls. I took sandwiches again as it was mostly fast food on offer if you don’t go to the restaurant. The bus collects you from the food court to take you back to the entrance every 10 minutes or so.
Optional Day 3 in Iguazu Falls: Extra Activities!
Boat trip in Iguazu Falls
I spent 3 days in Puerto Iguazu and chose to do a boat trip on my last day before catching a bus in the afternoon. I chose to do the boat trip to the falls on the Argentinian side of the falls but it is possible on both sides. The trip cost 11000pesos (although 2 days before I arrived it was 9000pesos).
The boat trip starts from within the park of the falls so you must pay the entrance fee again. As this was my second day, it was only half price. If you are going to do a boat trip make sure to bring a change of clothes, you will need it.
The company to book the boat through is Jungle Iguazu. I reserved online the day before to be sure to have the time I wanted. Although there were many spots on the boat left and they were selling tickets right up to before we left.
The boat trip starts in a safari jeep to drive to the pier. In this journey the guide explained some of the more interesting trees in the region and also we saw monkeys! From the jeep there is a short walk down some steps to the pier.
Prepare for a shower!
Before getting on the boat we were given a dry bag and a life jacket. The dry bags were large enough to be able to fit all of my stuff in it and it was needed! After getting onto the boat and going upstream I got the first impression of how strong the currents really were. They were insane! I could’ve been on an open sea some of the waves were that big. We got a long distance view of the fall and then got up close and personal with the falls. And I got 100% drenched from head to toe. It was so refreshing I loved it.
After the boat I got changed into my dry clothes which I was very thankful for. Then I jumped back into the jeep back to the main part of the visit. The trip in total was about 3 hours.
Helicopter flight over Iguazu Falls
If you are tempted to get a helicopter flight anywhere in the world, this would be a place to do it. I personally didn’t choose to do this because of the cost of it. It is approximately $150 for 10 minute ride. As I mentioned earlier, my pilot on a regular commercial flight to Iguazu gave us a tour of the falls! It was so special and I can imagine it being even better in a helicopter.
The end of the Ultimate Itinerary for 2 Days in Iguazu Falls
That’s all you need to know for the best time for your 2 days in Iguazu falls! Let me know if you had a good time and if you found this useful in the comments.